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Ports & Ships Maritime News

2 April 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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



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The bulk carrier THAI HEALTH (51,008-dwt, built 2001) seen arriving in Durban in a light ship condition on Easter Monday and proceeding at around midday along the Esplanade Channel towards a berth at Maydon Wharf. Picture by Trevor Jones


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World’s biggest semi-submersible heavylift off PE this week

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Dockwise Vanguard on her sea trials

The world’s largest semi-submersible heavylift vessel, DOCKWISE VANGUARD (116,173-dwt, built 2012) is due off the South African coast at Port Elizabeth around midday on Thursday, 4 April, on route to Corpus Christi. To provide an example of her sheer size, Dockwise Vanguard’s deck space is 70% larger than that of the second biggest heavylift ship afloat, the BLUE MARLIN. The massive vessel can lift and carry loads of up to 110,000 tonnes, which is twice that of Blue Marlin.

The ship is owned by Dockwise Shipping of the Netherlands and entered service in February this year. The ship has a length of 275 metres, is 79m wide and has a draught of 11m (or 31m when submerged). She cost US$240 million to build at the South Korean shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries. Source - David Huggins, Wikipedia


Fairmount Summit completes long tow for SSV Catarina

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Tug and tow, safely offshore. Picture Fairmount Marine

The Dutch tug FAIRMOUNT SUMMIT has delivered the oil rig SSV CATARINA (41,448-gt, built 2012) to its destination offshore of Angola, which involved a tow from Okpo in South Korea, via the Strait of Malacca and the Cape of Good Hope.

The tow entailed a voyage of more than 10,000 n.miles at an average towing speed of 6.9 knots. During the voyage the Fairmount Summit bunkered twice, at Singapore and at Mauritius, with the tug performing a cargo run between Port Louis and the SSV Catarina.

SSV Catarina is a brand new sixth generation semi-submersible drilling rig for ultra deepwater operations and was built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea. The rig is designed to drill up to depths of 10,000 metres. She has a length of 118 metres and a width of 78 metres.

Fairmount Marine is based in Rotterdam and operates with a fleet of five modern tugs each with a bollard strength of 205 tons and all designed for long-distance towing.


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SOUTH AFRICA: Chery on top for Richards Bay ship repair

The on/off ship repair facility at the Port of Richards Bay is back on the table again, according to reports which suggest the China’s Chery Holdings – the company connected to Chery motor manufacturer - will bankroll much of the project.

If anything is to come of this latest attempt to install ship repair facilities at the Zululand port, the partnership will be involving Chery Holdings, the SA Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), China Development Bank, China Africa Development Fund and Imbani Holdings.

The one name missing from the above is Transnet, who owns the port and surrounding properties in which any ship repair or building function will have to take place.

The deal was supposedly worked out during last week’s Brics Summit and of course it sounds like another piece of good positive news to come out from that meeting of the organisation’s leaders. Of course, whether anything will happen this time round remains to be seen. Having been told of proposals and deals that were supposedly struck, dating back to the mid 1990s when the late Rowley Morgan first expanded on his ambitious ideas for ship repair at the port, we will remain skeptical until such time as we see the first machinery moving in on the site.

Ask the previous Chinese investors, who eventually walked away from interminable delays and non decision-making from Transnet and South African government departments, despite the populist pronouncements of various ministers and various developers.

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The bushy area on the left is where a ship repair facility was originally envisaged for the Port of Richards Bay. Picture TNPA

Rail loan

Earlier at the Brics Summit it was announced that the China Development Bank was going to lend Transnet US$5 billion for Transnet’s future infrastructure upgrade projects.

“The cooperation includes, but is not limited to, the financing of the construction and upgrade of railway, and port infrastructure, 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,” read the statement issued by Transnet.

The signing of the agreement was witnessed by South African President, Jacob Zuma, his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba.


PetroSA Project Mthombo back vogue

Another massive project that will have a dramatic effect on the Port of Ngqura, providing it comes off, is Project Mthombo, to build a crude oil refinery next to the Eastern Cape port.

This has waxed hot and cold for some years, but now a full feasibility study is about to be launched after the signing of a two- year framework agreement involving PetroSA – South Africa’s national oil company – and Sinopec, China’s petrochemical group.

This was another agreement signed in Pretoria last week, which doesn’t mean that the project to build the refinery will go ahead, simply that there will be a feasibility study.

With South Africa now forced to import refined fuel such as petrol and diesel in large quantities, few can argue that a need for another refinery exists, although no doubt the oil majors that already run refineries in South Africa will have different views.

It appears that the Coega refinery might have the capacity to deliver of 360,000 barrels a day facility, and would cost around US $11 billion to build. If it goes ahead then SA would probably acquire its crude from Africa – with Angola being tipped as the likely supplier.

This is another of those projects that at best requires a ‘wait and see’ approach.


TANZANIA: China to build new port at Bagamoyo

A 1.28-trillion shilling ($800 million) bilateral package of infrastructure development deals signed last week between Dar es Salaam and Beijing will spur Tanzania's economy forward, Tanzanian officials are reported as saying by Sabahi online.

This followed the signing of 16 agreements for developmental projects on mainland Tanzania and three agreements for Zanzibar during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Dar es Salaam on 24-25 March. The agreements were countersigned by Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete.

The deals clear the way for China to finance and build a 16-trillion shilling ($10 billion) port at Bagamoyo and other infrastructure projects.

“President Xi's visit is historic,” Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Bernard Membe told Sabahi. “Apart from unveiling China's policy towards Africa through Tanzania, Tanzania has signed with China 19 valuable agreements. An agreement like that of the port of Bagamoyo [project] is a lifelong investment.” Scheduled for completion by 2017, the port at Bagamoyo - northwest of Dar es Salaam - will be able to handle twenty times more cargo than the port in the Tanzanian capital, which is the country's largest port.

“The port [at Bagamoyo] will be of high standards. We are building a fourth generation port,” said Tanzania's Ambassador to China, Philip Marmo. “It will handle 20 million containers a year, compared to [the port of] Dar es Salaam, which is handling only 800,000 containers a year.”

The port construction project will include the building of a new 34-kilometre road joining Bagamoyo to Mlandizi and 65 kilometres of railway connecting Bagamoyo to the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA) and Central Railway, Marmo told Sabahi.

The bilateral deals call for China to commit 800 billion Tanzanian shillings ($500 million) in 2013 for starting the port construction, he said. The rest of the Chinese financial aid package will follow in 2014 and 2015, according to Membe.

Other projects under the Chinese-Tanzanian agreements include the creation of a modern agricultural and industrialisation zone, interest-free loans and loan agreements between the Export-Import Bank of China and the Bank of Tanzania, the establishment of a Chinese cultural centre in Tanzania, the rehabilitation of the Abdullah Mzee Hospital in Zanzibar, and the provision of shipping container inspection equipment for the port of Zanzibar, the Tanzanian foreign minister said.

A world class port

The Chinese stand to gain from Tanzania's future port at Bagamoyo because it would facilitate China-bound shipments of minerals from Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo via the Indian Ocean, Marmo said.

The new port also would transform Bagamoyo into an East African hub for Indian Ocean shipments to and from six of Tanzania's mostly landlocked neighbours, ease congestion at the Dar es Salaam port and make Tanzania's import-export sector more efficient, said Vincent Nyerere, a parliamentarian and businessman.

Tanzania is losing a lot of trade and commerce because of inefficiency at the port of Dar es Salaam, Nyerere told Sabahi.

The neighbouring countries of Malawi, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda would like to export and import products via Tanzania, the shortest and most viable route to the Indian Ocean, Nyerere said. But for now, these countries must do with the Kenyan port of Mombasa and the South African port of Durban, which are more distant and costly routes.

Kikwete thanked China for its decision to help Tanzania improve its infrastructure and provide access to interest-free or low- interest loans, as long as the bilateral relationship serves ‘the interests of Tanzania’. Source Sabahi online


NIGERIA: NPA statistics for 2012 financial year

In a summary of some of the results achieved by the Nigerian Ports Authority for the fiscal year 2012, the country’s ports achieved the following:

Containers handled for 2012 totalled 2,452,931 TEU, compared with 2,230,522 TEU in 2011.

Full containers for the period totalled 877,737 TEU (2011 – 817,246)

Empty containers for period totalled 1,575,194 TEU (2011 – 1,413,276)

The number of motor vehicles processed through the ports was 268,026 units, compared with 231,423 units in 2011).

Berth occupancy for 2012 was 44.9%, a slight improvement of the previous year’s 44.5%.


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Benguela convention will stretch SA resources

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South Africa sea fisheries patrol vessel ELLEN KHUZWAHO. Picture by Louis Vosloo

South Africa’s military and seagoing resources are to be further stretched with the signing of the Benguela Current Convention involving SA, Namibia and Angola. The three nations have committed to a long-term regional approach to the conservation, protection, rehabilitation, enhancement and sustainable use of the Benguela Current, which runs northwards from the southern tip of Africa and covers the west coast coastline of South Africa, and of Namibia and Angola.

The convention also defines the boundaries of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) which covers an even greater sea area extending from Port Elizabeth to the province of Cabinda in the north of Angola. Regarded as one of the richest ecosystems on earth, the region now faces new challenges with the onset of offshore oil and gas production to go with existing offshore marine diamond mining, coastal tourism, commercial fishing and merchant shipping activities.

Namibia has been strengthening its fleet of inshore coastal patrol vessels as has Angola, while South Africa in the past few years has struggled to care for its own coastline, despite having taken delivery of a number of excellent patrol ships in recent years. When challenged with this task the SA Navy failed dismally and the coastal patrol vessels have since been removed from the navy’s responsibility.

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The Namibian Navy has a small number of efficient patrol vessels, of which NS BRENDAN SIMBWAYE is one.

PIRACY: IMO to assist West Africa with pirate code

The IMO has pledged its support to assist in the implementation of a new Code of Conduct concerning the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in west and central Africa, which has been adopted at a Ministerial meeting in Cotonou, Benin.

The Code is expected to be opened for signature at the meeting of the Heads of State and Government of Central and West African States, expected to be held in Yaounde, Cameroon, in May 2013.

Welcoming the adoption of the Code, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu said that the IMO was ready to support the countries in the region in its implementation.

TheIMO has assisted ECOWAS [the Economic Community of West African States] in the drafting of the Code, which incorporates many elements of the IMO-developed Djibouti Code of Conduct, signed by 20 States in the western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden area, as well as provisions from the existing Memorandum of Understanding to establish a sub-regional integrated coast guard function network in West and Central Africa, developed in 2008 by IMO and the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA). The MoU has been signed by 15 of the 20 coastal States in the region.

Signatories to the Code intend to co-operate to the fullest possible extent in the prevention and repression of piracy and armed robbery against ships, transnational organised crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea with a view towards:

(a) sharing and reporting relevant information;
(b) interdicting ships and/or aircraft suspected of engaging in such illegal activities at sea;
(c) ensuring that persons committing or attempting to commit illegal activities at sea are apprehended and prosecuted; and
(d) facilitating proper care, treatment, and repatriation for seafarers, fishermen, other shipboard personnel and passengers subject to illegal activities at sea, particularly those who have been subjected to violence.

Whilst promoting regional co-operation, the Code recognises the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States and that of non-intervention in the domestic affairs of other States.... Source – IMO Briefing no.9 of 21 March 2013

West African nations agree on combating piracy

More than 20 West and central African nations who came together in Cotonou, Benin to face up to the growth of piracy in their region, have proposed the pooling of resources in combating maritime crime in their region.

“The ministers are worried by the serious threats posed by piracy, armed robbery and other illegal maritime activities in the waters of Central Africa and West Africa,” a statement released after the recent meeting in Benin of foreign ministers read.

The ministers called for governments to arrest and prosecute suspected pirates and seize any vessels believed to have been used in acts of piracy. The document also called upon ship owners to “take steps to protect against pirates”.

Before it can become effective, however, the agreement has to be ratified by the respective heads of state.


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Pretoria - The South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has signed a statement of intent on cooperation in fisheries with Russia at the 5th Brics Summit which was held in Durban last week.

A total of nine agreements were signed by different ministers.

“As South Africa hosts the 5th Brics Summit, there is mounting pressure on us to not just have a talk shop. We have to gear our energy towards ensuring that the agreements that we sign among our partners will be converted into action,” said Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

“This agreement will be beneficial to South Africa for a number of reasons, including capacitating human capital through training opportunities and combating unregulated fishing. Poaching has major repercussions for the sustainability of our resources.”

The statement of intent was signed for the conclusion of a future agreement on cooperation in the field of fisheries, based on the conservation and rational use of living marine resources; the prevention, deterrence and elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the exchange of information and data on the fisheries-related issues, among others. These are of interest to both parties.

Currently, South Africa exports no fisheries products to Russia and the statement of intent recognises the importance of technical and economic cooperation among developing countries through the exchange of information, experience and research in the field of fisheries.

Oranges, grapes, grapefruit and apples are among the top 10 agriculture and forestry products that are exported to Russia.

Fisheries are a major contributor to South Africa’s economy. The commercial sector contributes roughly R6 billion into the economy. Source – Sanews.gov.org


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Regal Princess appears

Princess Cruises’ latest ship, the 141,000-gross ton, 330m long REGAL PRINCESS was floated out from her building dock last week to become the line’s latest new ship.

The event took place at the Fincantieri Monfalcone shipyard in Italy, and in traditional style, a ‘godmother’ was on hand to cut the ribbon before water was admitted to the dry dock, with Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief on the online community Cruise Critic performing the honours.

“To mark this important milestone we selected a woman who lives and breathes the cruise industry,” said Alan Buckelew, president and CEO of Princess Cruises.

A second sister ship, named ROYAL PRINCESS is also under construction at the shipyard. Each ship has 1,780 staterooms, of which 81% have balconies. The ship’s passenger capacity is 3,600 and together with crew the ships will have 5,600 people on board when they sail.


Flag ceremony for MSC Preziosa

In another ceremony earlier in March, MSC PREZIOSA was formally delivered to MSC Cruises, her new owner. The new ship has been completed at the STX France shipyard in St Nazaire but not without further controversy.

As the French flag was lowered and the flags of Italy and MSC raised, came news that Libya may make claim to the ship, which was originally ordered by the son of the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi.

With the fall of the Libyan regime work on the ship was halted, but when MSC took on responsibility for the order as a further addition to the line’s fleet of Fantasia class ships, work was recommenced.

Any claim from Libya is unlikely to succeed, but has the makings of an unwanted ‘annoyance’ to the cruise operator. MSC Preziosa became the 12th addition to MSC’s fleet and its fourth Fantasia class vessel, and with it MSC moves into third position in the rankings of cruise ships by the number of vessels.

MSC Presiosa is 333m in length, 38m wide and is 140,000-gross tons. She is able to accommodate 4,345 passengers and has cost MSC €550 million to complete.

After the flag ceremony the ship sailed on her inaugural cruise from St Nazaire, with calls at Lisbon, Cadiz, Casablanca, Valencia, and Marseille, before arriving in the port of Genoa on Friday 22 March for her official naming on 23 March by Sophia Loren. She then departed on the first of a schedule of cruises.


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The expeditions cruise ship SILVER EXPLORER (6,130-gt, built 1989), seen here in Cape Town harbour preparing to sail after a port visit during March. Something of a departure from Silverseas fleet of super luxury ships, the ship was initially named Prince Albert II in honour of Prince Albert of Monaco, where Silverseas is based. She was originally launched as Delfin Clipper and has since undergone a number of name changes before Silverseas acquired her in 2007. Under Silveseas operation the ship is frequently engaged in polar expedition cruises. As far as is known this is her first visit to South Africa – corrections anyone? Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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