Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

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


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Unicorn Tanker BERG in Durban harbour, pril 2018, pictute by Ken Malcolm, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Berg.        Picture: Ken Malcolm

Early morning on Durban Bay and the fishermen on their skiboat have the rods out as in the background we see the Unicorn Shipping oil and chemical products tanker BERG (IMO 9374325). Flagged in the UK (Isle of Man) the 16,870-dwt tanker is 144 metres long and has a 23 metre beam. Sad to think that everything about this ship says ‘offshore’ despite the head office of Unicorn’s parent company being a short distance across the bay. Behind the Berg we can see the Spinnaker, one of the tall buildings overlooking the Point Waterfront. This picture is by Ken Malcolm


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Pirate skiff with ladder ready to be used, from a news report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Pirate skiff with ladder ready for scalingn the side of the ship.  Note the RPG at the ready

Pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea does not go away and several incidents have been reported in the past week.

On Tuesday this week (22 May) it was reported that seven pirates in a skiff came alongside a drifting product tanker and tried to board via the poop deck.

The tanker was in position at…[restrict] 03:46N – 001:30E, around 140 nautical miles South of Lome, Togo.

Alert duty crew spotted the pirates and raised the alarm which resulted in the pirates aborting the boarding attempt and the skiff moving away.

All crew were reported to be safe and the tanker’s master reported a suspicious vessel in the vicinity from which the pirates could have approached his vessel.

In another incident that occurred on Saturday 19 May but has only recently been reported, seven thieves in a speed boat approached and came alongside an anchored bulk carrier.

The bulker was in position 06:26N – 003:23E, in Lagos Port in Nigeria.

Two of the pirates managed to board the ship unobserved using a hook attached to a rope. As the remaining five were attempting to board the vessel the duty crew noticed them, raised the alarm and alerted the onboard shore security watchmen who notified the local authorities.

Seeing the alerted crew, the robbers escaped in their boat. Nothing was reported stolen.[/restrict]

See related report on Piracy below.


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Cyclone Mekunu, as appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Cyclone Mekunu

Cyclone MEKUNU (left) is developing strongly in the Arabian Sea where it threatens Oman and Yemen but might instead follow the route taken by its predecessor, Cyclone SAGAR which brought widespread flooding and damage and loss of life through Puntland, Somaliland, parts of Yemen and Djibouti.

The latest cyclone Mekunu developed as a tropical storm in the southwest Arabian Sea before intensifying yesterday into Cyclone Mekunu.

The cyclone is moving currently north-northwest at a speed of 11 km/h. At present Mekunu is expected to continue moving in this direction during the remainder of this week and make landfall near Salalah, Oman on about Saturday 26 May.

A major fluctuation in tropical weather over the southern Arabian Sea known as the Madden-Julian oscillation (MJO) is likely to cause Mekunu to strengthen further.

As a result, heavy rains are forecasted for Socotra Island, followed by the southern Arabian coast from Sayhut in eastern Yemen to Salalah and Ash Shuwaymiyyah in southern Oman, which could cause local flooding and damage.

Warnings issued yesterday (23 May) in Yemen were upgraded to a maximum Red Alert. Oman’s Directorate-General of Meteorology and its National Multi-Hazard Early Warning System is issuing regular updates about weather conditions and hazards at sea.

In addition to the high winds, the main hazards from Mekunu will be the heavy precipitation and flash flooding. Some forecasts predict that months worth of rain will fall in a matter of hours. (source: FAO)

The Port of Salalah says it is monitoring the path of the cyclone and will keep shipping and port users informed. As a precautionary measure the port authority ask that port users ensure all non-essential equipment, vehicles, movable equipment, are secured and that non-essential staff refrain from entering the port while essential staff should be ready to move out at a short notice.

“Vessels not required at berth for cargo operations must be ready to vacate berth,” said the port.

Cyclone SAGAR

Cyclone Sagar's path through the Gulf of Aden, as appearing in a news report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Cyclone Sagar’s path through the Gulf of Aden

Meanwhile, Tropical storm SAGAR (now downgraded to the status of a tropical depression) reached Ethiopia on 20 May 2018, with heavy rainfall and winds in the Northern part of the Somali region. The ensuing flooding affected five woredas of Siti zone and reportedly displaced 9,000 households.

The village of Dambal was nearly completely washed away, displacing 150 households.

The floods of the last weeks have affected 324,740 people in the Somali region, according to the regional Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau (DPPB). It is estimated that at least 347,000 people have been affected countrywide. The communities along the Shebelle river are particularly concerned, such as the town of Mustahil (around 8,000 inhabitants) which is completely inundated.

The floods have also led to large scale displacement with 194,000 IDPs in Somali region, at least 15,000 in Oromia and 850 in Afar.

The latest forecast of the National Meteorology Agency (NMA) anticipates a shift of the heavy rainfall from South-Eastern Ethiopia to the Central and Western regions as well as parts of northern Ethiopia (i.e. to Afar, Amhara, Gambella, Southern Oromia, parts of SNNP and Tigray region). Several of these areas are classified as being at risk of flooding, according to the national disaster management authorities. (source: ERCC – Emergency Response Coordination Centre)

Cyclone Sagar in the Gulf of Aden. Picture: NASA, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Cyclone Sagar in the Gulf of Aden. Picture: NASA

Cyclone Sagar was unusual in that it is very rare for a cyclone to enter the Gulf of Aden. The cyclone made landfall in north-western Somaliland on 19 May, leaving at least dead in its wake.

The storm also caused flooding and wind damage in Yemen where at least one person has died as a result of the storm.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported heavy rainfall, strong winds and dangerous flash floods across coastal areas of Puntland and Somaliland which resulted in the loss of 16 lives, crops and livestock as well as the destruction of property and infrastructure. Cyclone SAGAR then moved further into the Gulf before making another landfall at Djibouti where heavy rains and flash floods were reported.

In Somaliland scores of fishing boats went missing in the region – at least 40 fishermen were at sea went the cyclone struck and their fate remains unknown.

In Djibouti City and the suburb of Balbala as many as 30,000 people have been affected. Many schools were closed and roads rendered impassable. Source: UNOCHA


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MSC ship off Durban, picture by Terry Hutson, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Picture: Terry Hutson

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is introducing a worldwide surcharge on all ocean and land-based cargo carriage with immediate effect.

Announcing this, MSC said the continued surge in bunker prices has…[restrict] greatly impacted the operating environment for container shipping lines.

“Fuel prices are up more than 30 per cent this year, and almost 70 per cent since last June. Prices in Europe exceeded US$442/mt last week.

“With crude oil today hovering around $80 a barrel – the highest since 2014 – the situation is no longer sustainable without emergency action.”

As a result MSC said it is therefore introducing a worldwide temporary emergency bunker surcharge on all ocean and land-based cargo carriage with immediate effect.

“This last-resort measure is essential to ensure that we navigate these challenging economic conditions in a steady and sustainable way and continue to provide a high quality of service to all our customers.”[/restrict]


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Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia, as appearing in news report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Somaliland, Puntland and Somalia

Heavy clashes have been reported between forces of Puntland and Somaliland, both disputed breakaway states of Somalia.

Cyclone Sagar which passed through the area may have cooled things briefly but latest reports say the fighting is ongoing in the disputed town of Tukaraq which lies some 90 km from Garowe, the ‘capital’ of Puntland.

According to Puntland’s Minister for Information, Abdi Ali Hirsi Qarjab, Somaliland was…[restrict] guilty of “aggression” after Somaliland forces raided bases manned by Puntland troops.

“Early hours of Tuesday, Somaliland forces invaded our troops near Tukaraq town. Our forces are wording off the attackers,” said Qarjab in a report published by the Somali news agency Shabelle.

He said that hundreds of residents in the area have begun fleeing their homes.

“The fighting is continuing in and around town. The aggressors have already displaced almost the entire population of the town as they using heavy artillery weapons against the civilians in the town,” he said.

The Somaliland chief of armed forces, Nuh Ismail Tani, said Somaliland forces who were in full control of the town of Tukaraq had come under attack from Puntland forces and that the battle for control was continuing.

Both Somaliland and Puntland each claim ownership of the border regions of Sool and Sanaag. source: Shabelle[/restrict]


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NSRI Station's Lotto Challenger. from a story appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
NSRI Station’s Lotto Challenger

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station Port Alfred was called into action on Monday this week to go to the aid of an ill seafarer at sea.

According to NSRI Port Alfred station commander Juan Pretorius, the NSRI duty crew was activated at 16h12 on Monday (21 May) following…[restrict] a request for medical assistance from the fishing trawler ST LUCIA, which reported that a 61-year old fisherman on board was in need of being evacuated to hospital for a stomach ailment.

As a result the Port Alfred sea recue craft Lotto Challenger was launched and Gardmed ambulance services were dispatched to stand-by at the sea rescue base.

Out at sea a rendezvous was made with the St Lucia some 10 nautical miles southwest of Port Alfred where the patient, in a stable condition, was taken into the care of the NSRI medics before transferring him to the rescue craft which returned to the Port Alfred station.

The patient was then transported to hospital in a stable condition by Gardmed ambulance.[/restrict]


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OEF report on piracy, preview appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

A new approach is needed to combat maritime threats, says One Earth Future in its latest report

In a report headed The State of Maritime Piracy 2017 – assessing the economic and human cost, One Earth Future (OEF) reports that the number of piracy incidents doubled off the coast of East Africa in 2017 compared to 2016.

The report analyses the human and economic impacts of maritime piracy and robbery at sea in the Western Indian Ocean Region, the Gulf of Guinea, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups retain their ability to organise and implement attacks against ships transiting the region,” says Maisie Pigeon, the report’s lead author.

Incidents in this maritime space have posed an additional threat to shipping transiting the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

“There are now a wide range of threats to shipping near the Horn of Africa that have been complicated by the conflict and instability in Yemen,” says Phil Belcher, Marine Director of INTERTANKO. “We are advising our members to consider a more comprehensive security assessment to take into account other threats beyond traditional piracy emanating from the regional conflict in Yemen.”

Maritime crime in Latin America and the Caribbean is also on the rise.

“We have observed a significant increase in violent incidents and anchorage crime, particularly in the anchorages of Venezuela and the recent violent incidents off Suriname in the first part of this year,” says Pigeon.

Piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea continue at persistently high levels. In 2017, 1726 seafarers were impacted in a total of 97 incidents, despite the increased efforts of regional states and contracted maritime security providers. The report shows a US$13.2 million increase on spending by regional states on law enforcement and naval patrols, and that there has been a continued proliferation of contracted maritime security schemes.

A South Korean vessel Munmu the Great was re-deployed to the Gulf of Guinea in response to the kidnapping of three South Korean fishermen in March (this ship visited Cape Town recently while returning from the Gulf of Guinea).

“Kidnap-for-ransom continues to plague the region, which is a trend that has unfortunately continued from 2016.” says Pigeon. The report found that 100 crewmembers were taken hostage in 2016.

The piracy situation in Asia improved considerably in 2017, with overall incidents down by over 20% from 2016. Most encouraging was that kidnap-for-ransom attacks decreased from 22 in 2016 to just 4 in 2017. ““We believe that much of the credit for this progress is due to the trilateral patrols between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia,” says Gregory Clough, Ocean Beyond Piracy’s acting director.

Having assessed the state of global piracy and armed robbery dating back to 2011, OEF has concluded that piracy is just one piece of a number of issues affecting maritime security. Criminal gangs operating at sea have been observed moving between different crimes and can sustain themselves without necessarily resorting to piracy activity.

OEF has observed growing consensus that piracy and other crimes cannot be comprehensively addressed unless the maritime community begins to address the broader issues that create insecurity at sea.

“Piracy is just one issue in a complex web affecting maritime security,” says Larry Sampler, OEF’s president. “Where there is good governance seas are safer, coastal communities are healthier, and the blue economies grow stronger. OEF is committed to promoting global maritime security.”

Read the full report CRIME KNOWS NO BORDERS

Now watch the following short video clip: [3:10]


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BEST container terminal at the Port of Barcelona, appearing in a report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Hutchison Ports BEST (Barcelona Europe South Terminal) (illustrated) has placed an order with Kone Cranes for an additional six Automatic Stacking Cranes (ASCs) scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2019.

Arrival of the new cranes, reported on 22 May, will be the final stage of the second phase of the semi-automated terminal’s expansion which began in 2014.

Expansion has seen the number of automated container storage blocks increase…[restrict] from 24 to 27.

This latest order is the second upgrade of facilities at BEST this year. The terminal’s fleet of shuttle carriers, which transfer containers among the quay, container yard and rail operations, has already been boosted by the arrival of six new machines to improve further the efficiency of operations at what is already one of world’s most productive terminals.

These new shuttle carriers are fitted with diesel-electric engines which help improve the overall energy efficiency of the terminal. Together with the other electrical equipment at the terminal, including quay cranes, storage area cranes and railway terminal cranes, they make BEST one of the most environmentally sustainable facilities in Europe.

Shuttle (straddle) Carriers, as appearing in a story appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Shuttle (straddle) Carriers

Guillermo Belcastro Hutchison Ports BEST CEO stated: “This investment will result in a significant increase in operational and storage capacity at the terminal and will contribute to our continuous improvement of service levels both in maritime and land operations.”

BEST currently has 11 Super Post-Panamax quay cranes, 48 ASCs, 2 rail terminal cranes (RMGs) and 30 Shuttle Carriers to operate the terminal which occupies 79 ha and has a 1,500-metre berth with a depth of 16.5 metre.

Since its official inauguration in September 2012, BEST has continued to set new standards for ports in Southern Europe: achieving a ship productivity rate of more than 200 movements per hour and a sustained average performance of more than 40 movements per hour and by crane, one of the highest in the world.

Facilities here include one of the most modern gate systems in Europe and one of the largest railway terminals within a container terminal in the Mediterranean, with eight mixed gauge tracks (Iberian and UIC*), connecting BEST daily with different points of Spain and the South of France.

*Union Inter Des Chemins de Fer / International Union of Railways:[/restrict]

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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Dynamar banner, appearing with a story in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Dynamar, renowned for its expertise in this particular activity lubricating modern container liner shipping, has just completed its long awaited third report on Transhipment & Feedering – Trades and Operators – Ships and Hubs The Times They Are A Changin’ – and so has indispensable feedering over the last ten years.

The adagio that the capability of a port decides upon the size of the feeder ship is still true, Dynamar says. As many feeder ports have become more capable over time, they allowed the feeder ship to grow larger too.

Not half as big as many think: 1,300 TEU at present against 700 TEU for the common (third party) feeder ships 10 years ago – 2,000 TEU against 1,200 for those of the dedicated (mainline) operator. There are always exceptions: MSC (who else) used a 10,000 TEU ship as feeder to the Eastern Baltic.

Dynamar logo appearing with a story in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

There is no secret that mainline ships have grown extensively, also. The famous “Emma Maersk”, the world’s first ULCS was (still) the largest 10 years ago with her 15,600 TEU. Presently, 622 Ultra Large Container Ships of over 10,000 TEU up to 23,500 TEU are operating or on order.

The bigger the ship the fewer ports of call? Not really, but where call sizes increase, service frequencies come down.

Hence an ever larger number of feeders is swarming the mainliner, increasing their capacities if and when the destination ports allowed. Do we really need more feeder ships?

Did you know that:

* 124 carriers are acting as a feeder operator deploying an annual trade capacity of 16 million TEU

* X-Press Feeders is the third largest and the single pure feeder operator

* The Far East trade handles 371 feeder service rotations per week; its 284 for Europe/Mediterranean

* 12 dedicated and 14 common transhipment ports worldwide handle 24 million TEU

* Transhipment & Feedering (2018) provides a true wealth of what the title of the report promises:

* Check the highly interesting chapter Principles of Feedering

* Including and followed by Transhipment, Ships and Hubs

* The carriers section provides profiles on twelve dedicated and fourteen common feeder operators

* Feeder trades extensively discussed are Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, North Europe, Mediterranean, Indian Sub Continent, Middle East, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa

* The many services of all identified 124 worldwide feeder operators are given by individual trade, ships deployed, average and total shipboard capacity, weekly rotations, annual trade capacity.

Contact Dynamar at or telephone +31 (0)72 514 7400


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Knud E. Hansen's new design for a RoRo ferry for Grimaldi, appearing wiuth a story in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Following several RoRo and RoCon projects around the world the past years KNUD E. HANSEN has signed contracts with Nanjing Jinling Shipyard, China, for developing the Basic Design of a number of large RoRo vessels, based on the Grimaldi/ KNUD E. HANSEN design.

The new vessels, the first of which is expected to be delivered in 2020, will have a length of 238 metres, a beam of 34 metres and a gross tonnage of 64,000 tonnes. They will be able to transport over 7,800 lane metres of rolling units, equivalent to approximately 500 trailers.

The design of the newbuilds was developed by the Technical and Energy Saving Department of the Grimaldi Group together with KNUD E. HANSEN in close cooperation with the shipyard. The RoRo’s are known as the “Grimaldi Green 5th Generation” (GG5G).

KNUD E. HANSEN Managing Director Finn Wollesen said, “It’s been a pleasure to cooperate with Grimaldi on the design of these vessels. The collaboration has been very fruitful and enabled us to develop a new generation of vessels that represents real advancement in terms of sustainability and efficiency by using various new technologies.”

The vessels will use electricity in port, courtesy of large lithium batteries, thus guaranteeing zero emissions whilst at berth. These batteries will be recharged during navigation, through shaft generators adding the so-called peak shaving system, and with the aid of 600 m2 of solar panels.


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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.



Stena Performance approaching Durban, by Kieth Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Stena Performance entering Durban, by Kieth Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Stena Performance's attractive twin funnels, approaching Durban, by Kieth Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
  Stena Performance.        Picture: Keith Betts

The distinctive livery of the Stena Line picks this ship out as she approaches and enters the port at Durban earlier in May, with STENA PERFORMANCE (IMO 9299159) even more distinctive by way of her twin funnels. A regular visitor to the port, the 65,065-dwt, 183-metre long x 40 metre wide oil and chemical products tanker was built in 2006 at the Split Shipyard in Split, Croatia. The ship is owned by Swedish interests and managed by Concordia Maritime AB of Gothenburg, Sweden. She sails within the Stena Bulk fleet under the flag of Bermuda. These pictures are by Keith Betts



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