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Ports & Ships Maritime News

24 February 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Xue Long, Lyttelton 16 01 15 sv 480

The Chinese ice-breaking research ship XUE LONG (15,352-gt, built 1993, refitted 2007) in Lyttelton harbour, New Zealand after arriving from the Antarctic. After a civic welcome reception the ship loaded stores and fuel and returned to the Antarctic to carry out further research. Xue Long translates to Snow Dragon. Picture: Alan Calvert

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Apapa port terminal

Increased touting and robbery within the port precincts in Nigeria is becoming a concern among stakeholders who fear that lives and property are at constant risk despite the implementation of the ISPS (International Ships and Ports Security) code.

According to the Daily Independent of Lagos there has been an upsurge in theft of imports that have been cleared by port authorities. In addition there are reports of thieves entering the port terminals at night from the waterside, while during the day large numbers of people with no business in the terminal or ports are nevertheless present and making a nuisance of themselves.

Importers of goods including motor vehicles have complained of goods being stolen before final clearance is completed.

In particular it appears that many importers bringing in motor vehicles include other smaller items that are packed inside the vehicles and these are found to have been pilfered when final delivery is made.

The report quoted the managing director of Nigeria's biggest vehicle importing terminal, the Port and Terminal Multiservices Limited (PTML), Mr Ascanio Russo who said that there are too many touts at the port parading themselves as customs clearing agents.

Russo who was speaking during a meeting with the National President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu, complained that the terminal had registered not less than 12,000 clearing agents during its last electronic identification exercise.

“The challenge we are facing presently is the sheer number of agents. We have 12,000 agents registered officially at the terminal, we monitor the movement in and out of the terminal every day and 10,000 to 15,000 people access the terminal each day and another 10,000 people hover around our premises, not doing anything but small jobs here and there.

“We have a huge number of touts in the port area, and until the crowd is controlled at the port area we can never have a conducive atmosphere in the port for transactions,” Russo said.

Russo said he was seeking the co-operation of ANLCA in order to eject all the people that are not genuine agents from the port. “They are spoiling your name, they are not agents, they are touts,” he said.

He said that the terminal is currently trying to move towards electronic transactions where cargoes can be processed even from the comfort of homes, rather than coming to the port.

It was also learnt …
… that shipwrecks and abandoned vessels littering the Lagos waters have become the newest den from which criminals launch attacks on ships berthing at the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos.

Nigeria's largest bulk terminal concessionaire, the ENL Consortium Limited, which operates terminals C and D at the Lagos Ports Complex, Apapa told the police a bitter story of how the criminals attack berthing vessels at night.

“They (criminals) would come into the terminals in boats or motorised canoes, unleashing terror on the vessel crews, and quickly manoeuvre back to their hideouts inside the shipwrecks which are littered around the water not far from Snake Island,” said Raphael Oyinloye, manager of Security, Safety and Environment at the ENL Consortium.

He said that at night the abandoned vessels are illuminated by torch light indicating the presence of criminals.

The Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are all charged with the responsibility of removing the shipwrecks. NIMASA is the designated authority for the International Ships and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) Code, a set of regulations that are meant to ensure safety and security at the ports.

The Western Port Police Commissioner, Mrs Hilda Ibifuro Harrison, said it was a surprise to her because “we have not have this kind of report before.” She assured the terminal operators that the matter would be dealt with. “Operators should remain calm and we will rid the miscreants out of their hideouts,” she promised. – Daily Independent, Lagos

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Peter Hinchliffe ICS low res Sec general Intl C
Peter Hinchliffe

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has warned ship owners about registering ships and flying the flags of Tanzania, Mongolia, Moldova, Cambodia and Sierra Leone because, he said, they do not comply with United Nations' labour standards.

According to the annual ICS flag state performance table published last week, these are examples of sub-standard ship registers, reported London's Tanker Operator.

“One area on which we would like to see more progress is with respect to ratification of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention,” said ICS secretary general Peter Hinchliffe.

“But following the entry into force of the convention, it is now being enforced worldwide through Port State Control and the vast majority of international shipping companies are operating in compliance, with the exception of the official flag state certification,” he said.

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SAS Spioenkop in Cape Town harbour. Picture: Ian Shiffman

Ships of the German Navy are due in Simon’s Town shortly to take part in this year’s Exercise Good Hope, the joint naval exercise between the two navies.

The exercise is normally held every two years in Cape waters, with three or four ships of the German Navy making the long journey to the tip of Africa in order to take part.

South Africa for its part will this year provide a Valour class frigate – SAS SPIOENKOP (F147) and the submarine SAS MANTHATISI (S101). The River class mine hunter SAS UMHLOTHI was supposed to also take part but is reported to be not seaworthy and unlikely to participate.

The German flotilla consists of three frigates, HESSEN which is the flagship, KARLSRUHE and BRANDENBURG as well as the supply support ship BERLIN. They are expected to arrive in Simon’s Town at the beginning of March.

Exercise Good Hope will commence on 2 March with harbour-based training. On or about 12 March the fleets will go to sea for the second half of the exercise. At some point they will call at Cape Town for R&R.

The South African Air Force is providing a Super Lynx helicopter, a pair of Oryx helicopters and a C47TP maritime reconnaissance aircraft. Elements of the Special Forces and the Maritime Reaction Squadron will also take part.

The navy has confirmed that SAS Spioenkop will be under the command of Captain Mark Boucher and SAS Manthatisi under Commander Russell Beattie.

Unrelated to Exercise Good Hope, two British ships, the Royal Navy’s HMS DRAGON and RFA GOLD ROVER, which have been visiting Simon’s Town on R&R will call at Cape Town on 4 March, as will the French Navy patrol frigate FS FLOREAL arriving on 6 March.

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Douala container terminal

The CMA CGM Group has inaugurated its new logistics platform, known as the 3CTC Terminal (CMA CGM Cameroon Container Terminal).

The opening function was held on Friday, 19 February, although the terminal itself has been operational since 7 January this year.

Covering an area of 2 hectares, 3CTC is being operated on a 25-year concession.

The Douala platform provides CMA CGM clients with a complete range of logistics solutions. These include:

  • Full and/or empty containers storage in a 1,200 square meters secured area

  • Inland transportation in Cameroon, Chad and Central African Republic
  • This platform strengthens CMA CGM’s presence in Cameroon. Its vessels call Douala twice a week, offering Cameroon industrialists import and export solutions with the entire world. In a statement the group said it intends becoming a big player in Cameroon’s development.

    The 3CTC platform illustrates CMA CGM land development strategy. Together with CCIS, an entity dedicated to inland transportation solutions development, the Group opened a platform in Dakar, Senegal, last year, and has since developed 14 terrestrial hubs, creating transport corridors between land locked and coastal countries.

    “This inauguration shows our determination to reinforce our presence in Africa and to develop both our inland and logistics activities there. It also confirms our desire to become a major player in Cameroon’s economic growth,” said Rodolphe Saadé, Vice Chairman of the CMA CGM Group.

    The CMA CGM Group has become a force in sub-Saharan Africa, where it has 1,300 employees in 72 offices, since 2001.

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    Request a Rate Card frominfo@ports.co.za


    One of the recently acquired diesel-electric locomotives from Transnet Freight Rail, which underwent renovation before being delivered to TransNamib recently, has experienced brake failure causing the locomotive to slam into a stationary railway carriage in the Walvis Bay railway station.

    The accident occurred during shunting operations, reports the newspaper Informanté

    The report said that TransNamib did not make the accident public despite the loco and carriage suffering extensive damage. There were no injuries reported.

    In Mozambique …

    The ports and railway company CFM has announced that the Limpopo line between Maputo and Zimbabwe has reopened after being closed for four days.

    The closure was a result of a derailment at Magude, 146km north of the capital. Two people died and 12 others were injured.

    The train consisted of the locomotive and 24 rail wagons loaded with charcoal, plus two passenger carriages with a total of about 200 people inside, many of them charcoal sellers.

    The train was travelling from Maputo to Chicualacuala on the Zimbabwean border when the accident occurred. Eleven of the wagons and the two carriages derailed.

    A commission of enquiry has been set up to investigate the accident.

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    Durban port as at Feb 2011 480
    Durban port layout as at present day

    The port situation in recent weeks has been generally quiet, with few ships arriving in comparison with busier months. That is partly due to the time of year but is also an indication of the country’s economy which is quick to affect the Port of Durban.

    In January this year the port handled 309 ships, with a gross tonnage of 11.28 million tons. That gives an average per ship of 36 500 gross tons.

    If we look at January 2014, the port handled a similar number of ships, 311, with a total gross tonnage of 10.88million-gt and an average per ship of 34 984-gt, which is practically the same year-on-year.

    In terms of actual cargo handled year-on-year for the month of January, this year it was 7.438 million tons while last year it totalled 7.272mt – much the same. Containers differed slightly, being 223,330 TEU this year compared with 197,480 in January last year. Some growth but not much.

    Now let’s look at the same month for the year 2010, when the port handled 378 ships - with a gross tonnage of 10.799m gross tons, or an average per ship of 28,569-gt.

    Four years before that, in 2006 and the port handled 392 ships with a gross tonnage of 8.253m-gt or an average per ship of 21,000 gross tons.

    So the numbers of ships have decreased quite substantially but the average size of ships has increased dramatically, as bigger ships have been introduced.

    Obviously, by taking just a sample month is not the best way of arriving at any conclusion, but the same exercise using annual figures produces much the same results. History reveals that in 2006 the Port of Durban handled almost 400 ships that January, which averaged 21,000 gross tons each, and now, 9 years later in 2015, it is handling almost a hundred ships less, but each ship has increased in size from 21,000 tons to 35,000 tons.

    The purpose of this little exercise is to question what is needed regarding port expansion in the next 15 or more years. Do we need a new port with lots more berths or does the port require longer and deeper berths and better stacking space for containers, and can those been found in the existing port? It is obvious that the length of existing berths is too short and will have to be adjusted.

    We can see that happening at Maydon Wharf, where berth deepening and lengthening is taking place. From a total of 15 berths, Maydon Wharf in future will have just nine, although the total length of Maydon Wharf remains the same at 2,809 metres excluding the fish jetty.

    At the container terminal, Transnet intends lengthening the North Quay from each end without sacrificing the number of berths (three). That’s a win-win situation. Work on deepening and lengthening other berths within the container terminal will however impact on the number of berths, resulting in a reduced number.

    It all comes back to the type and size of ships that are likely to call and Transnet has the unenviable task of making those forecasts. That’s where history comes in and previous statistics are important, although they cannot predict the future.

    The challenge for Transnet is to understand the future requirements of cargo owners and the shipping lines that serve them, preferably ahead of demand. Present trends do not indicate strong growth, which places doubt on any urgency to build a new dig-out port south of the present port. They do however suggest that Transnet must move ahead quickly with developing deeper and longer berths within the existing port, such as are planned for the North Quay (that’s the part of the container terminal directly opposite Wilson’s Wharf).

    Transnet will also want to proceed with developing the Salisbury Island project, in which part of the island will be acquired by the port for container handling. The port will then want to build a new quay from the corner of Pier 1, berths 104A and 103, to Salisbury Island, filling in the area that was once used as the inner anchorage.

    This will not go unopposed, as objections have already been lodged regarding the constant loss of water area in Durban Bay. In the late 1990s Transnet, when getting the clearance to fill in water opposite the Point docks, gave an assurance of never again applying to recover land from the bay.

    The problem Transnet faces is that while it has occupation and legal ‘ownership’ of Durban Bay to operate it as a port, it doesn’t really own the place. Durban Bay is bigger than a port operator. It has immeasurable bird and animal life dependent of having sandbanks and mangroves and shallow tidal water, an estuarine environment, in which to exist and breed. The people of Durban also have ‘ownership’ in terms of the right to use the bay for recreational activity which includes the right to simply look at it. Durban Bay is an important tourist attraction.

    Nevertheless, we all have to remember that Durban Bay is southern Africa’s most important economic gateway, on which much of the economies of this country and its neighbouring states depend. Faced with all these challenges Transnet has to plot a way that satisfies all requirements which in turn requires a need for a sense of balance between all concerned.

    Given present circumstances then it might be difficult for anyone to justify making an early start on the dig out port. Perhaps a greater focus should be made on solving some of the back-of-port challenges; in particular the needs of the local road haulers who move containers between the port terminal and the city’s container depots.

    The link road connecting the terminal with Solomon Mahlangu Drive (Edwin Swales VC Drive) is one priority, although the development and use of a canal and barges through the Bayhead could alleviate much if this traffic but that requires thinking out of the box. More time shouldn’t be wasted on talking about getting containers back on the rail because this is not going to happen in any meaningful way unless there is a dynamic change in the way rail is operated in this country. Long distance container traffic by road will continue to grow and has to be catered for.

    * The above article appeared on the shipping page of The Mercury Network of 3 February 2015


    FS La Grandiere Champlain class landing ship 47
    French Navy landing ship FS LA GRANDIERE (L9034) in Durban harbour. Picture: Hylke Wierenga

    The Port of Richards Bay received a naval visitor at a recent weekend. This was the French Navy landing ship La GRANDIERE, pennant number L9034, which is one of five Champlain class small landing craft designed specifically for France’s overseas dependencies.

    Being a landing ship, La Grandiere is able to undertake amphibious operations while also performing surveillance and re-supply duties. Her duties include supply runs to the Esparses group of islands in the Mozambique Channel. Not many people know about the existence of these remote islands and France generally discourages visitors. Not very long ago a South African registered yacht operating out of Mozambique was arrested off Europa Island and charged with trespassing.

    This group of islands consists of Europa, Bassas de India, Juan de Nova and the two Glorieuses, with up to 15 French soldiers are deployed on most of the islands (excepting Bassas de India which is an atoll submerged at high tides) to spend 45 days making sure that French sovereignty is observed. The soldiers have mainly to deal with unwelcome fishermen and there always seems to be a French warship in the vicinity to call up for assistance if needed.

    These isolated outposts, manned by the French Foreign Legion, depend on La Grandiere for oil and gas, food supplies and anything else necessary, as well as their eventual re-deployment.

    The ship has a massive 640,000 square kilometre area to cover. She is 80m in length with a width of 13 metres and is powered by two diesel engines. FS La Grandiere has a crew of 44 and can carry 138 soldiers and 12 vehicles. Her armaments consist of 2x 40mm (or 2x 20mm) AA guns, 2x81mm mortars, and 2x12.7mm machine guns. She also boasts a helicopter pad on the aft deck. La Grandiere was commissioned into service in 1987 and is based at Reunion.

    * The above article appeared on the shipping page of The Mercury Network of 3 February 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.


    ISABENA 480


    Two pictures from Yesteryear to bring this edition to a close. The top picture is of the Victory-type vessel ISABENA seen sailing from Durban, while in the lower image is Safmarine’s SA WELTEVREDEN being assisted by the coal burning tug, J E EAGLESHAM, also in Durban.


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