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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3 February 2015
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...

pacific venus st b 470

The Japanese cruise ship PACIFIC VENUS (26,394-gt, built 1998) arrived in Cape Town yesterday morning (Monday) from Durban while on her 2015 world cruise. Built in Japan at the Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries, the 183m long, 25m wide Pacific Venus is owned and operated by Osaka-based Pacific Cruise. She has 258 cabins for a normal 516 passengers which can however be expanded to 680 as required. Her crew numbers 220. Pacific Venus’s next port of call is Walvis Bay. Picture : Ian Shiffman

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eia illegal forest logging in mozambique 470

In Mozambique, total declared exports of 260,000 cubic metres of logs were only about half of the amount China reported to have imported from the southern African country. That suggests that logging and shipping companies are intentionally underreporting the amount of wood they handle to pay lower taxes.

This is according to a report released this week from a joint panel run by the United Nations and the African Union, and led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, which outlines the methods some companies use to send money illicitly out of the continent.

It finds companies and government officials are illegally moving as much as US$60 billion out of Africa each year, depriving the world’s poorest continent of capital and tax revenue that could spur faster economic growth.

The losses are staggering not only in terms of dollars but development opportunities lost, Mr Mbeki said.

“We are talking about large volumes of capital that could play a great role in addressing Africa’s development challenges,” he said in an interview.

The scams range from …
… loggers in Mozambique understating the value of the timber to Nigerian officials who send abroad suitcases of illegally earned cash.

The panel estimated illicit outflows in part by adding up discrepancies between the reported value of African exports and the higher value those same goods sometimes receive when they arrive as imports to Africa’s trading partners. That investigation showed that most African governments were victims of companies or officials secreting profits and cash out of countries.

Mr Mbeki said he couldn’t name particular companies that may be at fault because their dealings with tax authorities are confidential. But he did say “large commercial corporations are by far the biggest culprits of illicit outflows, followed by organised crime.”

The problem isn’t unique to Africa. Taken together, developing nations lost nearly $1 trillion through illicit channels in 2012, according to the Washington-based research and advocacy group Global Financial Integrity.

But economists say Africa suffers most because its governments lack the institutions and expertise to spot and stop capital flight. In some countries, regulation is too decentralised—Nigeria alone has 12 agencies with some responsibility for stemming illicit flows— offering wide regulatory and enforcement cracks for those who want to exploit them.

And Africa’s 54 countries …
… have little capacity to exchange information or help each other pursue potential tax dodgers. “There should be an automatic exchange of tax information among African countries,” the report concludes.

The loss of capital is particularly painful because Africa’s development needs are so acute. Even as 300 million Africans entered what the African Development Bank calls a nascent middle class in the past 25 years, rapid population growth pushed the number of people living on less than $1.25 a day to 414 million from 290 million.

While Africa’s economic growth of around 5% annually in the past decade has outpaced most other regions, Mr Mbeki’s group said it won’t be enough to guarantee a better life for those hundreds of millions of poor Africans.

“The benefits of this growth have mostly been confined to those at the top of the income distribution and it has not been accompanied by an increase in jobs,” wrote the group, officially called the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa.

In Nigeria, some companies …
… and officials were colluding to secretly sell about 100,000 barrels of oil a day, a cottage industry the report described as “looting on an industrial scale.”

And Ghana, Kenya and a half-dozen other African countries are believed to be losing tens of millions of dollars each year to a scheme mobile service providers use to make international calls appear to regulators as local calls, which are taxed at lower rates.

Taken together, the panel said, illicit flows “are negating the expected positive impact of increased growth on the continent.”

Even as African countries work to stem the illicit flows, Mr Mbeki said rich donors and trading partners must make their corporations pay the appropriate taxes for pursuing new customers and rich mineral deposits in Africa’s fast-growing markets.

“This is a common problem,” Mr Mbeki said. “All of us need to act in concert.” - Wall Street Journal

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Maersk Mc Kinney Moller ship med wiki 470
Maersk McKinney Moller (196,000-dwt). The Maersk Triple-E class ship which is currently sailing between Europe and South East Asia with 18,168 TEUs on board, which is the largest number of actual containers actually carried

Maersk Line, which boasts the largest container fleet, is being reported to be holding discussions with Asian shipbuilders for up to ten container ships with a price tag of around US$1.5 billion.

At this price it can be assumed that Maersk has every intention of taking back the initiative of owning the world’s biggest container ships.

The record at present lies with MSC OSCAR, Mediterranean Shipping Company’s first of a group of 19,224-TEU container ships which has just entered service. This eclipsed another 19,000-TEUer of China Shipping Container Lines, CSCL Globe (19,100-TEU) which in turn pushed a series of Maersk Triple-E series ships of 18,270-TEUs into third place.

Speculation is widespread that it is only a matter of time before the first 20,000-TEU container ship is announced, as the major lines throw caution to the winds that once drove ships, and compete to have boasting rights even though these sometimes last barely a month.

The revelation that Maersk …
…is talking with shipbuilders, and the disclosure of a price tag suggests that the Danish line may shortly be ordering ships well beyond the size of their Triple-Es. It won’t be surprising to discover that 20,000 TEUs isn’t the target either.

Instead, look for an announcement, or perhaps more likely the news to leak out of a new design or refinement able to carry even more than 20,000 TEUs, for ships of that size will not be a record holder for very long. Don’t believe this is all about economies of scale and efficiency and nothing else – there’s a matter of pride involved here as well in which several of the lines appear to be competing.

The rumour mill surrounding Maersk Line suggests that the order can be completed inside the first three months of this year, and we’re one down already.

Of course, the question of how ports will cope with this increasing capacity doesn’t appear to be slowing the race. Ports will simply be expected to comply and cater. It’s not just the question of berth size and overhead cranes, but stack space on the quay and, more importantly, the capacity of landside logistics to handle such huge consignments of containers arriving all at once.

Given what is happening on the US West Coast, one can anticipate growing congestion in regions where it hasn’t been much of a problem previously.

Maersk Line has so far not commented on the reports.

Quintiq: A solution to the mega-ship maze?

Click to watch video (3mins 13 sec)

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By Vernon Buxton

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As elegant a classic cruise liner as you are able to find these days. MARCO POLO has built up a very large and loyal following and her forthcoming milestone trans-Atlantic voyage is all but sold out. Here she is, entering Durban harbour in November, 2002, easing around the famous N Shed, where QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 was berthed for the day.
Picture: Vernon Buxton

In celebration of her 50th anniversary this year, Cruise & Maritime Voyages have decided there’s no better way to salute this event than by holding an anniversary voyage on the 22,080-gt MARCO POLO. She will be reproducing her original trans-Atlantic sailing roots by heading to Eastern Canada.

This specific sailing to Canada and Greenland will depart from Tilbury on the 24 July in 2015 for 36 nights. As the ship will be sailing during the height of summer, it will incorporate a few ports from the land of the midnight sun.

The last of the truly classic liners will take lucky passengers on the kind of exploration voyage that only comes along once in a lifetime. Days heading over to Canada will be spent visiting the icebergs, dramatic mountains and exquisite fjords of Iceland and Greenland, preceded by the Shetland and Faroe islands.

The privileged guests will then spend a fantastic 17 days exploring the beautiful and interesting ports of call in Eastern Canada before heading back to the UK via Cobh (Ireland). The unique voyage guarantees some of the most spectacular scenery you can imagine, from soaring seacliffs and amazing flora and fauna (think minke whales, kittiwakes & puffins) to stunningly beautiful waterfalls, icebergs, geysers and fjords.

2 600useinside 470
There are very few cruise ships remaining that have a long history behind them and are still sailing. The MARCO POLO is a stately cruise ship with traditional classic liner touches, offering top-line services and exceptional cuisines. Wood panelling in a vessel is truly something of the past, and this ship affords the chance to experience it once and for all. The MARCO POLO has a long and distinguished history behind her. She originally began as one of five identical ships in the Russian/Ukrainian fleet back in 1965.
Picture: Vernon Buxton

3 Untitled CC600 470
The open deck aft is so enviably redolent of the old Union-Castle offerings, and in fair weather passengers spend a lot of time out back, watching the wake disappear into the distance whilst quaffing on elegant glasses of what-you-will and even enjoying al fresco dining. Would that modern liners were continued to be built with such an appealing stern innovation.

4 Untitleduse600 470
Throughout her long career, the standards of service aboard MARCO POLO were opulent, gloved and ‘country house’….or “country hice”, as the Princess Royal would say. There was always sense of intimacy, conviviality and the crew had a knack of making you feel completely welcome and soon got to know you by name. This gave rise to much repeat business from past passengers, a trend that continues to this day.
Picture: Vernon Buxton

5 DSC00058600 470
Once again pictured in Durban harbour, when last did you spot such a beautifully crafted stern?...with multi-level open decks leading to a bar, restaurant and lounge. UK passengers never have to travel far to board this grand lady of the sea. Her capacity remains at 800 passengers, making for an intimate cruise holiday experience with departures in 2015 from London Tilbury, Newcastle and Leith. Built as ALEKSANDR PUSHKIN, she originally sailed under the Baltic Shipping Company as a trans-Atlantic ferry to Montreal, Canada, and then back to Leningrad in the USSR. In order to break through the enormous amount of ice, the ships were constructed with a heavier hull for stability, making the MARCO POLO a lot sturdier than the normal passenger ships.
Picture: Vernon Buxton

Our Ports & Ships correspondent, Vernon Buxton, recalls two coastal cruises on this wondrous old vessel. As a guest of Stewart Venn at Triton Cape Sea Travel, I was really privileged to experience a cruise up the SA coast and one down, the latter in such rough weather that the SILVER WIND, in Durban harbour at the same time, was not permitted to sail (she being a mere 16,000-tonner). The old girl plunged headlong into the deep swells and offered an all-night reminder of the joys of “feeling” the sea under you…no kidding on that memorable occasion. Irrespective, the service was just top notch and the multi-level open decks aft were indeed a pleasure and a half. Would that one could be on the biggest event of the year…MARCO POLO’s ‘Commemorative Anniversary Voyage to Canada & Greenland’. Contact your local travel agent for more details…and don’t delay it.

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Port of Dar es Salaam

The Port of Dar es Salaam is clamping down on substandard and defective trucks by banning them from entering the port precincts.

The ban comes into effect from next Monday (12 February) when the port will commence inspecting all trucks entering its premises and has promised that those found defective will be barred from entering.

“It has been observed that most of the accidents caused by trucks calling at the Dar es Salaam port are due to various faults on these vehicles and incompetence or negligence of drivers' at large,” said port manager Awadh Massawe.

A previous attempt in 2013 by the port authority to inspect and ban unroadworthy trucks failed when truck owners threatened to take the Tanzania Port Authority to court.

Massawe said special attention would focus on the condition of tyres, brakes, fire extinguisher and reflective triangles on the vehicles.

“You are notified further only accredited and licensed drivers will be permitted to drive into port premises and shall always wear appropriate personal protective gear and observe speed limit of 20km per hour,” the management announcement stated.

The move by the port has the support of Dar es Salaam’s traffic police chief as well as the Tanzania Truck Owners Association secretary-general. Truck owners warned however that the Tanzania Ports Authority lacks the powers of traffic police and the Marine Transport Regulatory Authority.

It is estimated that up to 90 percent of cargo moving out or in to the port of Dar es Salaam is by road.

News continues below…


Request a Rate Card frominfo@ports.co.za


HMS Queen Elizabeth 470
HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, still under construction

On a visit to the home of the Royal Navy, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, set out the British government’s next steps in building the most modern navy in the world, reports Naval Today.

He announced a new national shipbuilding strategy in advance of a decision later this year on orders for the brand new Type 26 Global Combat Ship. The Chancellor also announced that these multi-million pound ships will be based at the Navy bases in Portsmouth and Plymouth.

As part of the development of the national shipbuilding strategy, the Chancellor has asked to look at the potential to build a new complex warship every two years.

As well as maximising export opportunities, this will ensure the Royal Navy continues to have the capability it needs to protect UK’s interests.

The announcement builds further on the government’s commitment to Defence and the Royal Navy. Today, the Royal Navy is being modernised with new equipment, ships and submarines; it is building two of the second largest new aircraft carriers in the world and it will receive the world leading new Type 26 frigate.

Two Astute Class submarines have already deployed on operations and the UK is working to deliver a further five of the class over the next decade. Combined with the Type 45 Destroyer and four tankers to support the fleet at sea, as well as the forthcoming renewal of Trident, this means the Royal Navy of today is being equipped for the challenges of the 21st century. - Naval Today


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SAA Airbus A340

From May this year, there will be no more direct flights to China by South African Airways, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Friday.

This is part of a strategy to turn around the finances of SAA and part of the cost-saving measures that include cancelling loss making routes with China being one of them.

“Indeed we have approved the cancelation of the China route as government because we have a certain obligation. Part of the implementation of the strategy was the closure of loss making routes,” said the Minister.

He was responding to a question at a South African Airways (SAA) media briefing on its 2013/14 financial results. This after the airline held its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Acting SAA chief executive officer Nico Bezuidenhout revealed that close to R1 billion has been lost on the Beijing route in a three year period since SAA introduced the route in 2012.

Bezuidenhout said SAA will stop operating flights to China in April.

Air China will take over …
… the route in May with SAA placing a code on flights to China.

This comes as the National Treasury announced this week that the airline is to receive R6.488 billion guarantee.

The guarantees to SAA amount to R14.4 billion against which SAA has thus far utilised R8.345 billion.

“We had to put SAA on a business rescue but with the Long Term Turnaround Strategy (LTTS) on the table together with the 90 Day action plan we had to be convinced that we would now be able to see an improvement in SAA's financial situation,” Minister Nene said.

He explained that some of the drastic steps that had to be taken included the route closures, adding that was what other airlines were doing to save costs.

“It's not just about closing the routes but also finding ways of still reaching that destination in a much more cost effective way including code sharing and that is part of the strategy.”

The move comes as part of the airline's 90 Day Action Plan which was launched in December.

Bezuidenhout described the strategy as a living document.

“We had to continuously amend, …
… adjust not radically change,” he said.

Treasury is also working with the national carrier in revising and refining the existing LTTS which will have the primary mandate of returning the airline to financial sustainability.

Minister Nene said that the focus will be on the 90 Day action plan which is based on the LTTS but with an emphasis on executing quick wins including route closures.

He emphasised that it will take time for the benefits to show on SAA's bottom line adding that the guarantee was issued on the basis that the 90 Day Action Plan is robust and provides firm deliverables.

“The work for SAA will not be over and there will still be other tough measures that they will have to take in order to get the airline back on track,” said the Minister.

The airline had to be self-sustaining as no recapitalisation will be forthcoming from the shareholder, Minister Nene said. The National Treasury recently took over SAA after the airline was transferred from the Public Enterprises Department.

The financial results on Friday showed that operating loss before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization narrowed to R374 million for the year from R425 million reported 12 months earlier.

Cost containment during the 2013/14 financial year yielded savings of R453 million. The SAA group achieved growth in revenues by 12% (from R27.1 billion to R30.3 billion). - SAnews


New dredger’s keel laid

Ceremonial coinlaying trailingsuctiondredger 08
Lunga Ngcobo, Transnet National Ports Authority, GM Corporate Affairs places the Mandela coin under the keel of the new TNPA trailing suction dredger being built by IHC in Rotterdam

Construction of a large dredger for Transnet National Ports Authority has commenced at a shipyard in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The laying of the keel this past week was accompanied by an old tradition of placing a coin under the ship – historically this used to go beneath the main mast of a ship but the practice appears to have evolved in several different ways. The yard in Rotterdam symbolically placed the coin, with Mandela’s head on it, on a block beneath the keel and then later retrieved the coin which will sail with the ship to Durban on her completion in January next year.

Sailors are notoriously a superstitious bunch and many would prefer to have the coin welded to the keel or in some other way fixed permanently on the ship but maybe TNPA has a plan in that regard.

The dredger will become the largest African-owned trailing suction hopper dredger and is the third to be built for Transnet by the Dutch firm of IHC Merwede as part of a R2 billion programme of renewing the dredger fleet.

The contract for the construction of the as-yet unnamed 5500 cubic metre dredger was awarded to IHC in 2014 and it will replace the 2800m? Ingwenya. The launching ceremony is planned for May and delivery is set for the end of January 2016.

The dredger will be fitted with the latest technology and comes complete with its own workboat, which will also act as a hydrographic survey boat. Questions have been asked about the modernisation of TNPA’s dredging fleet – in particular why the three new dredgers have all had to be built overseas when local shipyards are looking for work. Some sort of partnership could have been entered into with IHC if it was felt that South Africa lacked the expertise.

According to TNPA 1400 tons of South African steel will be imported by IHC to build the dredger.

At the launch of Operation Phakisa in October last year, President Jacob Zuma said … “Some of the initial targets drawn up include firstly, an increase in the local manufacturing capacity through a 10 percent increase in the usage of local components for boat and ship building.”

It’s questionable whether he meant sending steel to an overseas shipyard instead of beefing up local manufacturing capability.


In the mailbag

Durban Bayhead 20141019 Richard Brook Hart 470
Rubbish washed from rivers into Durban Bay near the mangroves. Picture: Capt Richard Brook-Hart

Durban Harbour
As a regular dinghy sailor on the harbour, I am constantly depressed by the huge volume of pollution in the water. Both liquid and solid waste flows from the canals and stormwater system into the harbour in such volumes that it affects health, kills fish, and generally degrades the environment and the sailing experience. The outgoing tide then washes the filth out onto our beaches and into our ocean.

I recall some years ago there was some effort against this pollution, by way of catch nets at stormwater outlets and also the vessel uDoti which used to patrol, clear the nets, and clean up at least the plastic and other solid waste. Where is this boat now?

The other side of the coin is the prevention of littering and industrial dumping in the first place, but this is of course failing.

Are you or Transnet or the eThekwini Municipality able to comment on this? I perceive it as yet another drop in service standards by the authorities. Surely it would not require a vast effort and budget to re-instate the cleanup service?
Bruce Edward

Network response: A request for Transnet National Ports Authority to respond to Mr Edward’s letter has gone unanswered. As far as is known, the little boat bought specially for cleaning up debris from Durban harbour is currently lying in an out-of-use condition near Shop 24 at the Durban dry dock.

New year find unearths memories

Entering the New Year is often accompanied by out of the ordinary urges such as turning over a new leaf, buying a new diary (that will never be used), and that other strange desires - cleaning out your drawers and cupboards.

Such an impulse took hold in the Hutson household recently, leading to the discovery of a single page from The Mercury from 16 years ago that was placed on my desk because “it must have been kept for a reason.” Yes indeed, a closer examination showed this to be dated 13 January 1999 and it was the very first Ports and Shipping page of what was planned to be a weekly feature covering a full broadsheet.

Since then the ‘shipping page’ has appeared each Wednesday, save over Christmas and New Year, bringing you news of shipping and developments in the ports.

Prior to this shipping news appeared sporadically in a column called ‘Wharftalk’, but only when a little space could be wangled from the editors. Credit for this change in policy should go to the then financial editor, David Canning who later became editor of this newspaper. Credit was also due to The Mercury’s marketing team who enticed sufficient sponsorship to enable a full page to be allocated every week to shipping news.

Looking at that first page and the news it contained, the main story reported on an interview with the port of Durban’s marketing manager, Ronnie Holtshausen, who confidently forecast a mini boom in the years ahead. He turned out to be correct in his assessment and the shipping boom that followed was almost unprecedented in its strength.

The swing towards using containers was still something of a novelty, and Mr Holtshausen complained of a build-up of empty containers in the local depots as a result of the Asian flu. Yes, back in 1999 South East Asia was still recovering from its own economic troubles.

“This is not healthy and no shipper or port likes to handle empty containers,” said Holtshausen.

Were he still with Transnet he would be using the same words today but for different reasons. But he has moved on to greater things and the Asian flu has long since cleared up although there are slight signs of another outbreak developing further along in China, which in 1999 wasn’t such an economic force but today the imbalance in containers is because South Africa is finding it difficult to export. Take a trip along Solomon Mahlangu Drive (Edwin Swales Dr) and look at the huge stacks of empty containers stored in the depots.

We reported Holtshausen as predicting a rise in shipping activity in the latter part of 2000, which would be “higher than its predecessor.” In that he was spot on but few envisaged the extent of the boom that continued until the crash of 2008/09.

In other news on the page, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) was taking delivery of its first new-build later that month. Until then MSC had made its name using older tonnage bought at reduced prices which allowed them to compete with the ‘big boys.’ The new ship was the MSC Diego which would have the capacity to carry 4000 TEU (twenty foot container equivalents). Sixteen years later and MSC has just introduced MSC Oscar, which can carry 19,244 TEU, making her the biggest container ship in the world.

That’s a record that won’t last for long but it goes to show the strides made in such a relatively short space of time. MSC is now one of the ‘big boys’.

Incidentally, the turnover in containers at the port for Durban for the year that had just finished – 1998 - was 1,079,692 TEU. This was the second time that one million TEU had been reached by a South African port, the first being in 1996. By the end of December 1999 this had slipped back to 969,085 TEU, but Mr Holtshausen’s predictions were soon proved correct – the number of containers handled at the port of Durban by the end of 2000 had risen to 1,125,232 TEU. From there on things skyrocketed. In 2003 the port handled a phenomenal 1.6 million, and by 2007 it was 2.479 million TEU and thoughts were turning to building a new terminal.

Since then however the global economic slump has seen volumes move only sluggishly to the 2.664 million TEU handled in 2014.

* The above articles appeared on the shipping page of The Mercury Network of 28 January 2015


Gateway port 470
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.


msc marina 470

msc marina stern RC 470

Mediterranean Shipping Company’s 6,750-TEU capacity container ship MSC MARINA (85,824-dwt, built 2003) seen making a slightly smoky departure from Cape Town at the recent weekend. Pictures: Ian Shiffman

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