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Ports & Ships Maritime News

15 December 2015
Author: Terry Hutson

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

PORTS & SHIPS is closing down during the coming December/January holidays. Today is our last News Bulletin of the year and also the final Ship Movement reports will also appear today, 15 December 2015. We reopen again on Monday 11 January 2016.

We thank all our readers for their support and wish you all a very happy, blessed and peaceful festive season.


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Oceania Cruises' NAUTICA is a smaller type cruise ship that for the past month or so has been calling at Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mossel Bay and Cape Town. Cruise vessels calling at Mossel Bay anchor outside the port and passengers are ferried in on tenders. picture by TNPA

On 25 November we featured the call at Mossel Bay of the cruise ship SEVEN SEAS MARINER. Mossel Bay doesn't generally receive many cruise ship calls a year, and those that do call are usually the smaller type ships. Even then the ships go to anchor outside and passengers are taken ashore in ship's lighters, a result of the harbour being particularly small and relatively shallow.

Nevertheless, the calls at this beautiful spot on South Africa's south coast become popular among passengers and the ship calls are much looked forward to by the town's tourism industry and service providers. Last week it was the turn of Oceania's NAUTICA to arrive at the first place on which European explorers set foot in southern Africa in 1488 and which today still boasts a tree as a national monument -- this being the post office tree in whose branches early seafarers deposited their letters for other ships to collect and carry back home on their behalf.

On Tuesday, 7 December Mossel Bay welcomed 662 international passengers to the town when Nautica arrived as per schedule. According to Transnet National Ports Authority's Port Manager for Mossel Bay, Tandi Lebakeng, the passengers -- hailing from Germany, China and other countries -- disembarked for tourist activities including foot tours around Mossel Bay and bus tours to neighbouring towns like George and Plettenburg Bay.

"Although it is one of the quieter ports, the Port of Mossel Bay has been enjoying calls by international cruise liners bringing visitors to our city. TNPA is working closely with the Mossel Bay Municipality to develop the Port of Mossel Bay as a tourist port," she said.

This summer season Mossel Bay has seen calls by the MS AMADEA, owned by Amadea Shipping Company and operated under charter by the Germany-based Phoenix Reisen, as well as Regent Seven Seas Cruises' SEVEN SEAS MARINER. Other ships scheduled to call are MS Albatross on 21 January 2016 and MV ASTOR on 1 April 2016.

The Mossel bay port has provided us with the following information - larger busier ports take note! MS NAUTICA is registered in the Marshall Islands and her crew of 400 is European. This season she has already made stops in the ports of Richards Bay, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and Mossel Bay. She will set sail for Singapore and Hong Kong later this month.

The vessel's rich fabrics and furnishings are designed to reflect the charisma of Tuscany, Italy, complemented by 11 decks, four dining rooms, 342 cabins and a museum-quality art collection.

Oceania Cruises also has its INSIGNIA and MARINA cruise ships sailing in South African waters this season.

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The competitiveness of Africa's economies will depend on the efficiency of African ports, according to the African Development Bank's first Transport Forum held at its headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa.

Participants at a session on Improving Ports: Gateways to Africa discussed the inefficiency facing Africa's ports, which they said was caused by poor infrastructure, including old and unsuitable equipment and vessels, inadequate technology and congestion.

Admou Saley Abdourahamane, the Secretary General of Union of African Shippers Council, said: "Port capacity and logistics cannot handle the increasing traffic across most of Africa, causing congestion."

He added that the congestion was due to factors such as deficient physical infrastructure (inadequate capacity particularly in terminal storage and maintenance), weak regulatory systems and poor management, all which amounted to poor port efficiency.

"What this situation does is to contribute to the marginalisation of the continent from international markets," Abdourahamane said.

In total, Africa has 66 ports and 28 of them are in West Africa.

Even though the state of roads in Africa is poor, it was noted that ports contribute in a big way to transport delays.

Drepoba Leandre Sery, Manager at the Port of Abidjan, said that it takes 12-13 or sometimes more days to transport cargo in Cote d'Ivoire, while it takes a much shorter time outside the continent.

Statistics from the World Bank indicate that cargo traveling from a port to a city in a landlocked Sub-Saharan African country generally spends 75 percent of its time at the port than on the road.

Also, that cargo spends nearly three weeks on average in Sub-Saharan African ports, compared to less than a week in large ports in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

This, experts stress, harms Africa's economy, deterring the promotion of value-added industries that rely on time-sensitive supply chains.

Countries have embarked on measures to address these challenges. For example, Cote d'Ivoire has set up a competitiveness commission to look into ways of improving the operations of its ports, including expansion.

"We have had situations where one or two companies dominate the markets and determine prices," said Abdourahamane. "This is not helpful to our economies because the same operators end up being the ones that benefit from the delays because they derive revenue from every delay."

It was previously reported that port and terminal operator DP World had outlined a five point plan for developing Africa's infrastructure, covering elements which include public-private partnerships and enhanced trade integration. source: Port Technology

It should be noted that the statistics quoted in this report clearly do not take into account the ports of Southern Africa and South Africa in particular, where cargo dwell time and time taken to deliver cargo from the ports to destinations hundreds of kilometres inland are much closer to those of Europe.

For that matter we don't believe that all West African port terminals are quite as inefficient as in Cote d'Ivoire quoted here. We invite comment on this matter -- send to terry@ports.co.za.

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computer generated impression of Silver Muse

The keel for Silverseas' latest boutique luxury ship, the 40,700-gt SILVER MUSE was laid last week at Fincantieri's Sestri Ponente shipyard and in the keel was set a South African One Rand coin.

The South Africn coin was not alone - it has seven others, each representing a continent or region to which Silverseas sails. The coins were:

  • A South African rand

  • An Australian dollar

  • A US half dollar

  • A Brazilian real

  • An Italian euro

  • A Singapore dollar

  • A commemorative Antarctica trust coin

  • A specially designed Silverseas Silver Muse commemorative coin

  • The welding or placing of a coin into the keel of a ship dates back to the days of sail when a coin was laid beneath the main mast. Being superstitious, or should that be 'romantic' people, seafarers ensdure the tradition continues.

    Silver Muse is due to be delivered in the northern spring of 2017.

    The ship will have accommodation for 596 passengers travelling in all-suite accommodations. "Today marks a significant milestone for Silversea with the birth of our newest ship," said Mr Enzo Visone, Silverseas CEO. "We proudly sail to all seven continents, discovering new destinations and ports with our intimate, boutique vessels, and we are now one step closer to introducing Silver Muse to the fleet. "With an unprecedented variety of dining options and a design across the ship that encourages open-air cruising, guests will be able to enjoy magnificent destinations as never before. Silversea looks forward to working closely with Fincantieri throughout the construction phase of Silver Muse and in the run-up to her launch in spring 2017," he said.

    Silver Muse will increase the size of the Silverseas fleet to nine ships. She will be 212 metres long and will continue with the small-ship intimacy and spacious all-suite accommodations that Silverseasa are noted for.

    Keel laying Silver Muse 480
    Silver Muse's keel block being laid. Picture courtesy Fincantieri

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    The new management team of MCS and MBC 480
    Reporting to Daniel Ngubane (centre) are Cindy Greyling (Finance) and Yvette De Klerk (Training, Crew Administration and Marketing)

    Marine Bulk Carriers (MBC) and Marine Crew Services (MCS) have a new man at the helm, 48-year old Daniel Ngubane who has taken over the day-to-day management of both companies.

    Ngubane succeeds Deanna Collins and Jan Rabie who have been at the helm of MCS and MBC since 2003 and who have made a significant contribution, along with co-founder Robert Knutzen, to the growth of the South African maritime industry.

    Collins and Rabie will continue to serve as directors and will provide support to Ngubane and the senior management team as advisors and mentors.

    Ngubane, who has been appointed Group CEO, says he is looking forward to using his more than 12 years' experience in the maritime industry to build on the strong foundation created by Collins, Rabie and Knutzen. He says the time was right to consolidate the MCS and MBC management of both companies into a single structure, while maintaining the organisations as two separate legal entities.

    "Given the current depressed economic climate, it made business sense to bring the two businesses closer together in order to increase our competitiveness and reduce our cost base. Consolidating the management structure has also given us the opportunity to streamline and develop a more comprehensive strategy for future growth."

    This strategy includes developing and supporting initiatives aimed at creating employment opportunities for South African trained seafarers. Ngubane believes there is great potential to grow South Africa's participation in the global maritime economy by increasing the number of trainee seafarers, as well as the number of training berths made available to them.

    To date, MCS has trained in excess of 880 officers, ratings and cadets and has assisted thousands of young South Africans find employment within the maritime sector. MCS is the only private manning company with ISO 9001 accreditation and has trained the largest number of sea-going, black female seafarers.

    MBC, a vessel owner and operator active in the off-shore oil and gas exploration sector, is currently the leading offshore vessel provider to PetroSA. Ngubane aims to increase the number of vessels on contract to PetroSA.

    Yet another focus area is growing the company's relationships with various government departments and participating actively in key matters relating to the local maritime industry and the development of the oceans economy.

    As a member of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in London and part of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) working group, Ngubane is currently doing a Master of Commerce in Maritime Studies at the University of Kwazulu Natal.

    He joined MBC nine years ago as a trainee after completing his S1 and S2 studies at the Durban University of Technology. He rose quickly through the ranks and was appointed MBC's General Manager: Offshore Operations in 2012 and a Director of MBC in 2014. He was appointed Group CEO on 18 November 2015.

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    The two vessels involved. Ever Smart courtesy of Shipspotting and Alexandra 1 courtesy MAIB.

    Report on the investigation of the collision between the container ship Ever Smart and the oil tanker Alexandra 1, Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates 11 February 2015.

    On 9 December 2015 the (UK) Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) published the above document. This document is Crown copyright and a synopsis taken from the report is reproduced here with kind permission.

    On 11 February 2015, the United Kingdom registered container ship Ever Smart collided with the Marshall Islands registered oil tanker Alexandra 1 near the entrance to the buoyed approach channel in Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates. The container ship was outbound at a speed of 12 knots and had disembarked its pilot. The tanker was inbound and was moving very slowly ahead while waiting for the pilot from the container ship to board. Both vessels suffered major structural damage to their bows but there were no injuries or pollution.

    The collision resulted from several factors. In particular, a passing arrangement was not agreed or promulgated and the actions of both masters were based on assumptions. Alexandra 1 was unnecessarily close to the channel entrance and the tanker's master acted on scanty VHF radio information. In addition, Ever Smart's bridge team did not keep a proper lookout or monitor the tanker's movement. They only realised that Alexandra 1 was close ahead seconds before the collision when alerted by the port control.

    The accident occurred within Jebel Ali's port limits. The precautions of pilotage and the port's vessel traffic service, which would normally co-ordinate and de-conflict the movements of vessels in the port area, were ineffective on this occasion.

    Evergreen Marine (UK) Limited, the managers of Ever Smart and Iships Management Private Limited, the managers of Alexandra 1 have taken action to improve the standard of bridge watchkeeping on board their vessels. A recommendation to DP World UAE Region, the operators of Jebel Ali port, is intended to improve the effectiveness of the vessel traffic and pilotage services it provides.

    Of particular interest to readers of PORTS & SHIPS will be the following Sections: 1.6 JEBEL ALI PORT; 1.7 VESSEL TRAFFIC SERVICES and 5 RECOMMENDATIONS. The report is available at www.gov.uk/maib

    The full report can be found HERE

    Paul Ridgway

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    Mozambique's French built modern longliner, one of more than 20 built under controvesial circumstances by CMN

    Mozambique's fish production in the first nine months of this year stood at more than 211,000 tons, local radio reported on Monday.

    The figure represents 87 percent of the government's goal of 245,000 tons in fish production this year.

    The national broadcaster Radio Mozambique quoted the spokesperson for the Ministry of Fisheries, Tome Capesse, as saying that 10,000 tons of the catch had so far been exported this year, earning the country more than 59 million US dollars.

    Capesse's statement came a day after the Fisheries Ministry ended its coordinating council meeting on Sunday, held at Bilene touristic resort in the southern province of Gaza.

    The Bilene gathering was held under the theme 'Consolidating the State Action for the Sake of Economy.'

    The central provinces of Zambezia, Tete, and the northern regions of Nampula and Cabo Delgado are the country's main producers of fish.

    The sector is also boosted by aquaculture introduced by the government ten years ago.

    Among the marine resources Mozambique possesses are crabs, prawns, tilapia, and Kapanta, the latter produced in the northwestern province of Tete.

    Mozambique's medium-term goal is to produce 300,000 tons of fish per year to help revive its economy.

    Mozambique exports fish to the European markets, Asia and the United States. -- Xinhua

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    About to disappear, the op[erating name China Shipping Container Lines as COSCO takes over all container shipping operations. CSCL will instead focus on leasing container ships and containers as well as financing.

    Following the confirmation of a merger between Chinese state-owned shipping companies China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) and China Shipping Group (CSCL), initial details of the combined operations have begun to emerge.

    By combining their assets the world's sixth and seventh largest container lines will emerge as no. 4 in the rankings, behind Maersk Line, MSC, and CMA CGM.

    They will reorganise themselves into four divisions comprising container shipping, ports and terminals, oil and gas transportation, and finance.

    COSCO will in future represent the container side of the combined business, acquiring 33 container ships from China Shipping in the process for a cost of RMB1.1 billion (US$177m). Hong Kong-listed COSCO Pacific acquires all shares in China Shipping Ports Development (CSPD), China Shipping's terminals arm, for RMB 7.6bn (US$1.2bn).

    These facilities include No.25, 28 and 30 terminals in the Port of Seattle, Berth's 100-102 terminals and Berth's 121-126 terminals in the Port of Los Angeles, and Yantai Port.

    CSCL will become a company focused on leasing containerships and containers, and financing.

    All the bulk shipping assets of both China Cosco and China Shipping Development, its subsidiary CS Bulk, will be sold to the former's parent COSCO Group.

    CSD will acquire tanker and LNG shipping firm Dalian Ocean from COSCO to become a company focused on tanker and gas shipping.

    "Through this transaction, the listed company aims to focus on its two main businesses -- container shipping and terminal service, switch from business diversification to specialisation, expand operation scale and increase its competitiveness and sustainable operation capacity in the international market," China COSCO said. "After this transaction, the Listed Company will see decreased asset-liability ratio, stable liquidity ratio and quick ratio and further optimise its asset-liability structure, which is beneficial to the long-term interests of its shareholders."

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    Kalmar automated cargo handling quipment at London's Gateway terminal

    Port automation will change the role of labour, but it's time to adapt or die.

    That was the lead-in by Samantha Mehlinger, writing in the Long Beach Business Journal.

    Writing from an American perspective, she says that dockers (stevedores) at California ports and freight handlers at logistics operations everywhere are in the midst of a global shift over the way in which the trade industry does business and in which megaships are demanding that ports become automated.

    The demands stem from the need for more efficient ways of handling cargo to and from a ship, in particular from container ships where port terminals are under the strongest presssure to provide better and bigger facilities for the bigger ships being introduced.

    Technological advancements in cargo handling stand to greatly benefit the local ports by increasing efficiency and improving competitiveness while also helping US west coast ports to repair what some in the industry see as a bruised reputation from work stoppages, she writes.

    Labour unions, although cautious about how technology will impact the workforce, also realise that technological changes, such as automation -- which will likely reduce manual labour jobs but also create new technology-based higher paying jobs -- are inevitable, according to industry experts.

    "Technological advances and automation are not an option or a choice; they're a requirement," said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), the largest US national trade organisation for agriculture and forest product exporters.

    That may be so for US trade unions and industry stakeholders, but can the same be said for South Africa where trade unions play as strong, if not a more decisive role in deciding such issues as to whether automation can ever be introduced at South African ports.

    The size of container ships calling at local ports may not be in the same league as the US west coast or that of European ports, but the effect of laden 10,000 and 12,000 TEU vessels is just as great in South Africa, with its limiting factors of inadequate road infrastructure and a historically suspect rail service, as the mega ships have on our northern counterparts.

    Elsewhere in today's News Bulletin a report from the African Development Bank's first Transport Forum, held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, rightly says that the competitiveness of Africa's economies depends on the efficiency of African ports, while pointing out that in many of Africa's ports poor infrastructure, including old and unsuitable equipment (and vessels), as well as inadequate technology result in congestion and poor port handling.

    "Port capacity and logistics cannot handle the increasing traffic across most of Africa, causing congestion," says Admou Saley Abdourahamane, the Secretary General of Union of African Shippers Council.

    Despite the pressures on port operators from trade unions the writing on the wall for port and terminal operators across the continent, and in South Africa in particular, must surely be obvious, despite government reluctance to face up to the challenges. Unless we embrace the movement towards automated systems of cargo handling, Africa's (read South Africa) ports will continue struggling to cope with bigger ships and larger cargoes.

    Those who believe they stand to lose the most from development towards an automated port operation need to consider what Mehlinger has written. Labour unions, she said, talking of US conditions, although cautious about how technology will impact the workforce, also realise that technological changes, such as automation -- which will likely reduce manual labour jobs but also create new technology-based higher paying jobs -- are inevitable. : Ports & Ships

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    CMA CGM Africa Two in operation on the WAX service that once again includes Douala. Picture by Terry Hutson

    CMA CGM announced yesterday (14 December) the resumption of direct weekly calls at Douala, Cameroon, on its WAX service connecting Asia with West Africa.

    The WAX service is operated with thirteen vessels up to 4,200 TEU on the Asia-West Africa trade. The first vessel of the programme, QUEENS WAY, berthed at Douala International Terminal on 8 December 2015. The following call it is understood will take place with mv CMA CGM AFRICA TWO expected in Douala on 19 December.

    WAX is claimed to be the sole service in the market offering direct connections between Asia and Douala, Cameroon. Douala is 42 days steaming from Shanghai, 36 days from Nansha (PRC) and 30 days from Port Kelang, Malaysia.

    Westbound port coverage is given as follows:

    Shanghai -- Ningbo -- Chiwan -- Nansha -- Tanjung Pelepas -- Port Kelang -- Cape Town -- Cotonou -- Tin Can/Lagos -- Apapa -- Douala -- Abidjan.

    Paul Ridgway

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    Gateway port

    Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

    In the case of South Africa's container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

    You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.


    IRISBANK R shed 1978 480

    GALILEO FERRARIS March 1974 R shed 480

    Scenes from Durban's old R-shed berth at the city side of the foot of the T-Jetty. Today this is part of the expanded ro-ro (car) terminal which with berths F and G handles about half a million vehicles each year. Back in the 1970s when these two pictures were taken, R-Shed had a shed and handled a very different type of cargo, mostly from breakbulk and some bulk type cargoes. The top photograph shows one of Andrew Weir's ships, the IRISBANK (7,597-gt, built 1964) working her cargo while a gang over the side can be seen chipping and painting. This, as the photographer points out, is something never seen in the port now. Irisbank, the second Bank Line ship to carry this name, was disposed of to Greek interests in 1979 and renamed OCEANAUT.

    The lower picture is of the Italian Line cargo passenger ship GALILEO FERRARIS (11,349-gt) on her berth at R-shed in March 1974 and as with IRISBANK, was taken from the small public beach which is now covered in concrete for the tug basin. Built in 1952 at the Chantier de l'Atlantique shipyards in St Nazaire, France as hull number L14 and named HENRI POINCARE her name was changed after purchase from Chargeurs Reunis in 1956. The ship had a reported 543 passenger berths, which seems high? She was ultimately scrapped in 1979.

    Both pictures are by Trevor Jones


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