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Ports & Ships Maritime News

30 April 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Commencing on Thursday this week, 2 May 2013 PORTS & SHIPS will publish its news bulletin four times weekly. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Ports & Ships News online will be available on a paid subscription basis. On the Tuesday it will remain free.
This step will enable us to bring together a more frequent range of maritime related news items from across the continent of Africa. Included among this is other more general news considered to be of interest to readers from across this continent and further afield.
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News continues below...


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The Sierra Leone-flagged tug MARECHIARO (740-gt, built 1978), owned by Africa Salvage SL, seen arriving in Cape Town on Monday this week. The tug was formerly named Mira A and before that she sailed as Salvigour and Yorkshireman. Picture by Aad Noorland

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Eldock in Durban harbour, is one of three floating docks owned and operated by EBH, now part of the DCD Marine group.

The DCD Group, has announced its acquisition of well-known and respected ship repair companies Elgin Brown and Hamer (EBH) South Africa and a portion of EBH Namibia, whereby the national port authority in Namibia (Namport) remains the key shareholder.

The deal, which has been in the pipeline since 2011, has been an open secret and has significant implications for the DCD Marine cluster’s capacity to offer a full service to existing and new shipping clients along the entire southern African coastline, from Durban to Walvis Bay and beyond.

“The rationale behind the acquisition was to leverage EBH's strong brand and DCD MARINE’s established industry track record to boost global competitiveness,” says Gerry Klos, General Manager of DCD MARINE. “The marine cluster will now be able to offer clients several docking possibilities at various ports spanning the coastline, as well as a greater footprint in terms of workshop and dry dock or floating dock facilities.”

EBH’s core focus is repairs to container and cargo vessels as well as to various offshore supply vessels and dredgers; while DCD MARINE specialises in the management of larger projects related to repairs to vessels and rigs operating in the oil and gas market.

As the oldest ship repair company in South Africa, dating back to 1878, EBH brings a proud and successful history into the DCD Marine cluster of well over a hundred years of expertise and experience in ship repair.

EBH operates from its shipyards in Durban, East London and Cape Town, as well as from its floating docks in both Durban and Walvis Bay.

“EBH is highly respected in the industry,” notes Klos, adding that EBH South Africa and EBH Namibia will continue to operate as separate entities within the DCD Marine cluster.

“EBH will retain the dry dockings, repairs and short-term jobs typically associated with fast turn-around projects. DCD MARINE will at the same time continue to specialise in project management relating to repairs, upgrades and conversion projects to drill ships, drilling rigs, jack-ups and all types of offshore support vessels in the upstream oil and gas markets,” Klos said.

Rob Deane, General Manager of the EBH Group said that EBH is looking forward to embracing new opportunities through being part of the DCD MARINE cluster and the DCD corporate stable.

“Being part of a larger group will enhance our service offering to existing clients by giving them more options and increased access to resources and facilities,” he added.

“Increasing our operational capacities around the southern African coast will also expand our ability to attract new business.”

“The acquisition is a great way of broadening our knowledge and service levels,” said Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBH Nambia. “Ultimately it is our clients who will benefit from our increased market share and will be in a better position to obtain competitive pricing linked to superior service.” He said the acquisition will reposition EBH Namibia as a full-service provider. “Although we have already built a reputable business within Namibia, we wish to expand our target market. DCD MARINE will therefore acquire shares in a company that is already well positioned, and will benefit greatly from our world class marine repair facilities and service acumen.”

According to Klos there will be a greater skills pool to draw from across the divisions and in terms of facilities, and a greater pooling of market intelligence covering both companies’ areas of expertise.

EBH Namibia, which focuses more on offshore supply vessels, currently operates two floating dry docks in Walvis Bay, and will be expanding its capacities with the addition of a third floating dry dock in August 2013. This expansion, as well as the acquisition by DCD MARINE, will help to establish Namibia as one of the leading ship repair countries along the west coast of Africa, explained Uys.

“The value proposition that EBH Namibia offers our clients is well aligned with DCD MARINE’s customer-focused culture,” he said.

Like EBH South Africa, EBH Namibia will continue to operate as a separate entity within the DCD Marine cluster, with each company supporting the other as required.

“Whenever clients come to our shores, they are now assured of dealing with a cluster of reputable shipyards, no matter where they may be along the coastline. There are exciting times ahead for all stakeholders in the DCD Marine cluster, and we are looking forward to offering an even more effective, efficient and competitive service to all our clients,” Klos said.

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Gerry Klos, DCD MARINE General Manager

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Computer-generated imagery of what the Walvis Bay North Port will look like when built. Image courtesy Namport

Far from simply developing a new container terminal, Namport could be bringing forward plans to build an ambitious new port at Walvis Bay to accommodate an expected increase in container and other traffic in the near future.

Originally intended as a long-term proposal for the Port of Walvis Bay, the plans may have to be brought forward and, coupled with finance that could come from China, the Namibian port is set to become a real rival for business in the southern and central African region.

According to reports in The Namib Times the cabinet has discussed and in principle given the go-ahead to create a new harbour on the northern side of the existing port. It said the new harbour is part of Namport’s strategy of positioning Walvis Bay as the premier port in the region.

The plans will require dredging of a deep entrance channel and excavating the land to clear space for the new deepwater basin along with 10 kilometres of quayside for ships to berth.

If it was necessary to have proof that this development has the potential of shaking up the southern African region, it came in the form of a warning given yesterday by Transnet Chief Executive Brian Molefe at a community briefing session in Durban, in which he said, while justifying the need for the Durban dig-out port to go ahead, that if it was delayed or not built then Durban would lose out to other African ports. As an example he cited Walvis Bay where he said ambitious plans to build a large container port had been given the go-ahead.

More about the Walvis Bay new port in the next PORTS & SHIPS news bulletin appearing on Thursday.

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Two crewmen killed on Spanish trawler in Durban harbour

Two crew members on board the Spanish trawler IBSA QUINTO were killed yesterday (Monday) when they entered a confined space. The ship is currently berthed in Durban harbour.

From reports issued by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) it appears the two crewmen entered a fish oil tank on board the trawler to conduct an inspection and were overcome by toxic fish oil vapours. A third member of the crew who attempted to rescue them was also overcome and has been hospitalised in Durban.

The trawler is berthed at Maydon Wharf berth 1. The TNPA and the eThekwini Municipality’s Fire and Emergency Services responded to the incident but the two men had already died.

SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) has been advised and is investigating the incident.

Russian Tall Ship SEDOV due in Walvis Bay

The Russian Tall Ship SEDOV, which has been visiting Cape Town for the past few days, during which it was berthed in the V&A Waterfront and open to the public, has sailed for Walvis Bay, her next port of call.

The four-masted barque Sedov is due in the Namibian port on Wednesday, 1 May and will be similarly open for the public to be shown around.

The ship is a genuine windjammer out of the past, having been taken as a war prize at the end of World War 2 and handed to Russia as part of the war reparations. Originally named MAGDALENE VINNEN, she was later renamed SEDOV and homeported in Murmansk. Since then the tall ship has operated as a sail training vessel and normally has a crew of 75 on board of which 45 are cadets. The ship has accommodation for 320 people and at 122 metres she is one of the biggest of her type. The cadets on board are drawn from the universities of Murmansk, Saint Petersburg and Arkhangelsk.

Sedov is steel hulled and was built in Kiel, Germany in 1920 as a merchant sailing ship. Despite the reluctance of her original owners, a 128-hp auxiliary engine was fitted into her design, which no doubt has stood the ship in good stead over the years. In this guise she traded around the world and would almost certainly have called in Southern African ports on more than one occasion.

According to the Russian embassy in Windhoek, the ship will be open to the public on Wednesday (1 May) between 10h00 and 17h00. English-speaking guides will be available among the crew to show groups of visitors around the ship.

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The magnificent Sedov under full sail

New Ignazio Messina Ro-Ro ship heading for Durban

The latest Ignazio Messina Line Ro-Ro ship, JOLLY QUARZO (50,720-gt built 2013) is due in Durban on her maiden visit near the end of May, making this the fourth newbuild in the class to be introduced by the Italian company on the South Africa service.

Previous ships to arrive, also on their maiden calls were Jolly Diamante, Jolly Cristallo and Jolly Perla. These are the largest Ro-Ro ships to have entered service with Ignazio Messina.

Jolly Quarzo is due in Durban on 28 May and should sail on 31 May.

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Jolly Cristallo on the occasion of her maiden visit to Durban in January. Picture by Trevor Jones

Dramatic increase in motor vehicle imports for Dar es Salaam

Motor vehicle imports through the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam increased by 50% over an eight-month period ending February 2013, when compared with the similar period ending February 2012.

The number of imports reached 83,440 units, up from 55,819, reports the Tanzanian Daily News.

The same report said that general overall traffic through the port increased by 20% from 6.935 million tonnes to 8.314 million tonnes for the period between July 2012 and February 2013, as compared with the similar period 12 months earlier.

A spokesperson for Tanzania Ports Authority said the increase in volumes was due to improved efficiency corresponding with a business boom and as a result of investments in new cargo handling equipment and infrastructure plus employee training.

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Port of Dar es Salaam

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RMS St Helena in Cape Town harbour. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Andrew Weir Ship Management UK became the 9th participating company in the National Cadet Training Programme when two South African deck cadets recently joined the RMS St Helena in Cape Town to obtain the seatime necessary to qualify as Officer of the Watch.

The RMS St Helena, built in 1989 specifically to supply the island of St Helena, is on an 18-day turn around rotation between Cape Town, St Helena and Ascension Islands in the South Atlantic. She is British registered and one of only two ocean-going vessels in the world still to carry the venerable title of Royal Mail Ship.

The national cadet programme affords college graduates learnership and onboard training opportunities. The project is headed by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) who appointed the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) to manage the cadet training, from recruitment through to qualification, on their behalf.

The trainees do a mandatory four months onboard the dedicated training vessel, SA Agulhas, thereafter completing the balance of their sea time on berths provided by participating companies.

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Cadets undergoing training on board the RMS St Helena


London – Bechtel, the engineering, construction and project management company, has launched a new research initiative to improve the safety of mooring large cargo ships off the coast of West Africa.

The combination of heavy ocean swell, squalls and shallow coastlines can create unpredictable conditions which limit the number of dry bulkers that can be moored safely in the area. The results of this research aim to provide new mooring guidelines and systems, which will improve the transfer and transshipment of natural resources from the region.

Bechtel’s senior ports specialist, Marco Pluijm, announced the new research initiative at the ‘Smart Ports Seminar’ held in Wageningen, Netherlands last week. “The conditions in West Africa make it difficult to export natural commodities in newer vessels that are larger than the Panamax, which could be more cost-effective for dry bulk transport companies. We will identify ways to mitigate the high downtime effects and provide innovative off-shore mooring solutions, to make it safer and more efficient for operators wanting to use Capesize vessels for dry bulk,” said Pluijm, who chairs the new joint-industry project.

This is an important initiative that will build on Bechtel-led research designed to improve shipping safety. In addition to this project, the company also chairs ROPES, a joint-industry initiative studying the effects of a ship’s wash on moored ships in ports.

The new three-year research project will start in the third quarter of 2013 and involve testing and data collection in Liberia, Guinea, Gabon or Cameroon as well as the Netherlands. The results will be used to create new recommendations for improved mooring of the largest vessels currently available, including Capesize and Very Large Ore Carriers.

It will also provide a better understanding on potential applications of dynamic mooring systems and improved conditions for transshipment. Port authorities, maritime research institute representatives, pilots, linesmen, consultancies, and hardware suppliers will participate in the study.


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The general cargo ship RED CEDAR (23,132-gt, built 2001), which is presumably on charter to MACS Line although not sporting the familiar Macs funnel but instead the colours of Columbia Ship Management. The ship was in Durban yesterday. Picture by Trevor Jones

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The Department of Fisheries patrol ship SARAH BAARTMAN which has been in the news recently for mostly the wrong reasons, amid the controversy over the operation of Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). The smart looking ship was photographed in Simon’s Town harbour earlier in April. Picture by Trevor Jones

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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