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Ports & Ships Maritime News

18 March 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Another two views – from close up this time – of the accommodation vessel OLYMPIA made possible by her coming into Cape Town harbour for some ‘running repairs’ – the vessel appears to be on her delivery voyage from the shipyards in China – Fujian Mawei Shipyards, and from what appears on the side of the vessel, she is on charter to Brazil’s Petrobras. Confirmation or correction anyone? The vessel is owned by a Dubai and Singapore-based firm, Marine Assets Corporation (MACS). Pictures: Aad Noorland (top picture) and Ian Shiffman (lower)

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11 Countries Pledge to Support Pact

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Sargasso Sea – from a video image courtesy SSA

Representatives from 11 countries and territories from North America, the Caribbean, Europe and South Africa have committed support for the conservation of the Sargasso Sea eco-system for the benefit of present and future generations, informs the Sargasso Sea Alliance (SSA).

The Alliance explains that for more than two years, it has collaborated with the Bermuda government in a push for the establishment of safeguarding measures for the Sargasso Sea, a unique two-million-square nautical mile ecosystem in the North Atlantic that is without effective legal protection, placing it at risk of long-lasting harm due to overfishing, pollution and more.

The Sargasso Sea, called by Dr. Sylvia Earle “the golden floating rainforest of the ocean,” is named after the Sargassum (pelagic drift algae) that accumulates in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. It is the world’s only sea without coasts, and is a critical habitat for marine wildlife, including tuna, swordfish, eels, turtles, marlin, whales and more, providing resting, feeding and breeding areas and migration paths for many species. Because of the lack of effective governance of high seas areas, the Sargasso Sea and other ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction are threatened by diverse human activities including over-fishing, pollution, ship traffic, and even harvesting of Sargassum.

“Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea”
During an historic gathering in Hamilton, Bermuda, international representatives signed the Declaration, a significant and powerful platform for voluntary action to minimise adverse effects from shipping, overfishing, and illegal activities in the open sea region. It also establishes a Sargasso Sea Commission to provide advice and advocacy to ensure effective stewardship.

Signatories include the governments of Bermuda, United States, United Kingdom, Monaco, and the Azores Islands. British Virgin Islands, Sweden, the Netherlands, Turks and Caicos Islands, and South Africa also spoke in support together with representatives from the Secretariats of five international organisations, including the Oslo and Paris Commission (OSPAR) from the neighboring Northeast Atlantic region, the International Seabed Authority, the Inter-American Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Sea Turtles, the Convention on Migratory Species and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Hamilton Declaration can be accessed at: http://www.sargassoalliance.org/hamilton-declaration - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.

A video about the Sargasso is at: http://vimeo.com/72156864


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GE-built Class 43 diesel-electric locos which are being built in South Africa for Transnet Freight Rail. Picture: Charles Baker

by Nthambeleni Gabara

Johannesburg - In a big move to revitalise South Africa’s rail system, Transnet has awarded a R50 billion contract for the building of 1,064 modern and technologically advanced locomotives.

On Monday, Transnet Group Chief Executive Brian Molefe announced four original global equipment manufacturers, including Chinese company CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive and Bombardier South Africa, which will supply 599 electric locomotives.

The other two companies, which will build and supply 465 diesel locomotives, are General Electric South Africa Technologies and CNR Rolling Stock South Africa.

The multi-billion rand acquisition is South Africa’s single biggest infrastructure investment initiative by a corporate.

Bombardier is the company that was award a contract by the Gauteng provincial government to provide the 80-km rapid rail transit system, the Gautrain, which connects Johannesburg, Tshwane and the OR Tambo International Airport.

“This marks a significant milestone in the company’s history, together with substantial socio-economic benefits for South Africa. The drive to modernise our fleet is intended to improve reliability and availability of locomotives.

“This will improve customer satisfaction, ultimately leading to our crucial goal road-to-rail migration of cargo in line with government’s objective,” he said.

According to Molefe, this has a stringent local content component, which includes skills development and training commitments, as dictated by the supplier development programme. The initiative, which is led by Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba, is aimed at localising the production of machinery and equipment.

Molefe said all the locomotives, except 70, will be built at Transnet Engineering’s plants in Koedoespoort, Pretoria and Durban.

Transnet Engineering’s role in the agreement has been defined to ensure that it is transformed into a global original equipment manufacturer over time. It will also take 16% of the total build programme, about a third of which will be outsourced to local emerging engineering and manufacturing firms.

Good news for jobs and the economy
In total, Molefe said the localisation elements are expected to contribute over R90 billion to the economy.

“We are going to create and preserve approximately 30,000 jobs. This transaction is intended to transform the South African rail industry by growing existing small businesses and creating new ones,” he said.

According to the Transnet boss, the suppliers have complied with and exceeded the minimum local content criteria for rolling stock of 60% for electric locomotives and 55% for diesel locomotives.

“Once all these locomotives are delivered in 15 months’ time or earlier, Transnet would have met all its rolling stock requirements needed to successfully execute the Market Demand Strategy, our record-breaking R307-billion infrastructure investment programme.

“In terms of the agreements signed with the successful bidders, the last locomotive will roll off the production line within three and a half years. At the programmes peak, we will be producing 480 locomotives per year at 48 per month,” he said.

Molefe said the ability to stick to an extremely tight delivery schedule was one of the key considerations in assessment of the bids. The majority of the locomotives will be deployed to Transnet Freight Rail’s general freight business (GFB).

Bombardier corporate director Denis Desautels said: “We support the paradigm shift from road to rail and we are looking forward to contributing to the creation of jobs and skills through this partnership.”

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The tanker Morning Glory which is at the centre of this North African drama

The Pentagon announced yesterday (Monday) that US Navy SEALs have seized an oil tanker carrying crude illicitly obtained from a rebel-held port in Libya.

The Defense Department said on Monday that no one was hurt in the boarding of the “stateless vessel seized earlier this month by three armed Libyans.”

The statement said the action was requested by the Libyan and Cypriot governments and approved by President Barack Obama.

It was conducted just after 10:00 pm local time on Sunday in international waters southeast of Cyprus.

It said US sailors are now in control of the ship, called Morning Glory. They will soon return the tanker and its cargo back to a port in Libya.

The Morning Glory loaded the oil earlier this month in the Libyan port of As-Sadra, which is controlled by a rebel militia group.

The tanker had been a North Korean-flagged ship, but Pyongyang has denied responsibility, saying the vessel is linked to an Egyptian company. North Korea then revoked the registration of the ship.

The Morning Glory escaped Libya's attempt to seize it, prompting a fierce backlash against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who fled the country.

The Libyan government said it has ordered special forces to deploy within two weeks to bring all rebel-held ports back under government control.

The standoff has cut Libya's oil exports by more than 80 percent. source - Voice of America (Washington, DC)*

* See related article Korean tanker ‘ducks’ Libyan patrols and reaches in’tl waters - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.

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Port of Luanda

The port of Luanda in 2013 handled over 11 million tons of cargo, which was a 10 percent increase in 2012, a source from the port’s manager told Angolan news agency Angop in Lisbon.

At Lisbon’s 26th Tourism Fair (Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa – BTL), the source told the agency that 8.4 million tons of cargo had reached Luanda in containers, which was a 23 percent rise year on year, “which was due to a rise in productivity at unloading terminals.”

Non-containerised goods saw a drop of 16 percent in 2013, due to the increased amount of container cargo arriving at Angola’s ports.

Last year the port of Luanda received 6,700 ships, of which 1,100 were long haul (a 4 percent rise) and 5,000 were from coastal shipping lines (5 percent more, year on year). Coastal ships were mainly those used to support offshore oil production.

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The pictures revealed here are dated March, 2001, when I was the privileged guest of South Africa cruise-guru, Allan Foggitt, now from MSC Cruises, but then from Starlight Cruises.

Look, I know what has become of cruise liners, and I am staggered by the achievements in that industry, but there’s nothing like a good old classic liner to get my hormones rattling, and that’s exactly what happened on that wonderful cruise from Durban to Bazaruto Island. It was then very much a primitive site, with absolutely no facilities other than the sea and the sky…and a fabulous beach barbecue organised by the crew, of course.

The MONTEREY was more than 50 years old when I cruised on her, and I instantly found the experience to be so completely redolent of the Union-Castle and Safmarine experience. I had had the good fortune to cruise to Southampton on the SA VAAL in 1966, and it was a thoroughly splendid voyage. So, there I was, all of 35 years later, being reminded of the joys of sailing on a true ocean liner, and I hope you enjoy sharing some of the memories here with me…indeed, some of you are likely to have sailed on MONTEREY too?

MONTEREY became the company’s favourite ship and helped propel Starlauro/MSC to the head of the European cruise market. Most of the current senior officers on MSC’s state-of-the-art new-builds began their seagoing careers on MONTEREY. Even in her final season, the gracious old vessel was maintained in pristine condition and her paintwork was nothing short of perfection…indeed, only rivets revealed that this was the hull of a more than 54-year-old ship.

Sadly, however, a failing steam boiler prompted MSC to quietly cancel MONTEREY’s sailings from South Africa in 2006…and she was scrapped at Alang in India sometime later. An era in MSC’s fascinating history had indeed ended! To have cruised on MONTEREY was to have experienced the true joy of classic liner sailing…yes, one sails on a classic liner.

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The long-serving MSC MONTEREY (pictured at Durban’s N Shed Terminal) enjoyed a career of more than half a century before being scrapped in 2006. The N-Shed passenger facilities have been considerably upgraded since then. What a thrill to board this gracious old lady on that unforgettable day in March, 2001.

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Breakfast al fresco, yes please. MONTEREY’s deck space aft was expansive and abundant, offering sweeping sea views all around.

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A cruise experience completely redolent of the old Union-Castle liners…and if you missed cruising to England on one of those until the mid-1970s then MSC MONTEREY was a darn good copy. The old girl was really steady in the swells too, and she provided an all-round authentic and classy cruise experience.

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Decks redolent of the heady days of Union-Castle voyages were one of the most memorable features of the old MSC MONTEREY. What a place to park off with a Bloody Mary and a good book, as alluring sea scenes swept by, hour after hour. Contemporary cruise liners focus all activity in the huge pool decks topside…but there really is something to be said about these open sided decks…which enabled sea breezes to kiss your cheeks as you checked out the ‘who’s-who-in-the zoo’ that passed one by.

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A classic cruise ship in every way…MSC MONTEREY was the ship that really got Starlight Cruises going as a successful operator in South African waters. A large pool and two spa baths were the focus of daily activity, and one could also sit back in comfy loungers and let the blissful hours roll by.

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Stephen Cloete (left, pictured with colleagues) in his MONTEREY days..and Steve is still very much the outgoing and self-deprecating cruise director many thousands of local cruisers have come to know and love. Indeed, at this very moment, Stephen is now working his magic aboard MSC OPERA, which is operating similar type cruises to Mozambique as those of the MONTEREY.

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A scene we’ll never see again. The old MSC MONTEREY at anchor off Bazaruto Island in the Mozambique Channel (circa 2001). Sometimes a sharp wind would whip up suddenly in the afternoon, making for adventurous transfers from shore to ship. The crew and their rubber ducks always managed to get everyone aboard, and this stop on coastal cruises from Durban is as popular today as it was then. Today, of course, vessels three times the size of MONTEREY make their calls at Portuguese Island.

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The classic lines of MSC MONTEREY showing her wide Promenade Deck, and an expanded deck aft that was added in her latter years, especially to cater for the cruise market. She looked splendid in her all-white MSC livery, with a prominent MSC logo displayed on her large funnel. She is remembered with great affection by all those lucky enough to have cruised on a ship that took classic cruising right up to the year 2006…when she finally went to the breakers in India. R.I.P. Gracious Dame.

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This is why we cruise. We know there are no roads at sea, only directions, and our route feels like an unreachable infinity, allowing our minds and imaginations to wander…to think beautiful things and ponder the exciting moments that will come our way. We cruise because we can see a horizon broken only by sea and sky. We love the colours and the warmth and the aromas. We love the breezes kissing our wanton cheeks, and succumb to the unusual sensations of the ship rolling this way and that. We know that below is our comfortable home-from-home cabin…and there’s an array of foods to please any palate. We will be entertained, and there will always be someone to chat to, share a laugh and swop yarns with. We’ll go ashore to make fresh discoveries, and return to share our moments, knowing our fantasy will remain intact until we get back to the shore… and face the harsh realities once again. Sea cruising is far and away the most popular form of holiday travel in the world today. Modern cruise liners are staggeringly impressive resorts…but oh, how you would have loved the old MONTEREY too. I’ll always remember Allan Foggitt for his kind gesture….and quite a few since. Would that I could be on MSC OPERA to Southampton. Fie!

Vernon Buxton for Ports & Ships

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The Limpopo River in southern Mozambique, which brings major problems when flooding to people living along its winding banks and to road and rail infrastructure systems in its vicinity. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

The World Bank plans to fund reconstruction of roads in Mozambique’s Gaza province, particularly in the Limpopo basin, which were destroyed by floods in January 2013, the Ministry for Planning and Development said in Maputo.

According to an official statement, the funding from the World Bank, in the amount of US$55.15 million, will include a donation and a loan, the deals for which are due to be signed this Friday in Maputo.

The Ministry said that as well as reconstruction of the roads it will also look to build roads that better stand up to the elements in order to prevent the future cyclical destruction of the roads.

The World Bank is one of Mozambique’s main development partners and has funded a number of programmes in the country including bridges, roads, railways, energy facilities, water and sanitation projects, and education projects. source – macauhub


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Vale Moçambique produced around 4 million tons of coal in Mozambique in 2013, but managed to export just 3 million tons, said the company’s managing director Ricardo Saad, summing up the activities of the Mozambican subsidiary of Brazilian group Vale.

The problems with transporting cargo along the Sena Railroad, linking Beira, in Mozambique’s Sofala province, to the coal town of Moatize, in Tete province, was the main constraint on exporting all of the company’s coal, Saad said.

Vale Moçambique’s revenues from selling coal, mainly to the Asian market, totalled US$381.9 million, of which US$58.5 million, 15.3 percent of the total, was used to pay taxes.

Noting that the coal mining project was still in an investment phase, and that this would continue for at least five years, the managing director of Vale Moçambique said that the company posted an operating loss of US$484.4 million in 2013.

Along with other investments the company has invested US$932.1 million to build an alternative rail route covering the 900 kilometres from Moatize to the port of Nacala, in Nampula province.

In 2014 the company expects to spend around US$2 billion on increasing the processing capacity of the mine and on the Nacala railway.

Projections for coal production this year are 5 million tons, of which 4 million tons are expected to be exported. source - macauhub



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The thin red line near the top of the map shows the route of the new Zambian Railway connecting the Zambian Copperbelt with Angola’s Benguela Railway

The Angolan Government says it is busy connecting the railroad linking the Benguela Railway (CFB) to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to restore the connection between the Angolan port of Luanda and the DRC mineral-rich south.

The link between the two countries was destroyed during Angola’s civil war, which forced the DRC to rail its minerals and ores for export to Durban and other South African ports.

The announcement that work is underway to complete the Benguela Railway to the DRC border was announced in the central Benguela province last week by Angola’s minister of Transport, Augusto da Silva Tomás.

He was speaking in Benguela's port city of Lobito during a visit to the region, while accompanied by his Zambian colleague, Yafunkwa Mucanga.

The minister confirmed reports that both the DRC and Zambia were in discussion with Angola about their respective rail connections with the Benguela Railway, which will give the two landlocked neighbours of Angola access to the port of Lobito.

The rehabilitation of the Benguela Railway has reached a short 20 kilometres from the DRC border, following the route that the colonial power Portugal chose when they built the railway. The distance for a connection with the Zambian border is much further, while Zambia has also to complete an extensive railway to meet up with the Angolans.

See also Grindrod and Northwest Rail to operate Zambian railway - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.


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East London harbour

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to Stack dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE - remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.



Costa Cruises have twice visited South African destinations this summer with the latest ship on station being the COSTA neoRIVIERA (48,200-gt, built 1999). Although these are but fleeting visits as the ship arrives, stops over at a couple of ports for a couple of days and then sails on, they are nevertheless welcome as an addition to the number of cruise companies coming here regularly. We look forward to further visits, perhaps of a longer duration, in the future. These two pictures show the 216m long, 1,700-passenger Costa neoRiviera arriving in Cape Town this week from Durban and Maputo. Before being transferred into the Costa Cruises fleet, the ship sailed under the name GRAND MISTRAL for Iberocruceros. Pictures: Ian Shiffman


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