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Ports & Ships Maritime News

16 September 2013
Author: Terry Hutson

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


Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return


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MSC Astrid, Lyttelton 29 06 14 


Attended by a pair of Lyttelton Harbour tugs named BLACKADDER and PURAU, Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 3,554-TEU container ship MSC ASTRID (41,500-dwt, built 2004) arrives at the New Zealand South Island port for the city of Christchurch. Could one even imagine a South African port tug being named after one of its favourite rugby sons! Picture: Alan Calvert

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Hundreds of African emigrants are feared dead in yet another boat tragedy, this time off the coast of Libya.

The boat with an estimated 250 people on board sank on Sunday east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The emigrants on board were attempting to reach Europe, on probably the coast of Italy when the vessel sank. Most if not all the occupants were Africans who had journeyed to Libya to board an illegal boat that would take them to a new life in Europe.

A Libyan Navy spokesman said that only 36 people had been rescued. He said there were many bodies floating in the sea and that most of those who had been on board were feared drowned. A later, but unconfirmed report said that up to a hundred survivors had been rescued.

Details about why the vessel sank are not clear but very often there is overloading involved on what are obsolete unseaworthy vessels. In August this year 170 emigrants disappeared when their boat sank shortly after leaving Libya.

An estimated 100,000 emigrants have reached the shores of Italy this year alone, with the European country virtually helpless to stop the onslaught of people making the crossing at one of the Mediterranean Sea’s most narrow points.

Human traffickers exploit the situation, charging the would-be emigrants large amounts of money. A number of boats have foundered even in calm seas and the Italian and other navies have been involved in rescuing thousands who would otherwise have drowned at sea.

Libya, which lacks any real ability to patrol its coastline, is powerless to prevent the boats from sailing from small harbours and other boarding places. The North African country often has to borrow tugs from the oil industry to carry out coast guarding duties.

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The death occurred in Durban last Friday of Captain Dave Rennie, Master Mariner, Director of Grindrod Limited, and Chief Executive Officer of Grindrod Freight Services.

Captain Rennie had been in ill health for a short while when he suddenly died, and his passing has come a shock to the Durban and South African maritime industry where he was well- known and highly respected. He was a Grindrod man throughout his career and is one of only two people to have moved through the ranks in the company from cadet at sea to director of the company.

He spent time at sea as a cadet before studying at the South African Nautical College known as General Botha. Within 11 years he had risen to ships master when he was given his first ship, the Durban-built container vessel Berg.

He was seconded to the South African Navy for a special task, that of going to Galveston, Texas to bring back the Ukrainian ice-strengthened ship Juvent, which was to become SAS Outeniqua on delivery in Simon’s Town. He remained attached to the navy for six months while training navy personnel in the intricacies of operating a ro-ro type vessel.

In 1993 he transferred to Durban to be in charge of Unicorn’s crewing department and later as operations manager of the coastal trade, from where he stepped up to be in charge of Grindrod’s container shipping division, Ocean Africa Container Lines. By this time he had become a director of the company. In more recent years he has been chief executive of Grindrod Freight Services and has played a pivotal role in leading the Maputo port back to becoming an important and successful gateway for southern African trade.

He was also the man running the emergence of Grindrod as an important participant in the operating of railways on the sub-continent.

In addition to these duties, Captain Rennie was a Member of the Chartered Institute of Shipbrokers, and played a significant role in the formation of the South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents (SAASOA). He acted as Chairman of the Container Liners Operators Forum, was an advisor to the Minister of Transport and a director of the TT Club in London, an international transport and logistics insurance management service.

Captain Dave Rennie leaves his wife Jane, a son Lloyd and daughter Amy.

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Port of Cotonou, Benin

Cotonou port authorities have announced the following measures to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus in Benin.

For all vessels calling Cotonou port, the agent is required to send to the Harbour Master office a port of call list giving the last 10 ports of calls, three days prior to arrival. All vessels arriving from or which have called at a port in one of the countries infected by Ebola should have on board prevention equipment (gloves, masks, sanitizing gel, etc).

In addition, all vessels arriving from or which have called at a port in one of the countries infected by Ebola, and which have prevention equipment onboard, must stay at anchorage and receive FREE PRATIQUE from port health authorities prior to pilot boarding. (Boat transportation cost for embarkation/disembarkation of port health authorities are on the vessel’s account and same is to be arranged by the agent).

It is also mandatory for all crew and anyone boarding such vessels to wear masks and gloves throughout the entire port stay.

In further news, reports from Liberia have confirmed that Liberia’s president has closed all but three land border crossings, restricted public gatherings and quarantined communities heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak in the West African nation.

On 8 August 2014, WHO declared the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005).

Earlier, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that it has joined forces with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Airports Council International (ACI), International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in the Travel and Transport Task Force in response to the outbreak of the disease.

It said it has issued a circular letter (No. 3484) which is available through the IMO website (www.imo.org), providing information and guidance, based on recommendations developed by WHO, on the precautions to be taken to minimize risks to seafarers, passengers and others on board ships, from the Ebola virus disease.

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It’s breathtaking technology. Cut a ship in half, add a pre-built section…and off you go again!

Easy at that? Not at all…it requires immense precision and skill to laser and saw one’s way through an entire ship, ease the new section into place…and ‘sew’ it all up nicely so that no-one else is any the wiser that the ship has been stretched by 24 metres.


On Sunday 31 August, MSC ARMONIA entered the Fincantieri shipyard, in Palermo, Italy, where she will remain for 11 weeks, until resuming service on 17 November with a one-off inaugural Mediterranean cruise from Genoa to the Canary Islands. Her profile will have changed to longer and sleeker…and we all look forward to the first picture of the ‘new look’ for four of MSC’s vessels involved in the ‘Renaissance Programme’.


Fincantieri had been well prepared for the massive project both on board and in the shipyard. On 28 August, the new mid-ship section was floated into the shipyard, and towed into the drydock area…and then the ARMONIA was dry-docked and work immediately started on her hull, as the cutting line was pre-marked. The mid-section had already been inserted by mid- September and the maiden journey out of the shipyard will be on 17 November…after internal refitting is completed. The work will furnish each of the four ships with numerous new entertainment options, technological enhancements, more shops and nearly 200 new cabins per ship. Next in line for ‘the chop’ is MSC SINFONIA, between January and March…and this is the popular vessel that will - post her renovation and refurbishment - return to South Africa for the 2015/16 season…featuring greater capacity and amenities. MSC OPERA – which will be in South Africa for the coming cruise season – will be stretched between next May and July and MSC LIRICA will end the ‘Renaissance Programme’ by being ‘done’ between August and November next year. The bold project will cost MSC Cruises about 200 million Euros.

Vernon Buxton for Ports & Ships

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NSRI Station 21 Spirit of St Francis II rescue boat

Two chokka (squid) boats collided at sea about five nautical miles offshore of St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape, close to midnight on Sunday, the NSRI has reported.

The 20m chokka boat ALTAR called for assistance after being in collision with the 40m long SOUTHERN STAR, which left the smaller vessel holed and taking on water.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 21 at St Francis Bay responded by launching its sea rescue boat SPIRIT OF ST FRANCIS II, accompanied by two additional crew members from the chokka fishing company and carrying additional water extrication pumps. The N SRI rescue team rendezvoused with the two fishing boats two n.miles offshore.

The pumps and the additional crew were transferred across to the Altar, which had been holed midships. The other vessel Southern Star appeared to have suffered little damage and had rafted alongside the Altar to prevent the latter from sinking. After setting the pumps in action the rafted vessels resumed their way towards St Francis Bay.

The NSRI meanwhile began ferrying 11 crew members from the Altar to the shore, leaving the skipper and first mate remaining on the stricken boat.

“Pumping water out of Altar is a continuous effort as the large hole in the side of Altar is below the water line and until repairs can be made Southern Star will have to remain rafted to the side of Altar to prevent her from sinking and water will have to continuously be pumped from the vessel until temporary repairs can be carried out,” reported Marc May, NSRI station 21 commander.

“Our sea rescue craft helped tow the two vessels to just off-shore of Port St Francis.

“They cannot come into port rafted to each other so they remain a few hundred metres off-shore of Port St Francis and have arranged salvage to patch the hole at sea today (Monday) before bringing her into port for repairs,” May said.

There were no injuries to any of the crews.

After reaching outside the port and having confirmed that the water pumps were managing to extricate water faster than it was entering the chokka boat, the NSRI was released at 03h00 Monday and returned to base.

Transnet National Ports Authority continued to monitor progress and Telkom Maritime Radio Services assisted with communications throughout the operation.

* Port St Francis is a small fishing harbour west of Port Elizabeth


MTWARA port 470px
Port Mtwara in southern Tanzania

A major expansion for Tanzania’s Port Mtwara in the south of the country is being planned to increase the port’s cargo handling capacity in anticipation of future mining and oil driven cargo in the region.

Mtwara is in the ideal position to service the Tanzanian oil and gas operations offshore of the coast bordering with Mozambique. In addition, mining developments in the interior of southern Tanzania will need a port to service exports.

Mtwara port manager Musiba Fikili said during a port tour arranged by Tanzania Ports Authority that the port was currently handling things well even with increasing volumes resulting from nearby oil and gas exploration activity.

However, port management had come up with a strategy aimed at expanding and improving services ahead of demand. Some TSh 2.95 billion was due to be spent on improving the infrastructure and equipment.

“We will be undertaking two projects, one being the expansion of the port and the other the improvement of infrastructure and working equipment like cranes and tractors. We need to modernise the port to meet international standards,” Fikili told journalists

stressed. The port has already acquired an additional 260 hectares for the expansion project, on top of the 70ha currently occupied.

Volumes handled at present are low – as little as 400 tonnes a year according to figures given out.


agriculture 470

India has asked South Africa to increase the import of grapes, wheat, sugar and cotton from the South Asian country.

At present, South Africa imports these agri commodities from other countries. Radha Mohan Singh, India’s agriculture Minister, said this at a meeting with his South African counterpart Senzeni Zokwana in New Delhi, reports Commodity Online.

The bilateral trade between India and South Africa is estimated at US$ 11.15 billion in the financial year 2013-14. The ministers described this as a remarkable development amidst economic turmoil and global recession especially in the European Union and United States.

The Indian minister expressed his hope on finalising the India and Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Preferential Trade Agreement.

Both the Ministers expressed satisfaction on formation of Joint Working Group (JWG) under the aegis of Memorandum of Understanding signed between India and South Africa on 4th June, 2010 and successful organisation of the First Meeting of JWG in 2013 in New Delhi.

“A number of significant leaders from the trade, business and academic fraternity having turned up and partaken in the mutual discussions, we are looking forward to fulfil our agenda to create lucrative business and investment opportunities with India,” said South Africa’s Agriculture Minister, Senzeni Zokwana.


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Regional 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.


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A late afternoon visit for sundowners under the palms at the Ship Society in Cape Town brought forth these two studies of first the 5,600-TEU MOL GLIDE (72,000-dwt, built 2011, lower picture) outbound from Cape Town, followed immediately by the incoming 6,750-TEU MSC MAUREEN (84,920-dwt, built 2003) to take the other ship’s berth. What better way to finish the day! Pictures: Ian Shiffman

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