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Ports & Ships Maritime News

3 May 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The container ship MAERSK INVERNESS (42,822-dwt, built 2008) enters the port of Durban to work cargo at Southern Africa's busiest container terminal. The 233 metre long ship has a container capacity of 3364 TEU of which 550 could be reefer containers. Maersk Inverness was built at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyards Ltd. Co, South Korea as their hull number 4021. This picture is by Trevor Jones

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Pinky Zungu, new deputy harbour master, nautical at the Port of Durban. Picture by Philip Wilson of Logico Creative Solutions

One of the first three women in Africa to obtain a Marine Pilot open licence in 2011, Pinky Zungu, has again made her mark following appointment as Transnet National Ports Authority's first female Deputy Harbour Master, Nautical for the Port of Durban.

Zungu was among those selected by TNPA as development candidates in 2001 and is one of a growing number of women who have been promoted into senior positions through their hard work and dedication. She is also among those who are changing the face of an otherwise male dominated maritime industry.

A week after obtaining her open licence in 2011, Zungu was in the spotlight when she piloted the MSC Chicago, at the time the largest container vessel to visit South Africa's shores. This was shortly after the entrance channel had been widened to make way for a new generation of container ships. Since then she has gained seven years' experience of guiding vessels of any size including large bulkers, tankers and container vessels into the Port of Durban, putting her in an ideal position to take on her new role.

As Deputy Harbour Master, Nautical, one of her key responsibilities will be managing the marine pilots under her wing. These include a number of young women.

"Being a marine pilot is a huge responsibility. You have to study the sounding charts daily and have an accurate mental picture of the sea-bed. You have to know what's underneath you including port depths, as the equipment on board the visiting ships doesn't always work," she said.

"When you bring in a vessel you take over from the captain and all the decision making is up to you. It's you and the ship. You are on your own and it can be stressful as you are piloting someone else's vessel. While the new container ships and auto carriers are extremely responsive and the cruise liners even more so, some vessels (usually bulk carriers and tankers) are underpowered. You have to be prepared for any emergency including engine failure and other factors beyond your control, such as a sudden change in the weather."

She said she is excited by the opportunity to bring change and to encourage and mentor newly graduated pilots. "I have the technical hands-on experience to provide guidance and assurance. From this position I will also have an overall view of what is required to ensure safe operations," she said.

Born and raised in Lamontville, a township of Durban, Zungu's original dream was to be an air pilot, but her parents could not afford the training. She signed up instead to do Maritime Studies at the Durban University of Technology when she realised that if she worked on ships she could travel all over the world for free.

"I didn't realise then that this came at a price. While I got to see much of Europe and West Africa during my cadetship with Unicorn, I spent the first eight months on a bulk carrier as the only woman in a crew of 28 Russian men. The only person who could speak a little bit of English was the captain.

"It's a tough environment for women. On board you have to have the physical and mental strength to perform the role. Only when you're on land you can put on your skirt and heels and be a lady again," she cautions.

After her cadetship Zungu completed a compulsory oral examination with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) to obtain a Class 3 ticket to be a junior deck officer responsible for auto piloting vessels and managing safety equipment.

She then trained and worked as a tug master at TNPA before completing a one year pilot training programme to qualify as a junior pilot before progressing through the various licence grades, starting with smaller ships of around 16,000 gross tons, then 20,000, 25,000 and 35,000 before qualifying for her open licence.

In her new role as Deputy Harbour Master, Nautical, in addition to managing marine pilots, other responsibilities include close liaison with the dredging department, incident management, ensuring vessels carrying Dangerous Goods comply with control measures, and ensuring the safety of the port. It includes understanding of the international regulations and conventions and once these are adopted by SAMSA, the port complies accordingly.

As a mother of three, Zungu has achieved her career success with the support of her husband, a Senior Lifeguard at the eThekwini Municipality who grew up with her in Lamontville.

She replaces Capt Sanks Plaatjes who is joining Transnet's Maritime School of Excellence.

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Mvuu Camp on the Shire River

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has left open the possibility of Malawi's making use of the Shire [pronouced Shiri] and Zambezi rivers in Mozambique for its international trade, saying that the matter needs further analysis.

This follows an earlier refusal by Mozambique to allow the use of either of the rivers in its territory.

"We'll see, under the Tripartite Memorandum of Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia, what can be done to forward the project," Nyusi said at a press conference in Lilongwe at the end of a working visit to the neighbouring country.

Concerning the building by Malawi of a river port at Nsanje in southern Malawi based on Mozambique cooperating with navigation on the Shire river, Filipe Nyusi said the alternative could be its transformation into a dry port.

The two countries have long disagreed about the use of the Shire and Zambezi rivers in central Mozambique, with the landlocked country proposing the two rivers as viable access to the Indian Ocean.

Maputo cites environmental reasons for its reluctance to allow the Shire and Zambezi to be used by large draft ships, despite some evidence of its use historically, but many suspect Mozambique's position is a way of protecting rail and road corridors in the centre of the country.

Malawian President Peter Mutharika said his country advocated the exploitation of cheaper routes for international trade. "Intermodal transport is also on our agenda," he said.

In addition to relying on Mozambique for their import and export routes, Malawi and Zambia also intend to increase the amount of power they buy from Mozambique, to make up for the energy deficit in their own capacity. source: Angop / Lusa


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Dar es Salaam ferry Magogoni

The purchase of a Sh8 billion Dar es Salaam-Bagamoyo ferryboat was undertaken without regard to public procurement requirements, a new (Tanzania) Controller and Auditor General (CAG) report has stated. The report confirms an investigation by Tanzanian newspaper The Citizen, which has revealed that the procurement of the boat didn't meet requisite specifications and standards. The CAG Report indicates that the ferry's speed did not comply with the purchaser's requirements.

The then minister for Works, Dr John Magufuli (now president of Tanzania), floated the idea of having the ferry to ease traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam, which costs the nation about Sh400 billion annually.

The government commissioned a Danish-based company, JGH, through the Tanzania Electrical Mechanical and Electronics Service Agency (Temesa), to supply a 300-passenger ferryboat to ply between Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo at a cost of US$4.980 million (about Sh8 billion), VAT exclusive. The contract period was agreed to be eight months starting from 25 April 2013 and was later extended to 31 October 2014.

According to CAG's report, an expert inspection report noted that the maximum speed during sea trials was observed to be 19.45 and 17.25 knots contrary to the agreed contract speed of 20 knots. As a result a goods acceptance certificate was not issued. The ferryboat was handed over to Temesa on 17 November 2014 after a delay of 16 days without the goods acceptance certificate that the public procurement regulatory requires.

The report goes further that as at the time of audit in August last year, almost one year after handing over the ferry, the certificate of acceptance was yet to be issued to the supplier contrary to the Public Procurement Regulatory (PPR), 2013.

The report says that defects noted during technical and sea trials had not been rectified and that the ferryboat had not been operational for a year.

Speaking after receiving the ferryboat in November 2014, Dr Magufuli said at the time: "This is a ferry of its kind because its speed is incomparable with other ferries we have in the country."

He said it would take a maximum of 2 hours to sail between Dar es Salaam and Bagamoyo.

It was not clear if the minister knew then about the technical concerns.

Three weeks later, Dr Magufuli and about 100 passengers endured a three-hour ride from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo aboard the ferry.

Upon disembarking the ferryboat at Mbegani, Bagamoyo, he said: "It was a smooth and enjoyable ride, the ferry was not pushed to its maximum speed because it was just a test ride, but everything went well."

However, authorities were forced to ground the boat a few days after another test run was conducted from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo, which was based on the realisation that passengers were shunning the ferry because it took three hours to cover the distance. source: The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

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MSC Poesia in Ajaccio. Picture by Wikipedia Commons

The cruise ship MSC SINFONIA has reached Cape Town after having been forced to take shelter in Port Elizabeth for just on a week.

Earlier the 65,500-ton ship, which is concluding a summer cruise season in South Africa, sailed from Durban for Cape Town, where she was scheduled to go on a couple of cruises to Walvis Bay and likewise a few shorter 'cruises to nowhere'.

However, after encountering rough seas along the KZN and Wild Coasts, the ship put into Port Elizabeth for shelter and to undertake what were described as superficial repairs. In a statement issued by MSC Cruises, the company said the ship's captain had opted to take shelter in Port Elizabeth after encountering seas with swells of up to 10 metres which had confined many passengers to their cabins. This was done for reasons of safety for the ship and the comfort of the passengers.

Eye witnesses later reported damage to one deck and there were claims of lifts being out of order with evidence of some flooding of one area. MSC Cruises however said the damage to the ship had been minor and was repaired "immediately". Other passengers reported they had not found it necessary to remain in their cabins and had taken all their meals in the ship's dining room.

Some 200 passengers opted to remain on the ship for the final leg of the journey to Cape Town, while all others were flown home at MSC Cruises' expense.

With the ship remaining in Port Elizabeth, MSC Cruises were forced to cancel two cruises from Cape Town. All passengers affected by the cancelled cruises were being fully refunded with a 25 percent discount on their next cruise, said Allan Foggitt, marketing director for MSC Cruises in South Africa.

Foggitt said that passengers have been amazingly understanding and considering the storms had impacted over 6000 passengers the process has been exceptionally smooth and trouble free. "A pity that weather played such a cruel trick at the end of the season especially considering that the Cape Cruises have been almost sold out since November last year." Later in the week the remaining passengers on board MSC Sinfonia were bussed to Cape Town, and on Saturday, 30 April the ship finally left Port Elizabeth with just her crew on board, reaching Cape Town without further incident the following day.

The ship has since departed on a four-day cruise to Walvis Bay and will be departing from Cape Town for the Mediterranean on this Friday, 6 May 2016.

Foggitt said that overall it has been an exceptional season in South Africa with nearly 99 percent average occupancy for the whole season and sales for the new season running at over 800 cabins per week. He described the poor economy as making local cruising more popular than ever.

During her 2015/16 summer cruise season in South Africa MSC Sinfonia has operated from either Durban or Cape Town, with most of her cruises reaching to destinations in Mozambique. The ship has also visited Reunion and Mauritius in addition to several Cape Town cruises which have included calls at the Namibian port of Walvis Bay.

As a result of her own success and popularity, it is possible that MSC Sinfonia won't be returning to South Africa in November this year for the 2016/17 summer cruise season, and that a larger ship will replace her. This will not be not on account of any experiences in South African waters but to meet the need for greater passenger demand. Without adding a second ship, which MSC Cruises has done previously with mixed success, it is likely to introduce one of the 92,600-ton Poesia class ships that have a 3,223-passenger capacity, some 700 more than the Lirica class of which Sinfonia is one.

The Poesia class ships are really attractive vessels and are certain to become firm favourites locally if they are substituted. Other ships in this class include MSC Magnifica, MSC Orchestra, and MSC Musica of which any one could be cruising in South Africa from November.

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MSC Fabiola. Picture by Shipspotting

Some of the worst fears concerning supersized container ships using the Suez Canal were realised last week when the 12,500 TEU container ship MSC FABIOLA (142,500-dwt, built 2011) went aground after experiencing engine trouble at 144km into the canal.

The incident occurred at 16h30 local time on Thursday, 28 April. The ship was number 10 in a southboaund convoy of 20 vessels.

The remainder of the convoy behind MSC Fabiola were detained being unable to pass the large grounded ship ahead. The following day's Southbound convoy commenced at 08h00 local time and was stopped to wait at the Great Bitter Lakes. Meanwhile there were some delays on the Northbound convoy movement and the starting time of Friday's convoy was suspended.

A ships agency spokesman described the grounding in that position as unfortunate and rare.

According to Egyptian media, Fabiola was the largest southbound ships to use the canal on Thursday. A total of 47 vessels passed through before the incident which occurred on the canal's western bank, midway between Great Bitter Lakes and Suez. This is a single lane area not included in the New Suez Canal expansion project.

MSC Fabiola was later observed being assisted by the tugs Mosaheb 4, Mosaed 4, Port Said, Baraka I, Mosaheb 2 and Ezzat Adel, while at least 35 commercial vessels were shown stationary or moored on the canal or on Great Bitter Lake to the north of the FABIOLA 's position.

The MSC ship was finally refloated on Saturday, 30 April at 01h20 local time, allowing the vessel to resume its southbound transit through the canal. The ship was escorted by five tugs in case of further complications.

The next Southbound convoy, waiting at the Great Bitter Lakes, was able to resume transit from 02h30 after which the Northbound convoy could be rescheduled. source: GAC News

Note: In April 2013 MSC Fabiola became the biggest container ship (at that time) to enter the port of Durban.

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Port Louis 

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
SA Navy 


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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Safmarine Nokwanda, 

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Safmarine Nokwanda, Dunedin 

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The pictures above are a result of Alan Calvert recently visiting Dunedin in New Zealand, where he witnessed the arrival of the Safmarine container ship SAFMARINE NOKWANDA (62,994-dwt, built 2005), which was previously well known here in South African waters. The ship has called on three occasions at Mr Calvert's homeport of Lyttelton (Christchurch) but on each has moved in darkness, making photography of the vessel not possible. In these images the 5,500-TEU ship is inbound for the Port Chalmers Container Terminal. Safmarine Nokwanda was built at the Odense Steel Shipyard AS in Denmark as hull number 195. The Maersk-owned Odense Shipyard closed down in 2012. Pictures are by Alan Calvert


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