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SA Shipyards floating dock and tug Save River
Save River and SASDock. Picture: Trevor Jones

AMSOL’s tug SAVE RIVER (named for the river running into the sea near Beira in Mozambique, also known as Sabie River in South Africa) seen going onto the semi-submerged SASDock floating dock owned by Southern African Shipyards. The tug has been in operation at the port of Beira but is currently in Durban on layby and for maintenance. Save River is one of the Damen Stan 2208 series of tugs and was delivered to AMSOL in 2012 from the Damen Cape Town shipyard. AMSOL was then known as SMIT Amandla Marine. This picture is by Trevor Jones

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SGR train
New diesel locomotives for Kenya’s SGR

The launching of Kenya’s standard gauge railway (SGR) from the port of Mombasa to the capital city of Nairobi and on to Naivasha is but weeks away, but anticipation of a new standard of reliable, fast means-of-transport to inland Kenya or to the coast in the opposite direction has been tempered by the news that freight services have been postponed for six months until the end of this year.

The decision about the freight services will come as a disappointment to shippers but is being welcomed by road hauliers and trucking companies who will have another six months grace in which…[restrict] to monopolise the transport, particularly that of containers to and from the inland depots.

Truck operators and haulage companies have been concerned about the loss of income once the rail freight service commences, although the Kenya Port Authority (KPA) has already announced that it will allocate only 40% of the containers moving through the port to the new rail service.

In 2016 the port of Mombasa handled a little over one million TEUs. While some of these will remain in the Mombasa business area the balance will be for inland destinations and between 350,000 and 400,000 TEUs is what the rail freight service can expect to handle at least initially.

It would appear that the KPA expects to be able to dictate these terms and importers and exporters will have limited say as to how the containers will be transported to or from Mombasa. The numbers quoted equate to approximately 30,000 TEUs per month being carried by SGR. With an estimated 100 TEUs per train (50-flatbed wagons) the line would then see 10 container trains a day, five up and five down, in operation.

East African railway map of new SGR
East Africa’s bold initiative

Although capable of travelling at 120km/h the freight trains will operate at a maximum speed of 80km/h and covering the 472kms between Mombasa and Nairobi in six hours, according to the Kenyans, although this seems optimistic. Eight or more hours appears more likely, allowing for compulsory stops and the fact that each train will be unable to maintain a constant speed for the entire journey.

So far Kenya’s new SGR has taken delivery of 25 of the 43 freight diesel-electric locomotives and 763 out of 1,620 freight wagons ordered from China.

Inland container depots (ICDs) have increased their capacities from 180,000 to 450,000 TEUs in anticipation of the new service. The container freight trains will arrive at the ICDs from Mombasa and containers will be delivered by road either to nearby Nairobi warehouses or factories, or placed on the road for destinations in neighbouring countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the eastern DRC and South Sudan.

Passenger Services

According to Kenya Railways track trials for the passenger service have already been carried out, with trains in the trials able to achieve speeds up to 160km/h, although the maximum permitted speed in actual service will be set at 120km/h. The passenger service will get underway at the beginning of next month (1 June 2017).

SR ocos and coaches
SGR passenger coaches behind builder’s locos

There will be five passenger trains providing the service, with each train able to carry up to 1,096 passengers and the 12-hour journey will be cut to less than five hours.

The SGR has a total of 33 crossing points along the route between Mombasa and Nairobi and seven passenger stations. Surprisingly, preference will be given to freight trains at each crossing.

Passenger tariffs are yet to be announced.

Extension to Kisumu

Meanwhile, President Uhuru Kenyatta has appealed to China’s Exim Bank for additional funding to continue the SGR from Naivasha, north-east of Nairobi, to Kisumu on Lake Victoria. The 270km phase 3 of the project will cost an estimated US$3.59 billion.

As the debt rises, questions are surfacing about the huge cost of the project. The section for phase 3 is said to cost almost twice per kilometre to that of the section between Mombasa and Nairobi, while the section between Nairobi and Naivasha is even more expensive per kilometre.

A final phase will take the line to the border with Uganda at Malaba.

The Kenyan president has been the main driver of this railway project and believes that the railway line is but a step towards opening up Africa to integration and the expansion of trade.

“This is not Kenya’s railway,” he said last week, “It belongs to Africa.”[/restrict]

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logo of Blue Economy
Blue Economy logo

Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, says Operation Phakisa in the oceans economy has unlocked R7.3 billion in investments.

The Minister said this during the tabling of his department’s Budget Vote in the National Assembly on Wednesday (yesterday).

“Since its launch by President [Jacob] Zuma in July 2014, Operation Phakisa in the oceans economy has unlocked R7.323 billion in both public and private sector investments, and a total of 6,952 jobs have been created,” he said.

Transnet National Ports Authority is undertaking infrastructure improvement projects at ports such as Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay and Port Elizabeth, among others.

The projects have created an additional 602 jobs, the bulk of which are for women and youth.

Progress report on Operation Phakisa in other sectors

Minister Radebe said, meanwhile, that Operation Phakisa in Information and Communication Technology has progressed well since it was launched in 2016.

The initiative has seen 2,884 schools receiving mobile trolley tablets for learners, and 221 special schools being connected.

Approximately 125 Teacher Resource Centres were connected out of a total of 147.

“On average, 20,000 teachers have been trained per quota on the use of ICT.

“Progress has also been made in the development of e-content, with 978 schools having received OpenView HD in the 2016/17 financial year,” he said.

Minister Radebe said in partnership with OpenView HD, DSTV, StarSat and Mindset, the Department of Basic Education channel is available on various platforms.–

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bulker Lord Mountbatten
Lord Mountbatten. Picture: British Bulkers

The bulk carrier LORD MOUNTBATTEN (28,207-dwt, built 2011) came under the threat of attack by pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday this week (16 May).

The Liberian-registered, Greek-owned and managed bulker issued a distress signal that was picked up by an Indian Navy patrol ship, INS SHARDA which diverted to rendezvous with the bulk carrier, some 230 nautical miles south-west of Salalah in Oman.

The merchant vessel reported that…[restrict] it was faced by two suspicious dhows that could be pirate mother ships accompanied by eight skiffs. The Indian Navy ship was only 30 miles away and by dispatching her helicopter was able to respond to the situation quite quickly.

Arab dhow and pirate skiffs
One of the dhows and skiffs. Picture: Indian Navy

“On arriving in the area at around 19h00, Sharda detected two dhows along with eight skiffs in vicinity, three of which fled on sighting the warship,” a navy spokesperson reported. Supported by an armed helicopter, the navy’s marine commandos boarded and investigated the suspicious boats.

According to the navy spokesman, the absence of fishing gear on the boats indicated malicious intent and possible piracy-linked intentions. The commandos recovered an automatic rifle with 28 rounds during the search operation.

The rifle and ammunition has been confiscated to prevent future illegal misuse, the spokesman said. There was no mention of the fate of the two dhows and five remaining skiffs or their occupants but in the absence of any proof on intent to commit piracy, they have probaby been released.

INS Sharda is on deployment in the Gulf of Aden region since 6 April 2017.

The handysize Lord Mountbatten meanwhile has continued her voyage bound for Port Said where she is due on 22 May.

This incident is the first following a short lull in reported piracy activity in the Gulf of Aden region. There have however been a number of piracy reports this year, signalling the danger that continues to exist in the area.[/restrict]

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Doria under construction
During construction of OPV Doria. Picture: Western Marine Shipyard

An offshore fishery patrol vessel for the Kenyan Department of Fisheries, Livestock and Agriculture has been launched at the Western Marine Shipyard in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

The vessel, named DORIA, was launched earlier this month. She was designed by a South African firm,…[restrict] Cape Town-based Icarus Marine Pty Ltd. The order had been placed with Denmark’s JGH Marine which appointed Western Marine to build the vessel.

Delivery of the patrol vessel is scheduled for this July. At 54 metres long and displacing 350 tons empty, Doria is capable of achieving speeds of 35 knots but with a normal operating speed of 20-25 knots.

Doria will have a crew of 12 and can carry a further 60 personnel, and has a deck on the stern capable of handling a 5-ton helicopter. The vessel has a range of 1,500 n.miles.

Her propulsion comes from three MTU diesels driving two propellers and a waterjet.[/restrict]

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Crystal Cruises Serenity
Crystal Serenity

Remember the voyage last year of the cruise ship CRYSTAL SERENITY through the North West Passage?

Crystal Serenity will be retracing her steps from the northern coast of Alaska to the Atlantic coast of Canada, navigating through the famed North West Passage with about 1,700 passengers able to make stop-offs at some of…[restrict] Canada’s most remote settlements.

As was done last year, the luxury 6-star cruise ship will have as an escort the UK ice strengthened research ship ERNEST SHACKLETON which will act as a support vessel.

The voyage of adventure will last 32 days for which passengers will pay more than US$20,000 each.

The voyage last year raised a certain amount of criticism from those who feel the northern climes must remain unspoilt and remote. Climate warming or whatever phenomena are responsible is seeing the ice melting thus making such voyages possible. Crystal Serenity is not the first cruise ship to make use of this opportunity – the smaller Hapag-Lloyd cruise ships BREMEN and HANSEATIC have both previously made the crossing.

map of North West passage
Crystal Cruises’ previous Arctic cruise

Crystal Serenity will sail from west to east, spending 15 days in the actual North West Passage area.

This summer Crystal Serenity will sail once again, with about 1700 passengers and crew, along the northern coast of Alaska and Canada, West to East. It will spend about 15 days in an area known as the North West Passage, with the tourists able to make stop offs at some of Canada’s remotest settlements.

As with its inaugural trip last year, the UK research vessel Ernest Shackleton has been chartered as a support vessel.

Those that oppose the voyages of Crystal Serenity (and the Hapag-Lloyd ships) fear others will follow, and fear most of all some disaster causing massive pollution in one of the world’s more pristine areas. It is for this reason that the research vessel will be accompanying the voyage and it is likely that several coast guard vessels may take up portions of the journey.

video clip [0:45] Arctic ice reaches another record low


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fire on tanker Ebrahim 1
Ebrahim 1 on fire in Sharjah port, showing ship’s broken back

A fire that engulfed a tanker in the UAE port at Sharjah has left one person dead before being brought under control by the coast guard fire control people. At least four others have been reported injured.

The fire broke out on board the small products tanker EBRAHIM 1 (5071-dwt), built 1991) at 05h30 on the morning of 13 May and was followed by an explosion which broke the ship’s back. There were 21 crew, all from…[restrict] India, on board at the time, including the captain – one man was killed, but whether in the explosion or from the fire is not clear. Four others were injured and taken to hospital while the balance of crew were evacuated from the ship.

Despite the huge blaze, quick action was taken to prevent spillage of diesel into the harbour and causing further pollution.

The cause of the fire is not known but an investigation is underway.

Sharjah is the port and emirate closest to Dubai and has three main ports, all deepwater and regarded as among the finest in the United Arab Emirates. The creek also houses the dhow port, visited by hundreds of trading dhows every year.

Watch the short [0:45] video clip of the fire on board Ebrahim 1, from YouTube.

Island Princess fire

Meanwhile, a fire broke out in the engine room of the cruise ship ISLAND PRINCESS as she cruised off the Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska on the morning of Monday, 15 May. It was apparently caused by leaking oil which ignited and caused a small fire on deck 4.

An emergency alarm was sounded but the crew was able to prevent the fire from spreading or developing and it was extinguished within 30 minutes. With no technical failures the Island Princess has continued her voyage.[/restrict]

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Maersk Fluid Technology: Growing demand for SEA-Mate® Lubricant Blending-on-Board system

B1000lub mixing unit fitted to Maersk tanker
Maersk tanker engine room fitted with B1000 lub mixing unit

Maersk Fluid Technology (MFT) has hailed a recent influx of orders for their SEA-Mate®

Blending-on-Board (BOB) system as confirmation of industry demand for technological solutions that enable ship operators to blend fit-for-purpose cylinder lubricant compositions on board their vessels that match actual engine operating conditions and fuel sulphur levels.

The use of this type of technology can reduce cylinder oil consumption and alleviate issues such as cold corrosion and excessive cylinder wear. It can also mitigate issues associated with worn system oil causing problems for the hydraulic control system in modern, electronic 2-stroke engines.

Developed based on proprietary technology, the SEA-Mate® BOB technology allows for the blending of the in-use system oil with a higher BN cylinder oil product to produce a fit-for-purpose cylinder lubricant and facilitate addition of fresh system oil to the engine sump. With BOB units on board 30 – 140 BN cylinder oil can be blended utilising the in-use system oil as a base-oil, blending it with high-BN or traditional cylinder oils available from the oil majors. The SEA-Mate® BOB system has received “no objection” letters from MAN Diesel & Turbo (MDT) and Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD) engines and is suitable for use on all types of vessel, both retrofit and newbuild.

A future-ready system for cylinder oil blending with more than 200 installations in operation

Originally developed by Maersk for use on A.P Moller-Maersk group’s fleet of containerships, MFT has since welcomed investment in the technology for installations across a wide range of ship types. To date, over two hundred units have been installed and millions of cylinder operation hours have been logged.

The MFT Blending-on-Board product line comprises of three unit types; the B1000 for medium range engines with a bore size of 50 – 72 cm, the B3000 for larger engines with a bore size above 72 cm, and the new SEA-Mate B500 specifically designed for engines with a bore size of 26 – 48 cm.

B1000 Maersk Fluid Technology unit
Maersk Fluid Technology unit fitted to tanker

The medium range unit was introduced in 2015 and the first volume order was placed by Maersk Tankers for the retrofit of the SEA-Mate® B1000 system for twelve tankers. In 2016, the units were installed on the tankers without the need to interrupt the vessels schedule.

Since the introduction, the SEA-Mate® B1000 system has also been adopted for vessels owned by Bertling, Masterbulk and Evergas. For the smaller B500 system, the Clipper group has in 2017 taken delivery of the first unit, to be fitted on a vessel equipped with an MAN Diesel S42MC engine.

“Our experiences with the current 200+ installations have proved that it will be possible to achieve continuous lubrication at, or close to, the lowest allowed consumption of lubricant as specified by the engine manufacturer, with the optimal amount of acid neutralisation and cleaning properties – the cylinder lubricant from the SEA-Mate® BOB system always matching the fuel composition.

“The flexibility of the system allows blending of a cylinder oil with system oil or blending of two cylinder oils, and means it can easily be adapted for future needs through change of the incoming streams.” says Sune Lilbaek, Head of Sales at Maersk Fluid Technology A/S.

Online library for Blending-on-Board ready lubricants

In February 2017, MFT updated their online library of high-BN cylinder oil product sheets to include the latest generation of 140 BN and 300 BN cylinder oils suitable for BOB, for blending with system oil or low-BN cylinder oils. The library includes high-BN cylinder oils from BP, Castrol, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Premier 6, Shell & Total Lubmarine, and is continuously updated as new oils are released by the oil majors. The list of supporting oil major products can be found HERE

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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.


car carrier Grand Vega
Grand Vega. Picture: Keith Betts

The car carrier GRAND VEGA (59, 217-dwt) was a recent caller at Durban and is seen here on her berth at the Point. Built in 2009 at the Shin Kurushima Toyohashi Shipbuilding Co yard in Toyohashi, Japan as hull number 3618, the 200m by 32m RoRo is managed by Cido Shipping out of that company’s Hong Kong office. Grand Vega has a total of nine decks and a maximum capacity of 6,400 cars (CEU). She is flagged in Panama. This picture is by Keith Betts



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