Ports & Ships Maritime News

Nov 1, 2007
Author: P&S

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  • Grindrod buys another 12 percent of Port Maputo

  • Safmarine bids farewell to SA HELDERBERG

  • Maersk Line warns of more congestion ahead

  • Government pulls back on abalone ban

  • North Koreans retake their ship

  • Pic of the day – KAVO PORTLAND

  • Grindrod buys another 12 percent of Port Maputo

    Swedish company Skanska, one of the world’s leading construction companies has announced the sale of its 12 percent stake in Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) to Durban-based Grindrod Group.

    The sale gives Grindrod an almost one quarter share in the port.

    MPDC manages and operates the port of Maputo on a 15 year concession with a further 10 year option. When created in 2002 the consortium consisted of Mersey Docks & Harbour Company, UK’s second largest terminal operator, Sweden’s Skanska, Portugal’s terminal operator Liscont and Mozambique’s Gestores.

    The Mozambique government holds a 49 percent share in MPDC through its national port and rail authority CFM with the MPDC consortium holding the other 51 percent.

    The sale to Grindrod provides the South African company with a significant and influential presence at Maputo, after having previously acquired the 12.24 percent share held by Liscont in April 2006.

    According to the Swedish company Grindrod is paying US $ 16.5 million (SEK105 million) for the 12 percent share, representing a substantial profit for Skanska.

    Skanska Infrastructure Development says it helped develop the harbour as a PPP project (Public Private Partnership) jointly with other international investors and the government of Mozambique.

    “The harbour has developed successfully and sales have more than doubled during the past four years. In addition to investing in the harbour company, Skanska was also responsible for construction management, to guarantee the right quality and price for the reconstruction. Maputo is of strategic interest, since it is the closest shipping harbour for South African industries around Johannesburg and Pretoria.”

    Grindrod also holds a 95 percent share in the Matola Coal Terminal, which forms a part of the greater Maputo port complex. At the time of this purchase Grindrod said it intended spending US $ 25 million on upgrades at the Matola terminal over a period of time and anticipated increasing the terminal’s throughput capacity from about 1.3 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes annually.

    Safmarine bids farewell to SA HELDERBERG

    SA HELDERBERG sails from Durban harbour, bound for China. For 30 years this ship has plied the South African trades with Safmarine, first on the South Africa – Europe service (SAECS) and more recently with the service to the Far East (SAFARI service). Picture Terry Hutson

    It was an end of an era yesterday when one of the famous ‘Big Whites’ of Safmarine, SA HELDERBERG, was handed back to her owners, Danaos while at anchor off Singapore.

    The ship had completed a final voyage on charter for Safmarine, performed as part of the SAFARI (South Africa – Far East) service and shortly after the handover the crew disembarked one last time before heading home for a period of leave.

    One might think also of the many seafarers who served on this fine ship in the past 30 years on first the South African Europe Service (SAECS) and more recently the Safari service.

    SA Helderberg (48,878-dwt) was one of four sister ships introduced by Safmarine for the then new container service between southern Africa and Europe. It was the dawn of containerisation in South Africa, with new container terminals having recently opened at Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. The advent of these and similar ships together with the terminals was shortly to revolutionise the local maritime industry as it was doing the world over.

    With a length of 249m and a beam of 32.2m and capable of carrying an at that time mind-boggling 2450-TEU, the four ships were among the largest container ships then in service. Built in France for Safmarine, the SA HELDERBERG, SA SEDERBERG, SA WATERBERG and SA WINTERBERG operated alongside Ellermans’ CITY OF DURBAN, Nedlloyd’s NEDLLOYD HOORN, CMB’s ORTELIUS, OCL’s TABLE BAY and DAL’s TRANSVAAL, although Table Bay was withdrawn quite early when the service was rationalised.

    Other ships on the SAECS service were replaced but the four Big Whites, as they came to be known, remained with almost no break in service, although SA Waterberg underwent a name change at the turn of the century and is today operating for sister company Maersk Line as MAERSK CONSTANTIA also on the Safari service.

    SA Helderberg was the first of the four ships and was launched on 5 May 1977, making her first voyage to South Africa in December that year and arriving in Cape Town in January to a large welcome.

    In 2000 with further rationalisation of the fleet SA Helderberg was briefly chartered to MSC and renamed MSC TEXAS before reverting to her original name and service.

    The future for the ship and for her three sisters is uncertain, although given the demand for tonnage it is quite possible that all four will continue in service with some other carrier for several more years. Don’t be surprised to see Helderberg back in South African waters.

    Maersk Line warns of more congestion ahead

    Maersk Line chief executive Eivind Kolding says that the European Shippers Council should expect continued congestion which he said would require more discipline and assistance from shippers.

    "Congestion is going to get worse. That's for certain," he said.

    He said volumes will double in the next eight years creating tighter berthing windows and restricted terminal space.

    The success of the liner industry will depend more and more on shifting cargo to and from hinterlands which will require more discipline and flexibility from shippers. Kolding called for improved information exchanges with shippers and asked for longer term volume forecasts in order that carriers could plan better. Shippers must also be prepared to make deliveries and pick ups during off-peak times including at night to avoid congestion.

    He pointed out that fuel charges have risen by US $ 180 per FEU during 2007 and that shipping lines were being forced to pass on some of these increasing fuel costs.

    "We are fooling ourselves if we think a low-margin business like container shipping can sustain these extreme rises," he said.

    source – shednet

    Government pulls back on abalone ban

    Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk announced yesterday that government was suspending the planned ban on abalone (perlemoen) fishing until 1 February to give legitimate fishermen more time to prepare for the withdrawal of permits.

    Last week government announced a total ban which would have applied from today (1 November). This resulted in a large protest from fishermen who accused government of having taken away their livelihood, while pointing out that government should instead be fighting the poaching of abalone rather than banning legitimate licensed fishermen.

    The Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU) added its considerable voice to the protest by demanding that the ministry withdraw its ban of abalone fishing.

    Minister van Schalkwyk said yesterday that the Cabinet had last week supported a recommendation from his ministry to suspend wild abalone commercial fishing to ensure the survival of the species. He said the cabinet was sensitive to the impact this decision would have on the livelihood of many families and had therefore approved a social plan to mitigate these impacts. This included developing a sustainable marine aquaculture industry and issuing additional permits for whale watching and shark cage diving to create employment for those affected by the abalone ban.

    “I remain of the view that the abalone resource is endangered due to ecological changes and poaching. This fishery is in a crisis and should be managed as an emergency. The closure of the abalone fishery is the right thing to do. There is also broad acknowledgment that the resource is in a crisis.”

    “I have applied my mind to the numerous pleas I have received from communities regarding the implementation date of the decision. After carefully considering these appeals I requested the department to see if there could be a scientific basis to delay the implementation date of this decision. After receiving a report from them earlier this morning and taking into account the socio economic implications of this important decision, I have decided to delay the implementation of the decision to 1 February 2008.

    The minister said his department would continue efforts of clamping down on poaching.

    North Koreans retake their ship

    In a dramatic development yesterday North Korean seafarers on board the general cargo ship DAI HONG DAN, which earlier had been captured by armed men, retook their ship with the aid of a US warship.

    Details remain sketchy but it appears the armed men who captured the ship may have been on board as armed militia to safeguard the passage of the ship, which had completed discharging a cargo of sugar in Mogadishu.

    The ship was taken over outside Mogadishu shortly after the vessel sailed from the Somali port (see yesterday’s PORTS & SHIPS News Bulletin). It now turns out the pirates were not in full control of the ship, having seized the ship’s bridge while some of the crew of 22 remained in control of other parts of the ship, including the area controlling the steering and the engine room.

    The Koreans, who had access to arms made their move against the pirates after the US guided missile destroyer JAMES E WILLIAMS arrived on the scene and issued instructions to the pirates to surrender their weapons. According to reports the North Koreans then stormed the bridge, firing as they attacked. Two pirates were shot dead and three captured and are being held in custody on board the Dai Hong Dan. Three of the crew members were injured and were later taken on board the US warship for treatment.

    The US and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations.

    In a second incident involving pirates, another US destroyer, USS ARLEIGH BURKE is searching the area where the Japanese tanker GOLDEN NORI was seized at the weekend by pirates operating off the island of Socotra.

    Another US destroyer, USS PORTER fired on and destroyed two skiffs used by these pirates to approach and board the Japanese tanker. After taking possession of the ship the skiffs were towed behind the ship and were later destroyed by the US ship when it opened fire on them as a warning to the pirates to surrender.

    The US Navy says it was not aware at that stage that the tanker was carrying a cargo of benzene. The US ship is still shadowing the tanker which has entered Somali territorial waters. According to reports the transitional government has issued permission for the pursuit to continue.

    In the past few days there have been a number of reports from the Horn of Africa region warning of attempted or suspected pirate action against shipping. This has included incidents in the Gulf of Aden.

    The latest report however comes from much further south, with two attacks this week on ships at the Nacala anchorage, says the IMB Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur. In the first incident thieves boarded a container ship at anchor and stole ship’s stores. According to the report there was no response from Nacala port control when the matter was reported. The attack took place at 1.30 in the morning.

    A few hours later another incident occurred when two boats approached another container ship at anchor. Alert crew directed a jet of water from the ship’s hoses and drove the would-be thieves away.

    This is the first incident to be reported in recent times from as far south as Nacala.

    Pic of the day – KAVO PORTLAND

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    The Monaco-managed and Panama-registered general cargo ship KAVO PORTLAND arriving in Durban in 2004 in ballast to load cargo at the port’s multi purpose terminals. The 27,011-gt ship is now sailing with the name PROGRESS II. Picture Terry Hutson

    Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za

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