Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

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


Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return


News continues below


Launching of new Transnet tug Umbilo. Pc: Terry Hutson
Umbilo, flanked by the tug Pholela.  Picture: Terry Hutson

A view of Transnet’s latest tug UMBILO shortly before she entered the waters of Durban Bay which is to be her first and possibly only home. The tug was launched last Friday, 26 May from the Southern African Shipyards making use of the floating dock acquired specifically for this purpose. Umbilo is named for the river that rises in the western suburbs of greater Durban and enters the Bay of Natal (Durban Bay) at Bayhead via a co-joining with the Umhhlatuzana River, in close proximity to the shipyard where she was built. Umbilo is the sixth of nine tugs being built by SAS for Transnet National Ports Authority in a R1.4 billion contract, the largest ever contract awarded to a single South African firm. The tug measures 31 metres in overall length and has a 70 ton designed bollard pull. Of the nine tugs in the current order, four are destined for KZN ports, two at Richards Bay and two at Durban, of which Umbilo is the first for the latter port. This brings the number of tugs in Durban to nine, five of them Voith Schneider-propelled diesel-powered and the older four Schottel drive diesel-powered tugs.

As a note of interest or curiousity perhaps, none of the Durban tugs, which are all named or renamed after rivers in KZN, reflect the name of a river that flows into the sea on the South Coast. Only North Coast or inland rivers, plus now Durban Bay feature. We understand the names of the future tugs are already chosen, but dare we hope that the next one for Durban will carry the name of a South Coast River – Umkomaas or Umzimkulu perhaps? This picture is by Terry Hutson

News continues below


Simon's Town naval dockyard 2015 David Erickson
Simon’s Town naval base. In picture RFS Gold Rover(entering the dockyard) and SAS Isandlwana F146. Picture: David Erickson

The transfer of the Simon’s Town Naval Dockyard to the South African Navy is underway as recommended by the Defence Review 2015, says the minister of Defence and Military Veterans.

Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was presenting her department’s Budget Vote in Parliament on Thursday (25 May 2017) and said that the multi-lateral agreement between the Department of Defence (DOD), Denel and ARMSCOR has…[restrict] been signed and Denel was awaiting National Treasury approval.

Consultations with the employees of the dockyard are continuing to ensure that all labour matters are attended to, she said.

Referring to the conversion of the Durban naval station into a fully-fledged naval base, she said that since the sod turning ceremony in December 2015 significant progress had been made.

The minister added that the South African Navy has continued to deploy vessels in support of the Maritime Security Strategy. “Over the past year, the SA Navy has conducted three protracted patrols in the Mozambique Channel utilising a Frigate, an Offshore Patrol Vessel and the SAS DRAKENSBERG respectively.

“Furthermore, SAS Amatola, one of our Frigates successfully participated in the SS MENDI Centenary Commemoration in the United Kingdom and Exercise GOOD HOPE in Germany.”

Referring to the Armscor Turn-around Strategy, the minsiter reported that this has resulted in a number of African countries showing interest in using Armscor’s services. “Armscor is registered as a strategic supplier with UN Procurement to ensure the increased participation of SA Defence Industry in the supply of their requirements.

“Armscor remains committed to providing military veterans support in various areas such as economic empowerment, corporate social investment, skills development as well as employment.”

The minister said that the budget allocation for the entire vote in the financial year 2017/18 amounted to R48 billion… “which is approximately 1% of the GDP. The MTEF allocations indicate that for financial year 2018/19 our budget will decline to less than 0.98% of GDP. These figures indicate a persistent decline of the defence budget,” she added.[/restrict]

News continues below


MPT at Port of Djibouti
Djibouti’s Doraleh Multipurpose Port

The first of four new terminals at the port of Djibouti has been officially opened last week, known as the Doraleh Multipurpose Port.

This is an extension or upgrade of the existing MPT at Doraleh which according to the Djibouti port authority is a “gateway to one of the fastest growing regions of the world with 30,000 ships transiting the port each year.

“Located on two of the…[restrict] three busiest shipping routes in the world, the port provides a strategic platform for maritime activity connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe,” the Port of Djibouti said in a statement.

The multipurpose terminal (port) upgrade is part of a Chinese-backed plan of establishing Africa’s largest free-trade zone with a throughput capacity of US$7 billion of goods a year.

Doraleh’s bulk terminal has a capacity to handle two million tons of cargo annually along with space for 100,000 tons of fertiliser, 100,000 tons of grain plus various warehouses for other commodities.

Other terminals are planned for the handling of export salt and potash – both are due to open in June.

night scene at Djibouti CT
Djibouti container terminal. Picture: Port of Djibouti

In 2015 the throughpout at the port of Djibouti was reported as 5.7 billion tons – this is expected to rise considerably with the opening of the four new ‘ports’ or terminals.

China’s influence at Djibouti is steadily growing as it finances or helps finance each of the new sections of the port. In addition China is building a strategic naval and military base at Djibouti, within a short distance of the large US military base also in the small African country. Djibouti is the only official Chinese military base outside of China and the only official US military base on the continent, although in reality the US has base-type facilities dotted across Africa.[/restrict]

News continues below


Operationa Phakisa Blue Economy drive
South Africa’s Blue Economy, back in the limelight

Two years into its launch, Operation Phakisa Oceans Economy is making inroads and growing the aquaculture sector, according to government.

It syas that to date 450 direct jobs have been created and 2,000 additional tons of fish have been produced. This is a 35% increase for the sector, while a contribution of R500 million has been made to the country’s GDP.

This was announced by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana last week during his Budget Vote speech in the National Assembly.

The Oceans Economy is one of the three streams of Operation Phakisa and takes the country closer to unlocking the potential of South Africa’s oceans, which has the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) and create over one million new jobs by 2033.

The focus in the oceans economy has meant a new wave in aquaculture, making it one of the fastest growing food production sectors.

Aquaculture, also known as aquafarming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.

“The sector presents a good opportunity to diversify fish production to satisfy local demand (import substitution), food security, export opportunities, create jobs and contribute towards GDP,” the Minister said.

He said the new growth in aquaculture presents an enormous opportunity to bring new entrants in the sector as it grows and expands. It also presents an opportunity to bring in the youth, women and historically disadvantaged people into the sector.

Dense school of brown striped snapper (Xenocys jessiae),
Ocean Economy

“The sector can accommodate new entrants because of the nature of activities that are diverse from small scale to commercial, as well as different technology, methodologies and species.”

Meanwhile, Minister Zokwana said his department has put in place disaster risk mitigation measures to avert drought risks and to ensure that they are better dealt with when they occur.

“The drought conditions in 2015 and 2016 had a devastating impact on agriculture production throughout the country. These drought conditions, dare I say, appear to linger in the Western Cape as we gather today.”

The department will cooperate and lend support to the Western Cape, as it deals with the drought, the Minister assured.

During this financial year, the department will also develop a Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) strategic framework, which will contribute to the regulation, promotion, co-ordination and implementation of an effective CSA programme.

Furthermore, in this financial year, government will finalise the Climate Change Adaption and Mitigation Plan. –

News continues below


Dona Ana Bridge over Zambezi, Tete Province
Mozambique’s impressive Dona Ana Bridge

After 86 years, the Dona Ana bridge, which spans the Zambezi River between the village of Nhamayabwe in Tete and Caia in Sofala province, is getting its first facelift.

The works, which are scheduled over 90 days, started last Tuesday and are budgeted at eight million meticais [around US$135 thousand at current exchange rates], at the expense of…[restrict] Mozambique railways (CFM) and Electricity of Mozambique (EDM).

Work will consist of replacing the metal sheets of the pavement, replacing profiles at various points, stripping and repainting, and replacing more than 100 street lamps across the bridge.

The Dona Ana bridge was built on the section of the Sena railway line connecting Beira to the village of Moatize, and is approximately 3,700 metres long, of which 565 metres is supported by the Sena viaduct, 2,990 metres is carried on the central bridge and the remaining 265 metres by the viaduct on the Mutarara side.


Dona Ana Bridge, Mozambique
Dona Ana Bridge before the railway was restored

Speaking in Sena at the launch of the project, which will be carried out by EGEC Lda and under CFM supervision, Sofala Governor Maria Helena Taipo said that the project will mark the fulfilment of the Zambezi riverine communities’ hopes, presented last year to the president during his first working visit to the enterprise.

Reports from users suggest that at least five people died and another six were seriously injured this year as a result of the deterioration of the bridge.

With an estimated 3,000 people crossing the bridge every day, the Dona Ana Bridge is a tourist attraction and boosts trade between neighbouring communities in the provinces of Sofala, Tete and Zambézia, as well as Malawi’s Nsange district.

CFM-Central Executive Director Augusto Abudo said that the work in progress would facilitate the movement of people and goods and afford greater security especially at night, but he warned users to observe the maximum load established for safety on the bridge, and advised regular cleaning to avoid corrosion of metal parts.

The Dona Ana Bridge makes the Sena fortress a tourist attraction, mainly for the observation of the Zambezi plain, with the Morrumbala mountain range and the border with Malawi forming the background of a unique panoramic view.

The bridge is 3.67 kilometres long and its construction was completed in 1934. It is said to be Africa’s 5th longest bridge, the 4th longest being Mozambique Island bridge (3.7 km, built in 1969) and the 1st the 6th October bridge in Cairo, Egypt ( 20.5 km long, built in 1996). The Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge in China is considered the world’s longest bridge. It is 164.8-kilometre long. source: Club of Mozambique

An historic view of the Dona Ana Bridge

Dona Ana bridge shortly after completion in 1934
The Dona Ana Bridge circa 1934

The British South Africa Company had a concession from the Portuguese government to build a railway from Dondo, Mozambique on the main railway line from Beira, Mozambique to Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe], and in 1912 the Nyasaland [Malawi] government agreed to give financial assistance to British South Africa Company to build the Central African Railway from Nsanje, the southern terminus of the Shire Highlands Railway 61 miles to the north bank of the Zambezi at Chindio. This line was completed in 1914 and, at first, river steamers went from Chindio to Chinde on the Indian Ocean. This railway of 61 miles from Port Herald to the north bank of the Zambezi was from where sea-going lighters continued to Beira, Mozambique. It took two to three weeks to move goods from Blantyre to Beira, involved three transhipments and exposed goods to the risk of water damage.

In 1922, the Trans-Zambezia Railway Company completed a line from Beira to Murracca on the Zambezi, opposite Chindio, so there was an almost-complete rail link from Blantyre to Beira except for the short river crossing by ferry. This was inconvenient because the capacity of the ferry depended on the river depth. For two months in the dry season, the river was low and wet-season floods often washed parts of the track away. In 1927, the British government commissioned a report on building a Zambezi bridge.

The Hammond Report proposed that a Zambezi bridge be built at Mutarara, 25 miles upriver of Chindio. The cost of the Zambezi Bridge was estimated at £1.06 million. Eliminating the handling at the ferry and increased traffic were expected to pay the annual interest and create a sinking fund to repay the construction loans. The final cost for the Zambezi Bridge was £1.74 million and it never generated sufficient traffic to pay the interest charge, much less repay the loans raised to build it.

The 3.67 kilometres (2.28 mi) long Dona Ana Bridge was at that time the longest railway bridge in Africa. The bridge comprises 33 spans of 80m and 7 spans of 50m. Built by the Portuguese in 1934 during the Portuguese rule of Mozambique, it was rendered unusable in the 1980s, during the Mozambican Civil War.

Dona AnaBridge during construction circa 1934
During construction in 1934

The USAID assisted with the repairs and it was converted to a single-lane bridge for vehicle traffic.

Although not located on a primary highway, it provided an alternative route over the Zambezi. The other two options were the bridge at Tete and the former road ferry at Caia which was not always reliable. The Dona Ana Bridge is the longest bridge across the Zambezi and it used to be the last downstream bridge before the construction of the Armando Emilio Guebuza Bridge in 2009.

The bridge was completely closed to vehicular traffic in October 2006 for rehabilitation and re-conversion to a rail bridge and was reopened as a rail bridge in 2009. Source: Wikipedia[/restrict]

News continues below


Sailors on board USS Kearsarge in New York
Sailors and Marines man the rails of the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge as she passes the Statue of Liberty during the 29th annual Fleet Week New York’s Parade of Ships on 24 May. US Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Travis Simmons.
Released. USN©

Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge rendered a seven-gun salute with US Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, with Fort Hamilton providing a 15-gun salute in return, 24 May.

In the words of Anthony Giovinco, US Navy Vietnam veteran and chief of staff and secretary of the United Military Veterans of Kings County Memorial Day Parade: “New York has…[restrict] always had a close relationship with the military. The Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are treated very well here. This is a tradition that is important to me. It brings back fond memories of the years I spent in the military.”

In addition to Kearsarge, USCGC Hamilton, Kingston-class coastal defence vessel HMCS Glace Bay, Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Lassen, Ticonderoga-class cruisers USS Monterey and USS San Jacinto, Oceanographic research ship RV Neil Armstrong, Cyclone-class patrol coastal ship USS Zephyr, Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport USNS Yuma and US Naval Academy yard patrol boats participated in the Parade of Ships.

FWNY offers Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen an official opportunity to participate in community relations projects, parades, re-enlistments and school outreach. It also exposes the general public to various military careers, ships and the services they represent.

Students from the area will have the chance to learn about military aircraft, military careers, and interact with Sailors and Marines throughout the week.

During FWNY, general ship tours will be conducted in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Visitors will learn about the latest capabilities and technologies of today’s maritime sea services, such as job specialties, firefighting techniques, environmental safety, energy awareness and damage control aboard ships. There will also be the opportunity to see and interact with aviation static displays.

USS Kearsarge
The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge underway conducting sea trials in preparation for a scheduled deployment. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Hunter S Harwell. Released. USN©

Said US Army Spc. Tanner Butler, currently assigned to US Army Garrison Fort Hamilton: “Fleet Week New York is a way for the general public to view and experience the maritime sea services while allowing us to show our appreciation for our Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. I feel, that since 9/11, it is really important for the people of New York to experience these things and to remember that our fellow Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are there for us.”

FWNY, now in its 29th year, is the city’s time-honoured celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness first hand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services.

The weeklong celebration has been held nearly every year since 1984.[/restrict]

Edited by Paul Ridgway

News continues below


product tanker Navig8 Amazonte
Navig8 Amazonte

Scorpio Tankers Inc is to merge with Navig8 Product Tankers Inc and in the process will acquire Navig8’s 29 operating products tankers.

Four LR1 tankers will transfer into Scorpio’s fleet ahead of the merger with a cash consideration of US$42.2 million and the remainder will follow on the…[restrict] closing of the merger in exchange for the issuance of 55 million shares of Scorpio common stock to the Navig8 shareholders.

The 27 product tankers comprise 12 LR1s and 15 LR2s with a total carrying capacity of 2.6 million dwt.

Ten of the tankers are owned by Navig8 and the balance on charter. On completion of the agreement Scorpio will operate with a fleet of 105 owned or finance leased tanker comprising 38 LR2 tankers, 12 LR1 tankers, 41 MR tankers and 14 Handymax tankers, in addition to 19 time or bareboat chartered-in tankers (one LR2 tanker, nine MR tankers and nine Handymax tankers.

VesselsValue (VV) has put together some quick stats, which have been made available to Africa PORTS & SHIPS.

VV says that it’s interesting that Scorpio Tankers are buying now, as 5-year old LR1 tanker values have been pretty flat since mid-January 2017. The following chart shows VesselsValue’s Fixed Age market value for a 5 year old LR1 vessel over the last 5 years:

Fixed Age LR1 tanker Year 5
Source: VesselsValue

Navig8 Product Tankers owned 10 of the vessels involved in this deal, a mix of LR1 and LR2 tankers. They are worth a total of US$ 362.52 million today.

The other 17 involved in the deal are chartered in on bare boat from CSSC Shipping, China Merchants Bank, Bank of Communications and Ocean Yield ASA. These 17 vessels have a market value today of US$ 661.64 million. Scorpio is going to take over the charter contract for these vessels, with the possibility of buying them once the charter is over.

The next chart indicates the new rankings of the top 5 tanker owners before and after the 10 Navig8 Product Tanker vessels are bought by Scorpio Tankers:

Top 5 tanker owning group. source: VesselsValue
source: VesselsValue


News continues below


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.


MCI Reefer. Pic: Maersk

At the meeting held at Tuynhuys in Cape Town on Wednesday, 24 May 2017 Cabinet approved the Road Freight Strategy, which will ultimately enable South Africa to achieve best international standards of road-freight operations through an integrated regulatory and operational framework.

The Acting Director-General of the GCIS, Ms Phumla Williams, said: “Since the advent of democracy, South Africa has been reintegrated into the global economy and the volume of trade via road freight has grown substantially.

“The transport industry plays a leading role towards…[restrict] contributing to the country’s economy, and is significant in South Africa’s trade influence domestically, regionally and internationally. Furthermore, freight logistics is a major factor and stimulus into how South Africa does business,” she added.

Through the implementation of the recommendations in this strategy a more enhanced efficient enforcement will be realised, including the promotion of road safety; an improved protection of infrastructure; and a reduced environmental impact. It will also see the establishment of an integrated framework of quality-regulated competition which aims to create an enhanced enabling environment for the road-freight sector to better serve the needs of the South African economy.

The Road Freight Strategy will further ensure that the transport and logistics sector supports effective regional integration and the development of trade within the region. It will also respond to the need for harmonisation of standards and liberalisation of transport in the interest of effective cross-border trade.

The strategy highlights an urgent need for an Operator Registration System to assist in curbing problems such as substandard operators, unlicensed and unroadworthy vehicles that cause most of the pollution and accidents. The system will further assist in the collation of freight data, planning and regulation of the sector.

South Africa is part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and therefore party to the drive for the liberalisation of interstate transport and promotion of regional trade. The strategy will contribute to South Africa’s participation in the current tripartite initiative (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, East African Community and SADC) to harmonise quality regulation in the road-freight sector through a regionally linked operator registration system.

Ms Williams concluded that: “This strategy creates a better environment for the transport and freight industry to thrive in and contributes towards the upward trajectory of the economy. Our national competiveness will be enhanced through the promotion of regional trade integration and an improved cross-border transport efficiency”.

Issued by: Government Communications[/restrict]

News continues below


in partnership with – APO

News continues below


Request a Rate Card from


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.

News continues below


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.


BP Shipping's British Seafarer at Durban, May 2017 Picture: Trevor Jones
British Seafarer. Picture: Trevor Jones

BP Shipping’s Mariner class oil products tanker BRITISH SEAFARER (45,999-dwt) enters Durban harbour last week to proceed to Island View tanker berths. The 183 metre long, 32.2m wide oil and refined products tanker carries a crew of 32 plus six others described as ‘workers’ – curious! Built last year at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co Limited in South Korea, she is registered in Douglas on the Isle of Man. BP Shipping operates with a fleet of 49 tankers, from Handysize to VLCCs. This picture is by Trevor Jones


“The classroom within is where the true learning takes place.”
― Samantha Storsberg


For a Rate Card please contact us at

Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome. Email to

Colour photographs and slides for sale of a variety of ships.
Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.P O BOX 809, CAPE TOWN, 8000, SOUTH AFRICA 



South Africa’s most comprehensive Directory of Maritime Services will shortly be listed on this site. Please advise if you’d like your company to be included. To sign up for a free listing contact or register online