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Ports & Ships Maritime News

5 November 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...


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The Cape Town harbour tug PINOTAGE (429-gt, built 1980) seen at work in the harbour. Picture by Aad Noorland

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Gunmen of Mozambique's former rebel movement, Renamo, attacked a truck on Sunday morning at the bridge over the Pungue river, not far from the town of Gorongosa in the central province of Sofala, reports AIM

According to a report by the independent television station, STV, the truck driver was injured because he lost control of the vehicle, which overturned. Circulation of traffic along this road has been interrupted following the attack.

Further south in Sofala, there were Renamo attacks on convoys on the main south road on the stretch between the Save river and the small town of Muxungue on both Thursday and Friday of last week. Despite the military escort accompanying the convoys vehicles were hit on both occasions, and three people were killed.

One of these victims, Hermenegildo Buque, was driving a truck laden with salt from Mabone in Inhambane province, He was taking it to Nhamatanda in Sofala. His body was burnt beyond recognition. The other occupant of the vehicle, the driver's mate, Alberto Alfazeam, survived.

STV, which has a crew accompanying the convoys, reported that on Saturday the road was quiet, and none of the four convoys (two in each direction) came under attack.

In Beira, the Sofala provincial capital, army and police units on Friday morning raided the Renamo provincial office, and a house belonging to Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. The raid came as a surprise, since Beira has been entirely peaceful.

The head of operations in the Sofala provincial police command, Guilherme Chauque, told the press that the raid was in compliance with a court order, but he declined to reveal the contents of that order.

If the raid was intended to seize arms caches, the haul was meager. At Dhlakama's house, the police found one AK-47 assault rifle, 500 bullets for assorted firearms, 11 uniforms, five pairs of boots, six military belts, two flags, and three communications radios which no longer worked.

Chauque said that in the Renamo office six people were detained and their mobile phones seized. They were all released, without charge, later in the day.

Dhlakama himself disappeared from public view after his bush headquarters at Satunjira, in Gorongosa district, was occupied by the army on 21 October. Since then his whereabouts have been unknown.<>p> But Renamo officials claim to have been able to speak with Dhlakama and, cited by the US radio station ‘Voice of America’, the Renamo national spokesperson, Fernando Mazanga, says he has been in contact with various embassies to ask for political asylum. Diplomatic sources cited by the radio said that Maputo embassies have not shown any interest in granting asylum.

President Armando Guebuza has repeatedly stressed that he is willing to hold a face to face meeting with Dhlakama, and the government has promised that, if he returns to Maputo, he will not be harmed. source – AIM

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The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) appears to be shelving its standard contract for shipboard armed guards in West Africa because of acts of piracy take place in territorial waters unlike those in East Africa.

Shipboard guards have a freer hand on the high seas of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden, but are more restricted in West Africa where pirate attacks occur in state-governed territorial waters, reports Lloyd's List.

Thus, BIMCO, a global association of shipowners and shipmanagers, says it is unlikely it will publish an amended version of Guardcon for West Africa, said BIMCO security chief Giles Noakes.

BIMCO's documentary committee is due to meet to decide whether to publish such a standard contract. But some clauses in the draft do not fit the Gulf of Guinea operating environment, Mr Noakes told a London security conference.

Another problem is the requirement that only local forces can carry guns in territorial waters, which has forced security contractors to hire local guards supervised by unarmed team leaders.

Although at least one security contractor, Mast, has had this model approved by P&I clubs, many fear liabilities that could arise. Some even question whether a foreign team leader could command of indigenous armed guards.

Said Mr Noakes: “We are not in a position to role-play all the potential conflicts that might occur. A team leader being in overall command of Nigerian or Togolese guards is impossible to determine or guarantee.”

In early October, while still hopeful that its own contract becoming standard issue, BIMCO opposed the signing of International Code of Conduct Association's (ICoCA) code by Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCs), for shipboard armed guards.

“Indeed, the ICoCA will not be able to represent private maritime security companies directly at IMO and will have to rely on government's flag states represented there - only five governments of 160 represented in IMO are members of ICoCA, and no major flag states,” said Mr Noakes at the time.

Back in August 2009, Mr Noakes advocated “passive defence” to ward off pirates when he addressed a seminar at Hong Kong's United Centre in Admiralty.

Mr Noakes told his audience that arming crews or stationing armed men aboard is no answer, citing a host of legal problems and risk of accidents.

“Every fisherman there has Kalashnikov and he is likely to wave it just to get you away from his nets,” he said. “Armed force belongs to the navies.”

Today, he said there are serious grey areas. He found rules governing the use of force “rather too loose” and contradicts the newly accepted 100 Series RUF into ISO PAS 28007.

BIMCO had originally said it would publish the amended standard Guardcon contract for PMSCs operating in West Africa in September, after more than five months in drafting. source – HKSG

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DCD Marine Cape Town A Berth 

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DCD Marine’s A-Berth repair quay

The Port of Cape Town’s A-Berth, currently co-leased by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), will, in May 2014, become the sole domain of DCD Marine Cape Town, further strengthening the company’s position as a leading player in the global ship repair industry.

For DCD Marine Cape Town, sole use of the recently upgraded A-Berth will enhance its capacity to offer a full turnkey service to its clients, both local and international.

“The size and infrastructural capacity of A-Berth, as well as its strategic location on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, make it an important part of our ability to offer a complete one- stop service to our clients,” says Gerry Klos, General Manager of DCD Marine Cape Town.

With a 275 metre long quay, A-Berth is designed to berth vessels with a draft of up to 12 metres. It offers a total laydown area of 45,000 m2, a warehouse facility of 2,760 m2 and office space of 1,000 m2. A-Berth has an on-site 350-ton crawler crane which is complemented by a number of mobile cranes ranging from 16 up to 800 ton capacities. Dedicated canteen and ablution facilities complete the offering.

“Our clients rate A-Berth extremely favourably because of what it offers them in terms of strategically-located facilities and convenience. Its location in Cape Town is also of pivotal importance, as the city boasts all the necessary amenities, access to support companies, and generally superb infrastructure for international shipping clients.”

DCD Marine Cape Town, one of the most established and experienced ship repair companies in South Africa, has successfully project-managed several large-scale projects in the upstream oil and gas sector over the years. With over a hundred years’ experience in the ship repair industry, the company services semi-submersible drill rigs, drill ships offshore support vessels, barges and seismic vessels.

“Based on feedback from clients and post-project analyses, we have a solid track record as a reliable, project-driven organisation, with a wealth of experience in managing large-scale repair and conversion projects end-to-end, using internationally-accredited facilities. A-Berth is another reason our clients come back to us,” he asserts.

The A-Berth project portfolio includes work completed on the new generation drill ship Deepsea Metro II, the semi-submersible drilling rigs Ensco 5001, Ensco 5003 as well as the Scarabeo 3. November 2013 will see the arrival of the Scarabeo 7 at A-Berth which shall be undergoing her special periodic survey (SPS).

“While a small portion of our clientele is local, we are mainly competing on an international scale. Being able to offer a world-class service is vital to the future of the company, as well as to South Africa’s standing in the global ship repair industry. Exclusive use of A-Berth in the future will further enhance DCD Marine Cape Town’s capacity to successfully compete in this industry,” Klos concludes.

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SA VAAL. Picture by Ship Nostalgia

by Vernon Buxton The recent picture of the whaling station at the entrance to Durban harbour (Ports & Ships Edwin Cook), sparked a memory. I used to sit on the other bank on a Wednesday evening to watch the Union-Castle vessel sail…which happened every Wednesday at 5pm…to East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Las Palmas (or Madeira) and Southampton.

In 1966, I took my chance to sail to England on the SA VAAL…the former TRANSVAAL CASTLE, which was the splendid lavender-hulled version. The SA VAAL was as white as the driven snow.

We took 19 days from Durban to Southampton. My cabin was down below near the bilges, but I was 24 years old and not nearly as discerning as I am now. What I won’t ever forget was the dinner menu…try three cold soups and three warm…several hors d’oevres, just as many entrees, and seldom less than six main courses. For sweets, there could be up to a dozen choices…and then a magnificent cheese board served from a multi-tiered trolley.

Was it any wonder then, that I fell into a deep fug of depression when we finally docked at Southampton and I suddenly realised I was going to have to face reality again…and start making decisions beyond what to choose on the menu.

These were not cruise liners, they were passenger ships. Deck sports were popular during the day and in the evening a resident band offered lively dance music and there was an assortment of popular organised games that folk got to play. The waiter services were outstanding. Afternoon tea was always a splendid affair, with tiny cakes and tiered sandwiches, served by white- gloved stewards. Of course!

For the rest, you mainly sat on the promenade deck watching expansive sea vistas sweep by…and you chatted to this one and that…and maybe met someone for that if you got lucky?...but, in the main, it was a low-key experience, with lots and lots of at sea days and time to read, sleep and swim in the pool.

The SA VAAL – which Safmarine bought from Union-Castle - was a one-class ship, unlike most of the Union-Castle counterparts, some of which offered three classes, certainly in the earlier days anyway. Your choice of cabin decided your standing aboard, and no-one really knew where you slept.

The wretched Boeing 707 brought a very rapid end to what had been an incomparable era in South African passenger ship transport. Folks suddenly fancied an overnight flight from London in favour of the leisurely 11-day voyage to Cape Town, which was how long the newer mail-boats took from Southampton.

In 1976, as a junior reporter on The Natal Mercury in Durban, I was present in Durban harbour, along with a photographer, to report on the ultimate sailing of a Union-Castle ship between South Africa and England. The fabulous WINDSOR CASTLE was the last vessel on the route, and I have a clear recollection of a band playing familiar tunes and turning to ‘Wish Me Luck as You Wave Me Goodbye’ as the lavender-coloured hull eased away from the wharf…balloons, confetti and streamers pouring down the side and all aboard and on shore waving to each other frantically. It was a dreadful moment for me…knowing it was truly the end of a never-to-be-repeated era.

Pity those of you who never had a Union-Castle or Safmarine experience…you don’t know what you missed…you really don’t. Today’s cruise liners are all well and good – and I adore cruise liners, don’t get me wrong – it’s just that the vessels of that era had an ambiance and a class that left you feeling that your voyage was not about the money…it was about transport from companies that wanted to offer a quality service, whilst moving you from one ocean to another in splendid comfort. Today quality comes at a very high price.

I rue the day it all ended…but I have my memories of that magical voyage from Durban, and thanks to Ports & Ships editor, Terry Hutson, for evoking such wonderful memories when he published a picture of the whaling station in Durban harbour. The area near the harbour mouth, with whale carcasses everywhere, was really smelly, by the way, but oh, the sea gulls…simply hordes of them whirling above you in search of a tidbit…as if there wasn’t enough to be found from a cut-up whale right in front of them.

Horrrrrrrn…horrrrrrrn…hornnnnn! I can still hear the loud, vibrating three-whistle farewell as those beautiful classic vessels cut into the waves beyond the Bar.


Vernon Buxton


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Pirates off the coast of Somalia and the Horn of Africa have made between $339 million and $413 million in ransom profits, fuelling a wide range of criminal activities on a global scale, according to a United Nations-backed report released this week.

Pirate Trails, produced by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank and INTERPOL, uses data and evidence from interviews with former pirates, Government officials, bankers and others involved in countering piracy, to investigate the flow of ransom money paid out to Somali pirates operating in the Indian Ocean.

“The vast amounts of money collected by pirates, and the fact that they have faced virtually no constraint in moving and using their assets has allowed them not only to thrive, but also to develop their capacities on land,” said the Chief of the Implementation Support Section in the Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch at UNODC, Tofik Murshudlu.

“These criminal groups and their assets will continue to pose a threat to the stability and security of the Horn of Africa unless long-term structural solutions are implemented to impede their current freedom of movement.”

Piracy costs the global economy about $18 billion a year in increased trade costs. Because the outbreak of piracy has reduced maritime activity around the Horn of Africa, East African countries have suffered a significant decline in tourist arrivals and fishing yields since 2006.

“Unchallenged piracy is not only a menace to stability and security, but it also has the power to corrupt the regional and international economy,” said Stuart Yikona, a World Bank Senior Financial Sector Specialist and the report's co-author.

The report found that ransom money was invested in criminal activities, such as arms trafficking, funding militias, migrant smuggling and human trafficking, and was used to further finance piracy activities. Piracy profits are also laundered through the trade of 'khat,' a herbal stimulant, where it is not monitored and is therefore the most vulnerable to illicit international flows of money.

The report, which focused on Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Seychelles, and Somalia, also analyzed the investments made by a sample of 59 pirate 'financiers' to reveal the range of sectors - including both legitimate businesses and criminal ventures - that were funded by the ransom money. It found that between 30 per cent and 75 per cent of the ransom money ends up with these financiers, while the pirate 'foot soldiers' aboard the ships receive just a fraction of the proceeds, amounting to less than 0.1 per cent of the total.

Pirate Trails calls for coordinated international action to address the issue, and sets out how the flow of illicit money from the Indian Ocean can be disrupted.

“The international community has mobilized a naval force to deal with the pirates. A similarly managed multinational effort is needed to disrupt and halt the flow of illicit money that circulates in the wake of their activities,” said Mr. Yikona.

Among the range of measures recommended by the report are strengthening the capacity of countries in the Horn of Africa to deal with illegal cross-border cash smuggling, risk-based oversight of Money Value Transfer Service Providers, and the development of mechanisms to monitor international financial flows into the khat trade. source:UN News



Durban – The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will launch its first ever training programme for canoeists on November 9, 2013 at eNanda Dam in Durban.

The organisation will groom enthusiasts to become participants in the world famous Duzi Canoe Marathon race which takes place in February 2014.

The unique initiative to entice underprivileged communities to participate in water sports has seen canoeists identified by SAMSA and the Change a Life Academy led by Martin Dreyer being selected from Inanda and surrounding areas.

Dreyer, who has won the Duzi seven times, is working closely with SAMSA to train the canoeists in the Inanda area. Dreyer, who shared his last win in 2008 with the first ever black finalist Michael Mbanjwa, has previously worked with underprivileged canoeists in the Valley of Thousand Hills.

He welcomed SAMSA’s initiative. “The association with SAMSA is a great opportunity for the kids in the Inanda region. SAMSA’s bold move will give confidence to more underprivileged kids.

“For young black paddlers to partake is a great achievement. SAMSA is doing more than just providing a sport. It is providing life skills. Canoeing is about discipline, goal setting and comradeship,” Dreyer said.

Presently the paddlers in training have been chosen from various schools, with about 40 people already in the programme.

The Duzi Canoe marathon is arguably the world’s most prestigious canoe race held between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The race draws crowds from all over the South Africa, and over 1700 paddlers, some international participants. The race is held over three days.

SAMSA through its corporate social investment wing has committed itself to sponsoring the training, supplying of canoes, training gear and groceries for canoeist’s families. Several school and potential candidates have already been selected and are undergoing training under the tutelage of Dreyer. Through various stages of training, the paddlers will proceed into receiving advanced training and all the necessary support, from canoe equipment, clothing, energy supplements and transport to races - to achieve their true potential.


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Port Elizabeth harbour

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COSCO’s 3,800-TEU container ship DA HE (49,375-gt, built 1994) in Cape Town harbour this week. Pictures by Ian Shiffman

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