Ports & Ships Maritime News

Jan 3, 2007
Author: P&S


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  • Durban port manager suspended

  • Local shipping news

  • French line introduces new Asia to Africa service

  • Egypt increases Suez rates

  • Pic of the day – Idas Bulker

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    Durban port manager suspended

    In yet another surprise development involving senior port management at a South African port, port manager Basil Ndlovu found himself on unexpected leave a couple of days before Christmas, with no confirmation if or when he will return to duty.

    Ndlovu replaced Nosipho Sithole as port manager at Durban in 2003 after Sithole was transferred on promotion to head office in Johannesburg. Before that Ndlovu had seven years of experience as port manager at Richards Bay and Saldanha ports.

    Basil Ndlovu, (current?) port manager with the NPA at Durban. Picture Terry Hutson

    One of the regular complaints of port users is that, for whatever reason, management at the ports seldom has a chance to settle in before it is changed. “There are some highly qualified and competent people but unfortunately many don’t get the opportunity of gaining the necessary experience in the ports before they are either head-hunted or they leave for other reasons,” Ports & Ships has been told by several important NPA clients.

    The reason for Ndlovu’s suspension (or unexpected leave) has not been made public and Ports & Ships has so far been unable to obtain any official comment. According to sources a letter was circulated among staff on or about 20 December advising that he was going on leave until further notice, so we don’t know the reason and nor do we know how long this unexpected leave of absence will last. Or indeed if he will return.

    In the interim Mr Ricky Bhikraj has been appointed as acting port manager of Durban.

    Other suspensions and unexpected ‘leaves’ involving senior port personnel in the National Ports Authority have lasted months before becoming either permanent or seeing the person concerned return to duty.

    December is becoming something of a fateful month for senior Durban port managers. Durban Harbourmaster Captain Derrick Cooke found himself on the receiving end of a ‘don’t come back’ letter a few days before Christmas about four or five years ago, as did port engineer Pat Raw in late December 2004.

    Local shipping news

    One of the regular coasters in service between Durban and the Mozambique coast, Ocean Africa Container Line’s SOFALA, has gone off charter and has been renamed ADRIA CELESTE. The 8,386-gt container ship now flies the Italian flag and will presumably soon depart African waters for the Mediterranean.

    OACL coastal container ship SOFALA which went off charter with the Durban-based company during December and has since been replaced by MAI RICKMERS, which is currently completing her first voyage to Mozambique ports. Picture Terry Hutson

    The coaster has been replaced on the OACL service by MAI RICKMERS, another vessel from the Rickmer Reederei group of Hamburg, Germany. MAI RICKMERS at 10,743-gt offers increased capacity for OACL on an expanding service and is set to become a regular sight in southern Africa ports.

    According to reports the South African Navy is a step closer towards placing an order with the German shipbuilding consortium for a fifth Meko A200-type frigate, following the nod by government to reopen negotiations with the German consortium. Two of the four frigates from the original order, SAS Amatola and SAS Isandlwana have been commissioned into service with the navy and the other two, SAS Spioenkop and SAS Mendi, which are fitting out at Simon’s Town, are due to follow during the course of this year.

    According to sources the European Union originally expressed some interest in paying for a fifth ship which the South African Navy would operate as an ‘African Navy vessel’ largely for the benefit of African navies unable to operate such ships on their own accord. It is not known whether this option still exists or whether South Africa wants to take it up. An addition Meko type frigate will cost considerably more than the R1.5 Billion price tag for each of the first four – up to R2.5 Bn has been mentioned.

    The South African Navy has also expressed some interest in a new support type vessel along the lines of a helicopter carrier capable of also carrying a marine contingent of troops. The thinking in this regard is that South Africa will increasingly require facilities for peace-keeping exercises in the future and requires naval vessels to help accomplish this.

    See also our News Bulletin report dated 13 September 2006 - http://ports.co.za/news/article_2006_09_12_2540.html

    In the UK South African marine mining group De Beers Marine has taken possession of its latest diamond recovery vessel, PEACE IN AFRICA. The 170m long vessel is the former DOCK EXPRESS 20 which was acquired by Debmarine in 2005 for conversion at the A&P Yard in Hepburn on the river Tyne. The ship is now registered in Cape Town and flies the South African flag.

    Once commissioned into service PEACE IN AFRICA will begin dredging for diamonds off the western coast of South Africa, the first time this has been done by De Beers in South African waters – the company having undertaken similar work previously off the Namibian coast.

    Yesterday six new diesel-electric locomotives for MB>Sheltam Rail arrived in Durban on board the freighter Ibn Younus and were discharged at Maydon Wharf 6. This brings to 10 the number of new locomotives imported from Brazil by the Grindrod Group company.

    See our news Bulletin report on the first shipment dated 24 November 2006 at http://ports.co.za/news/article_2006_11_23_3347.html#three

    French line introduces new Asia to Africa service

    The French shipping line CMA CGM and its subsidiary Delmas has announced the introduction of a new service on the Asia – Africa route with the launch of a third line to be known as Africa Express (AFEX).

    According to CMA CGM the new line will be dedicated to north Asian markets while at the same time the group’s WAX (West Africa Express) services are to undergo further reorganisation. This involves reallocating some ships and calls between the three loops as well as commissioning a 9th ship on the WAX line.

    The new services will be organised as follows:

    Service dedicated to Northern Asia

    The new AFEX service will deploy initially eight 1,700/2,000-TEU ships and will link Northern Asia (Northern China, South Korea) to the centre and north of West Africa with calls in Port Louis/ Mauritius and Durban/ South Africa en route.

    Service dedicated to Central and South China

    The new WAX service will deploy ten 1,700/2,000 TEU-ships directly serving the major ports in the centre and north of West Africa: Ghana, Benin, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire.

    Service dedicated to central and south Asia

    The new ASAF service will connect the south and centre of West Africa (Angola, Congo, Brazzaville, Gabon, Cameroon) with nine 1,700-TEU ships.

    The changes come into effect in early January 2007 and will make possible an extended coverage of the markets in question; will speed up transit times through direct services and will increase frequency, with a view to rolling out 3 weekly services in the longer term, says the company.

    “By introducing a new collaborative model between highly complementary lines and brands, CMA CGM and its subsidiary Delmas intend to consolidate their service offering and improve the quality of their services between Asia and West Africa in order to meet the strong demand for container transport triggered by the boom of Chinese exports to those markets.”

    Egypt increases Suez rates

    Egypt has indicated that transit fees for using the Suez Canal are to increase by up to 3.73 percent as from April this year.

    The new transit rates include container ships paying 3.5 percent increases, while pure car carrier rates will go up by 1.33 percent and passenger vessels by 1.14 percent. Tankers attract the highest percentage increase of 3.73 percent and most other types of vessels will attract an increase of 2.38 percent.

    Pic of the day – Idas Bulker

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    Recently a number of bulk carriers have been seen calling at Durban for bunkers while fully loaded with logs, including substantial deck cargo. As such they make quite an impressive sight and one such vessel was the IDAS BULKER of Lauritzen Bulkers, Denmark which arrived in late December. It is presumed that the logs were loaded in a West African country and are on their way to markets in the Far East. Picture copyright SHIPHOTO INTERNATIONAL email shack@iafrica.com

    NB Shipping pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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