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Ports & Ships Maritime News

28 April 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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CM&V’s ASTOR (20,704-gt, built 1987) made a return visit to South Africa while on her positioning cruise between Australia and England. The ship has spent the summer months cruising in Australian waters and is now on her way back to the UK for the southern winter. She is seen here arriving in Cape Town. Picture: Ian Shiffman

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Berth 108 at the Durban Container Terminal – getting lost finding it, see story below

Marine disruptions occurred in the Port of Durban on Friday, preventing a number of ships from arriving in port or sailing.

The strike action was a result of a dispute by employees of the berthing and fleet departments. Transnet National Ports Authority hasn’t said what these were but it was sufficient for all marine operations to cease for a period during the day, leaving ships unable to sail or to berth and backlogging some cargo movements on the quayside.

TNPA said it immediately activated a Business Continuity Plan which “involved the acquisition of alternative human resources from the market.”

The dispute was resolved later in the day and workers returned to their duties, allowing ships to be sailed and to be brought into port. “With the return of the striking employees, performance will be monitored to avoid any further shipping delays and a recovery plan will be implemented,” said TNPA, advising that all affected stakeholders were to be updated on further progress.

During the strike action TNPA managed to get a couple of tugs working and a few sailings were made possible, although no incomings took place while the strike was still on.

One example of what happens when newcomers are brought in as relief workers has been related to us. It was necessary to transfer a marine pilot to his ship at the container terminal, berth 108, but in a Monty Pythonish kind of conversation with the stand-in driver, it transpired that he didn't know how to drive to berth 108. After some hectic discussion, an alternative driver was found who was capable of finding his way without getting lost. Mind you, berth 108 isn’t the easiest place to navigate a car to.

The port’s helicopter marine pilot service is back in service after close to two months of being unavailable. This has apparently been the result of the new operators of the service having failed to keep up the necessary maintenance cycle.

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Iranian Navy frigate IS Sabalan F73

Ships of the Saudi navy, supported by aircraft and land forces including those of allied forces, bombarded Houthi strongholds in Yemen on Sunday as the Saudi-led allies intensified efforts at throwing back the rebels who have gained control of large segments of the country.

The heaviest bombardments by ships was near the port city of Aden, which is largely occupied by Houthis.

Independent reports said the shelling was directed at Houthi emplacements in the city's main commercial port and dockyard area.

Similarly, Saudi and other allied aircraft dropped bombs on Houthi targets in the capital city of Sanaa, also on Sunday. Loud explosions were reported by residents of the city.

The mostly Sunni Saudi has taken a strong stance against the Shi’ite Houthi rebels who have forced the Yemeni government to flee to Saudi. The Houthi rebels are backed by Iran, which is also a predominantly Shi’ite country.

Also at the weekend, it was reported that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt had returned to the Persian Gulf after entering the Arabian Sea to shadow an Iranian merchant fleet that was reportedly heading for Yemen. US and Saudi forces believe that the Iranian merchant ships were carrying weapons and ammunition to their Houthi allies and not food aid as stated.

The return of the US carrier ship and her escort, the cruiser USS Normandy followed reports that the Iranian ships had turned about and were returning to Iran, thus defusing the situation.

Iran’s chief of the navy Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said at the weekend that Iran would maintain a naval presence in the Gulf of Aden as long as it was necessary, at least for several months. He said the naval ships had been deployed there to guard Iranian ships from piracy, which they had on several recent occasions achieved.

The US Navy has about nine warships in the Gulf as does Saudi and a number of other nations.

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Nautic Africa Group, the Cape Town-based integrated marine solutions provider, has acquired the Anchor Boat Shop, one of the country’s leading boat producers.

Anchor Boat Shop is a respected name in the South African boating industry since 1936, and is most notably the largest Yamaha outboard engine distributor in South Africa.

“Established close on 80 years ago, the Anchor Boat Shop is, similar to Nautic, a name which has become synonymous with innovation and service and this makes Nautic’s acquisition of this one-stop-boating-shop an obvious, and important, one for our Group,” says Nautic Africa CEO, James Fisher.

“The Anchor Boat Shop will provide the Nautic Group with a reliable outboard engine partner for its growing small craft division but importantly, in return, Nautic will invest energy into continuing to provide the Anchor community, both commercial and recreational, with solid value and service delivery for the many years ahead. We also hope to make more exciting announcements concerning the Anchor community imminently.” In addition to being the first importer of Japanese-manufactured outboard motors in the country, the Anchor Boat Shop also holds the exclusive rights for Yamaha engine sales in Africa. It also offers a large range of competitively-priced items and accessories from the world’s leading boating lifestyle brands and boasts the largest boating workshop in South Africa.

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James Fisher, Nautic Africa CEO
Yet another important asset is the Anchor Boat Shop’s team of passionate and knowledgeable staff which includes marine technicians and mechanics providing high quality craftsmanship and those specialising in sales, after-sales and brokerage services.

“The Anchor Boat Shop is extremely proud to be a part of the Nautic Group,” said Andrew Kennedy, the new Anchor Boat Shop CEO.

“Our team’s work ethic and passionate approach combined with the company’s impressive product range and extensive supplier network, not only makes the Anchor Boat Shop a great asset to the Nautic Group, but the ideal one-stop-shop for boating consumers looking to obtain their skippers licence, insurance quotes or purchase top quality boating accessories, safety equipment or second hand boats.” Kennedy added that, “Simply said, if it’s marine and boat related, you’ll find it at the Anchor Boat Shop.” The Anchor Boat Shop’s full range of services includes:

  • New boat sales (leading brands such as Angler Boats, Gemini, Z-Craft)

  • Pre-owned boat sales

  • Workshop facilities
  • Accessories and equipment - ranging from GPS to wakeboards to electronics to safety apparel

  • Garmin GPS products

  • General advice, consulting and boat servicing

  • Full range of parts for Yamaha, Volvo and Mercury

  • Fully-guaranteed boats produced to industry-leading standards
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    Moor Master MM200 C at the Port of Salalah 480
    Cavotec automatic mooring system installed at the Port of Salalah

    The automated Cavotec mooring system at the Port of Ngqura in South Africa’s east coast is poised to improve port efficiency and safety, cementing the deep water port’s position as a leading transshipment hub for the Sub-Saharan region, says the Transnet National Ports Authority.

    The system comprises 26 mooring units, the last of which arrived at the port last month.

    “The mooring units were designed, custom manufactured and installed by the global engineering group, Cavotec, to meet the specific environmental conditions of the Port of Ngqura,” said Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) new Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu.

    “They will complement manual berthing teams at the port by stabilising container vessels on the quayside at the click of a button, reducing docking and undocking times from between 10 and 40 minutes to less than 10 seconds,” he said.

    Vallihu said that TNPA is excited to be leading the pack in the African maritime industry by acquiring this technology.

    According to Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba, the Port of Ngqura experiences significant long wave effects and strong winds, particularly in the winter months, which frequently cause berthed vessels to move excessively and impacts on cargo operations, safety and the port’s efficiency.

    “This unique vacuum-based automated mooring technology is used in a few ports internationally, but will be the first in the South African port system, proving once again that the Port of Ngqura is the leader in deploying new technologies to improve port operations and the safety of vessels,” she said.

    Technicians from Cavotec have been on site since November 2014 assembling and testing units at Berth D100, one of four berths at Ngqura Container Terminal that will be equipped with the technology. Dweba said the pilot berth was selected because it was the most severely affected by weather conditions.

    “We certainly look forward to fewer interruptions in the loading and unloading of ships which we know will yield significant improvements in our operational efficiency and our ability to better serve clients.”

    Local skills transfer was a central requirement of the contract and Cavotec will be upskilling local mechanical and electrical companies to provide ongoing technical support, maintenance and repairs to the port.

    In addition, Ngqura maintenance staff have received specialised training, while operational training will take place after the units have all been installed. Installation and testing of the 26 units is underway and due for completion at the end of August 2015. Thereafter, the system could be rolled out to three additional berths at the Ngqura Container Terminal.

    The AMS technology uses remote controlled vacuum pads recessed in, or mounted on the quayside, to moor and release vessels in seconds, increasing productivity. It also dramatically improves safety and operational efficiency.

    “A very unique capability of the AMS is that the vessel will be kept almost static whilst alongside the quay with minimal movements of up to 50mm only,” said Ngqura Port Engineer, Gerrit du Plessis.

    “This is made possible by the unique design of the pneumatic AMS units that can move both vertically and horizontally due to wind and wave actions and also “walk” up and down the vessel to accommodate tidal variations.”

    automatic mooring systems ship port terminal 480
    Cavotec mooring system holding a container ship firmly in place but allowing for tidal and other movement. Installation and testing of the 26 units at Ngqura is underway at Berth D100 and due for completion at the end of August 2015. Thereafter the system could be rolled out to three additional berths at the Ngqura Container Terminal

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    MSC Geneva, since widened by four rows across. Picture: Shipspotting

    You’ve heard and seen how ships can be lengthened by cutting them in half and inserting a new assembly which is then welded into place. Now get ready for the next stage in this development, widening a ship – and it’s already happening!

    In China the Huaran Dadong shipyard has just completed widening a 4,860-TEU capacity containership, the MSC GENEVA, which has had its capacity increased to 6,300 TEU.

    The complex operation took four months to complete, from the time the German-owned ship entered the shipyard until she prepared to sail as a wider ship.

    German ship owner Reederei NSB say they are sufficiently impressed with the project that they will be sending two more similar size ships to the same shipyard to also be widened.

    This is the first time in the world that a large ship has been widened in this fashion and it opens a host of possibilities for other ship owners. NSB said there were several options available for shipping lines and operators to consider in which between two and four rows of containers can be added.

    “Apart from converting ships of existing fleets, purchasing a used ship and having it widened is less costly than ordering a new one,” NSB said. They added that ships suitable for widening are panamaxes delivered after 2005.

    The company plans to offer its expertise in this new field to others and says it has already received plenty of enquiries.

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    IMO in Somalia 480
    Delegates attending this week’s Stakeholders Forum for the establishment of a Somalia Maritime Administration. The meeting ends tomorrow.

    By Paul Ridgway

    IMO reported on 27 April that a three-day Stakeholders Forum had got underway, running to 29 April, to review draft guidelines for the establishment of a Somalia Maritime Administration.

    The gathering, co-ordinated and funded by IMO, was hosted by the Kenya Maritime Authority at the Sarova Whitesands Beach Hotel, Mombasa, Kenya, with the aim of developing a framework for establishing a Somalia Maritime Administration.

    This will provide governance and oversight within which to develop a sustainable maritime sector, to better reflect Somali’s commitments and obligations under international law, and to ensure the country is in compliance with international law and regulations.

    It is understood that the decline of piracy off the coast of Somalia now presents a good opportunity to implement sustainable shore-based interventions to support reform of the Somali maritime sector in building a safe and secure maritime environment, thus opening up the maritime economy in the country and contributing to the prevention of a resurgence of piracy.

    Two ministers from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and other top officials from the FGS, Puntland and Galmudug, attended the workshop, which was funded under IMO’s technical co-operation programme.

    Observers from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the European regional capacity building mission EU-CAP NESTOR and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)) also attended.

    At the commencement of the event it was learnt that IMO’s William Azuh, Head, Africa Section, Technical Co-operation Division, Kiruja Micheni, Counter Piracy Training Officer, Maritime Safety Division and Ms Purity Thirimu, Principal Programme Assistant, IMO Regional Presence Office, Nairobi, were the workshop’s co-ordinators.


    Ghana map IRIN and Jubilee Field
    Map of Ghana showing the Jubilee oil field which is adjacent to the TEN field

    The dispute between Ghana and its neighbour Cote d’Ivoire over offshore oil drilling rights which is claimed by both countries, has been settled by an international maritime tribunal based in Hamburg, which on Saturday (25 April 2015) ruled in favour of Ghana.

    The matter had been brought before the tribunal by Cote d’Ivoire which asked it to declare a moratorium on all oil activity in the disputed area while legal hearings are held.

    The British firm of Tullow has already sunk wells to bring in production on behalf of Ghana as from next year. The West African country is striving for economic stability and has become increasingly reliant on the promise of oil revenues flowing from the Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme (TEN) field. A moratorium on the development of the field would have made it extremely difficult to achieve targets set with the help of an International Monetary Fund aid programme.

    A Tullow spokesman, Geiorge Cazenove said the ruling meant that the TEN project can move ahead. “We will now await instructions from the Government of Ghana with regard to implementing those provisional measures that have been ordered by ITLOS.” (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.)

    According to ITLOS, Cote d’Ivoire had not provided evidence to show that continued oil development at the TEN project would harm the marine environment and it accepted Ghana’s claim that adequate monitoring of the environment is taking place.

    “An order suspending all exploration or exploitation activities conducted by or on behalf of Ghana in the disputed area, including activities in respect of which drilling has already taken place, would therefore cause prejudice to the rights claimed by Ghana,” ITLOS said in the ruling.

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    ST JACOBI 27 April 2015 480

    The Singapore-flagged chemical and oil products tanker ST. JACOBI (50,358-dwt, built 2014) which arrived in Durban on Monday (27 April). The smartly turned out tanker is part of the Hamburg Süd Group’s Rudolf A. Oetker fleet of products tankers and other vessels. Picture: Trevor Jones


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