Ports & Ships Maritime News

Mar 13, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • New tropical storm brews in Indian Ocean

  • East London port faces slowdown as DaimlerChrysler plant re-gears

  • Safmarine Safari service upgrades

  • Chamber of Shipping says it is concerned about Panama Canal toll increases

  • Rotterdam tug strikes ease but new strike looms at Hamburg while congestion surcharge is raised for St Petersburg

  • Pic of the day -  BANGLAR MOOKH

    EMAIL: jhughes@hugheship.com
    WEB SITE: www.hugheship.com

    New tropical storm brews in Indian Ocean

    Tropical Storm INDLADA was north east of Tromelin at noon (UT) yesterday and was expected to track southwestwards towards the Madagascan coast. Click image to enlarge. Image courtesy Naval Research Lab (NRL)

    A threat of a new cyclone over Madagascar and affecting other Indian Ocean islands is again being faced as a severe tropical storm named Indlada approaches Madagascar's north eastern coast.

    At noon yesterday, Universal Time, the centre of the storm lay northeast of Tromelin and about 400 n.miles north of Port Louis, Mauritius but is heading in a westerly direction. The storm is expected to curve to the southwest.

    The region has been severely affected by tropical storms reaching cyclone strength this summer, with Cyclone Favio skirting the southern coast of Madagascar and coming ashore at Vilanculos in Mozambique, where it caused extensive damage to property but fortunately the loss of only a few lives.

    A week later Cyclone Gamede, which like Indlada was heading for Madagascarí's north-east coast, took a 90 degree turn south and later blew itself out well south of Madagascar, but not before a number of ships that were caught up in the storm took damage.

    Even the coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, hundreds of kilometres away from a dissipating storm, experienced abnormally high waves which were attributed to the cyclone.

    East London port faces slowdown as DaimlerChrysler plant re-gears

    East London's car terminal and port for that matter will go quiet for the next few months as DaimlerChrysler gears up ahead of production of the new C-class Mercedes-Benz.

    The plant will be shut down, production-wise, for four months as the changeover in tooling is carried out and the East London plant is placed in line with the German office and plant in Bremen and Sindelfingen.

    Management of the South African company has meanwhile reached agreement with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) in which the majority of workers will remain on duty for 32 hours a week.

    Both East London port and the city are heavily reliant on continued operations at the DaimlerChrysler plant, which is a major employer and contributor to the regional economy.  The news that limited production will continue during the interim producing new vehicles - something in the order of 120 vehicles - that will be used for testing purposes and later sold as used cars, has been welcomed.

    Nevertheless the port is likely to experience a decrease in the number of ships calling, particularly that of pure car carriers.

    It has often been said that when the DaimlerChrysler plant at East London sneezes people across the city will reach for their handkerchiefs.

    Safmarine Safari Service upgrades

    SAFMARINE MERU, one of four newbuilds to be introduced by Safmarine on the Safari Service. Click image to enlarge

    Safmarine, which partners sister company Maersk Line on the Safari service between South Africa and the Far East, says it intends upgrading the Safari services by deploying larger ships and adding a new call at the Chinese port of Ningbo.

    The changes come into effect from April this year and include a further two 4,150-TEU ships joining Safmarine Meru and Safmarine Mulanje which have already commenced operations.

    "The Safari services are currently the most reliable dedicated shipping services between South Africa and the Far East and these upgrades will improve the services even further, thereby meeting customer demands for fast, reliable shipping services," says Alex de Bruyn, SA Trade Executive.

    Indicative of South Africa's growing trade with China, in which there was a 42 percent growth in 2006 compared with 2005, the Safari service now offers twice weekly calls at Greater China with both main and second string services providing direct calls.

    Transit times have been shortened to 18 days between Shanghai and Durban; 13 days between Yantian and Durban; and 16 days between Durban and Hong Kong.

    The revised rotations are as follows:

    Safari 1 (as of April 8, 2007): Durban - Cape Town - Port Louis - Tanjung Pelepas - Yantian - Shanghai - Ningbo - Yantian - Tanjung Pelepas - Durban (Seven vessels).
    Safari 1 Current rotation: Durban - Port Elizabeth - Cape Town - Port Louis - Tanjung Pelepas - Singapore - Hong Kong - Shanghai - Koishung - Hong Kong - Yantian - TPP - Port Louis - Durban (Eight vessels)

    Safari 2 (as of mid-May 2007): Port Elizabeth - Durban - Hong Kong - Tanjung Pelepas - Port Louis - Port Elizabeth (Six vessels)
    Safari 2 Current rotation: Port Elizabeth - Durban - Singapore - Tanjung Pelepas - Port Elizabeth (Five vessels)

    Chamber of Shipping says it is concerned about Panama Canal toll increases

    The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and three other prominent organisations - BIMCO, Intercargo and Intertanko - have expressed serious concerns over plans by the Panama Canal Authority to raise fees in order to pay for widening the waterway.

    "ICS members have cautiously accepted the concept of sectoral pricing, and the introduction of charges per berth for larger passenger vessels. However, we are very disappointed that our repeated request that increases in tolls should be equitable, transparent and spaced over a sufficient amount of time appear, by and large, to have been ignored," said ICS Secretary General Tony Mason.

    He said the official Expansion Proposals referred to projected increases in tolls of 3.5 percent per annum over a twenty year period.

    "However, the actual proposals would lead to increases ranging from 26 percent to 34 percent over the first three years (equal to 8 to 10 percent per annum) with increases for container carrying vessels and larger passenger ships considerably in excess of 10 percent per annum."

    ICS argues that in any other industry, changes of this magnitude over such a short period of time would be regarded as being unacceptably large.

    The ICS says the proposed toll increases have too short an initial notice period and are spread over too short a time period for adequate long term planning or for effective absorption of additional costs.

    "In particular, the three months' notice for some sectors will cause significant problems. Six months' notice of the initial increases, and phasing in the increases over, say, six rather than three years, would be far more reasonable."

    The ICS issued the statement ahead of the public meeting being held in Panama on Wednesday (tomorrow).

    Rotterdam tug strikes ease but new strike looms at Hamburg while congestion surcharge is raised for St Petersburg

    The costly strike by Smit Harbour Towage workers has seen intervention from Rotterdam's Court of Justice.

    Unions were ordered to recommence towage services from 07.00 on Saturday (11 March) to a level of at least 75 percent of normal performance, followed by four days at 75 percent after every five days of strike action.

    The strike had begun to hurt several key industries in Rotterdam as well as shipping in Europe's largest and busiest port. Rotterdam's oil refineries brought the action before the Court of Justice after they began to face a slow down in production caused by a shortage of crude oil.

    They said that having to stop and later restart production would have considerable environmental implications.

    A second European port facing strike action is Hamburg where unionised workers threatened to ban all overtime from last night (12 March) as a protest against the city government's plan of part privatisation for the port.

    Business leaders have pointed out that one third of Hamburg's port business is conducted outside of normal working hours, ie in overtime conditions and a strike could therefore have disastrous effect of the port and trade.

    Hamburg city authorities have been talking of selling a 49.9 percent stake in the port to private partners.

    Both Hamburg and Rotterdam are principal ports of entry into Europe for South African cargo.

    A third European port facing challenges is St Petersburg in Russia where an Emergency Congestion Surcharge has been imposed by MOL, as a result of ongoing congestion.

    A surcharge of US $400/800 per 20ft/40ft container has been raised, and US $675/1350 per 20ft/40ft reefer boxes, to take effect as from 15 March 2007.

    If it continues the surcharge is likely to have an effect on exports of citrus fruit to Russia which in recent years has been increasingly shipped through St Petersburg.

    Pic of the day - BANGLAR MOOKH

    Click on image to enlarge - with some browsers click twice

    An interesting study of the Bangladeshi freighter BANGLAR MOOKH on her berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman.

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

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