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Ports & Ships Maritime News

16 April 2013
Author: Terry Hutson


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



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News continues below...


Within the next few weeks PORTS & SHIPS will begin publishing on four days a week instead of two. On three of those days Ports & Ships will be available on a paid subscription basis while on the fourth day it will be free. By taking this step we are able to revert to publishing more frequently, while continuing to bring to your attention a range of maritime related news items from across the continent of Africa. We will continue including other more general news that we consider is of interest to readers across this continent of ours.
Details of the subscription rates, which will be reasonable and affordable, will be published in our next News Bulletin due on Friday 19 April.


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National Geographic’s ice-class exploration ship NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORER (6471-gt, built 1982) accommodates 148 passengers in 81 cabins each with an outside view and must be one of the oddest looking passenger ships in service today. However, looks aren’t everything and the ship carries all the required equipment such as zodiacs, kayaks and other necessities to cater for an ever increasing population of excitement-seeking passengers, intent of going to places off the beaten track, while assured of a return to every creature comfort from the moment they step back on board. Are we jealous..... absolutely! The ship was in Cape Town last month. Picture by Ian Shiffman.

News continues below…



Port statistics for the month of March 2013, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, have come available. The total cargo handled by all the ports during the past month amounted to 22.473 million tonnes, which is on a par with the previous month. Best performer, volume-wise, was once again the Port of Richards Bay, which handled what must be a record for any South African port - 9.175 million tons of cargo during the month, of which 8.767mt was made up of bulk cargo handled. The Richards Bay Coal Terminal shipped 7.490 million tons of this as export coal.

Durban too enjoyed a respectable 6.049 million tons but anyone involved in the handling of containerised cargo at Durban ought to be highly concerned about the alarming drop in containers going through Durban Container Terminal. Some of this loss can be explained by diversions to Ngqura and possibly other ports, but for those employed within the maritime industry in Durban this cannot be good news.

Several berths at DCT (204 and 205) have been immobilised owing to the arrival of four new STS cranes and other work on the quayside, which are taking a long while to be commissioned.

Saldanha Bay handled slightly less iron ore for export in March compared with February. Meanwhile, the Port of Ngqura continues with high container volumes, but was down on the previous month so where are the lost Durban containers going to?

The previous March (2012) 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 compared to those provided by Transnet. This is to include containers by weight – an adjustment necessary because Transnet NPA measures containers by the number of TEUs and does not reflect the weight.

To arrive at such a calculation, PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13,5 tonnes per TEU, which probably 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 emphasise this distinction, without which South African ports will continue to be under- reported internationally.


Port Statistics continue below…

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Record high throughput for the Port of Richards Bay.

Figures for the respective ports during March 2013 are:


Cargo handled by tonnes during March 2013

PORT March 2013 million tonnes
Richards Bay 9.175
Durban 6.049
Saldanha Bay 4.602
Cape Town 1.414
Port Elizabeth 0.906
Ngqura 0.949
Mossel Bay 0.152
East London 0.225
Total all ports 22.473 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during March 2013
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT March 2013 TEUs
Durban 176,636
Cape Town 76,927
Port Elizabeth 18,605
Ngqura 70,260
East London 4,116
Richards Bay 2,964
Total all ports 349,508 TEUs

SHIP CALLS for March 2013

PORT March 2013 vessels gross tons
Durban 298 9,664,887
Cape Town 225 4,494,211
Richards Bay 152 6,145,146
Port Elizabeth 87 2,169,364
Saldanha Bay 48 2,825,849
Ngqura 33 1,861,486
East London 24 695,602
Mossel Bay 58 328,905
Total ship calls 925 28,185,450

- 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 2013 4,213,728 4,213,728 49.62 38 787
February 2013 5,451,541 9,665,468 59.79 50 757
March 2013 7,490,334 17,155,802 69.58 68 815

source: RBCT


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Evergreen Line strengthens Red Sea service network

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Picture by Ian Shiffman

Evergreen Line says that it is partnering with CMA CGM to provide a more comprehensive service network in the Red Sea market and will create a new South Red Sea Service (SRS2) linking Southeast Asia, the Indian Sub-continent (ISC) and Red Sea. The new loop, which commences next month (May) will offer a convenient link to Ethiopia via Djibouti.

Five ships of 2,200-TEU capacity will be deployed on the SRS2 service, with Evergreen Line providing three of these and CMA CGM the remaining two. The first sailing is planned to depart from Tanjung Pelepas on 2 May 2013. The service will have a weekly frequency and a port rotation of: Tanjung Pelepas - Colombo - Djibouti - Aden (Yemen) - Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) - Port Sudan (Sudan) -Djibouti - Colombo - Port Klang - Tanjung Pelepas.

In addition to strengthening the service network in the Red Sea, the new SRS2 service will enable Evergreen Line to further expand its port coverage in the East African market following the inauguration of the line's ISC-Mauritius-Mozambique-Africa (IMMA) Service which was launched earlier this month.


German line starts fortnightly service to W Africa

Germany’s Hartman Project Line has begun a fortnightly multi-purpose and project cargo service between Europe and West Africa, wit the first sailing expected from Antwerp in the next week.

The service will operate using three 17,500-dwt multipurpose ships redeployed from the Pacific. According to company chief executive Niels Hartman, the first sailing is already fully booked.

The recent termination of Delmas Line, which withdrew its ConRo service between north Europe and West Africa after losing a military contract, plus reports that Safmarine has withdrawn some of its tonnage from the route, has given rise to several other European operators to believe there is an opportunity for them to take up the slack.


Ten candles on Debmarine Namibia’s cake

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The diamond mining vessel MAFUTA in Cape Town harbour after recently undergoing an extensive refit and survey in the dry dock. Picture by Aad Noorland

Debmarine Namibia, the marine mining company has celebrated its 10th anniversary in offshore mining on the coast of Namibia with the inauguration of the R650 million mining ship MAFUTA.

Mafuta (which means ‘Great Water’ in Oshiwambo, and ‘Fat’ or ‘Big One’ in several of the east coast languages) becomes the company’s largest mining vessel. Previously known as the PEACE OF AFRICA the vessel was acquired from De Beers Consolidated Mines in November last year and underwent a refurbishment and upgrade before being registered at the Port of Luderitz in Namibia.

The diamond mining ship is expected to produce 350,000 carats annually.

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Another view of the diamond mining vessel Mafuta in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

Idle container ships reach highest level for a year

The number of container ships that are currently idled at anchorages in various parts of the world has reached its highest figure in more than a year, reports Lloyd’s List Intelligence.

The report says that the idled fleet reached the equivalent of 705,994-TEU last week, which represents 4.3% of the total world fleet and is an increase of 34% compared with the same period of 2012.

The highest percentage of ships idled are in the 3,000 – 4999-TEU range, followed by those ranging between 1,000 – 2,999-TEU.

The highest number of idled container ships ever was reached in the slump of late 2009 when the equivalent of 1.5 million TEU vessel capacity was laid up. Source - Lloyds List Intelligence


News continues below...



Mystery Escort

Here’s a little mystery for readers to solve, involving a local yacht on passage to Port Elizabeth, when on the night of 18 March this year the crew were called to change sail due to rising winds.

As the yacht’s crew assembled on deck, a mystery vessel, looking something along the lines of a patrol vessel and with a white hull, suddenly shone a bright spotlight on them, before switching off the light and moving away.

The unidentified vessel had earlier taken up station with the yacht about four miles seaward of them, matching the relatively slow speed of the sailing yacht from sunset until 1am when it approached and used its spotlight.

According to the skipper of the yacht, Phil Rademan, he is familiar with the markings of the local fleet but didn’t recognise this one, which had a white hull with two diagonal red stripes fore and aft, giving the craft the lines of a fast patrol craft. He wonders whether it might have been one of the sea fishery vessels recently in the news.

That however doesn’t seem likely, as most of, if not all the sea fishery vessels are reported to be in Simon’s Town harbour waiting for transfer back to the Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (DAFF). These vessels are in any case painted either in red or white, and so far as we know do not have diagonal stripes.

Perhaps some of our readers may have some suggestions as to the identity of this mysterious craft in the night.


NSRI medivacs sick crewman off chokka boat

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Chinese lanterns

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 6 at Port Elizabeth reports having had to activate its volunteer duty crew at 17h00 on Sunday afternoon to go to the assistance of a crew member of the chokka (squid) boat UMZAMO, who was reported to be coughing up blood.

According to Ian Gray, NSRI Port Elizabeth station commander, the chokka boat was 15 n.miles south west of Port Elizabeth and although the NSRI St Francis Bay had already responded, it was felt that Port Elizabeth was nearer. “Our NSRI Port Elizabeth volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched our sea rescue craft SPIRIT OF TOFT and responded and on arrival on-scene the 39 year old crewman, from Humansdorp, was transferred onto our sea rescue craft in a stable condition and brought to Port Elizabeth harbour where he was handed into the care of EC Government Health Emergency Medical Services (EMS) paramedics and transported to hospital by EMS ambulance for further treatment.”

That same evening the PE duty crew was activated following numerous calls from eye-witnesses reporting what they believed to be multiple red distress flares sighted at Blue Water Bay, off-shore of Main Beach. A group of fishermen had also seen what they thought to be red distress flares go off, adding to the credibility of the reports.

The NSRI launched a second boat and on arrival in the vicinity a search commenced. "NSRI Port Elizabeth launched our sea rescue craft EIKOS RESCUER IV and on arrival in the vicinity a search commenced. A NSRI rescue vehicle was dispatched to begin a search for vehicles and trailers at launch slipways, as a means of checking whether any boats were overdue. Broadcasts to shipping were issued asking ships to keep a look out for any vessel that might be in distress.

During an extensive search it came to light that some people on the beach had reportedly witnessed Chinese lanterns being set off in the area and that these had given the impression of red distress flares at sea. The NSRI boat and road vehicle returned to base at 22h03.

The NSRI has made an appeal to the public not to set off Chinese Lanterns along the coast as they are most often mistaken for red distress flares.


News continues below…



Chinese to build first three berths at the port of Lamu

A Chinese consortium headed by China Communications Construction Company, has been awarded the contract to commence the building of the new Kenyan port at Lamu, in the north east of the country.

The port, which will eventually have 32 berths, will become Kenya’s biggest and possibly its most important, and will have an important role to play in the economies of South Sudan, Ethiopia and possibly south Somalia.

New Lamu is part of a US$25.5 billion project involving a pipeline from the port to South Sudan, a new railway linking the neighbouring countries, and a highway.

Another Chinese construction company, China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) was earlier awarded a $66.7 million contract to build a new container terminal at Mombasa.

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Road congestion outside Mombasa intensifies

Traffic jams extending about 5kms along the Mombasa – Nairobi highway have occurred as a result of trucks waiting to go on a weigh bridge, reports Capital FM in Kenya.

Traffic Commandant Samuel Kimaru told Capital FM News the congestion was a result of a large number of trucks overlapping and blocking the highway. He said this was a result of an unusually large amount of businesses that are clearing their goods at the Port of Mombasa now that the elections are over, taking with it any threat of violence.

“Those people doing business at the Port of Mombasa were not sure of the environment in the country during the elections. As a result of this, they did not move their goods from the port as they tested the atmosphere. Now that everything is calm, they are all moving their goods and this is causing a huge volume of trucks on the road,” he told the radio station.

He said he had sent traffic officers to the scene to direct and clear the traffic.

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Mombasa harbour tug KIBOKO

Nigeria: NPA redefines roles under landlord port model

by Francis Ugwoke (This Day)

As the search for efficiency at the ports continues, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) maintains that the exercise carried out seven years ago has brought gains for the country. The authority while outlining the roles played by each operator under the landlord port model affirms that the target is to position Nigeria as a transhipment centre in Africa.

About seven years after the concessioning programme at the ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has come out to redefine the various roles of operators. It is a clarification that begins with NPA as the landlord and technical regulator under the system, and concessionaires that took over terminal operations at the ports. The explanation came with a commitment from the management of the authority to continue to play its roles in achieving efficiency at the ports in line with the transformation agenda of the government.

To industry stakeholders, the statement from the NPA comes on the heels of what has been described as a misinterpretation of what the roles of each stakeholder should be. It may not also be unconnected with the controversy on how each of the stakeholders, including the terminal operators and the landlord have performed in terms of meeting up with statutory obligations after the reform exercise. Some years back, while freight forwarders and importers were full of lamentation about the illegal charges at the ports involving shipping companies and concessionaires, including poor equipment profile, some terminal operators had also blamed the management of NPA of failing in some areas of statutory obligations.

The former Minister of Transport, Mr Yusuph Suleiman joined in by expressing displeasure over the performance of the NPA in its own obligation as required by the port reform exercise. Suleiman was short of the details of the areas of the failure of the NPA, but his statement later led to some measures by the authority to begin a massive rehabilitation of infrastructure at the ports.

The remainder of this article outlining the NPA’s vision for the future of Nigeria’s ports can be seen on the THIS DAY site - use your BACKSPACE button to return to PORTS & SHIPS.



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The latest available ship movement reports for the Port of Cape Town can be seen here CAPE TOWN SHIP MOVEMENTS - check back during the day for updates.

For the latest ship movement reports for the Port of Durban, go here DURBAN SHIP MOVEMENTS

For the latest ship movement updates regarding the Port of Richards Bay, go here RICHARDS BAY SHIP MOVEMENTS

For the Port of Maputo ship movements including ETA’s and Ships in Port, go here PORT OF MAPUTO SHIP MOVEMENTS

For ship movement reports from the Namibian Port of Walvis Bay, go here PORT OF WALVIS BAY SHIP MOVEMENTS


These are just a few of the ship movement reports and updates that we publish daily or on different days during the week and which, from feedback received are among other users being utilised by cargo owners across Africa to help monitor the whereabouts of their cargo. You can find all the ports covered by going here SHIP MOVEMENT REPORTS

. As is always the case with links, use your BACKSPACE key to return to Ports & Ships.

For many years we have published regular Ship Movement reports from the various ports of sub-Saharan Africa. While the list of ports is far from complete, Ports & Ships offers an extensive coverage of shipping movements including ETA's and ships that have already called which can be a useful tool especially for anyone wishing to monitor whether their ship 'has come in'. Just another service from PORTS & SHIPS!



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It's unusual for the same tug to tow the same ship into the same port twice in less than a month, but that was the case today (12 April) when the scrap-bound tanker SUNDANCE lost her engines just as she cleared the entrance channel late morning. SMIT AMANDLA, which had previously towed the tanker in on 25 March, repeated the exercise on Friday 12 April, reports Trevor Jones. In these two pictures are the tug and tow and the vintage salvage tug Smit Amandla, the former Durban-built John Ross which is now 37 years old and still going strong. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome – please email to info@ports.co.za


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