Monday’s Africa Ports & Ships Maritime News

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Pholela. Picture: Ken Malcolm

The Durban harbour tug, PHOLELA (460 gross tons) seen on Durban Bay as she heads off to handle her next job. The Voith Schneider-propelled tug was built at Southern African Shipyards in Durban and entered service with Transnet National Ports Authority in 2010. She was the fourth in a series of seven similar tugs built at the Durban shipyard. Pholela is named for a river that rises in the KZN Drakensberg Mountains. All the Durban-based tugs are named for KZN rivers. This picture is by Ken Malcolm

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SAS Drakensberg. Picture: SANavy

Reports that the South African Navy combat support ship SAS DRAKENSBERG has suffered a major engine failure in Mozambique waters remain unconfirmed at the weekend.

The ship was on Operation Copper duty, which is the deployment undertaken by successive SA Navy ships to maintain a presence in the Mozambique Channel as a counter piracy deployment. This is Drakensberg’s third such deployment – she remains the only SA Navy ship to have been involved in a real piracy search and capture.

According to a report by defenceWeb the ship has taken shelter in the port of Pemba in northern Mozambique with a broken piston rod and a pair of damaged inlet valves.

defenceWeb appears to have obtained its information from the Democratic Alliance member of Parliament and shadow defence minister, Kobus Marais.

“I was told a lack of lubrication oil and proper maintenance are the causes of Drakensberg not being serviceable,” he was quoted.

The SA Navy spokesman approached at the Pretoria Navy Office declined to comment, saying the maritime force does not discuss details of operational deployments. He did however confirm the SAS Drakensberg was at sea.

According to Marais the unserviceability of the vessel has nothing to do with an operational deployment, but was a matter of proper planning and maintenance, “rather than what appears to have been sub-standard ones in the case of the Drakensberg.”

Marais’ accusations cannot be confirmed or otherwise, although it can be assumed that he probably has access to inside information. In the absence of comment from the navy, these reports will linger and if there is any truth in them then it is a further indictment on government and parliament in not providing the necessary budgets to allow for full and proper maintenance programmes to be carried out.

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loading bauxite at Kamsar

The Ghent Port Company announced on 10 March a new breakbulk line being the second regular line between Ghent and Guinea, West Africa. For this operation Lalemant from Ghent and the French African Maritime Agencies, Guinea are joining forces, it is understood.

Every four to five weeks, the semi-regular line will offer a direct connection between the ports of Ghent and Kamsar at the mouth of the Rio Nunez.

Both agencies have used their experience and presence of many years operating to, from and in Guinea to set up the new Kamsar Express breakbulk line.

Conventional goods, project cargo and containers are the most important loads that the specialised multifunctional vessels will transport. Each is fitted with its own cranes having a 60 to 160 tonne lifting capacity.

The quay at Stukwerkers in the Ghent Grootdok will be the main loading point but on request other ports can be called at en route.

This second regular line is open to all and is an addition to the already existing regular line for specific customers.

Guinea, showing Kamsar and Conakry. Map: CIA Factbook

AMA (African Maritime Agencies see: is a network of independent maritime agencies (or subsidiaries of maritime companies), stevedoring companies and freight forwarding companies based on the Atlantic coast of Africa. Thanks to the rich experience of every member in the network, AMA is capable of offering to shipowners a full set of services for any trade be it liner shipping, ro-ro services, tankers or bulk carriers.

In addition, its coordinating hub AMA Overseas, based in Paris 75008, provides a total and centralised control of all services with links in the commercial and financial fields as well as in specific sectors such as tanker operations and urgent response plans at international levels.

Paul Ridgway

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new standard gauge diesel-electric locomotive for Kenya

One of the risks being taken by the Kenyan government and other investors when it was decided to build a new standard gauge railway (SGR) from the port at Mombasa, to Nairobi and from there on to the Uganda border, where it would link with a similar new railway built in Uganda, was whether cargo owners would make use of the railway or continue to rely on road transport.

The existing railway, built in colonial days and to a metre gauge, had long been neglected and almost forgotten by shippers, and even with the privatising of this railway which was renamed the Rift Valley Railway, the transfer from road to its use has been minimal.

Now however, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has adopted plans of ensuring the use of the new wider gauge railway that promises faster and more efficient service – 120 km/h has been reported – by enforcing that at least 40% of all cargo arriving at the port of Mombasa, will be transported inland by rail on the new railway for clearance at inland container depots.

This includes traffic not only for Kenya but for neighbouring Kenya, Rwanda, the eastern DRC at this stage, and ultimately to importers in South Sudan and Ethiopia.

According to KRA Commissioner for Customs and Border Control, Julius Musyoki, the use of the SGR is a part of the agency’s strategy to ensure Mombasa remains the route of choice for traders in the Northern Corridor.

“The SGR railway line is designed to carry 22 million tonnes of cargo annually,” Mr Musyoki told The EastAfrican.

He said that by acknowledging that volumes of imports and exports at the Inland Container Depot will grow exponentially, KRA developed the strategy to enhance efficiency in clearance time and provide effective controls on imports, exports and transit traffic.

Importers and transporters have reacted strongly, saying it would be illegal for the government to dictate how to conduct their business.

“The government would be opening itself up to legal battles if it forced importers to transport their cargo by rail,” said Gilbert Lang’at, the Shippers Council of Eastern Africa chief executive.

He told the newspaper that while the SGR had the potential to bring down transportation costs by as much as 35%, the company that has been awarded the contract to operate the SGR has not given importers its operations strategy, particularly on key issues regarding the last mile, pricing, reliability and efficiency.

“If the SGR operator comes up with the right strategy, it is possible for it to attract even 50% business without government support,” Mr Lang’at added.

Transporters response is that by giving SGR special preference in the cargo business, it will push them out of the market.

“Cargo transportation should be based on what the importer wants, not what the government wants. That is why SGR should not be given special preference,” said Wanja Kiragu, the operations director at East Africa Online Transport Agency.

She added that the government should restrict itself to building infrastructure to enable the private sector to flourish, but should not itself be an active player in the transportation business.

The line is expected to commence operations in July.

Metre-gauge Rift Valley Railway next to new SGR track

Road transport currently handles 91 % of all cargo from the port at Mombasa. 33% of the total is bulk liquid, 30% containers and 28% dry bulk, with the balance being handled by Rift Valley Railways.

Meanwhile, the KRA is reported to be revamping and upgrading its systems at the Inland Container Depot to ensure faster clearance of cargo transported from Mombasa, while the Kenya Ports Authority is also expanding the depot in Nairobi to increase its capacity.

The Nairobi container depot, which currently has a throughput of 180,000 TEUs per year, is being expanded to 450,000 TEU.

Testing of the new railway has commenced and engineers involved say the trains will operate at speeds of 120 km/h. The test train took two hours from Nairobi to Mtito Andei on track that is complete, but moved more slowly on from there towards Mombasa because extensive tests remain to be done.

An engineer said the journey between Nairobi and Mombasa should take four and a half hours to complete on the express train. Two types of passenger train will operate – an express intercity with only a single stop at Mtito Andei and an inter county train stopping at all seven stations.

Freight trains will also operate to different schedules. Meanwhile, 150 new flat wagons for use with containers have arrived at the port of Mombasa. A further consignment of 60 of these wagons had arrived previously at the port. sources: The East African, Daily Nation

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Sofia. Picture: Shipspotting

A Greek-owned bulker has come under attack by armed pirates operating off the Nigeria Bayelsa coast last Thursday (9 March 2017).

The seven armed men approached the bulker SOFIA (56,899-dwt, built 2011) which was underway en route from Lagos to Libreville. The pirates, who were operating from a speedboat, opened fire to induce the bulker to stop.

Instead, the crew of the ship increased their ship’s speed and began taking evasive manoeuvres, while those crew not needed to navigate the vessel took refuge in the vessel’s citadel. The attack was maintained for about 40 minutes with the ship zig-zagging at high speed, making it difficult for the pirates to come alongside and board the ship.

Eventually, the pirates realised they were not going to be successful in boarding or stopping the ship, despite having raked the vessel with automatic fire, which caused no injuries to crew but left the ship with a number of bullet holes as souvenirs of the experience.

After the pirates broke off the engagement the rest of the crew were able to leave the citadel and take Sofia to an anchorage off Nigeria where the matter could be properly reported and the ship examined.

Sofia is owned by Greek interests and managed by Goldenport Shipmanagement Ltd of Athens, Greece and is flagged in Liberia.

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Eleonora Maersk. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

Maersk and IBM are to introduce their Blockchain solution which will manage and track the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers through a process of digitising the supply chain process.

The Blockchain is a catchword for what has been described as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” []

“Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchains,” says

Once built by IBM and Maersk, the blockchain solution is to be made available to the shipping and logistics sector, with the potential, once universally adopted, of saving the industry billions of dollars.

With slim margins and considerable overcapacity, the processing of paperwork is said to often be more than the cost of transporting the container. Up to a hundred stakeholders will be involved on average in the movement of the container. In 2014 Maersk discovered that a shipment of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe involved almost 30 people and organisations, including more than 200 different interactions and communications among them.

The cost of shipping the refrigerated goods from Mombasa to Rotterdam was about $2000. Paperwork associated with this came to about $300, meaning that an estimated 15% – 20% of costs can be put down to this alone.

IBM says that about 70 million containers are shipped each year and that it has set the goal of having 10 million of these on the blockchain by the end of this year. With container shipping equalling about half the value of all maritime trade, IBM says that by going digital it can save shipping carriers about US$38 billion a year.

To achieve this IBM and Maersk intend working with a network of shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities to build the new global trade digitisation solution, which is expected to go into production later this year. Apart from reducing the cost and complexity of trading it will enable transparency among the respective parties. They claim the system will also reduce fraud and errors, as well as save time and improve inventory management.

Blockchain is based on the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric and will be hosted by IBM on the IBM Cloud and the IBM high-security business network, delivered via IBM Bluemix.

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IHMA 2018 Congress 25-28 June 2018 Registration now open

Call for papers issued
Deadline for submission of abstracts 19 May 2017

The International Harbour Masters’ Association (IHMA) and Informa Australia have announced details of the 11th IHMA Congress, to be held at the Lancaster Hotel in London from 25 – 28 June 2018. This will be the first time the Congress has been held in London.

Addressing the theme: Ports – Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade, the Congress programme will be designed to appeal to all responsible for the safe, secure and efficient conduct of marine operations in ports and industry organisations working with, or within, ports across all levels of the industry.

This is likely to be an attractive event in 2018 for all those with responsibility for port and marine operations and the industry that supports them.

Call for Papers
Potential speakers are invited to put forward ideas, case studies and technical research on the innovations that will promote safe, efficient and secure maritime logistics; improve cooperation between ports and ships; develop best practice, and raise global standards for the safety, security and efficiency of ports.

Abstract submissions should:

  • Include the broad theme of the author’s paper together with the reason why this topic would be of interest to the Congress and how it addresses the theme: Ports – Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade
  • A short note about the author’s background and affiliations
  • Be written in English

Abstracts may be submitted online at:

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 19 May 2017.

Abstracts will be reviewed by the Papers’ Committee and authors will be notified of the outcome of that review on 7 August 2017.

The Papers’ Committee
The Papers’ Committee comprises senior members of IHMA who are committed to developing a balanced and engaging Congress programme with contributions from members and industry that share best practice and stimulate discussion.

The success and popularity of a joint presentation at the 2016 event in Vancouver has resulted in a new initiative for the IHMA Congress – a special CEOPLUS rate for Port CEOs to attend with their Harbour Masters.

IHMA 2018 Congress Programme

25 June: Day One
Conference – Lancaster Hotel, London
Welcome Reception – Trinity House, London

26 June: Day Two
Conference – Lancaster Hotel, London
Exhibition Networking Drinks

27 June: Day Three
Conference – Lancaster Hotel, London
IHMA Congress Gala Dinner – IMO, London

28 June
Technical Site Tour

To start planning potential delegates may now book to attend the Congress.
IHMA MEMBERS receive an exclusive discount.

Registration rates are available at:


Paul Ridgway

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Incat Crowther has announced the recent delivery of the final six of a dozen 48m DNV Classed DP-1 Monohull Fast Supply Vessels built by ETP Engenharia in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Baru Serrana, Baru Tesoro, Baru Sinu, Baru Sirius, Baru Taurus, and Baru Vega were all delivered over the last several months by ETP to Baru Offshore, a subsidiary of INTERTUG, for charter with Petrobras.

The vessel design has been optimised to comply with the Petrobras UT4000 Fast Supply Vessel specification. Liquid capacities include 42,000 litres of ship’s fuel, 90,000 litres of cargo fuel, 10,000 litres of ship’s water and 88,000 litres of cargo fresh water.

The vessels are equipped with an expansive aft cargo deck of 225 square metres of usable area rated for 3 tonnes per square metre and a total capacity of 250 tonnes of deck cargo.

An additional 30 sq. metres of cargo area is provided inside the main deck cabin, allowing for carriage of items out of the elements, such as food, medical supplies, small tools and similar type cargoes. This space has the ability to be reconfigured for the carriage of 60 offshore personnel. Also housed in the main deck cabin are wet room and laundry facilities.

Six cabins accommodating 11 crew, as well as a mess, galley and bathrooms are provided below deck of each vessel.

The vessels are powered by four Cummins QSK 50 main engines, each rated at 1800hp @ 1900 rpm. Propulsion is by way of fixed-pitched propellers, while two 150 hp electric tunnel bow thrusters enhance manoeuvrability for the DP classed vessels.
The vessels have a service speed of 21 knots.

Each vessel is 48 metres length overall and a moulded breadth of 9.5m. Their hull numbers run CO32 to CO43.

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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.


Over the rooftops. SA Agulhus II in the Simon’s Town Dry Dock. Pictures: David Erickson

On Tuesday, 7 March 2017 the Antarctic research and supply vessel SA AGULHUS II arrived in Simon’s Town harbour for dry docking in the naval dock. She was initially moored alongside the West Breakwater, as seen in the uppermost picture. On the following morning she dropped both lifeboats and then entered the dockyard and the dry dock.

In his recent State of the Nation speech, President Jacob Zuma referred to the navy being an integral part of the Phakisa Project. He said the SA Navy would partner in a ‘government garage’ concept in which the navy was to become the ‘owner’ of all government-owned ships. The dry docking of SA Agulhus II in the naval dry dock would seem to be the first manifestation of this policy. In future expect other state-owned vessels, such as those of Sea Fisheries returning to Simon’s Town where they were once unsuccessfully managed and operated. These pictures are by David Erickson


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