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Ports & Ships Maritime News

28 March 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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



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British Marine’s UK-flagged bulker GWENDOLEN (50,248-dwt, built 2004) which called at Durban on an overcast, grey day this week, to take bunkers before she sailed later in the day. Picture by Rogan Troon


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The following notification has been received from the National Ports Regulator.

1] The National Ports Authority(the TNPA) has applied to the Ports Regulator of South Africa for approval of the tariffs for services and facilities offered by the TNPA for the period 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.

2] The Ports Regulator, after considering the application and all submissions submitted in this regard by all parties, declines the proposed 5.4% tariff increase and the additional individual tariff increases.

3] After considering all information, the Regulator concludes that the following are appropriate tariff book adjustments for the tariff year 2013/14:

a. Cargo dues tariffs
i. Container full export cargo dues to be reduced by 43.2%;
ii. Container full import cargo dues to be reduced by 14.3%
iii. Motor vehicles exported on own wheels(Ro-Ro) cargo dues to be reduced by 21.1% ; and

b. the remainder of the tariffs in the tariff book are to be retained at the same level they were over the 2012/2013 tariff year.

4] The reasons for the decision shall follow in due course.


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National Transport Minister Dikobe Ben Martins – attended the pre-Brics maritime forum

Durban – South Africa will have a new integrated maritime policy by July, it emerged at a special maritime trade forum organised by the South African Maritime Safety Authority in Durban on Sunday.

Delegates at the forum heard that part of the strategy was to ensure that South Africa derived maximum benefit from the maritime industry given that at least 90% of exports and imports into the country were done via the ocean.

Sunday’s Maritime Trade Forum gave industry experts an opportunity to talk about the challenges the industry faced and possible solutions.

Transport Minister Dikobe Ben Martins, SAMSA CEO Tsietsi Mokhele Labour Minister Mildred Olifant, Deputy Minister of Minerals Resources Godfrey Olifant, CEO of the National Ports Regulator, Riad Khan, and Tau Morwe CEO of the Transnet National Ports Authority were among the many who participated in the event. Members of the BRICS Chinese delegation were also present.

Conspicuous by their absence from the invited event however, was the wider representation of the South African maritime industry.

The forum came as the country prepared to host the 5th BRICS summit which was held this week. Explaining South Africa’s crucial membership of BRICS, SAMSA CEO, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, said there was no question about the importance of the country’s role in the grouping. “Apart from being a maritime state with a very strong infrastructure, South Africa was also the gateway to Africa,” he said.

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Tsietsi Mokhele, SAMSA chief executive

The event saw maritime representatives and senior government officials discussing the concerns of the industry and engaging with forum participants on the challenges it faced.

“The areas of engagement we brought into the room are already being looked at. The maritime industry is of huge importance in terms of natural resources and energy, trade and industry, sciences and leisure activities. It forms an essential part of our trade and prosperity, which demands innovative solutions and careful management systems to ensure its long-term sustainability,” said Mokhele.

“International trade is very critical to the South African economy (constituting approximately 58% of SA’s Gross Domestic Product), and the maritime system underpins the vast majority of South Africa’s international trade. In fact, about 98% of goods by volume that South Africa sells to and buys from the rest of the world is moved on water. International commerce by water affects people and industries throughout the entire country, including those living far from the coast. Many goods that consumers regularly purchase arrive at the nation's ports and are then distributed by rail and truck to warehouses, retailers and finally to consumers.”

Equally he found there was slow pace of transformation in the sector, lack of focus on maritime education and development of skills as well as inadequate investment in maritime infrastructure and the lack of beneficial ownership of merchant ships which remained a significant challenge.

However, with the proper infrastructure and training an estimated 400,000 jobs could be created in the maritime sector. Labour Minister Mildred Olifant said her department was looking at retraining unemployed South Africans so that they could play a role in the maritime industry.

The debate in the forum prompted delegates and the Transport Minister to call for a revised integrated maritime policy which needed to be reassessed with the changing environment.

Martins said his department had prioritised 2013 as the ‘Maritime Year’ and that there had to be policy clarity. By July they wanted to know what they were to build on and to fix the mistakes of the past, the minister said.

He said the forum should not be just a “process of lamentations” but a chance for industry representatives to openly discuss their concerns.

More the pity then that the meeting was not fully representative.


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July 2012 and MSC Sola becomes, at 11,660-TEU capacity, the biggest container ships so far to enter the Durban harbour. Picture TNPA

MSC president Gianluigi Aponte says his company does not intend ordering any more ships for the foreseeable future as MSC enters a quiet period after years of phenomenal growth.

This growth took the company rapidly to position number 2 in the rankings based on the number of ships and the number of container slots on those vessels. Having started trading with a policy of acquiring vessels nearing the end of their lifespans, MSC moved into the purchase of newbuilds, culminating in a large fleet of 14,000-TEU containerships. MSC has still to take delivery of a number of 16,000- TEU ships on long-term charter from Zodiac Marine.

In addition to its fleet of largely modern containerships, MSC also moved into the cruise industry from a modest beginning and has today the third largest fleet in terms of passenger capacity, all modern ships of which one, the MSC Preziosa was launched just a week ago.

This particular ship was ordered from the French shipyard by Saif al-Islam, son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, but after the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime MSC took up the opportunity of finishing its building as another in its ‘Fantasia’ class of ship.

In an interview with the British publication Lloyds List, Aponte described the container market as being saturated and said MSC would not be tempted by cheap newbuilding prices. He did not see the market improving in the near future.

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In its early formative days, as this 1976 photograph indicates, MSC ships were mostly small multi purpose type cargo ships. South and East Africa were early destinations for MSC. In this picture is MSC ILSE, one of the earliest of company ships is seen arriving in Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones


Hamburg Süd- Hapag Lloyd talks collapse

Hopes of a merger between German container lines Hamburg Süd and Hapag-Lloyd have been dashed with the news that differences over the joint companies future structure have proved insurmountable.

The talks ended after the Oetker Group, which owns Hamburg Süd, called for their suspension because the parties were unable to reach any consensus over terms for a merger.

The talks were a result of Tui AG, Europe’s largest tour operator and the owner of 22% of Hapag-Lloyd, wanting to exit the container industry. It is thought that the Tui Group may now look for a public offering of its share in Hapag-Lloyd.

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Hamburg Süd’s containership Santa Isabel in Durban harbour in June 2011. Picture by Trevor Jones


Dismantling of USS Guardian underway

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The bow section of the USS Guardian is cut away and removed

The US Navy and its salvage contractor has begun dismantling the grounded mine countermeasures ship, the former USS Guardian, now stripped of its naval identity.

The removal of the ship from the Tubbataha Reef off the Philippines is being assisted with the use of the pipelaying crane vessel JASCON 25 and other support vessels. The hull of the vessel is being cut away in sections, an intricate job that requires a path through the vessel about half a metre wide to be cleared of all equipment before the cutting can begin.

The first section of hull to be removed weighed about 250 tons.

The US mine countermeasures ship ran aground onto the reef, which forms part of the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, on the evening of 17 January shortly after sailing from Subic Bay. The mistake occurred as a result of a faulty electronic chart, according to claims made at the time.


There were no injuries when Guardian ran aground nor has there been any significant oil leakage. All the oil products on board the ship have since been removed as a precursor to the salvage operation. Other vessels on scene and assisting are USNS SAFEGUARD (T-ARS 50), SMIT BORNEO, the TRABAJADOR, INTREPID and the ARCHON TIDE.

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The crane vessel Jascon 25, now on station assisting with the removal of the USS Guardian from a sensitive reef off the Philippines


Ship towed into Durban

The products tanker SUNDANCE has been towed into Durban for repairs. The ship arrived on Monday on tow behind the SMIT AMANDLA and has gone onto the laybye berth 103 on Pier 1.


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The presenting of the bread and salt, a Russian tradition of welcome. Picture by Terry Hutson

Durban – South Africa’s maritime industry may be close to achieving a long-held dream with Wednesday’s announcement that the government was in the market to acquire two tall ships.

The CEO of the South African Maritime Safety Authority, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, said negotiations with relevant stakeholders were already underway.

Mokhele said the ships would be used for training and other maritime development initiatives.

The announcement was made at a special Russia/South Africa cultural event which was organised by SAMSA ahead of the BRICS summit which was held this week in Durban. The pre-Brics activities between the two countries were launched on Saturday with a special ceremony to welcome the Russian tall ship, STS PALLADA, to the Durban port.

The STS Pallada is a training vessel owned by the Far Eastern State Technical Fisheries University. South Africa’s training vessel, the SA AGULHAS, was berthed next to the sailing ship.

Mokhele emphasised how important it was for the two countries to strengthen their relations for the purposes of maritime development and he encouraged cadets from the two vessels to become friends, share experiences and learn from each other.

Prof Kim Georgii, from the Russian University of Fisheries thanked SAMSA and the South African government for the hospitality shown to their crew.

Amidst the traditional songs and dances on display, he also presented Mokhele and others with a specially baked Russian bread and salt as a symbol of friendship and strengthened relations between the two countries.

Since the first engagement on Saturday, SAMSA and the Russian University have already agreed that a Russian South African cadet exchange programme be formulated. On Sunday it also emerged that a new integrated maritime policy for South Africa would be on the table by July.

From a maritime perspective the 5th BRICS summit just concluded was crucial for the growth of South Africa’s industry as it hopes to learn from the rest of the group’s members; Brazil, Russia, India and China. South Africa does not own any shipping vessels. In contrast Brazil, Russia, India and China have in recent years become regional maritime powers with vast maritime interests and capabilities in sea trade, commerce and naval influence. Brazil operates an estimated fleet of 172 merchant vessels, Russia 1891 vessels, India 534 and China had 2044 merchant ships.

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The Russian sail training ship STS Pallada, which has been visiting Durban. The ship is due to sail for the Far East later today (Thursday). Picture by Alex Thompson


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Brian Molefe, Transnet CE

China Development Bank is reportedly lending Transnet Ltd US$5 billion following the signing of an agreement this week of collaboration in Transnet’s infrastructure upgrade programmes.

In a statement Transnet said that all agreements in terms of the collaboration arrangements will be concluded in line with Transnet’s governance processes, including compliance with relevant legislation.

The statement said the cooperation includes, but is not limited to, the financing of the construction and upgrade of railway and port infrastructure, and the localisation of equipment manufacturing – especially rail and port. In addition, the two agreed on future collaboration on research and development initiatives, manufacturing, marketing and the construction of cross border infrastructure throughout the continent.

“This historic agreement between two state-owned entities within BRICS illustrate the opportunities inherent in such diplomatic ties. The agreement will enable us to explore innovative funding options as we pursue our borrowing plan focusing on cost effective solutions and diversity,” said Transnet chief executive, Brian Molefe.

Last year, Transnet announced an unprecedented R300 billion investment programme, the Market Demand Strategy (MDS), to revamp and expand its ports, rail and pipelines infrastructure and equipment. About two thirds of the required funding will be raised from internal resources while the remainder will be raised through various sources in the debt capital markets.

As part of the investment programme, Transnet has awarded various equipment manufacturing contracts to Original Equipment Manufacturers, including the United States’ General Electric, Finnish crane maker Kalmar and China South Railways – the latter is now subject to further scrutiny.


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Transnet Ltd has appointed local black accounting and professional services firm SekelaXabiso to lead its internal audit function for the next five years, the company announced earlier this week.

Transnet’s internal audit contract is arguably the biggest outsource contract of its nature in the world.

Following a public tender process run by the Audit Committee of Transnet’s Board of Directors, the company decided to appoint three firms - SekelaXabiso, another home-grown and black firm, Nkonki Inc, and one of the ‘big 4’, KPMG. The three will have a 40%, 20% and 40% share of the work during the first year respectively. By the fifth year, Nkonki’s share will rise to 35%, while SekelaXabiso’s share will peak at 45%.

The award follows last year’s appointment of SizweNtsalubaGobodo, another black-owned accounting firm, as Transnet’s external auditors - a move hailed as a major milestone in the transformation of the country’s financial services and accounting industry. The external audit account is worth approximately R450 million over the next five years, while the internal audit contract is close to R1,3 billion over the same period. This will take the total value of audit work performed or led by local firms for Transnet to nearly R2 billion over five years.

Both SekelaXabiso and SizweNtsalubaGobodo are mergers formed while sub-contracting audit work (internal and external respectively) at Transnet. The consolidation gave the two firms the critical mass required to service an account of Transnet’s size and complexity.

Speaking at the announcement in Johannesburg, Mafika Mkwanazi, chairman of Transnet’s Board of Directors said: “The two appointments are just two of the examples by which we at Transnet, as a state-owned entity, are providing the blueprint for meaningful and broad-based empowerment and skills development targeting black people, especially black women.”

“With its stable financial footing, a solid management team and massive infrastructure projects, Transnet is at the forefront of government’s drive to transform the economy in a sustainable manner as dictated by the objectives of the New Growth Path,” Mkwanazi added.

Transnet is rolling out a massive R300 billion seven-year infrastructure investment programme to revamp and expand its port, rail and pipelines infrastructure – the Market Demand Strategy (MDS).

To ensure that Transnet achieved its empowerment, transformation and supplier development objectives, the company split the tender into two. Option A was for 60% of the work and reserved only for majority black-owned firms – with at least 51% black ownership. Option B, which was 40%, was open to traditional firms with international experience.



There’s a Page Missing
By Don Oliver
Published by scamp (an imprint of Publishing Print Matters)
ISBN: 9 780980 260816
Recommended Price: R189
Should be available from any good bookstore

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Maritime fraud, international intrigue and an indefatigable investigator – all add up to a fascinating account of the extraordinary people bent on fooling the system with mind boggling schemes.

Author Don Oliver is a specialist maritime insurance surveyor who has visited countless ports and places throughout the world, uncovering the truth behind insurance claims. Suspicious, audacious and fraudulent – he’s seen them all and on the way invented some detection devices that have stopped criminals in their tracks.

Arriving from the UK in the early 1950s with a floundering school career, his father enrolled him into the General Botha, the South African Nautical College. To coin a phrase, while it was not all plain sailing Oliver had inherited his detective father’s enquiring mind and on leaving school was offered a job in the Marine Department of the Royal Insurance Company in Cape Town. Acquiring a taste for marine surveying he went on to join EA Hiles and from there to start his own company, working with the world’s top insurance companies.

With an investigator’s eye and more than a few questions Oliver has uncovered insurance scams that read like a thriller; with mayhem and a few narrow escapes the ingenuity of the fraudster is not to be undermined – until someone like Oliver comes along.

Not content with retiring Oliver tells the stories of some of the more audacious escapades with a keen eye and a sense of humour (some of the attributes that a marine surveyor is allegedly required to have). Readers will recognize some of the ingenious plots that have been uncovered and marvel at those that did not hit the press.

Fast moving and a book to dip into, Oliver uncovers a world that for many would seem mundane and slow – far from it, this is the undercover story of those who would buck the system and an investigator who never lets go until the truth is revealed.



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The floating university at sea cruise ship, EXPLORER which arrived in Cape Town yesterday. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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