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Ports & Ships Maritime News

10 August 2012
Author: Terry Hutson


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Cable Layer Chamarel on fire off Namibia

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Chamarel in Cape Town harbour with another French cable layer TELIRI further along the quay. Picture by Aad Noorland

In news that has just come to our notice, the Cape Town-based French cable layer CHAMAREL (8575-gt, built 1974) is on fire off the coast of Namibia and has been abandoned by her crew.

The fire broke out on Wednesday 8 August while the ship was involved with cable laying in a position 68 n.miles north of Henties Bay. According to reports the fire started on the ship’s bridge and quickly spread. The crew consisting of more than 40 personnel decided then to abandon ship and went overboard into lifeboats from which they were later picked up and taken to Walvis Bay by the Namibian patrol vessel Nathaniel Maxwilili. The Chamarel is meanwhile drifting and on fire off the coast.


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The trawler OCEAN BREEZE arrived yesterday (Thursday 9 August) in the South Island port of Lyttelton under tow to the tugCHRISTINE MARY (see below), having been brought from the North Island port of Tauranga for repairs in Lyttelton’s dry dock. The tow took four days to complete. Once the tow entered port limits, assistance came in the form of the local tug PURAU. Picture by Alan Calvert

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The tug Christine Mary took on bunkers and sailed from the port for Auckland a scant two hours later. Picture by Alan Calvert


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Port statistics for month of July 2012, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available. They reveal that during the month the combined ports achieved a total cargo throughput of 21.473 million tonnes, a very slight decrease on the same month in 2011 when 21.533 million tonnes of cargo was handled. A 1.4 million tonne drop in cargo handled by the Port of Durban is the main factor responsible for the overall decrease on a year ago.

Increases in volumes handled at the bulk ports of Richards Bay and Saldanha helped compensate what would otherwise have been a larger drop in overall volumes.


To compare the 2012 July figures year on year with those of 2011, please go to the following link HERE. Use your BACKSPACE button to return to this page.

As is always the case with figures reported in PORTS & SHIPS, these reflect an adjustment on the overall tonnage to those provided by Transnet. This is to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by number of TEUs and does not show the weight.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU, which may involve some under-reporting but until such time as the IMO enforces the weighing of containers at all ports we will have to live with these estimates. Nevertheless, we continue to make this distinction, without which South African ports continue to be under-reported internationally.

Port Statistics continue below…
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The Port of Richards Bay was one of those that performed well during July. Picture by Charles Corbett/TNPA


Figures for the respective ports during July 2012 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during July 2012

PORT June 2012 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.496
Durban 5.409
Saldanha Bay 5.488
Cape Town 1.279
Port Elizabeth 0.955
Ngqura 0.576
Mossel Bay 0.074
East London 0.194
Total all ports 21.473 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during July 2012
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT July 2012 TEUs
Durban 209,269
Cape Town 67,297
Port Elizabeth 22,452
Ngqura 42,678
East London 3,966
Richards Bay 1,424
Total all ports 347,214 TEUs

SHIP CALLS for July 2012

PORT July 2012 vessels gross tons
Durban 298 9,122,221
Cape Town 147 3,267,292
Richards Bay 114 4,876,201
Port Elizabeth 83 2,068,385
Saldanha Bay 37 2,629,206
Ngqura 31 1,782,209
East London 16 398,694
Mossel Bay 44 205,985
Total ship calls 770 24,350,693

- source TNPA, but with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages



  Month's exports YTD exports Annualised estimate Ships Trains
January 2012 4,463,987 4,463,987 52,56mt 44 813
February 2012 6,087,111 10,551,098 64.19mt 63 678
March 2012 6,239,646 16,790,744 67.35 58 810
April 2012 5,174,739 21,965,483 66,26 48 778
May 2012 4,627,648 26,593,131 63,86 46 509
June 2012 5,454,166 32,047,297 64.27 47 725
July 2012 6,279,244 38,326,541 65,68 54 777

source: RBCT


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The bulker QUEEN ASIA (28,425-dwt, built 2011) outward bound from Santos, Brazil. Picture by R Smera

Pretoria - The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) has expressed satisfaction with the cement imports into the country following investigations into reports that the cement imported was of a substandard quality.

“We are happy with the cement and we’re happy with the system we have in ensuring compliance,” acting chief executive officer, Thomas Madzivhe, said on Tuesday.

The NRCS is a public entity that administers compulsory specifications (including cement, among others) on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry.

There had been complaints that the regulator was allowing substandard cement to be imported from Asia, with potential disastrous consequences for infrastructure on the local market.

Madzivhe said the regulator stood for ensuring safety, adding that 26 local importers import Lucky Cement from Pakistan.

“There was suspicion of non-compliance and samples were taken,” he said, noting that the samples were tested by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

The regulator took the compliance issue in a serious light, acting executive for non-perishable products division, Musa Ndlovu, said.

“Industry said they were not compliant. The results showed no non-compliance,” said Ndlovu following full tests that took 30 days to complete as opposed to the regular two-day test.

In the lead up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, there was a spike in the demand for cement, with companies supplementing supply with imports.

Last year, the importing of Lucky Cement was halted when the regulator was taken to court by a local cement producer. The sale of the cement was also stopped. The local manufacturer wanted all distributors of Lucky Cement to be investigated.

Following the court case, investigations into the matter were completed three months ago. No measures against Lucky Cement were taken.

On recent road shows taken by the Regulator, no complaints had been noted about the quality of cement used in houses, including RDP houses.

Additionally, representatives of SABS visit the facilities of Lucky Cement in Pakistan annually to conduct tests.

The Regulator said that tests conducted on the cement were stringent in nature and included aspects such as strength. - SAnews.gov.za


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HMAS Canberra hull loaded on the Dockwise heavylift Blue Marlin

Towards the end of August the 230 metre long hull of the Australian Navy’s new Amphibious Landing Helicopter Dock (ALHD), otherwise known as a helicopter carrier, is due to pass the Cape of Good Hope while on delivery to Australia. The hull is being carried on the deck of the heavylift semi-submersible vessel BLUE MARLIN.

The helicopter carrier hull was built by Navantia in Spain and is the first of two similar vessels that will enter service with the Royal Australian Navy. They are to be named HMAS CANBERRA and HMAS ADELAIDE respectively.

With a hull length of 230m the helicopter carrier protrudes some 55 metres over the deck of the Blue Marlin and to prevent undue stress and strain on the hull engineers have developed a new grillage and sea-fastening design that is intended to safeguard against whatever forces are encountered during the long 12,000 n.mile ocean voyage from Spain to Melbourne, Australia. The journey is intended to be non-stop over 45 days.

The 224m long Blue Marlin is the largest semi-submersible heavylift ship currently available. The heavylift has a width of 63 metres. The voyage to Australia is scheduled to begin on 15 August.

The second hull, which will become HMAS Adelaide will be ready for transportation in early 2014. The two landing docks will be completed in Australia and will replace Australian Navy’s existing amphibious ships.


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MSC Melody sold to Korean buyers

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MSC Melody off Cape Town. Picture by MSC/Starlight Cruises

The well-known cruise ship MSC MELODY, which cruised in South African waters over the past many summers, has been sold to a South Korean company, Lotus Mine. As from February 2013 she will operate a regular service between Shanghai and Jeju island which lies off the coast of South Korea.

Rumour and speculation that MSC Melody was on the market have been rife for some time, especially considering how out of place the 30-year old 35,143-gt ship was beginning to appear among her modern imposing sisters. Never considered a beautiful ship, she nevertheless became a firm favourite among many South Africans on account of her spacious accommodation. Many of her cabins were a full 50 percent larger than equivalents found on MSC SINFONIA or MSC OPERA which have replaced her in South African waters for the coming summer months.

MSC Melody entered service in 1982 with the Greek company Homes Lines as the ATLANTIC. From 1988 she began sailing with Premier Cruise Lines out of Port Canaveral as their STARSHIP ATLANTIC. MSC purchased her in 1997 and renamed her Melody, later changing this to MSC Melody.

Returning to the Mediterranean along the East African coast, after another successful cruise season in South African waters, the ship came under attack by Somali pirates in April 2009, not far from the Seychelles. The pirates in a skiff opened fire in the direction of the ship. What followed remains unclear, but some reports indicated that passengers assisted in beating off the attackers by throwing chairs and other objects at the skiff until security guards on board the ship were alerted to the danger. Other reports suggested that Israeli guards employed on board the ship were alert and used fire hoses and later their handguns to dissuade the pirates from continuing their attack.

Whatever the facts, the ship escaped mainly unscathed and there were no injuries.

A Spanish warship later apprehended the pirates who were handed over to Seychelles authorities. MSC subsequently took to sailing the long way round to South Africa via the Atlantic Ocean.

About a year ago reports suggested the asking price for the ship was in the region of €60 million.


Latest Celebrity cruise ship to be launched on Sunday

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Celebrity Reflection, Celebrity’s fifth Solstice class ship

The latest cruise ship for Celebrity Cruises is due to be floated out of her construction hangar this Sunday, 12 July, from the Mayer Werft Shipyards in Papenburg, Germany.

The newbuild is the latest in the Solstice class and at 126,000-gt and 319 metres long with a width of 37.4m and 16 decks, she is the biggest. With 1,515 cabins she will cater for over 3,030 passengers across her 16 decks, which is one more deck than on the other four Solstice class ships. The ship is to be named REFLECTION and becomes Celebrity’s fifth cruise ship.

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Reflection’s rain shower

Among her features is the 152m² two-bedroom Reflection Suite with an 18m² veranda, complete with a unique sea-view bathroom featuring a transparent glass shower that protrudes over the side of the ship. Special reflective glass preserves the privacy of the occupants. Should they want privacy a flick of the switch activates electrochromatic technology that transforms the glass from transparent to translucent. All this while being afforded breathtaking views across the ocean.

There’s plenty more to say about the features on this latest ship but these will be kept for another time.

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Alcove Restaurant, with half an acre of real green grass outside


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Bisey Uirab, Namport CEO

The Namibian ports of Walvis Bay and Lüderitz have for the first time exceeded the 300,000 TEU mark in containers handled jointly by the two ports. This achievement was reached on 1 August which recorded the volume for the past 11 months.

According to Namport CEO, Bisey Uirab, this is by no means a small achievement.

He said that the team effort at Namport has gone a long way in positioning Namport as the “best performing world-class port service provider in Africa.”

Bisey reiterated the importance of Namport’s strategic slogan ‘Tulongeni Pamwe’ urging employees to work together to maintain the standards that Namport has set for themselves of remaining competitive within the Maritime Industry. The CEO and some members of his management team, then jetted off to the Port of Lüderitz to join the team down south in celebrating the joint achievement.


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There’s so much to see that it is difficult to make out clearly what exactly one is seeing. The pipelay heavylift work barge SEVEN POLARIS (formerly ACERGY POLARIS) has been undergoing extensive repairs, refitting and maintenance in the Sturrock dry dock at Cape Town lasting several months and recently moved out to occupy L berth where work on the upper deckside is continuing. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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