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Ports & Ships Maritime News

2 February 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Fred. Olsen's cruise ship BOUDICCA (28,551-gt, built 1973) departs from Cape Town on Sunday bound for the east coast and Durban where she is due on Thursday 4 February. The ship is on a round Africa cruise arriving in South Africa via the Atlantic Ocean and departing through the Indian Ocean. Boudicca is also proving to be the subject of some discussion over her unusually painted hull -- grey as opposed to the white of other Fred.Olsen cruise ships. This picture is by Ian Shiffman

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Port of East London, looking seaward towards the entrance channel, with the car terminal on the right and the multi purpose and container terminals on the opposite (left) side of the Buffalo River. The Mercedes Benz factory is the large plant at the extreme right. Picture courtesy TPT

Transnet Port Terminals' (TPT) East London terminals are set to end their financial year on a high note with bulk, break-bulk, vehicle and container cargo throughput volumes already exceeding forecasted budgets.

The multi-purpose terminal at South Africa's only river port was the busiest with breakbulk volumes exceeding expectations by as much as 110,4 percent followed by vehicle units which were 85,7 percent over budget for the year-to-date ending December 2015. Imported maize and wheat as a result of the drought gripping South Africa saw bulk volumes rise 9,5 percent to 87,643 tons. This can be expected to rise considerably this year. Container throughput measured in TEUs rose by 4.58 percent.

The manufacture for export of the latest Mercedes-Benz model (the w205 Mercedes-Benz project) in East London was the main contributor to the increase in vehicle and container volumes.

"The East London multipurpose terminal boasts the largest grain silo on the South African coastline. The remaining vessel line-up planned until March 2016 [end of TPT's financial year] reflects that we will exceed our advertised grain volumes of 760,000 tons by as much as 100,000 tons, which attests to our focus on improved customer service and commitment to increased productivity," stated Wandisa Vazi, Terminal Manager, East London.

"Credit must go to the East London team and their former Terminal Manager, Ms Nelisiwe Mbenekazi, who was recently appointed as TPT's Port Elizabeth Terminal Manager. Under Mbenekazi's leadership the Eastern Cape Terminal was recognised by exporters for its contribution to the economy of the region and received national recognition in the 2015 Productivity SA awards. She has also been recognised in recent times for her enthusiastic leadership and contribution to performance and safety at the terminal, having won the Regional GM's Award, the CEO's Award for Leadership and the Acting GCE Inspirational Leadership Award in the 2015 annual Transnet Awards," concluded Vazi.

Mbenekazi has left the running of the East London Terminal in the very capable hands of Wandisa Vazi who has also demonstrated great passion for Customer Service Excellence, Innovation and Continuous Improvement. Mbenekazi's new focus as Terminal Manager for the Port Elizabeth Terminal will be on driving volume growth and if East London is anything to go by, there are exciting and busy times ahead for this Eastern Cape terminal too.

Transnet Port Terminals says it remains committed towards service excellence that will enable the Region's economic growth.

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The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is launching a weekly service between Asia and the Red Sea starting on 12 February with the first sailing being with MSC Washington which will depart from Singapore to call direct at the ports of Salalah (ETA 22/02/2016) and Djibouti (ETA 26/02/2016).

The new service's full rotation is Yokohama, Qingdao, Busan, Ningbo, Shanghai, Shenzhen-Chiwan, Singapore, Salalah and Djibouti.

MSC's new loop offers transit times of 16 days to Salalah from Ningbo and Shanghai, 13 days from Chiwan and nine days from Singapore.

The new loop will offer the fastest transit times from Shanghai to Djibouti of 19 days.

The Salalah call will offer a very competitive transit time to Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Yemen, while the Djibouti direct call will allow a unique gateway to the vast Ethiopian market.

West Africa Feeder Service adds Port Harcourt

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In other MSC news, with effect 1 March, Port Harcourt will be added to MSC's Lome feeder service offering importers best facilities and competitive conditions.

MSC will serve the area using 1,800-TEU self sustained (geared) container ships.

"As an important industrial centre and home to many multinational firms as well as businesses related to the oil industry, Port Harcourt offers importers significant advantages regarding its convenient geographical location and accessibility to road networks," MSC said in a statement. "Port Harcourt is the second largest port in Nigeria; it is well situated to serve customers in urban centres of Aba and Onitsha, as well as offering a gateway to Abuja, Kano and the north of Nigeria. Many importers may have a preference for taking delivery at Port Harcourt over Lagos depending on their logistics requirements.

"Thanks to MSC's dedicated new service to Port Harcourt, importers will be able to collect cargo direct in the city centre, saving time as well as cost of onward transport and distribution. MSC will be the only major shipping line to offer a service to Port Harcourt and, together with the 'PTOL' terminal, will be able to offer optimum facilities and competitive conditions to all importers."

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MOL Precision. Picture by Ian Shiffman

Japan's largest shipping company, Mitsui OSK Line (MOL) has warned of a US$1.45 billion loss for its financial year which will end 31 March 2016.

This comes after a significantly weaker dry bulk market despite what it called the tailwind of lower bunker prices, as well as a delay in recovery of containership freight rates.

As a result MOL intends withdrawing from certain sectors of the dry bulk market and is taking steps to rationalise its north-south container business in response to changes in the business climate.

"In the dry bulker business, the market is deteriorating to a new record low due to the imbalance of fleet supply and demand, along with stagnant cargo trade resulting from the slowdown in China's economy since last fall. Regarding the containership business, cargo volume, mainly for Europe and emerging countries, hovered at low levels while a succession of newbuilding vessels came into service, keeping freight rates at historic lows," MOL said in its statement.

"Although the Company expects the market to recover to some extent, in light of its uncertainties it decided to implement structural reforms in these businesses to address the abruptly changing business climate."

MOL says it intends further reducing the number of free Capesize vessels, while withdrawing from offering excess tonnage in the free-vessel market for Panamax and other mid and small-size bulkers. Instead, the Company will focus on meeting the major transportation demands of its customers.

"In regard to the containership business, the Company will reinforce its business structure and forge ahead to improve the bottom line, centered on thorough efforts to capture more profitable cargoes, based on reducing fixed costs through rationalisation, mainly on North-South routes, and fleet reductions focused on mid-size vessels."

MOL said that as soon as the details of each measure are determined, announcements will be made in accordance with timely disclosure rules.

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The biggest cruise operators are sailing full ahead to China. Amid worries that demand for cruises may be peaking in some rich countries, the big players are now sailing into the biggest potential market of all..!

The really big news is the emergence of Chinese consumers ready to take a cruise holiday. Between 2013 and 2015 growth has been in double digits, both in capacity deployed in the region and in the number of Asians cruising, according to the American Cruise Travel magazine.

Costa Cruises in 2015 controlled 29 percent of the capacity in Asia, as the 3,000-pax COSTA SERENA joined the 2,112-pax COSTA ATLANTICA and 1,928-pax COSTA VICTORIA to homeport out of Shanghai year-round. COSTA FORTUNA joins the fray this April.

Royal Caribbean International cemented its position in Asia last year by basing its groundbreaking QUANTUM OF THE SEAS in Shanghai for year-round cruises. The 4,180-pax megaship, the largest in Asian waters, offers features and facilities that have found a ready response in the region, reports Cruise Travel.

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RCL's QUANTUM OF THE SEAS, a megaship that can carry 4,180 holidaymakers, has been based in Shanghai since mid-2015. MARINER OF THE SEAS will periodically home-port in Shanghai or Tianjin (for Beijing) or Singapore. While LEGEND OF THE SEAS will periodically home-port in Hong Kong or Singapore, and VOYAGER OF THE SEAS will home-port in Hong Kong.

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The OVATION OF THE SEAS (almost ready for delivery) enters service this April as the line's fifth ship in the China market. The 167,800gt/4,180-pax behemoth will be deployed to China and Australia upon entering service this spring. She starts out in Southampton for a 52-night 'Global Odyssey' to her new homeport in Tianjin, the port for Beijing. Five different segments are available, including a 7-night cruise from England to Barcelona departing, May 3. A 16-night cruise from Barcelona to Dubai emabarks May 10, while a 14-night India to Southeast Asia cruise from Dubai to Singapore departs on May 26. From there, the ship sails a 3-night Malaysia mini-cruise before commencing the final leg of her journey, a 12-night 'Exotic Asia' cruise from Singapore to Tianjin. It's enough to make any cruise-lover salivate.

Princess Cruises has seen notable growth in Asia-to-Asia cruises, from a mere five sailings in 2013 to 73 departures in 2015. The company's newest Royal-Class ship, a sister to the 3,500-pax ROYAL PRINCESS and REGAL PRINCESS, will be customised to appeal to the China market when the MAJESTIC PRINCESS debuts in summer, 2017.

Other major lines are also flocking to Asia. MSC Cruises' 2,600-pax MSC LIRICA will begin home-porting in Shanghai this May to serve the Chinese market.

ACHINA 4 480
MSC Cruises is making a bid for a slice of the cake too by moving quickly to send its recently-lengthened MSC LIRICA to China. MSC has planned a repositioning voyage from South America to Shanghai in March. It will be interesting to see how the 'Italian Flavours' go down with the Chinese market.

Norwegian Cruise Line is also heading that way in the China autumn with its recently renovated, 2,240-pax NORWEGIAN STAR, doing a series of Southeast Asia cruises. In 2017, the second ship in NCL's Breakaway Plus Class, currently under construction, is being designed specifically for Chinese guests.

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The big operators no longer send elderly cast-off hulks from America and Europe to China. New they send their newest and best, all of which have captured the imaginations of the Chinese market! This is one of NCL's latest behemoths, a maritime masterpiece that has taken cruising to new heights of excitement.

The giant Carnival Cruise Line enters the China market in the spring of 2017 by homeporting the 2,124-pax CARNIVAL MIRACLE there year-round, with the 3,006-pax CARNIVAL SPLENDOR following a year later. Carnival Corporation is exploring joint ventures in China, which could include launching a Chinese domestic cruise brand and building ships in China.

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Carnival's vessels are unambiguously aimed at the mass market, with a guarantee of gaudy public rooms, obtrusive music and 'body and feathers' shows. The Chinese cruiser loves them!

The number of Chinese households earning more than $35,000 a year -- the figure the cruise industry sees as the point at which foreign travel takes off -- has increased from 6m to more than 27m over the past decade, reports The Economist, adding: 'The number of mainland holidaymakers going on cruises has been growing by 80 percent a year, and is expected to keep doing so despite China's slowing growth rate.'

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In advance of the influx of cruise ships, Shanghai plans to expand its Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal (SWICT) to accommodate increasing demand. It is building another two berths, which will mean four berths in total. Two spaces will be for Oasis-class vessels, while the remaining two berths can handle megaships up to 150,000 tons, according to the port.

The Chinese market is also very profitable. This is partly because higher daily rates can be charged for the short, four-to-six-night cruises that are more popular in China, but also because the Chinese spend far more on board. They are less interested than Westerners in boozing and spa treatments, but keener on gambling, and really go to town in the onboard shops, buying such things as foreign-made appliances. The recent shopping craze on Carnival's Chinese ships was for Japanese rice cookers.

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Tianjin, the port for Beijing, is situated about 160 kilometres south of China's capital. Access between the two cities can be by coach or a 300km/h train, taking about 25 minutes each way.

Betting on the rise of the Chinese holidaymaker looks more attractive than sticking to the main Western markets. The future plans of the big three operators suggest they have concluded that the American market is saturated and has poor growth prospects, according to The Economist. "For the moment, the decision by large cruise operators to sail for China is a choice..but it could become a necessity," predicts the weekly British newspaper.

Vernon Buxton

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Mohammed Sharaf
DPW Jebel Ali 4 480 br>DPW's Jebel Ali port. Photos reproduced by kind courtesy of DP World

It was announced from Dubai Ports World, United Arab Emirates, on 26 January that, after 23 years with the Group and eleven successful years as Group CEO, Mohammed Sharaf has retired from the DP World Group, with immediate effect, to pursue other opportunities.

From a statement from Dubai it is understood that the Board has commenced a process to identify a permanent successor. Pending that appointment, the Chairman of the Company will carry out the Group CEO's duties and functions on an interim basis.

Mohammed Sharaf, said: "I would like to thank HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister, Vice President of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, and Sultan bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World and the DP World Group for giving me the opportunity to be part of the success story of DP World. It has been a very exciting journey and I am confident that the team will continue taking DP World to even greater heights."

The Chairman of DP World, Sultan bin Sulayem, said: "I would like to thank Mohammed for his years of dedication and service to the Group. He has been an invaluable part of the success we have achieved and I wish him well for his retirement."

About DP World Group
The Group will announce its FY2015 Throughput on 8 February and its Preliminary Results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2015 on 17 March 2016.

DP World has a portfolio of more than 65 marine terminals across six continents, including new developments underway in India, Africa, Europe and the Middle East.

Container handling is the company's core business and generates more than three quarters of its revenue. In 2014, DP World handled 60 million TEU. With its committed pipeline of developments and expansions, capacity is expected to rise to more than 100 million TEU by 2020, in line with market demand.

DP World has a dedicated, experienced and professional team of over 36,000 staff serving its customers around the world, and the company constantly invests in terminal infrastructure, facilities and staff.

DP World is building on the established relationships and level of service demonstrated at its flagship Jebel Ali facility in Dubai, which has been voted Best Seaport in the Middle East for 20 consecutive years.

In Africa it operates terminals in Maputo, Mozambique; Djibouti; Sokhna, Egypt and in Algeria at Djen-Djen and Algiers.

In Dakar, Senegal DP World has been formally handed responsibility for operating and developing Senegal's busiest container terminal. The agreement gives DP World management of the current Dakar container terminal, Terminal a Conteneur. The second phase of the project will be to design, finance, construct and manage the new Port du Futur container terminal.

Pual Ridgway

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Transnet National Ports Authority is reconstructing the quay walls at Maydon Wharf, the largest break bulk and dry bulk handling precinct in the Port of Durban covering 120ha of port land. Picture: TCP

Transnet Capital Projects (TCP), which is overseeing Transnet National Ports Authority's project to reconstruct the quay walls and deepen berths at Maydon Wharf, recently achieved a safety milestone of 1 million Man Hours without a Lost Time Injury (LTI) on the Reconstruction and Deepening of Maydon Wharf Berth 1-4, 13 &14 Project.

"There has been a huge safety commitment from the Project Managers, the main contractor Stefanutti Stocks AXSYS Joint Venture, and subcontractors, to provide continual training, preventative programmes, communication of safe work practices, sharing of lessons learned from observations and incidents and good site safety vigilance," said Project Manager Shane Perumal. He said this ensures that everyone, from labourers to senior management, works safely every day.

Perumal said this was notwithstanding the special nature of work being executed on this project and the tight deadlines.

The R1.6 billion project forms an integral part of Transnet's Market Demand Strategy which aims to enable the effective, efficient and economic functioning of an integrated port system to promote economic growth.

It involves the reconstruction and deepening of six of the 15 berths in this precinct. Once completed the berths will have a draught of 14.5 m enabling them to handle vessels with draughts up to 13 m, however the Maydon Wharf entrance channel will still need to be deepened thereafter to enable these vessels to sail in fully laden.

Maydon Wharf is the largest breakbulk and dry bulk handling precinct in the Port of Durban covering 120ha of port land. The reconstruction project aims to ensure safe operations, meet the needs of larger vessels calling at the port and enable increased throughputs.

The quay walls in the precinct were originally designed to handle vessels of approximately 20,000 dwt versus the 55,000 dwt vessels now calling. Bigger vessels call mainly half laden due to the current draught and width restrictions.

Berths 1-2 and 13-14 are currently under construction, following the reconstruction of berth 12, which was completed in November 2012. Berths 3-4 will be under construction early in 2016.

The work has involved demolition of paving, rail track work and services, construction of new steel sheet piled quay walls, demolition of existing piled crane beams, extraction of timber, concrete piles and a limited number of steel sheet piles and removal of the existing quay wall and capping beams.

Work includes driving of inclined grouted steel anchor piles (being used in South Africa for the first time), backfilling behind the quay walls, construction of new reinforced concrete capping beams, supply and installation of bollards, fenders, ladders and quay services, construction of railway tracks, layer works and paving, dredging of material adjacent to the berths and construction of rock scour protection.

The main challenges have been balancing operations and the project, including site access, executing work around the existing ship loader foundations and conveyor, as well as obstructions and incorrect as built information supplied. The project team has also had to contend with strong winds and wakes formed by tugs operating in the precinct affecting floating equipment used for construction.

As a result the team has implemented night and weekend shifts and mobilised additional plant to ensure that the project remains on track.

Among other achievements to date include a satisfactory audit report, the successful pull out test on the anchor pile system and the completion of all piling and the new cope on Berths 1,2 and 13. A record 4500 tonnes of steel was offloaded, transported and stacked during a continuous 84 hour operation.

"This safety milestone of 1 million hours without an LTI could not have been achieved without an enormous amount of hard work and effort by everyone working on the project," said Perumal.

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FAIRPLAYER 29 January 2016 1 480

The Jumbo heavylift carrier FAIRPLAYER (15,027-gt, built 2008) was a recent caller at Durban to take bunkers and supplied, berthing at Pier 1. Fairplayer is Dutch owned, operated and flagged. The vessel was last in Durban with a very similar cargo of oil industry equipment in September last year. This picture as back then is by Trevor Jones


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