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Ports & Ships Maritime News

10 November 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The Turkish dry bulk carrier BEKS CENK (57,399-dwt, built 2012) moves along the Esplanade Channel towards Maydon Wharf at the recent weekend. The ship is flagged in the Marshall Islands. Picture is by Ken Malcolm

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Port Louis

Identifying avenues of cooperation in the field of port development was the main focus at a meeting held recently at the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) between members of a delegation from the People's Republic of Bangladesh and members from the MPA.

The delegation from Bangladesh, led by the Minister of Shipping, Mr Shajahan Khan, was on a visit to Mauritius on 4 and 5 November 2015. The Minister was accompanied by members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Shipping; members of the Advisory Committee, Chittagong Port Authority; and the Mayor, Chittagong City Corporation. The delegation also included Mr Abdul Mannan Howlader, High Commissioner of the People's Republic of Bangladesh and Mr Warisur Rehman, Second Secretary.

The aim of the visit was mainly to assess the port performance; evaluate actions that were taken to improve port efficiency; take stock of measures implemented and facilities provided for bigger and deeper draft vessels; as well as port development projects and their implementations.

The meeting of the MPA was to identify avenues of cooperation in port development between the two countries especially since Mauritius has embarked on a modernisation programme aimed at transforming Port Louis harbour into a major regional logistics and maritime hub (see next story).

Discussions were led for the Mauritian side by the Chairman of the MPA, Mr Ramalingum Maistry, and the Director General of the MPA, Mr Shekur Suntah, and by the Minister of Shipping, Mr Shajahan Khan, and the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr Abdul Mannan Howlader, for the Bangladesh side.

The Director General of the MPA, Mr Shekur Suntah, pointed out that the Mauritian Government is committed to developing its maritime economy, seeing it as an important driver of economic growth and is keen to create new opportunities across all sectors. He added that the harbour of Port Louis will be called upon to play a crucial role in transforming the macroeconomic fundamentals of Mauritius, thus repositioning Port Louis as an international and efficient conduit for international trade. In that context, projects coming from abroad need to be fast tracked, he said.

Mr Suntah highlighted that port development will focus on several major activities, namely bunkering, seafood, and transshipment. With regards to transshipment, the MPA is planning to improve the Terminal by strengthening the existing structure to handle 8,000 TEU capacity vessels, extend the quay structure to accommodate two large capacity vessels, and extend the hardstand area to increase the capacity of the Terminal. The Director General stated that by 2025 with the new projects, a capacity of one million containers will be available at the Terminal.

The Mauritian Government is actively promoting Port Louis harbour as a bunkering port in the region. With over 30,000 vessels passing Mauritius annually, the economic potential to develop the island as a bunker supplier and hub is significant. The positioning of Mauritius as a seafood logistics hub and the development of a new fishing port is also high on Government's agenda.

For his part, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr Abdul Mannan Howlader, made a brief overview of Bangladesh which is a middle-income country and has a population of around 165 million. He said that Bangladesh can be a development partner having export commodities, while adding that Mauritius can be used as a linking port between Bangladesh and Africa. He added that in the field of fish processing, Bangladesh is very efficient and can share its expertise with Mauritius.

The delegation was also interested in the MPA's new role as a Landlord Port Authority and how it achieved a Concession Contract with the port operator, the Cargo Handling Corporation Ltd.

Mr Howlader formally extended an invitation to Mauritius to visit their major port of Chittagong managed by the Chittagong Port Authority to further discuss on areas of cooperation between the two ports, as well as exchange of port cadres and training facilities.

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Mauritius is poised to become a strategic bunkering hub with the confluence of factors such as a booming South-South trade and Africa catching up rapidly and being strategically located along this maritime corridor.

That's the view of the Mauritian Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, who was speaking at the opening of the International Bunkering Industry Association (IBIA) Regional Forum 2015 which was held recently on the island. The theme of the Forum was Mauritius: A bunker hub -- Driving the Ocean Economy.

Mr Koonjoo said that Mauritius has a promising future as an ocean state, while adding that the government is committed to making the ocean economy an important industry to sustain economic diversification, job creation and wealth generation.

He said that Mauritius aims at increasing the current contribution of the shipping and maritime sector by incentivising more vessels to call at Port Louis. Ship registering, bunkering, transshipment activities, ship repairs and many related activities will be provided, he said. Currently, some 30,000 vessels ply close to Mauritius yearly, out of which only 740 vessels called for bunkering in 2014.

Koonjoo stated that the Mauritian government is leveraging its locational advantages to attract key players in the industry. The promotion of Port Louis as a transshipment hub for container vessels, fishing vessels and as a cruise hub as well as the development of bunkering business is high on government's agenda, he said.

The port authority hopes to increase the container terminal's capacity to one million TEU by the year 2025, of which 755,000 TEU would be transshipment cargo. The terminal currently handles 556,000 TEU annually of which 305,000 are transshipment containers.

By the end of 2016 container ships with a capacity of 8,000 TEU will be able to freely operate in the port.

Speaking about maritime safety, maritime security and the prevention of marine pollution from ships, Minister Koonjoo highlighted that measures are being taken to regulate the shipping industry.

These include: upgrading of legislation and drafting of a Marine Pollution Bill, drafting of a Marine Pollution Liability and Compensation Bill to cover requirements under the International Convention on Civil Liability for oil pollution damage and International Convention on civil liability for bunker oil pollution damage, and accession to major International Maritime Organization conventions including Marpol. (The basis of this report has appeared in PORTS & SHIPS previously.)

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Shipowners organisation the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) is set to unveil a new reporting code designed to eliminate inconsistencies that currently produce significant differences in global statistics for piracy and hijackings, reports Hellenic Shipping News.

The criteria for recording incidents ranging from hijackings to attempted thefts currently varies for several of the organisations that report and collate statistics portraying the state of the problem worldwide.

The variation is particularly acute in South East Asia where recent publication of maritime crime figures has led to organisations producing notably different views on how bad the problem is.

BIMCO is working on a set of guidelines which will aim to standardise the categories of piracy and armed robbery at sea.

"Once completed we will be asking all piracy reporting centres and ships to utilise the same category system which will simplify all future reports. By doing this it is hoped a more accurate picture of piracy events will be captured," explained Philip Tinsley, BIMCO's security manager.

"It is hoped that the document will be released by the end of 2015, once it has received industry approval."

The different criteria governing the reporting of maritime crime incidents has made the true picture and trends in SE Asia difficult to assess.

Earlier this month, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) maintained that a piracy crackdown by Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia designed to thwart hijackings and attacks was working, according to its latest statistics showing that only two hijackings were reported in the region in the third quarter of the year.

Conversely, in statistics issued last month, maritime security experts Dryad Maritime reported their alarm at a 38 percent rise in incidents of maritime crime in SE Asia during the first nine months of 2015 compared to the corresponding period last year.

While the IMB highlighted the robust actions taken, particularly by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities, Ian Millen, Dryad Maritime's COO, said that despite pledges to increase patrol cooperation and coordination in the region there remained little evidence of a regular presence by authorities in the troubled area.

"It is difficult to assess the success of the anti-piracy force in SE Asia with any precision because we see a variation in the statistics being reported from the region at this time. In addition, we see different systems in place for categorising reported incidents, making it difficult to see the full picture," Tinsley added.

Although inconsistency in reporting is a global issue, one of the specific problems in SE Asia is that many incidents are regarded as petty crime and fail to be reported, either by ships' crews or the monitoring authorities.

"BIMCO, of course, regards any attack on a ship as very serious and it's clear that co-operation between all Indonesian, Singaporean and Malaysian maritime forces is needed to reduce the threat of piracy and armed robbery in that region," said Tinsley.

"We advise ships entering this region to increase their vigilance, consider implementing self-protection measures and be aware of the threat."

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It's a breathtaking sight. Picture trolleys to carry humongous weight. They need to slide, unimpeded. The new section must fit -- perfectly. The four corners of every square have to be secured, by different means. The hull must show no signs of a 'join'. And the waterline must be just the same as before -- one of those extraordinary mathematic equations that leave the rest of us in awe. The Renaissance programme added 800 new cabins in total, plus other favourable facilities. Italy's Fincantieri shipyard can take a 'royal salute' from Ports & Ships.

'Astonishing' --just one of a plethora of words that could be used to describe the lengthening of four MSC Cruise's liners.

Only someone physically present would be able to truly comprehend the sheer complexity of getting a vessel into dock, cutting it in half, sliding in a pre-built section, 'glueing' it together -- and then letting it sail off again into an MGM sunset. The mechanics and complexities of such a process beggar belief.

MSC Cruises last week completed its Renaissance Programme, which delivered four stretched Lirica-class ships over the course of 15 months.

MSC Cruises CEO, Gianni Onorato, told a press conference aboard MSC Lirica -- the final ship to complete the Renaissance transformation -- that the project "reinforced the elements that so distinguish the MSC Cruises experience."

Detailing some of the onboard innovations and enhancements, Onorato said much of Renaissance was carried out with families in mind, which is why every ship now has five separate clubs for younger guests (ages 5 to 17).

And, dining has been made even more flexible, with an extended range of menus and restaurants, while guests can truly cruise at their own pace, with buffet options available for a full 20 hours a day.

Turning specifically to MSC Lirica, Onorato said the ship had been fully customised ahead of her May 2016 deployment in Shanghai, with an array of tailor-made touches just for Chinese consumers.

The vessel-stretch programme included the Lirica, bound for China next year; MSC Opera, that will sail from Cuba this northern winter; the MSC Armonia, based in Genoa and the MSC Sinfonia, which is already attracting bountiful sales ahead of its coming South African cruise season.

Vernon Buxton

Note: MSC Sinfonia, currently on her way to South Africa for the 2015/16 cruise season, will start her summer of cruises on Thursday, 19 November with a four-day cruise from Durban to Maputo and Portuguese Island. -- Ports & Ships

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The Nigerian Navy in Port Harcourt on Sunday handed over six vessels and 15 suspected oil thieves to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for investigation and prosecution.

Speaking at the handover, Capt Olusegun Soyemi, Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Base NNS PATHFINDER, said that the suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement in illegal bunkering.

He said that one of the suspects (name withheld) was arrested while discretely discharging (about 108,000 litres of) diesel from a large wooden boat into five vessels without license.

"On 20 October we got intelligence reports about an illegal bunkering activity at a private jetty situated opposite the busy slaughter market around Trans-Woji area in Port Harcourt.

"On arrival at the jetty, our troops accosted five vessels and a large wooden boat loading products suspected to be stolen diesel.

"The vessels, MV Denis, MV Faith, MV Lum VII, MV Eliora, and FP Comfort had no approval from Navy headquarters for the transaction," he said.

Soyemi said that the prime suspect, who doubled as middleman for two companies fingered in the case, had provided useful information during preliminary investigations.

He said that the owners of the vessels were subsequently invited for questioning and had tended their statements.

Soyemi added that the owners of the vessels would further be investigated by the NSCDC while 20 other suspects arrested at the jetty were released after it was discovered that they were not involved in the case.

The officer said that the Navy also handed over a 3,000 ton ship and its 14 member crew who allegedly attempted to steal crude oil from a major pipeline in the state.

"On 2 October, troops of NNS Pathfinder impounded a 3,000 metric ton ship, MT Everest, which anchored at a location (few metres away from a pipeline) without any official reason to anchor there.

"We discovered the vessel, which had been in operation since 2007, had no certificate of registration and clearance from the Nigerian Ports Authority and approval from the Navy in all of its operations.

"While examining the vessel, we discovered that the cargo tanks had been emptied and cleaned with hoses connected to the cargo tanks indicating its readiness to load petroleum products," he said.

Soyemi said that none of the crew members had certificates and competency to serve aboard the merchant tanker ship.

He warned oil thieves not to sabotage oil and gas installations in the area and assured Nigerians that the Navy would not rest on its oars until illegal bunkering activities had stopped.

Receiving the suspects and vessels, Mr Steven Morgan, NSCDC Head of anti-Vandal Unit, Rivers Command, said that a thorough forensic investigation would be carried out on the suspects and vessels. source: NAN

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Durban tug Mkhuze, now on transfer to Port Elizabeth. Picture is by Trevor Jones


Two Durban tugs, the 377-ton Voith Schneider propelled harbour tug MKHUZE and the workboat/tug ROYAL TERN (70-gt, built 1999) have been transferred to Port Elizabeth where they arrived this week. The two tugs left Durban on Saturday and made good time down the Wild Coast where they arrived on Monday. It is not known if this is a temporary loan or a permanent transfer.

Mkhuze was built at Southern African Shipyards in 2003, the fifth of a series of similar tugs placed on order with the Durban shipyward. When launched the tug was originally named MKUZE but was later changed to the more correctly spelt Mkhuze.

The smaller Royal Tern was built in 1999 by Farocean Marine in Cape Town as one of several workboat/tug boats for Transnet NPA.


APL Minnesota -- NOL ships operate under APL American President Lines), the public brand name following the merger between Neptune and APL in 1997.

The sale of Singapore's Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) has again surfaced and has been confirmed by NOL which announced this week that it is in talks with two major shipping lines, France's CMA CGM, and Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk.

NOL said it was in 'preliminary discussions' with both companies. Late last week repprts emerged that CMA CGM had advanced to the point of carrying out due diligence investigations into the Singapore-based line, whereas talks with Maersk are not thought to be so advanced.

Earlier this year NOL's major shareholder Temasek placed Neptune Orient up for sale.


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South Korea's Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries has poured cold water on reports that the government is encouraging two of Korea's largest shipping lines to merge. The report of a possible merger appeared in the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo and was followed by a sharp decrease in both lines' stock prices.

Hanjin Shipping and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) are generally regarded as fierce competitors and both denied any pressure on them to merge. The Ministry issued a statement to this effect after the newspaper report appeared: "There is a need to maintain the existence of the two companies when considering the impact a merger could have on South Korea's import and export oriented economy and global shipping alliances, as well as the transhipment competiveness of Busan port," the Ministry stated.

The newspaper report may have been encouraged by a speech given by the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries when speaking at the Danish Maritime Forum in Copenhagen one month ago, when he urged smaller container lines to either merge or face extinction.

Thoughts of mergers between major shipping lines began to appear after it was learned that China had instructed two Chinese state-owned shipping companies to explore a merger, the two companies being COSCO and China Shipping Container Line (CSCL).


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COSCO's Yong Sheng. Picture by Wikipedia Commons

Speaking of COSCO, the Chinese line says it is considering increasing the number of its ships sailing between Asia and Europe through the Arctic waters of the Northwest Passage.

The statement was made by COSCO's General manager of the Safety and Technical Supervision department, Cai Meijiang, shortly after one of COSCO's ships, the 19,000-dwt general cargo vessel YONG SHENG completed a round trip from China to Europe through the Northwest Passage. This is the second time this ship has made the journey.

A journey through the Northwest Passage, which is dependent on the time of year and sea and ice conditions, can shave off 2,400 n.miles between Shanghai and Rotterdam from the longer sea journey through the Suez Canal. The journey can save between 12 and 15 days.

"A lot more needs to be done to turn it into a major sea route. The ports along the route need to be developed to handle more cargo, along with plans to tackle oil spills and search-and-rescue operations," Bjorn Gummarson, Managing Director of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) Information Office, told the Wall Street Journal. However, he said the COSCO plan showed the potetnial of the NSR.

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The 50 metre long Japanese long line fishing vessel HINODE MARU No.38 on Durban's T-Jetty, berth O at the recent weekend. Picture is by Ken Malcolm


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