Maritime News

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


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Picture by Trevor Jones

The South African Antarctic survey and supply ship SA AGULHAS II (12,897-gt) makes for an enchanting view as she rests on the East Pier at Cape Town’s harbour, just a few days ago. SA Agulhas II was built in Finland at the STX Rauma shipyard and delivered to the Department of Environmental Affairs in 2012, at a reported cost of R1.3 billion (US$170 million). The ship carries accommodation for 100 passengers in 46 cabins in addition to her crew of 45. She has a speed of 16 knots and is ice strengthened to polar class 5. The ship has a helideck aft and hangar for two Oryx type transport helicopters. This picture is by Trevor Jones

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Jolly Perla’s ramp

Following up on our news reports on Thursday that Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and Ignazio Messina Line were in talks about MSC buying a stake in the Genoa-based Messina Line, which was reported as being cash-strapped, Italian sources now say the deal will be completed in March or April by which time MSC will own a 49% interest in the smaller Ro-Ro specialist line.

See that report by CLICKING HERE

Several Italian sources say the deal was agreed at the meeting that we reported on. They say that Messina Line has been looking for a partner for some time and had held talks with Turkey’s Arkas Holding among others, but the latter was reluctant to cede a majority stake to the latter.

According to these latest reports, MSC will inject €400M in exchange for its 49% share in the business.

Messina Line operates with eight modern RoRo vessels and has a 25-ha Ro-Ro terminal in Genoa which includes an 11,000 m2 shed. Messina Line operates a regular service to South Africa via the African east coast, with calls at a number of ports along the way.

MSC is the world’s second largest container line, the biggest privately-owned cruise operator, and a significant terminal operator, but until now the company has grown its container business organically and hasn’t taken over competitors or other shipping companies.

Ignazio Messina Line has operating a shipping line since 1921 and currently has eight owned ships and a few on charter. In addition to the east and southern Africa service, the line also calls at West Africa via a vessel sharing agreement with Spain’s Marguisa Line as well as in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

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APL Austria in Algoa Bay. picture courtesy NSRI

A fire broke out on board the South Korean fishing vessel Geum Jeong No.101 (885-gt, built 1983) at the repair quay in the Port of Cape Town on Saturday, 18 February.

According to the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) the City of Cape Town Fire Department attended, assisted by TNPA fire units. The report said that there was no loss of life and that all personnel from the fishing vessel were accounted for. There were no people remaining on board.

“Currently the fire is being addressed via boundary cooling for safety reasons, both from shore side and sea side,” said the TNPA.

“The vessels in the immediate vicinity have been safely moved to alternate berths. There is no immediate risk of pollution with TNPA already putting counter measures in place.”


Pictures courtesy SAMSA

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) the fire on board the Liberian-flagged container ship APL AUSTRIA in the port of Ngqura has been brought under control and extinguished, permitting the removal of fire-damaged containers.

The fire broke out in the lower No.4 hold of the ship as it was passing near Cape Recife on the western end of Algoa Bay. After being told to take the ship to the shelter of Algoa Bay outer anchorage where harbour tugs could assist with fighting the fire, the ship was redirected into Ngqura harbour to provide fire-fighting teams with better access to the ship.

Once the fire was under control and largely extinguished, work commenced on removing the damaged containers, save for two boxes filled with candles that had melted due to the intense heat. These containers were later removed as well. Water from the firefighting team had meanwhile filled the No.4 hold to the height of four containers.

In total 281 containers have now been removed from the ship. In order to maintain ongoing stability, containers forward and aft of the No.4 hold on deck were also removed and to create working space and a fire break. Damaged containers taken ashore were being destuffed into skips for removal from the quayside.

On Sunday (19 February 2017) APL Austria remained in the port at Ngqura and is now due at her next port of call, Cape Town, on Saturday 25 February 2017.

Ngqura Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana, meanwhile said the port had lost only half a day of operation on Monday, 13 February before container offloading resumed at 12h00.

“It took just two and a half days to extinguish this dangerous blaze. Credit must be given to the disaster management role players for working together seamlessly. Our waterside and landside employees at the port also demonstrated that – despite being a relatively young harbour – Ngqura is well equipped to manage such a crisis.”

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Salisbury Island. Picture: The late W/O Manny Gounden

The six men who died at the Salisbury Island Naval Base last Friday may have been saved had proper safety precautions been in place, leaving the Department of Public Works and the Navy who should now be held jointly held responsible for the tragedy.

Three men from the Public Works Department were working in a sewer pit when they were overcome by a methane gas leak, a smell that we are told has been there for years. Calling for help from the deep pit, three naval servicemen nearby bravely rushed to their aid, with no thought of their own safety, but were overcome by the fumes as well.

Had basic safety precautions involving confined spaces been in place, with the men in the pit being properly attired with masks and breathing equipment, and a standby team above also suitably equipped, then all six men could be alive today.

The naval base lies within but outside the authority of the Port of Durban, where stringent safety rules and systems have been put in place by Transnet, even to the sometimes silly extent of fencing and markings to prevent people from approaching the edge of quaysides. Everyone entering the port precinct is required to wear safety boots, hard hats and reflective jackets no matter what they are going about.  Then why, is the question that must be asked, were really essential safety measures regarding working in confined spaces, such as those introduced and in service on all ships, not in place at the country’s second naval base?

The South African government has issued its condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, and a deserved recognition will no doubt be given to the three servicemen who gave their lives, but the authorities need to do more now, including setting in motion a proper, meaningful and open enquiry leading to those responsible for this dereliction of well-known safety measures being held accountable.

The fact that this took place at a time when preparations were underway in Durban for the annual Armed Forces Day, when thousands of soldiers, sailors and airmen were in the city to help commemorate the event and the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel – another senseless act – makes this even more surprising and sad.

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image: Nor-Shipping

An unusual and sad sight greeted the people of Sotra in Norway earlier this month, as a rare goose-beaked whale repeatedly beached on the island shoreline. The stricken animal eventually had to be put down, leading to a grizzly find that, argues Nor-Shipping Director Birgit Liodden, should act as a wake-up call to spur society into action.

“This beautiful two-ton animal was on the brink of death as its stomach was full, but devoid of nutrition,” she states. “Instead of food it had eaten a variety of rubbish, including some 30 plastic bags which had clogged its digestive system. Researchers have since suggested that it may have believed these bags were squid, a usual part of this species’ diet.

“The result was a slow and painful death, and a sad snap shot of the state of our global waters. It has been estimated that there are over 5 trillion pieces of plastic garbage currently polluting our ocean habitats. This is not a problem that will simply take care of itself. We need to look at innovative ways to address it before we reach an inevitable tipping point.

“This whale was not an isolated case – it was a sign of what lies ahead.”

Liodden points to Boyan Slat and his Ocean Cleanup initiative, the winner of the Young Entrepreneur Award at Nor-Shipping 2015, as an example of how the issue can be tackled head on.

“We need this kind of innovation,” she stresses. “New thinking, from a new generation, to address the biggest challenges facing the maritime industry, and the world as a whole. Boyan Slat is the perfect example of that.

“His plan to use a passive system, driven by ocean currents, to capture and remove floating plastic waste is a stroke of genius. He was an obvious recipient for our award. What we need now is more ideas and, crucially, more action from talented people – from within and without the maritime industries – to build awareness, solutions and practical products and systems for tackling not just this problem, but also the other challenges that threaten responsible commercial and environmental sustainability.”

The Nor-Shipping director points out that the main theme of this year’s programme is ‘Catalyst for Change’. Within that context the whole of exhibition Hall A has been devoted to the concept of Disruptive Sustainability – showcasing potential innovations from inside and outside the shipping spectrum – while a Problem to Profit initiative looks to the next generation for ideas to remedy today’s industry problems. The latter activity will see the best sustainable concept rewarded with a 50,000 NOK prize.

Liodden concludes: “We can all effect positive change if we set our minds to it, helping to build a better marine and maritime environment for the future. The ideas are as limitless as our imaginations. It’s time to think big.”

Nor-Shipping 2017, taking place across a series of venues in Oslo and Lillestrøm from 30 May to 2 June, is the world’s leading maritime event week. This year’s exhibition and programme of events is expected to attract around 35,000 visitors, with almost 1,000 of the world’s leading maritime companies showcasing products and services to the industry, future talent and shipping value chain stakeholders.

Nor-Shipping 2017’s Young Entrepreneur Award is open to industry professionals aged under 40 who have founded a company addressing challenges or solutions in an innovative way.

For further details on this, and the other Nor-Shipping awards, please see

To find out more about the Ocean Cleanup see

Nor-Shipping 2017 takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, Norway, from 30 May to 2 June 2017.

The main exhibition features five themed halls:

  • Disruptive Sustainability in Hall A
  • IT & Navigation in Hall B
  • Safety & Rescue in Hall C
  • Shipbuilding & Repair in Hall D
  • Maritime Services & Logistics in Hall E
  • Propulsion & Machinery in Hall E


A full programme of events, initiatives and keynote speakers will be released on the Nor-Shipping website soon

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Norwegian Escape

When NCL took delivery of NORWEGIAN ESCAPE (above) in 2015 it was from the German shipyard of Meyer Werft and was the line’s biggest ship so far. At 164,600-gt and a passenger capacity of 4,266 plus a crew of 1,733, anyone could be excused for thinking that the future for NCL lay in bigger ships. Reversing this trend, NCL has now inked an order for four 140,000, 3,300 passenger ships with options on another two. This may however be something not of NCL’s choosing, with German and Finnish north European yards fully booked leaving only Fincantieri, which has size limitations, available.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has placed orders with Italian shipyard Fincantieri for four new design cruise ships, plus taking an option of an additional two.

The value of the order is worth around €800 million with delivery slotted for one ship per year from 2022 to 2025. The frequency will continue if the option on the additional two ships is taken up. The order is being referred to as ‘Project Leonardo”.

According to Fincantieri, the ships are based on a prototype developed by themselves, are almost 300 metres in length and will have a gross tonnage of about 140,000 tons. Each ship will accommodate about 3,300 passengers. Fincantieri says the design enhances the consolidated features of NCL’s signature offering of freedom and flexibility, and is qualified by an innovative configuration for an enhanced passenger experience.

“Focus was set on energy efficiency, with the twofold aim of optimising consumption at sea and reducing environmental impact, compliant with all the most recent regulations on this matter.”

“This new class of ships will continue Norwegian Cruise Line brand’s legacy of introducing meaningful innovation to the cruise industry,” said Frank Del Rio, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.  “This order continues to highlight our disciplined newbuild program, extends our growth trajectory well into the future, enhances our already attractive earnings profile and drives expected long-term returns for our shareholders.”

Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, said that Fincantieri was very proud of the project for these ships. “We developed it internally and we presented it to the shipowner, who appreciated it so much to order an entire class,” he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is one of the leading cruise companies in the world. Besides NCL, it operates the Regent Seven Seas Cruises brand, to which Fincantieri has delivered the ultra-luxury ship SEVEN SEAS EXPLORER in 2016 and is now building a sister ship with delivery expected in 2020, as well as Oceania Cruises, for which the group has built MARINA and RIVIERA, respectively in 2011 and 2012.

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Pretoria-based Dredging Africa (Pty) has introduced its latest cutter dredger named MVUBU 450, which is specifically designed for work on dams and inland waterways.

The dredger which was launched in Cape Town in January is designed for local conditions, according to Dredging Africa.

The dredger’s primary task is to clean lined dams and has a specially adapted horizontal auger to carry material to the centre of its cutter assembly were the pump mouth awaits the incoming material to be pumped away. This cutter is equipped with specially designed cutter teeth to loosen hard material and with high pressure jet nozzles to loosen and fluidise tough material.

A set of stainless steel wheels prevent the cutter mechanism from coming in contact with the plastic lining on the bottom of lined dams. This is further avoided by the stainless steel protective cage over the front of the cutter shroud. Forward and backward travel is facilitated by a treble winch system running along a navigation cable.

Mvubu 450 has the capacity to pump 450m³ of slurry per hour against 43m total dynamic head at 1400RPM. Power is provided by a Scania industrial diesel engine of 276kW at 1800RPM. Control of the dredge is done by state of the art systems including engine management system, Deep Sea Controller, a SCADA system, pressure sensing and flow rate instrumentation, a nuclear density measuring instrument and other controls. source: Dredging Today & Tugs Towing & Offshore

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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.

Naval News

Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories here in the general news section.


The French survey and supply ship MARION DUFRESNE has been calling at Durban on a periodic basis since at least 1997 and is always a welcome sight. The 121 metre long ship displaces 10,380 tons when fully loaded and that could include 110 passengers in her 59 cabins plus a crew of 28. A big ship for her type, she roams the Southern Ocean servicing the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands as well as the smaller Amsterdam and St Paul islands, bringing fuel and supplies to the French personnel permanently stationed on these remote islands in the South.

For a third of each year she confines her activities to these duties, but for the rest of the year, or 245 days, the ship conducts worldwide research and can as a result be found in any of the other oceans, even in the North Atlantic. The ship carries one of a choice of several helicopters, depending on any particular voyage’s requirements. The ship has a top speed of 17 knots but usually cruises at around 15 knots.

Marion Dufresne is owned by the French container line operator, CMA CGM but is operated by IPEV (Institut Polaire Français Paul-Émile Victor) for oceanography and the Territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) for supply logistical purposes.

This picture is taken by Keith Betts


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