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Ports & Ships Maritime News

4 April 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


57,105 readers and over one million hits were recorded on PORTS & SHIPS during January 2012 and 55,000 readers in February, the shortest month – thank you readers.

Yet another excellent reason to consider advertising your company or services on these pages. info@ports.co.za for details

Improve your branding with your banner on this site and tap into our large readership - contact info@ports.co.za



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The British owned, managed and flagged drill ship STENA FORTH (58,294-gt, built 2009) seen in the Table Bay anchorage outside the port of Cape Town. Picture by Aad Noorland

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Prior to the drill ship’s arrival off Cape Town, Fairmount Marine’s multipurpose support vessel FAIRMOUNT FUJI was contracted to perform several cargo runs when Stena Forth arrived to anchor offshore of the port for crew changes and replenishments.

Fairmount Fuji is equipped with a spacious 280 square metre deck which makes her ideal for the transport of goods. Fairmount Fuji subsequently sailed between Cape Town port and Cape Town anchorage for a number of cargo runs.

Fairmount Marine, which has its headquarters in Rotterdam, is a marine contractor for ocean towage and heavy lift transportation and has a fleet of five modern super tugs of 205 tons bollard pull each, especially designed for long distance towing, and a multipurpose support vessel. Fairmount Marine is part of the Louis Dreyfus Armateurs Group.


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FRS Algoa. Picture DEA

In this report provided courtesy of SMIT Amandla Marine, a brief account is given of the recent epic 90-day research voyage undertaken by the FRS ALGOA (759-gt, built 1975). The ship was under the command of Captain Toralf Grapow.

The cruise coordinator was Tommy Bornman of Port Elizabeth, whose account follows:

The FRS 'Algoa' returned to Cape Town recently following an epic, 90 day research voyage.

The vessel sailed from Cape Town on 21 January to Port Elizabeth and Durban, deploying smaller moorings for the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) at Agulhas, Mossel Bay, and Tsitsikama.

In Port Elizabeth the ship collected a coelacanth that was at SAIAB (South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity) to be taken to Institut Halieutique et des Sciences Marines (IH-SM) in Tulear (Madagascar).

After Port Elizabeth we deployed three more small scientific moorings off Mazeppa Bay before arriving in Durban on 25 January this year,

In Durban we loaded personnel and equipment from NIOZ (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research). We also took on a Mozambican and three Malagasy students. This was to be our third highly successful campaign with NIOZ. The first one was in 2009 to service the same moorings we were about to service again.

These instruments stay in the water for two years. The mooring array we service for them are called the LOCO moorings (LOCO = Long-term Ocean Climate Observation). These moorings measure amongst other things the inter-annual variability in water and heat transport from the tropics to the poles. What happens in the channel affects weather in Europe!!!

There were eight arrays in the water. These moorings are up to 2500m long and sit anywhere between 100 to 500m below the surface in about 2000 - 2500m of water. As this is our third cruise with NIOZ, we know most of the guys, which makes for a wonderful working dynamic. The Dutch are true innovators and it is quite stimulating to be part of something so cutting edge. Their array runs across the northern part of the Moz channel between Mozambique and Madagascar (in the narrow part at the top).

We were delayed for three days in Durban due to Cyclone Funzo which was raging in the Mozambique Channel. We finally sailed on the 30th. All crew and scientists were drilled extensively in piracy attack procedures. While we were not going anywhere near the 12S limit with the Dutch on board, an imaginary line on a chart is not going to dissuade pirates from crossing it, so we thought it best to be prepared. The ship was covered in barbed wire to make access difficult for pirates and many other preparations.

On 1 February we installed an underwater temperature recorder at Zambia reef on the Mozambique coast using the divers we had on board.

The next day we unsuccessfully tried to recover a sediment trap off the Zambezi River mouth, but it would not release from the bottom and was abandoned due to failing light and time constraints. Over the next two days we recovered four moorings. On the 5th we put two back.

On 6 February we stuck in a temperature recorder at Banc Vaucluse near Juan de Nova Island and recovered two moorings. The following day we did something special. We managed to find and recover a previously lost mooring that was only 400m long in a water depth of 1400m. The mooring would previously not release from the seabed (like the one off Zambezi). We dredged for it, hit it first time and recovered the entire array.

On the 8th we were at Mozambique Island to service an underwater temperature recorder. On the 9th we recovered the last Dutch mooring and headed to Bassas das Indias where we arrived the next day, but were not able to work due to the fact that we had not yet received our permit from the French Government. We then headed to Nosy Ve, an island south of Tulear in Madagascar to install a UTR (underwater temperature recorder).

We arrived in Tulear on 12 February to disembark the Dutch, take on fuel, drop the prehistoric fish, and collect nine Malagasy students (part of this project is capacity building).

We were then forced to delay sailing from Tulear as Cyclone Giovanna crossed the Madagascan continent to the north of us. The thinking was that we would nip around the bottom to the other side of Madagascar and head north to Toamasina on the NE Madagascar coast. Well, even though the eye was 450 miles from us when we rounded the bottom, we got pummelled by the weather. The poor Malagasy students. What an ordeal it must have been for them!

On the 18th we finally arrived in Toamasina to discharge all the Dutch equipment, disembark very grateful Malagasy students and load equipment for our next clients, NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration). The Americans have an array of moorings which run along the 55E longitude in Latitudes 8,12,16 S.

This area is known as the Mascarene basin. The 8S mooring sits in the high risk for piracy area so we were not going to service that one as we needed an armed escort to work there, which had not been possible to arrange. These moorings consist of large surface buoys that are tethered to the seabed and provide real time meteorological information and are used for monsoon analysis. This was the second time we had serviced these moorings and they (NOAA) sent the same technicians out again, which made for a very easy working relationship.

We sailed on 20 February for Cap Est on the top NE coast of Madagascar to deploy an underwater temperature recorder. From there we headed for the 12S mooring which was to be serviced. Just as we arrived at 12S we received news that there was extreme weather on its way in the form of a category five cyclone. What to do? Can't go north because of the pirates. Mauritius was an option, but that was 500 miles away and we did not have enough fuel to battle our way back to the worksite once it passed. So we headed to Mahe in the Seychelles (after receiving the requisite permission).

We arrived safely at Port Victoria anchorage on the 24th. We stayed in Port Victoria for six days and after taking on fuel and water, we left under cover of darkness on 2 March, so we could be well clear of the Islands by daybreak.

We decided that it would be stupid not to service the mooring at 8S. We had to pass right by it after all. So we obtained permission and the mooring was serviced. We confined our working to daylight only, because the ship's lights can be seen for miles in the dark. At night we ran dark.

So we managed to service all three moorings, 8, 12 and 16, all without incident. The Americans reckoned it to have been some of the smoothest, fastest change- outs they had ever seen. To change these moorings out, we deploy an entire new array (about 4500m) and then recover the old one completely. These things are not small either.

After we finished 16S on the afternoon of 8 March, we received a message from the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre at La Reunion to proceed north to a position where they had spotted a capsized hull. We arrived in the search area at about ten that night and started searching. Just before midnight we stopped, because we were all exhausted from the mooring work and also running the risk of colliding with the hull in the dark. We resumed at first light and were joined by a French naval aircraft six hours later. When they spotted the hull we were four miles from it.

Their instruction was for us to identify the hull. We did that by sending divers down as the name was submerged. There were no [apparent] survivors. The hull was that of the ‘Coryphaena’. As it was a hazard to navigation we tried to sink it but in this we were not successful and returned to our original deviation point and to install a UTR on a tiny Island called Ile Tromelin, NW of Reunion.

After Tromelin we sailed for Toamasina to discharge the NOAA scientists and their equipment, and to take fuel. We arrived on the 11th and sailed again on the 12th bound to the southern tip of Madagascar, to a place called Andavaka to install a UTR. The visibility there was too poor to install the UTR, so we headed again to Bassas das Indias because we had now obtained the requisite permission from the French Government. We arrived in Bassas two days later on the 16th. We could not find the UTR there and suspect that sand from the lagoon had covered it after Cyclone Funso had crossed near Bassas, so we installed a new one.

Then we dropped a UTR near Ponta Zavora in Mozambique before heading to Port Elizabeth. In PE we landed the last of our scientists and took on fresh produce before heading for Cape Town.

By the time the vessel reached Cape Town, it had been gone for 64 days. In that time, the 52m Algoa travelled a little over 9000 nautical miles. During this time well over 42000 metres of equipment was deployed and recovered over the stern of the ship, without incident and to the satisfaction of the local and foreign scientists.


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The following statement has been issued by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

In terms of Section 72(1)(a) of National Ports Act, 2005 (Act No. 12 of 2005) TNPA has submitted its tariff application for 2012/13 financial year to the Ports Regulator. The Ports Regulator has determined an overall tariff increase of 2.76% for the 2012/13 financial year – provision has been made for a R1bn discount program for the benefit of exporters of new South African manufactured motor vehicles on wheels and full containers.

The rebate will be granted by discounting Export Cargo Duties on:


  • New South African manufactured motor vehicles on wheels – R200 per vehicle


  • 6m/20’ Containers (full) – R 740 per container


  • 12m/40’/13.7m/45’ Containers (full) – R 1820 per container

    The applicable Export Cargo Dues tariff discount will be automated through the TNPA invoicing system, triggered by the normal submission of cargo dues orders.

    The Export Cargo Dues tariff discount program will operate on a first come first serve basis and will cease once the rebate threshold of R1bn has been reached.

    The 2.76% tariff increase as well as the Export Cargo Dues tariff discount program will come into effect from 01 April 2012.

    The updated tariff book can be found on the TNPA website www.transnetnationalportsauthority.net. Use your BACK BUTTON to return to this page.


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    South Africa’s new icebreaking research and polar supply vessel S.A.Agulhas seen on her recent sea trials. Picture courtesy Urban Soul

    According to Project Manager Alan Robertson, the newly built icebreaker and polar research vessel S.A.AGULHAS II returned to port on Saturday 24 March after successfully completing a series of Ice Trials in the north of the Bay of Bothnia, having sailed from Rauma, Finland on 19 March.

    The trials have been described as very successful with the ship having behaved beyond expectation. The purpose of the trials was to make a range of measurements while the vessel was navigating in ice. In addition to measuring the thickness and density of the ice, load cells fitted in various compartments on the ship measured the actual load on the hull and propulsion system.

    Participants in the experiment, the first of its kind conducted on a new build included the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), STX Finland, Aalto and Oulu Universities Finland, Stellenbosch University, Aker Arctic, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), Wartsila and and Rolls Royce. In addition to the load measurements, vibration measurements were made in key areas of the ship.

    Because of the lateness in the season, melting of the ice had already begun but the ship was able to very successfully navigate in ice up to 600mm thick without any difficulty. The experiment will continue during the ship's first SANAE Relief Voyage in December 2012.

    During the voyage, the opportunity was taken to complete the final testing and acceptance of the propulsion system and both the shipyard and DEA are now busy with preparations for the official Handover which takes place this week (Wednesday 4 April). The ship is planned to sail on 5 April and arrive in Cape Town on 3 May 2012.

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    Having successfully completed her sea trials S.A.Agulhas will sail for South Africa on Thursday, 5 April. The new ship is due in the Mother City on 3 May 2012. Picture courtesy Urban Soul


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    MOL links with ‘K’ Line and PIL to expand Asia-South Africa service

    Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) is to join ‘K’ Line and PIL on their joint ASA service already in existence between Asia and South Africa. The ASA service connects Asia with South Africa on a 56-day rotation and covers the ports of Shanghai, Ningbo, Keelung, Hong Kong, Shenzhen-Shekou, Singapore, Port Kelang, Durban, Cape Town, Port Kelang, Singapore, Hong Kong and back to Shanghai.

    MOL’s participation in ASA begins on Sunday, 8 April. With MOL the service which will now have eight ships, and ASA becomes a weekly call in each port. MOL is to provide a single ship at this stage, the MOL DELIGHT.

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    MOL Delight which has joined the ASA service. Picture by Ian Shiffman

    MOL adds Nacala to Mozambique Express Service

    MOL is expanding its Mozambique Express Service (MZX) by way of a fortnightly call at the northern Mozambique port of Nacala during the months of May and June this year. The new rotation will become Tanjung Pelepas, Singapore, Port Louis, Durban, Maputo, Tamatave/Nacala (on an alternative weekly basis), returning to Tanjung Pelepas for a total rotation of 35 days.


    MSC increases Asia – East Coast South America rates

    With effect from 15 April MSC intends raising its rates from Asia to the east coast of South America. An increase of US$500 per TEU will apply on Asian export cargo.


    US$397 million loss for Israel’s Zim Line

    Zim Integrated Shipping Services (Zim) has posted a loss of US$397 million for the 2011 financial year, down by 835% from a profit of $54 million posted in 2010. Zim is listed as the world’s 16th largest container carrier.


    COSCO posts huge loss for 2011

    China’s Cosco has announced what amounts to the biggest loss recorded by any shipping company so far this year - $1.66 billion for the 2011 year, which is a massive turnaround from the $1.07bn profit is reported a year ago.

    The losses appear to have all been made by the shipping line divisions as Cosco’s terminal and logistics operating divisions each posted profits.

    During 2011 Cosco handled 6.91 million TEU, up 22.2% on the previous year. It might be said that COSCO’s financial woes rose in proportion to its increase in volumes.

    In a statement Cosco said: “In 2012, the outlook of the overall shipping market is still not optimistic. On one hand, weaker consumption in developed countries will slow down the growth of global trading volumes; on the other hand, overcapacity will remain unfavourable to the shipping market because of a large amount of newbuild vessels to be delivered.”

    Cosco has 28 ships under construction and due for delivery between 2012 an 2014.


    Hapag-Lloyd posts $38 million loss

    Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s fourth largest container carrier posted a net loss of US$38 million for the 2011 year, after generating an operating profit of $133.3m. In the previous year the German line made a net profit of $565 million.

    “In comparison with the competition, this was an excellent result for Hapag-Lloyd in a challenging year,” maintained CEO Michael Behrendt.


    Sanko seeks restructuring

    Japan’s Sanko Steamship is reported to have begun a process of looking to its major creditors for debt restructuring, after suffering substantial losses in the last year caused by low freight rates, high bunker costs and a strong yen.

    Sanko, which is better known for carrying bulk cargoes but also has interests in the liquid bulk markets and offshore sectors, has in recent years been a strong supporter of providing training berths on ships for young South African cadets.

    In addition to restructuring Sanko, which earlier this year was in control of 195 ships along with another 20 newbuilds on order, is believed to have sold off a number of modern ships in loss-making transactions in order to reduce debt levels.


    Unlucky name?

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    Gas Roman and Springbok at their unwanted rendezvous in the Malacca Straits, 2003

    One of the two ships that collided in the English Channel on 26 March was named SPRING BOK - a 10,113-dwt reefer vessel operated by the Dutch Seatrade Groningen organisation. The reefer was in collision with a 3,590-dwt gas tanker, GAS ARCTIC. Both ships suffered damage above the waterline but there were no injuries.

    Spring Bok has been a frequent caller in Durban in recent years during the citrus seasons.

    Readers with slightly longer memories will recall another ship named SPRINGBOK – spelt the conventional way– that was in a horrific collision near Singapore in South East Asia about nine or ten years ago. Springbok was a SD14 freighter that hadn’t long since completed a full survey and maintenance refit in Durban and was carrying a cargo of timber when she was sliced almost in half by the gas tanker GAS ROMAN, laden with 44,000-tonnes of LPG.

    Miraculously both ships survived. Springbok not only survived but was repaired, despite her age and ‘injuries’, and continues to sail today as one of the surviving SD14 types as the Chinese-owned HE FENG. A picture of the collision is seen frequently in PowerPoint presentations of ship casualties, being a favourite in this topic it seems.

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    Springbok at the Durban repair quay in November 2002, not long before her collision with the Gas Roman. Picture by Terry Hutson


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    Cape Town’s bunker barge, Unical’s SOUTHERN VALOUR. Picture by The Aerial Perspective

    Durban-based Grindrod Limited, South Africa’s leading integrated logistics and shipping business, intends selling a 50% interest in Cockett Marine Oil to Vitol, the world’s largest independent energy trading business.

    The transaction is subject to competition commission approval.

    Cockett is one of the world’s leading suppliers of marine fuel suppliers with a network of offices across Europe, Americas and Far East providing a global service to shipping clients. Cockett delivers approximately five million tonnes of marine fuels annually and is also developing a network of physical supply operations in strategic locations.

    “Vitol is the ideal partner to support Cockett's global growth strategy”, said Karl Beeson, managing director of Cockett Marine Oil.

    In addition to this transaction, the companies have formed a joint venture company called Leopard Tankers and will build four medium range product tankers in Korea which will deliver in the first half of 2013. The ships will be commercially operated within the Vitol Group.

    “This investment represents the ideal partnership of an experienced ship owner with a first class commercial operator having access to a substantial cargo base,” said Martyn Wade, CEO of Grindrod Shipping.

    “The ships represent cutting edge design and incorporate the latest engine technologies allowing significant savings in fuel consumption and running costs. We believe this partnership is an exciting platform for future expansion with the ability to rapidly scale up the investment model as opportunities develop.”

    Ian Taylor, president and CEO of the Vitol Group, said they were pleased to have signed this agreement with Grindrod. “In January we acquired an interest in their Maputo coal terminal and created a coal trading joint venture. Now we have broadened our relationship with the purchase of 50% of Cockett, one of the leading value added resellers of marine fuels, and our joint agreement to build four new product tankers. These are all important additions to the Vitol Group and sources of future growth.”



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    The death occurred in Scotland on 27 February this year of Sir James Cayzer, 5th Baronet who inherited his fortune from the shipping business founded by his great grandfather that later included the Cayzer Trust and various banking, property and land investments. He was 81.

    His great grandfather had settled in India where he became the founder of the Clan Line which operated between India and South Africa, although the headquarters were situated in Glasgow. Clan Line went on became one of the world’s most significant shipping companies and was the foundation of the Cayzer family’s vast fortune. Clan Line merged with Union Castle in 1955 and was renamed British & Commonwealth Shipping.

    Acknowledgements to The Scotsman and to Ports & Ships reader Alastair Pettie

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    Clan Ross of the Clan Line sailing from Durban, 1969. Picture by Trevor Jones



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    YESTERYEAR: Those classic ships – ELGAREN, IFAFA, SENA

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    The Swedish diesel ship ELGAREN (5737-gt, built1956) seen sailing from Durban circa 1960s. Capable of a speed of 17 knots and with accommodation for 12 passengers, Elgaren was owned by Rederi AB Transatlantica, otherwise known as the Swedish Transatlantic Steamship Company. Picture by Trevor Jones

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    The Rennies coaster IFAFA sailing from Durban. This little ship was previously Durban Lines’ CONGELLA II, which had been employed on the Durban to Mozambique coastal trade. Picture by Trevor Jones

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    The SENA arriving in Durban in the mid 1970s. Picture by Trevor Jones


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    Mozambique seeks funding for new railway lines

    The Mozambican government is negotiating the funding necessary to build five new railway lines in central and northern Mozambique, says Paulo Zucula, Mozambique’s Transport and Communications minister.

    Speaking to the Maputo newspaper Noticias, Zucula said the lines were necessary to carry coal as well as other commodities. They amounted to some 5,000 kilometres of new railway lines, of which one would link the Nhamayabue region in Tete province, to Mutuale, in Nampula.

    He said that a second line will link Nhamayabue and Nacala, crossing through Zambézia province, whilst a third will link Moatize to the Zambézia coast and Moatize to Malawi.

    Zucula said that negotiations were underway with Brazilian group Vale and with Anglo-Australian group Rio Tinto as well as with other companies interested in investing in the region. Of the various lines, that from Nhamayabue to Mutuale was at the most advanced stage of negotiation with the engineering study having been completed and financing now being negotiated.

    He gave no date for the start of construction, but gave assurances that in this first half of the year there would be a clear indication of concession conditions and financing for the railway lines. (macauhub)


    Bids invited for Djibouti’s Doraleh container terminal extension

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    Doraleh Container Terminal. Picture Michael Smewing

    The Port of Djibouti will invite bids for the US$300 million extension to the Doraleh Container Terminal, which will double the capacity of the present terminal to 3 million TEU. Bidding will be invited in the fourth quarter of this year.

    A spokesman for the port authority said that it was in talks with the World Bank, with China, and with the African Development Bank. He said Djibouti was a small port but traffic to the hinterland (mainly Ethiopia) was increasing. Djibouti also acts as a hub port for the southern Red Sea region.

    Doraleh Container Terminal, which enjoys an 18m draft alongside its 1,050m quay, is partly owned by DP World.



    Angola: Benguela railroad test train reaches Cuito

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    Angolan news agency Angop reports that a test train carrying officials from the respective provincial governments has reached the inland town of Cuito (Kuito) in Angola’s Bié province.

    Earlier the train had left from Huambo, some 202km away but this was the first time in 24 years that the railway into Huambo had been in use. From Huambo the line runs to the coast and the ports of Benguela and Lobito.

    The next target is to reopen the line as far as Luena in Moxico province, with work on this already underway. The ultimate target is the border town of Luau where the railway could connect with the DRC railway (and from there to Zambia).


    Nigeria: NIMASA ready to implement Cabotage

    The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has reaffirmed its intention of pressing ahead and implementing the provisions of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Trade Act 2003, which provides for cabotage on the Nigerian coast and waterways.

    The cabotage act, which has borrowed extensively from the US Jones Act stipulates that only vessels built in Nigerian shipyards, owned by Nigerians and crewed by Nigerians, have the statutory right to engage in coastal and inland shipping trade in Nigeria.

    Although the Act was passed in 2003, a clause allowing for waivers has become the rule rather than the exception and thousands of waivers have been granted to foreign-owned vessels to engage in coastal trade and shipping activity. The result is that thousands of jobs that the Act says should be taken up by Nigerians are filled by foreigners, principally seafarers from the Philippines and from India.

    But now, according to NIMASA’s director-general Ziakede Akpobolokemi, the agency has identified the challenges in the implementation of cabotage and is poised to address them.

    In setting about with this implementation, NIMASA faces numerous challenges, not the least being finding the necessary financial and human resources.

    “It is pertinent to point out that shipping is indeed an international business and is globally regulated,” Akpobolokemi said. “NIMASA recognises that in enforcing cabotage, there is need to build a creative balance between laudable forces of nationalism which cabotage represents and the market forces of industry in oil and gas as well as maritime, which drives competitiveness.

    “We are aware of our own limitations in the administration of the regime and especially enforcement capacity. With 13,000 square kilometres of water body and a coastline of 853 kilometres along the Gulf of Guinea, a claim to the inland waters of 12 nautical miles and territorial sea of 24 nautical miles, an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and a continental shelf of 200 nautical miles, it remains a daunting challenge to physically monitor bunker activities or other trade within Nigerian waters with a view to enforcing Nigeria's claims under the cabotage dispensation.

    “Notwithstanding, we are addressing such challenges through rigorous and painstaking approaches including public private partnerships to improve compliance and enforcement,” he added.


    Maersk increases freight rates, again

    Maersk Line has announced another freight rate increase, the second in two months, on container shipments from India to West African ports.

    Maersk instituted rate increase on containers of US$150 per 20ft and $250 per 40ft container on 1 March and has followed up with an increase of $100 per 20ft and $150 per 40ft as from 1 April 2012. Maersk said that rates are proving hard to sustain in the current market scenario.



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    MSC Sinfonia sails from Cape Town on Friday, 30 March 2012, bound for Italy at the end of a successful cruise season in South African waters. Picture by Clinton Wyness

    by Sheila Hutson

    MSC SINFONIA has sailed from Cape Town for Italy at the end of her summer cruise season in South African waters.

    The 58,714-gross ton, 2000-passenger ship had completed a season of cruising out of Durban to Mozambique coastal destinations such as Portuguese Island and Barra Lodge near Bazaruto Island, with longer cruises to Mauritius, Reunion and Madagascar.

    Together with the 1500-passenger MSC MELODY, MSC Starlight Cruises is reporting having carried 110,000 passengers on the two ships since November, with MSC Melody having operated cruises mainly out of Cape Town to Walvis Bay on the west coast and Mossel Bay eastwards.

    This was MSC Melody’s final cruise season in South African waters – so far as is known – as the ship is being replaced in South African waters next summer. In its place is coming the 2,100-passenger MSC OPERA which will take up cruising out of Durban as from November this year, with MSC Sinfonia transferring to the Cape to handle cruises out of Cape Town.

    Several new cruises have been laid on. One of these is an 11-night roundtrip cruise from Cape Town to Walvis Bay and then on to the South Atlantic Ocean island of St Helena. Long a requested destination for MSC to visit, St Helena is one of the most isolated islands in the world, and used to serve as an important rendezvous point and source of food for ships that were travelling from Asia en route to Europe. French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to, and is buried on the island.

    Another tweak to cruising involves the popular Christmas cruise which has been changed slightly, with MSC Opera sailing to Portuguese Island and then on to the tiny beach village of Anakoa in Madagascar. This unspoiled port of call is known for its diving, fishing and surfing alongside a quaint fishing village where the locals still craft seaworthy dhows right on the beach.

    An 11 night festive New Year cruise on board MSC Opera has also seen a new addition with New Year’s Eve celebrated under Reunion skies. The MSC Opera arrives in Mauritius on New Year’s Day where the ship will remain in port for 3 nights.

    MSC Opera also has Port Elizabeth as a port of call towards the end of her season and will perform a couple of cruises out of Cape Town to Mossel Bay, Walvis Bay, and Luderitz before leaving South African shores for the European summer.

    With an extended cruising season next year, it will now be possible to take an Easter cruise out of Durban, at a time when schools are on holiday and which is sure to be in big demand.


    Fire on Azamara Quest

    by Sheila Hutson

    The cruise ship AZAMARA QUEST has become the latest in a flow of mishaps to strike the cruise industry this year, when the 30,277-gross ton ship, built in 2000, experienced a fire in the engine room on 30 March.

    The ship was sailing in Philippines’ waters at the time, having earlier left Hong Kong on a 17-day cruise to Singapore. Although the fire was quickly extinguished and basic electrical service restored, the ship was left with no propulsion and was forced to drift. The cause of the fire has not been disclosed.

    Azamara Quest of Azamara Club Cruises, a division of Royal Caribbean Cruises, is the original R7 of Renaissance Lines and has also sailed under the names Delphin Renaissance and Blue Moon.

    She was reported to have 590 passengers and 411 crew on board on her current voyage. Spirits were said to be good among passengers but no doubt the complaint, and claims, will flow once everyone is ashore and back home. There are no reported injuries to passengers or crew.

    A pair of Filipino coast guard vessels were among the first to reach the stricken ship later on Saturday. The ship has since docked at the port of Karamunting. Passengers were flown to Singapore on chartered flights.



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    FS TONNERRE L9014, sister ship to the dock landing ship FS DIXMUDE which is expected in Cape Town within the next week. This picture was taken in Durban when Tonnerre made her first visit to South Africa in May 2010. Picture by Trevor Jones

    Ships from the navies of several nations are currently in southern African waters and making visits to ports in the region.

    Among these are two ships of PLAN, the Chinese Navy, which arrived in the port of Maputo, Mozambique just before the recent weekend. The two ships, the destroyer HAIKOU DDG-171 and the frigate YUNCHENG FFG-571 have until recently been deployed on anti-piracy patrols off the Horn of Africa.

    The Chinese ships have since sailed from Maputo. It is not known at this stage whether they will continue their voyage down the African coast to call at any South African ports. One year ago last April three Chinese navy ships also returning from anti-piracy patrol visited Maputo and Durban each for several days.

    Three French Navy ships are expected in Cape Town in the next week. These are the frigate FS FLOREAL F730, the frigate FS GEORGES LEYGUES D640 and the Mistral-class dock landing ship FS DIXMUDE L9015. Floreal is listed to arrive in Cape Town on 11 April.



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    Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 9580-TEU container ship MSC CANDICE (107,849-gt, built 2007) in Cape Town harbour last week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic 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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