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Ports & Ships Maritime News

10 August 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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The 190-metre long Panamax bulker SERENE SUSANNAH (57,266-dwt, built 2010) sailing from Durban bound for Santos in Brazil. The ship is owned by Greek interests and managed by Chandris Hellas Inc of Piraeus, Greece. She was built by the STX Dalian Shipbuilding Company in China as their hull number 1970-01. The bulker, which operates at a service speed of 11.7 knots and with a top speed of 14.5 knots, is equipped with four 30-ton deck cranes. Serene Susannah is flagged in the Bahamas. This picture is by Keith Betts

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Mauritania is looking to position itself as an export hub for Brazilian products in Africa, reports the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.

Mauritania being on the extreme western end of West Africa is ideally positioned and already has relevant trade partnerships with nations across the continent that trade with Brazil and could distribute Brazilian goods to African countries. That's the word from Wagne Idrissa, the Mauritanian ambassador to Brazil.

Idrissa visited the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce offices on Monday (8 August) where he spoke with personnel from local companies interested in doing business with his country. The talks continued yesterday.

"Mauritania is a strategic hub connecting North and Southern Africa. It is home to two big ports and a third one is being built. We also have one of the biggest international airports in Africa," Idrissa said. The ports he mentioned are the Autonomous Ports of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou. The country is also home to the fishing-only Nouadhibou Artisanal Fishing Port.

The ambassador said that many of the African countries Brazil engages in significant trade with, like Angola, Ivory Coast, Mozambique, and Senegal, often do business via Mauritania. "In Central Africa, more than 40% of trade involves Mauritania," he said.

The diplomat noted that the embassy of Mauritania in Brazil was established relatively recently, in 2008, and that there is a lot to work on when it comes to trade and government relations between the two countries. Idrissa took office as ambassador in Brasilia in February of this year, following a stint in the same capacity in Paris. He said he is in the process of getting acquainted with the players in the Brazilian trade scenario, so that he can bring awareness to them of business opportunities in his country.

"I am deeply engaged with building ties in trade and government with Brazil. The Arab Chamber is an important place for these relations to be furthered, and I am here due to the opportunity the Chamber has afforded me, of getting to know the Brazilian companies a bit," he said.

Idrissa also discussed the goods his country exports, such as iron ore, gold, bauxite, and gas. He said that Mauritania already ships these products to the likes of China, France, and Italy. The ambassador also mentioned the export sales of fish and seafood. source: ANBA

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Nacala train

Malawi and Mozambique have set their sights on establishing a one-stop border between their countries along the Nacala Corridor.

The corridor links the increasingly important strategic port of Nacala with Malawi, Zambia and the western Mozambique province of Tete, which includes the coal fields at Moatize, as well as with southern and south-western Tanzania.

The initiative aims at improving trade patterns between the respective countries and regions by a rate of five percent by next year and 15% by the year 2027.

The deepwater port of Nacala which has rail as well as road links with the neighbouring regions can become an increasingly important transhipment hub for landlocked countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, able to handle regional exports of fertiliser, sugar, wheat and tobacco and to become as important a corridor as those to the south and to TAZARA in Tanzania/Zambia, all of which link seaports with neighbouring landlocked countries.

Malawi, being closer to Nacala than to any other seaport, is already the port and railway's biggest user, other than coal exports from Tete.

"This is a project that is intended to increase traffic in the corridor," said a spokesman for the Mozambican Ministry of Transport and Communications. He said the project aimed at removing non-tariff barriers at border posts while improving the transit of cargo from Lusaka in Zambia to the port at Nacala, which required the rehabilitation of the Liwinde-Mangochi section in Malawi.

The corridor company is owned by the Sociedade de Desenvolvimento do Corredor do Nacala (CDN) and the Mozambique Ports and Railways Company (CFM), whch hold 51% and 49% respectively.

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E-class container ship Eleonora Maersk, the third in the class to be built. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

In a move that suggests Maersk aims at extending the life of its earlier flagship E-class container ships, the Danish company has revealed that it will be upgrading the ships to load an additional 1300 TEU.

The additional cargo is beng made possible by way of raising the accommodation section and increasing the height of the lashing bridges to enable an extra tier of containers along the length of the ships. The company will also carry out refits that will double the life of the E-class, now ten years old, and which suggests that maybe Maersk considers 18,000 to 19,000 TEU (the current Triple-E-class) to be the desired maximum for its boxships, at least for the present.

Maersk last year placed an order for 11 second-generation Triple-Es each with a capacity of 19,630 TEU for delivery during 2017-2018 and has an option for a further six of these although given the current state of the industry this may be the last newbuild order from the Danish company for ships of this size at least for some time.

The 399-metre long, 56m wide vessels' bulbous bows and the propellers will also be changed to designs better suited for slower speeds.

When the first E-class appeared, EMMA MAERSK, it set the standard that was quickly followed by other container lines in a rush to exceed what Maersk then stated was the size of the E-class, 11,000 TEU capacity. Only later was it revealed that the E-class could load up to 15,550 TEU.

A total of eight E-class ships were built at the Odense Shipyard in Denmark between 2006 and 2008. All ships were given names beginning with the letter E, with the first to appear being EMMA MAERSK -- in her day perhaps the most publicised container ship afloat. They carried a crew of just 13, but have accommodation for 30.

With a gross tonnage of 170,974-gt and a deadweight of 156,907-dwt, the ships remain large and imposing and in fact their length has yet to be exceeded in any significant way.

In 2013 Emma Maersk had an unforunate accident while at the northern entrance to the Suez Canal and was lucky not to have sunk.

The cause was a failed stern thruster and following the incident Maersk issued instructions not to use the stern thrusters on the E-class ships until modifications had been completed.

The current upgrade of the class is being carried out at the CSIC Qingdao Beihei Heavy Industry Shipyard in China, with the first vessel to be completed being the EUGEN MAERSK, which was actually the last in the class to be built. Eugen Maersk has since re-entered service on the 2M Asia-North Europe service which Maersk shares with MSC.

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Dolosse on Durban's South breakwater. The man next to a dolos gives perspective to their size, while the broken dolos in front demonstrates the use of unreinforced concrete. At left are some of the moulds used in their manufacture on site. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

This is a story about a South African invention that is still regarded as way ahead of anything else ever devised for its purpose. But as is often the case in such matters, the person responsible for its development has not always received the credit deserved, which went to another.

We are talking about the dolos, those huge and oddly named concrete creations used to absorb and dissipate the energy of the seas, which are mostly found at the entrances to ports and harbours, although they also find use elsewhere where scour protection is required.

Up until the invention of the dolosse (the plural of the dolos), large rocks and blocks of concrete were the most common means of providing protection against the notorious waves of South Africa's eastern coastline. But even these massive and heavy objects could be washed away or moved about, and what was needed was something that was relatively inexpensive but would resist and reduce the force of the waves while remaining in position.

The man generally given most of the credit for inventing the dolos was a harbour engineer at the Port of East London named Eric Merrifield who served at the Eastern Cape port as the chief engineer from 1961-1976. Yet the facts are somewhat different in that Merrifield had little right to such a claim, other than that he was in charge of the engineering office at the time and had signing power for its development. It was however his request that set in motion the invention of something that has gone into use across the world as the most successful means ever of absorbing and controlling the energy produced by waves pounding away at natural or man-made areas of coastline.

Strangely, neither the inventor nor the port engineer sought to take out patents for what resulted from that request, although Merrifield was later to be granted and accepted awards and recognition for which he was not really entitled. It appears that both men believed that, as they were employees of the state at the time, they were not entitled to reward for the invention. What a refreshing thought!

One day in 1963 Merrifield entered into a discussion with his draughtsman about designing a structure made from concrete that would be capable of protecting the East London harbour breakwater from the battering waves.

The draughtsman, 28-year old Aubrey Kruger, was a modest, quiet local man who rode to work every day from his home in Cambridge, one of East London's suburbs, on a red Vespa scooter. It was usual in those days at East London for people to return home at lunchtime and so, when Aubrey Kruger returned home by scooter that day the first thing he did was to commandeer his wife Daphne's broomstick, from which he cut three pieces of wood which he nailed together in the shape of an 'H' with one twisted leg.

His daughter Sandra says she can remember her mother being rather angry, and having to shoo a chicken out of the kitchen with a shortened broom stick.

She says her father based his idea on the dubbeltjie thorn. After lunch he returned to work where he placed the wooden model on Merrifield's desk. The idea was that the dolosse, which would be cast in unreinforced concrete, would be placed in front of and on top of each other along the breakwater where they would interlock and, as waves broke against them, would fit even tighter while still allowing some of the waves to pass through the structures, thus weakening their force.

According to Sandra, the name dolos came from her grandfather, Joseph Kruger, who was a carpenter also working at the harbour dry dock at the time. He saw his son and others in the office playing with small models and asked "Wat speel julle met die dolos?" -- dolos being the Afrikaans for knucklebones often used by sangomas and herbal doctors when divining. Children also used to play with these knucklebones.

The Kruger family still has an original model of the dolos made by Aubrey using plaster of paris and left to dry in the garden. Aubrey Kruger's son Lance retains this model in his possession.

The drawings for the first dolos were completed in 1963, based on the shape devised in wood by Aubrey Kruger. As port engineer Merrifield was responsible for overseeing the project and signing off all plans.

The following year, 1964, the first dolos was laid on the port breakwater. Kruger enjoyed seeing the development of his invention which resulted in much excitement in the family. At the end of 1966 Kruger was transferred to Durban and was given a copy of the amendment to the design dated 12 July 1966, drawn by Aubrey Kruger and signed by Mr Merrifield, as a farewell gift from the East London office.

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Aubrey Kruger, seated, with his family on the occasion of Aubrey's 80th birthday. From left are his son Ross, his wife Daphne, son Lance and daughter Sandra.

The family lived happily in Durban for seven years and it was only after the Shell Award was given to Merrifield in 1972 and a Gold Medal award by the Associated Science and Technology Societies of South Africa for the invention of the dolos that Kruger felt saddened by his not being mentioned for his part in the design.

Subsequent articles and reports written about the dolos and giving credit to Merrifield caused much pain and hurt to both Kruger and his family. Kruger remained a quiet man of few words who was never confrontational and preferred his own company, according to his daughter Sandra. She says her father considered the invention to be the property of the South African Railways & Harbours (now Transnet) and would never have written papers about it, let alone have tried to have them published. "It was not in his nature to rock the boat," she says.

Dolosse are in use across the world, either in their original shape or in variations but following similar principals. They can be found reinforcing the breakwaters of ports and harbours in the United States, in South America, in Asia and in parts of Europe. There's even one out of thousands in use at Port Ngqura, festooned in the colours of the South African flag.

In 1973 Kruger and his family returned to East London where he left the employ of the SAR&H and started a tyre retreading company. He later sold the business and returned to work as a draughtsman for an architectural company and then as a truss designer for a timber company. In 1998 he retired on a state pension to a beach cottage and spent most of his time fishing and doing woodwork. Following a stroke in 2010 he and his wife moved to a flatlet on his son Lance's property in the suburb of Vincent, East London.

On 19 July this year, two days before his 81st birthday, Aubrey Kruger passed way from cancer, being survived by his wife Daphne, his children Gary, Sandra, Ross and Lance, and six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Not long before he died, his family was able to show him the newly minted sterling silver coins of a R2 rand crown and a two and a half cent 'tickey' from the South African Mint in its South African Invention's theme, imprinted with the geometric shape of the dolos, as well as three miniature silver dolosse by the South African Mint, which commemorated his involvement in the invention.

This article also appears in today's The Mercury newspaper (shipping page)

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SAIMENA (South African Institute of Marine Engineers and Naval Architects), Cape Town branch, is holding its Annual SAIMENA Cape Luncheon on Wednesday, 17 August 2016.

The event is open to SAIMENA members as well as other interested parties in the maritime industry, and previous events have proven to be a good networking opportunities.

The speakers for the lunch will be elaborating on the plans surrounding the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone (IDZ).

Any SAIMENA members or other interested members of the maritime industry who would like to attend should contact the Cape Branch Treasurer, Dirk Janse van Rensburg, or the Event Manager Lee-Handre Louw.

The Luncheon will be held at the Royal Cape Yacht Club, 1 Duncan Road, Cape Town Harbour on Wednesday, 17 August 2016 at 12h00 for 12h30. Dress is semi formal.

The cost per member including wine on the table, with a cash bar available, is R350 per person. For non-members the cost will be R390 per person.

Bookings should be made to Lee-Handre Louw, tel 021 447 1226 or email at admin@6s.co.za

Early reservations are advised as the restaurant can only take 100 persons.

Please also refer to SAIMENA ANNUAL LUNCH

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One of Transocean's fleet of semi-submersible oil rigs has gone aground off the Western Isles of Scotland during a heavy storm. The rig was being towed from Norway to Malta.

TRANSOCEAN WINNER broke free of its tow behind the tug ALP FORWARD as the two vessels approached the Isle of Lewis. The rig was unmanned but is carying a small payload of diesel oil -- approximately 280 tons according to reports.

An investigation has been ordered into the grounding by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch. Meanwhile, Transocean and the tug owner ALP Marine have arranged for a salvage team from SMIT Salvage to be on scene and to take charge of the casualty. The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch's counter-pollution branch and the Secretary Of State's Representative for Salvage and Intervention (SOSREP) have also begun monitoring the situation.

The UK Coastguard and police authorities in Scotland have cordoned off an area surrounding the site where the rig has gone ashore, ostensibly to keep it clear for salvage teams to mobilise. UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency's Mark Rodway said that while they knew that an incident like this would attract sightseers and locals alike, "We're really asking them to stay away to ensure easy access for emergency services and salvors." He said no-one wanted people to be injured while trying to access remote cliff paths. The tug Alp Forward has remained on station nearby and will assist where required.

The rig Transocean Winner entered service in 1983 and underwent an extensive refit in 2006. The rig was constructed at the Gotaverken Arendal shipyard in Sweden and is registered in the Marshall Islands.

Video clip [1:26] of the rig aground off Lewis Isle

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Dean Marais of Jesseguard Marine

The crew at Jesseguard Marine in Richards Bay had good reason to celebrate recently. One of their own, Jesseguard's superintendent Dean Marais successfully completed a course in Marine Surveying.

He completed the course provided by Kent College and Lloyd's Maritime Academy and has been awarded his Diploma in Marine Surveying specialising in Non-Liquid Cargo Surveys.

Captain Eric Bismeyer, Managing Director of Jesseguard Marine was sufficiently proud of Marais' achievement to ask that this be shared with readers and clients, which we do with pleasure.

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Port Louis 470
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 480

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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One of a number of large container ships now scheduled to call regularly at Durban is the 366-metre long, 48m wide MSC FABIOLA (153,514-dwt, built 2010), which sailed from port during yesterday's Women's Day holiday with her next call being Port Louis in Mauritius. This is not the first time this ship has called at Durban -- she first arrived in South Africa when she called at Durban in April 2013 but that was to prove a one-off voyage, possibly the result of the ship being repositioned.

MSC Fabiola has a container capacity of 12,562 TEU but as can be seen in this picture her load was considerably less -- necessitated by draught restrictions in Durban at present but also by the traffic likely on the service. MSC Fabiola's inclusion among the Far East to South Africa and West Africa trades is another recent example of the cascade effect being experienced as major container carriers introduce ultra large container ships of 18,000 and more TEU onto the Asia-Europe services, causing them to relocate other ships including many in the 12,000-14,000 TEU range to so-called secondary services.

Making full use of hub operations in Africa the ship calls only at Durban in South Africa and Lome in West Africa, in addition to another hub call at Port Louis, and then Singapore and Chinese ports. At least four of these ships have been so repositioned by MSC and can be expected to become regular callers in future. MSC Fabiola is owned by Peter Doehle Schiffahrts of Germany and was built at the Geoje Shipyards of Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea as that yard's hull number 1793. This picture is by Trevor Jones


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