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Ports & Ships Maritime News

27 January 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Pacific Meltem off Mouille Pt 26 Jan 2015 Bert H

Seen off Mouille Point this past week was the drill ship PACIFIC MELTEM (60,969-gt), built in 2014) by Samsung Heavy Industries. The drill ship can operate in sea depths of up to 12,000ft, with a drilling depth 40,000ft. Picture: Bert Hofhuis

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Transnet’s North Quay caisson solution to providing deeper berthing

It was second time lucky for Transnet Capital Projects this week when the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) granted a positive Environmental Authorisation for the deepening, widening and lengthening of berth 203 at the Durban Container Terminal.

Obviously, luck wasn’t involved, but an earlier application had been turned down on technical grounds which allowed Transnet to go back and re-apply after addressing certain issues.

The notification from the DEA however makes it clear that in terms of Chapter 7 of the 2010 EIA Regulations, a Notice of Intention to Appeal may be lodged within 20 days.

The request by Transnet is to deepen widen and lengthen the North Quay of the Durban Container Terminal on Pier 2, beginning with berth 203. Once complete the process will follow with berths 204 and 205, thus providing DCT with deepwater berthing (-16m) on at least three berths each of 300m in length. In December 2013 Transnet Capital Projects was advised that the EIA application for the project had been rejected partly on account of a potentially adverse effect on the nearby central sandbank, which the DEA was not happy with.

The extensive sandbank is considered to play a key role in the marine ecosystems of Durban Bay and even the KZN coast as it provides an important habitat for marine fishes along the KZN coastal zone.

The rejection of the EIA became a major setback to plans of having deepwater container berths capable of handling laden ships of up to 12-15,000 TEU. The port is already receiving ships from a number of shipping lines with a capacity of 12,000 TEU but these are forced to come into port partly laden instead of fully loaded.

The latest decision taken by the DEA means that, subject to any successful appeal, Transnet Capital Projects will now be able to proceed with creating deepwater berths for container shipping in the Port of Durban.

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Indian Ocean

The launching of the Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Project in Mauritius has been described as a new chapter in maritime safety which demonstrates the strong ties that Mauritius shares with Australia.

This was the word yesterday from Premdut Koonjoo, Mauritius’ Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, who was speaking in Port Louis after meeting an Australian delegation led by the Australian High Commissioner, Ms Susan Coles.

The High Commissioner called it a day when Australia and Mauritius celebrate not only their close ties but also how as neighbours in the Indian Ocean, they work together.

The project includes training components within a search and rescue system. Funding totalling A$2.6 million will be made available over the next three years to strengthen search and rescue cooperation and coordination in the Indian Ocean region.

The initiative is aimed at strengthening search and rescue cooperation and coordination in the Indian Ocean region and is being extended to Mauritius, the Maldives and Sri Lanka by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

AMSA spokeswoman Louise Proctor described search and rescue cooperation in this remote and expansive part of the world as of paramount importance.

She added that Australia's search and rescue region covers 52.8 million square kilometres and it is important to work with the Search and Rescue organisations of neighbouring countries to enhance the capability in remote and challenging areas.

The regional search and rescue initiative complements a memorandum of understanding signed at the October Indian Ocean Rim Association meeting to expand the channels of communication and cooperation among search and rescue agencies in the region to provide assistance in saving lives.

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The landing jetty at Moma Sands mining operation in cen tral Mozambique

Kenmare Resources, the troubled Irish-based mineral sands miner Iluka Resources has been seeking to acquire, is hoping to stave off default by finalising the renegotiation of its debt by the end of the week.

Kenmare, which is labouring under $US350 million ($440 million) of bank debt, completed one round of debt renegotiation earlier last year that deferred some loan repayments in return for greater bank oversight of its operations.

This included gaining bank approval for its annual budget by the end of January each year.

Concerns about its financial health have pressured Kenmare's share price over the past year, with the entire company valued at just £70 million ($130 million).

The shares have fallen steadily after it rejected an approach from Iluka in mid-2014.

In a recent statement, Kenmare also blamed the debt renegotiations for its weak share price.

Iluka has been conducting "due diligence" over the Kenmare operations since, which are comprised primarily of the Moma mine in Mozambique, which has encountered a series of operational difficulties.

Recently Kenmare installed a former senior Rio Tinto official, Ben Baxter, as its chief operations officer. Mr Baxter has extensive experience with Rio's Richards Bay mineral sands operation.

Kenmare produces ilmenite for both chloride and sulphate feedstock for the titanium oxide pigments industry.

In a recent note to clients, JP Morgan noted that China's pigment producers are likely to increase imports of sulphate feedstock, so that it makes sense for Iluka to be eyeing Kenmare.

“With production at Murray Basin likely to be cut short, Moma's chloride ilmenite stream could be used to feed Iluka's SR [synthetic rutile] kilns,” it told clients. “The sulphate ilmenite stream can be sold into the Chinese sulphate market.

“Therefore, notwithstanding the potential price paid for Kenmare, the potential impact on Iluka's balance sheet and any potential operational risks, we believe a likely acquisition of Moma could make sense.” - Sydney Morning Herald

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Artist’s impress of Agility’s new distribution park at Tema in Ghana

Agility, a leading global logistics and logistical infrastructure provider, this month broke ground on construction of a distribution park on a 40-acre site in the Tema Port Free Trade Zone Enclave in Accra, Ghana.

The Agility Distribution Park, one of a series of logistics hubs that Agility is building across the African continent, will provide international standard logistics infrastructure to local, regional and global companies operating in Ghana.

The network of Agility Distribution Parks being developed across Africa will serve the growing requirements of Agility’s existing and new customers as they seek distribution facilities across the continent to meet the demands of the burgeoning growth in both the FMCG and commercial markets.

Speaking on this latest Agility investment into the region, Geoffrey White, Agility CEO Africa said: “Agility is a world leader in developing logistics parks around the globe and is committed to developing a network of quality distribution parks in Africa. By providing much needed import and export routes in and out of Africa, Agility Distribution Parks will help companies operate in Africa with the reliable, modern and secure infrastructure they need to grow their business.”

Agility Distribution Parks focus on providing undisturbed power, IT connectivity and security for tenants, creating an international platform from which companies can efficiently operate their businesses. Offering 2PL, 3PL and 4PL solutions, Agility operates its own warehouses and also designs and builds warehouses on its distribution parks for third parties to specific individual customer specifications.

White went on to add: “Ghana is an attractive location to launch the network of new Agility Distribution Parks thanks to a long-term stable and transparent government, fast-growing GDP and increasing prominence as a regional commercial hub in West Africa.

Quality logistics infrastructure is a key driver of new foreign direct investment, stimulating improved trade flows, prosperity and job creation.”

The first phase of the park will be complete and operational in the last quarter of 2015, and when fully occupied will include 100,000 m² of bonded and non-bonded warehouses with ancillary services.

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With container traffic having risen 48 percent to 822,131 TEU between 2008 and 2012, the Port of Tema, west of the Ghanaian capital of Accra, is now mulling over seven bids that met requirements as set out in the tender documents.

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) opened the bids from corporate entities and joint-venture companies, including a Ghanaian company, which wanted to partner with GPHA to expand Tema Port.

Traffic through Tema, the country's main port, has been growing in sync with Ghana's GDP growth, which averaged more than eight percent a year between 2008 and 2012, reports GhanaWeb, a Dutch based news portal.

The GPHA will also develop five new berths at an estimated cost of US$1.5 billion at full build out, two for containers, two for multi-purpose and ro-ro facilities as well as one for passenger and cruise ships in the first phase.

Phases two, three and four of the expansion works will add more container terminals and food/fruit terminals to the cluster, while the final phase will involve the construction of an oil and gas terminal and oil-rig servicing facility.

Also part of the development will be the expansion of the Tema Motorway. It will be expanded into a six-lane expressway with service lanes on either side to accommodate the traffic that will come along with the expansion of the port.

The first phase of the project will include the provision of basic port infrastructure such as breakwater, quay wall foundation trenches, and dredging to 16 metres from the current 11.5. It is expected to take two-and-a-half years to complete.

In March 2013, GPHA issued an international competitive tender that attracted the interest of 53 internationally recognised entities and joint ventures, but only 21 bidders were pre-qualified and issued with tender documents after evaluation of Expressions of Interest (EOI).

The Takoradi Port is already undergoing expansion. Phase one of the project is almost over, according to Ghana's President John Mahama. Like the Tema port, the Takoradi port will also be dredged. - Schednet


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Few if any container terminals are designed for the mega ships being introduced today

The vessel design and ports businesses should run on parallel paths, but they do not; instead, they are on divergent tracks, writes Barry Parker in an article published in Port Strategy

While he is writing from an American perspective, his comments are equally valid for South Africa and other African ports, on a topic that has been pointed out by PORTS & SHIPS on several occasions.

Naval architects are contemplating vessels that can take in excess of 20,000 TEU, but the bigger US ports - which have 'modernised' - are struggling to handle multiple calls of 12,000 TEU vessels that were state of the art only a few years ago.

Carriers continue to soak up ever-larger vessels because of lower per unit costs, however modernising ports is not modular; it requires a long term view. Dredging for deep vessels is only part of the solution and the landside issues, including intractability of labour - which hit the point of raw nerves this past year on the US West Coast - are far more vexing.

A JOC conference, held late last year, exposed some of these nerves. It was suggested by multiple speakers that, even at the biggest ports (which exceed the throughput of New York), terminal layouts and equipment configurations simply cannot support what the carriers have in mind. New York (and perhaps other East Coast rivals) is about a year away from facing down such issues, but the experience of the West Coast - chassis shortages and labour intransigence galore - should be sobering to port planners on all US coasts.

I have a sense that marketers at the ports may need to speak up more. If infrastructure forms legitimate constraints then value-add aimed at certain cargo categories may be a way forward. Engineering constraints, of the type identified at the JOC event, need not be deal-breakers. Rather, they may inform a strategy of optimising the cargoes that can move through a port.

Economic forecasts for the US are not great, but they are at least decent. The stronger dollar will likely bring about increased imports, meaning that the time for such experimentation is now. All else being equal, lower fuel prices will reduce the advantage of bigger modern ships. Maybe, a movement away from the bleeding edge, moving to port calls of smaller 8,000 teu-10,000 TEU vessels is not such a bad thing.

Ports don’t always have a say in the plans of carriers, but shippers of toys and clothing who are tired of delays and congestion do and the marketplace will route its shipments accordingly. - Port Strategy


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At the end of 2014, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) that will require every packed export container to have a verified container weight as a condition for loading aboard a vessel.

This requirement will become legally binding on 1 July 2016.

All parties involved in the international transportation of maritime containers – including shippers, freight forwarders, packers, NVOCCs, carriers, and marine terminal operators – will need to take measures to ensure that they are prepared to fulfill the new SOLAS regulatory requirement before the implementation date arrives, writes the American Journal of Transportation.

There currently is more than a year to get ready. That time should not be wasted. All parties should use the time that is available to understand what will be required of them, and to prepare to be able to meet those requirements before 1 July 2016.

In order to help promote an understanding of these SOLAS amendments, the World Shipping Council has released a three page synopsis on The SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement.


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The entire timber decking of the mine sweeper SAS Durban, which is laid on an aluminium frame, has had to be replaced. Picture: Rob May

A reader asked the question this past week as to whether the Durban maritime museum had shut down, as he had been ‘reliably’ informed. He said that a number of people had agreed with this news but he was making the phone call to verify it for himself.

As someone involved with helping restore the quality of some of the museum exhibits, I’m very pleased that he did ask, because it provides a reason to talk about a favourite subject and set the record straight.

In fact, as thousands of visitors to the Port Natal Maritime Museum these summer holidays can confirm, the museum is very much alive and open. The numbers of visitors who crossed into its precinct on Maritime Boulevard near the Bat Centre reached impressive levels in December and early January and many of those spoken to said they had placed the museum on their list of ‘things to do’ while in Durban.

One of those was a visitor from Singapore, fellow maritime journalist Jonathan Boonzaaier who was a passenger on the cruise ship Astor, sailing between Cape Town and Australia, who said that there were two things he simply had to do while the ship was in Durban, and that was to visit the maritime museum and to ride on a harbour pleasure boat around Durban Bay.

Since we last reported on progress at the museum much has been achieved particularly on the former South African Navy mine sweeper, SAS Durban. Readers may remember that early on Friday morning, 28 September 2012, after a night of very heavy rain, the minesweeper began to list and would have capsized had it not been for the former harbour tug JR More which was berthed alongside and which took her weight.

Just that week, less than 12 hours before the drama began, the Local History Museums Trust voted a significant sum of money to the newly formed Friends of the Maritime Museum, a voluntary body of people concerned about the condition of the exhibits. This money was to be spent on re-decking the ship and making her safe again for visitors to board, as for some time visitors to the museum had been prevented from going on board.

Since that day much work has been undertaken by a small body of volunteers who have committed themselves to bring this little warship (and other exhibits) back to life. So much has been achieved that for the past six months or so visitors have been allowed back on board but only on sections of the open deck once the decking had been replaced with new timbers. By the end of December last year this had been accomplished to the point where almost all of the outside of the ship was reopened to visitors as well as a considerable portion of the inside accommodation area, plus the engine room and generator rooms.

As work has progressed it is possible to sense a ship that again feels ‘alive’ even though much work remains to be done. The ship will never sail again but when work is completed visitors will be able to experience what it must have been like for those hardy national servicemen and permanent force naval seamen who served on the six ‘Ton’ class wooden minesweepers of the South African Navy.

SAS Durban is unique in being the first naval ship to be built specially for the South African Navy. All other ships had been transferred from the Royal Navy. Her uniqueness doesn’t stop there. She is the last remaining intact Coniston or ‘Ton’ class minesweeper in the world according to the Ton Class Association in the UK, who are aware of the restoration going on and are keenly watching events in Durban. In a recent communication they expressed how envious they were.

The 427-ton warship entered service with the South African Navy in 1958 and was finally decommissioned in 1985 at which time she was stationed here in Durban. The navy subsequently offered her to the City of Durban which accepted her after museum officials had conducted an inspection. She was handed over to the City on May 5, 1988. The ship is 47m long and has a draught of just 2.4m. Her original armaments consisted of a SAN Mk2 40/60 Bofors gun and two 20mm Oerlikons.

Her engines are both unusual and interesting to any enthusiast, being two Napier Deltic diesels, a name made famous by British Rail. She carried a complement of four officers and 36 ratings.

The Maritime Museum has two other large exhibits, being the harbour and salvage tug JR More, which is also in the water alongside SAS Durban and the tug and service boat Ulundi. There are also a number of smaller craft and a variety of harbour equipment including a rope maker plus an array of ships models and various exhibits in the Britannia Room Exhibition Hall. This includes a photographic display depicting the history of Durban Harbour since the 1840s right up until the present day.

Every month throughout the year schools visit with many of the children being exposed to shipping for the very first time. For adults this is also often true and there are few that go away dissatisfied with their visit. A visit to the museum also offers exposure to the wider harbour, being an open window into the port.

So to our reader who posed the question, yes, the maritime museum is still very much in existence and open for business every day of the week. If anyone would like to offer their services to the Friends of the Museum, please contact me.

Fun and excitement in the wind

The strong south-westerly ‘buster’ that struck Durban last Thursday (15 January) at the same time as a thunderstorm didn’t just blow down trees. A large container ship broke free while berthing at the Durban Container Terminal’s berth 108 and was blown out into the harbour, being forced to lower her anchor while harbour tugs scurried to her assistance as she neared the N-shed passenger berth. Once they had control, the 300m long, 92,900-dwt Hamburg Süd ship Santa Ines was escorted to the Point until the storm had passed after which she was able to return to the container terminal and begin discharging her cargo of containers.

Some other news of interest is the renaming of two small container ships that are coming into service on the South African coast. They are the 17,350-dwt Rickmers Malaysia that has already called and is now operating under the name Range, and the Marine Rickmers of 11,925-dwt which was due to be renamed Barrier. The names Range and Barrier are traditional ships names used by the Grindrod subsidiary line, Ocean Africa Container Line which operates on the Southern African coast.

* The above two articles appeared in The Mercury of 21 January 2015


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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.


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dsc vinnice 470

The Nigerian-registered offshore diving support vessel DSV VINNICE (4,760-gt, built 2014) was in Cape Town recently to take bunkers and supplies. Although registered in Nigeria the vessel is owned by Malaysian interests. She was built at the Hangtong Shipbuilding yard in Guangzhou, China. Pictures: Ian Shiffman

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