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Ports & Ships Maritime News

23 June 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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A reminder here of a British shipping line with one if not the the longest lineages still in existence, stretching back to the very beginnings of the 19th century. The fleet today consists of just eight or so ships but continues the Bibby Line name although today, like many other shipping companies, the operating side is to be found in Singapore. In Durban recently was the Bibby line bulker CHESHIRE (56,598-dwt, built 2012) seen here at work on Maydon Wharf 11 in Durban harbour. The ship is registered in the Isle of Man. Picture: Ken Malcolm

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MV Victoria, which recently experienced mechanical problems. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

Nine lake ships that fall under the jurisdiction of Tanzania have had recent nmarine survey’s carried out on them to determine their seaworthiness.

The compulsory survey follows a number of accidents involving ships operating on the Great Lakes of East and Central Africa and were ordered by Tanzania’s Ministry of Transport.

“The survey was conducted to passenger vessels 25 years old and above including marine vessels from Tanzania Mainland that ply on inland waters and those in Zanzibar,” transport minister Samwell Sitta told the East African Business Week

He said the aim of the survey was to determine if the nine marine vessels had the continued capacity to provide services.

“The survey established that the marine vessels were capable to serve for another five years if necessary [but] rehabilitation is to be done,” Sitta said.

He said that two new vessels would be built, one for Lake Tanganyika and the other for Lake Victoria.

The marine vessels surveyed included MV Victoria, MV Serengeti, MV Butiama, MV Songea, MV Iringa and MV Liemba.

The 593-passenger ship MV Serengeti was recently launched on Lake Victoria to operate between Mwanza and Bukoba ports on Africa’s largest lake.

This followed the unavailability of MV Victoria because of mechanical problems. The 53-year-old Victoria is the biggest passenger ship on Lake Victoria and has the capacity to carry 1,200 passengers and 200-tons of cargo.

Other vessels surveyed included MV Maendeleo and MV Flying Horse.

The list of vessels operated by Marine Services on Tanzania’s Great lakes are:


MV Victoria
MV Butiama
MV Serengeti
MV Clarias
MT Nyangumi (Tanker)
MV Umoja
MV Ukerewe
ML Maidi
ML Wimbi


MV Liemba
MV Mwongozo
MT Sangara

LAKE NYASA (Lake Malawi)

MV Iringa
MV Songea

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MV Liemba

At just over a hundred years old, MV Liemba is believed to be the oldest running passenger ferry in service.

Originally launched in German colonial times as the Graf von Goetzen, Liemba is a passenger and cargo ferry which operates along the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika.

The ship was built in Germany in 1913, broken down into sections and shipped in crates to German East Africa. At Dar es Salaam the crates were sent overland to Lake Tanganyika, a distance of about 1200 kilometres where the ship was reassembled and launched.

After the outbreak of World War 1 the following year the British sent two small gunboats out to Africa to contest the lake and in the following skirmishes involving German, Belgian and British boats on the lake, the German ships were either sunk or, in the case of Graf von Goetzen, scuttled.

The ship was later salvaged and returned to service, which has been continued ever since but with the name Liemba.

The ship was recently chartered by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to carry refugees fleeing from political turmoil in neighbouring Burundi – which was covered in a recent article in PORTS & SHIPS.

Liemba is operated by the Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) of Tanzania which sails her between the ports of Kigoma near the northern end of Lake Tanganyika and Mpulungu in Zambia on the southern end of the lake. Lake Tanganyika is one of the longest lakes in the world.

MV Liemba is the last vessel of the German Imperial Navy still actively sailing anywhere in the world. - East African Business Week (Kampala) and with input from Ports & Ships

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CSCL Globe, at 19,000-TEU she is among the biggest container ships in service, but the questions is - are much bigger vessels likely?

The global shipping industry has been building increasingly bigger mega vessels but is soon approaching the point where constructing even larger ones will not make much financial sense, a senior official from the International Transport Forum under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has said.

Olaf Merk, ports and shipping administrator for the forum, told reporters last week Thursday that increasing ship capacity even further from 19,000 TEU to 24,000 TEU, for example, would only cut costs by an estimated 5 percent, which he said was relatively marginal.

Liners are also having difficulty filling their gargantuan vessels, with a capacity oversupply of about 20-30 percent, he added. “Certainly we’re close to that point of optimal ship size.”

Container lines have sought to lower the average cost of transporting each box by building bigger ships in a bid to ride on economies of scale. The biggest ship in the world right now can carry slightly over 19,000 TEU, but analysts warn that even larger ones are on the horizon.

Ports have scrambled to cope with this trend, and Mr Merk noted that big ships “only make sense if the handling time is very quick”.

Mr Merk was speaking on the sidelines of a lecture he delivered on Thursday at the Ministry of National Development’s auditorium, jointly organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the Centre for Liveable Cities. - Business Times

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Royal Caribbean International’s third Quantum-class ship has just arrived in Shanghai ahead of a series of cruises, including Japan and South Korea, from late June. This veritable city-within-a-city class of ship, QUANTUM OF THE SEAS offers a plethora of attractions and distractions…and Shanghai’s 25 million population will readily support this exciting vessel…as will many thousands of cruise lovers pouring in from elsewhere around the globe. There's only one word that can possibly sum up the Quantum-class vessels and that is ‘WOW’. Newly designed staterooms, game-changing technology, groundbreaking venues and the best dining ever are just the start of what you'll find onboard. Look out for the first-ever sky-diving simulator at sea and the North Star, a jewel-shaped capsule that gently ascends more than 100 metres above sea level. Experience completely revolutionary spaces that transform from day to night. Play basketball, go roller skating and ride bumper cars at the SeaplexSM. There is no main dining room or set dining times, no assigned seats, no required formal nights…you book dining online or a restaurant concierge will assist.

The 4,180-passenger OVATION OF THE SEAS, currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenberg, Germany, will have a 52-night trip before beginning its Asian voyages taking it from Southampton, England to Tianjin (the port for Beijing.) These are made up of a 7-night ‘England to Barcelona’ cruise, departing 3 May 2016 from Southampton, a 16-night ‘Barcelona to Dubai’ cruise via the Suez Canal, departing 10 May, a 14-night ‘India and Southeast Asia’, cruise sailing 26 May from Dubai to Singapore, a 3-night ‘Malaysia’ cruise, leaving 9 June on a round-trip sailing from Singapore and a 12-night ‘Exotic Asia’ cruise from Singapore to Tianjin. The summer after Ovation debuts in 2016, the line, along with HARMONY OF THE SEAS, will have 23 ships in service…meaning almost a quarter of the fleet will be based in China. The line is also investing in training with the Tianjin Maritime College to help staff the ships and has already hired more than 3,000 graduates.

Furthering the cruise line’s commitment to growing the China holiday market, Royal Caribbean International recently announced that Tianjin (the port for Beijing) will be the new homeport for its third Quantum-class ship, the OVATION OF THE SEAS, currently under construction at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany…and scheduled to enter service in April 2016. There will be an Ovation repositioning cruise from Southampton to Tianjin, a voyage destined to attract widespread international interest.

The 168,666gt Quantum-class ships surpass the earlier Freedom-class ships by more than 14,000gt, becoming the second-largest class of passenger ships behind RCI’s Oasis class on a gross tonnage basis.

The Ovation will join QUANTUM OF THE SEAS, MARINER OF THE SEAS, VOYAGER OF THE SEAS and LEGEND OF THE SEAS in the China seas. The five ships will comprise the largest fleet deployment for any cruise brand in China, home-porting in four metropolitan Chinese cities – Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen - and primarily sailing three-to 12-night itineraries to destinations in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.

The mighty Yangtze Delta extends across its breadth for almost as far as the eye can see. It’s where the fabled river meets the East China Sea and the river traffic at this point needs to be seen to be believed. Scores of ships, boats, barges and sampans ply these extremely busy waters and, following the completion of the Three Gorges Dam in 2009, vessels can now navigate year-round for 2,374kms upstream to the mountain city of Chongqing…the World War 2 capital of China (which was bombed to hell by the Japanese) and is now home to more than 33 million souls. Royal Caribbean has committed itself to an extremely bold step…clearly expecting such a vast population and international visitors to fill all five very ‘hungry’ vessels in the region almost every week. No pressure!

Large ships now dock at Shanghai’s Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal at Baoshan Port, approximately 25kms north of central Shanghai. Before 2011, most vessels sailed up the Huangpu River to Shanghai CBD, but their drafts have now exceeded river draft limitations.

Shanghai is one of the world’s most dynamic cities. In the foreground is Pudong, the ‘Manhattan’ part of the city…and across the Huangpu River is the Bund (as in fund), a long row of colonial architectural gems, one more spectacular than the other. For all its surface brashness, Shanghai offers pockets of great beauty and the Chinese sense of the aesthetic is impressive. Don’t dare cruise in China without spending at least three nights in this beguiling megalopolis.

Shanghai is now famous for its 430km/h Maglev train that transfers you from Pudong to the international airport. The 30km journey takes seven minutes and 20 seconds. There are no wheels…magnets are the attraction, for acceleration and braking. It’s an awesome ride!

Beijing’s port, Tianjin, will also be also be hosting some QUANTUM OF THE SEAS cruises...and will also be the home-port for RCI’s Quantum-class OVATION OF THE SEAS. Launching in April, 2016, it will be the cruise line’s fifth cruise ship based in the region.

A choice of transfer between Beijing and Tianjin is on a 300km/h rail service that departs either way around every 20 minutes. It takes about 27 minutes to cover the 160km distance between the two cities. There is also a high-speed train service between Beijing and Shanghai…a distance of 1,300 kilometres that is covered in under five hours, with departures around half-hourly. The technology is breathtaking.

MARINER OF THE SEAS is a 137,276gt Large Resort Ship for more than 3,000 passengers, and this 2004-built vessel was an early manifestation of the ‘cake-layer stacking’ look for cruise liners. There is a 1,919-seat, three-level main dining room, which appeals to many cruisers, plus alternate dining options for casual meals at all hours at Café Promenade, Windjammer Cafe, Island Grill, Portofino, Johnny Rockets and Sprinkles.

The 137,280gt VOYAGER OF THE SEAS caused something of a sensation when she entered service in 1999…but she already looks a touch ‘yesterday’ in comparison with the new behemoths coming from the yards. Yet, the excitement is all there in a four-deck-high Royal Promenade, the interior focal point…which is a good place to arrange to meet someone. It is 120 metres long and has two internal lobbies that rise through 11 decks, one at each end. There are 16 lifts in four banks of four. There is a large main restaurant (still appealing to seasoned senior cruisers), together with shops and entertainment locations…while bay-windowed ‘interior promenade-view’ cabins look down on the inner ‘street’. The Royal Promenade also houses a traditional English pub (the Pig n’ Whistle), a Promenade Café, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and Scoreboard (a sports bar) and a whole lot more.

In addition, RCI is looking into dry-dock options in China, with the revitalization of the 1995-built LEGEND OF THE SEAS coming as early as 2018. The 69,130gt Legend came into service in 1995…and is a good measure of how far cruise ships have come in 20 years. The balcony cabin had yet to catch on. Nonetheless, plenty to look forward to in the Romeo and Juliet Dining Room, which has dramatic two-deck-high glass side walls. A cavernous indoor-outdoor Windjammer Café, located towards the bow and above the bridge, has good views on three sides from large Ocean-view windows. The That’s Entertainment theatre seats 802 and strong cabaret acts are also presented in the main show lounge.

The Forbidden City – home to 24 emperors for more than 500 years – is a sightseeing centre point in Beijing and one gets to visit The Great Wall from here too.

You may discuss China cruising and China travel with your travel agent.

Vernon Buxton for PORTS & SHIPS

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From Pen & Sword Military has come T E Lawrence and the Red Sea Patrol: The Royal Navy’s Role in Creating the Legend by John Johnson Allen, of 160 pages, hardback, ISBN: 978 1 47383 8000 with a cover price of £19.99

Let us not forget that the Red Sea and the Suez Canal were, and still are, one of the most strategic arteries of east – west shipping ensuring that passage from Europe to India and the Far East is considerably shorter than via the Cape route. Security of the Suez Canal – Red Sea route has always been of paramount importance in times of tension and in the First World War, the Great War, western Arabia northwards to Palestine were Ottoman Turkish. In early 1915 Ottoman Turkish forces raided the Canal and 30,000 British and Empire troops were deployed to defend it.

Although many books have been written about T E Lawrence and the Arab Revolt, none before has fully explored the pivotal role of the Royal Navy in the Red Sea at the time. This is the first book to be written about the Navy’s role in the success of the Arab Revolt in the creation of the legendary figure of Lawrence of Arabia.

Following extensive and detailed research into the activities of the ships of the Red Sea Patrol by the author, a maritime historian and former Merchant Navy officer, it has become evident that, without the work of those ships, the Arab revolt would have failed and T E Lawrence would have remained an obscure officer in the military bureaucracy of Cairo.

Lawrence was very much aware of the importance and relevance of the Royal Navy in their operations in the Red Sea and commented on it on many occasions, notably in 1918 with: ‘The naval side of the operations, when the time comes to tell of it, will provide a most interesting case of the value of command of the sea…’. Until now, no writer has investigated this angle in any detail. By doing this so comprehensively, this book gives a fresh dimension to the Lawrence of Arabia legend.

Vessels of the Red Sea Patrol were drawn from the Royal Navy, the Royal Indian Marine and the Merchant Service and were never more than twelve in number. T E Lawrence said of them when quoted by Lord Wester Wemyss: ‘The Red Sea patrol-ships were the fairy-godmothers of the Revolt. They carried our food, our arms, our ammunition, our stores, our animals. They built our piers, armed our defences, served as our coast artillery, lent us seaplanes, provided all our wireless communications, landed landing parties, mended and made everything. I couldn’t spend the time writing down a tenth of their services.’

Paul Ridgway

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Nautic Africa recently appointed Grant Bassingthwaighte as their Chief Commercial Officer. Bassingthwaighte entered the world of retail in 1992 when he joined Woolworths as a junior internal auditor. In 2000 he joined Ernst & Young where he fulfilled his dream of becoming a CA. He later worked for award winning advertising group FCB South Africa as their Financial Manager where he assisted in engineering a significant organisational restructure. In 2006 Bassingthwaighte joined the world’s leading environmental consultancy, ERM, as Finance Director for the South African business.

His appointment as CCO comes at a time when the Nautic Group is experiencing high growth due to a mounting order book for new build vessels. Bassingthwaighte’s main focus is to support Nautic Africa’s business development and to contribute to strategic decision making for the Group.

Keith Govender (right) has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of South African shipbuilding and maritime solutions company, Nautic South Africa. Govender was previously employed with the South African Navy and subsequently for the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. His experience of the maritime sector made him an ideal candidate for the position of Chief Services and Support Officer for Nautic Africa in 2013. Since then Govender has played an instrumental role in the success of the business. As CEO he will oversee the general management of the company and focus on leading Nautic South Africa to become the chief maritime service provider in South Africa.

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The French offshore supply tug ULYSSE (2514-dwt, built 1998) was a recent visitor in the port of Cape Town. The tug is owned and managed by Bourbon Offshore in Marseille, France. Picture: Aad Noorland


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