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Ports & Ships Maritime News

8 November 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Ocean Africa Container Line's feeder container ship BORDER (14,120dwt, built 1993) enters Durban harbour yesterday, looking resplendent in several layers of mostly black paint rather than the green she previously wore. Continuing with a long tradition of coasters bearing this name, the current Border has a container capacity of 1150 TEU which proves ideal for her coastal runs along the Southern African coast. The 163-metre Border is owned by Rickmers & Cie of Germany and was built at the Stocznia Szczecinska S.A. shipyard in Poland as hull number 183/2/10. This picture is by Trevor Jones

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Theo Lyne, CT Fire Services 300
Picture courtesy Theo Lyne, CT Fire Services

On Monday city fire officials, port officials and SAMSA were still discussing the fate of the South Korean fish factory vessel VERANO which caught fire a week ago (Tuesday 1 November).

The ship is in Cape Town harbour at berth 703 and has developed a list from all the water poured into her in order to put out the fire. A city official said there would be a meeting yesterday to decide how to proceed further with the damaged ship.

Verano, owned by South Korean fishing company Insung caught fire last Tuesday (1 November) on her berth at Cape Town's 703. The fire has blazed and smouldered mostly since then with fire fighters finding it difficult to get to grips with the fire within the ship's holds where apparently a large stock of polystyrene wrapping material, presumably used to pre-package fish while at sea, was stored.

The ship, which according to reports has not been at sea for some time, and is carrying a quantity of fuel.

SAMSA has meanwhile placed a boom around the ship to contain any spills with a second boom due to go down yesterday. A salvage company is due to be appointed to take care of the ship once the fire is finally put out.

The ship is understood to have adequate insurance on both the vessel and in the event of an oil spill.

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Maydon Wharf berths 1 & 2 undergoing reconstruction. Picture by Russell Cleaver

State-owned freight and logistics company Transnet yesterday reported a steady rise in revenue for the half-year and has maintained profitability as the company continues with its infrastructure investment programme.

This is despite depressed economic conditions and a weak demand for commodities and manufactured products, which continued to hamper growth in volumes.

Revenue for the six months to 30 September 2016 rose 1,2% to R32,6 billion (2015: R32,2 billion), driven by a 12,8% increase in railed containers and automotive volumes and an increase in coal volumes of 1,8%. The increase in containers on rail is an encouraging indication that the company is having success in its road-to-rail drive.

Transnet spent R9,4 billion on its infrastructure investment programme despite the weak economy, taking overall spend on the Market Demand Strategy (MDS) over the past five years to R133 billion. The bulk of the investment (R7,1 billion) was on sustaining capital and the remainder on new infrastructure and equipment.

Transnet's key measure of profitability -- earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), remained flat at R13,9 billion. As expected, and in line with the capital investment programme, profit from operations after depreciation and amortisation decreased by 16,6% to R5,9 billion (2015: R7 billion). This is due to a 16,3% increase in depreciation, de-recognition and amortisation of assets driven by capital investments and depreciation on the revalued port and pipelines assets. This trend is expected to continue in line with the execution of the infrastructure investment programme.

The company's profits were dampened by R628 million in price reprieves to some of its key customers in distress, thereby saving thousands of jobs. Job preservation is a key element of the company's mandate from its shareholder.

A focus on cost containment resulted in a below inflation increase of 2,3% in operating expenses to R18,7 billion (2015: R18,3 billion) despite an 8,6% and 7,6% hike in electricity and personnel costs, respectively. In addition, the company realised a R1,8 billion saving in planned costs.

Operationally, coal volumes increased to 45,2 million tons (mt) (2015: 44,4mt) despite various operational challenges, including equipment failures, security challenges, community unrest, unfavourable weather conditions and adverse market conditions.

Manganese export volumes went up 7.5% to 5.7mt from 5.3mt previously, as commodity prices in that sector began to recover.

Transnet's efforts to diversify sources of external revenue are gradually bearing fruit, with Transnet Engineering recording a 13,7% increase in external revenue to R688 million (2015: R605 million), including sales to the rest of Africa. Transnet Engineering is spearheading the company's foray into the continent. This entails offering various services, including maintenance and manufacturing of coaches and wagons.

In addition, Transnet has appointed a Chief Operating Officer to create a uniform operating culture and address operational challenges, while developing an integrated operating philosophy across its operating divisions.

Port ups and downs
Continued focus on operational improvements resulted in the Group operational efficiency increasing by 13,7%. At the ports, average moves per ship working hour -- the primary measure of operational efficiency, reflected varied performance across the container terminals. The Ngqura Container Terminal increased productivity from 62 to 63 moves, while the Cape Town Container Terminal improved from 53 to 56 moves. However, operational and management challenges affected performance at the Durban Container Terminal -- Pier 1 recorded 45 moves from 50, while Pier 2's output declined from 62 to 55 moves.

Lower market demand for refined fuel products resulted in a 4,1% decrease in petroleum volumes to 8 575 billion litres (2015: 8 940 billion litres). The decrease is in line with benign economic conditions. The gearing ratio increased marginally to 43,8% (March 2016: 43,1%), but remains comfortably below the Group's target range of 50%. This reflects Transnet's capacity to fund future capital expenditure on the strength of its balance sheet and without government guarantees. The gearing ratio is not expected to exceed the target ratio over the medium term.

The cash interest cover ratio, was at 2,8 times (2015: 3,0 times) due to the significant increase in net finance costs resulting from increased borrowings to fund the capital investment programme. This is however higher than the triggers in loan covenants.

The company's investment grade credit rating and solid stand-alone credit profile enabled it to continue raising funds through debt capital markets. R11,8 billion was raised through various sources of funding.

Transnet repaid R17,2 billion of debt during the period. In addition, the company has a healthy liquidity position, with R9,6 billion in cash and cash equivalents and R16,85 billion of committed facilities secured with financial institutions. The facilities are available within 24 hours.

The company is on track with its infrastructure investment programme. Capital investment highlights during the period include:

* R2,9 billion spent on the locomotives acquisition programme, taking total spend on the programme to R28,9 billion. To date, 373 locomotives have been delivered and accepted into operations. Progress regarding the remaining diesel and electric locomotives for the general freight business is as follows:

  • 359 class 22E electric locomotives -- 59 locomotives have been accepted into operations
  • 233 class 44 diesel locomotives -- 59 locomotives have been accepted into operations, with an additional 18 locomotives undergoing acceptance testing
  • 232 class 45 diesel locomotives -- two locomotives have been delivered and are undergoing acceptance testing
  • 240 class 23E electric locomotives -- nine car bodies have been completed
  • R2,6 billion invested in sustaining current capacity, with R1,1 billion spent on rail infrastructure, and R1,5 billion on rolling stock
  • R85 million invested in the export coal line expansion for upgrading yards, lines and electrical equipment, taking total spend to R2,6 billion to date
  • R350 million in the maintenance and acquisition of cranes, tipplers, dredgers, tugs, and straddle carriers
  • R76 million invested in the New Multi-Products Pipeline (NMPP). The NMPP trunk line is fully commissioned and operational. The multi-product capability is expected to be delivered in November 2017.
  • Transnet continued to contribute towards government's transformation agenda through its supplier and enterprise development programme, with spend equating to 3,9% of net profit after taxation, exceeding the requirements set by the DTI Codes.

    Sadly, the company lost 10 colleagues during the period. Of the 10, four fatalities were as a result of road vehicle accidents, three were due to train accidents and the remaining three were caused by non-adherence to standard operating procedures at our ports.

    Transnet says it remains committed to ensuring that its capital investment objectives are met, in line with market demand, while prioritising safety, efficiencies and aggressively pursuing innovative ways of growing the business.

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    Palm Springs commercial photography
    Drawing of the new Endeavor class expedition luxury yachts

    Crystal Cruises announced last week its current outlook for the continued expansion of its cruise fleet and holdings.

    Over the past 18 months Crystal has undertaken a significant brand expansion in the luxury travel industry, beginning with the launch of the ultra-luxury yacht CRYSTAL ESPIRIT, and CRYSTAL MOZART, the first of a series of sleek river yachts to sail with Crystal River Cruises, the only true luxury river cruise brand in Europe.

    In addition to water-faring travel ventures, the 26-year-old company launched Crystal Luxury Air in April, a private jet charter service with a Global Express Jet that accommodates just 12 guests, and announced on Thursday 27 October the inaugural journey for Crystal AirCruises in partnership with The Peninsula Hotels, which will take guests on lavish global adventures in the extreme comfort of Crystal's privately owned Boeing 777-200LR. A second similar aircraft is planned.

    "The breadth of development we've achieved since our expansion announcement in July 2015 has been astonishing and thrilling, and we've only just begun," says Crystal CEO and president, Edie Rodriguez. "We are completely redefining the luxury travel segment and what it means for discerning travellers to truly customise their ideal experiences. As the market and industry evolves, it remains our priority to offer unparalleled luxury experiences that evolve with it, while maintaining our commitment to the utmost attention to detail and service levels that has earned us the loyalty of the savviest world travellers for decades."

    Crystal's recently launched experiences have already broadened the company's reach to wider audiences. With Crystal Esprit's voyages and extreme water toys, including the first ever submarine in the cruise industry, appealing to intrepid and adventurous travellers, the 62-guest capacity yacht has attracted nearly 50 percent 'new to Crystal' guests in its first year of deployment.

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    Crystal Serenity in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman
    With the successful completion of CRYSTAL SERENITY'S Northwest Passage voyage this summer, the volume of guests seeking luxury adventure travel, and the extensive survey research over the past three years -- revealing that close to 70 percent of current Crystal guests have a strong interest in expedition cruising -- has prompted Crystal to rebrand its current Crystal Yacht Cruises as Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises.

    The new banner will encompass three new build expedition mega-yachts, including the previously announced CRYSTAL ENDEAVOR. The purpose-built polar class mega-yachts will navigate 'first year ice' and be outfitted with submarines, helicopters, and remote operated vehicles, while featuring spacious Penthouses and Villas and other luxurious amenities.

    Antarctic Cruising
    Crystal's expedition ships will cruise in the Arctic; then follow the route of migrating whales along the coast of the Americas and Europe to Antarctica during the northern winter. Crystal is scheduled to take delivery of Crystal Endeavor in mid-2019, with the additional two expedition vessels debuting in succession over the following years.

    Ocean Going Cruising
    In the ocean-going category, Crystal's award-winning CRYSTAL SYMPHONY and CRYSTAL SERENITY continue to captivate travellers with guests thoroughly enjoying their experiences and making their high levels of satisfaction publicly known. Crystal remains a leader in the luxury industry earning 'World's Best' recognition from the readers of Conde Nast Traveller for a record 23rd year, receiving the highest score in its 23 years of winning the award and by the widest margin ever to the runner up.

    The luxury line also won 'Best Luxury Cruise Line' from travel professional organisations Virtuoso Travel, Vacation.com and Ensemble Travel. In maintaining continued guest satisfaction, Crystal says it will heavily invest in massive enhancements for both ships in 2017 and 2018, similar to past refurbishments, such as the US$52-million 'extreme makeover' to Crystal Serenity in 2013 and the $20-million redesign to Crystal Symphony in 2014. The most significant outcome of these investments will feature full open seating dining for guests on both ships and more suites.

    "Not only do our ocean cruise ships continue to earn the highest guest satisfaction feedback, they do so in record-breaking margins," says Rodriguez. "This enthusiasm only validates our commitment to continuing to invest in the most innovative itineraries and onboard spaces and amenities, as those are the features that are resonating with our discerning guests."

    In the first quarter of 2022, Crystal will introduce the first Crystal Exclusive Class ocean ship that will set a new standard of luxury travel with signature features and guest amenities, and boast luxurious Crystal Residences, allowing travellers to literally call a Crystal ship 'home'. The privately owned apartments will range from 56 to 930+ square metres and have access to private amenities, dining and other services.

    River Cruising
    In the first months since the newly reimagined Crystal Mozart launched, Crystal River Cruises has garnered a near 100 percent favourability rating from its guests. The vessel has been named 'Best New River Ship' by the editors of Cruise Critic and Cruise Critic U.K.

    In the northern summer 2017 Crystal will introduce CRYSTAL BACH and CRYSTAL MAHLER, while CRYSTAL DEBUSSY and CRYSTAL RAVEL will follow in 2018, with two additional new builds to follow.

    The first four vessels will sail itineraries along the Danube, Rhine and Main Rivers calling in locales such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Amsterdam. To support the day-to-day operations of its expanding river yacht fleet, Crystal will officially open a Crystal River Cruises office in Amsterdam on 21 November.

    "Our commitment to exceeding our guests' wishes remains paramount. Every step of the way, we are listening to the feedback of our loyal guests and expert travellers," adds Rodriguez. "As we surveyed travellers on our ocean ships, the enthusiasm for potential Crystal river experiences was overwhelming, which led us to focus a great deal of our initial expansion in that realm."

    Crystal will introduce at least one new brand experience per year through to 2022, with a newly developed timeline as follows:

    2017: Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler launch; Crystal AirCruises takes flight; Crystal Symphony enhancements and Crystal Luxury Air debuts second Global Express Jet.

    2018: Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel launch; Crystal Serenity enhancements.

    2019: Crystal Endeavor expedition mega-yacht launch.

    2020: Second Crystal expedition mega-yacht to launch.

    2021: Third Crystal expedition mega-yacht to launch.

    2022: Crystal Exclusive Class with Crystal Residences debuts.

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    Netherlands ambassador in Ghana, Ron Strikker, opens the tank cleaning station

    Logistic service providers Van den Bosch and MTG have opened a tank cleaning station in the port of Tema, Ghana. The cleaning station was built according to Western European quality standards and is the first of its kind in West Africa.

    The official opening was performed by Ron Strikker, the Dutch ambassador in Ghana, on 3 November. "I would like to congratulate Van den Bosch and MTG with this achievement. The cleaning is a new example of the expanding number of Dutch investments in Ghana," the ambassador said.

    The establishment of the tank cleaning station is a new step forward on the African market for Van den Bosch. "A growing number of companies choose to ship their liquids to Africa as bulk freight instead of small packaging," says Paul van de Vorle, member of the Team of Directors at Van den Bosch. "With the start of the tank cleaning station, we are able to link inbound and outbound cargo flows more easily and to support companies in making the switch to bulk transport. This will provide many advantages in terms of handling, heating and savings in packaging costs."

    The tank cleaning station will lead to more sustainable transport on the Ghanaian market, according to van de Vorle. "Tank containers cannot be cleaned professionally anywhere in West Africa yet. Through this tank cleaning station, it is now possible to have tank containers cleaned in Ghana, which leads to new possibilities for shipping and transport companies. The cleaning station will create a better balance between inbound and outbound cargo flows and reduces the number of empty transport movements. In short: a sustainable logistic solution."

    Cleaning Tema 250
    The cleaning station is operated by MTG, a subsidiary of logistic services provider Portside. Last year Van den Bosch started a cooperation agreement with Portside that acts as the appointed agent for the Ghanaian market. MTG also owns the container depot in Tema where the cleaning station is located.

    Managing Director Bas de Vaal expressed his enthusiasm about the cleaning station: "We can now provide a full logistics concept to all importing and exporting companies of liquid bulk goods. Moreover, tank containers can also be used to transport liquid bulk goods to various land locked countries, such as Burkina Faso and Niger."

    The tank cleaning station was built according to the highest European quality standards and also meets all Kosher and Halal cleaning requirements.

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    New warship 041116 480
    Illustration: Crown Copyright 2016

    On 4 November the United Kingdom's Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon announced that the steel cutting for the Royal Navy's new next generation Type 26 Global Combat Ship now will take place in summer 2017, subject to final contract negotiations.

    The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR15) set out the UK Government's commitment to build eight Anti-Submarine Type 26 Global Combat Ships (see artist's impression here). This announcement of a date for cutting-steel on the Type 26 is an important step towards securing billions of pounds worth of investment in British shipbuilding on the Clyde and securing hundreds of skilled jobs through until 2035, it is understood.

    During his visit to Govan Sir Michael said: "Backed by Britain's rising defence budget, the Type 26 Programme will deliver a new generation of cutting-edge warships for our Royal Navy at best value for taxpayers.

    "The UK government's commitment today will secure hundreds of high-skilled shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde for at least two decades and hundreds more in the supply chain across Britain."

    Showing further commitment to the Type 26 programme, the Defence Secretary also announced a GBP100 million contract with MBDA to deliver the Sea Ceptor self-defence missile system for the ship. The contract will support design work, allow equipment to be manufactured to equip the entire Type 26 fleet, and install the system in the first three ships. This follows a GBP183 million investment in the Maritime Indirect Fire System, the Type 26's 5-inch calibre gun earlier in the summer, bringing total investment in the programme to GBP1.9 billion.

    Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, said: "This is a momentous commitment for Scotland that will strengthen and secure our shipbuilding industry on the Clyde for the future. The UK government is backing jobs on the Clyde and in its shipyards -- and this investment is only possible because of the broad shoulders of our strong UK defence budget."

    The Defence Secretary also announced that the Defence Ministry's plans to sign a contract shortly to start building of the two additional Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) pledged to in the SDSR, both of which will be delivered in 2019, protecting jobs on the Clyde before the start of the Type 26 programme gets fully under way.

    It is understood that the Ministry of Defence has been working with industry to ensure that they are able to deliver to time, cost and performance and secure the skills necessary to meet the challenge of delivering a world class anti-submarine warfare capability for the Royal Navy at value for money for the taxpayer. Detailed negotiations will now begin to finalise the contract.

    This procurement decision demonstrates the UK Government's continuing commitment to shipbuilding on the Clyde and real progress in delivering the Type 26 programme to meet the modern needs of Britain's Royal Navy.

    Edited by Paul Ridgway

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    SA Agulhas and Coldest Journey 1 480

    South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs held a workshop in Cape Town on Thursday last week to look into the opportunities that the ocean economy presents for South Africa and its international partners.

    The department hosted the Antarctica and Southern Ocean Workshop as part of the second leg of the week-long Norway-South Africa Science Week at Kirstenbosch Gardens.

    "As part of the future strategies, South Africa plans to cooperate with Norway to see how it can service countries that leave for Antarctica through the country.

    "Another key strategy is the proposal for air corridor tourism activities such as snow skiing and skating, snow kite boarding, marine, animal, scenic and bird viewing in Antarctica, [which] could boost the economic potential for South Africa," the department said in a statement on Friday.

    South Africa and Norway are key partners with a wide variety of joint research programmes and share a historical and common interest in Antarctica. Norway handed South Africa its first base on Antarctica in 1959.

    Under the theme 'Value Creation in Ocean Space -- New Opportunities in the Blue Economy', Science Week brought together and forged new relationships from different stakeholders of national entities, infrastructure holders, key players from higher education, research, innovation and business in South Africa and Norway, who shared their perspectives and expertise.

    Various sessions took place with the aim of identifying potential joint work areas and project concepts, as well as identifying the scope for enhancing South Africa as a Gateway to Antarctica.

    "Although progress has been made regarding research on Antarctica, there still remains vast opportunities for scientific research and innovation on which South Africa and Norway can collaborate," the department said.

    The oceans around South Africa represent the largest wilderness space, however the country only derives about 4% of its GDP from this.

    The department said South Africa has an opportunity to present itself as a gateway to Antarctica for many countries that have a presence on the icy continent.

    "There are, however, a number of budget constraints which require finding new sources of funding that can be identified and ventured into.

    "Some key economic reasons to allocate budget towards the Antarctic region are that South Africa has a global position, status and stewardship and there is public goods provision, gateway income and support of sustainable development such as catching fish," the department said.

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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.

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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

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    2016 nov 1 anuket pearl st (2) 480

    The chemical products tanker ANUKET PEARL (7277-dwt, built 2010) seen arriving in Cape Town earlier this month. Flagged in Malta, Anuket Pearl is owned by Swiss interests and managed from that country by ABC Maritime AG. These pictures are by Ian Shiffman


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