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Ports & Ships Maritime News

15 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 Monaco-owned cruise ship ALBATROS (28,518-gt, built 1973) seen arriving in Cape Town harbour this week. Albatros recently cruised along the East African coast before reaching South Africa. Picture by Ian Shiffman


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Port statistics for the month of January 2013, 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 22.575 million tonnes, as compared with 22.087mt in the month of December. Top performer, volume-wise, was once again the Port of Richards Bay, which handled 8.217mt of cargo during the month, of which 4.2mt was exports through the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. Durban too enjoyed a high volume month having handled 6.262mt while Saldanha Bay handled 4.301mt, which was down on December. The Port of Ngqura passed one million tonnes for the first time, achieving 1.127mt during January and also handling more containers (83,483TEUs) than the Port of Cape Town (76,878TEUs) – also a first!

Durban’s container volumes at 202,421TEUs continue to be negatively affected by having up to two container berths at DCT at a time out of commission for upgrading. Berth 205 is currently affected.

January 2013’s figures can be found 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 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.


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Figures for the respective ports during January 2013 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during January 2013
PORT January 2013 million tonnes
Richards Bay 8.217
Durban 6.262
Saldanha Bay 4.301
Cape Town 1.338
Port Elizabeth 0.961
Ngqura 1.127
Mossel Bay 0.247
East London 0.122
Total all ports 22.575 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during January 2013
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA
PORT January 2013 TEUs
Durban 202,421
Cape Town 76,878
Port Elizabeth 17,019
Ngqura 83,483
East London 2,635
Richards Bay 1,904
Total all ports 384,340 TEUs

SHIP CALLS for January 2013

PORT January 2013 vessels gross tons
Durban 308 9,850,639
Cape Town 231 4,716,949
Richards Bay 138 5,274,428
Port Elizabeth 86 2,315,828
Saldanha Bay 45 3,184,491
Ngqura 37 1,996,215
East London 20 438,876
Mossel Bay 51 432,307
Total ship calls 916 28,209,733

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


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  Month's exports YTD exports Annualised estimate Ships Trains
January 2013 4,213,728 4,213,728 49.62 38 787

source: RBCT


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Brian Molefe, Transnet Group chief executive

Transnet SOC Ltd and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) earlier this week signed an historic partnership that will allow Transnet to tap into the CSIR’s technological innovation and research capabilities.

In terms of the partnership, Transnet and the CSIR will work together in identifying possible areas of cooperation and enter into specific arrangements in all areas of Transnet’s operations. These include port, rail and pipeline operations. Ownership and other rights, especially intellectual property, will be negotiated on a project basis, depending on the work to be done.

Speaking at the formal signing ceremony in Johannesburg, Transnet Group Chief Executive, Mr Brian Molefe said “For Transnet to play its rightful role in the economy, we have to grow, invest and modernise at an unprecedented rate. Therefore, we need to constantly explore innovations and technological advancements. We have that in abundance at the CSIR, an institution that has developed the expertise over the last couple of decades.

“With this agreement, we have given ourselves access, not only to decades of the knowledge we need, but to a body of specialised skills that the CSIR has at its disposal,” said Mr Molefe.

Transnet is about to enter into the second year of its rolling seven-year Market Demand Strategy, which entails a huge improvement in its operations, including its capital investment programme, volumes, operational efficiencies and safety levels.

CSIR Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sibusiso Sibisi said “This partnership is an excellent opportunity for the CSIR to provide comprehensive research and development support to a pivotal state-owned company such as Transnet. Supporting industry is in keeping with our mandate. We are excited to be part of a series of projects that, apart from benefiting the sophistication and modernisation of Transnet’s operations, will assist in job creation and growing South Africa’s economy.”

In addition to the company’s five operating divisions, the partnership will augment Transnet’s own in-house engineering and project management unit – Transnet Capital Projects, which manages Transnet’s mega projects.

Transnet and the CSIR have started work on the following areas:


  • Infrastructure, including rail, port and coastal engineering, roads and buildings;
  • Rolling stock, including energy efficiency, alternative fuels and energy regeneration;
  • Operations – water use, waste management systems, logistics supply chain, greening, climate change, sensor tracking and automation as well as safety and security; and
  • Strategic decision support which looks into planning, environmental management system and enterprise engineering.

    Transnet has previously used the CSIR’s services on various specialised projects including:


  • Monitoring of the quality of water in all ports
  • Ports maintenance dredging support at the Port of Durban
  • Marine life monitoring at all ports
  • Waste water monitoring for the Durban-to-Johannesburg fuel pipeline.

    “The CSIR’s expertise will come in handy in various areas of our operations. This is particularly so in Environmental Management, a key focus area of our strategy and a major challenge for our divisions, especially projects,” concluded Mr Molefe.


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    SHIPWATCH: News of ships and the shipping lines

    SA Agulhas returns from Antarctica

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    SA Agulhas. Picture by Terry Hutson

    The former South African research ship SA AGULHAS, now under charter with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as a cadet training ship for the next five years, returned safely from Cowan Bay in the Antarctic this week, after completing its mission of delivering the Coldest Journey expedition and equipment.

    The expedition team of six adventurers is seeking to become the first to cross the continent during winter, during which time they will undertake various scientific experiments and observations.

    In addition to the expedition team and a number of supporters, the SA Agulhas carried 51 young South African cadets undergoing their sea-time experience as part of their training for maritime careers. SAMSA said this week that the Agulhas is due to sail back to the icy terrain for another research expedition, this time with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The ship will carry another group of cadets.

    For the next 12 months while the expedition is crossing Antarctica and before the SA Agulhas is commissioned again to collect the Coldest Journey expedition team at the completion of their trek, the ship will engage in further voyages with complements of young trainees starting this Friday with the CSIR.

    The Agulhas is known for its state of the art training and research capabilities and already has multi million rands worth of state-of- the-art equipment from the Southern Oceans Carbon and Climate Observatory programme on board.

    When the SA Agulhas docked at the V&A Waterfront this week it was to a noisy welcome.

    “What this mission has managed to cement is that the SA Agulhas is making a positive and meaningful contribution to climate change research, said SAMSA CEO, Tsietsi Mokhele. “As a training and research vessel, the science challenges for the Southern Ocean are enormous. Expedition after expedition the SA Agulhas has proven that the ship is reliable, and can be counted on.”

    He pointed out that the role played by the ship and the scientists on board constituted a long-term contribution of South African science to the global initiatives on observing how the earth systems were adjusting to global warming.


    Niledutch towed into port

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    The Dutch container ship NILEDUTCH CAPE TOWN’s arrival in the port of whose name she carries was with little dignity yesterday, the ship having to be towed into port behind the tug FAIRPLAY 30. Niledutch Cape Town experienced fire damage in her engine room while in the anchorage off Luanda on 5 January 2013. The crew managed to extinguish the blaze before the vessel was towed into Luanda and berthed for discharge. General average was subsequently declared. The tug Fairplay 30 subsequently arrived to tow the vessel to Cape Town for permanent repair. This picture by Aad Noorland


    Maersk Line loses its COO

    Maersk Line chief operating officer, Lucas Vos, says he plans to resign from the job after five years on the job. Vos, who was formerly with P&O and Nedlloyd, has been a member of Maersk Liner Management Board as well as head of Maersk Line’s commercial arm.

    “He has been an integral part of turning the company around with the ambitious streamLINE programme and lately contributed to the plan of making Maersk Line the most profitable player in the industry,” said Maersk Line CEO Søren Skou.

    Cruise ship Carnival Triumph left dead after engine fire

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    Dead in the water, Carnival Lines' CARNIVAL TRIUMPH. Picture courtesy US Coast Guard 

    Five days after the 101,509-gt cruise ship CARNIVAL TRIUMPH experienced an engine room fire that left it dead in the water, the ship was expected to reach the port of Mobile in Alabama, USA last night (Thursday). But even that was to have its own little piece of drama and uncertainty, with the tow cable between the ship and her tug snapping in two and further delaying their arrival in port.

    Earlier, the ship lost most of her power supply and all propulsion while cruising off the Mexican coast. The crew were able to isolate and extinguish the fire safely but the ship was left with no propulsion power and very little else, but with 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew on board.

    Tugs were immediately dispatched to the aid of the ship and US Coast Guard helicopters later flew in portable generators to help provide some additional power on the crippled ship.

    US news reports spoke of passengers sleeping under canvas on the decks to avoid the growing stench inside the vessel, mainly from toilets that don’t work. Passengers (and presumably crew) were having to wait hours for food, the reports said, and even then the choice was limited.

    Passengers will be offered full compensation of their fares plus credits on any future cruises equal to the amount spent on this voyage. They will also receive transportation expenses, a reimbursement of all shipboard purchases during the interrupted voyage, with the exception of gift shop, art purchases and casino charges, and an additional US$500.

    Meanwhile, Carnival has had to cancel 12 Carnival Triumph voyages, pending repairs to the ship. Compensation is to be made to all passengers booked on the cancelled voyages. And in anticipation of the crippled vessel’s arrival in Mobile, about 100 buses have been laid on, over 1500 New Orleans hotel rooms booked, multiple charter flights from New Orleans and Houston arranged, and transportation organised from Houston to Galveston in order for passengers to retrieve their motor cars if they drove to the port of embarkation.

    The incident comes just over a year after another Carnival owned ship, the COSTA CONCORDIA of Carnival’s subsidiary company Costa Crociere struck a rock off the Italian island of Giglio and capsized with the loss of 32 lives. The resultant publicity proved to be a financial set-back for Carnival Corporation and Costa Crociere.


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    Mr Dey began quite a debate when he wrote in response to another article Cabotage: The need for sea change in Africa’s coastal laws. Cabotage, in one form or another appears to be firmly on Africa’s agenda – in a number of states it’s already in law though not necessarily enforced. With the risk of it becoming more politicised, will all that change and will South Africa take the lead in pressing ahead under the prompting of SAMSA?


    Advice for Charles Dey

    Charles Dey................keep on fighting, young man. RSA needs its own merchant marine under SA flag, manned by SA crews............once again!
    Graeme Clemitson


    Debate radiates unfounded expectations and optimism

    The article 'The Debate over Cabotage' is worrying, notably also as it radiates unfounded expectations and optimism.

    As rightly mentioned already, there is a distinct difference between types of goods in the export and import flows, requiring quite different vessel types and services. The increase of containerisation of certain commodities / produce may bring some better balances in flows, but then there are enormous differences between countries without forgetting the seasonal impact.

    African nations are thus far regrettably not showing a serious development in local production from their own resources; this would be of tremendous and immediate benefit to their economies and balances of payment. The real potential for export of such production is still far off.

    Shipping is a highly capital intensive, long term and volatile business in a most competitive global environment and let’s be honest, the margins and profitability in shipping are highly volatile at best, while the upkeep of the increasingly complex ships and equipment demand particular skills and money; not exactly an attractive investment option from scarce resources.

    Transport costs of, for instance imports, naturally adds to the costs of the goods at destination, but at what sort of percentage to the value of the goods? Much of these costs derive from inefficiencies in the ports and the inland transport. The maritime transport part of the overall costs of imports and exports is low, a well known fact. Investments in ports, inland connections, training of staff, however, will bring immediate benefit and prosperity. Protectionist measures through preferential cargo allocation will not enhance quality of service or reduce transport costs; I would dare to say to the contrary.

    That being said, I understand from different sources over the past years that the aim of any such cabotage regime would be intra-African and more in particular intra-West African cabotage. I will leave the international legal implications apart, but what about the cargo volumes between these countries? Could these support a good quality, high frequency and economically sound service to the users? This, while there is ample competitive capacity in the open market to carry cargoes between African states.

    I wish that intra-African trade can be much enhanced, but then one must focus on that difficult task, including infrastructures and open market procedures, without being distracted by dreams of a protectionst cabotage regime.
    Herman de Meester


    Protectionist cabotage rules add costs, threatens environment - Davos Economic Forum 2012

    Supply chain barriers to international trade are far worse than tariffs these days according to a study issued by the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, reports Alphaliner.

    The report said national restrictions on domestic cabotage or the maritime transport of goods within a country's borders increase costs and environmental damage.

    Alphaliner data shows that of the total containership capacity of 550,000 TEU deployed on domestic cabotage trades worldwide, China accounts for 45 percent while and Indonesia accounts for 24 percent.

    Other countries with a significant maritime cabotage fleet include the US with 10 percent and Brazil with nine percent, followed by the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Vietnam, Russia and Japan.

    The ships involved all fly the flags of the nations they serve, with exemptions granted under certain restrictions. The WEF study cites the Jones Act and China's relay regulations as examples of damage done to local economies by adding significant costs. Lack of competition increases logistics costs and promotes the use of inefficient transshipment operations.

    In the US, the environmental costs are high because of a fleet of older ships protected by the Jones Act. While the US Jones' Act only accounts for 10 percent of containerships used in cabotage, its impact is high because the ships must be built in US, where the cost is prohibitive, five times as much.

    In the case of China, currently the biggest market for containership cabotage with over 245,000 TEU of Chinese flagged ships deployed on its coastal trades, the market distortion arises mainly from restrictions on the relay of international cargo.

    The WEF estimates that some 10 million TEU of Chinese cargo are currently relayed at international ports (including Hong Kong). These could be transshipped more efficiently through Chinese ports, if cabotage restrictions were removed.

    That volume represents a potential income of some US$320 million for local ports with further savings of $500 million to $700 million a year which could be derived by carriers and shippers from lower port charges, optimised shipping networks and lower inventory costs.

    India and Vietnam, whose own domestic ports are losing international transshipment volumes to neighbouring ports due to similar cabotage restrictions.

    In the case of India, some three million TEU is transhipped via Colombo, but could be redirected to its own transhipment facilities. While there were no suitable transhipment hubs in India before, the opening of the Vallarpadam International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) in 2012 provided an opportunity for India to review its position.

    But efforts to relax the cabotage rules have been slow and the move is currently limited to a single port which the WEF points out is “hardly a systemic solution and one that illustrates the challenges of appeasing competing interests.” Vallarpadam has not yet been able to attract any transshipment volumes to its terminal so far.

    For Vietnam, the relaxation of cabotage rules could generate up to 500,000 TEU of transshipment volumes from north and central Vietnamese ports for the Cai Mep terminals, which are currently under-utilised.

    But the Vietnamese government took a step backwards when it suspended cabotage licences for international relay containers from January 2013 following pressure from owners of Vietnamese-flagged containerships that want to return to the domestic trade after other markets declined. Source Shipping Gazette: Daily Shipping News
    Forwarded by Theodor AR Strauss
    Lecturer Netherlands Maritime University
    (ex RIL/HWAL/Nedlloyd/'K' Line)


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    Suspension bridge at Tete in Mozambique

    Coal being railed along the Sena railway connecting the Moatize and Tete coalfields with the Port of Beira, has come to a stop after heavy rains flooded sections of the railway.

    The Sena railway, so named because it passes through the town of Sena on the banks of the Zambezi River, has only recently re-opened after being closed since the civil war.

    Heavy rains in the catchment area of the Zambezi and other rivers have led to flooding especially of the low-lying regions in central Mozambique and at least 91 people have died as a result. For the coal companies such as Vale Moçambique and Rio Tinto/Riversdale, the closure of the line means that they are unable to send coal to the coal terminal at Beira except by road.

    A spokesman for CFM, the state-owned rail and port company said earlier this week that he did not know when trains would be able to run again. It hasn’t been reported whether the are any washaways which would take longer to repair – if it is only a matter of flooding then the delay might be much shorter.

    Vale Moçambique and CFM recently signed an agreement on the construction of new sections of railway from the coal mining centre at Moatize in Tete province, to link with the existing railway in Malawi, which would provide an alternative route to the coast at the Port of Nacala.

    The latter is a deepwater port and Vale has revealed plans to build a coal port on the opposite side of Nacala Bay. A spur would connect with the Nacala Corridor railway which runs from the coast to Malawi, where it connects with that country’s railway system – both of which just happen to have Vale as a principal shareholder.


    British group Beacon Hill Resources to use the Sena railroad

    British mining company Beacon Hill Resources has reached a provisional agreement with Mozambican state rail and port company Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) under the terms of which it will have the right to transport 500,000 tons of coal per year along the Sena railroad, the company said in a regulatory filing.

    According to the statement issued via the Australian and London stock exchanges, Minas Moatize Limitada, the Mozambican subsidiary of the Australian company, the agreement signed by the Mozambican state company will be valid from April onwards.

    Beacon Hill is the concession holder of a coal block in the northern Mozambican province of Tete where its subsidiary has an open air mine which has, so far, transported its coal by road to the port of Beira.

    The provisional agreement is automatically renewable until the two sides sign a long term agreement and, according to the company’s chairman, Justin Farr-Jones, is recognition of the investment that Beacon Hill Resources will be making in rolling stock during 2013.

    In the statement, the company also said that as of next April Minas Moatize Limitada would start operating with two trains, each with two locomotives and 42 trucks each with a capacity of 63 tons. (macauhub)

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     The Zambezi, when not in flood

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    The fire-crippled container ship NILEDUTCH CAPE TOWN (25,624-gt, built 1998) is towed into port by the tug FAIRPLAY 30 assisted by several harbour tugs. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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    The Singapore-owned and flagged cement carrier GLORY ATLANTIC (20,200-dwt, built 2006) arriving in Cape Town harbour yesterday (above and below). Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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Richards Bay Coal Terminal. Picture TNPA


Port of Richards Bay and the TPT terminals. Picture courtesy TPT