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Ports & Ships Maritime News

11 December 2012
Author: Terry Hutson



We offer great rates and a widespread dedicated maritime sector readership. During October 2012 Ports & Ships enjoyed the company of 54,360 readers on this site, readers who made 206,735 page views and recorded 956,532 ‘hits’. By having your company banner on these pages you can benefit by reaching out to this readership.
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Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return



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The British owned, Falkland Island-flagged research ship ERNEST SHACKLETON (4028-gt, built 1995) seen arriving in Cape Town harbour at the weekend. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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Port statistics for the month of November 2012, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available. The total cargo handled by all the ports amounted to just over 22.540 million tonnes, as compared with 23.265mt in the month of October. Big performer was again the Port of Richards Bay, which handled 8.357mt of cargo during the month, with a surge in coal exports bringing hope that RBCT might achieve 68 million tonnes of export coal this year.

Comparing November year on year with 2011 indicates a decrease of around one million tonnes year on year.

Durban’s container volumes continue to be negatively affected by having up to two container berths at DCT out at a time for upgrading. This is likely to continue into 2014 or later.

To compare the 2012 November figures year on year with those of 2011, please go to the following link HERE.

October 2012’s figures can be found HERE - In both instances 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 does 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, failing which South African ports would continue to be under-reported internationally.

Port Statistics continue below…
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Port of Richards Bay, looking towards the entrance channel


Figures for the respective ports during November 2012 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during November 2012

PORT November 2012 million tonnes
Richards Bay 8.357
Durban 5.948
Saldanha Bay 4.715
Cape Town 1.331
Port Elizabeth 0.999
Ngqura 0.683
Mossel Bay 0.278
East London 0.229
Total all ports 22.540 million tonnes

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

PORT November 2012 TEUs
Durban 202,882
Cape Town 70,113
Port Elizabeth 20,023
Ngqura 50,562
East London 5,353
Richards Bay 1,230
Total all ports 350,163 TEUs

SHIP CALLS for November 2012

PORT November 2012 vessels gross tons
Durban 343 10,472,677
Cape Town 208 4,179,637
Richards Bay 151 5,710,151
Port Elizabeth 81 2,287,233
Saldanha Bay 37 2,622,912
Ngqura 47 2,285,398
East London 26 637,987
Mossel Bay 49 338,388
Total ship calls 942 28,534,383

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



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Richards Bay Coal Terminal. Picture TNPA

  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
August 2012 5,883,215 44,209,756 66,13 51 791
September 2012 5,239,216 49,448,972 65,87 52 765
October 2012 5,563,800 55,012,772 65,83 53 694
November 2012 6,496,279 61,509,051 67,02 66 766

source: RBCT


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Cape Town’s new mobile crane. Picture by Clinton Wyness

The Cape Town Agri Roro Terminal (CTAR) operated by Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has taken delivery of a brand new Liebherr mobile harbour crane. The new equipment will primarily be used for container operations at the terminal and promises to enhance current productivity levels through its speedier and improved technology.

Christina Van Dyk, Terminal Manager for CTAR said the equipment will replace a 14 year-old Gottwald MHC mobile harbour crane which will be relocated to their sister terminal in East London.

“We are excited to have this new state-of-the-art Liebherr mobile harbour crane as part of our equipment fleet. The crane has an advanced lifting capacity of 120 tons, with twin lift capability and is faster than its predecessor, the Gottwald MHC. The crane also boasts more advanced safety features which will improve cargo safety,” said Van Dyk.

The crane arrived on board the MV PAULA earlier in November and will rotate between Berths F and G, the terminal’s high performing container berths. Van Dyk says the procurement will significantly improve the terminal’s operations and she envisages the new equipment will result in a GCH* improvement of 20% over the next 12 months.

To ensure skilful operation of the high-tech equipment, six CTAR operators have undergone training in Durban on how to operate the crane, signalling an increase in skills development within the terminal. One of the operators, Sibulela Makili said they were excited to operate the equipment which will contribute positively to the terminal’s performance and were thankful for the training TPT has provided them.

CTAR, which features multi-purpose and agricultural cargo handling facilities, is one of the country’s most efficient terminals. The investment valued at R48 million is aligned to the Transnet Market Demand Strategy (MDS) which will see TPT invest R33 billion in capital projects over the next seven years, with a focus on beefing up infrastructure in the terminals.

“The new Liebherr crane will drastically improve the reliability of CTAR’s service offering to shipping lines and improve productivity and vessel turnaround times,” said Velile Dube, General Manager: Operations for the Western Cape.

Dube added that the new equipment will also enable the terminal’s management to target new business opportunities with confidence.

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Christina van Dyk, CTAR Terminal Manager

* GCH - gross crane moves per crane per hour: The average number of container movements completed by the number of cranes in an hour e.g. DCT achieved 22 GCH against a target of 28 GCH. The aim is to load containers fast and efficiently, i.e. to have a higher GCH.


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Polar research ship comes to Durban for urgent repairs

The French research vessel MARION DUFRESNE has arrived in Durban to undergo emergency repairs after going aground on one of the Crozet Islands in the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

According to sources the ship has an 80 metre gash below the waterline, which must have been patched to enable the vessel to be refloated and sailed across half the Indian Ocean to reach Durban. No mean feat considering the vessel is a 120m long and a 80m gash would e along two thirds of the hull.

The ship entered the port’s graving dock on Monday, 10 December where she will be attended by Messrs Elgin Brown & Hamer.


Gutted Everton

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Although not obvious to the casual eye, the Everton is badly burned out within the tower area housing the accommodation, bridge and engine room. Picture by Anup Rampiar

Meanwhile the news about the general cargo/container ship EVERTON (built 1997) which was towed into Durban is not good. The ship was extensively damaged when a fire burned out the accommodation, bridge and engine room, leaving the container vessel without power.

After some deliberation about where to take the vessel the Greek-owned Panamanian-flagged ship was towed into Durban harbour where her owners have reportedly abandoned the vessel, leaving the salvage company to bring about the ship’s arrest.

The most likely outcome appears to be that the ship will now be sold at a judicial auction and will probably end up at the breakers. However, as a smallish ship of just 6714 gross tons the amount of steel in the vessel means the ship may not attract much attention.


Gale force winds prevent cruise ship from docking

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MSC Sinfonia off Cape Town, facing a similar view to what passengers on board would have been subjected to as strong winds prevented the ship from docking. Picture by Clinton Wyness

Strong gale-force winds that blew across Cape Town and the Peninsular yesterday prevented the cruise ship MSC SINFONIA from berthing, and forcing the 59,000-gt ship to ride it out at sea off Table Bay.

This is the second time in a few weeks since MSC Sinfonia arrived in Cape waters that strong gale force winds have disrupted cruise schedules for the vessel. Her first cruise out of Cape Town at the end of November was delayed, with passengers having already embarked but then left frustrated as they spent their first two days not at sea but in the confines of the harbour instead, as the wind prevent MSC Sinfonia from sailing.

On this occasion the ship was returning to Cape Town from a weekend cruise to Mossel Bay and was due to depart yesterday afternoon for a return cruise to Luderitz.


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a bottle of the rare stuff…

DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist within Deutsche Post DHL, has returned three bottles of rare 1896 Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, almost 120 years old, from Scotland to New Zealand. The whisky was left behind in Antarctica by British explorer Ernest Shackleton after a failed expedition in 1909.

The whisky had to be specially packed for the entire journey. It then travelled in a secure container via Dubai on to Christchurch, New Zealand, where DHL transported the whisky back to a secure facility in Christchurch before its return to Antarctica.

“We chose DHL for this shipment because we’ve had excellent service from them to date and we trust them with our high value shipments. This is a unique project, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it’s important we got it right,” said Hazel Clark, Customer Operations International Team Leader, Whyte & Mackay.

Explorer Ernest Shackleton had taken several cases of the whisky on his expedition to Antarctica in 1907, then left them behind when his expedition failed to reach the South Pole.

In 2010, three cases were excavated by conservators working for the Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand). Afterwards one crate of whisky was flown to New Zealand and carefully thawed at Canterbury Museum. Three bottles of the historic whisky were then flown to Scotland where the distillery Whyte & Mackay, who now own the Mackinlay brand, analysed it scientifically. Whyte & Mackay have since recreated the century-old whisky.

“We spent weeks planning this operation, investigating various different travels options and routes to get it from Scotland to New Zealand. Having been buried in the Antarctic ice for more than 100 years, the whisky is extremely precious and delicate, which gave us the opportunity to show our expertise in shipping valuable and delicate cargo”, said Alan Davis, Regional Director, Air Freight Scotland, DHL Global Forwarding.


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A Very Strange Way to Go to War: The Canberra in the Falklands
By Andrew Vine
Published by Aurum Press, London, NW1 OND
321 pages, hardback, dimensions 240 x 160mm,
Price £20.00; ISBN 978 1 84513 745 8
Reviewer: Paul Ridgway

Operation Corporate, the campaign to regain the Falkland Islands was 30 years ago in the spring just past and is still very much in the memory of the majority. At the time of the decision to send the Fleet to the South Atlantic the P&O flagship Canberra was taken up from trade and equipped to carry troops and equipment for the 8,000 mile passage.

She was to be their base whilst in Falkland Islands’ waters, to perform hospital ship duties, to repatriate Argentine soldiers and then to return to Southampton to a tumultuous hero’s welcome.

This is an epic tale of the British Merchant Service and has so far been untold in its entirety where a ship’s company (with few exceptions) of waiters, cooks, nurses and cleaners as well as seamen and engineers were prepared for war and found themselves in the front line in what has been described as the nation’s finest hour.

Canberra was described by Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward, Commander of the Task Force as, “…helicopter landing platform, floating Harley Street, maritime Wormwood Scrubs and great survivor of San Carlos Bay…” Canberra returned home to an estimated 120,000 wellwishers in Southampton after six months at sea having sailed 25,245 nautical miles. Within days she was in dry dock being prepared for cruising, her requisition over. She went for breaking in 1997.


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P&O Cruises: Celebrating 175 years of Heritage
By Sharon Poole & Andrew Sassoli-Walker
Published by Amberley Publishing Plc, The Hill, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 4EP GB
192 pages, paperback, dimensions 247 x 225mm
Price £25.00; ISBN 978 1 4456 0596 1
Reviewer: Paul Ridgway

It is, surely, an achievement for any brand to be able to trace its roots back 175 years. In these uncertain times, when even well-established international names are disappearing, it is an even greater testament to well-laid foundations and continual innovation and evolution, above all to sound management and employment of dedicated staff at all levels.

P&O Cruises is one such brand, whose origins can be traced back to the time when the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company won a British Government contract to carry mail from London via Falmouth to Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon, Cadiz, and Gibraltar in 1837. In a short time the service was extended with other vessels to Malta, Corfu and Alexandria.

Today, it operates a fleet of seven modern cruise ships and is consistently rated among the top British cruise lines. On 3 July 2012 these seven vessels, ORIANA, AURORA, OCEANA, VENTURA, AZURA, ADONIA and ARCADIA gathered in Southampton, their home port to steam past in review by HRH The Princess Royal. A grand and unforgettable day indeed for the fleet.

This book tells the story of how P&O Cruises reached its pinnacle of achievement. It features, not just the innovative ships, but also the stories of crew and passengers, past and present. Many of the ships are so well-known, their very names conjure up images of sun-warmed decks and far flung destinations – names such as Canberra, Oriana, Himalaya and Arcadia.

Nowadays, the P&O Cruises fleet attracts more passengers than ever before, sailing to destinations all over the world, in fact a remarkable 270 ports in 90 countries were visited in 2011 and 2012.

Illustrated with over 300 photographs, both historical and contemporary (many never before published), this book also highlights the unseen work that goes into running a fleet of modern cruise ships, the work of the hotel staff and the ship’s engineers for example.

Chapters concern the many aspects of the company and, of course, mention the British Government’s requisition of the fleet in both world wars. One ship, Canberra, was taken up from trade for the campaign to secure once again the Falkland Islands in 1982 after the Argentine invasion and a chapter is devoted to these months. In each of these times of hostility staff of the company lived up to the highest traditions of the Merchant Service.

There are a number of illustrations here to show ship design and fittings in the fleet as well as to indicate how it caters to the highest standards with what has come to be known as ‘P&O-ness.’ This describes the special atmosphere in a P&O Cruise ship. In conclusion news is given that a new 141,000gt vessel, the largest in P&O Cruises will join the fleet in 2015.

Contributions from passengers past and present, enhance the story.

This book is bound to appeal to all with an interest not only in the P&O fleet in general, and P&O Cruises in particular but also students of British and imperial maritime history. To paraphrase William Makepeace Thackeray, “…the sun never sets on a P&O Cruises ship.”


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The French research vessel MARION DUFRESNE (9403-gt, built 1995) arrived in Durban a week ago for repairs to hull damage suffered when the ship went aground in the Crozet Islands recently. Yesterday (Monday 10 December) the ship moved across harbour to the graving dock, which is when these pictures were taken by Trevor Jones.


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