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Bayhead fire damaged warehouse
Bayhead freight shed. Picture: Russel Cleaver

The Bayhead warehouse fire that burned for four days, creating a huge pall of black smoke over Durban as fire crews from several fire stations battled to control and eventually extinguish the blaze, left much of the building completely destroyed. The building was erected in 1969 to replace the breakbulk sheds at Cato Creek (now the car terminal) which ironically burned down in one of Durban’s most spectacular fires, just as this building was being completed. This aerial photograph kindly made available to Africa PORTS & SHIPS shows the full extent of the damage. The picture is by Russell Cleaver.

You can read the report of the fire by CLICKING HERE

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Qindao automated Container Terminal
Autopilot trucks, guided by artificial intelligence, carry the containers to designated areas. Picture: CGTN

China boasts seven of the world’s busiest container terminals but one of them stands out from the others. It now has what has been termed a ‘ghost port’, according to China Global Television Network (CGTN).

The terminal is the Qingdao New Qianwan Automatic Container Terminal in the Yellow Sea to the east of the country and is home to China’s first…[restrict] fully automated port.

What is taking place at Qingdao will be watched by other port authorities with great interest, for it has the potential to revolutionise the global shipping business.

It’s according to Qingdao residents that the terminal, which began operations Thursday, is being referred to as a ‘ghost port.’ When CGTN visited the terminal at midnight, they found no workers in sight, despite the fact that the port operates 24 hours a day. Machines and trucks were however busy moving on their own in the darkness, as containers were being unloaded non-stop from a giant cargo ship.

Qindao container terminal
Qingdao automated Port, eastern China. Picture: CGTN

“It’s all controlled by artificial intelligence,” Yang Jiemin, who is in charge of technological support, told the television crew. “Through laser scanning and positioning, the program is able to locate the four corners of each container. It then accurately grabs them and puts them onto the driverless trucks. That’s why it’s able to work in complete darkness.

“These smart autopilot trucks, driven by electricity, have their routes and tasks under digital control. They even know when it’s time to go for a recharge.”

According to Yang, the days of high labour costs and bottlenecks at the port’s entrance are now a thing of the past.

“Labour costs have been reduced by 70 percent because of this automatic terminal, while efficiency increased by 30 percent, because we can work at night,” Zhang Liangang, general manager of the Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal.

He said it used to take about 60 workers to unload a cargo ship, but the automatic port requires only nine.

What’s more, the upgrade has essentially changed it from a blue collar task into a white collar one. Workers used to operate the machines in sky-high cranes, but now much of the work has been left to a computer in the office.

‘China speed’ is also a key factor in the project’s cost efficiency. It only took three years for the terminal to be built up from scratch.

Cheng Xinnong, president of the Qingdao Port Group said that before this project, the world’s fastest construction took some 10 years to complete, but the market may well have changed after such a long time. “The three-year time-span significantly reduces the risk for investment, which makes it feasible to replicate in other cities,” Cheng added.

At present, China is building a similar terminal in Shanghai, and much more is expected to come along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in the very near future. source: CGTN[/restrict]

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map of Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean, with Africa the prize

Away from the publicity surrounding China’s ambitious ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, also known as the New Silk Road, two countries with vested interests, and concerns, plan to soft launch their own Asia-Africa connectivity project this month, reports India’s Business Standard.

Like OBOR, the Indo-Japanese plan is also predicated on a race for supremacy in the Indian Ocean. The venue for its launch will be…[restrict] the upcoming annual meeting of the African Development Bank to be held at Ahmedabad from 22 May 2017.

For both Japan and India, the meeting is a highly significant event to draw attention to their strength as partner nations in a project that demonstrates the same type of ambition as OBOR does. The partnership will initially “focus on countries on the eastern coast of Africa… In the initial phase, seven countries on the east coast — Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa may be taken up”.

The background to this focus lies with the discussions held between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe when they met for their annual summit at Tokyo last November.

For both Japan and India, the meeting is a highly significant event to draw attention to their strength as partner nations in a project that demonstrates the same type of ambition as OBOR does.

The setting is also appropriate as it will be made in front of the political leadership of the 78 member countries of the AfDB, including 53 member states from the continent. The annual report will be the occasion for AfDB to launch its African Economic Outlook 2017 Report, jointly produced with OECD and UNDP.

Both India and Japan have decided not to participate in OBOR as each has its own reasons not to be drawn into the multi-continent plan that will be dominated by China. Most of the projects showcased by China at the launch aim to connect the Eurasian landmass and Indo-Pacific maritime routes through a maze of road, rail and port projects hooped through several countries to connect mainland China to markets in both Asia and Europe.

Instead, Japan has proposed a more democratic alternative, building on the maritime route stretching from its shores to Africa, and taking in India along the way. According to the draft discussion paper, accessed by Business Standard, this will also loop in the European market. The key aspect of the Indo-Japanese collaboration emphasises there should be “a free and open Indo-Pacific region, factoring in India’s ‘Act East’ Policy and Japan’s ‘Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure’.” The emphasis on the Indian Ocean is significant as OBOR also includes a maritime plan with the same level of energy.

India and Japan will obviously hope to compete with it building ports in friendly nations to expand mutually reinforcing trade.

The stress on a ‘free ocean’ in the document is a nod to Japan’s discomfort about the way China has made inroads into South China Sea and is extending its reach into the Indian Ocean, drifting close to India with a ring of ports. India has also made its discomfort clear about the Chinese position. The other elements of the Indo-Japanese plan recognise India’s Act East policy — its bid to reach out to its neighbours and beyond in Southeast Asa but which is again getting stymied by China’s active wooing of Myanmar, India’s road to the region.

The plan as a paper prepared by the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) shows it is still in the drafting stage and at least a year away from being committed to by the concerned countries. Consequently, there is no mention of any level of investment that would follow through. Japan clearly has a strong ability to construct infrastructure and the financial depth to underwrite those, and that is what it intends to do in the African continent.

The partnership will initially “focus on countries on the eastern coast of Africa… In the initial phase, seven countries on the east coast — Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa may be taken up”. Yet as Japan has little if any contact with these nations, India’s far broader reach will be critical to deliver on these promises. It is this combination that New Delhi and Tokyo will seek to build upon. source: Business Standard[/restrict]

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Durban Container Terminal
Clouds over the port of Durban

Ship movements into and out of the port of Durban returned to normal on Tuesday after more than four days of constant and at times heavy rain, accompanied by strong winds.

Making matters worse, a heavy swell was running along the KZN coast which…[restrict] reached between 3 and 6 metres at different times at the harbour entrance, and saw incoming ships being restricted or even prevented completely from entering the port.

Ships ready to sail were however mostly able to do so.

The port remained closed to incoming vessels for most of Sunday and a part of Saturday and Monday, as advised by our News Updates posted to the Thursday/Friday and Monday News Bulletins.

Maydon Wharf channel was another area to be affected and was closed to ship movements for a period on Saturday, according to a Transnet National Ports Authority communique.

The strong winds impacted likewise on terminal operations at various areas of the port, especially at Durban Container Terminal where some of the equipment automatically switches off when the wind achieves certain speeds.

With the weather conditions having improved on Tuesday (yesterday) and the forecast for sunny weather ahead, the port is back to normal and later yesterday ships entering and leaving the port were doing so throughout much of the day. At one point there had been more than 30 ships waiting outside port in the outer anchorage.

This morning (Wednesday), the sun is out and the weather back to Durban’s best behaviour.[/restrict]

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Bolloré Benin's new administration building at Cotonou

Bolloré Transport & Logistics Benin is modernising its infrastructure in Cotonou with the inauguration of its new headquarters in Boulevard de la Marina. The 6-storey building is located near the secondary entrance of the Port of Cotonou, between the headquarters of the French Development Agency (AFD) and the High Authority for Audiovisual and Communication (HAAC).

From the offices, the panoramic view of the urban landscape of Cotonou and the infrastructures of the Autonomous Port is one of its great architectural qualities, and contributes to the charm of the building designed by High-Graph Architecture.

The company says that the construction of these headquarters reflects the Bolloré Group’s goal of bringing together all the business units in Cotonou in the same administrative building to make it easier for the different entities of the Group to work together.

The new headquarters will now house the offices of Bolloré Transports & Logistics, Benin Terminal, SOCOPAO, AFRITRAMP, SMTC, Canal Olympia and HAVAS Africa Benin.

The work took 20 months, at an estimated cost of over €14 million (9.5 billion CFA francs). The site, managed by the SOGEA-SATOM Group, directly generated 177 permanent jobs, 39 casual jobs and 200 jobs for subcontractors of the SOGEA-SATOM Group. Several local companies were called upon for the construction of the new headquarters.

This new building, which is now the pride of staff at Bolloré Transport & Logistics Benin, demonstrates the Bolloré Group’s determination to strengthen its activities in Benin. source Bollore T&L

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OOCL Hong Kong image by Shipspotting
OOCL Hong Kong, launched this week. Picture: Shipspotting

Years ago it was the Blue Riband, the competition between trans-Atlantic ocean liners going for the record of being the fastest to cross the North Atlantic. In the early part of the 21st Century the competition has become between the respective container liner services as to which ship is the biggest, measured in terms of container capacity.

On that basis this unofficial race has seen the crown being lifted more than once in just a short time, after what seemed like a sensible rest as the lines licked their wounds follow a serious economic drought.

For some time the crown had rested with…[restrict] a ship of a little below 20,000 TEU capacity, although competition had been fierce as first one company then another eclipsed the record by a small margin. But that 20,000 TEU limit seemed secure as things quietened down, until suddenly, this year the race was on once again.

First up was Mitsui OSK Line, a surprising contender as they had not previously been noted for building really big. Nevertheless MOL TRIUMPH arrived on the scene in March as a ship capable of loading up to 20,150 TEU. That 20,000 barrier had been broken.

No sooner was the crown settled on the head of MOL than Maersk stepped up in April and introduced MADRID MAERSK, the first of a planned series of second series Triple-E class ships with a 20,568 TEU capacity and the Danes took back the crown, although not for long. Come the month of May and another contestant from the east, OOCL (Orient Overseas Container Line) announced that its OOCL HONG KONG was about to be launched and would break the 21,000 TEU mark – this ship boasts a container capacity of 21,413 TEU.

All three ships are deployed on the respective Southeast Asia to northern Europe services, the most lucrative of them all – OCL Hong Kong for instance will be calling on a 77-day rotation with calls at Shanghai, Ningbo, Xiamen, Yantian, Singapore, Suez Canal, Felixstowe, Rotterdam, Gdansk, and Wilhelmshaven as part of the Ocean Alliance.

Calling his ship a “titan among containerships”, OOCL chairman CC Tung said: “This is a very exciting time for all of us because today marks the first time that OOCL is receiving newbuildings in the 21 thousand TEU size.”

If a metaphorical crown goes to the biggest ship, it surely ought to be held ready to pass to the next that comes along.

Where this should be a worry however, is in the race, although each shipping company would no doubt avoid any talk of competition. But the maritime industry has seen too many of these ‘races’ to build bigger and bigger ships ending with an over-capacity and under-supply which, allied with cutthroat rates, means that nobody takes much benefit, except possibly the shipper. It’s not as if one company will achieve huge scales of economy unilaterally by creating such behemoths of the sea when his competitor already has something even larger on the blocks?

Meanwhile, the 400 metre long, 59m wide MOL Triumph has arrived in northern Europe this week on her maiden voyage as part of THE Alliance’s FE2 service, while following along is the equally massive Madrid Maersk, deployed on the 2M Alliance that Maersk shares with MSC. OOCL Hong Kong, wearing the crown, will be not far behind in loading her first cargo, and so it goes one…[/restrict]

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Grapes played an important role in ancient Egypt, writes Easyfresh in its latest newsletter. A thriving royal grape cultivation was established in the Nile Delta, following the introduction of various grape varieties from the Levant to Egypt around 3000 BC. Grape pictures on tomb walls, and the offering lists that accompanied them, included wine that was definitely produced in the delta vineyards, too.

Ancient Egyptian grape harvest

Back to the 21st century, and like in previous seasons, Easyfresh Egypt Ltd says it will provide again dedicated, first-class cold chain solutions, connecting Egypt and…[restrict] all Europe for the Egyptian grape season. “The Adriatic port of Koper (open 24/7) together with others, will have a predominant role in those multimodal solutions. The season just started and, like previous seasons, we have created tailor-made services for each and every Egyptian grape exporter, European importer or retailer.

“In fact, the supply of grapes in Europe in the last 3-4 months has been exceptionally high, with record volumes from India and South Africa, Peru being part of the mix and resurgent volumes from Chile, which largely all arrived in a very severe peak around the end of February which has caused market problems right until lately,” explains Easyfresh customer, Fady Adly from Capespan Egypt to FreshPlaza.

“On a positive side, the consumer has been eating a lot more grapes than normal and supermarkets have been promoting grapes each week, but of course prices have been very low which will make it harder for Egypt to enter the season at normal levels.”

According to him and other local sources, the Egyptian season is looking good. Subsequently, another positive grape export year into Europe is expected. Easyfresh/TPG Koper and other relevant Easyfresh European team mates are ready to help and channel all arriving fruit timely.[/restrict]

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HMS Richmond
Photographs Crown Copyright 2017©

HMS Richmond delivering rum to HM Tower of London

The tradition of the Constable’s Dues dates back to the 14th century and involves a procession by a ship’s company to offer a barrel of fine wine to the Lieutenant of the Tower of London.

In 15 May HMS Richmond left her mooring in West India Docks to take part in this 700-year-old ceremony at HM Tower of London.

Commander Antony Crabb, the warship’s CO, paid Richmond’s dues in a ceremony before Lieutenant-General Simon Mayall.

Constable’s Dues Ceremonies took place at a time when the monarchy would insist on demanding tolls or taxes from ships entering London. Every visiting ship would have to pay their dues in order to proceed past the Tower, with offerings including barrels of rum or wine, or even oysters, cockles or mussels. Today, this tradition is only maintained by ships of the Royal Navy.

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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Peace Boat pushes Disruptive Sustainability at Nor-Shipping

Peace Boat's Ecoship

Peace Boat has announced it will be showcasing its plans for Ecoship, a unique future-proof concept cruise vessel, at Nor-Shipping 2017. The Japanese-based organisation, which works to promote peace, human rights, sustainable development and respect for the environment, will be taking one of the largest spaces in the leading maritime event week’s exhibition Hall A, dedicated to the new industry concept of Disruptive Sustainability.

Peace Boat is a trailblazing international non-governmental and non-profit body. It has operated for the last 34 years, chartering cruise vessels to voyage worldwide conducting educational programmes, cooperative projects, advocacy activities and promoting responsible travel. However, it has now…[restrict] pledged to build its own vessel, the Ecoship, by 2020, utilising pioneering green technology to challenge conventional designs and illustrate new possibilities for cruise and the broader maritime industry.

“Peace Boat is a true disruptor,” comments Sofia Fürstenberg, Nor-Shipping Project manager – Disruptive Sustainability. “From their first voyage in 1983 to promote regional peace and understanding in Asia, through to their 100th trip next year and on to the Ecoship’s launch in 2020, the organisation has chosen radically innovative pathways to work towards the loftiest goals. Their ambitions are big and their commitment absolute. They really are champions of Disruptive Sustainability.

“The new vessel, which is being developed in partnership with DNV GL, alongside a host of global supporters, will be a staggering achievement. With a hull inspired by the naturally aerodynamic form of a humpback whale, the LNG fuelled, bio-fuel ready 55,000t ship will generate 40% less CO2 emissions than conventional vessels. As such it’ll set new standards for cruise and no doubt be a catalyst for positive change throughout shipping.

“It’ll be hugely exciting to find out how the plans and international collaborative process are now developing. I, and the whole of the maritime world, will be following this project with interest.”

Alongside exhibiting details of the ship, which also features retractable wind generators, kinetic floors and ten photovoltaic sails, Peace Boat will be represented by Founder and Director Yoshioka Tatsuya, who will speak to delegates on 31 May as a key contributor in the Fuelling the Future debate, part of the Agenda Ocean programme.

“Yoshioka Tatsuya provides a prime example of someone who approaches challenges from a new direction,” Fürstenberg notes, “rejecting convention to find innovative solutions that create genuine impact. This is the essence of Hall A.”

She continues: “We can promise delegates something unlike anything they’ve ever seen at a maritime exhibition. A place where the boundaries of industry are smashed open and the best ideas are drawn in from new arenas, new actors and new ways of working together. With exhibitors such as Hyperloop TT, Siemens and Kongsberg Digital, and with a truly interactive design experience throughout the hall, this lively space will be buzzing with innovation, energy and the raw potential of discovery.

“The world is changing fast, and shipping has to keep up. Hall A at Nor-Shipping will help set the pace the future demands.”

Nor-Shipping offers a packed programme of events and activities across city centre Oslo and its exhibition facilities in Lillestrøm from 30 May to 2 June. In total, around 35,000 visitors are expected from over 80 countries, 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.

Details can be found at[/restrict]

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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.


chemical/products tanker Jupiter at Durban. Pic by Keith Betts
Jupiter. Picture: Keith Betts

The chemical and oil-products tanker JUPITER (48,330-dwt) arrived in Durban earlier this month and is seen here entering past the Bluff headland that guards the entrance to southern Africa’s busiest port. At 181 metres in length and 32m wide the Jupiter hardly lives up to her name in terms of size among tankers. She was built in 2000 and flies the flag of Tuvalu (Funafuti) and is owned by Singapore interests and managed by Raffles Shipmanagement, also of that port and city. Jupiter has since sailed from Durban, bound for Tema in Ghana. This picture is by Keith Betts



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