Tuesday’s Maritime News

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


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Mercer Street Picture: Ken Malcolm

The Handysize Liberian-flagged oil tanker MERCER STREET (49,992-dwt, built 2013) seen arriving in Durban harbour earlier in February. The tanker has a length of 183 metres and a width of 32m. She is owned by Singapore interests and is managed by Zodiac Maritime of London, UK. This picture is by Ken Malcolm

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The South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has published draft regulations on the reclamation of land from coastal waters. These are available for public comment under Government Notice R.167 in Government Gazette No.40638.

“The regulations seek to provide an administrative framework to implement sections 7B and 7C of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) relating to the submission, processing and consideration of applications for approval to reclaim land from coastal waters,” the department said in its statement.

Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Environmental Affairs identified the reclamation of land from the sea, which is the process of creating new land from the sea, thus adding to the territory of South Africa, as a significant activity that was open to potential abuse.

Therefore, dedicated provisions are required within the amended ICM Act as well as regulations to elaborate on the process laid out in those provisions and to ensure that reclaimed land is in the national interest of South Africans.

Some of the problems identified include; the potential abuse by private consortia by creating privatised space that is closed off to the public and the mixed use of reclaimed land and re-sale of portions of land that make it difficult to track and monitor.

The department said that the old process in the principal Act that required the use of multiple pieces of legislation, as well as previously reclaimed land being disposed of as state land without a market-related fee structure, resulted in reclaimed land being sold off for extremely cheap prices.

The adoption of the new regulations will ensure that all potential reclamation on the South African coast will be subject to an appropriate and effective authorisation process.

“This will be in the national interest, beneficial to the public and state, whilst in line with sustainable development principles, which cannot be sold or have changes made in terms of usage that deviates from its primary purpose,” the department said.

These regulations, called the Reclamation of Land from Coastal Waters Regulations 2017, are currently open for public comment.

The Minister invites any persons to submit written comments on the draft regulations within 30 days of the publication of the notice in the Government Gazette, to the following addresses:

The Deputy Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs
Branch: Oceans and Coasts
PO Box 52126
V&A Waterfront
8002 Cape Town

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Port of Nacala

A Chinese company is planning to invest US$1.4 billion in a plant at Nacala in northern Mozambique that will transform metallurgical coal into coking coal to export to Brazil.

The China Brasil Xinnenghuan International Investment (CBSteel) company’s intentions were revealed in a memorandum signed last Friday (24 February) in Maputo by the permanent secretary of Mozambique’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MIC), Carla Soto, and the chairman of the board of CBSteel, Zhang Shengsheng.

Zhang said that construction of the Nacala plant in Nampula province would be financed by the Chinese government and should be completed in about a year.

He said that CBSteel expects to export 4 million tons of coking coal to Brazil each year for use in steel production.

Mozambique’s AIM news agency reports that in the last five years 92 projects have been approved for Mozambique, corresponding to nearly US$823 million in Chinese direct investment, with the potential to create more than 14,000 jobs. source: Macauhub

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Port of Dar es Salaam

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has described the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe as a “form of colonialism”, saying that it is bad for the country.

His comments have further dampened Tanzania’s chances of signing the deal with the European Union (EU).

The Tanzanian president was addressing a press conference at State House during a visit by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

He said he was not in favour of the EPAs which are aimed at creating a free trade area between EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

President Museveni appeared to be in agreement, saying that “It’s better if the signing of the deal is shelved until further consultations are made.” Museveni was in Tanzania on a two-day state visit.

According to Dr Magafuli, African countries would not benefit economically from the EPAs as had at first been thought.

“I believe that our neighbour, Uganda, will second us for the betterment of our countries. We have discussed EPA for a long time but to me it seems like another form of colonialism… it is bad for our country,” he said.

There has been criticism in other quarters that the non-reciprocal and discriminating preferential trade agreements offered by EU are incompatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

President Museveni pointed out that a number of African countries had not signed EPA agreements with the EU, which he said shows that the proposal was meant to create disunity among African countries.

Tanzania’s parliament last year rejected the EPA proposals when it came up for debate. Some members thought that EPA would destroy the EAC (East African Community) and that not all member states would enjoy the same benefits.

President Museveni called for the inland container depots in Mwanza to be improved in order to ease the transportation of cargo between Uganda and the port of Dar es Salaam. source: Business Daily

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Revenue Authorities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have officially unveiled a Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs) enabling them to jointly track movement of goods from port to destination electronically; that is from the Port of Mombasa to Kampala and Kigali.

The system will reduce the cost of doing business by reducing transit time, enhancing cargo safety and helping traders to better predict arrival of goods. The service will be free as Revenue Authorities will meet all operational costs, reports TradeMark East Africa (TMEA).

Speaking at the unveiling of the system at Uganda Revenue Authority offices at Nakawa, Kampala, URA Commissioner General Doris Akol said, “The partnership with Kenya and Rwanda helps us monitor goods from end to end, easing cargo handling, improving revenue collection and reducing diversion of un-taxed goods into the market. It will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market. This will benefit our traders and assure potential investors of level playing field in our region.”

The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has supported the project by giving US$4.4million grant through TradeMark East Africa.

A DFID official said “DFID is proud to be partnering with the Government of Uganda and with key partners including TMEA, to reduce Uganda’s barriers to trade with the rest of the world. Increasing Uganda’s trade with its neighbours is vital for generating growth and promoting jobs and income, which we know is the surest way to reduce poverty. The launch of the Regional Electronic Cargo tracking System marks an important milestone towards our shared goal of reducing by a third the time to import and export goods from Uganda.”

RECTs comprise satellites, central command centres in each of the revenue authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, smart gates and rapid response units. An electronic seal is attached on transit cargo vehicles and communicates with the command centres giving real time updates such as vehicle location, speed, and whether or not the container has been tampered with.

Importers, transporters, and the revenue authorities can see this information. Rapid response units are stationed along sections of the Northern Corridor identified as notorious for diversion of goods. These rapid response units respond to alerts, received from the command centres, about suspicious behaviour like diversion from the designated route, unusually long stop overs, or attempts to open a container, which they investigate and resolve on the spot.

Expected gains
The system will enable transporters to reduce their transit costs and increase the productivity of their fleet. Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda will seal loopholes that lead to revenue loss because of diversion of un-taxed goods into the market. RECTs will eliminate the need for having physical escorts and monitoring of sensitive cargo, such as batteries, fuel, cigarettes.

Frank Matsaert, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) CEO said, “Transit trade is an important element of any economy and we are glad to be the catalyst of this partnership. RECTs is one of the many innovations that TradeMark is supporting and which is geared towards easing and improving local and international trade in East Africa.

“RECTs efficiency will ingrain fair terms of trade by creating a level playing field for both importers and local industries as it helps in eliminating diversion of cargo. Surely, with this strong partnership between the private sector, the revenue authorities and TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) it is possible that we can reduce transit time from Mombasa to Kampala down to 2 days.”

KRA, URA and RRA hope to work with other revenue agencies in the region to continue integrating their systems and further simplify trade.

Speaking at the event, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Uganda Country Director Moses Sabiiti said, “The RECTS is building on the excellent results delivered by the first phase of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in Uganda, which reduced transit days from an average of 6 days (December 2013) to 1.5days for truckers moving from Busia to Elegu (the border with South Sudan).

“TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) is grateful to the UK Government for funding the automation of URA that forms the backbone of URA transformation. The support has enable URA to improve capacity in business process management through automation of all customs stations and training. TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) will further support GOU to implement a comprehensive cross border strategy that will increase the participation of SMEs and women so they can benefit from these trade interventions.”

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Lifeguards for all RCCL ships

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines says that it will add lifeguards to all of its cruise ships in an effort to improve onboard water safety.

RCCL operates a fleet of 24 cruise ships, all of which will be crewed by lifeguards in future.

This will see Royal Caribbean add licensed lifeguards that are trained through a partner company, StarGuard Elite. At least one lifeguard will be stationed at every pool (including the Solarium) during all open hours, and will be noticeably visible in bright red and white uniforms. All have been hired specifically as lifeguards and will not serve in any other role onboard.

In addition, Royal Caribbean will present a 15-minute water safety presentation during the Adventure Ocean open house session on embarkation day.

The lifeguards and water safety program will be deployed to all of Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships over the next four months. The programme debuted on Oasis of the Seas this week, and will be added to 14 ships by mid-April. All remaining cruise shops will have lifeguards added by 15 June 2017.

Royal Caribbean began offering guests the option to use life jackets for children to use in the pool in late 2015, but says adding lifeguards and water safety programs is a big step forward.

The only other cruise line to have lifeguards on duty on their ships is Disney Cruise Line.

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Picture by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley© kindly provided by US Coast Guard

US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star escorts the tanker Maersk Peary (built 2004, 47,876 displacement tons, 592 ft loa) as the tanker departs from the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station Antarctica on 7 February 2017. The tanker is on long-term charter to the US Navy’s Sealift Command.

Polar Star’s crew is responsible for providing a safe channel through the Antarctic ice for resupply ships that visit the station.

McMurdo Station, located at 77° 51′ S, 166 ° 40′ E, is the largest Antarctic station. McMurdo is built on the bare volcanic rock of Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island, the solid ground farthest south that is accessible by ship.

According to the US National Science Foundation the station was established in December 1955. It is the logistics hub of the US Antarctic Program, with a harbour, landing strips on sea ice and shelf ice, and a helicopter pad. Its 85 or so buildings range in size from a small radio shack to large, three-storey structures. Repair facilities, dormitories, administrative buildings, a firehouse, power plant, water distillation plant, wharf, stores, clubs, warehouses, and the first class Crary Lab are linked by above-ground water, sewer, telephone, and power lines.


On 22 February the United States Coast Guard (USCG) announced from Washington that it had awarded five firm fixed-price contracts for heavy polar icebreaker design studies and analysis.

These contracts were awarded to the following: Bollinger Shipyards, LLC, Lockport, Louisiana; Fincantieri Marine Group, LLC, Washington, DC; General Dynamics/National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California; Huntington Ingalls, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi; and VT Halter Marine, Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi.

The combined total value of the awards is approximately US$20 million.

The objective of the studies are to identify design and systems approaches to reduce acquisition cost and production timelines.

In addition to a requirement to develop heavy polar icebreaker designs with expected cost and schedule figures, the contracts require: the awardees to examine major design cost drivers; approaches to address potential acquisition, technology, production risks and benefits associated with different types of production contract types.

The heavy polar icebreaker integrated program office, staffed by US Coast Guard and US Navy personnel, will use the results of the studies to refine and validate the draft heavy polar icebreaker system specifications. The use of design studies is an acquisition best practice influenced by the Navy’s acquisition experience with the Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) amphibious transport ship and T-AO(X) fleet oiler, which are being acquired under accelerated acquisition schedules.

Said Rear-Admiral Michael Haycock, the Coast Guard’s Director of Acquisition Programs and Program Executive Officer: “These contracts will provide invaluable data and insight as we seek to meet schedule and affordability objectives.

“Our nation has an urgent need for heavy polar icebreaking capability. We formed an integrated program office with the Navy to take advantage of their shipbuilding experience. This puts us in the best possible position to succeed in this important endeavour.”

Jay Stefany, Executive Director, Amphibious, Auxiliary and Sealift Office, Program Executive Office, Ships added: “The Navy is committed to the success of the heavy icebreaker program and is working collaboratively with our Coast Guard counterparts to develop a robust acquisition strategy that drives affordability and competition, while strengthening the industrial base. Our ability to engage early with our industry partners will be critical to delivering this capability to our nation.”

The studies are expected to take twelve months to complete, with study results provided incrementally during that time. The Coast Guard plans to release a draft request for proposals (RFP) for detail design and construction by the end of fiscal year 2017, followed by release of the final RFP in fiscal year 2018.

The Integrated Program Office plans to award a single contract for design and construction of the lead heavy polar icebreaker in fiscal year 2019, subject to appropriations.

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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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.


MSC Regulus. Pictures: Trevor Jones

The port of Durban has recently experienced visits from a number of very large container ships – in fact these calls are now rapidly becoming so commonplace as not to warrant much mention.

Most of these very large container ships belong to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) which often leads the way in these matters. They have all been cascaded down onto the North-South trades as a result of the mega container ships (18,000 – 20,000 TEU) taking over the East-West services. The latest of these cascaded vessels that are in fact too big for Durban at present, or at least until deepwater berths have been created at the container terminal, is MSC Regulus.

The imposing 140,570-dwt ship has a maximum capacity of 13,100 TEUs but will not arrive fully loaded until the deepening of berths has taken place. Her overall length is 366 metres and width is 48 metres.

These pictures are by Trevor Jones


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