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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3 November 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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TOSCA 25 October 2015 480

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line's Singapore-flagged car carrier TOSCA (61,006-gt, built 2013) was in the Port of Durban during late October when this photograph was taken. At 200 metres in length and with a maximum draught of 11 metres, the ship is built to Panamax dimensions (width 32m) giving her a carrying capacity of around 6,459 motor units across 12 decks. Four of the decks are strengthened for high and heavy cargo and another four are hoistable. The ship's stern ramp capacity is 303 tons. Picture is by Trevor Jones

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Having played a pivotal role in countering maritime piracy around the Horn of Africa and in the Indian Ocean region, Seychelles is now readily passing on lessons learned over the last few years. Three West African countries; Togo, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe have shown an interest in learning from the Seychelles experience, with a particular focus on its prosecution model, which has been dubbed a 'successful model.'

Seychelles ended up placing itself at the forefront in the fight against piracy, as the scourge that began to plague the Indian Ocean since 2005, had a direct impact on the country's tourism and fisheries sectors.

Since 2009, the Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands with a population of around 93,000 has been actively deploying resources including the defence forces, coastguards, police, prison department and the judiciary to combat piracy.

While pirate attacks off the vast coastline of Somalia have declined, from 236 in 2011 to two reportedly unsuccessful attacks in 2014, thanks to international counter-piracy cooperation efforts, the scourge has to some extent spread to the West African region, more precisely in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to a UNODC report, much of the piracy that affects West Africa "is a product of the disorder that surrounds the regional oil industry as a large share of the recent piracy attacks targeted vessels carrying petroleum products."

Nigeria is one country that has been most affected, including having its citizens taken as hostages.

Nevertheless, Togo, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe being its neighbours, are not remaining indifferent although they have barely had to respond to piracy threats.

Preventive approach
The three African nations want to adopt what they have called 'a preventive approach' to a potential menace.

"Togo has over 100 vessels that are docked every night [at its ports].... ....and it's become a port of refuge for vessels in the area to stay docked before continuing their journey. So there is a need to prevent any incidents to protect our partners' interest and in the interest of international conventions which Togo has signed," Hubert Bakai, the cabinet secretary from the Ministry of Oceans of Togo, told local journalists last week.

This was during a press conference, at the end of a two-day fact-finding mission of a delegation from the three West African nations.

"The port of Tema is a very essential port for Ghana's economy. If we fail to protect that particular interest, it will be of greater concern to Ghanaians, because the economic benefits that we acquire from the port is such that we cannot sit down and wait for pirates to attack our port," added Assistant Superintendent Richard Odartey from the Marine Department of the Ghanaian Police.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, which has facilitated the visit, the main interest lies in the Seychelles prosecution method that has proved to be a successful one in apprehending and prosecuting suspected pirates.

UNODC is one of several international partners that has worked actively alongside Seychelles over the last few years to tackle piracy.

"What UNODC has done is that we have brought these delegations and we have worked them through what is known as the piracy prosecution model and the five steps involved. This is a very successful model that has worked in Seychelles and the East African region. We are keen for our representatives from the West African region to take examples and adopt whatever is appropriate," UNODC's country programme officer for maritime crime Shanaka Jayasekara told journalists.

At the height of the piracy attacks in the region, several groups of Seychellois fishermen were also held captive and subsequently released by Somali pirates, the last being a pair of elderly fishermen who were released in 2011, after over a year spent in captivity.

Seychelles has been conducting piracy trials since 2010, after the National Assembly amended the penal code to allow the prosecution of pirates, including suspected Somali pirates apprehended by foreign international forces and handed over to Seychelles to be tried.

This is based on the concept of universal jurisdiction, which allows states or international organisations to claim criminal jurisdiction over an accused person regardless of where the alleged crime was committed, and regardless of the accused's nationality, country of residence, or any other relation with the prosecuting entity.

Most pirates prosecuted
To date, Seychelles has prosecuted the most pirates compared to other countries in the region having tried 142 suspected pirates in 17 piracy trials over the last six years. This has resulted in the conviction of 138 pirates, although there have been a few cases where the Seychelles Court of Appeal has overturned such convictions mainly because of a lack of evidence or because the accused were considered to be minors.

Following what they have gathered through their visit, the representatives of Ghana, Togo and Sao Tome and Principe have all indicated that they will be going back to their respective countries' higher authorities to push for the same model to be adopted.

The delegation also had the chance to visit the main incarceration facility, the Montagne Posee prison, situated in the lush tropical mountains leading to the western part of the main inhabited island, Mahe, where according to figures provided to SNA in September, some 31 Somalis are still being detained.

Most of the convicted pirates have already been transferred to their homeland to serve sentences imposed on them for piracy acts committed either at the Garowe (Puntland) and Hargeysa (Somaliland) prisons.

These are two detention facilities built by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), as part of its Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme.

The delegation also visited a new Court facility that opened its doors earlier this year focusing on piracy and other maritime related crimes.

It is to be noted that this is not the first time other countries, as well as regional and international organisations, have turned to Seychelles to learn from its experience in tackling piracy.

Although international efforts have led to a decline in piracy cases, constant monitoring and analysis of the regional situation by interested groups have led to warnings that the threat is still looming.

According to an AFP article published last month, a new report has indicated that rampant illegal fishing by foreign trawlers off Somalia's once pirate-infested coastline could push the Somali communities back to piracy.

The issue of unlicensed fishing also seems to be of great concern on the other side of the continent. Togo, Ghana and Sao Tome and Principe that already have regional corporations to patrol the waters that surround them noted that their visit to Seychelles was also geared towards learning from the island nation's way of tackling other maritime related offences other than piracy, including illegal fishing. source : SNA

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The first power ship, which will help alleviate the shortage of electricity supply in Ghana, is now en route to the port of Tema.

The Turkish built power barge will provide 240 megawatts shortly after arrival in the Ghanaian port in about 15 days time.

Operating with the name AYSEGUL SULTAN after the sister of the chairman of Karadeniz Holding, the Turkish company responsible for producing the floating power station ships, the ship will feed the power directly into the Ghanaian national electricity grid. This is about 15 MW more than what was originally planned.

A ten-year power purchase agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) was signed by Karpower Ghana Company Limited, a subsidiary of Karadeniz Holding, in June 2014.

Under the deal, the company is expected to build two electricity-generating vessels to produce over 450 MW of power, which will contribute about 22 percent of Ghana's electricity needs for 10 years.

The 450MW electricity supply will help to resolve the perennial power cuts (loadshedding) in Ghana while providing a substantial cost advantage as the country's cheapest thermal energy resource.

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Photo: Crown Copyright 2015.

On 29 October the Ministry of Defence in London reported that HMS ENTERPRISE and HMS RICHMOND had rescued more than 500 migrants in the Mediterranean the previous day.

As part of the Royal Navy's assistance to the EU Naval Force Operation in the Mediterranean countering migrant smugglers, Enterprise rescued 439 migrants and Richmond saved 102.

This saving of life at sea came only three days after Richmond arrived on task, with new powers to board and seize smuggling vessels, as well as to detain people suspected of being migrant smugglers or human traffickers. Even before the warship arrived on task, she was involved in identifying people smugglers on her way to her start position, leading to the detention of suspected people traffickers.

"The Royal Navy continues to demonstrate its invaluable work in the Mediterranean, saving 541 vulnerable lives. Our focus remains on hitting the criminal gangs responsible for endangering the lives of innocent people. We are determined to tackle this at source. The new powers we have to board boats and detain the smugglers will help us put an end to this trade in human misery," said Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.

Migrants were cared for by military personnel in the two warships and were due to be transferred to the Norwegian support ship SIEM PILOTE for passage ashore to enable Enterprise and Richmond to return to their original tasks.

Including this latest rescue mission Royal Navy ships on station in the Mediterranean have rescued almost 7,000 migrants since May.

Paul Ridgway

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MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises S.A., the world's largest privately-owned global cruise line, last week launched its first global career portal at www.careers.msccruises.com

The new portal is a platform aimed at recruiting the best and brightest talents for positions both ashore and aboard across MSC Cruises' global offices and fleet.

MSC Cruises grew by 800 percent since its inception in 2003 and is today the fourth largest cruise line in the world, the market leader in Europe and in the Mediterranean, as well as in South America and South Africa. The Company also recently announced a 5.1-billion Euro investment plan that includes the construction of up to seven new ships that will see MSC Cruises' fleet double its current capacity by 2022.

Ambitious expansion with a strong focus on best in class service all-around has always characterised MSC Cruises. To support its growth into the next phase of its expansion, the company is looking for the best-skilled professionals across a wide variety of positions, both on the fleet or in the company's offices worldwide.

"Innovation is one of the key elements of the experience that we offer guests on board our ships, so it is only appropriate that we are introducing this innovative global recruitment tool to support the growth and complement the development of all the people who work across our organisation as the business continues to invest and grow," said Elia Congiu, MSC Cruises Chief HR Officer. "For candidates it has the further advantage of being easily accessible from anywhere in the world -- thus further extending the reach of our recruitment process to attract the most talented individuals to our global team to help us serve our guests."

This new recruitment platform complements the company's existing recruitment practices that sees it hire talented and skilled professionals, as well as graduates from some of the best training and management schools around the world for the entire range of positions that are needed in the cruise industry. MSC Cruises' new career portal provides an additional and essential touch point in this process and will serve as a one-stop tool for all recruitment-related matters.

The new MSC Cruises career portal provides a global centralised platform for all job opportunities, both in one of the company's offices around the world, as well as on its 12 existing ships and additional ships currently under construction. This will include positions formerly available only on LinkedIn or similar channels. Listings for such positions will now include a direct link to the new career portal which will be the only repository for all application processes.

In addition, MSC Cruises' new global career platform will enhance and standardise the selection processes for applicants while making them benefit from one of the most technologically advanced recruitment portal in the industry. Indeed, the various steps involved in the recruitment process are all immediately available: after having created their online profiles, applicants will be able to test their language abilities and technical skills and complete all other necessary assessments. In an industry-first, the platform will also allow them to hold recorded video interviews, on their own time, no matter where they are in the world.

More than 60 career opportunities are currently advertised on www.careers.msccruises.com

An example of current positions available on the portal include various on board positions such as Shore Excursions Manager, Chief Engineer or Guest Service Agent whereas on land these positions include Director of Specialty Restaurants or Head of Direct Sales, based in Geneva, but also Contact Centre Agents in Salzburg, Austria or Naples, Italy as well as various internship positions available in the company's German office.

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20140416 Heerema Porto Amboim fabrication Angola
Porto Amboim as proposed

Angola has plans to build a new deepwater commercial port at Porto Amboim in Kwanza Sul province.

Announcing this last Thursday was the deputy director for the technical area of ​​the Maritime and Port Institute of Angola (IMPA), Manuel Arsenio.

Armenio was speaking at the Porto Amboim Business and Investment Forum. He said the port will be built by a consortium made up of Sonangol Holding and Sogester, which will have a 70 percent stake with the remainder as private investment.

The port will be built in three phases between 2017 and 2024 and will be located in the Torre-do-Tombo area, on the outskirts of the city, in an area of ​​80 hectares.

In an initial phase investment will be US$500 million, which will increase to US$1.8 billion when the project is fully completed.

The port will have an available draught of around 12 metres and will have a quay 500 metres long, with a depth alongside of 14.5 metres. In an initial stage it will be able to receive two ships at the same time and in the final phase this will have increased to about seven ships.

The deputy director of IMPA added that the port would facilitate exports of cotton and coffee from Angola. source : macauhub

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Global Track -- China sees its railways covering the world

In just eight years, China has built the largest network of high-speed railways on earth. Now it wants to do the same around the world.

The plan includes a line to link Beijing and Moscow in 33 hours, and routes across South America from the Atlantic to the Pacific and across Africa from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic -- something the European colonial powers never achieved. Never in history has a country proposed such an ambitious programme.

If they are all built, they will transform the economies of the countries through which they pass, like the trans-Pacific railway in the United States in the 19th century, which opened up the western states to settlement by farmers and industrial growth.

New lines running across the Eurasian land mass, funded by Chinese money, are an important part of the 'One Road, One Belt' initiative launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

Premier Li Keqiang said: "China's manufactured goods have become popular around the world. Now our equipment is going abroad and is earning a good reputation."

At home, it has built 16,000km of high-speed railway connecting 160 cities, from Harbin in the north to Nanning in the south and from Qingdao in the east to Urumqi in the west. In 2014, it carried 2.49 million passengers a day, making it the most heavily used network in the world.

According to the official media, China is in talks with 28 countries on high-speed rail projects. They have printed maps showing lines from Harbin to London, via Astana, Moscow, Kiev and Warsaw and from Urumqi to Germany via Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran. There is even a route from Harbin through Siberia across the Bering Straits to Alaska and Canada.

Given the wars, conflicts and hatreds in many of these regions, it is hard to imagine that all these lines will be built. But the ambition of China is there for all to see.

New trans-Siberian railway
Russia is an important piece of the One Road, One Belt initiative.

Working with Russian firms, Chinese companies are building a high-speed line that is due to be completed by 2018 from Moscow to Kazan, capital of the Russian republic of Tatarstan, a distance of 770 kilometres. It will cut the travel time from the current 14 hours to three and a half. The investment is 1.06 trillion rubles, of which a portion will come from China.

The line is due to be extended from Kazan to Urumqi, capital of the western region of Xinjiang.

Russia's economy relies heavily on exports of raw materials like oil, gas, timber and minerals, many of them located in the centre and east of the country, while the markets are in China and Europe. It is reliant on railways to transport these materials. Following its annexation of Crimea and invasion of Ukraine, Russia has faced restrictions on access to western capital markets; so it needs Chinese capital and technical expertise more than ever.

The most dramatic project of the 'One Road, One Belt' initiative in Russia is a proposed high-speed line between Beijing and Moscow, running through Kazakhstan; a distance of 7,000km, it would cut the journey time from the current six days to 30 hours. It would run south of the trans-Siberian railway, via Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

In January 2015, the Beijing city government announced that the line would be built at a cost of US$242 billion.

First Vice President of Russian Railways Alexander Misharin said he expected construction would take from 8 to 10 years. He compared the new railway network to the Suez Canal "in terms of scale and significance."

But, while China can certainly build its share of the line, there is uncertainty on the Russian side. In part because of the western sanctions, Russia is heading toward a recession. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has proposed a postponement of the line until the country has more money to spare.

This Pharaonic project involves construction across some of the world's most inhospitable terrain, including desert and steppe, with temperatures falling far below zero during winter.

Transforming Africa
More than any other continent, Africa needs railways. China has been very active there, promising to build what none of the European colonial powers -- Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium or Germany -- were able to do: a railway from the Indian to the Atlantic Ocean.

At the end of the 19th century, British colonialist Cecil John Rhodes announced a plan to build a Cape-Cairo railway, linking the north and south of the continent. By the mid-1930s, a substantial part of this was completed; but it was never finished.

Similarly, both France and Portugal announced plans to build a railway linking the two oceans; but neither materialised.

The Chinese plan has a better chance of success. In February this year, a line 1,344-km long opened between the Angolan coastal city of Lobito and Luau on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the second longest railway built by a Chinese company in Africa, after the Tanzania-Zambia line [Tazara], running 1,860km, which opened in 1976.

The Chinese rebuilt what used to be the Banguela Railway; it was built during the Portuguese colonial period, with construction starting in March 1903. It became the shortest way to transport mineral riches from the Congo to Europe. At its peak in 1973, it carried 3.3 million tonnes of cargo, earned freight revenue of US$30 million and had 14,000 employees.

The civil war that broke out after Angola's independence devastated the line; by 2001, only 34km remained in operation. After the end of the war, it was the Chinese who rebuilt the line.

The new Lobito-Luau line has 67 stations and cost US$1.83 billion; it is the longest, fastest and most modern line in Angola. Beijing provided US$500 million in interest-free loans towards construction and technical and equipment support.

This is the first step in a route linking the Atlantic and the Pacific, to be extended through Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

In East Africa, China is building a 472-km line between the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and the country's main port of Mombasa that will cut the journey time from 15 hours to four and a half. Construction began in October 2014 and is due to be completed in 2017, at an estimated cost of US$3.8 billion.

The plan is for the line to be part of a new network linking Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

In January 2015, Samuel Sitta, Transport Minister of Tanzania, said that his government had awarded contracts worth US$9 billion to Chinese firms. One will be to build a line 2,561-km long to connect the port of Dar es Salaam to land-locked neighbours; another will link coal and iron ore mines to the southern port of Mtwara, close to big offshore natural gas discoveries.

In addition, China has established in Africa a high-speed railway research and development centre, to raise the technical standard of railways there.

Crossing the Andes
In May 2015, during a visit to South America, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Brazilian President Dilma Roussell witnessed the signing of a feasibility study for a 4,400-km railway linking the Atlantic coast of Brazil with the Pacific coast of Peru. It was signed by the two countries and China.

At present, countries in the region mainly rely on the Panama Canal to ship goods. "Latin America has vast land area but lacks enough railways," said Chen Fengying, a researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations. "It is difficult to raise enough money for such an expensive project from international institutions. China's involvement is critical. Its costs are much lower than that of Japan and European countries."

Spain and Portugal, the two powers that colonised South America, never considered such a railway across the continent.

Studies by the Brazilian government show the line would start at Port de Acu in Rio de Janeiro and go through the agricultural heartland of Mato Grosso and reach Porto Velho; then it would enter Peru, cross the Andes and terminate at a major port like Callao, Mollendo or Llo Arica.

China is the number one trading partner of Brazil and Peru. It is a huge importer of Brazilian grains and oilseeds; these materials would be able to travel on the line, shorten the journey time and cut costs en route to China.

But, like the route to Moscow, this line poses the most difficult engineering and technical challenges, especially going through the Andes Mountains between Brazil and Peru. Would the economic benefits justify the enormous cost?

Renato Pavan, an expert on transport integration in Rio de Janeiro, said that the project would cost about US$13 billion and would be unviable.

"About 35 very long tunnels would need to be built, which demands mainly technology. Labour represents only one percent of the total budget." Cheap and efficient Chinese labour would be invaluable but not sufficient to overcome all the other challenges.

Entering the European market
For the first time, China has started to build railways in Europe, the place which invented the technology 200 years ago. This has the richest historical significance, a sign of how the centre of the global economy is shifting from west to east.

In December 2014, the Serbian government announced an agreement with China and Hungary to build a 370-km high-speed line between Belgrade and Budapest, due for completion by June 2017; it will cut the journey time from eight to two hours.

During a visit to Belgrade when the announcement was made, Premier Li Keqiang said that China would set up a US$3 billion investment fund for Central and Eastern Europe.

China is also bidding to build Britain's HS2, a high-speed train that will link the central city of Birmingham with Leeds and Manchester in the north.

This bid is full of symbolism -- the world's newest railway power selling its technology and expertise to the oldest.

It was in September 1825 that the world's first locomotive-hauled railway opened, over 40km in the northeast of England. It was a British firm that built the first commercial railway in China, from Zhabei to Baoshan in Shanghai, in July 1876. The Qing government considered it dangerous and disruptive to the spirits that lived underground; it ordered the line dismantled and shipped to Taiwan.

As part of its preparation for the bid for HS2, CSR (China Southern Railway) Corp, China's largest maker of rolling stock, in May announced a joint research and development centre with three British universities -- Imperial College, Southampton and Birmingham. It will be based in Birmingham.

The UK government plans to build HS1, from London to Birmingham, from 2017, to be followed by HS2.

"Western companies like Siemens AG and Alstom of France entered the high-speed rail sector earlier," said Yu Weiping, vice-president of CNR Corp (China Northern Railway). "But no country in the world has a high-speed network as extensive as China's.

"I am confident about our technologies and products. In a couple of years, we will have gained more experience in high-speed trains, which means more chances for us to win the project in the UK," he said.

No mandarin in the Qing government could have imagined such an outcome. source : Macao Magazine, by Luo Xunzhi

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HANZE GOSLAR 30 October 2015 2 480

The Dutch bulk carrier HANZE GOSLAR (34,719-dwt, built 2012) makes a colourful sight as she heads out from Durban harbour for the open sea on 30 October this year. Picture is by Trevor Jones


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