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Ports & Ships Maritime News

20 October 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Mediterranean Shipping Company's 8,089 TEU container ship MSC TORONTO seen out in Table Bay off the port of Cape Town yesterday morning, on her way to the pilot station. The ship was built at the Hanjin Heavy Industries Co Ltd, in South Korea as their hull number 138. Incidentally, the number of containers shown here in these columns reflects the nominal number of boxes possible, or more simply the exact number of 20ft (6m) containers that can fit on the ship. Were the average weight of each container to be 14 tons then the capacity of this ship would reduce to 6,275 TEU, but this is now based on a factor of weight. MSC Toronto is 325m long, 43m wide and has a maximum draught of 14.5 metres. Picture is by Ian Shiffman

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Navantia-built BAM Rayo P42 94-metre offshore patrol ship for the Spanish Navy. Picture Wikipedia Commons

Spanish Shipbuilder Navantia and African-based global defence and aerospace business, Paramount Group, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to jointly develop naval systems and vessels that will meet the increasing demand of South Africa and other African states.

The MoU expands cooperation from the previous agreement between the two companies, which was specifically signed for project BIRO, the project to build 6 patrol ships for the SA Navy.

The scope of the collaboration will be defined based on customer requirements in the Maritime Industry across five key areas namely through Life Support Management, Combat Systems and Platform Systems Integration, Procurement Management of materials and equipment, Operational Maintenance Training and the Transfer of Technology.

The agreement which was signed between Mr Jose Manuel Revuelta, Navantia's President and Mr Eric Ichikowitz, Group Director of Paramount Group, comes amid a growing awareness of the need to protect and secure Africa's coastlines, great lakes and rivers, and political and economic assets, including oil pipelines, shipping lanes, fisheries, tourist areas and national borders.

Mr Juan Sell, Ambassador of Spain to South Africa, hosted the event at his residence in Pretoria. Navantia is a state-owned company which is strongly supported by the Spanish Government.

"Navantia and Paramount have been collaborating in the last months on a joint offshore patrol vessel proposal for Project BIRO for the South African Navy. An excellent relationship between both companies has been established and this agreement is a step further that sets the basis for cooperation on new business opportunities in South Africa and other countries in the region and broader international market," said Jose Manuel Revuelta.

"Navantia's experience in the design and construction of world-leading technology naval vessels and systems, transfer of technology, and through-life cycle support provides a key benefit to offer well-proven, low risk and value for money solutions for customers," he added.

Eric Ichikowitz, Group International Marketing Director of Paramount Group said that there had never been a greater need for naval security in the waters around South Africa and the rest of the continent. "New oil and gas resources are being discovered every month and those resources, together with industries like tourism and fisheries, are critical to the growth of African states.

"We are committed to growing an innovative and competitive shipbuilding industry in South Africa, supporting the goals of Operation Phakisa, by growing the local shipbuilding industry, increasing the contribution to GDP and multiplying the number of jobs in South Africa."

He said the partnership with Navantia will provide 21st century solutions to protect African maritime assets by meeting their specific requirements and budgets. "We are driven to create and build customised vessel solutions that our clients can afford to own and operate." Ichikowitz added.

The agreement identifies several areas of collaboration as transfer of technology, through life cycle support, combat systems and platform systems integration (including in land products), procurement management, and operational and maintenance training.

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Durban Container Terminal - world class because of measures put in place.

The infrastructure throughout sub-Saharan Africa requires additional investments of billions per year to be brought up to par. In particular, the region's ports are a bottleneck and contribute to lengthy delays that significantly increase the cost of doing business across the continent. So wouldn't it be sensible to invest in a massive extension of port facilities all over Africa? Probably not, writes Gael Raballand of the Brookings Institution in Future Development.

As my colleagues and I show in our recent paper, Why Does Cargo Spend Weeks in Sub-Saharan African Ports? it is actually the collusion between controlling agencies, port authorities, private terminal operators, logistics operators, and large shippers that poses the biggest challenge to the efficient handling of goods. It is the governance of the ports that matters most, not the large-scale investments in infrastructure.

Here are the facts: Cargo dwells in sub-Saharan ports unusually long -- more than two weeks on average, compared to under a week in large ports in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Excluding Durban and Mombasa, the average amount of time cargo dwells in sub-Saharan ports is close to 20 days. These long wait times hurt the efficiency of port operations and the economy in general.

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Congestion and delays at sub-Saharan ports make the region's manufacturing companies (who typically depend on sea transport) largely uncompetitive. Consumers lose also, as imports become more expensive. For manufacturing companies, if they need to wait for weeks to get their inputs, they need to stock large quantities, which in turn creates the need for large and extremely costly inventories. As a result, it is difficult for countries with long cargo wait times to attract foreign direct investment.

Reaching the highest international standard for such wait times (3-4 days) is difficult since it requires having private sector practices at par with excellent public practices.

There are three categories of ports in the world: (1) 'unreformed' ports, where average 'dwell time' is more than 15 days; (2) 'partially reformed ports,' where dwell times average between 6 and 10 days; and (3) 'world-class ports,' with average dwell times of around 3 days.

In sub-Saharan Africa, most ports are still 'unreformed.' However, some ports -- Dar es Salaam, Mombasa -- have made the first step and reduced the average dwell time from 15-20 to 6-10 days. This first step in port reform typically entails new investment in equipment and infrastructure, some changes in storage tariffs, new traffic flows, and increased storage areas (usually including storage capacity outside the port area).

However, going the full distance to reach world-class port status has only been achieved in Durban. This lies with the fact that it requires a full revolution of incentives, behaviours, and processes that is extraordinarily difficult to achieve in most ports. The port needs to put pressure on the private sector to reduce delays. Durban took three steps that helped facilitate such a revolution:

1.It levied prohibitive charges for storage.

2.It strictly enforced storage limits.

3.It offered the option of pre-clearing goods with customs before arriving at the port.

These measures, as well as strategies enacted by a public-private port committee, helped transform the Durban port.

The widespread assumption that funding additional port infrastructure will in turn translate into shorter dwell times does not hold in the medium to long term, especially when it comes to expanding existing ports.

The impact of demand and market structure is at least as important as the infrastructure bottlenecks and the inefficiency of clearance procedures. In fact, there have been noticeable improvements in both infrastructure provision (notably through increased participation of private sector) and customs clearance efficiency in recent years in most of Africa, but the time taken to clear cargo from ports remains inordinately high.

The market structure of the principal trade sectors, with longstanding, relatively unchallenged monopolies and oligopolies, is another explanation for high cargo dwell times in sub-Saharan Africa. It also explains why most industries that are not time-sensitive, such as those that export raw materials or minerals, prosper on the continent, and why time-sensitive ones that tend to add more value do not. This monopolistic market structure also illustrates why cargo dwell times have not declined in any substantive way for years: the pressure from the private sector is not genuine, in most cases the lengthy wait times enable some importers to remain market leaders and avoid competition.

In sum, building more terminals or purchasing new equipment is unlikely to bring Africa's ports to world-class status alone. In a time when the demand for infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa is so much in demand, it is crucial to remember the complementary factors that have kept the region's port wait times so long as well. -- Brookings Institute

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Bagamoyo, shortly to be Tanzania's principal port hub

Ground has been broken on the site of the new Tanzanian port of Bagamoyo, which is set to open a vast new potential for East African shipping and logistics.

It is expected that the new port will strongly influence where landlocked East African countries -- Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, the eastern DRC, will opt to ship their cargoes in future.

Situated 50 miles north of Tanzania's capital and main port of Dar es Salaam, and directly opposite the island of Zanzibar, Bagamoyo will also serve to free up the port at Dar es Salaam while still being close enough to cater for that area's logistics.

The new port of Bagamoyo is to be built on a 1,700-hectare site designed to be home to a huge cluster of factories and warehouses. The port will also be linked by road and rail with Dar es Salaam, and the Central Railway as well as the Tazara Railway.

Bagamoyo has the potential of becoming a major container hub for the western Indian Ocean region, with a capacity to handle up to 20 million TEU annually, which is far in excess of anything presently envisaged for the region.

According to the World Bank congestion at Dar es Salaam is costing US$2.6 billion a year in additional trading costs. The $10 billion Bagamoyo project, due to open in 2017, is being largely financed by Oman and China, with global port operator China Merchants Holdings (International) a key party in the development.

In the early stages, ships of up to 8,000 TEU capacity will be catered for at Bagamoyo's four terminal berths -- two dedicated to container handling, one a multipurpose berth and a fourth currently being referred to by developers as a 'service' berth.

Full construction of related roads, railways and industrial centres is expected to take ten years.

According to outgoing Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, "The construction of the Bagamoyo port and a special economic zone is aimed at realising the government's goal of bringing about an industrial revolution in Tanzania."

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MSC Sinfonia, due in South Africa next month at the start of the 2015/16 cruise season

We speak to Allan Foggitt about the burgeoning cruise industry and why it remans such a popular offering

Globally, the cruise industry has been faring well -- even under the pressure of current recessionary times. And according to the 2015-2016 Cruise Industry News Annual Report, this growth trek is set to continue into the future -- a significant overall increase is expected over the next seven years, with MSC Cruises SA leading the way with the most significant anticipated percentage growth.

Allan Foggitt, Sales and Marketing Director for MSC Cruises has this to say: "It's true, MSC Cruises has been performing exceptionally well. As the world's biggest privately-owned cruise line, and the 4th largest by capacity, the company has seen a whopping 800 percent growth over the last 10 years. In 2003, it initially accommodated a mere 127,000 passengers, while in 2014, it hosted 1,67-million passengers in total. Present in 45 countries around the world, MSC has been voted as the market leader in the Mediterranean, South America and South Africa."

MSC Sinfonia Balcony Cabin MSC0705493 med res 48
Locally, Foggitt notes that MSC Cruises is also going from strength to strength: "Our figures are growing at an incredible rate, when all others are showing a decline. According to the Tourism Business Index, South Africa showed a dismal performance in the third quarter of 2015. But MSC has never performed better -- to date, over 80 percent of our annual budget has already been achieved, and we are sitting on an occupancy rate of 70 percent, with many of our cruises already sold out. This is incredibly impressive, especially considering that the local cruise season only starts in earnest on 19 November 2015, when MSC SINFONIA arrives in Durban harbour for the first time since it cruised the European summer season in the Mediterranean."

He explains that the growth in the industry has been driven by a number of factors, the most influential ones being larger capacity new builds and ship diversification, more destinations and on-board offerings, and the all-inclusive nature of cruising, which offers incredible value for money.

In order to cater for increased capacity, over the last year MSC Cruises commissioned the 200-million Euro Renaissance Programme, where 4 of the 12 MSC cruise ships, MSC Sinfonia being one of them, were stretched and upgraded with new entertainment options and on-board boutiques, added technological advancements, and an extra 200 cabins, most with their own balconies. "The 2015-16 cruise season will be the first time that MSC Sinfonia will be returning to its home port of Durban since it has undergone ground-breaking enlargement and enhancements as part of MCS's Renaissance Programme. There is much anticipation amongst our passengers to experience the new and improved ship first-hand," explains Allan.

Perpetually evolving to suit customers' needs -- MSC aims to maintain a fresh and appealing offering at all times. "This year, MSC Cruises has added Cuba and China as new international destinations, while locally, we will be cruising to Ilha de Mozambique for the first time this season. Over and above the new destinations, there are a number of new and attractive on-board offerings as well -- from new kids clubs that cater to 5 different age groups, through to the MyChoice Dining option, the new Doremi Spray Park, and enlarged on-board MSC Aurea Spa and dining areas."

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However, it is the all-inclusive nature of cruising that remains one of MSC Cruises' biggest drawcards. "Our cruises can be tailored to suit differing tastes and they therefore hold mass appeal. What's more is that all your on-board meals, entertainment and accommodation are included in your fare, plus kids under 18 cruise for free, making a cruise holiday not only affordable, but also one that is incredibly easy to budget for. This is especially useful for South Africans travelling with our eternally volatile rand -- passengers can get a taste of international travel, but at a fraction of the cost."

When asked about what factors have hindered the growth of cruising, Allan comments that there aren't many. "There is no doubt that the new visa application regulations, which require tourists to apply for their visas in person, have hindered tourism to South Africa in general, in particular tourists from China and India. Luckily however, the vast majority of passengers booked to travel on-board MSC Sinfonia are from South Africa, so this hasn't really affected our local sales."

He says that the new immigration laws pertaining to children have posed some problems with local passengers however. "While the new immigration laws pertaining to children are aimed at halting the human trafficking, it has had major implications for the tourism sector, making it more complex for travelling families to meet visa requirements. The vast majority of MSC's passengers are families, and so it has most certainly had an impact."

However, Allan notes that even though MSC is reporting record sales, there remains huge potential growth in the local South African market. "The local market potential is estimated at 1,746,00, and MSC Cruises' current penetration is around the 7,4 percent mark. However, we aim to grow this by positioning the southern African region as an international cruise destination. The spin-offs of which will be hugely beneficial to our local economy -- advancing the Kwa-Zulu Natal and Western Cape regions as leading tourism destinations, and promoting small business growth and workforce development."

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SMIT Amandla Marine has been awarded ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification following the completion of audits conducted by DNV GL.

The audits were completed at the SMIT Amandla Marine sites at Cape Town, Durban and Mossel Bay.

"We are constantly striving to improve our safety, health, environmental protection and quality (SHEQ) standards in order to better meet the requirements and serve the needs of all of our stakeholders," said SMIT Amandla Marine in a statement.

"We chose DNV as a Business Process Assurance Partner due to the comprehensive certification processes they follow, as well as their reputation for high auditing standards. Through the certification process, we have shown that our Quality and Environmental Management systems demonstrate the commitment and drive we have to provide quality marine solutions, to enhance client satisfaction and, in doing what we do every day, to protect our people, assets and equipment, and the environment.

"Thanks to our clients who drive us to deliver increasing value, safely and sustainably -- and to all employees at sea and ashore who are focused on meeting these high expectations, including the dedicated SHEQ team who drove this initiative professionally."

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Picture of Thunder sinking by Sea Shepherd

Officers of Scuttled Poaching Vessel, Thunder, Sentenced to Jail and Fined 15 Million Euros

Last week the Supreme Court of Sao Tome and Principe found three officers of the notorious toothfish-poaching vessel, THUNDER, guilty of forgery, pollution, damage to the environment and recklessness. The three have been sentenced to between 32 and 36 months in jail each for recklessness and forgery, and have been fined 15 million euros for charges relating to pollution and damage to the environment.

Captain Luis Alfonso Rubio Cataldo of Chile, Chief Engineer Agustin Dosil Rey of Spain and Second Mechanic Luis Miguel Perez Fernandez, also of Spain, were detained in Sao Tome and Principe following the sinking of the Thunder in the Gulf of Guinea on 6 April this year. Read that story Illegal fishing vessel Thunder scuttled off Sao Tome

The three stood trial in September and remained in custody pending last week's verdict.

The landmark case is one of the first instances of a poaching crew being tried in Sao Tome and Principe. The guilty verdict and significant sentences are a victory in the battle against Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and indicate the seriousness with which these crimes are now being regarded in the region, reported Sea Shepherd.

The Thunder was one of six vessels known to be involved in IUU fishing for Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Ocean. The vessels, which Sea Shepherd calls the 'Bandit 6,' were the focus of the organisation's Southern Ocean Defense Campaign, Operation Icefish.

At the time it sank, the Thunder had been the target of a 110-day, record-breaking continuous pursuit by the Sea Shepherd ship, the Bob Barker. Sea Shepherd has consistently maintained that the Thunder was intentionally scuttled in an effort to hide its cargo of vulnerable toothfish, illegally caught in a region managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Since 2006, the Thunder has been on the IUU vessel list of CCAMLR and was blacklisted from fishing in the CCAMLR-regulated area. In 2013, the vessel also became the subject of an Interpol Purple Notice for suspected illegal fishing activity following a joint effort by New Zealand, Australian and Norwegian authorities.

The Bob Barker, captained by Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden, and fellow Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, captained by Sid Chakravarty of India, rescued the Thunder's entire crew of 40, who all disembarked to life rafts before the vessel sank.

Before the Thunder was fully submerged, members of the Sea Shepherd crews were able to board the vessel and collect evidence from the sinking ship, including a frozen toothfish that was later handed over to police.

Sea Shepherd has played a key role in delivering justice to the officers of the Thunder, ensuring that loopholes commonly used to avoid prosecution could not be exploited.

Captains Hammarstedt and Chakravarty reported details of the incident and rescue operation to the relevant authorities in Sao Tome and Principe and Germany, along with international policing organisation, Interpol. As a result of this information, the entire crew of the Thunder was detained on arrival in Sao Tome and Principe, where the Captain and two officers have been held ever since.

The meticulous hand-over of the evidence and the maintenance of the chain of custody have ensured that this success in the case against the Thunder has been achieved.

The Sea Shepherd captains, along with Sea Shepherd photographer Simon Ager, who was one of the Sea Shepherd crew who boarded the sinking Thunder, were also among those who gave evidence at the trial of the three officers. The Sea Shepherd witnesses were in court for seventeen hours while giving their testimonies and cross-examination.

Of the trial, Captain Hammarstedt stated, "Although Sao Tome and Principe lacked the jurisdiction to directly address the case of illegal fishing in the Antarctic, they showed the courage and willingness to still tackle it indirectly as seen with the charge of falsification of the fishing license. In doing so, they have set an example to other nations around the world in the fight against the endemic issue of IUU fishing."

Sea Shepherd has congratulated authorities in Sao Tome and Principe for their timely response to the matter and commitment to seeing the poachers brought to justice.

"The coordination required between international agencies, including Sea Shepherd, and local law enforcement that has resulted in these convictions is a mammoth task and could not have been achieved without the will of Sao Tome and Principe, driving the investigations forward. My congratulations go to all involved on achieving such an incredible result in such a short amount of time," said Captain Chakravarty.

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Norden Shipping's Handysize chemical and oil products tanker NORD NIGHTINGALE (38,431-dwt, built 2008) arrives in Durban earlier this month to work her cargo at one of the 10 berths at the Island View oil complex. The Danish-owned ship is reistered and flagged in Singapore.


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