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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17 January 2012
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

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The US-flag ice-class supply tanker MAERSK PEARY (25,487gt, built 2004, ex JUTUL) recently called at Fremantle for bunkers on her first voyage as a supply tanker for the US Navy Military Sealift Command.

The ship had loaded supply fuel in Greece and was on her way to the US Antarctic base in McMurdo Sound via Hobart, Australia.

Acquired by Maersk in July 2011 and refitted for this service, she is named after Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary who famously reached the Geographic North Pole in 1909 and who led various research missions to the Arctic.

Maersk Peary arrived in Fremantle on 7 January 2012, berthing at sunset as seen in this picture and sailing on the evening of the following day. Picture and caption by Chris Gee

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Tin Can Island terminal in Lagos – open for business

The eight-day national strike called by Nigerian trade unions in protest against the federal government’s elimination of a subsidy on the price of fuel, has been called off after President Goodluck Jonathan agreed to limit gasoline-price increases.

The strike had effectively crippled the West African country with businesses in the cities having closed their doors and the airports and seaports sealed off.

According to the National Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress, the two unions mainly responsible for calling the strike, they “…decided that in order to save lives and in the interest of national survival, these mass actions be suspended.”

“Labour and its allies formally announce the suspension of strikes, mass rallies and protests across the country,” said Abdulwahed Omar, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), during a press conference yesterday.

The unions called on government to release all protesters arrested during the demonstrations since Monday last week.

Earlier in the day President Goodluck Jonathan announced a limit on the increase in gasoline prices to 97 naira, up from 65 naira a litre. This is than the 135 naira originally announced, which more than doubled the fuel price in Africa’s biggest oil producing nation.

President Jonathan said that fixing the litre price at 97 naira was a short-term response to ease hardships.

Earlier the federal government indicated that it had planned on using the money saved on the subsidy to build and improve roads and power stations. The trade unions response was that no-one in Nigeria trusted the government to do what it said with the money saved, blaming government officials of dishonesty and corruption. Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and holds the world's seventh largest gas reserves yet most of the country's 160 million people live without electricity.

Government’s reduction of a fuel price increase and the subsequent calling off of the strike has been described as a ‘lose-lose’ situation for the government and the people of Nigeria. Bloomberg said that according to London-based economist the Nigerian strike may have cost over US$1 billion a day.

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Railway between Nacala and the Malawi border at Nayuchi

The mining group Vale and the government of Malawi have signed a three year concession that will see Vale constructing a new section of railway from Tete to meet the existing Malawi railway network, and the rehabilitation of the Malawian railway as far as the Mozambique border at Nayuchi, and on to the port of Nacala for the purpose of railing export coal to the coast.

The contract worth US$1-billion will lead to 18 million tonnes of coal being exported from the mine at Moatize in Tete Province to the northern Mozambique deepwater port of Nacala, where a coal terminal is also to be constructed.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lilongwe earlier this month, Malawi’s minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure, Sidik Mia said the concession held a number of benefits for Malawi. Among these the agreement specifically provides for Malawi to haul up to 5.2 million tonnes of cargo annually along the railway, an increase on the current 1.5 million tonnes the line carries each year.

“Vale will invest about $1-billion in Malawi over a period of three years for construction and rehabilitation of the railway line and it is expected to employ 4,500 workers of which 70% will be Malawians," Mia said.

The agreement also means access to a reliable railway to the sea for the landlocked country.

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Following the introduction of a single window system at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania has been able to reduce the dwell time for cargo arriving from South Africa from the present 14 days to 7 days.

Tanzania Shipping Agents Association chairman Emmanuel Mallya praised the new system and said it could turn the port of Dar es Salaam into the most competitive in East Africa especially on cargo from South Africa.

“Further improvements of the Dar es Salaam port infrastructure will definitely cut down unnecessary costs related to storage charges which have a negative impact on the prices of the imported goods and this has always been a burden to the end user,” he told the Tanzania Daily News.

With the shipment clearance being preformed online, the burden and delays which importers encountered in lodging documents have been eradicated, he said.

Other stakeholders have recommended further improvements in the information and communication technology (ICT) services at the port. They say there is need to further develop a single window system that could reduce traders' movement from one office to another to collect the necessary documents.

The single window system is a trade facilitation concept whose implementation allows local and cross border traders to submit regulatory documents such as customs declarations, applications for import and export permits, certificates of origin and trading invoices at a single location.

Documents for cargo shipped from South Africa was previously lodged manually, making it cumbersome to complete the entire process and leading to a 14-day dwell time being allocated by Tanzania Ports Authority. With the introduction of electronic handling of documentation for cargo coming from South Africa the port authority has decided that effective early February the free storage time for such cargo will be reduced to a dwell time of 7 days. Source Tanzania Daily News

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The pirate dhow towing a skiff is covered by a RN Lynx helicopter overhead and a navy boat approaching in the water but it still required the marines to board the dhow before the pirates deigned to surrender. Picture courtesy NATO

Friday 13 of January was an unlucky day for 13 Somali pirates. That was the day they met up with a bunch of experienced Royal Marines who decided it was time to put them out of business.

The marines came from the navy support ship RFA FORT VICTORIA, which is home to a British counter-piracy task force now operating in the Somali region and which is acting under the banner of the NATO anti-piracy mission and under the name Operation Ocean Shield.

The pirates were on a dhow operating out of Somalia, the troubled land on either side of the Horn of Africa where piracy has become a basic means of employment for some and a lucrative source of income for others.

The contest was unequal to say the least. RFA Fort Victoria was operating with an American destroyer, the Arleigh Burke class USS CARNEY (DDG-64) when both ships were sent to investigate a dhow that was thought to be in the hands of pirates and being used as a mother ship.

The dhow was towing a skiff and it was thought that the sight of two large and menacing warships approaching at speed would have been intimidating, but no-one wrote that in any pirate manual. It required sending a Lynx helicopter aloft from Fort Victoria and having snipers engage the ‘enemy’ with warning fire from the helicopter and then have a boarding party of Royal Marines go on board the dhow before the modern day buccaneers accepted that the game was truly up and surrendered.

On board was discovered a selection of weapons and 13 pirates. “The moment of going on board the dhow was tense as we knew there were pirates on board who had refused to stop despite our warning shots,” said Capt James Sladden RM, Officer in Charge of the Fleet Standby Rifle Squadron aboard Fort Victoria.

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Port of Beira from the air

Helsinki, Finland, 16 January – Finnish company Konecranes plans to build and deliver two ship-to-shore cranes to Cornelder de Moçambique, the management company of the port of Beira.

The port of Beira is Mozambique’s main port facility and handles cargo to and from Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Konecares said it had received an order at the end of December 2011 for two ship-to-shore (STS) cranes from Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM). The cranes will be equipped with Konecranes’ remote management system and delivered to Port of Beira, Mozambique, in 2013 and will be operating in the port’s container terminal.

CdM is a joint venture formed in 1998 by Rotterdam-based Cornelder Holding and Mozambique Ports & Railways Company. CdM manages the multipurpose container and general cargo terminals of the Port of Beira and is investing in additional infrastructure and machinery to be able to cope with the expected regional growth.

“Adding two Konecranes STS cranes will increase the terminal capacity to 500,000 TEU and this will ensure that Cornelder de Moçambique and the port of Beira will continue to be the main gateway to/from the world for DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana for many years to come,” says Mr Carlos Mesquita, executive managing director, Cornelder de Moçambique.

“We are very proud that Cornelder de Mozambique selected us to deliver these two STS cranes,” says Antoine Bosquet, sales director, WEMEA, Port Cranes at Konecranes. “Cornelder de Moçambique is a key partner in the economic development of the Southeast African region and a principal catalyst in promoting this development, Konecranes is delighted to be able to contribute to this development.”

The ordered STS cranes have an outreach of 40m and a lifting capacity of 65t under the spreader. The cranes are designed to handle twin lift operation. They will be delivered fully erected to the terminal.

The cranes are equipped with remote access technology, enabling remote diagnostics and the related in-depth expertise and maintenance services that are available in the Konecranes TRUCONNECT® offering. Each crane will also be wirelessly connected to the maintenance office, to allow monitoring as well as accurate and fast trouble shooting.

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OCEANIC INDEPENDENCE (23,754-gt, built 1950) seen in 1975 during her short-lived cruising career out of Durban. Built as American Export Lines’ INDEPENDENCE, this ship together with her sister ship CONSTITUTION were at the time the fastest US-built merchant ships, Independence being capable of 26.15 knots on trial.

As designed she carried 484 first class passengers, 350 in cabin class and 254 in tourist. The ships were fully air-conditioned throughout. In 1960 Isbrandtsen Co Inc of New York took a controlling interest in American Export Lines and in 1974 the ship began sailing for Atlantic Far East Lines, part of the CY Tung group, who renamed her Oceanic Independence in which guise she came to South Africa as a 950-passenger carrying ship.

In 1980 CY Tung took advantage of new US laws to transfer the ship to his Hawaii based company named American Hawaii Cruises and after an extensive refit Oceanic Independence began operating 7-day cruises among the Hawaiian islands. In 1982 after American Hawaii Cruises became a part of American Global Line she reverted to her original name of Independence. In August 1999 the 49-year old ship completed her 1000th cruise, by which time she was the last US-built liner to sail under the American flag. Her days were becoming numbered however and in 2003 Independence was sold at auction to Norwegian Cruise Line, together with SS United States. NCL supposedly had grand ideas for both ships but in 2009 after several voyages involving subterfuge she was on a beach near Alang in India, where in 2010 the ship was looted after a cyclone ripped through the area. Indian ship breakers were meanwhile forbidden to dismantle the ship because of environmental concerns. How she got to this position is a story in itself! Pictures by Trevor Jones

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