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Ports & Ships Maritime News

24 November 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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MSC MARIA PIA aad noorland 20 11 2015 2 (2) Co

Mediterranean Shipping Company's 2,800-TEU container ship MARIA PIA (40,117-dwt, built 1997) made another visit at the port of Cape Town earlier in November and is seen here on her arrival. The Panama-flagged ship is owned by MSC and was built at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd Co in South Korea as their number 1046. Picture by Aad Noorland

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Siya gama 225px
Siyabonga Gama, Transnet Group chief executive

Transnet has secured a R12 billion club loan from five lenders to fund its locomotives fleet acquisition programme.

"The acquisition is the single biggest item of Transnet's record breaking infrastructure programme -- the Market Demand Strategy," Transnet Group Chief Executive Siyabonga Gama said.

Speaking yesterday during a media briefing in Johannesburg, Gama said the participants in the club loan include Absa, Nedbank, Bank of China, Futuregrowth Asset Managers, as well as Old Mutual Specialised Finance.

Transnet raised the R12 billion in the open markets following investor roadshows targeted at potential funders from within South Africa.

The sessions, which were led by Gama and the acting Group Chief Financial Officer, Garry Pita, were intended to share the company's performance and prospects. They were not for the purposes of making deals.

Gama said Transnet has been able to secure the loan at competitive rates.

All funders agreed to a term of 15 years, including a grace period of four and half years, while the locomotives are under construction.

"I think what is important for South Africa is that we are at the cusp of creating an efficient and reliable railway service, which will assist South African companies to become competitive in the markets in which they operate," Gama said.

He said it was important for Transnet to strengthen the logistics in the country so that South Africa can create a competitive supply chain.

"But most importantly, we must make sure we have an efficient and reliable railway service that we are able to move commodities from the road onto rail so that we can reduce the number of trucks on our main highways.

"This investment," he said "will assist us greatly to create the kind of capacity that Transnet needs in order for us to be able to meet some of the objectives in the National Development Plan and in the New Growth Path." Transnet will be building 1,065 locomotives and 994 of those will be assembled in South Africa.

"On top of that, there is another 250 to 300 locomotives for our bulk services that have also been ordered, which will assist us to have replaced probably 1,350 locomotives over a space of 10 years.

"If you look at our current fleet of 2,400 locomotives, we will have about 1,500 new locomotives. [This] also gives us the opportunity to maintain some of the older locomotives and also to retire some of the locomotives that we have, which are over 40 years and are quite expensive in terms of maintenance," he said. Transnet & SAnews.gov.za

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ESPS Meteoro P41 and her helicopter exercising at sea

The Spanish Navy's offshore patrol vessel ESPS METEORO (P41) is arriving in Cape Town tomorrow for a two-day visit to the Mother City and later to the SA Navy.

ESPS Meteoro is coming off a four month deployment with the EU counter piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden/Horn of Africa region, Operation Atalanta and is making her first visit to South Africa.

The 2,700-ton patrol ship is claimed to be one of the most advanced offshore patrol vessels and her visit to South Africa and the SA Navy can be no coincidence, given that the tender process for Project Biro, the acquisition of six patrol vessels for the SA Navy, is nearing the day when contracts will be awarded.

According to a statement from the Spanish embassy, the vessel is to play host to a numbe of official engagements with the South African national, regional and local governments, the South African Navy, and South Africa's local maritime and shipbuilding industry.

Her visit would also have slotted in closely with the Maritime/MCSA Conference which was due to be held in Cape Town at this time but was inexplicably cancelled when permits were not issued.

Nevertheless, the local shipbuilding industry as well as the SA Navy will be taking a keen interest in this vessel, which was built in Spain by the state-owned shipbuilder, Navantia.

A reception is to be held on board the vessel for invited guests, with the Spanish ambassador, Mr Juan I Sell and the commanding officer of Meteoro, Lt-Cdr Jose Maria Almira present along with a representative of the shipbuilder.

ESPS Meteoro is 94 metres in length with a width of 14.2m and a draught of 4.2 metres. She is powered by two diesel engines capable of giving her a top speed of 20 knots and a range of 3,000 n.miles at 15 knots. Her armamemnts consist os a 76/62mm main gun, 2 x 25mm automatic gun mountings, two 12.7mm machine guns and a NH-90 helicopter.

The NH-90 helicopter is a product of the Airbus group and is a medium-sized multi-role military helicopter for both land and maritime operations.

ESPS Meteoro has a standard crew of 46 and can carry up to another 30 marine force personnel.

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US alleges that Inchcape Shipping Services knowingly overcharged US Navy

The US government has announced that it has joined a lawsuit alleging that Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited and certain of its subsidiaries (collectively, Inchcape) violated the False Claims Act by knowingly overbilling the US Navy for ship husbanding services between the years 2005 to 2014.

Inchcape is a marine services contractor headquartered in the United Kingdom and has operations in South Africa.

The US Justice Dept says that as a ship husbanding services provider, Inchcape arranged for the provision of goods and services to Navy ships at ports in several regions throughout the world, including southwest Asia, Africa, Panama, North America, South America and Mexico. Inchcape's services typically included the provision of food and other subsistence items, arrangement of local transportation, waste removal, telephone services, ship-to-shore transportation and force protection services. The lawsuit, which was unsealed last week, alleges that Inchcape knowingly overbilled the Navy by submitting invoices that overstated the quantity of goods and services provided, billed at rates in excess of applicable contract rates and double-billed for certain goods and services.

The lawsuit was brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by three former senior employees of Inchcape. Under the act, a private citizen may bring suit on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The government may intervene in the case, as it has done here. The False Claims Act allows the government to recover treble damages and penalties from those who violate it.

According to the whistleblower complaint all three whistleblowers resigned from the company after discovering a wide-ranging overbilling scheme and bringing it to the attention of the company's CEO Claus Hyldager and other senior executives, only to be rebuffed in their effort to stop the fraud and prevent further illegal acts. In July 2009 the three contacted the government to provide evidence of the alleged worldwide fraud against the navy. Hyldager resigned from Inchcape three months ago.

The case is being handled jointly by the Civil Division's Commercial Litigation Branch and the US Attorney's Office of the District of Columbia, with assistance from the Department of the Navy and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The case is captioned United States ex rel. Rudolph v. Inchcape Shipping Services Holdings Limited, et al, No. 1:10-cv-01109 (D.D.C). The claims alleged in the case are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. source: US Dept of Justice

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PORTS & SHIPS has been asked to publish the following:

Richard Vallihu, Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and his Executive Committee, will host the company's Business to Business (B2B) Breakfast and Golf Day in Durban on Monday, 30 November.

The B2B breakfast will be held from 08h00 to 10h00 at the Durban International Conference Centre (ICC).

It will provide an update on TNPA's infrastructure development plans, Operation Phakisa initiatives, Section 56 projects and initiatives around Smart People's Ports.

Those interested in attending should RSVP to Jozi Meth on jozi@logicocreative.co.za or tel 079 898 2211, and indicate name and surname, company name, cell number, email and any special dietary requirements.

The B2B session will be followed by the CE's Golf Day at Mount Edgecombe Country Club, Durban from 12h00 (shotgun start).

Interested parties for the Golf Day should email mistygallocher@eastcoast.co.za and include the following: name and surname, company name, cell number, email, handicap and golf shirt size, special dietary requirements.p>

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Puma fuel terminal Matola

Puma Energy, the global energy company which operates in 46 countries on five continents, has officially opened two new terminals at the port of Matola (Maputo) in Mozambique.

The terminals, which will store bitumen and fuel, have effectively increased Puma's storage capacity in the country to 275,000 cubic metres, the company's second largest storage capacity in Africa.

Inaugurating the new terminals on Thursday last week, Mozambiquie's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Dr Pedro Conceicao Couto congratulated Puma Energy saying, "We must take the new Puma Energy Terminals as an example of how it is possible to invest, to build within deadlines, to increase capacities and create employment."

He said this should be taken as an example both for the private sector and even for the public sector and administration. "We should take this as an example of how to build more, better and quicker, with this precision and success, while contributing to the development of our country."

Puma Energy's presence in Mozambique has undergone a quantum leap with the construction of these new terminals. "Puma Energy links local demand with international supply, through investment in infrastructure investment," said Christophe Zyde, Chief Operating Officer for Puma Energy Africa.

"Mozambique is a very promising market in Africa today. We have confidence in the country's long-term commercial opportunities as well as the country's strategic location to answer the supply requirements of Southern Africa."

The new Puma Energy Fuel Terminals boast 11 new storage tanks which have been 12 months in the making, using more than 25,000 tonnes of steel. World-class expertise went into their construction.

"Together with our storage terminals in Beira and bitumen in Matola completed in May 2012 and June 2014 respectively, the strategic significance of our new 115,000 cubic metre Fuel Terminal reaches well beyond our borders," said Sophonie Babo, General Manager for Puma Energy Mozambique. "The Bitumen terminal means that Mozambique is no longer dependent on imports from neighbouring countries and the Fuel Terminal creates a channel for the cost-effective and secure supply of fuel to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) sub-region."

As the new operations get under way, Puma Energy will employ at least 77 qualified Mozambican workers.

"Puma Energy's focus is on integrated midstream and downstream operations which means we can achieve significant economies of scale and operating efficiencies. For Puma Energy's customers this translates into competitive costs, managed risk, secured supply and seamless delivery," says Babo.

"We take a long-term view to our entry into any market and anticipate the future growth of these emerging markets. In Mozambique, we have invested in state-of-the-art fuel and bitumen infrastructure and storage facilities. This improves security of supply and acts as a catalyst for economic growth," concludes Zyde.

Puma Energy was established in 1997 in Central America but is currently based in Singapore and has regional centres in Johannesburg, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Brisbane (Australia) and Tallinn (Estonia).

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spanish galleon painting by Joseph Hunt 480
Big ships plus lots of money equalled handy profits for Spain when it ran the world's first trans-Pacific trading enterprise. Huge Manila galleons connected Spain's far-flung empire by creating the first trade route across the Pacific Ocean, in this article from Hakai magazine. Painting by Joseph Hunt

Manila galleons were the economic lifeblood of Spain's Pacific empire. From the 1560s to the early 1800s, fleets of these behemoth ships sailed between Spain's colonies, swapping commodities for exorbitant profits and dominating trans-Pacific trade. But their influence went far beyond filling the coffers of the Spanish crown. Manila galleons helped lay the foundation for modern global trade and foreshadowed the giant container ships that navigate the Pacific [and other oceans] today. Here are five ways Manila galleons stood out from the other ships plying the seas during the Age of Sail.

Global traders
By the late 1500s, fleets of Manila galleons had helped Spain lock down lucrative trade routes between its Pacific colonies. Latin American silver mines -- some of the richest and most productive in the world -- provided Spain with wealth, and its Philippine colony of Manila gave ready access to valuable Asian markets. The fleet traded silver and gold for silk, spices, jewelry, and porcelain. By making just one or two trips a year, Spain tightly controlled supply, ensuring that the highly sought-after luxury goods turned a handy profit. The galleons were the first to forge these Pacific trade networks, and set the stage for future expansion of global trade.

Super-sized ships
Spain needed vessels massive enough to survive the six to seven-month journey across the Pacific while carrying enough goods and guns to make the trip profitable and safe. A galleon sailing westbound in the 17th century, for instance, would haul in excess of 45 tonnes of silver. On the eastbound leg, it was loaded with all the finery that money could buy. Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, constructed in 1633, was roughly 49 metres long, 15 metres wide, and carried nearly 400 people including passengers, soldiers, sailors, and gunners. Some Manila galleons weighed over 1,800 tonnes, making them substantially larger than most ships sailing the Atlantic at the time. Only a few warships, such as the 60-metre-long, 2,200-tonne Swedish Kronan, were bigger.

RG5620 2 350

Pricey cargo, no danger pay
Grand they may have seemed, but working on a galleon was far from cushy. Profit-hungry merchants often overloaded the galleons with precious goods, usurping space that would normally hold food and water. This resulted in conditions where scurvy, thirst, and starvation crippled the undersupplied ships. The crew's death rate on the Pacific route could reach 50 percent per voyage, whereas Spanish galleons crossing the Atlantic had mortality rates of 15 to 20 percent. The galleons' pricey cargo also tempted pirates. In 1743, the English naval commodore George Anson captured Nuestra Senora de Covadonga and its cargo with more than a million silver pesos de ocho (pieces of eight). (For comparison, in 1750 the total gross revenue for all of Mexico was six million pesos.)

California ports (and a shipwreck)
Instead of sailing straight from Manila to Acapulco, Spain's Latin American port of call, eastbound galleons rode prevailing westerly winds until they made landfall around California. With provisions running low, pirate attacks, disease, and starvation were real threats at this stage of the journey. A California port could be used to resupply the fatigued ships. So in 1595, the Spanish crown ordered Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, captain of the San Agustin, to explore the coastline for such a port. Cermeno anchored in Drakes Bay, near present-day San Francisco, and conducted crucial surveys that helped to spur Spanish colonisation of California. A November gale unfortunately sunk the galleon, making it the earliest recorded shipwreck off California, though Cermeno and his crew survived. Despite this first failed attempt, the Spanish went on to establish several ports in the region.

Adding wealth to new Spain's economy
Between 1492 and 1830, historians estimate that the Spanish turned their New World silver and gold into a grand total of 4,035,156,000 silver and gold pesos. Much of this wealth went straight to Manila in the holds of galleons. If pirates or a storm felled a single galleon, the financial loss could send the entire Philippine colony into economic depression. Ultimately, the galleons comprised the only trans-Pacific trade route, which made it fragile: when one link in the trade chain failed, the fallout was devastating. When Mexico rebelled against the Spanish crown in 1810, it wouldn't allow the galleons access to the port at Acapulco, and by the time Mexico won independence in 1821, the galleons were obsolete. The last one sailed in 1815. source: Hakai Magazine

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PECT aerial 470
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THORSTREAM July 1969 480

Ships of the Norwegian Thor Dahl company were once regular callers at Durban and this July 1969 scene of the freighter THORSTREAM (8,500-dwt, built 1960) sailing from the port, with the Bluff performing its usual backdrop, would have been typical. At just below 9,000 deadweight Thorstream was launched in 1960 as the last of three fast ships of their type built at Thor Dahl's own Framnaess yard in Sandefjord. The ships operated for Christensen Canadian African Lines (CCAL), the line owned by Thor Dahl, between the eastern seaboard of Canada, which included going as far upriver of the St Lawrence waterway as Montreal and into the Great Lakes, and South Africa, Mozambique and even East Africa. By the mid 1980s though, as trade sanctions against South Africa began to bite the ships turned round at either Durban or Richards Bay.

In the 1960s however, not long after the introduction of Thorstream, and with South African citrus becoming an important export into Canada, the three Framnaess-built ships, Thorshope, Thorsriver and Thorstream were returned to Sandfjord to have large refrigerated chambers installed but when Canada joined the sanctions movement and banned agricultural imports from South Africa, other cargoes and other destinations had to be sought. At this time Lisbon became an added port of call for the CCAL ships but not for very long as this added considerably to the rotation time and by then containers were becoming the main type of cargo. CCAL ships continued in service between South Africa and Canada until 2000 when A/S Thor Dahl was sold to Canada's CP Ships after more than 50 years of uninterrupted CCAL service. By now the ships in service were considerbaly reduced in number and consisted of the sturdy Astrakhan type.>p> CP Ships' tenure as custodian of the long tradition of running cargo ships between South Africa and Canada was not to last for long, with CP Ships merging CCAL into its former main competitor, Lykes Line. Even this was to prove short-lived, as soon afterwards Germany's TUI AG bought out CP Ships and merged everything including Lykes Line into Hapag-Lloyd.

The picture of Thorstream is by Trevor Jones


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