Monday’s Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

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Hokuetsu Hope II. Picture: Keith Betts

What is thought to be her first call at Durban (correction please), the wood chip carrier HOKUETSU HOPE II (54,339-dwt) enters port to go to Maydon Wharf 8 to load wood chips for the Hokuetsu factory in Japan, for which the company maintains a small fleet of suitable ships. This particular ship was built in 2006 and is a little smaller at 210 metres in length and 32m in width than her sisters, HOKUETSO USHAKA or HOKUETSU IBIS who are both 210m long x 36m wide. The latter vessel is due in Durban on or about 30 March. Flying the Singapore flag, Hokuetsu Hope II is managed by Sandigan Ship Services of Manila, Philippines and was built at the Oshima Shipbuilding yard at Saikai in Japan. Hokuetsu Kishu Paper is a Japanese paper manufacturer and has a long-term contract to load wood chips at the port of Durban This picture is by Keith Betts

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source: YouTube (much of it repetitive)

A major fire that raged throughout a warehouse in Durban’s Bayhead on Friday and was still burning and smouldering during the weekend, brought with it shades of the past going back some 48 years. On Sunday (yesterday) Fire Department officials said …[restrict] the fire had been contained, although it was still burning in some places and was likely to smoulder on for several days. Meanwhile, thick black clouds were blown across the city and towards the northern suburbs by a south-westerly wind. Accompanying rain did little to dampen the fire. The property is owned by Transnet and leased to different companies who use it for warehousing and in some cases for light manufacturing purposes.

Although not officially confirmed the fire is said to have been caused by a welder’s spark – how often has that been heard!

There were one or two injuries but none seriously as between 150 and 400 firefighters at different times were reported to be in battle with containing the blaze. An even greater disaster was averted by staff from one of the tenants whose warehouse was under threat who managed, with the assistance of Transnet and fire department personnel, to evacuate a quantity of hazardous flammable items before the flames could reach this section.

In a twist of history, the warehouse covering an area of something in the order of 52 acres under a single roof – which at the time of its construction was claimed as the biggest warehouse under a single roof in the country – was built to replace Transnet’s Cato Creek warehouse that catered largely for breakbulk cargo and for making up parcels for rail and road transport around the country.

One night in October 1969 and shortly before Cato Creek was to officially close, a fire broke out and the entire area consisting of a large warehouse and parking area for road tankers, was razed to the ground. Cato Creek is situated right in the harbour just off the scenic Esplanade – the area which is now occupied by Transnet Port Terminal’s Durban Car Terminal which handles close to 500,000 motor vehicles annually. Originally Cato Creek was a water inlet fed by a stream draining the Eastern Vlei near the city centre. In times of flood the Umgeni River some kilometres to the north would divert and empty itself into Durban Bay via Cato Creek, so named for one of Durban’s earliest settlers who had his store nearby and a boatyard in the creek. George Cato was the town’s first mayor.

The Cato Creek warehouse that burned out was built to handle the sorting of breakbulk cargo arriving from and for the port – this was long before the days of containers. The very large shed area was built of wood and iron and burned easily, while the goods below added to the fuel. As the flames spread people across Durban were awakened by the sound of petrol tankers and gas tanks exploding, sending flames shooting high into the sky. Young men attracted to the scene took their lives in their hands by jumping into the parked tankers and driving many of them to safety, assisted by the few night staff on duty that night. Unsung heroes!

That fire was described then as Durban’s biggest. Although the Bayhead warehouse far exceeds the size of Cato Creek, not all of it has burned out but nevertheless in sheer size and ferocity it must be easily the equal of the earlier conflagration, and a warning that fire remains a constant danger in any port related operation.

In yet another twist, within ten years the age of containerisation had begun to change the needs of the port, and the vast Bayhead warehouse began to be superfluous as far as breakbulk was concerned and as a result Transnet began to lease it out in sections. How much will now be rebuilt remains to be seen, it is quite possible the burned out area will become just another empty container park.[/restrict]

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Revd Boet and Mrs van Schalkwyk

Rev JD [Boet] van Schalkwyk, CEO and Principal of the Sailors’ Society of South Africa, was recently awarded the South African Gold Medal of Merit of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem* at a ceremony in Cape Town. Awarded for meritorious service to the Grand Bailiwick of South Africa, Rev Van Schalkwyk is one of only two persons in South Africa who hold this honour.

Rev Van Schalkwyk has been a member of the Order of St Lazarus for over thirty years, having been admitted to the Order as Assistant Chaplain in February 1983 and promoted to full Chaplain in March 1988.

He has had a long and distinguished career as the Air Force Chaplain, a Port chaplain and as a Presbyterian Church minister in the then Northern Transvaal, East London and Pretoria. This has included stints as the Moderator of these Presbyteries.

Since 2002, he has held the position of Principal Chaplain, National Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the International Sailors’ Society, Southern Africa. On many occasions he has been called upon to take a lead in assisting those without the privileges so many take for granted. A few of these initiatives – amongst others – have seen Rev Van Schalkwyk working with the SACC amongst the refugees of East Mpumalanga informal settlements [1984-88], the peace initiative in the former Ciskei, or assisting the trauma victims of pirates off the East African coast. He also established and co-ordinated the Sub-Saharan Crisis Network, and has worked, more recently, in Nigeria, Mozambique and Algeria.

At the award ceremony, the Grand Bailiff said “It is clear that you are a deeply caring, compassionate and organised leader who cares deeply for his fellow man. Our warm congratulations to you on this award.”

[* The Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was founded as a Hospitaller Order in 370AD and as a Military Order in 1098. The military order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem originated in a leper hospital. Now the Order focuses upon serving and on people who have served humanity in meritorious ways.]

Yvonne de Kock

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Mount Kenya University (MKU) is now able to offer certificate and diploma courses in maritime and transport logistics based on the curriculum developed by the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).

The university was advised of this by … [restrict] Jane Otieno, KMA corporate secretary and head legal services. “The audit report revealed that most of the requirements are in place plus all the physical infrastructure for conducive learning. However a number of concerns were raised, particularly lack of learning materials and inadequate maritime lecturers,” she wrote in advising the university.

MS Otieno said that as the institution will be rolling out the curricula for the first time, the accreditation process will be allowed to continue.
“The implementation of the audit teams’ recommendation will be reviewed by the authority in subsequent monitoring and evaluation audits,” she advised.

Mount Kenya University applied in December for accreditation, offering to provide the courses at its Mombasa campus.

The university is required to now acquire the necessary resource materials including books and journals used in the shipping and logistics industry. It is also advised to subscribe to a an online portal as a platform for students to have access to international maritime, shipping and logistics learning materials


MKU should also enter into partnership with local and international universities and colleges offering maritime related courses.

“It is important for the university to join membership with professional bodies in the maritime, shipping, logistics and oil and gas sectors to keep abreast with the current trend in the sector,” said the Kenya Maritime Authority. source: Daily Nation[/restrict]

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ITS Espero. Picture: EUNAVFOR

EU Naval Force staff (EUNAVFOR) say they are currently liaising with Somali and counter-piracy partners to verify reports that a dhow has been seized by a possible pirate action group off the north-eastern coast of Somalia.

This follows news reports that pirates believed to be from Somalia have … [restrict] taken captive a omli fishing dhow which could be used as a mothership from which raids on commercial shipping can be staged far out at sea.

EU Naval Force said it will issue more details once more information is known.

The attack on the dhow took place in the same region where the commercial tanker ARIS 13 was seized and later released after the intervention of the Puntland marine police.

EUNAVFOR says that in the light of the recent pirating of fuel tanker on Monday 13 March 2017, vessels are reminded, in accordance with BMP4, to remain vigilant in the Indian Ocean and stay within the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor as they transit through the Gulf of Aden.

MT Aris 13 was released after being held by armed pirates for four days.

If the dhow has indeed been taken for use as a mothership, this replicates the tactics taken by Somali pirates during the height of their incursions into the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and even as far as the Indian coast.

Meanwhile, the Italian Navy Maestrale class frigate, ITS ESPERO, joined the EU Naval Force off the coast of Somalia on Saturday, 25 March 2017.

Prior to departing their base port in Taranto, Italy, ITS Espero’s sailors and marines carried out intensive operational sea and counter-piracy training. The frigate is commanded by Commander Luigi Pirozzi.

This is the second time that ITS Espero has deployed with the EU Naval Force and as a well-equipped, multi-purpose frigate, the ship is perfectly suited to the European Union’s counter-piracy operation.

EUNAVFOR has been deterred and repressing acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia since December 2008.

Over the coming months ITS Espero’s key roles will be to patrol the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somali basin, afford protection to WFP vessels carrying humanitarian aid to displaced people in Somalia and support EU sister missions that are working to strengthen maritime security and capabilities of states within the Horn of Africa region. EU Naval Force warships also monitor fishing activity off the coast of Somalia.[/restrict]

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Picture: Twitter

Ghana handled a million tons of transit cargo last year, involving the use of about 25,000 trucks on the road, the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) has announced.

Having achieved this milestone, it has become necessary to resolve the issues affecting transit trade so that the country can “rake in the revenue from that trade,” the authority said.

The GPHA says that it should be recalled that it has …[restrict] in the past taken several initiatives to ensure that the transit trade improves. Among these steps was an investigation carried out along the transit corridor to assess the level of extortion and harassment on the corridor.

As a result of evidence gathered the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Alhassan, issued an order that no transit truck should be stopped by police officers.

GPHA set about improving the facilities available to transit vehicles, which included the construction of a well-paved transit terminal to cater for devanning and transporting of transit goods from the Tema port. This, it says, was a development that led to an increase in the transit trade by 59% in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Ghana Shippers Authority in collaboration with the Borderless Alliance Ghana and other stakeholders including the Police, Customs, GPHA etc are working to position Ghana as a gateway to West Africa so as to optimise the benefits of the trade facilitation agreement.

The collaboration is aimed at sensitising shippers on the ECOWAS trade liberalisation agreement which came to force on 22 February, 2017.

Participants have taken part in a deliberation concerning the issues affecting transit trade including the reduction of costs incurred in the trade on the corridor.

Emmanuel Arku, the Business Development Manager at Ghana Shippers Authority said the outcome expected is a reduced level of costs on the corridor “that should also culminate into increased activity for traders, freight forwarders, a whole lot of operators so that business will move, everybody will be happy.”

Collaboration between the Ghana Shippers Authority and the Borderless Alliance has provided an e-platform for reporting non-tariff barriers in West Africa for effective advocacy and resolution transit challenges.

“The e-platform idea came up and we have been collaborating with the Borderless Alliance to ensure that we have an internet based system where operators on the corridors can seek solutions to their problems online and people will be around to respond to those issues by way of advice, by way of directing them to specific places or in some cases resolve the issue outright. To us it’s a very laudable initiative,” Arku said.

The Executive Secretary of Borderless Alliance, Justin Bayili said the e-platform is already online and if one visited the platform it will be seen that some issues were already posted online.

Those involved with transit traffic can contact tel 054 503 0900 or the website when confronted with any challenges on the transit corridor.[/restrict]

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Photos: MOD Crown Copyright2017©.

The first of hundreds of UK military vehicles (illustrated) have arrived in Estonia to support the UK’s enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup based in Tapa as one of the largest ever NATO deployments to Eastern Europe.

Setting sail in the Ro-Ro cargo vessel EDDYSTONE from Marchwood, Southampton, on 15 March, the Roll-on-Roll-off ro-ro vessel also … [restrict] called at Emden, Germany, to collect Warrior infantry fighting vehicles, Challenger 2 tanks and AS90 self-propelled artillery guns. It also carried Terrier, Titan and Trojan armoured battlefield engineer vehicles. It is understood that the vehicles will then be moved by road from an Estonian port to Tapa.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon commented: “This is the start of one of the biggest deployments in Eastern Europe since the Cold War and by the end of next month, we will have 800 British troops, with armour, with tanks, ready to help reassure our allies and to underline our commitment to the security of Europe. British troops are playing a leading role in Estonia and supporting our US allies in Poland, as part of wider efforts to defend NATO.”

Commanding Officer of 5 Rifles Lieutenant Colonel Mark Wilson added: “The arrival of British and French armoured vehicles, alongside the men and women of the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup is hugely exciting. We look forward to integrating into the Estonian Defence Force and training alongside 1st Infantry Brigade within a matter of weeks.”

Along with the French contribution of infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, which also arrive in week commencing 19 March, these vehicles will give the 5 Rifles Battlegroup the capability to operate in a wide range of exercises and operations within the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade.

The arrival of these vehicles follows the first deployment of 120 personnel to the country during week ending 18 March, standing by NATO allies and bolstering the Estonian Defence Forces.[/restrict]

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Send your Press Releases here and marked PRESS RELEASE. Provided they are considered appropriate to our readers we will either turn them into a story, or publish them here.


South African-engineered and manufactured sailing blocks will soon be available for sale to yacht enthusiasts.

This is the second batch of the products that is being produced, with the first batch having been used as test pieces or fitted onto yachts through personal contact sales…[restrict]

“We waited until we were completely satisfied with the performance of the first range before actively marketing the products,” says Draco Sailing Hardware mechanical engineer Scheepers Schoeman.

“This is now the exciting phase of the new business, where we are setting up the website and full marketing strategy.”

Schoeman explains that sailing blocks are part of the rigging system that operates the running rigging, or the ropes, of a yacht.

“It is very important that sailing blocks are strong, reliable and serviceable. If the blocks do not perform adequately, the control of the sails are affected. Additionally, a catastrophic block failure can damage expensive larger equipment. For this reason, we designed our equipment to handle very high loads, while managing to keep the weight low,” comments Schoeman.

The blocks have undergone a multistage load test at an official lifting machine inspector. The blocks have been certified for their maximum working load and designed breaking load, with all blocks having met or exceeded design parameters.

The metal parts of the block have also undergone an accelerated electrolysis corrosion test to ensure that the products withstand long-term marine conditions.

South African-manufactured Vesconite is also included in the sailing block design.

“Vesconite is ideal for our application,” enthuses Schoeman.

“We need a very strong, wear-resistant, low-friction, ultraviolet-stable engineered plastic that is also dimensionally stable in water. Even more than that, we want to prove that we can beat the imported parts, not only on price, but also on performance with a completely local product. Vesconite ticks all of our boxes,” says Schoeman.[/restrict]

Contact: Sharon McArdle +27 57 212 0000

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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.


Le Lyrial Pictures: Ian Shiffman

Compagnie du Ponant’s mini cruise ship LE LYRIAL (10,700-gt) paid her first visit to South Africa late last week when she entered Cape Town harbour. The yacht-like ship entered service in 2015 from the Fincantieri Ancona shipyard to join three sister ships. With just 122 staterooms and suites available, her passenger numbers are kept low at between 224 and 264 (plus 140 crew) as befitting Ponant’s style of elite small ship cruising. With her length of 142 metres and beam of 18m the ship has six decks offering three lounges, two dining restaurants, a state-of-the-art theatre for lectures and entertainment, the usual fitness and beauty complexes, a medical centre and open deck areas for the sun worshippers. As with the other Ponant vessels, her resemblance to a luxury super yacht is inescapable. The ship has been specially designed for polar cruising and the Antarctic is included in her itinerary. Le Lyrial will also call at Richards Bay (31 March) and Durban (1 April) on her current SA visit and is due back in these waters on the same dates in March/April 2019. Le Lyrial’s sister ships in the Ponant fleet are Le Boreal, L’Austral and Le Soleal.  These pictures are by Ian Shiffman


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– Max Ehrmann ‘Desiderata’


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