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Ports & Ships Maritime News

12 February 2013
Author: Terry Hutson


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


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The French Navy amphibious assault ship FNS MISTRAL which spent a number of days at Cape Town last week, before sailing yesterday. The ship was on a courtesy visit which also gave the French the opportunity of showing off the vessel to the South African Navy. This picture shows Mistral on her berth in Cape Town where she loaded bunkers and stores. Picture by Aad Noorland


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The Editor
The European perspective which Mr Theodor A. R. Strauss has added to the cabotage debate is very valuable.

In an address given by Moeletsi Mbeki, a political economist and the deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs to US Africa Command (US AFRICOM) on 20 January 2010, Mbeki stated “An important factor that determines whether a country develops or not is its ability to generate a meaningful economic surplus on one hand and on the other hand its ability to direct a large part of that surplus to productive investment.”

Looking at Africa’s trade with the rest of the world we see that the continent exports mainly raw materials such as minerals and oil and mainly imports finished goods.

Africa does itself a huge disfavour by allowing unprocessed raw materials to leave the country with little or no beneficiation. This results in many, many jobs being lost to the importing companies who use those raw materials in the manufacture of finished goods.

Whilst much of the mining and oil extraction is carried out by foreign owned companies, these activities at least generate some local employment and payment of local taxes.

However, little to none of the revenue earned in moving this cargo to the trading partners is earned and retained in Africa: it is exported, along with the cargo, to other countries, together with the vessel crewing jobs.

On the imports side, trade imbalances caused by having to export large sums of foreign exchange to pay for manufactured goods are exacerbated by the fact that Africans must also pay the freight in foreign currency to entities outside of the country.

During the time when South Africa, thanks to the operation of UNCTAD 40/ 40/ 20, was able to participate in South Africa’s international trade through the operation of a national carrier, in addition to South African freight earnings, the following benefits also accrued:


  • The largest container manufacturing contract in the world up to that time went to a South African company: huge job creation,
  • A flourishing, world standard crew training infrastructure which gave employment to many, many people: more job creation,
  • The development of a world class port, rail and inland terminal infrastructure, along with a state of the art container tracking system: further job creation.

    These benefits resulted directly from the fact that, for the first and only time in its history, South Africa was able to generate a meaningful economic surplus on the carriage of its international trade on the one hand and on the other hand its ability to direct a large part of that surplus to the upgrading and/ or new building of infrastructure of South African ports, railways and roads.

    I fully agree that draconian protectionist measures such as the US Jones Act are not desirable: what would however be highly beneficial is a framework in which all participants in Africa’s international trade (including cabotage)are able to share equitably in the carriage of the cargo.

    It is appreciated that some of these ideas may be naïve. I am a newcomer to the shipping industry having only joined it in 1975 and having spent some years working for a national ocean carrier at the time when containerisation was introduced here.
    All the best
    Charles Dey


    Mr Strauss’ comments on this subject can be found here HERE

    Your views on this and other topics are welcome, email them to info@ports.co.za

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    Safmarine Winterberg, one of the South African vessels employed on the South Africa – Europe trades


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    Transocean Marianas in Walvis Bay harbour. Picture Namport

    TRANSOCEAN MARIANAS, an Earl & Wright Sedco700 series semi submersible oil rig, arrived in the Port of Walvis Bay on 6 February and is currently berthed at quay 8.

    The impressive rig has the ability to operate in harsh environments and water depths up to 7,000 feet (2,100 m) using an 18.75 inch (47.6 cm), 15,000 psi blowout preventer (BOP), and a 21 inch (53 cm) outside diameter (OD) marine riser, reports Namport.

    Chartered by Brazilian firm HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA in conjunction with local marine industrial service provider, Elgin Brown & Hammer (EBH) Namibia, the rig is scheduled to undergo mandatory maintenance over a three week period.

    Upon completion the Transocean Marianas will go on location to start drilling the first well in Namibia’s Walvis and Orange basins on the Wingat Prospect at HRT’s PEL 23, by the end of the first quarter of this year.

    In an interview with a local newspaper last week, NCCI Walvis Bay chairperson, Mr Tony Raw welcomed the new arrival, stating that “in the short term, a cross section of service providers in the local ship repair industry will benefit from the various services needed. In the longer term exercises like the one with Marianas raises Walvis Bay’s profile as a west coast ship and oil rig repair locality. The challenge is to provide quality services and workmanship of world standard that also attracts other exploration companies for such services.”

    According to Raw, huge economical potential in line with Vision 2030’s objectives can be unlocked for Namibia, should HRT or others be successful in their exploration efforts for oil in the country’s exclusive economic zone.

    The Port of Walvis Bay continues to invest in upgrading as well as acquiring state of the art infrastructure to meet client demands, such as bringing the rig into Walvis Bay. The commencement of the N$3-billion (R3-billion) expansion at the Port of Walvis Bay will see the construction of a designated ship & rig repair yard, suitable for accommodating two large semi-submersible oil rigs as well as drill ships.

    The oil rigs and drill ships will be berthed at the new facility (upon completion of the expansion project) and repair work will be done by private marine contractors from Walvis Bay.

    Namport says it realised several years ago that the ship and rig repair operations in Walvis Bay have great potential in terms of direct new employment creation in the local mechanical engineering industry. To date, several large oil rigs operating in the Angolan oil fields have used the Port of Walvis Bay to carry out major repairs, modifications and scheduled maintenance.

    The service levels in Walvis Bay are on par with similar repair yards in ports such as Cape Town and Durban. The proximity of Walvis Bay to the Angolan oil fields and to the major international shipping lines in the Atlantic, thus justifies the call for the establishment of a designated ship and rig repair yard in Walvis Bay.


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    SA Agulhas on her way home

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    Anton Bowring and some of the South African cadets on the ice at Cowan Bay. Picture SAMSA

    The South African Maritime Safety Authority’s (SAMSA) polar training ship SA AGULHAS is due to arrive back in Cape Town today (Tuesday, February 12) after returning from one of the remotest places in the world, Crown Bay on the edge of Antarctica.

    The ship acts as the support vessel for veteran European explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ latest expedition, ‘The Coldest Journey’, in which he and five colleagues will attempt to cross the continent as part of a major Commonwealth scientific project. This is the first bid to travel the 4,000kms from coast to coast across Antarctica during winter.

    The ship sailed for Antarctica from Cape Town on 7 January after first departing from London where the expedition team joined the crew. Following 12 days of unloading and preparations alongside the ice shelf in Crown Bay, the Agulhas is returning, having successfully completed the mission to establish the expedition team with their equipment in Antarctica.

    In addition to the six expedition members, a further eleven support group members were assisted by the ship’s crew and 51 cadets.

    “It was a perfect example of team-work,” said Anton Bowring, co-leader of the expedition with responsibility for the shipping activities. “It has been a unique opportunity for the cadets to get experience of navigating and handling cargo in Antarctica, an environment unlike any other. They have worked hard and been a wonderful asset to the expedition. It has been a great pleasure to have them with us.

    “We very much look forward to joining forces with SAMSA, the ship’s owners, next December and hope that another group of excellent young cadets will be on board to experience the adventure of seafaring in Antarctica,” Bowring said.

    SAMSA CEO Commander Tsietsi Mokhele called it a “…proud moment for South Africa and Africa as a whole.” He said the collaboration between the expedition and South Africa, coupled with the experience of the cadets is a wonderful example to the world. “This is also an important milestone for the future generation of cadets who are looking towards the marine sector for employment.”

    Cmdr Mokhele said that for the next 12 months, while the expedition is crossing Antarctica and before the Agulhas is commissioned again to collect the expedition team at the completion of their journey, the ship will engage in further voyages with their complement of young trainees, starting with a scientific voyage for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

    “All of this will be supported by our marine corps of recruits who are destined to gain the kind of experience they would never have had before.”

    SA Agulhas is expected at 8am this morning (Tuesday) at Quay 500, V&A Waterfront.


    Maersk Urges EU Climate and Ozone Action

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    Maersk Container Industry (MCI), the container manufacturing unit of the AP Moller-Maersk Group, called last week for tougher enforcement of European environmental legislation designed to protect the Earth's ozone layer and help prevent climate change.

    “We urge the European Commission to ensure enforcement of existing EU legislation regarding insulation foam in reefer containers,” says Peter K Nymand, CEO for MCI.

    “This would benefit the environment, and it would help European innovation and environmental investments pay off,” Nymand said.

    Current EU legislation bans the ‘import’ or ‘placing on the market’ of reefer containers with significant potential to damage the climate and ozone layer. But thousands of such containers nevertheless circulate in Europe's internal market on virtually the same market conditions as more environmentally friendly reefers.

    According to MCI, Supotec, which it developed and patented in 2002, does not damage the Earth's ozone layer, nor does it cause significant climate change. As a result, it says, customers and the World Wildlife Foundation WWF laud Supotec for being an environmental step forward.

    “This is environmental precaution. It is positive when enterprises, in this case Maersk Container Industry, move ahead of the legislation by developing products and production methods, which in turn make it possible for legislators to demand more from the rest of the industry,” says John Nordbo, head of the Conservation Department at WWF, Denmark.


    Norway agrees on armed guards on ships

    Norway’s parliament has approved a new Marine and Transport and Security Bill which provides the legal framework for armed guards to operate aboard Norwegian owned and flagged ships.

    This follows a series of tests aboard selected Norwegian ships that has been ongoing since 2011. : “The testing period was invaluable, and drawn from this experience we have created a new law that will make Norwegian ships, their personnel and their cargo a lot safer,” said Trond Giske, Norway’s trade minister.

    He said that while it was not the desired intention to introduce armed security guards on ships, “…this is a fundamental requirement based on the threat level Norwegian vessels face. We expect to see a dramatic decline in the number of attacks.”

    Norway is expected to increase its naval presence in the Horn of Africa region later this year. This follows the government agreeing to the deployment of a Fridtjof Nansen-class frigate as the command ship for NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield at that time.


    Pirates take three seafarers hostage

    West African pirates have attacked a UK-flagged ship, ESTHER C as the ship was sailing from Douala in Cameroon to Tema in Ghana. After stealing personal goods the pirates took three ship’s officers with them as they left.

    The three taken hostage are Russian and Rumanian. Another nine crew members were reported to be safe and on board their vessel. The attacked happened as the ship was about 85 n.miles from the Nigerian border with Cameroon.


    Afri-Can begins sampling for undersea diamonds

    Afri-Can Marine Minerals Corporation has begun its third sampling programme at the much vaunted 3403 Marine Diamond Concession off the coast of Namibia.

    The results of sampling programme – which should be known by the end of this month - should go a long way to confirming whether the 3403 concession is anywhere near as diamond rich as the adjacent Atlantic One deposit that belongs to De Beers.

    The sampling programme extracted a minimum of 250 samples, and the aim of the programme was to define the delineation of the diamond potential and inferred resources in certain areas of the southern portion of EPL 3403.

    Afri-Can is using the chartered vessel EXPLORER to carry out the sampling programme. The high-tech sampling vessel is on charter from International Mining and Dredging Holdings. Explorer is a dedicated sampling vessel which can sample down to depths of 250m and extract up to 21 samples a day. Its sampling tool can work through up to 12 metres of overburden.

    Atlantic One is yielding 1.1m carats a year and hopes are high that Afri-Can can haul at least 200,000 carats in its first full year of production. Source – CBN


    Open day today for Lord Nelson

    The sail training ship LORD NELSON which was due back in Cape Town at the weekend, is due to be open to the public today, Tuesday 12 February between the hours of 2pm and 5pm. Would-be visitors should check with Port Control first (tel 021 449 2805) to make sure the sailing ship is back in port. Source Ship Society of SA


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    MSC Opera sailing from Durban on one of her four night cruises to the Mozambique islands. Picture by Trevor C Steenkamp www.nauticalimages.co.za

    MSC Cruises SA says it is again raising the bar in local cruising for the upcoming 2013/14 season, with an extended season planned for the return of MSC OPERA and MSC SINFONIA to South African shores, and the introduction of exciting new itineraries.

    “Cruising remains one of the best value holiday options for South Africans, with the record passenger numbers for the current season speaking for themselves,” said Allan Foggitt, head of Marketing and Sales for MSC Cruises South Africa. “The new itineraries for the 2013/14 season will include all the old favourites plus some new and longer cruises offering a greater variety and choice.”

    Some of the highlighted itinerary changes include a 12 night New Year cruise on board MSC Sinfonia, who will visit Mauritius, the French island of La Reunion and Ile St Marie in Madagascar. The ship will spend three days in Mauritius with arrival scheduled for after the New Year’s holiday, ensuring all travellers can shop to their hearts content and make the most of the time on the popular ocean island.

    MSC Sinfonia and MSC Opera will also operate a series of new seven- night itineraries visiting Portuguese Island, the beautiful fishing village of Anakao and Fort Dauphin in Madagascar. With three island stops in seven nights, this itinerary is expected to be a hit with cruising fans.

    A 14 night Island Discovery Cruise has also been introduced, which will see MSC Sinfonia visit Mauritius, Reunion as well as Ile St Marie and the picturesque beaches of Fort Dauphin in Madagascar.

    The popular Cape Cruises will once again be on offer, but will commence later in the season to make the most of calmer weather patterns.

    The meeting, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector will be appropriately catered for with additional two-night to ‘nowhere’ cruises being added to the itinerary. The short two and three- night weekend cruises have proved very popular with the corporate market and offer the perfect venue for launches, teambuilding and awards events on board.

    To launch the new season, a 40% discount reward is being offered as an incentive for those who wish to book early and secure their future holiday at the best price. Accommodation, meals, and entertainment are all included in the cruise fare, with children under 18 cruising free.


    Five die in cruise ship lifeboat accident

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    Five crew members died when their lifeboat fell with them in it during a routine safety drill on a cruise ship. The accident took place while the THOMSON MAJESTY of Thomson Cruises was in port at Santa Cruz de la Palma in the Canary Islands.

    Those that died were three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian. Another three were injured, but seriously, as the boat fell 20 metres into the sea, landing in an upside down position.

    The Thomson Majesty was in port on a routine excursion visit with over 1400 passengers on board. No passengers were involved.


    Astor to cruise in Australian waters, via South Africa

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    Astor, arriving in Durban. Picture by Terry Hutson

    The German cruise ship ASTOR which recently visited East African ports and destinations and is currently in South African waters, is due to enter the Australian cruise market later this year and in the process will provide twice yearly ocean voyages between the UK, Australia and South Africa.

    In an announcement on the Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) website, the company which has chartered the 600-passenger vessel for the southern summer months, states:

    Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) is pleased to announce the unveiling of plans to enter the Australian cruise market with the opening of a dedicated sales office in Sydney, the three year seasonal charter of the 600 passenger ASTOR to operate twice yearly ocean voyages between the UK, Australia and South Africa and the launch of a summer season of cruises from Fremantle, Perth commencing 12th December 2013.

    Chris Coates, CMV’s commercial director added that… “Britain’s historic and cultural ties with both Australia and South Africa and the feedback received and research undertaken has inspired us to introduce interesting voyages between the UK via the Cape to the Antipodes recreating the bygone halcyon days of long distance sea travel as a serious alternative to the aviation option.”

    CMV will release a dedicated Astor Voyages brochure later this month, featuring the full programme of southbound & northbound voyages via the Cape through until 2015 plus a selection of sailings from Fremantle including a 35 night Circumnavigation of Australia and a 24 night Far East sailing.


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    A train on the existing Nacala-Malawi railway

    The Mozambican port and rail company (CFM) and the Brazilian mining giant Vale have signed the agreement for the Nacala Logistics Corridor, the route along which Vale will transport its coal from Moatize, in the western province of Tete, to the port of Nacala.

    Carrying coal by rail from Moatize to Nacala involves building a new railway across southern Malawi, and Vale has already reached agreement with the Malawian authorities on this.

    Inside Mozambique, the Logistics Corridor involves upgrading the existing line from Malawi to Nacala, and building two new stretches of track, including the final stretch leading to the new coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha, to be built on the opposite side of Nacala Bay from the current port.

    The director of Vale-Mozambique Logistics, Ricardo Saad, said that Vale hopes that the new railway will be complete by the second half of 2014.

    Saad said that this is one of Vale’s largest projects in Africa. “It’s a challenge for us – it was not easy to consolidate a project of this nature,” he said. “It’s a dream that is coming true. It’s Vale’s largest infrastructure project in Africa. Naturally, it’s an impressive landmark.”

    “It’s important that we have a clear vision,” he added. “Our target is that the first coal train is on the line by the second half of 2014. We have the responsibility to deliver the railway and begin operations on the line by that date.”

    For his part, the chairperson of CFM, Rosario Mualeia, said the agreement will bring solutions to logistical problems. “This is the start of complex work between two brother peoples with different cultures”, he said. “Signing this agreement is a stage, not an end in itself.”

    “In a contract like this,” Mualeia added, “there must be trust and mutual understanding.”

    The agreement on the Logistics Corridor also defines the operational model to be used, and the fees schedule. Five concessionary companies are expected to take out leases on parts of the Logistics Corridor. Source AIM


    Rio Tinto looks for solution to logistics problems in Mozambique

    Anglo-Australian group Rio Tinto will be able to find a logistics solution to allow it to export the coal mined in Tete province, Mozambique’s Mining Resources Minister Esperança Bias said in Cape Town.

    Following a valuation of its assets in Mozambique the group recently announced a write-down of US$3 billion, which along with write-downs related to the acquisition of bauxite assets in Canada, led to chief executive Tome Albanese stepping down.

    On the sidelines of the Indaba Mining conference, held in Cape Town, the minister played down news that the group may sell its assets in Mozambique due to difficulties transporting its coal production.

    “Naturally we are concerned, but if we look at the problems faced by Rio Tinto we can see they are not exclusive to Mozambique and we believe that a solution can be found,” said Bias.

    At the same international conference, Alan Davies, the president of the group’s diamond and mining division said the Rio Tinto group was in talks with the Mozambican government whilst seeking an alternative logistics solution to transport coal mined in Tete province.

    Davies also said that the group’s priority was to find a solution that was agreeable to both sides so that exploration of the asset could begin. (macauhub)


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    British India’s N-class freighter NUDDEA (8596-gt, built 1954) sailing from Durban in August 1972, following a bunker call. Picture by Trevor Jones

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    The Victory steamer of the India Steamship Company, INDIAN SHIPPER, sails from Durban in early 1970. The photographer comments that very few India Steamship Company vessels called at Durban at that time, making this a rare shot. Picture by Trevor Jones

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    The Safmarine/Globus refrigerated general cargo ship SA KAAPLAND (9773-gt after lengthening, built 1960) seen leaving Durban in August 1975. Picture by Trevor Jones


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