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Ports & Ships Maritime News

15 March 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return


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The offshore processing ship with the rather unusual name FRONT PUFFIN seen receiving some repairs in Cape Town harbour earlier in the month. The Norwegian-owned and Marshall Islands-flagged vessel is operated by Singapore's Rubicon Offshore International. The picture is by Ian Shiffman.

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Despite the strengthening of Nigerian and other West African naval forces, militants or pirates -- call them what you will -- are continuing to act with impunity by attacking ships at sea in the Gulf of Guinea.

The latest attack took place on 5 March but news only leaked out late last week when it was confirmed by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre that four seafarers have been taken hostage from a chemical tanker underway some 32 n.miles southwest of Bonny Island off the Nigerian coast.

The attack occurred with 10 armed pirates approaching the tanker in a fast speedboat and opening fire on the ship. The crew immediately raised the alarm and non-essential crew retired to the ship's citadel. The pirates meanwhile engaged the tanker with a grappling hook and ladder and began boarding the vessel.

Reports say that the pirates remained on board for about one hour before leaving the tanker, taking at least four seafarers with them -- one report from Protection Vessels International (PWI) says that five men were abducted.

After the pirates left the ship the remaining crew took the vessel, which has not been identified apart from one report that says it is Panamanian-flagged, to a safe port -- even that has not been identified.

The secrecy with which owners and operators surround themselves over piracy doesn't help in eradicating the curse of piracy -- the lessons of Somalia should have taught them that.

Piracy appears to be increasing in the Gulf of Guinea with a number of cases so far this year. It appears also that kidnapping is the motive for most cases of ship attacks -- the attraction in taking a tanker or ship for its cargo of oil or its fuel has lost its lustre with the decrease in the price of oil. All of which goes to show that piracy is simply a business -- illegal but still all about business.

One wonders how much ship movement information is shared with pirates from sources onshore.

Meanwhile, all ships operating in the region are advised to operate with a heightened level of security and are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.

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Citrus being loaded in Durban. Picture is by Terry Hutson

The annual citrus harvest is expected to be lower than originally forecast this season and with smaller fruit as a direct result of the drought.

According to the Citrus Growers' Association (CGA)chief executive, Justin Chadwick, the drought conditions and extreme heat are expected to bring about a slight reduction in the production of naval oranges and soft-citrus fruits from the Western Cape which will affect export volumes.

He said the big concern is that a lot of the export markets want large fruit, they don't like small fruit.

In 2015 South Africa exported 1.77 million tons of citrus fruits worldwide. Chadwick would not give a specific forecast of what might be exported this year apart from saying that the harvest is likely to be smaller than in the recent past.p> The CGA has indicated that it has applied to the US Department of Agriculture to permit the export of citrus from all regions of Southern Africa and not just from the Western and Northern Cape, but this request has been pending for almost a year.

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Irem Sultan, now stationed at Nacala

Remember our reports of a floating power station being installed at Tema in Ghana? And similar vessels being offered to the South African authorities (except the relevant minister denied any knowledge of their existence)?

Well, now the northern Mozambique Port of Nacala is the latest African port to acquire a floating power station that is to provide instant electrical power not only to the port city of Nacala but other parts of northern Mozambique.

The Karadeniz power ship IREM SULTAN has taken up position in Nacala Bay where she will be able to provide an immediate 111MW of electrical power to the region. The ship was built in Golcuk, Izmit (Turkey) and has been in operation in Nacala since February this year.

Karadeniz operates with a fleet of nine power ships in current service each capable of providing between 103 and 235MW of power. The ship at Tema in Ghana, AYSEGUL SULTAN for example, has an output of 235MW of electricity. Karadeniz has another 14 such ships under construction, ranging up to an total outputs of 470MW.

According to the Mozambique press, Irem Sultan is to remain at Nacala for two years to provide power for not only Nacala, but the provinces of Nampula, Cabo Delgado and Niassa as well.

Mozambique reports said that power from Nacala's floating power station was also to be sold to Zambia but this is being supplied from the giant Cahora Bassa hydro-electric system in Tete province.

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Seelan and Merlien Govender and their children Seelan and Carlien Govender and their children on board Logos Hope

Logos Hope, the world's largest floating book fair, will arrive this week bringing an international crew with their life changing stories to Durban, the first stop in South Africa.

"My outlook on life changed and it is a transforming experience till now," said Seelan Govender from Durban, the Managing Director of Logos Hope. He has been serving with GBA Ships for over 15 years in multiple leadership roles along with his wife Carlien and two children.

Seelan started his journey with GBA Ships in Maputo. He met a team from Doulos, the sister ship, while he was working in a local organisation in Mozambique. The way the team served impacted his life and planted a desire for him to join the ship. His first voyage was with Doulos in 1999.

From working in the book fair, advance preparation team, to leadership onboard, he enjoys the international team and seeing the transformation in people's lives around the world. "I found it fascinating to live in a community that is passionate about making a difference," he said, adding that he is excited to see the ship visit his home town. "South Africans have a story to tell and they will find a willing international community to listen and hear in our book fair."

Seelan is one of the ship's 400 volunteers who have come from over 60 nationalities, leaving behind families, jobs, and homes. The crew offers a unique example of unity in cultural diversity. Some come with qualifications to fill specific roles such as engineering officers, plumbers, carpenters, bookkeepers, cooks, and other professionals; many young people come with no qualifications except a willingness to serve. Although they have different backgrounds, the crewmembers agree on a common goal: serving people through social service projects and good literature.

MV Logos Hope is operated by GBA Ships e.V., an international charitable organisation registered in Germany. Since 1970, the organisation has welcomed over 45 million visitors up the gangways in over 150 countries and territories around the world.

In Durban MV Logos Hope will be open to the public at N-Shed Passenger Berth, from Thursday, 17 March 2016 until 3 April 2016. Opening hours are as follows: Wed to Sat: 10am to 9:30pm; Sun, Mon, Tue: 2pm to 9:30pm; (exception: 17 and 25 March when the ship opens from 2pm). There is an entrance fee of R5 per person; children under 12 years old enter for free, but must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information, check www.logoshope.org/durban

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Mumbai-based ship management company MMS Maritime India (MMSI) announced on 7 March that its crew workforce has grown by a quarter in the last year.

MMSI said its total crew staff is now 300 with at least 50 new officers and 26 ratings joining the team which primarily supplies seafarers for the global tanker market.

Dr Sanjay Bhavnani (pictured) CEO of MMSI said the company is growing thanks to having a 90 percent crew retention rate, one of the highest in the industry, it is understood.

He said: "We are expanding because our seafarers are motivated and tanker owners have confidence that MMSI will supply a highly committed, skilled and experienced crew to look after their ship. MMSI carefully supports each of our seafarers monitoring their welfare as well as giving them clear defined steps to advance their career in the long term. I, and many of our senior team, are former seafarers. We therefore fundamentally understand the desires, dreams and concerns of our seafarers. We know they need to be truly understood and appreciated for what they do. By ensuring we listen to, and look after, our crew we are generating real job satisfaction in one of the industry's most challenging careers. We are actively looking to work with more tanker and dry cargo owners and operators offering them all the benefits of having a well-managed and trained crew."

Dr Bhavnani, a former oil tanker chief engineer, said the last year has seen MMSI launch the bespoke training programme designed by the Swedish P & I Club and implemented effectively by its own staff thereby focusing on to be addressed specific operational issues.

He added: "Our Maritime Resource Management course has been meticulously built by seafarers for seafarers. It is founded on understanding what it is actually like to live and work at sea. We understand it can be like a goldfish bowl living in close quarters for extended periods of time in the utterly unique environment of the sea. The reality is that most incidents at sea come as a result of incorrect human interaction. So our course looks at key areas such as communication between different nationalities to ensure the crew properly understand each other's instructions. In addition, we look at understanding emotions and the mental state someone may be in when giving instructions. The course arms our seafarers with the tools to do their job and to take them to the next level. We look at areas of performance and provide extra training where gaps in competence have been identified."

MMSI is also seeing increased demand from its parent company the Japanese ship owner Meiji Shipping Group, which is expanding its tanker fleet by seven new ships which are expected to come into service by 2017-2018. These include four new 28,000 dwt medium range (MR) vessels tankers to be delivered to Meiji in the first half of 2016 for charter to oil majors and other oil companies.

Apparently MMSI is looking to recruit a further 80-90 seafarers from India to help man these new ships. The positions it is seeking to fill will be across the full spectrum of roles from officers and masters to chief engineers. A number of senior positions will be filled from the existing workforce to ensure the ships have the right levels of experience and expertise.

Paul Ridgway

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China has commenced building a naval base at Djibouti at the junction of the highly strategic mouth of the Red Sea and the northern approaches to the Gulf of Aden.

This will become China's first military supply and support base in Africa and will provide support for China's merchant shipping activities through the Red Sea and Suez Canal regions as well as the troublesome Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea regions. In recent years China has sent a small group of naval ships to this region on counter-piracy patrols, in which it has cooperated with other navies acting similarly in the area.

The new base at the port of Doraleh will share close proximity to the US Africa Command base which occupies what used to be the French military base of Lemonnier at Djibouti. The Americans have slightly downsized their operations at Djibouti -- this was previously the centre of operations for drone flights in the Middle East and across northern and central parts of Africa among other activities. Djibouti is also the sole US military base situated in Africa.

China's Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said recently that the construction of infrastructure and facilities had begun, "and we have sent some people to work on that," he said.

According to a report China is spending US$590 to build the new base which will cater for Chinese naval ships and presumably for Chinese aircraft dubbed reconaissance planes. China has become one of Djibouti's biggest funding sources and has invested in the small country's strategic port facilities -- Djibouti acts as the main port for neighbourng Ethiopia.

According to sources the Chinese Navy will have the use of one berth at the port. Negotiations to construct a military and naval base at Djibouti ramped up last year when China became involved in the evacuation of a large number of people from the civil war at Aden in Yemen.

China is also engaged in developing a naval base at Gwadar in the mouth of the Persian Gulf, close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz and not far from one of China's closest allies, Pakistan. China which is expanding its navy with long-range ships is seeking to increase its military and security influence abroad to safeguard its growing international interests, which cover strategic areas along the 'One Belt, One Road' trade route.

India is known to be highly concerned at China's rapid increase in influence in the Indian Ocean.

China has also indicated that it could be developing additional naval bases elsewhere in Africa.

Several years ago China was reported to have entered into an agreement with Namibia for a naval base in that country. This was denied at the time by both countries but the rumours have persisted.

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Port Louis -- Indian Ocean 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.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section, but this is also available in a dedicated Cruise News section. This section will include various stories and news not covered in the general news so if you have an interest in this sector don't forget to check regularly on our CRUISE NEWS page.

This you will find here in CRUISE NEWS & REVIEWS

Naval News
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Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories which also have their own dedicated section, although some stories may be duplicated in the general news section.

Find the Naval Review section HERE

Remember to use your backspace key to return to this page.



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The passing parade! All in one afternoon, as cruise ships INDEPENDENCE OF THE SEAS (top) and SERENADE OF THE SEAS (lower) sail from Port Everglades in Florida, USA, bound for destinations in the Caribbean. Both are Royal Caribbean Cruises' ships, Independence being the third of the Freedom class at 154,407-gt and Serenade a smaller Radiance-class ship of 90,090-gt (built 2003). She carries a maximum of 2,490 passengers along with a crew of 891, while her bigger sister can accommodate 4,370 passengers cared for by a crew of 1,360. Independence entered service in 2008. Both these pictures are by Tony de Freitas


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