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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MSC Capri departing from Durban. Picture: Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Capri.       Picture: Trevor Jones

We have featured this ship quite recently, 21 August to be exact, but as MSC CAPRI (IMO 9154220) is now deployed on the southern African coast and we will be seeing her fairly often, in Durban at least, we’ll make no apology for showing the ship again, but this time by a different photographer. The 34,051-dwt ship which is 208 metres in length and 29m wide, is owned and managed by MSC and was built in 1998 at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering shipyard in Geoje, South Korea. Her container capacity is 2446-TEU and as shown in both the August and the October photographs, she appears to be carrying close to this number on a regular basis. As a former Lykes Line ship (Lykes Hunter) MSC Capri is no stranger to the coast. This picture is by Trevor Jones


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Sishen-Saldanha ore trains, latest trains of 375 wagons!, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Transnet Freight Rail, which is not one of the world leaders in heavy-haul rail transport for nothing, last week ran a train measuring an impressive 375 wagons in length on the Saldanha corridor from the mining area of the Northern Cape to the port at Saldanha.

That’s a train measuring four kilometres!

Making this all the more remarkable, the record-breaking train ran the entire distance of the line, 861 kilometres, and following its success will now become a production train that goes into regular service.

The testing took place on 5 September 2018 between Sishen and Saldanha with the train carrying a full load of manganese ore for export. The existing trains in the corridor consist of 342 wagons, measures 3,780 metres and carry weights of 42,000 tonnes. They carry cargo to the port that generally consists of iron ore or manganese.

“This is in line with TFR’s business objective of applying the Heavy Haul operating, maintenance, design, construction and best practice principles on General Freight operations, and Transnet Strategy of migrating traffic from Road to Rail,” said, TFR Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mr Lloyd Tobias.

The reason for further ramping up the size and length of the manganese trains is to maximise manganese volumes railed between the mines near Hotazel via Sishen to Saldanha by optimising the use of existing assets, locomotives and wagons, all within the installed infrastructure constraints.

According to TFR’s General Manager for the Iron Ore and Manganese Business Unit, Mr Russell Baatjies, there was an option of increasing manganese rail capacity to respond to customer demand by upgrading the existing railway feeder lines and build new rolling stock.

“That option would have cost us significant capital. The project team was challenged to explore the use of technology through Industry 4.0 solutions, to achieve the same objective at minimum cost. Applying distributed power technology to increase the train length to 375 wagons will reduce capital requirements by over 90% of the initial estimate.”

Transnet said yesterday that following the successful execution of the test train, it will embark on a journey to operationalise the 4-kilometre long train, which is meant to meet the needs of manganese customers within the Hotazel area and the emerging miners.

This phase will include further customer engagements and an official launch of the train.

“This is another breakthrough for the Heavy Haul Railway Industry. Rio Tinto, Australia, recently started with the implementation of Driverless trains in their Iron Ore railway system,” said TFR General Manager, Mr Brian Monakali who is also the Chairman of International Heavy Haul Association.

“Transnet has now successfully tested a 375 Wagon Train, soon to be operationalised. The collaboration on technical research and sharing of best practice by Heavy Haul operations worldwide will surely keep pushing the operations, safety and rail capacity envelop to new levels through application of breakthrough technology.”

Transnet says that these longer trains represent an opportunity to increase volumes railed and drive the strategic imperative of moving bulk traffic back to rail.

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RETUSA banner appears in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The trade union known as RETUSA (Revolutionary Transport Union of South Africa), which is engaged with removing the use of labour brokers from employment within Transnet, says it will be staging a protest march on the headquarters of Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) in Durban tomorrow (Saturday 13 October 2018).

The objective of the march on TPT’s head office near the famous old Kingsmead Cricket Ground is to draw attention to the continued use of labour brokers when it comes to employing stevedores.

RETUSA says that TPT is in defiance of a Constitutional Court decision that instructs Transnet and other similar employers to avoid using labour brokers and to make the employment of stevedores required to work ship’s cargo a permanent position.

At the conclusion of the march RETUSA will hand over a memorandum of demands to TPT.

The march commences at the Gugu Dlamini Park on the rooftop of the Workshop parking area in central Durban to the TPT head office at Kingsmead, Durban, at 09h00, a short distance away.

Earlier this year the union held similar marches and picketed certain gates leading to Durban harbour, causing some disruption to cargo working and other port activities. As far as is known no gates will be picketed tomorrow.

*See report CLICK HERE with a further link.


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PE Manganese Terminal's new spreaders, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

In a R24 million investment, Transnet Port Terminal’s (TPT) Port Elizabeth Terminal has received the first two of four RAM rotating spreaders that will create approximately 1.8 million tons per year of additional capacity for manganese exports.

According to Velile Dube, GM for TPT’s Cape Channel, the substantial R24million investment in acquiring this impressive equipment will play a vital role in opening up another export leg in South Africa and ensuring more of this high value commodity can be exported out of the terminal.

“The decision to procure this world-class equipment was due to market demand to provide a cargo handling solution. It’s also well-known and implemented technology in other top terminals around the world. We have every intention of becoming one of the top five global terminals in five years and this is the kind of equipment and forward-thinking strategy that we need to adopt in order to achieve that,” Dube said.

The final two rotating spreaders that have been specifically modified for manganese handling will arrive from China at the end of October 2018.

The PE terminal is the first port in South Africa to have introduced rotating spreaders in their manganese operations. Lesiba Ramatladi, Senior Engineering Manager TPT: Cape Channel, explained that these particular rotating spreaders will be connected to existing ship-to-shore (STS) cranes and will be commissioned to interface with the crane’s software to ensure the efficient loading of manganese into vessels.

“Our research confirmed that this was a more cost-effective and simpler way of loading manganese while increasing capacity. What is even more exciting is that these rotating spreaders can be used for the handling of any type of bulk material handling,” Ramatladi said.

The PE Terminal is the largest exporter of manganese in the country, aiming to be the largest globally within the next six years. The specialised manganese facility at the PE Terminal was upgraded to enhance capacity and improve environmental performance. Apart from the terminal’s bulk handling operations it also houses a container terminal and NOSCAR rated Ro-Ro facility.

Note: The use of rotating spreaders is not unique in South Africa and examples have been in use at the privately-operated Bulk Connections terminal at the Bluff in Durban. These were introduced more than ten years ago using two converted STS cranes obtained as scrap from TPT and overhauled and put back in service. The use of rotating spreaders enabled Bulk Connections to improve on performance when loading sized coal, magnetite and manganese at the Bluff.


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Angolan railway map, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Angolan railway map

Faced with the difficult financial situation facing the country, the Angolan government is preparing the process of partial privatisation of the country’s three main railway lines, according to an article published recently by the China-Lusophone Brief (CLBrief) and repeated by Macauhub.

The three affected lines are the Luanda Railway, which links the capital to Malanje, the Benguela Railway, which runs from the port of Lobito to Luau on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Moçâmedes Railway, which…


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Arriving in Durban under her own smokescreen is Indian Navy ship INS Mumbai on an earlier visit to SA. Clouds of white smoke were the order of the day for this and other ships. Picture by Terry Hutson, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Arriving in Durban under her own smokescreen is Indian Navy ship INS Mumbai on an earlier visit to SA. Clouds of white smoke were the order of the day for this and other ships. Picture by Terry Hutson

One of the distinguishing marks of ships from the Indian Navy, as well as those of visiting Russian Navy vessels as has been similarly noted, is the large amount of smoke emitted by some of these ships when manoeuvring in or near port.

This has been remarked on at previous visits from ships of the Indian Navy but as Exercise Ibsamar VI 2018 approaches its conclusion from the South African naval base at Simon’s Town in False Bay it has apparently become necessary for the SA Navy to issue a rare explanation…


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Port of Beira, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Port of Beira

Yesterday 10 October was a municipal election day in Beira, Mozambique’s second largest city and port. As a result of this the port operator, Cornelder de Moçambique, issued a statement advising that the port would temporarily stop port operations.

Gates closed to trucks and cargo at 11h00 followed by all operations ceasing at 13h00. Operations resumed and the gates were reopened to trucks and cargo from 19h00.



Kenya’s ports and Mombasa in particular have experienced strong cargo volumes in September and in the seven days ending 19 September the container terminal handled 30,495 TEU. During the same period ships arriving…


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K-Line vehicle carrier, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
K-Line vehicle carrier

South Africa’s Competition Tribunal has confirmed the settlement figure reached between the Competition Commission and Japanese RoRo shipping line Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd (K Line).

In terms of the agreement, K Line has undertaken to pay an administrative penalty of R98,928,170.05 (Ninety-Eight Million, Nine Hundred and Twenty-Eight Thousand, One Hundred and Seventy Rand and Five cents).

The Commission’s investigation, which was initiated on 11 September 2012, found that…


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Port of Dar es Salaam, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Port of Dar es Salaam

Figures show that the port of Mombasa is leaking cargo to and from Rwanda to its Tanzanian rival, the port of Dar es Salaam.

A report in The Standard Media quotes figures from the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) which show that 70 per cent of Rwandan imports passed through Tanzania via the Central Corridor, as opposed to the Northern Corridor through Kenya.

The relevant distances favour…


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UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson at Devonport, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Defence Secretary announces Devonport will home all new Type 26 frigates

All the Royal Navy’s next-generation Type 26 frigates will be homed in Devonport, the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson (illustrated) announced at the Naval Base on 8 October.

The eight Type 26 warships will start being delivered to the Royal Navy from the mid-2020s, heralding yet another new era in the role of a base which has played a central role in the defence of the UK for more than 300 years.

The 6,900-tonne frigates will be world-class anti-submarine warships and provide advanced protection for…

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Type 26 frigate of the RN, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


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Angra Pequena off Sodwana, KZN, fetaured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Angra Pequena off Sodwana, KZN

WILDOCEANS’ Ocean Stewards recently completed the inaugural Canyon Connections expedition in partnership with the African Coelacanth Ecosystem Programme (ACEP).

The aim of the Canyon Connections project is to understand the ecology around canyon heads in the ocean. This year’s work was focused over three canyons in the Delagoa Region, Diepgat, Wright and Leven Canyon.

Initiated to provide infrastructure and associated funding support for ecosystem research centred on coelacanths, ACEP is a flagship programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the National Research Foundation (NRF). The initiative was triggered by the discovery of this rare species off Sodwana Bay in KZN, South Africa, but the scope has since extended way beyond coelacanths to doing extensive ocean research implemented through the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). ACEP’s key partners are the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA – Oceans and Coasts) and the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON).

ACEP has been in partnership with WILDOCEANS for the last five years and has also collaborated on the Spatial Solutions and Biodiversity Surrogacy projects which provided the first visual surveys of the mesophotic habitats in the ocean in the Natal Bioregion.

The Spatial Solutions project focused on the continental shelf and shelf edge between Richards Bay and Port Edward where five (5) Critical Biodiversity Areas (CBAs) were identified. Spatial solutions, such as marine protected areas (MPAs), provide important mechanisms to ensure sustainability of fisheries and to buffer global impacts. MPAs offer a cost-effective tool for mitigating risk from industrial practices such as oil and gas exploration and extraction and preventing habitat loss from seabed mining and bottom-trawling.

The WILDOCEANS Ocean Stewards programme is a strategic intervention, exposing students to offshore marine research, and an initiative creating a growing community of new generation ocean advocates.

The month-long Ocean Stewards Canyon Connections offshore research expedition onboard the 72 ft Research Vessel ANGRA PEQUENA, was to gather data that will be used to assist in the understanding of the biodiversity and ecology of the canyons and their shelf regions.

Collected eggs and larvae of fish, small organisms floating near the ocean surface as well as mapped measurements in the water column. Baited Remote Underwater Vehicle (BRUV) and Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) data were collected on the benthic (seafloor) communities and the first pelagic (open ocean) BRUVs were trialled.

The experience was an eye-opener for the diverse group of marine biology students who come from all walks of life. Despite having an academic interest in the marine field, for many of the students it was their first time out at sea.

Jamila Janna, a 2018 Ocean Steward and UKZN marine biology honours student, said that for her the experience went beyond reading a textbook or watching research videos. “It was special being out at sea with scientists and crew. BRUV work required a lot of physical power which I enjoyed especially when we had to retrieve the plankton net. We looked at corals in our coastline and the fish that live there, it was an important expedition because we don’t have that much data on what happens in the benthos of South Africa. Doing this research for a long period of time will allow us to see if there are any changes that are occurring at the benthos. This will also help inform decision making related to the protection of our oceans moving forward.”

The young scientists had the opportunity to experience marine science research first hand while working with experienced scientists from a variety of fields. They were exposed to a range of offshore sampling techniques and research equipment. Their efforts will assist in identifying offshore areas in need of protection in support of the proposed expanded Phakisa Marine Protected Area (MPA) Network in South Africa.

Dr Jean Harris, Executive Director of WILDOCEANS said – “We hope to build support amongst public and ocean stakeholders for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by creating awareness of their value for provision of ecosystem services, ocean risk mitigation, food security, ecotourism benefits and moderation of climate change.”

This year’s data collection focused on BRUV and ichthyoplankton work in areas where ROV had already been collected. In total, the Spatial Solutions project has identified 127 fish species and ROV surveys collected over 60 hours of seabed filming.

Dr Harris said that since its inception in 2015, the Ocean Stewards programme has grown to include sixty-nine third year, Honours and Masters students from five universities across the country. The programme provides a research platform for their projects, including research equipment and operational costs.

“We’re grateful to all our partners who’ve given us support on the programme. I’d like to thank Grindrod Bank and several other partners including ACEP, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the South African Institute of African Biodiversity (SAIAB), the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN), University of Zululand (UNIZUL), the Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the KZN Sharks board,” she added.

Dr Angus Paterson, Managing Director of SAIAB said the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity strongly believes in sustainable development of the Blue Economy. “Government cannot do this alone and thus joint initiatives with Industry and NGO’s are required. WILDOCEANS Ocean Stewards programme is an excellent example of a partnership between Government and a leading NGO.”

17 new Ocean Stewards joined the programme in April 2017. In 2018 an additional 16 students have been recruited. This year has seen an increase in the intake of students at Honours level, resulting in 10 new Ocean Stewards; six from the University of Zululand (UNIZUL) and four from UKZN. The remaining six Ocean Stewards joining this year are all final year undergraduate marine biology students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).


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image: MDPI
image: MDPI


In response to growing concerns over the impact of hull biofouling on the marine environment, BIMCO and a group of industry partners have set out to create an internationally recognised standard.

The group consists of eight different organisations, including paint manufacturers, ship owners and cleaning companies, with the aim to take a holistic approach to establishing an international standard that will work in practice. The standard is expected to be finalised in the autumn of 2019.

Today, underwater cleaning is only allowed in a few locations around the world, and there is a trend for coastal and port states to tighten their rules for underwater cleaning, as well as an increase in ports prohibiting it all together. This may increase emissions from shipping as fouling increases the fuel consumption or in worst case force the ship to change its route.

“Creating an international standard is important. We need more places available around the world for underwater cleaning. We believe that a standard that is safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable, will encourage States to make more places for underwater hull cleaning available,” says Aron Frank Sørensen who heads the working group and heads BIMCO’s Marine Technology and Regulation.

A planned, safe and effective standard

The standard will ensure that the result of the cleaning is in accordance with a set of specifications, that the environmental impact of the process and coating damage is controlled and that the cleaning process is planned, safe and effective.

Part of the standard will therefore relate to how to ensure that the paint is not damaged during cleaning, and that debris and wash-water is collected in a practicable and sustainable manner.

The standard will also cover how shipowners can use it in their ongoing maintenance plans and will establish an approval system for underwater cleaning companies in a currently unregulated and fragmented market.

“What is needed today is a standard that ensures that companies providing underwater cleaning services operate to a high standard that can apply wherever in the world they operate,” Aron Frank Sørensen says. He continues:

“Everyone will benefit from it. The cleaning companies will benefit because they will have certain standards to live up to, the ports because they can rest assured that the environment is not polluted by cleaning residues, the paint manufacturers because reporting will be standardised, improving the quality of execution, and the shipowners because they will have more places available for underwater cleaning, once the entire process is regulated and safe.”

The standard undergoes thorough practical trials prior to launch, with the aim to send it to appropriate international organisations for endorsement.

Further details are available from Rasmus Nord Jørgensen, Communications Director, Tel – Mobile: +45 2168 0421, email:


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in partnership with – APO

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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.



The Merciful in Durban, by Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The Merciful in Durban, by Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Merciful.      Pictures: Keith Betts

A fairly standard looking bulk carrier but with an attention-getting name, THE MERCIFUL (IMO 9140578) sails from Durban for the Far East. The 73,939-dwt ship, 225 metres in length and 32m wide, is owned by Indian interests and managed by Mumbai-based Sea Lion Ship Management. The ship was built in 1997 at the Tsuneishi Shipbuilding yard in Fukuyama, Japan and is flagged in Panama. Prior names for The Merciful were more typical of ocean-going ships – Southern Cross until 2004 and Coral Sea until 2011 after which she acquired her current name. No-one can ever accuse India of lacking in interesting but not so common names for their ships and vessels. The operator of The Merciful has a fleet with equally unique names: THE HOLY; THE STRONG; THE LIVING; THE WISE; THE ETERNAL; THE LOVING; THE GUARDIAN; THE PATRON; THE FINDER. Although these vessels may be rare visitors to Durban (The Merciful called for bunkers), West African ports have seen a number of the vessels mentioned above. These pictures are by Keith Betts – acknowledgement to Malcom Cranfield for the names of the other ships.


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