Maritime News

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


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One of two Port of Durban pilot boat’s which are used alternately with the port helicopter to deliver marine pilots to ships entering or departing from port, LUFAFA, which is seen here returning to base at the tug basin next to R berth. A glance around the pilot boat indicates the amazing amount of interest that one can find in Durban on any given day. In this instance, over on the T-Jetty is the Norwegian sailing ship SORLANDET which visited the port during December 2016 when this picture was taken, while behind her at the passenger terminal is the Silversea cruise ship SILVER CLOUD. Just behind Lufafa can be seen one of the many tourist boats that ply their trade, taking visitors around Durban Bay to “see the ships”. But that’s not all, over on Pier 1 can be seen a cargo ship undergoing minor repairs on the layebye berth (103) and against the Bluff are some of the more than one thousand liquid bulk tanks making up Island View. Had this been taken with a wider lens we’d have been able to see some of the container ships away to the right, and that’s not taking into account the City Terminal on what used to be known as the Point (away to the left) and Maydon Wharf and its 15 berths from where the pilot boat had returned. Never a dull day, no matter what the weather. This picture was taken by Terry Hutson

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A gang of well-armed Gulf of Guinea pirates

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has announced that Nigeria is to pass an anti-piracy law aimed at curtailing the activities of pirates and thieves operating off the Nigerian coast and Gulf of Guinea.

NIMASA’s director-general, Dakuku Peterside said that the bill, once it is passed, will enable Nigeria to become the first country in Africa to have a committed anti-piracy law in place. Nigerian waters have been the scene of repeated attacks by thieves and pirates acting either to rob the ships and crew or to hold seafarers to ransom.

Peterside said that NIMASA was working towards the rapid adoption of the executive bill and that the draft had already been sent to the Federal Ministry of Justice.

The director-general said the bill would empower law enforcement agencies, including the Nigerian Navy, and help boost surveillance and intelligence in Nigerian waters.

The Nigerian government has in recent years taken strenuous efforts to reinforce the maritime sector in order to enhance economic growth. source: Ecofin Agency

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Picture by Terry Hutson

Danish shipping giant, Maersk Line has announced a significant loss during 2016, which is ascribed to write-downs in the company’s oil divisions.

Making the announcement this week, the company also said the chairman, Michael Pram Rasmussen would be stepping down.

The loss registered by Maersk last year amounted to US$376 million after booking $2.7 billion of write-downs in the fourth quarter for both Maersk Supply Services and Maersk Drilling.

Maersk’s net loss was $1.94 billion during 2016, compared to a profit of $925 million the previous year. The was after sales of $35.46 billion, a decrease of 12 percent.

Maersk’s loss came despite having recorded increased container volumes with lower unit costs during 2016.

“2016 was a difficult year financially, with headwinds in all of our markets. However, it was also a year when we decided to substantially transform A.P. Moller – Maersk for the future. We have set a new course that over the next few years will lead A.P. Moller – Maersk to become a focused container shipping, logistics and ports company with the aim of growing revenue again,” said the company in its statement.

Maersk sits in the enviable, or is it unenviable, position of looking for low oil prices for its shipping division, and high oil prices and subsequent high oil production for the oil division. Getting the balance right becomes key to the overall company success. And when shipping rates are also low, troubled waters lie ahead.

The statement commented that the parent company Maersk Group produced a $1.9 billion loss.

“For 2017, we expect A.P. Moller – Maersk to deliver an underlying profit above 2016, mainly driven by an improvement in underlying profit in excess of US$1bn in Maersk Line compared to 2016,” said Maersk Group CEO Søren Skou.

Chairman Rasmussen who has resigned was in the position for the past 14 years. His departure takes effect on 28 March. He is to be succeeded by Danish businessman Jim Hagemann Snabe, who has still to be elected by the shareholders.

Snabe was until recently the chief executive of German software manufacturer SAP.

Hamburg Süd

[Picture on right by Trevor Jones] In other unrelated news, Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd, the German shipping company that Maersk is acquiring, have agreed a deal whereby the German line will purchase slots on Maersk Line ships for its east-west services, as from 1 April this year. This coincides with the termination of Hamburg Süd’s current slot agreement with UASC.

The agreement means having additional volumes and better utilisation of the Maersk fleet on the problematic east-west services, which cover Far East-Europe, Far East-Mediterranean, transatlantic and transpacific services.

Indications are that once the acquisition of the German company takes effect, Maersk will seek to focus Hamburg Süd’s attention on its already strong north-south connections, particularly the Europe-South America and North America-South America trade lanes.

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A section of the TAZARA railway

The operators of the TAZARA railway (Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority) have begun lobbying to have a long-standing debt of US$700 million cancelled, in order that the railway can be made profitable.

Owned by the governments of Zambia and Tanzania and built by the Chinese in the 1960s it was dubbed the ‘Freedom’ or ‘Uhuru Railway’ on account that it provided an alternate route to the sea than using the white-governed ports of South Africa or Mozambique.

Although TAZARA was built amidst a blaze of publicity and plenty of political goodwill and support, the railway proved incapable of attracting the necessary volumes in traffic needed to make it a highly profitable venture. Instead, over the years little maintenance work was carried out and gradually the railway became less popular with mining houses in the DRC and Zambia, who continued sending their ores south to the South African ports.

Now, and once again with support and encouragement from the Chinese, efforts are being made to reinvigorate the fortunes of TAZARA, but the outstanding debts that have accrued hang over the successful operation of the railway like the proverbial sword of Damocles.

“The debts which the authority acquired in the past have negatively affected the operations of the authority. But, if these debts could be cancelled, the institution can get back to its normal operations,” says Chief Executive Officer Bruno Ching’andu. “If we are to include debts for the constructions, the authority owes a total of 700 million US dollars.”

Ching’andu called for these debts to be cancelled, saying that this is the only way to revamp the railway system. He said that the debts make it impossible to acquire further financial assistance.

Uganda SGR

In other East African rail related news, a Uganda parliamentary committee is demanding a complete review of the Uganda-Kenya Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project.

This follows a visit they made to Ethiopia to study the recently opened SGR railway between Ethiopia and Djibouti. They say the costs of building the Uganda-Kenya railway is much higher than that in Ethiopia.

Officials involved with the Uganda-Kenya SGR argue however that the comparison does not take into account the distances from the port and the terrain involved, plus the cost of land compensation and higher labour costs. The Uganda-Mombasa trains will carry heavier loads than its counterparts operating between Addis Ababa and Djibouti, they say.

The Uganda-Mombasa SGR railway is expected to cost a total of $12.8 billion and is due to reach Kampala by late 2020. The funding has come from China’s Exim Bank and the 1,740km (1,080 miles) line is being built by a Chinese company.

By comparison, the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway has a length of 656km and cost R3.4 billion.

The railway on the Uganda side of the border with Kenya is to be operated by electric trains, whereas on the Kenya side it will be diesels. Uganda says it is assured of sufficient electrical power from energy projects at Karuma and Isimba, and because the running and maintenance costs using electric traction is lower than diesel.

The cost of building the Ugandan leg of the new railway (273km) is expected to be $2.3 billion.

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Ocean Africa Container Line ship at Nacala

Phase 2 of the Nacala port redevelopment project begins next month (March), which will culminate in 2020 with a modernised and expanded general port, on the other side of Nacala Bay to the Nacala a-Velha coal terminal.

The project is underway in conjunction with another that involves refurbishing and rebuilding the railway from Nacala to the border of Malawi, and from there through that landlocked country and back into Mozambique in Tete province and the Vale coal mine at Moatize.

The Brazilian mining company Vale Mocambique has been the inspiration of the Nacala Rail Corridor Project as it seeks to find an alternate outlet to the sea for its coal export trains. Vale’s other outlet is along the Sena Railway from Moatize to the port of Beira, which has capacity constraints.

The Nacala Project involves a partnership between the Mozambique government and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Involving a budget of a reported US$400 million, it will see the container terminal at the port of Nacala modernised and improved as well as the provision of new infrastructure and equipment.

The port has a general cargo terminal with four berths with a total quay length of 610 metres, a container terminal with two berths with a quay length of 372 metres and a bulk liquid terminal. The container terminal has an annual capacity of between 100,000 and 150,000 TEUs but this is to be increased to 250,000 TEU in terms of the redevelopment project.

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The latest issue of The Navigator, published in the first week of February by The Nautical Institute, aims to raise awareness of the future of navigation technology. The Institute is working to introduce a standard setting (S-Mode) for all navigational systems and is inviting seafarers to contribute to a short online survey. S-Mode would help navigators operate and understand navigation functions in all vessels.

The S-Mode survey can be found at and the results will be included in a report that will be presented to the IMO.

Emma Ward, Editor of The Navigator, said: “Imagine going to the bridge of a ship as a new arrival and finding that you are unfamiliar with the ECDIS or radar systems. This could seriously affect competence and safety. That is why The Nautical Institute is joining with other organisations to urge the IMO to establish a single set of S-Mode guidelines, and why the topic of S-Mode is thoroughly explored in this issue of The Navigator.”

David Patraiko, Director of Projects for The Nautical Institute, added: “This survey is your chance to shape the future of navigation systems. There are no wrong answers, so please use our survey to tell us what you think. But first, read this issue of The Navigator to learn about the current issues surrounding S-Mode.”

The Nautical Institute launched its Navigator Distributor scheme in 2015, encouraging a wider, global distribution of the free, 12-page magazine to as many professional marine navigators as possible. Readers interested in finding out how their organisation can take part in the scheme are invited to visit:

The Navigator is produced by The Nautical Institute with support from the Royal Institute of Navigation. It is available free in printed format or as a pdf, digital magazine or App on The Nautical Institute website. A supporting blog can be found at

Printed copies are distributed with The Nautical Institute’s membership magazine, Seaways, as well as through missions and maritime training establishments. The magazine was named winner of the Investment in People Award at the 2015 Seatrade Awards.

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Video: USS Enterprise decommissioning [3:31]

USS ENTERPRISE (CVN65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, and the bearer of a famous name from the World War 2 era, was decommissioned last week (Friday 3 February) in the ship’s hangar bay at Newport News in the USA.

Spanning an incredible 55 years, the ship saw more than 100,000 sailors sail on her during 25 deployments. Built at the height of the Cold War, the ship entered service at the forefront of defending US foreign policy.

The ship was the eighth to carry the name Enterprise in the United States Navy, and was launched on 24 September 1960 before going to sea the following year since when she has safely steamed more than 1 million nautical miles on nuclear power. Known affectionately as The Big E, a part of her steel will go into what is hoped to be the ninth ship, and another aircraft carrier (CVN80), to carry the name Enterprise.

Speaking at her decommissioning, Rear Adm. Bruce Lindsey, Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic, quoted from his own experiences aboard Enterprise to emphasise the unmatched adaptability and capability of not just this ship but of all nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

“One cannot influence world events if you are not on station and stay on station; in other words: to be where it matters, when it matters,” said Lindsey. “Nuclear carriers are tough and no other country can match us in this respect.”

When USS Enterprise arrived at Newport News on 4 November last year, it was at the end of her final deployment of seven-and-a-half-months supporting operations in the Mediterranean and the Arabian Seas.

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The International Tribunal on the Law of the Seas (ITLOS), which is sitting in Hamburg, Germany, will begin listening today (Thursday) to argument from the Ivory Coast regarding its request that Ghana be prevented from drilling and exploring for oil in the territory at sea along the disputed marine border.

Earlier this week the Ghana delegation presented their arguments which mainly stated that Ivory Coast’s claim to sovereignty over the disputed area only arose once Ghana began drilling and discovering profitable oil deposits (see yesterday’s Maritime News).

Ivory Coast submitted a request on 27 February 2015 for the prescription of provisional measures under Article 290, Paragraph 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), requesting the chamber to order that Ghana shall, inter alia, “take all steps to suspend all oil exploration and exploitation operations underway in the disputed area.”

Ivory Coast claimed that Ghana was using the development of its oil industry to annexe territory which does not belong to it.

Ghana says that it began exploring for oil in the area under dispute based on a recognised pre-existing maritime boundary.

The tribunal is expected to deliver its verdict by the end of this year


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 clicking on the SHIP MOVEMENTS key in the navigation sidebar on the left of each page.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

We publish news about the cruise industry on a regular basis here in the general news section. We no longer have a dedicated Cruise News section but the general News will contain regular cruise news items of interest to readers, especially where it concerns African destinations. This will also include the occasional review of a ship or destination – we welcome reader input in this regard.

Naval News

Similarly we will endeavor to keep up with African Naval News which will be carried in our general News section. Reader input is again welcome.


Jan de Nul’s dredger DE LAPEROUSE (5440-dwt, built 2010) is seen with the backdrop of Durban’s green and bush-covered Bluff, after completing a dredging contract of the long Maputo approach channel in Mozambique. Jan de Nul is today one of the world’s leading dredging specialists.

Jan de Nul’s first contract as a dredging company was in 1951 when it won a contract to provide sand for a road in Belgium. In 1968 its first trailing suction hopper dredger SANDERUS was acquired, for a dredging contract in Le Havre, France – Jan de Nul’s first contract ‘abroad’.

By 2007 the company was planning its largest fleet extension in its history – 47 new vessels to be built and delivered in the next six years. Today Jan de Nul boasts a fleet of about 75 vessels. These include 28 trailing suction hopper dredgers, 14 cutter suction dredgers, 6 backhoe dredgers, 20 split barges, 1 oil recovery vessel, 5 rock installation vessels and one cable installation vessel under construction. Among these are the identical CRISTOBAL COLON, launched in 2008 and LEIV EIRIKSSON (78,000-dwt, built 2010), the world’s largest dredgers (capacity 46,000 m³), capable of dredging to a water depth of 155m.

Jan de Nul is based out of Luxembourg, Europe. This picture is by Keith Betts


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