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Ports & Ships Maritime News

4 December 2012
Author: Terry Hutson



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


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The oil rig ENSCO 5001 is seen being towed into Table Bay behind the tug URANUS (250-gt, built 2009). Ensco 5001, which is currently operating in South African waters on contract to PetroSA, is the former Pride South Pacific. Picture by Aad Noorland


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SA Agulhas in her ‘Seeing is Believing’ livery prior to leaving Cape Town. Picture by Glen Kasner

London - The South African Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) CEO, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, yesterday (3 December 2012) hosted international shipping companies and entities as well as other maritime stakeholders from the UK and Europe on board the cadet training ship SA AGULHAS, moored on the River Thames.

The event was held to profile SAMSA’s training and development globally, and to alert the international companies about the availability of expertly trained African cadets. It is hoped that the shipping lines will assist SAMSA in providing opportunities for further training and experience of marine cadets.

On boarding the ship, representatives from various shipping lines were able to meet the 62 cadets on board, an engagement SAMSA had arranged for networking potential employers with the cadets. The ship was docked beside HMS Belfast. The event also served to alert international companies about the availability of expertly trained African cadets.

The cadets daily activities include maintaining the watch offices, engaging in cargo work; getting greasy in the engine room, providing medical care where necessary, and cooking up a variety of foods and providing catering services.

In London they have visited the renowned Greenwich village which houses some of the world’s best maritime museums, touched the Greenwich line; and have had the experience of living the maritime reality from an international perspective.

The voyage from Cape Town to London began on 2 November and saw the vessel journey along the Atlantic coast of Africa with 62 trainee cadets on board, making stops in Namibia, Ghana and Cote d’ Ivoire. SA Agulhas has also been chartered by TAWT to undertake the ’Coldest Journey on Earth’ in 2013, as part of mainstreaming scientific research in the Commonwealth nations. The vessel loaded equipment for the expedition at the weekend.


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Ship repair facilities at the Port of Walvis Bay

The synchrolift at the Namibian Port of Walvis Bay is due to close for maintenance for three months as from early February, reports the Namib Times.

The maintenance programme is scheduled to commence on 8 February 2013 and end on 6 May 2013 and will be the first comprehensive overhaul it has received in 40 years.

The synchrolift serves a large number of smaller craft such as fishing vessels that would otherwise have to journey to Cape Town for maintenance and repair. According to the report something like 50 vessels a month are lifted.

“This forms part of the scheduled maintenance programme for Namport infrastructure. The steel structure which forms part of the main lifting mechanism of the Syncrolift itself needs to be dismantled, sandblasted, cleaned, repaired and a new corrosion protection system applied. This process will take the lift out of operation until it is reinstalled. The rehabilitation can unfortunately not be done without taking the structure out of operation for at least three months,” Christian Faure, Namport’s Marketing and Strategic Business Development executive said.

He added that if not taken out of operation and repaired now Namport runs the risk of the structure being permanently damaged.

The cost of the maintenance is expected to be in the region of N$20 million (R20m). The port also has two 150m floating docks in service, operated as a joint venture between Elgin Brown & Hamer and Namport. “The syncrolift facility is booked out a year in advance and the shut-down has been taken into account by our customers. Vessel owners are to make their own alternative arrangements for urgent repairs or maintenance,” said Faure. Most of the work on the syncrolfit is performed by private repair companies who will bear the brunt of the shutdown.

The synchrolift has a lifting capacity of 2,000 tonnes and can handle vessels up to 80m in length and with a beam of 12m. – source Namib Times


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Beira coal terminal rehabilitation underway. Picture by Rogan Troon

The new coal terminal at the port of Beira, which underwent temporary refurbishment between 2010 and the end of 2011, is expected to be fully operational as of 2015, the chairman of state port and railway management company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM), told Mozambican magazine Xitimela.

Temporary refurbishment work was completed at the end of August 2011. This included emergency dredging costing US$43 million that made it possible for the port to receive ships with a deadweight tonnage of 60,000t, as compared to a capacity of up to 30,000-dwt previously.

According to the chairman of CFM, the conclusion of the Sena railroad reconstruction will make it possible to, “increase the annual volume of cargo processed at the port of Beira up to 20 million tons per year, mainly by exporting coal from Moatize.”

Mining companies Vale Moçambique and Riversdale Mining, later acquired by the Rio Tinto group, signed a memorandum of understanding with CFM in 2010 in order to temporarily repair the terminal at the port of Beira for the export of Moatize coal.

The two companies were given coal processing and export capacities of 5 million tons per year, and Vale Moçambique took up most of the terminal’s capacity – 68 percent – with Riversdale Mining the remaining balance. - source Macauhub


CIFOR identifies discrepancy in Mozambique timber exports to China

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African forests at risk. Picture by Nadine Laporte / WHRC

Bogor, Indonesia - In 2010, Mozambican export figures show almost US$49 million worth of timber shipped out of the country bound for China. Chinese import figures on the other hand show over US$134 million in wood landed from Mozambique. The discrepancy of US$85.4 million is roughly equivalent to the annual income of over 194,000 Mozambicans.

This difference in trade figures is discussed in a recent working paper on the effects of Sino-Mozambican trade relations on forests, which is one of the first outputs of a research project on China-Africa relations conducted by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in collaboration with the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry Engineering (FAEF), University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM) during 2011-13. The paper’s authors — CIFOR affiliated anthropologist, Laura German, and environmental economist, Sheila Wertz- Kanounnikoff — say there are a couple of possible reasons for the $361 million difference in timber between claimed over the last decade.

Firstly, Mozambican officials are either ’unable or unwilling to fully account’ for wood leaving Mozambican ports. Wertz-Kanounnikoff relates this issue to two factors.

“There is a lack of capacity in terms of human and capital resources, including weak inter-agency coordination,” she says.

“Custom officials for example are not trained in timber measurement and species identification, so they either require dedicated training or better coordination with forest services. Then, Mozambique is a country where rent-seeking behaviour is not uncommon. This makes both data management at ports and keeping track of data records and statistics between the port and national aggregators difficult.” - source Forests News/Cifor.org


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Picture by Trevor Steenkamp

MSC Starlight Cruises is to go live during December with its new reservation system tool which it says will revolutionise the way in which MSC Starlight deals with the South African Travel Industry.

Travel agents will be able to access inventory for all ships in the MSC Cruises fleet directly, in real time and make a reservation online using a simple booking process.

The online system will therefore allow an agent to book any cruise offered by MSC Cruises both local and internationally and to print the confirmation immediately without the need of a single call to the MSC Starlight Cruise offices.

“We thank all agents for their patience during the past few weeks where a late booking trend has seen the telephone lines to all the MSC Starlight offices choked with thousands of calls resulting in long delays and much frustration,” says MSC Starlight’s Allan Foggit.

He said the online reservation tool will totally eliminate this frustration and provide agents with the means to offer clients a quick and professional service in real time as it provides availability and an immediate booking.

Agents wishing to register and receive training need to go to the website www.msccruises.co.za and follow the directions for MSC Online (use your BACKSPACE button to return to this page).


Chinese luxury cruise ship HENNA almost ready to sail

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Pacific Sun, which has been sold to a Chinese owner and renamed HENNA. Picture Wikipedia Commons

China has unveiled its latest cruise ship, the 47,000-gross ton, 223m long, 31m wide HENNA which will enter service on 26 January 2012 with a voyage on the Sanya – Ha Long Bay – Da Nang route, catering specifically for Chinese and East Asian tourists.

The ship has 739 cabins for 1965 passengers in addition to the usual range of public lounges bars and restaurants.

Henna entered service in 1986 for Carnival Cruise Lines as its JUBILEE. In 2004 the ship transferred to P&O Cruises Australia for the Australian market and was renamed PACIFIC SUN. Her sale to a Chinese buyer was announced in December 2011 with the ship being transferred in July this year.

Henna is now owned and operated by Sanya Artemis Yacht Entertainment Co, Ltd, a subsidiary of HNA Tourism.


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Unified railway proposed for Southern Africa

South Africa’s minister of transport Ben Martins says that Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is in talks with its counterparts in Zimbabwe, Zambia and the DRC to establish a unified railway system linking all four countries.

The four nations already share a common railway gauge, and South Africa’s ports have historically carried much of its neighbours imports and exports, even from the distant Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The proposal calls for a joint operating centre which will be set up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to control traffic along the corridor linking the DRC with South Africa and providing improved communication and integrated resource planning. “The joint planning and business development will allow all five organisations to develop a joint marketing drive that is intended to encourage not only exports from South Africa, but also jointly identify the return cargo that will optimise the use of the same wagons for imports into South Africa, Martins said.

He added that rail would always be in the centre of trade within the SADC regional corridors.

The five railways concerned are Transnet Freight Rail, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Beitbridge Bulawayo Railway, Zambian Railways, and Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Congo.



The proposed East African Community railway line linking Rwanda and Burundi with Tanzania is expected to cost US$5.2 billion, says a Canadian consultancy, Canarail that was employed to perform a feasibility study.

According to Canarail chief engineer Donald Gillstrom, the study will be completed in February 2013. He said this at a meeting in Kigali to announce the results of the study concerning the railway project between Dar es Salaam, Isaka, Kigali/Keza, and Gitega-Musongoti.

Gillstrom said the big challenge lay in the ability of the respective governments to solicit funds for construction of the four-year project to commence. Once completed however, the railway would reduce the cost of doing business in the affected regions.

Namibian derailment

One of TransNamib’s freight trains derailed on Saturday morning at the railway crossing at Dune 7, resulting in damages to infrastructure and rolling stock of an estimated N$65 million (R65m).

Two locomotives and 17 loaded freight wagons came off the tracks over a distance of about 70 metres. Initial reports said a lorry became stuck in the tracks and in moving it a section of the track was dislodged. The matter was not reported in time for TransNamib to stop trains from operating along the affected section and the driver of the derailed train was unable to stop in time after he noticed the damaged section. He and his assistant were treated for injuries and shock.

Emergency teams were called out to clear up the damage and repair the line. The train was carrying containers loaded with manganese.


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The MOL line container ship MOL GUARDIAN (59,307-gt, built 2011) was a recent caller at Cape Town. Here the ship is seen departing from the Mother City. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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