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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17 June 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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SA EXPLORER aad noorland 1 

(3) rotcro 470

The Italian-owned, Namibian-managed offshore mining vessel SA EXPLORER (2,632-gt, built 1979), which was seen in Cape Town earlier this month. The vessel, whose most recent former name was Sakawe Explorer, is flagged in Kingston, St Vincent and The Grenadines and is usually to be found operating offshore of the Namibian coast. The vessel was built in Texas at the Burton Shipyard in Port Arthur. Picture: Aad Noorland

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The type of imagery used to suggest the dangers of climate change, which a new study suggests is false

Ten years ago a US Defence Department climate study, which fanned fears of global warming and caused much public expenditure and regulatory compliance costs, has proven false, reports The Washington Times.

In 2003, climate scientists told the military that by now California would be flooded by inland seas, The Hague would be unlivable, polar ice would be mostly gone in summer.

The report was produced by a consulting firm, then called the Global Business Network, for the Pentagon's office of net assessment. It became a driving force to allocate money to counter global threats, said the report.

The report, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for National Security, is credited with kick-starting the movement that has more vigour than ever before.

“The release of this report is what likely sparked the modern era of security interest in climate affairs,” said Jeff Kueter, president of the George C Marshall Institute, that studies issues that affect public policy.

Critics say such alarmist reports caused the Pentagon to shift money that could be used for weapons and readiness into biofuels and working in climate change into strategic planning.

The US Government Accountability Office in 2011 documented a big increase in federal global warming spending, from US$4.6 billion in 2003 to $9 billion in 2010.

Oklahoma's Senator James Inhofe, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said biofuel projects should be left to the Energy Department.

Under the section ‘Warming up to 2010’, here are some of the report's key scenarios, compared with what has transpired:

By 2005, more severe storms and typhoons bring about higher storm surges and floods.

Today, UN experts say they have low confidence of an increase in hurricanes or tornadoes. The US is likely experiencing fewer tornadoes than 50 years ago. This year's tornado season was historically low.

The US has not experienced a major hurricane in nearly 10 years.

As for global warming, satellite data shows no increase in world temperatures for 17 years. Even the Environmental Protection Agency puts the decade increase at 0.3 degrees - not 0.5 degrees a year as the study predicted.

Predictions of more floods, making coastal cities such as The Hague ‘unlivable’ by 2007 have come to nothing.

The UN said this year: “There continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale.”

Yet the Pentagon alarmism persists in citing the questionable conclusions in this 2003 eco-report in its current Quadrennial Defense Review that warns of increasing storms.

“As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating,” its latest QDR stated. – Washington Times

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Adobia 1073806 

vesseltracker Little Coppi image Sealink, a new shipping line project led by the Ghana Chamber of Commerce & Industry, has received an initial investment of US$ 60 million, sufficient to get things started on developing an intra-West and central Africa shipping service.

Further support is coming from the Nigeria Export/Import Bank and is expected from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS).

The project is also looking for support from Nigerian manufacturers and exporters and hopes to begin operations between West Africa and Central Africa by the end of 2014.

Sealink will be the second Ghanaian initiative aimed at creating a regional shipping line service. In April 2013 the African Independent Coastal Services (AICS) began operations with a single ship, the 650-TEU container vessel ADOBIA (8,728-dwt, built 1998) which operates a shuttle service between Tema and Takoradi and has since been extended to include Calabar. Inducement calls are made at Lomé and Monrovia and other ports.

One of the essential services performed by the feeder service is to relocate empty containers back to Tema. It is understood that AICS intends adding calls to San Pedro in Cote d’Ivoire in the near future.

AICS has arrangements with major shipping lines ZIM, Hapag-Lloyd and MOL to provide feeder services to regional ports.

See related article AICS to move ZIM’s Ghanaian cabotage

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The development of the cruise liner over the past 20 years has been anything but insidious. Indeed, to watch the gargantuan changes taking place in terms of size, shape and onboard facilities…and to witness the ever-growing confidence of cruise lines to expand to bigger, better and more ‘behemoth’, is decidedly one of the more astonishing technological progressions in history…never mind just in maritime history.

Throughout the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, cruise liners looked much the same…very beautiful and elegant, to be sure, but with the same sharp, extended bows, softly curved sterns and stretching, open-sided promenade decks in between. Look at the MONTEREY below, the last of the truly classic liners, one which this correspondent was lucky enough to cruise on (as Allan Foggitt’s guest) as recently as 2001. She looked like the traditional passenger ship our generation had become to accept as the norm. Helas, helas, MONTEREY went to the breakers in India in 2006, at a time when the difference between ‘passenger ship’ and ‘cruise liner’ was still not widely understood. MONTEREY very much began her life as a passenger ship and then got morphed into a cruise liner. To sail on her was a magical delight. She was in immaculate condition and could have been saved, according to subsequent reports.

A steam-driven vessel, the 20,000gt MONTEREY was in service for more than 50 years. Long will she be remembered for her elegant profile, gracious interiors, the abundant deck space, the long promenade decks on both sides (that were a de rigueur attribute of the passenger ships of the day…and what a nice feature they were too). You’d lie back on a lounger perusing a thick tome, whilst at one’s immediate beck and call were attentive stewards bringing Bloody Marys, or any goblet of what-you-will. Everyone perambulated on the Promenade Deck, to see who was who in the zoo?...before repairing to the (only) comfortable lounge for pre-prandial libations. You had to actually experience that era to fully know what has been lost.

Then cruise ships began to take on another look. The MELODY was built in France in 1982, and onlookers were agog with the sheer size and soaring sides of the vessel, which created height and presence. A swimming pool topside covered by a movable ‘Magrodome’ all-weather roof was highly innovative in its day. All accommodation – suites included - was entirely port-holed, as had been the sea-going fashion for a century before. The private balcony had yet to enter the imaginations of ship architects. As I discovered on a Mozambique Channel foray (Allan arranged a suite), MELODY was really an immensely pleasant vessel, yet without any singular ‘wow’ factor that one can look back upon or single out today…though the pool deck leading to a semi-al fresco restaurant was most appealing. One was impressed because she was bigger than any ship you’d experienced (although I had sailed on the old RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH on its penultimate voyage) and the additional space inside and out on MELODY was immensely satisfying. Little did world passengers know that real progress in the cruise line business had yet to begin in earnest.

MSC OPERA was built in France as recently as 2004, already reflecting the new, almost across-the-board ‘cruise ship look’…with an extended side-on profile, short, stumpy bow, lifeboats hanging on an open promenade deck (with neither deck chairs, note, nor white-gloved stewards offering bouillon), and a built-up ‘block’ of windowed (larger than traditional portholes) cabins aft on a steep stern, as well as for’ard under the Bridge. Most notably innovative was the advent of the long, rectangular, open pool deck topside, featuring spa baths, a wide bar and deck leading to a semi-al fresco restaurant. This was a huge innovation in cruise ship design, and one that pretty-well remains a norm. This vessel also came (oh, the excitement at the time) with two decks of balcony cabins (her sister, MSC SINFONIA, built two years earlier had only one deck of balconies.) It was a smart idea, apparently quite suddenly realised by some creative maritime architect. But, its implementation – balcony cabins, that is – remained under-played, in a sort of ‘let’s-not-overdo- it-until-we-see-how-it-goes’ approach. The principals of major cruise lines could well be blanching today when they look back and see what may have been the very opposite of a ‘Leap of Faith’ at the time? MSC OPERA’s gross tonnage, 59,058, was indeed impressive, very definitely moving this Lirica-class vessel into the realms of ‘Big Ship’ territory…and she deservedly took pride of place along the coveted cruise routes of Europe and the Mediterranean. By then, of course, cruise lines (and cruise yards too) were watching each other like hawks, and began unashamedly copying each other’s ideas. No sooner had one cruise line come up with a clever new concept, than the others would relegate that idea to their own drawing boards for coming newbuilds. The changes came thick and fast, yet, unbeknown to most of us, cruise ship design was about to take another unbelievable quantum leap into the future.

Between MSC OPERA’s construction in 2008, a mere four years passed by before cruise liners turned into behemoths like this one. Built in 2012, MSC DIVINA exited the French yards at St. Nazaire weighing in at an astonishing 139,400gt…more than two OPERA’s bigger, and looking more like an apartment block than any of the cruise liners we baby-boomers remember. There are those who pooh-pooh the soaring profiles of the latest giants, but this correspondent is in absolute awe of the architecture, specifications, the innovations, facilities and services…and my view comes only from perceptions and information gleaned, for I have yet to savour one of these latest Beauties of the Seven Seas. (How I look forward to the that day.) Suddenly, balcony cabins had ‘caught fire’ with lovers of cruising. It was an immense pleasure, they discovered, to be able to step out of your cabin onto an outside space of your own…a semi-private spot from which to watch the vessel entering ports, docking…or somewhere to sit cosily with a loved one, watching expansive sea vistas sweep by. As though a switch had suddenly been flicked, all cruise lines almost instantaneously climbed on the bandwagon, and these mighty vessels, carrying four thousand travellers from one exotic port to another, took on a palpably similar look…all vessels positively dripping in balconies. Their sheer size is what made onlookers stop in their tracks to gaze in awe. Yet, almost unbelievably, just when we thought ship design had reached a zenith, there was still more to come…another barrier to be broken through.

The 225,282gt OASIS OF THE SEAS is an Oasis-class cruise ship delivered to her owner, Royal Caribbean International in late 2009. The first of her class, she was joined by her sister ship, ALLURE OF THE SEAS in late 2010. They set a new record of carrying more than 6,000 passengers. Just observe the stunning architecture, the ‘ginormity’ of it all, the huge hollow ‘valley’ down the centre, the mass of balcony cabins, facing outward and in…and the expansive public areas topside. This is indeed a benchmark for floating self-contained resorts, one that is already luring many millions more to the joys of deep sea cruising. Both ships arrange their public spaces as seven neighbourhoods…and this really has taken cruising to another level. Not for everyone, I’m sure, but I’d sure want to see how it all works.

Fast-forward to 2014. Weighing in at a breathtaking 167,800gt, Quantum class is the name for an upcoming class of cruise ships from Royal Caribbean International, that will surpass the earlier Freedom class ships by a mere 13,000gt, becoming the second largest class of passenger ships behind RCI’s Oasis class of ships on a gross tonnage basis. The first two ships of this class, QUANTUM OF THE SEAS and ANTHEM OF THE SEAS, are expected to be delivered in late 2014 and early 2015, respectively. A third unnamed ship is expected to be delivered mid-2016. Let the picture tell a thousand words…but venture aboard and you are going to discover facilities and services that will boggle your mind. How I crave to explore this ship.

Cunard Line’s QUEEN VICTORIA is a classic example of how to create an apartment block at sea. Some people are not impressed, but I think it’s been done beautifully. To think that the historic Cunard was on the brink of caving in before Carnival Cruise Line save it from extinction…and look what has become of it all?...a money-spinner if ever there was!

SEASIDE class 470
And, while we are talking about the progression of cruise liners, only weeks ago the burgeoning MSC Cruises announced orders for two MSC ‘Seaside’ prototype ships. The Seaside class will accommodate – wait for it - up to 5,300 passengers and “boast innovative features that make it unique in the ship-building industry,” according to one report. The two ships represent a new generation of cruise ships that will be completely different from an architectural point of view…directly attributable to the unique structure, shape and versatility…and will feature a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the sides of the ship…with outdoor spaces, shops and restaurants. It will also have a terraced balcony and elevators with panoramic sea views. “Numerous technological innovations will reduce fuel consumption by 25%, and advanced safety systems will exceed international regulation requirements,” the report states. Because of their unique design, we are led to believe, the two new Seaside ships will be able to dock in any port around the world. The first new-build will be delivered to MSC Cruises in late 2017, the second in mid-2018. Can anyone wait for the excitement?

And so folks…
quo vadis the cruise ship? Are we heading for a 500,000gt Cunard beauty that will plough its way across The Pond with 10,000 passengers?...with theatres and plazas and shopping malls?...with 30 international restaurants and an amusement-park-at-sea? Oh yes, dear reader, how utterly imaginable, how entirely possible and completely probable…especially realistic when you observe what has become of cruise ships in a very short space of time.

In the mid-1970s the Boeing 707 wrought havoc amid the passenger arm of the maritime industry. Cruise lines went down to “Davy Jones’ Locker” like ninepins and ships went to the breakers in droves. Now, with these spectacular ‘cities-at-sea’ plying the oceans, is it time air framers found retribution for the damage they inflicted on ship owners four decades ago? Who knows?...but clearly, nothing is impossible, and for anyone with the slightest interest in this industry, the future can only be as exciting as your imagination will allow.

So, it’s come to this…RMS TITANIC and RCI’s ALLURE OF THE SEAS in imaginary tandem. Had the picture been real, TITANIC’s captain would surely have done a ‘hard a port’ to get out of the way…and missed the iceberg. It makes one think, doesn’t it? Mankind is truly capable of such great things!

This correspondent, for one, cannot wait to see where all this going? I think back to 1961 when I sailed from Beira to Durban on the BRAEMAR CASTLE and my head begins to spin. I can think of little that is more exciting, fascinating and so much to look forward to. Were I a millionaire I’d spend my life ‘testing out’ cruise liners. For starters, P & O’s coming BRITANNIA would be on the bucket list…as well as some of the new Norwegian Cruise Line giants, like NORWEGIAN EPIC. I’d fancy a ride on MSC DIVINA or MSC PRESIOSA too….and certainly the two RCI behemoths featured above…and the ‘Seaside Class’ ships can expect to welcome me aboard too. A Cunard cruise could not be missed either…preferably a world cruise, of course!

We can dream…can’t we?

Vernon Buxton for Ports & Ships

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Iran 8 alvand 0 470
Iranian Navy frigate ALVAND which is due to visit Cape Town in the next week.

After visiting in the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam, two Iranian Navy ships are heading for Cape Town where they are expected probably later this week.

The two ships are the frigate INS ALVAND and the replenishment vessel INS BUSHEHR.

Under the command of Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, the ships have completed a deployment on counter piracy patrols in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden region. Instead of returning directly to Iran the ships have proceeded on a voyage aimed at showing the flag to African countries.

Iranian Navy ships have been deployed on counter-piracy patrols since 2008 since when they have apprehended and arrested a number of pirate vessels and assisted with other vessels in difficulty. As recently as 2 June the two ships now heading for South Africa were involved in preventing two suspected pirate attacks against an Iranian merchant ship in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait

. A month earlier they had been successful in preventing a suspected pirate attack on an Indian oil tanker in the southern red Sea.

The visit to Dar es Salaam began on Thursday last week during which the Iranians interfaced with their counterparts in the small Tanzanian Navy. The ships sailed during the weekend on a heading for Cape Town.

The frigate Alvand was built by Vospers Thornycroft in the UK and commissioned in 1972. The replenishment vessel was built in Germany for the Iranian Navy.

Meanwhile the first of the Chinese naval ships, the frigate CNS YANGCHENG (546) to call at Cape Town has arrived in port this morning.

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guinea map 470

A US$ 20 billion project to build a railway making possible one of Africa’s largest iron ore mining prospects was given the green light last week when the West African country’s national assembly ratified the investment framework.

The fact that the opposition was not attending the national assembly no doubt helped with the vote, but either way the government now has the go-ahead to proceed with Rio Tinto and Aluminium Corp of China’s (Chinalco) proposals for the Simandou Mountains project.

The deal signed last week brings to an end three years of contractual wrangling over how best to develop the iron ore mining project.

Among other things, the mining group will have to build a new 670-km (416 mile) long heavy haul railway through jungle and open savannah to a new deep water port facility at Conakry from where high grade iron ore can be exported.

There has also been some talk that the deep water port would be built at Matakan in the south of the country.

The railway calls for the design and construction of 28 kilometres (17 miles) of tunnels, 39 bridges, 1,000 culverts, 13 passing sidings, rail yards, maintenance and employee facilities as well as a control centre (source: Aecom Mining).

The cost of the project has been estimated to be at least $18.4 billion.

President Alpha Condé's reformist government came to power after an election in 2010 on a promise of securing fairer deals for Guinea's mineral riches. The new government also promised an agenda of transparency and good governance. Guinea's recent history however contains enough examples of broken government promises to make some funders cautious and Rio Tinto has had its job cut out finding donor bodies.

The architects of the deal, senior executives at Rio Tinto and the IFC, say that they sought a clear and legally watertight framework agreement before raising the financing.


ENI lge 200px

Italian oil major ENI has entered into an agreement with Sasol to acquire a 40 percent interest and operatorship in a block offshore South Africa’s east coast, reports Petroleum Africa.

The agreement is for Exploration Right Permit 236 (ER236) and the permit grants the right to explore for hydrocarbons on a wide offshore unexplored area of 82,000km² on South Africa’s east coast in the Durban and Zululand basins.

Sasol was awarded the permit in late-2013 by the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA).

The agreement, which is subject to government approval, reinforces ENI’s position on the East Africa coast, where it is already present with exploration activities in Mozambique and in Kenya. – Petroleum Africa


Tete province Mussacama 470
Map of Tete Province showing the location of Moatize and in the west near the Malawi border, the town of Mussacama

Armed men, believed to be from Mozambique’s former rebel movement Renamo, attacked a weighbridge at Mussacama in the western province of Tete in the early hours of Friday morning.

The weighbridge is about 100 kilometres from the town of Moatize, on the main road from Zimbabwe to Malawi, which runs through the middle of Tete.

According to a Saturday report on the independent television station STV, the small number of policemen and officials on duty took refuge in the nearby bush when the weighbridge offices came under attack. Some of them suffered minor injuries.

The attackers burnt a vehicle they found outside the offices, and smashed all the windows. Inside, they stole all the takings from the weighbridge for the day, vandalised the computers and destroyed documents.

On hearing gunshots, people living nearby abandoned their homes and spent the rest of the night in the bush.

The local police have so far declined to comment on the matter. – AIM


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Gateway port

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 container 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.


Cap San Artemissio 5 470
Cap San Artemissio 7 470

The Cap San class of container ships, built for shipping line Hamburg Süd, are the largest in the German company’s fleet, having a capacity each of 9,800 TEU (twenty foot container equivalents), of which 1,700 are for reefers. One of the latest to be launched, in February this year, is the CAP SAN ARTEMISSIO (123,130pdwt, built 2014). The ship has a length overall of 332m. These pictures were taken as the ship approached the Port of Santos, Brazil. Pictures: R Smera

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