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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3 March 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The London-registered bulk carrier OCEAN PREFECT (53,035-dwt, built 2003) sailing from Durban along the entrance channel. The vessel is part of the Lomar Shipping fleet. Picture: Trevor Jones

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Port of Mombasa

Transnet is among interested terminal operators in the bidding to manage and operate the Port of Mombasa’s second container terminal.

The bidding has attracted interest from a large number of terminal operators which includes giant terminal operators APM Terminal, DP World and ICTSI.

Mombasa’s second container terminal is expected to have been completed in March 2016, just 12 months from now, when two berths become available. Kenya Ports Authority, a Kenta state-owned enterprise operates and manages the port including the existing container terminal, where an additional berth has recently been added.

In 2014 the Port of Mombasa handled just on one million TEU, the first time it has exceeded the million TEU mark and the first sub-Saharan African port outside of Durban to achieve this.

The Durban Container Terminal, which is managed and operated by Transnet, handled 2.66 million TEU in 2014, giving the South African terminal operator the credentials to enter into international terminal operations.

The new Mombasa container terminal will have an initial capacity of 450,000 TEU rising to 1.2 million TEU by 2019. The concession to operate the container terminal – the first for a private company in Kenya, will be for an initial period of 25 years with an option for renewal. Kenya Ports Authority is looking for an experienced operator either to handle the terminal efficiently alone or as a joint venture.

Among the other bidders are:
APM Terminals, Bollore, China Merchants Holding, China Roads and Bridges Corporation, CMA CGM, Cosco Pacific, Dalian Ports Co, Darian Ports Company, DP World, Eurogate, Gulftainers, Hutchison Ports Investments, ICTSI, Marubeni Corp/Multiple Hauliers, PSA PSA, RL and Mitsui Co Ltd, Special Economies Zones Ltd, SSA Port Terminals/Interpel, Terminal Investment Ltd, and Transnet Soc.

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The problems besetting the Tanzania – Zambia railway known as TAZARA, on which staff have engaged in regular strikes over non-payment of their salaries, is now being taken up at presidential level between the Heads of State of both countries.

Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and newly-elected Edgar Lungu of Zambia met a week ago with Tazara being among the top subjects under discussion. President Kikwete had flown to Zambia for a two-day visit.

According to a press statement issued when the two were about to meet, President Kikwete “was expected to hold talks with President Lungu over the ailing Tazara railway.”

Earlier, President Lungu had announced that his Tanzanian counterpart would be visiting Zambia to hold talks about the railway. He said the talks would be aimed at resolving the ‘operational’ problems dogging Tazara.

TAZARA is a vital rail corridor between not only Zambia but several other central African countries such as the DRC, Malawi and Zimbabwe, which use the railway to connect with the Port of Dar es Salaam. The railway was built in the 1970s by the Chinese government to provide the landlocked countries with an alternative link to the sea and to lessen their reliance on the South African ports.

“President Kikwete has informed me that as one of his last acts as President before he retires this year, he wants to see that the problems of Tazara are resolved because the asset is critical in the socio-economic development of the two countries,” President Lungu said.

“We did well with China to build this magnificent asset and we cannot let 2000 kilometres of railway go to waste,” President Lungu added.

Meanwhile, it is reported that Tanzania’s new Minister of Transport, Samuel Sitta says he was surprised by the news that Tazara was failing to perform and that Tazara had failed to pay employees’ salaries. He said there were huge volumes of freight available in Tanzania, Zambia, the DRC and other countries in the region.

The East African Business Week reported that at its peak, Tazara was carrying 1.2 million tons of freight annually in the late 1980s, whereas today freight carried by the railway was less than 300,000 tons annually. Tazara has operated at a loss for more than ten years. It said that at the 61st meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Dar es Salaam on 20 December 2014, an immediate injection of not less than US$25 million was agreed.

Tazara runs from the port city of Dar es Salaam to the town of Kapiri Mposhi inside Zambia, where it connects with the Zambian railway network. Unlike other railways within Tanzania which run on a metre gauge, Tazara is built to the Cape gauge of 1067mm (3ft 6ins) which corresponds with the railways of Southern Africa, the DRC and Angola.

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by Paul Ridgway

Hutton’s Group announced on 27 February that its new depot in Luba Freeport in Equatorial Guinea is now operational.

Serving maritime and offshore customers in West Africa, the Luba depot will provide a comprehensive range of frozen and dry provisions and a wide selection of cabin stores, it is understood.

Operated by Hutton’s Remote Site Services, part of the Hutton’s Group, the Luba depot is fully Customs approved which means customers can benefit from Duty Free tax savings of up to 50 percent.

Luba Freeport is strategically located on the island of Bioco allowing it to service the growing offshore market in Nigeria and Cameroon (see chartlet above).

Hutton’s Group has considerable experience in supplying the offshore sector in West Africa and has an established supply network throughout the region with competent personnel who understand the needs and expectations of Western-headquartered companies.

“This is an exciting development for us which has taken months of careful planning to achieve and will considerably benefit our customers in West Africa and the growing offshore sector there,” commented Hutton’s Group Managing Director, Alex Taylor.

Hutton’s Group operates …
… its West Africa supply network as Hutton’s Remote Site Services (HRSS). Its main Area Supply Bases are in the safe and stable areas of Takoradi, Ghana and in Luba Free Port, Equatorial Guinea. Takoradi services the developing offshore oil and gas port and the neighbouring port of Tema, while Luba is uniquely positioned at the deep water port facility operated by UK firm Lonrho.

These ethically and environmentally aware supply bases boast large, secure facilities providing full ambient, chilled and frozen storage for an extensive range of European-quality products which are delivered via a fleet of temperature-controlled vehicles, unique in this part of the world. They are staffed by experienced and well-trained personnel who provide a high quality service and are assisted by computer processes linked to Hutton’s UK operations.

With direct supply links to the UK and Europe, the Hutton’s bases are Petroleum Corporation-approved and offer services such as consignment clearance, storage and logistics, handling of customer spares and consignments and a tax/duty-free facility. Smaller local supply branches in Ivory Coast, supplying customers in the Abidjan area, and Liberia are supported from Hutton’s Area Supply Bases and more regional depots are planned.

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Royal Caribbean International’s 167,800gt ANTHEM OF THE SEAS is but one of seven new cruise vessels scheduled to come online in 2015, including four destined for the North American market and three entering the fleets of European brands.

by Vernon Buxton

Anyone even vaguely interest in cruise ships cannot fail to be impressed by Royal Caribbean International’s latest addition to its highly progressive fleet of cruise liners.

Could anyone have imagined that passenger ships could evolve into their current size, facilities and complexity?...as has once again been demonstrated by the recent ‘floating out’ of the 167,800-gt ANTHEM OF THE SEAS at the prominent Meyer Werft ship yards at Papenburg in Germany.

Little wonder that sea cruising is enjoying by far the most rapid growth rate of any travel industry offering and these leviathans are growing in quantum leaps and bounds to become veritable mini-cities afloat…never mind calling them cruise liners or resorts at sea.

All told, according to the prestigious American Cruise Travel magazine, there are now more than 25 cruise ships big and small either under construction or under contract. Tough economic times or not, people continue heading out to sea in droves.

Though the number of new cruise liners introduced is down from the peaks of six or seven year ago, the innovative vessels coming out of the yards these days gleam with bells and whistles no-one would have imagined a decade ago.

The choices – from ports-of-call and shore excursions to culinary offerings and recreational amenities – are more plentiful than ever as lines try to out each other.

In short, the cruise industry – benefitting from a gradually improving economy – is healthy, growing, and steaming right long.

In 2014, reports Cruise Travel, an estimated 21,7 million passengers took a cruise, up by 400,000 from the year before. Over the 10 years from 2003 to 2013, worldwide demand for cruising jumped 77 percent. The 24.1-million cruise holidaymakers expected by 2018 will be double the 12-million who walked the gangway in 2003. “New ships and exciting new destination are attracting more first-time cruisers and generating good attention for cruising,” says the magazine.

As far as entertainment, engineering and safety are concerned, the ANTHEM OF THE SEAS will be of an equal standard as its sister vessel, the QUANTUM OF THE SEAS (soon to be followed by OVATION OF THE SEAS) will also incorporate virtual balconies into the inside cabins of the second quantum-class ship.

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Constructed completely under cover, the giant ANTHEM OF THE SEAS starts to ease out of the ship yard in Germany just over a week ago. This behemoth boasts over-the-top features like bumper cars, roller skating, a sky-diving experience and an observation capsule modelled on the London Eye. Quantum-class is a class of cruise ships from RCI, one that surpasses the earlier Freedom-class ships by over 14,000gt. These Quantum-class ships have 16 passenger-accessible decks, eight of which feature balcony staterooms overlooking the sea. There are a total of 2,090 staterooms: 1,570 balcony staterooms, 147 ocean-view staterooms, and 373 inside staterooms. Of those staterooms, 34 are wheelchair accessible and 28 are studio staterooms for single travellers.

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There she goes…almost out of the dry dock and gliding into a very cold February night where she will be docked to receive some last changes and tests. Her next major milestone will be her conveyance on the River Ems to the North Sea for sea trials. She will then make her way to Southampton, England to begin offering cruises. In late November, ANTHEM OF THE SEAS will head to Cape Liberty, New Jersey, to offer cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean ports.

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The new look of mega-cruise liner hulls aft…with rear-facing staterooms and a giant wrap-around window. In some surprising news, it has been announced that the sister ship QUANTUM OF THE SEAS will, within months, be home-ported in Shanghai to serve the rapidly expanding Chinese cruise market. This vessel will join three other RCI ships based in China this year – the 1,804-pax LEGEND OF THE SEAS, 3,114-pax MARINER OF THE SEAS and 3,114-pax VOYAGER OF THE SEAS. The line expects to carry 400,000 Chinese cruise passengers in 2015, double last year’s number, reports Cruise Travel magazine.

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Brian Molefe, Transnet Group Chief Executive

State-owned freight logistics group, Transnet, yesterday announced a combined R13-billion funding for its long awaited 1,064 locomotive acquisition programme.

Making the announcement at its Esselenpark campus, Transnet Group Chief Executive Brian Molefe said the funding was raised in two agreements with various financial institutions in the country as well as others from Canada and the United States of America.

“The first agreement is a R6-billion US-Exim Bank funding guarantee for 293 locomotives to be built by General Electric.

“The funds, in terms of the guarantee, were raised from Barclays/Absa (R2.25 billion), Standard Bank (R2.25 billion) and Old Mutual (R1.5 billion).

“The second agreement is a R6.99-billion loan facility for the funding of locomotives from Bombardier,” he said.

Molefe said …
… the funds will be raised from Export Development Canada (R5.24 billion); Investec Bank Limited (R1.75 billion), while the US-Exim-backed guarantee is a 14-year facility and will be drawn over a three-year period in line with the delivery schedule for the locomotives.

He said the Export Development Canada and Investec facility is 13 years.

“These agreements are in line with our funding strategy as it relates to our focus on diversifying sources of funding and raising debt cost effectively. They will also enable us to match our assets liabilities profile that makes it possible for us to maintain our investment grade credit rating,” he said.

The Transnet boss further said he is encouraged by the vote of confidence that the institutions are showing in Transnet and the country.

“These agreements are proof of attractiveness, commercial viability and bankability of Transnet capital programmes. They confirm that we are on the right track.

“They are a massive thumbs-up for South Africa's infrastructure build programme and the National Development Plan (NDP),” he said.

In March last year …
… Transnet announced the awarding of a R50-billion contract for the building of 1,064 diesel and electric locomotives.

The contract was awarded to four global original equipment manufacturers - two North American manufacturers and two Chinese manufactures.

The companies are Bombardier Transportation and China South Rail Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive, with contracts to build 599 electric locomotives; and General Electric (GE) Technologies and China North Rail Rolling Stock to build 465 diesel locomotives.

GE is 100% complete with the technical design and their first locomotives will be rolled out in July. The locomotives will be built at Transnet facilities in Koedoespoort, Pretoria.

Bombardier is also 100% complete with the technical design of the locomotives, which will be built in Durban.

China South Rail has completed the technical design of the locomotives. The first prototype will roll off the production line at the end of March and will be built in Koedoespoort.

China North Rail is 90% complete with the technical design on the locomotives, which will be built in Durban.

This acquisition programme will form the biggest rail recapitalisation programme in South Africa's history. - SAnews.gov.za

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Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 arriving at Cape Town in 2014. Picture: Ian Shiffman

by Terry Hutson

As this summer’s cruising season winds down – the resident cruise ship MSC Opera has less than a month to go before departing (from Durban) for Cape Town and Europe via the Atlantic seaboard – thoughts are looking ahead to ships that will visit Durban and Richards Bay in the coming summer.

Many of those details are not yet available, but one of the more interesting facts to emerge is that when the Mediterranean Cruises MSC Sinfonia returns to South Africa in November it will be in her lengthened form and via the Indian Ocean and not the Atlantic route.

MSC Cruises have been using the Atlantic route because of the threat of piracy off the Horn of Africa, where one of their ships did come under the threat of an attack some years ago. As a result MSC ships took to using the longer route through the Straits of Gibraltar and down the West African coast but now it is thought the piracy risk has been so reduced off Somalia that the African East Coast is again a safe option.

Even so, MSC Sinfonia, which has been lengthened by 24 metres, will not visit East African ports and will instead move from the Gulf of Aden to the Seychelles and then to Mauritius by passing on the eastern coast of Madagascar, well removed from any likelihood of pirate activity.

The 26-night positioning cruise begins on 24 October from Genoa in Italy and makes calls at a number of destinations including Civitavecchia, the port for Rome. The ship will also call at Port Said on the northern entrance to the Suez Canal, and Safaga on the Red Sea coast, well-known for its black sea sand and mineral rich waters. From there the ship goes to Aqaba in Jordan and it will be possible to take a shore excursion to the fabled Lost City of Petra, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. If you are not into history and culture there are good beaches to visit and relax on.

MSC Sinfonia …
… arrives in Durban on 19 November to begin the usual season of short cruises to Mozambican destinations, with longer excursions to Madagascar and Mauritius and the coastal cruise to Cape Town for a short season of cruising out of the Mother City.

It has become customary to look forward each year to the arrival of the majestic 150,000-ton Queen Mary 2, as she sails on her extended cruise from Southampton to the Far East and Australasia. This year when she calls she will be returning to the UK and is due in Durban on 13 April, but it is to be the last time that we shall see her in these waters for at least some years to come.

Cunard have decided that future cruises will include a full circumnavigation of the world and as Queen Mary 2 is too large for the present Panama Canal, she will sail around Cape Horn instead. That’s in 2016 when she departs from Southampton in January, sailing through the Mediterranean and via the Suez Canal into the Indian Ocean, missing South Africa completely.

So when the ship calls at Durban in April this will be the last chance to see her here in these waters for at least a number of years.

But that’s getting ahead of things. There are still some other cruise ships to arrive before the current summer is done with. These include the floating apartment ship, The World which is due to revisit Durban on 14 and 15 March, the stylish Crystal Serenity on 30 March followed by the Astor which is returning from Australia on the next day. The small luxury cruise ship Silver Whisper calls on 1 April making for a busy three days at the passenger berth, and a week later the first of two Costa Cruises’ ships makes an appearance, Costa Deliziosa and finally Costa NeoRiviera here for two days on 10 and 11 May.

Despite efforts …
… by the tourist authorities, South Africa hasn’t really attracted a lot more cruise ships to our shores, although it may be significant that Costa last year began by sending a ship or two this way. It’s also noteworthy that one or two of the lines have undertaken a series of short cruises along our coast calling at most of the ports. But other than these, we are not benefiting as much as was hoped from the cruise industry, which is continuing to expand internationally with no sign of a let-up.

According to the Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA), which represents most of the international cruise lines, around 23 million people are expected to take a cruise this year.

Revealing this in CLIA’s annual State of the Industry report, CLIA chairman and president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Adam M Goldstein said the industry was doing well. Between 2009 and 2014 the number of cruise passengers grew from 17.8 million to 22.1 million. “In summary, we’re doing well.

“From new ports around the globe to the investment by CLIA's member cruise lines in new, innovative ships, it's an exciting time for the cruise industry and cruise passengers,” he said. “This year will prove to be another step forward for the entire industry as our members continue to strive to make cruising the best overall vacation experience.”

The report shows that cruise lines have added more ports to their itineraries, with nearly 1,000 new ports added for 2015, while 22 new ocean, river and specialty ships will be launched this year for a total investment of more than US$ 4 billion.

For South Africa …
… to really become a part of this phenomenon is probably going to require a different approach to what has been the case so far. Dare one say that we need a second cruise company to makes it’s ‘summer’ home in our waters and to help grow the 120,000 passengers that MSC enjoys by attracting an even wider group of South Africans to the enjoyment of cruising.

Fly/cruise options also need to be expanded, where overseas tourists fly in to join a ship in either Durban or Cape Town, and afterwards spend another week or more touring on land. More intellectually challenging cruises can be encouraged, cruises that trace the rich history of the Mozambique Channel and the Indian Ocean islands as one example.

Otherwise South Africa, and indeed the African continent will continue to not even feature in annual reports when it comes to discussing astronomical numbers of people flocking to cruising.

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MSC Opera sails from Durban last week on another of her weekend cruises to Portuguese Island off Mozambique. Picture by Trevor Jones

* This article first appeared in The Mercury Network for Wednesday, 25 February 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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Of the four German Warships that are expected at Simon’s Town, three (the Flagship, HESSEN, KARLSRUHE and BRANDENBURG) arrived in False Bay on Sunday evening (1 March 2015).

All three entered Simon’s Town Naval Harbour on Monday morning and are moored alongside the West Breakwater.

First to enter the harbour was F221, FGS Hessen at 08h20 hrs following a salute fired from Lower North Battery. At least, we think it was a salute; with the continued cut-backs in the Navy budget year on year, it is understood that only a quarter-charge is now used for saluting purposes, in order to economise. The net result of this is that the salutes can no longer be heard in Simon’s Town, and are only barely audible in houses situated close to Lower North Battery. Anyway, some puffs of white smoke were observed at the Battery as the HESSEN arrived, so it is assumed that a salute was indeed being fired! (See top photo).

Second to enter the harbour was F215, FGS Brandenburg at 09h19 hrs. (photos 2 & 3).

Third to enter the harbour this morning was F212, FGS Karlsruhe at 10:11 hrs (photo 4). As can be seen from the lower photo, she was a tight fit on the West Breakwater berth.

There is no sign as yet of the fourth vessel (BERLIN). She normally berths on the outer wall of the West Breakwater which is relatively weather-independent.

All pictures: David Erickson


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