Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News 6 January 2019

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

Intermodal Djibouti March 2019, featured on Africa PORTS & SHIPS

  We wish everyone a very Happy and prosperous New Year

Come with us as we report through 2019  



These news reports are updated and added to on an ongoing basis. Check back regularly for the latest news as it develops – where necessary refresh your page at

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  • First View : SAS PROTEA
  • First View : TRAMMO BAUMANN
  • MOL car carrier Sincerity Ace has ‘significant’ fire in mid-Pacific
  • Chinese heavylift Hai Yang Shi You 278 with oil rig on deck in Durban for repairs
  • Drug haul No.5 for CMF in boarding operations in Arabian Sea
  • 73-year old American medivacced off cruise ship Seven Seas Explorer near Mossel Bay
  • CMA CGM announces improvements to Asea-Kenya-Mogadishu Service
  • South Africa launches its most advanced nano-satellite, precursor to advanced maritime communications
  • CMA CGM announces improvement for NOURA Service
  • European shippers and BREXIT: last chance to prevent chaos
  • Another book on ships: Cargo Liners, an Illustrated History
  • Hamburg Pilots’ Choir: New Year Concert 2019
  • Transaid CEO Caroline Barber looks back over 2018
  • Two cyclones, Cilida and Kenanga, threaten in western Indian Ocean  
  • Tracking cyclones to improve risk assessment
  • Inflatable Boat Challenge races to Port of Mossel Bay harbour
  • Milestones as chaplains visit hundreds of ships
  • Port of Mossel Bay hosts fishing competition
  • South African support for Africa-EU partnership
  • U-Freight brings power to the people of Chad
  • Mission to Seafarers’ Christmas message: Call to action on seafarers’ mental health
  • Wentworth Resources to pull out of Mozambique, concentrate on Tanzania
  • Mozambique fishing remains in the hands of artisanal fishermen
  • Navy frigate SAS Spioenkop collides with SAS Drakensberg
  • Well-known personality in the Port of Durban, Willem Kruk, has passed away
  • South African port statistics for November are available here
  • South Africa deposits instrument ratifying TFTA
  • Another oil vessel splits in two at Tema port anchorage
  • Mozambique Navy & Fisheries personnel receive maritime counter piracy training from French
  • Hydrographers can now add letters after their name
  • Another three terrorist attacks made in Mozambique’s Palma district
  • CMA CGM wins top environmental award
  • The Dragon strikes again, seizes second haul of drugs from dhow in Indian Ocean
  • Special Feature: Remember Winter in the North Atlantic 40 years ago
  • Dredger Isandlwana sails from Durban to dredge at Port of Mossel Bay
  • HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth
  • Mozambique fisheries minister denies any knowledge of Chinese fishing boats
  • The masthead today is Port of Tema, Ghana 
  • ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦




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    Silver Discoverer. Picture: Trevor Jones, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Silver Discoverer.      Picture: Trevor Jones

    The small specialist expedition cruise ship SILVER DISCOVERER (IMO 8800195) called at Durban this week to exchange passengers before returning to Richards Bay, her previous port of call. Capable of carrying a maximum of 116 guests the 5,218-gt ship possesses the intimacy of a cruising yacht combined with the spaciousness and ‘feel’ of a cruise ship without the crowds. By the middle of next week Silver Discoverer will be in Maputo at the start of an exciting cruise among the Mozambique Channel, with visits to coastal towns in Madagascar and Mozambique, including Mozambique Island followed by Zanzibar and then several of the less visited Seychelles Islands. The cruise segment ends in Mahe before departing towards India and destinations further east. Built in 1989 Silver Discoverer has been owned, managed and operated by Silverseas since March 2014. This picture of the ship berthed at the Durban N Shed Cruise Terminal is by Trevor Jones


      2. SAS PROTEA

    SAS Protea off Durban. Picture TNPA, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

    SAS Protea by Trevor Jones appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Pictures: SAS Protea TNPA (top), Trevor Jones (lower)

    Hydrography has been much in the news lately surrounding the cutting of steel last week for the new hydrographic survey ship for the SA Navy. This is a 40-month contract and in the meantime the old warhorse of the navy, the ever reliable existing hydrographic survey ship SAS PROTEA soldiers on…. or should that read navies on?  Protea was built on the Clyde and entered service with the navy in 1972, being the last ship built for the SA Navy in the UK. Displacing 2750 tons fully loaded she replaced a  converted Loch-class frigate SAS NATAL as South Africa’s hydrographic survey ship. Now after all these years SAS Protea is due to be replaced by a newbuild ship whose first steel was ceremonially cut last week. In the meantime Protea will no doubt continue faithfully with her work, mapping and charting the long coast as well as providing valuable support with other navy activities.  The pictures here are by TNPA (top) and Trevor Jones (lower)



    Trammo Baumann. Picture: Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Trammo Baumann. Picture: Keith Betts

    The Greek bulker TRAMMO BAUMANN (IMO 8762883) is seen here entering Durban Harbour earlier in December. The 38,635-dwt bulk carrier, built in 2015 at the China Shipping Industry shipyard in Jiangsu, has an overall length of 180 metres and width of 32m. Her maximum draught is 10.5 metres. The ship is named for Peter Baumann, a former president and CEO of Trammo, Inc, a leading international merchandising and trading company that markets, trades, distributes and transports key raw materials used in industrial processes and fertilizer production globally. The bulk carrier is owned by Green Dolphin Navigation of Athens, Greece, and is managed by Goldenport Shipmanagement also of Athens. This picture is by Keith Betts



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    MOL's car carrier Sincerity Ace in Durban in April 2012. Picture: Terry Hutson, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
    MOL’s car carrier Sincerity Ace in Durban in April 2012. Picture: Terry Hutson



    The fire-racked SINCERITY ACE has been abandoned by the crew after unsuccessful efforts to contain the blaze, which was termed as ‘significant’ when first reported. The crew began abandoning ship and sadly, three crew members showed no sign of life when their bodies were recovered from the sea, while another two are confirmed as having died.

    The 16 survivors from the original crew of 21 have been taken aboard several merchant ships that rushed to the scene to assist after the call for help first went out. Sincerity Ace is now drifting at sea in 5 to 5.5-metre swells and is still burning.

    The fire on board was first reported on Monday night local time. See earlier report immediately below:

    The 59,408-gt MOL car carrier SINCERITY ACE (IMO 9519092) is reported to have a ‘significant’ fire on board ship in mid Pacific Ocean, approximately 1,800 nautical miles off the coast of Oahu in the Hawaiian group.

    The fire broke out on Monday evening, it is being reported, with four of the crew having abandoned ship in life jackets due to the extent and strength of the fire, while 17 of the 21 crew are reported to have remained on board the fight the fire.

  • As the US Coast Guard responds to the scene including one of its HC-130 Hercules aircraft, several merchant ships have responded and are hastening to the scene. One of these is a LNG tanker named SM Eagle while another is the US-flagged car carrier Green Lake. Several other ships in the vicinity are also sailing to assist.The USCG has subsequently launched a second HC-130 Hercules aircraft flying from Air Station Barbers Point. Both aircraft carry marker buoys and life rafts and survival gear that can be dropped to survivors in the sea.The 199-metre long Sincerity Ace, which has called at South African ports previously, was built in 2009 and has a car carrying capacity of 6,500 motor cars. The ship was sailing from Yokohama in Japan to the US West Coast when the fire started. Further details are not yet available.


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    Earlier this year the heavylift carrier, Hai Yang Shi You 278 (IMO 9635793) called at Durban with a very similar load, a drill rig of the same company, and is seen here departing Durban on 16 May this year. Picture: Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
    Earlier this year the heavylift carrier, Hai Yang Shi You 278 (IMO 9635793) called at Durban with a very similar load, a drill rig of the same company, and is seen here departing Durban on 16 May this year. Picture: Trevor Jones
  • Late last week the heavylift ship HAI YANG SHI YOU No. 278 returned to Durban for what is reported to be maintenance repairs.

    The ship is carrying a cargo of a drill oil rig very similar to that which she was carrying when she called in Durban in May this year and which may in fact be the same load. The heavylift has berthed on the New Pier, berth 104 where it is understood that maintenance type repairs are to be carried out lasting three or four or more days.

    Hai Yang Shi You 278, picture above on her previous call, is owned by Chinese interests and managed/operated by the Dutch group Dockwise Shipping BV.

    Incidentally, there are at least 111 ships carrying the name Hai Yang Shi You – not all heavylifts to be sure although there are several of those. Ship number 278, 52,789-dwt, was built in 2012. The ship is 221.6 metres in length and 42m wide. She has arrived in Durban with her last call at Las Palmas.


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    Dhow searched for drugs, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
    Dhow searched for drugs

    Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) reports a fifth illegal drug seizure at sea in the Arabian Sea involving dhows heading for either Africa or possible Yemen.

    In the latest search and seizure Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat seized more than 900 kg of heroin during two boarding operations that took place on 21 and 23 December, 2018 while operating under the direction of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 in international waters of the Northern Arabian Sea.

    This marks the fifth illegal drug seizure this month for ships operating under CTF 150 command, currently led by the Canadian Armed Forces, with support from the Royal Australian Navy.

    “The past three weeks have been incredibly successful for our combined Canadian/Australian CTF 150 Task Group and the ships operating under our command who are doing an excellent job at deterring and denying terrorist activities on the high seas, our efforts demonstrate the value of international partnerships at sea and Combined Maritime Forces coalition efforts,” said Commodore Darren Garnier, Royal Canadian Navy, Commander CTF 150.

    HMAS Ballarat’s seizures started with flag verification checks on two separate vessels. During subsequent searches, the boarding team discovered and seized illegal narcotics, on both dhows. Approximately 165 kg of heroin was found on the first dhow and 766 kg of heroin on the second. The drugs were transferred to HMAS Ballarat for disposal.

    “Thanks to HMAS Ballarat’s hard work, significant quantities of narcotics will not reach their final destination, depriving terrorist organisations of revenue and profits they use to fund their illegal activities,” added Commodore Garnier. “Bravo Zulu to HMAS Ballarat and thank you for your continued efforts in support of CTF 150.”

    These are the first seizures HMAS Ballarat has made since starting operations in November 2018 in support of Operation MANITOU – the Australian Government’s contribution to support international efforts to promote maritime security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East Region.

    Combined Maritime Forces is composed of thirty three nations and has three principle task forces: Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, which conducts counter-terrorism and maritime security operations; CTF 151, which conducts counter piracy operations; and CTF 152, which conducts maritime security operations in the Middle East.


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    Seven Seas Explorer. Picture by James Pottinger, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
    Seven Seas Explorer at Lerwick.     Picture by James Pottinger

    A 73-yearold American man has been medically evacuated off the 54,000-gt Regent Seven Seas cruise ship SEVEN SEAS EXPLORER as the luxury ship cruised along the South African coast on Friday (28 December 2018).

    The drama began on yesterday evening (Friday) at 20h00 when the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Mossel Bay Station, was alerted by the Western Cape Government Health EMS Metro Control that a 73-year old American man was suffering a suspected stroke (CVA – Cerebro Vascular Accident) aboard the cruise ship Seven Seas Explorer.

    The cruise ship’s nearest port of call at that stage was Mossel Bay where however the ship would be too large to enter port.

    Seven Seas Explorer was then sailing between Cape Town with her next intended port of call being Port Elizabeth.

    Having been alerted, the Mossel Bay NSRI station crew began preparations to launch its sea rescue craft while local ambulance services dispatched paramedics to join in the operation.

    Earlier MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) had been alerted and an EMS duty doctor established communications with the ship assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services. Seven Seas Explorer was at that stage approximately two hours from Mossel Bay.

    The NSRI Mossel Bay Station 15 launched two sea rescue craft, Rescue 15 and St Blaze Rescuer, accompanied by paramedics from By Grace ambulance services. WC Government Health EMS meanwhile remained on alert.

    On arrival alongside the cruise ship 5.5 nautical miles East of Mossel Bay, in 30 to 40 knot North Easterly winds and a 3 to 4 metre sea swell, a paramedic and two NSRI rescue swimmers were transferred onto the ship.

    The patient, who was in a serious but stable condition, was secured onto a stretcher and transferred onto the sea rescue craft alongside the ship and taken ashore in the care of the paramedics. Once ashore he was transported to hospital accompanied by his wife.


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    CMA CGM's Asea-Kenya-Mogadishu service improvement, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

    French container line CMA CGM has announced and improvement to its Asia (Asea), Kenya and Mogadishu Service, which it says is in order to maintain a high service reliability and punctuality.

    “In a continuous effort to further increase our level of service and reliability to Somalia, starting with M/V COSCO OSAKA, Voyage 0412DW1MA ETA Mombasa…



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    The vast Vostochny Spaceport near the Russian border with China, opicture by Dmitry Rogozin/Siberian Times
    The vast Vostochny Spaceport near the Russian border with China

    South Africa has successfully launched into space the continent’s most advanced nanosatellite to date – the ZACube-2.

    The ZACube-2 will provide cutting edge remote sensing and communication services to South Africa and the region.

    This satellite will help us monitor our ocean traffic as part of our oceans economy and also monitor veld fires and provide near real-time fire information ensuring a quick response time by disaster management teams, Minister of Science and Technology Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said…


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    NOURASAervice update as from 3 January 2019, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

    French shipping company CMA CGM has announced an improvement to its NOURA Service covering East Africa and the Indian Ocean markets, which it says is to maintain a high service reliability and punctuality.

    The NOURA Service connects the Middle East to East Africa.

    The updated service takes effect from the sailing of the vessel CMA CGM MANET on Voyage 01 L17S1MA, expected to sail from Jebel Ali on 3 January 2019.

    NOURA is a direct service with a comprehensive coverage of East Africa and Indian Ocean markets and is to benefit by way of a 6th sister ship of 2,200 TEU to address the recurrent port congestion currently being experienced.

    Mombasa is now added in the port coverage to permit a significant service improvement for the Asia cargo bound to Somalia and transiting via the Kenya hub.

    NOURA’s new rotation is as follows:

    Jebel Ali – Mombasa – Mogadishu – Longoni – Nacala (fortnightly) – Beira (fortnightly) – Port Victoria – Jebel Ali



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    BREXIT - UK and EU at the crossroads, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

    In the middle of the festive break, ’twixt Christmas and New Year the European Shippers’ Council called for a transitional period allowing governments as well as companies to finalise their preparation for the UK’s departure from the EU at least until December 2020.

    The Council forecast that if the present Brexit withdrawal agreement does not pass the vote in the House of Commons (the UK’s lower house) in mid-January, a cliff-edge scenario will be the most likely one. In this case, producers and traders give no guarantee that the goods will reach their clients in time and in a good condition.

    Once again shippers were reminded that the moment when the UK will leave the EU is less than 100 days ahead (29 March 2019). There is no clear picture on how all parties involved will have to deal with the situation after the 29 March 2019. The start of the transition period depends on the vote in the House of Commons in mid-January. If the present withdrawal agreement does not pass the vote, deeply dark circumstances are most likely. Preparation after this date will be nerve-breaking, ESC has warned. Members of the European Shippers’ Council in their General Assembly in week commencing 16 December stated that this is an unacceptable situation.

    As producers and traders, ESC Members foresee a major impact on the supply chain between the EU’s 27 Members and the United Kingdom. Shippers cannot guarantee the delivery of goods to clients in time and in a good condition in case of a cliff-edge scenario. Such a position will impact the welfare of the inhabitants of the UK and EU 27 heavily. For instance, medicines and foodstuff are exchanged between these two European regions in large quantities.

    Although many companies have already invested a lot in preventing chaos, the preparation made so far can never completely prevent big disturbances in trade. The capacity of warehouses in the UK has already been used completely and it is nearly impossible to rent addition space in warehouses for emergency stocks, it has been reported. At the same time providers of logistics services and automation are also completely booked for the period around Brexit. Next to this, the European Member States as well as the UK should also be fully prepared, which is a huge challenge.

    The only solution that shippers see is an orderly move into a transitional period allowing governments as well as companies to finalise their preparation at least until December 2020. Hopefully, the EU 27 and the UK will, in the meanwhile, be able to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement allowing trade in goods and services as free as possible.

    Edited by Paul Ridgway



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    Book cover, Cargo Liners, an Illustrated History, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

    Cargo Liners

    An Illustrated History
    By Ambrose Greenway
    Available only as an e-book version at £7.00

    Published by Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, S70 2AS England
    (ISBN 978 1 84832 129 8)
    Orders may be placed online at:

    For further information readers are invited to contact:

    It is always a pleasure to report on books devoted to maritime topics for they frequently contain a rich seam hewn by historians, photographers and, above all, seafarers with much experience of moving cargoes around the world. One such title concerns the cargo liner and the author is an established expert who for many years has been talking and writing about ships and shipping. He has also photographed them.

    For the century between 1850 and 1950, the cargo liner grew to dominate the world’s trade routes, providing regular services upon which merchants, shippers and importers could rely. They carried much of the world’s higher value manufactured goods and raw materials and their services spread to most corners of the globe.

    Cargo Liners: An Illustrated History begins with the establishment of routes around Europe and across the North Atlantic in the 1850s. Not until the Liverpool shipowner and engineer, Alfred Holt, developed high-pressure compound engines were coal-powered vessels able to steam further afield, to the Far East and Australia. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 cemented the dominance of the cargo liner over sail and it was not until the appearance of the first container ship in the 1960s that such dominance was threatened.

    After an introduction there are ten chapters covering the origin of the vessel type with innovations in design while ships’ machinery is considered, along with technological advances down the years. There were hard times too, felt by owners during the Great Depression after the First World War and the Wall Street crash and of course much effort and expense was devoted to reconstruction to make up for the huge losses in hostilities twice in half a century. The mercantile marines of the world certainly played their part in those conflicts.

    Finally, the spread of containerisation is described from the late 1960s onwards giving the results we see afloat today and for which, of course, the cargo liner of old would have little or no place in competition. There is a useful bibliography for further research and a huge index of more than 2000 ship names mentioned in the text.

    Cargo Liners: An Illustrated History sets out the development of the cargo liner, a topic not before tackled in such detail, it seems. Greenway provides concise notes on this class of ship, considering types of cargo carried (almost any item including the kitchen sink), passengers (frequently never more than 12 otherwise a doctor would be needed) and ship’s equipment (derricks, deck cranes, heavy-lift capability, hatches, refrigeration). Propulsion saw advances, too, from steam to diesel, diesel-electric and steam turbine.

    Then there were the lines with big names some no longer with us, such as the Danish East Asiatic Company, Alfred Holt’s Blue Funnel Line, the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company to South America, New Zealand Shipping Company, Norddeutscher Lloyd, Messageries Maritimes, Deutsch Ost-Afrika Linie, Compagnie Générale Transatlantique and more.

    Many of the states in Europe were home to shipping lines carrying export cargoes across the seas to support overseas possessions and to bring back the products from the colonies. In my own cargo experience before the TEU I have seen motor cars from Coventry in completely knocked down (CKD) form being discharged to one side of a godown in Singapore with bales of Hevea brasiliensis (rubber in bales) in the next shed awaiting passage to Europe.

    Here are to be found exceptionally well-drafted introductory texts and substantial picture captions in support of an abundance of photographs, a magnificent gathering of more than 300 images which form the author’s own collection.

    Ambrose Greenway spent his formative years in the Cornish port of Fowey which firmly established his lifelong love of the sea and ships. After five years as a marine insurance broker in Lloyd’s, he travelled to Australia on a Norwegian cargo liner and on his return embarked on a career as a marine photographer.

    He also worked in the ports industry for more than 20 years and held office with the World Ship Society, the World Ship Trust, Cruise Europe, The Marine Society and the Sail Training Association. He is an Elder Brother of Trinity House and has written a number of books on cross-channel and North Sea passenger ships and remains a well-respected marine photographer.

    Greenway is a member of the House of Lords, the Upper House of the British Parliament. I have known him for many years and have been impressed by his painstaking efforts to be well-briefed prior to a debate and this shows in his oratory.

    Available only as an e-book version at £7.00

    Reviewed by Paul Ridgway



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    HH Pilots' Choir New Year 2019, deatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

    According to Captain Dieter Wulf, the Hamburg Pilots’ Choir will perform their New Year concert in St Gertrude’s Church, (St Gertrudkirche in Altenwerder), Altenwerder, Querweq, Hamburg on Sunday 6 January 2019 at 17h00.

    It is understood that tickets cost €12,00 at the door

    Further details may be found at:

    Once again readers who may wish to see the pilots at work in the Cuxhaven cutter Elbe 5 and hear their singing are invited to click here:

    Reported by Paul Ridgway



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    See the Transaid introductory video above:

    Transaid’s mission: Every driver should be able to leave for a day’s work without the fear they may not come home because of a lack of training, or dangerous vehicles and roads. Every family should be able to access vital healthcare; nobody should be left behind.

    We were privileged to receive before the Festive break a review of the past year, says Caroline Barber, Chief Executive of Transaid.

    She writes: “As the year draws to a close, I wanted to reflect on 2018, and thank you for everything you do for Transaid.

    “October this year marked Transaid’s 20th anniversary – a landmark that we are very proud of achieving. We had the pleasure of welcoming our Patron and founder HRH The Princess Royal to an event in November, and were able to celebrate with many of our corporate partners, supporters, staff past and present, programme partners, Ambassadors and Trustees. It was an opportunity to celebrate what has been achieved over the last twenty years, but also to consider Transaid’s future, and what comes next.

    “We also shared our brand new film, which you can see above. I hope you enjoy hearing how your support transforms lives, from those who are involved in or benefit from our programmes.

    “This year, Transaid has also faced unprecedented challenges. The loss of Cycle Zambia fundraiser Jayne Gray in September this year was devastating and has saddened and shaken each one of us. Jayne was a wonderful, spirited person who cared deeply about Transaid’s work. She was a friend to many of the Transaid team and we are thankful to have known her and for the precious time spent together. Jayne will forever be in our hearts.

    “The way my colleagues, Jayne’s fellow cyclists, Transaid’s partners and the industry came together was extraordinary. The support of Jayne’s family and knowing that they encourage us is a tremendous motivation. Transaid has emerged from this tragedy stronger and more committed than ever to improving driver training standards.

    “Over the last year, you will have read about a pilot project Transaid and its partners launched in Zambia, called MAMaZ Against Malaria. This project is a collaboration between Transaid, DAI Global Health, Development Data, Disacare, National Malaria Elimination Centre and Medicines for Malaria Venture (MMV). This project has provided access to severe malaria drugs and case management in rural Zambia. The pilot ran for a year and we analysed the data in July. The results were far beyond our expectations – together we recorded a 96% reduction in child mortality from severe malaria. I am absolutely delighted to share with you that two donors have committed to helping us take this programme to scale. In the pilot we trained 500 community health volunteers and emergency transport riders and worked with a population of 54,000. Our ambitions are now greater, we will train over 2,000 volunteers and reach a population of a quarter of a million people.

    “There have been exciting new developments on our road safety programmes too. Last year we were awarded a grant from the Research for Community Access Partnership funded by UKAID to conduct research into the role of two and three-wheelers in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

    “The use of motorcycles has increased greatly in Africa in recent years. Motorcycles are often used as taxis, with riders charging a fare to carry passengers or goods. In rural areas, motorcycle taxis play a crucial role in connecting people to essential services, however regulation is often a challenge and there are legitimate safely concerns.

    “This project challenged us in new ways as this year we undertook the largest survey Transaid has ever conducted. Over 1,140 people in 32 settlements across 16 districts in four countries took part in this study looking at advantages and disadvantages of using motorcycle and three-wheeler taxis in rural areas. We engaged with key stakeholders, from government, private sector and civil society in all four countries, initiating an important debate and review of the current status quo concerning the safe use of this mode of transport. Our team is now finalising this research and has started sharing the findings which can help inform policy makers. We have also developed a number of practical outputs – two training manuals: an operating manual for motorcycle taxi associations and an instructor’s manual.

    “This year also saw Transaid mobilise a team of all Zambian trainers. Led by our own Victor Simfukwe they travelled to Sierra Leone to deliver motorcycle training for over 150 riders, and last month training of trainers was also delivered to ensure lasting capacity in the country. These trainers’ capacity have been built up over the years by our corporate partners and the professional volunteers they have so kindly seconded to us.

    “We are also excited about expanding our driver training work into Ghana in 2019.

    “The last 20 years have been an incredible journey for Transaid. We have made real progress and transformed people’s lives in Africa.

    “Today Transaid is stronger than ever, we have more programmes running, more technical depth, a clear vision to guide us and the most wonderful partners by our side.

    “I would like to thank you for you incredible and continued support which makes everything that we do possible.

    “We have much more work to do, – but together we really can make the world a better and safer place.

    “I hope you have a lovely, peaceful festive break, and I look forward to working with you further in 2019.”

    To learn more

    To inspect a concise report of Transaid’s activities and achievements, followed by a full set of audited accounts readers are invited to visit the website CLICK HERE

    *Of Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire in the English East Midlands.

    About Transaid

    Transaid transforms lives through safe, available, and sustainable transport. Founded by Save the Children, The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), and its Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, the international development organisation Transaid shares years of expertise in 23 countries with partners and governments – empowering people to build the skills they need to transform their own lives.

    Edited by Paul Ridgway

    Transaid 2018 message, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

    Samworth Brothers Supply Chain donated a training vehicle to the Professional Driver Training – Uganda project. Pictured, left to right: two trainees, Bill and George, who are currently completing their training course at the PDT-U school, pictured with the MAN truck donated by Samworth Brothers Supply Chain.
    This is the first pledge of support from Samworth Brothers Supply Chain, and the MAN TGX truck has been shipped more than 6,000 miles to become a dedicated training vehicle for the Professional Driver Training – Uganda (PDT-U) project. The PDT-U training school has opened its doors to the first group of drivers, with more than 4,000 people expressing their interest in being trained during the recent media campaign. Already, the first 52 trainees have completed the project’s licence acquisition training course.


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    Cyclone Cilida 23 December 2018 at 19h00, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS, source: JTWC

    Two cyclones that developed in the western Indian Ocean have recently posed threats to shipping and to land masses (Mauritius and Reunion) . One of these (Kenanga) has since lost its intensity as a tropical storm. 

    (UPDATED Monday 24 December 03h00).

    Cyclone Cilida (07S) was situated early this morning near 24.8S 64.7E having bypassed Mauritius and was at 460 nautical miles southeast of Port Louis in Mauritius tracking further southeast at 13 knots. Reports by the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) indicate that Cilida’s  wind velocity had decreased to 80 knots gusting to 100 knots. Further indications are that the cyclone will accelerate south to south-eastward while continuing to weaken. Surface sea temperatures are  unfavourable to cyclones at between 25 and 26 degrees Celsius and the tropical storm is likely to further weaken in an area of open cooler sea.  Wave heights were being measured at 28 feet.

    The second cyclone named Kenanga (06s) has since ceased to be a threat.



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    Cyclone Gonu, June 2007 off the coast of Oman, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Cyclone Gonu, June 2007 off the coast of Oman

    Although cyclone seasons are well-known, being able to predict precisely where and how severely these storms are likely to affect a particular location is much harder to calculate.

    Cyclones are erratic weather phenomena, and the historical data available is often not sufficiently detailed to be able to base future predictions on. This is especially true in parts of the world where the record-keeping of tropical storms is relatively recent. But what if you could access information on thousands of years of cyclones?

    HR Wallingford scientists have developed a method to expand the dataset for specific sites, allowing for much more precise modelling of likely future cyclone events.

    A tropical cyclone is an intense circular storm that originates over warm tropical oceans and is fuelled by water with a temperature above 26.5°C. The characteristic and damaging features of tropical storms are low atmospheric pressure with high winds and heavy rain, resulting in large waves and destructive surges at coasts. Low pressure at the centre of the cyclone causes the sea level to bulge, and strong cyclone winds push the water ahead. Sites with a wide continental shelf experience a larger surge than those with a narrow shelf.

    Shallow water and constrictions such as estuaries and bays also enhance the wind-driven surge. But the effects can be very localised. Only specific cyclone tracks cause a significant surge, and calculating wind fields is crucial for accurate wave prediction.

    Cyclone Gonu, June 2007 on the coast of Oman, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Cyclone Gonu, June 2007 on the coast of Oman

    Dr Stephen Grey, Principal Marine Scientist in the Coasts and Oceans Group at HR Wallingford, said: “Our aim was to find a way to improve the methodology for predicting the occurrence of severe tropical storms at a given location. Having identified sources of historical cyclone track data, we set out to develop tools to extract, analyse and quality control this data. We then investigated methods to simulate cyclone wind fields, and to investigate and validate the modelling of cyclone induced surge and waves.”

    Cyclones were modelled using TELEMAC-2D and SWAN open-source software to predict surge and wave conditions at the site for each cyclone.

    Watch an animation of cyclone modelling CLICK HERE

    Dr Ye Liu, Principal Statistician in HR Wallingford’s Flood and Water Management Group, explained: “One of the main challenges we face when modelling cyclone prediction is a lack of data because the historic cyclone tracks for which data are available are often too few. We needed to devise a method to create synthetic cyclone tracks to increase the number of events from which to predict extreme conditions.

    Aftermath of Gonu, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Aftermath of Gonu

    “Crucially, the simulated tracks had to be realistic and statistically valid, but they also needed to include rare but possible events like Cyclone Gonu which occurred in the Gulf of Oman and headed towards Iran, where these types of storm are virtually unheard of.”

    Dr Grey added: “This new Probabilistic Cyclone Modelling Tool which uses statistical methods, in combination with surge and wave modelling, will improve the assessment of cyclone risk at specific locations. This can then be used to inform the design of coastal infrastructure such as seawalls and breakwaters to match the conditions of a specific site, and thus avoid the danger of either under or overdesign which can be equally risky and costly.”

    A paper – A probabilistic approach to tropical cyclone modelling will be presented at the Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering (OMAE) in Glasgow, Scotland, in June 2019.



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    Competitors in the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge take to the seas, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Competitors in the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge take to the seas

    The Port of Mossel Bay will be joining in on the action when the Southern Cape harbour plays host to the second leg of the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge 2018/2019 at the end of December.

    Celebrating its 31st anniversary, the fast-paced, action-packed water sport kicks off in Plettenberg Bay on 28 December and will see over 30 inflatable boats compete for top honours. Competitors will visit beaches along the coast between Nature’s Valley and Gordon’s Bay, where the race will finish on 1 January 2019.

    Port of Mossel Bay Port Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange said port operations around the harbour will experience minimal interruptions during the event’s proceedings on 28 & 29 December. “We are working closely with the organisers to ensure that our customers will not be affected when the participants will be making use of the harbour slipway,” he said.

    Tshikalange added that the port looked forward to hosting the racers and the supporters it attracts. “We welcome opportunities that encourage our communities to visit the port and this event is one that attracts many. Transnet National Ports Authority’s [TNPA] is dedicated to turning South Africa’s ports into ‘people’s ports’ and thus promote tourism, leisure, recreation, sport, careers and business opportunities. The future Mossel Bay Waterfront development will one day allow us to host even more events of this nature.”

    Stefan Lindeque of the event organiser, Boost Performance Racing thanked TNPA for supporting the event, adding: “We are excited to once again host the Toughest Inflatable Boat Challenge in the World. Mossel Bay remains one of our favourite stops along the coast because of the beautiful beaches and supportive crowds cheering the teams on.”

    For more information on the Trans Agulhas Inflatable Boat Challenge, contact Stefan Lindeque on 083 441 0022, or email


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    Santa's helpers. Chaplain Richardson (left) and ship visitor Jessie Paul (second from right), chalking up the steps,featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Santa’s helpers. Chaplain Richardson (left) and ship visitor Jessie Paul (second from right), chalking up the steps

    Chaplain Paul Richardson and Ship Visitor Jessie John from the Durban Sailors’ Society, both achieved ‘milestones’ during December when Richardson boarded his 1300th ship and John her 600th during the course of their chaplaincy duties.

    Richardson is a former Baptist Pastor now working in the ‘Inner City’ of Durban as a missionary. He joined the Sailors’ Society SA in Durban in 2011 and has been serving as a chaplain in the Port of Durban ever since. Jessie John started doing ship visits in February 2014.

    They visit ships once or twice a week doing pastoral work or just talking to the seafarers. Through these visits friendships are often forged and what is heart-warming is that when a ship makes a return visit to the port they are remembered and sometimes receive gifts sent by their families.

    Both chaplain and ship visitor recently participated in the Share your Christmas with a Seafarer project where they distributed gifts on board and would later deliver to ships at outer anchorage. They also visit seafarers who are ill in hospital – they will go wherever there is a need.
    Both dedicated, they do not consider their work as being duties – as Jessie John says “God has been so good to me. He’s called … and He’s enabled.”

    report by Yvonne de Kock




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    Port of Mossel Bay, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Port of Mossel Bay

    Fishing enthusiasts are being invited to cast their lines for a good cause at the Mossel Bay Charity Fishing Competition, hosted by Transnet National Ports Authority’s Port of Mossel Bay, in partnership with the Piet Julies HIV/AIDS Action Group on 5 January at the Port of Mossel Bay Breakwater.

    The competition, with both adult and children categories, aims to raise funds, which will go towards the purchasing of 455 pairs of school shoes for local underprivileged children, HIV/AIDS and TB infected and affected orphans and other vulnerable children via the Piet Julies HIV/AIDS Action Group.

    Beneficiaries from the drive include learners from Indwe High School; Hillcrest Secondary School; Sao Bras Secondary School; Imekhaya Primary School; Isalathiso Primary School; TM Ndanda Primary School; Garden Route Schools; St Blaize Primary School; Daiz Primary School; Ridgeview Primary School; All Saints Primary School; Erika Primary School; Brandwaght Schools; St Lukes Primary School and the communities of Sonskynvallei and Great Brak River.

    Port Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange said collaborative partnerships with stakeholders in school education was a pillar of TNPA’s CSI strategy. “Giving back to the communities in which we operate is fundamental to our organisation and education is an area that can have incredible impact on the lives of local youth and their communities,” he said.

    “With this initiative, we hope to collect school shoes for as many children as possible, as it will definitely improve the quality of their schooling experience. We invite fishing enthusiasts on the Garden Route to come out and support this worthy initiative. There are great prizes up for grabs and we have planned fun for the whole family.”

    The Port of Mossel Bay is involved in several other educational initiatives including providing support to two of TNPA’s adopted high schools – Indwe High School and Hillcrest High School – for programmes that aim to improve performance in mathematics and science, which are needed for a number of mission critical careers in the ports and other industries.

    TNPA also works with three primary schools, Garden Route Primary, Isalathiso Primary and Imekhaya Primary, on its Mathematics and Science Primary School Project aimed at grade 4 to 7 learners, jointly hosted with SCIMAT Education and Disposals.

    The cost of an entry ticket for adults is R100 and R25 per child (ages 10 – 16 years). Competition is open to the first 100 adults and 50 children on a first come, first served basis. Tickets can be purchased at: Go Fish, Midas, Tackle Shop, Fishing Extreme and Outdoor. Visit TransnetNPA on social media for more information.



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    Africa and Europe, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Africa and the European Union

    South Africa’s Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams on Tuesday called for inclusivity and Africa’s active participation in the Africa-EU partnership to ensure the effective delivery of programmes to transform the continent’s economies.

    Ndabeni-Abrahams is leading the South African delegation at the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe 2018 themed ‘Taking cooperation to the digital age’ in Vienna, Austria.

    The forum seeks to provide space to…


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    U-Freight brings power to Chad, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

    U-Freight Holland, the Dutch subsidiary of a Hong Kong-based freight forwarding and logistics company, has successfully handled the multimodal shipment of electricity power cables from Europe to Africa.

    Sixteen rolls of transmission cables were required urgently in Chad, where the country’s power utility, National Electricity Company (SNE) is rehabilitating generating assets to help improve supply.

    U-Freight was contracted by Dutch transport group, Van der Vlist, on behalf of its client SwitchGear Company, to expedite the shipment from Paris-Vatry airport direct to N’Djamena International airport, after they had been trucked from Greece on four separate vehicles.

    SwitchGear Company has achieved a good position in this market thanks to projects supported by Flanders investment and trade, it is reported.

    With time of the essence, and limited cost-effective air charter options available, U-Freight worked with an air charter broker to secure dedicated space on board an Astral Aviation Boeing 747-400 freighter.

    After U-Freight undertook all Customs clearance and freight facilitation operations, the 16 reels, which each weighed five tonnes and collectively amounted to around 16 km of cable, were carefully loaded at Paris-Vatry under the watchful eye of the company’s loadmasters, before the dedicated charter aircraft took off for N’Djamena International Airport.

    Simon Wong, U-Freight Group chief executive officer explained that in its initial briefing, the client emphasised the urgency of this delivery, which precluded the sea freight option.

    He said: “Dedicated air charters can be extremely expensive and we had to reject offers from some airlines that we approached. Thankfully, we found a good partner in Astral Aviation, which offered an option that was much more reasonable and cost-effective in the opinion of ourselves and our client. When a client calls on us to deliver heavy or over-dimensional cargoes, it knows that it can rely upon U-Freight to provide the logistics support to expedite delivery to the project site – whether that is a set of cable reels, or an entire power generation facility.”

    Edited by Paul Ridgway



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    Mission to Seafarers' Nine Carols Service held in London, December 2018, featuredin Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

    London – The Mission to Seafarers has reaffirmed its commitment to developing new mental health services in 2019 in response to increasing concerns around mental wellbeing at sea.

    Speaking to many leading industry figures, including the UK Shipping Minister, at its annual Festival of Nine Carols & Lessons in London, the Mission acknowledged the work many shipping companies are doing to tackle issues such as loneliness and isolation, but called for a renewed focus on reaching vulnerable seafarers who may be unable to access existing resources.

    The Mission also recognised the vital work of its frontline teams of port chaplains, centre managers and volunteers, who address seafarers’ mental health on a daily basis.

    This year the Mission received a Highly Commended distinction at the Safety at Sea 2018 Awards for its shoreside services. Shoreside support is particularly vital at this time of year; whether it’s visiting ships, offering pastoral support or delivering Christmas gift parcels – often the only gift a seafarer will receive on Christmas Day.

    The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General, The Mission to Seafarers, said: “While many of the stresses that seafarers face are the same as they were 20 years ago, new concerns are emerging as more and more ships start to provide internet access to their crew.

    “Our Seafarers’ Happiness Index, which uses the data from our conversations with thousands of seafarers around the globe, clearly shows that a lack of connectivity is one of the greatest issues facing seafarers today.

    “Many cite poor or no connectivity as a major contributor towards unhappiness at work, leading to increased pressure on mental health. If shipping companies want to retain happy and motivated seafarers, they will have to ensure their crews have access to fast and reliable internet.

    “However, we recognise that with greater connectivity come other pressures for seafarers. Access to real-time news about what is going on back home can also add to stress and anxiety.

    “Consequently, the Mission is rolling out new programmes in 2019 in response to this key issue, which will complement our existing services.”

    UK Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP was among the readers at this year's Festival of Nine Carols & Lessons, which was featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    UK Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP was among the readers at this year’s Festival of Nine Carols & Lessons

    The Mission also announced that it will continue to develop and expand its global services around key maritime hubs across the globe to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving sector.

    Last month, the Mission signed an MoU with the Panama Maritime Authority for the provision of seafarer welfare services – the first of its kind in the region. The agreement will enable the Mission to establish welfare services at all major Panamanian ports, including the Panama Canal, one of the busiest waterways in the world.

    UK Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP was among the readers at this year’s Festival of Nine Carols & Lessons.

    At this year’s Festival of Nine Carols & Lessons, the Mission welcomed Shell as its new headline sponsor. It also thanked Silver sponsors Ince & Co and Wärtsilä, and Bronze sponsor Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. The carol service included readings from a number of high-profile industry figures, including Ms Nusrat Ghani MP, UK Shipping Minister, and Dr Grahaeme Henderson, VP Shipping & Maritime at Shell and President of the UK Chamber of Shipping from 2016-18.

    The service was followed by a reception, attended by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, President of The Mission to Seafarers, where she met loyal supporters of the Mission.

    The Mission has launched a Christmas campaign to raise awareness of the issues currently facing seafarers, particularly the loneliness many feel around the festive period as a result of being separated from their families and loved ones.

    So far, over £40,000 has been raised from online donations and sponsorship of the Christmas carol service – all of which will go towards running the Mission’s vital welfare services across the globe, including its new support network in Panama.

    To make a donation, or to find out more about how you can help, please CLICK HERE

    HRH The Princess Royal, President of The Mission to Seafarers, met with supporters of the Mission and leading industry professionals, including Minister Chancellor Ms Ana Alvarado, Panama Embassy and Dr John E. Meredith, CBE, Chairman-Designate, of MtS Panama, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    HRH The Princess Royal, President of The Mission to Seafarers, met with supporters of the Mission and leading industry professionals, including Minister Chancellor Ms Ana Alvarado, Panama Embassy and Dr John E. Meredith, CBE, Chairman-Designate, of MtS Panama



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    Relinquishes Tembo Block Appraisal Licence (Tembo)

    Tembo field in northern Mozambique, being relinquished by Wentworth Resources to concentrate on Tanzania, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Tembo field in northern Mozambique, being relinquished by Wentworth Resources to concentrate on Tanzania

    Wentworth, the listed independent, East Africa-focused oil & gas company has announced that further to its announcement of 3 October 2018, it intends to relinquish the Tembo block in northern Mozambique with a planned effective date of 30 April 2019 ahead of the end of the current appraisal term on 15 June 2019.

    The Company will also exit Mozambique, closing its Maputo office and shutting down activities in the Muxara and Palma camps concurrently, in order to focus on its core Mnazi Bay asset in Tanzania and its M&A led growth mandate.

    The Tembo Block, which has an area of approximately 2,500 km2 is in north-eastern Mozambique, approximately 2,600 km north of Maputo and 120 km southwest of the Mnazi Bay field, in the onshore Rovuma Basin.

    The block is operated by Wentworth Resources (85%) with Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH 15%) as a partner.

    The relinquishment of the Tembo block will release Wentworth Resources from any further appraisal work programme obligations with no material costs foreseen ahead of relinquishment. It is anticipated that the Company’s Intangible Assets which are attributable to the Tembo appraisal licence will be written down in full in the current financial year 2018.

    “We have now completed a thorough technical and commercial review of the company’s asset portfolio and determined that our Tembo asset does not provide us with suitable monetisation solutions in keeping with our material growth mandate,” said CEO Eskil Jersing.

    “We have appreciated the excellent relationships to date with ENH, the National Oil Company of Mozambique, and INP, the National Regulator, and will work hard to ensure an efficient and smooth transition period for all stakeholders. Our work both to maximise the potential of Mnazi Bay and to identify M&A opportunities to add material value continues apace and we look forward to updating shareholders on our progress in due course.”



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    EMATUM fleet lying idle in Maputo harbour, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    EMATUM fleet lying idle in Maputo harbour     Picture: Ematum

    According to Mozambique’s Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Agostinho Mondlane, the total catch or fisheries production estimate for 2018 is for 394,000 tonnes, of which 92 per cent comes from small-scale artisanal fishermen.

    Commercial or industrial fishing produces the balance of 8 per cent only and this includes the high value prawns, lobsters and other shellfish for which Mozambique remains famous. Much of the latter is exported to Europe.

    Mondlane said in 2015, the first year of the current government, the catch was 290,915 tonnes. Since then the sector has been growing at a rate of over 9.5 per cent each year.

    He said there 492 licensed commercial fishing vessels in the country. Of these 250 are licensed to catch kapenta (Limnothrissa miodon, or Lake Tanganyika sardine) on Lake Cahora Bassa in Tete province. He said the number of fishing vessels licensed to fish on the open seas was only 242.

    All the industrial and semi-industrial vessels in Mozambican marine waters are subject to monitoring, he said. Each vessel contains electronic devices and are monitored by satellite. This, Mondlane said, means that their routes are tracked and any suspicious behaviour (such as stopping at sea to transfer catches from one vessel to another) can be noted.

    Mondlane hoped that in the near future the electronic monitoring will be extended to the boats fishing on Cahora Bassa Lake.

    The Minister said there 700 inspections of commercial fishing vessels have been undertaken so far this year, and in 101 cases the fishing companies were fined. The total fines amounted to 80 million meticais (about US$1.3 million).

    The offences detected included under-reporting of catches and fishing outside of the area for which the licence was issued. “When this happens repeatedly, the captain of the boat will be banned from Mozambican waters,” the minister said.

    He said the government is determined to increase the tax take from commercial fishing. In 2015-2016, the taxes collected were equivalent to about one per cent of the value of the catch. But this year they have risen to about 320 million meticais, which is three per cent of the value. “We intend to reach five per cent,” said Mondlane.

    He was heavily critical of the failure of Mozambican fishing companies to invest. Some of them are operating with boats that are over 40 years old.

    “The companies must limit the age of their boats, and use fishing gear that is environment-friendly.”

    He said the companies are also refusing to invest in aquaculture. Of the total catch, 99 per cent is wild fish and shellfish, and only one per cent comes from aquaculture.

    “We could produce millions of tonnes of various species from aquaculture,” the minister said, adding that if the companies refuse to invest voluntarily in aquaculture, new regulations being drafted will force them to do so.

    One recent improvement, imposed by the Ministry, was that no fishing vessel can refuel on the high seas, because of the risk of oil spills. The boats must come into port to refuel.

    Asked if the tuna fishing company Tunamar has begun to operate, Mondlane confirmed that all its boats are still paralysed although he expected the company to start fishing soon. Tunamar is the reincarnation of the bankrupt company Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), one of the beneficiaries of Mozambique’s ‘hidden debt’ scandal.

    Ematum was granted a loan of US$850 million from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, thanks to illegal loan guarantees issued by the previous Mozambican government under President Armando Guebuza. But the 24 boats hardly did any fishing [plus patrol vessels], and are currently lying at anchor in the Maputo fishing port.

    A partnership with the US company Frontier Service Group (FSG) was supposed to bring Ematum to life under the name Tunamar. But, a year after an agreement was signed with FSG chairperson Eric Prince, nothing has happened.

    Ematum currently has no fishing licence for any of its boats (the licences must be renewed annually). Mondlane said that, before Tunamar can start fishing, all the boats must be inspected to ensure that they are seaworthy and meet all health requirements, and all must pay their licenses. source: AIM



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    SAS Spioenkop showing slight damage to hull following collision. Picture: SA Navy, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    SAS Spioenkop showing slight damage to hull following collision. Picture: SA Navy

    News has emerged of a collision between two of the navy’s ships in Simon’s Town harbour.

    The accident occurred at 15h30 on Thursday (13 December 2018) as the navy frigate SAS SPIOENKOP was returning to harbour following sea trials to test her engines.

    According to reports there was either a mechanical or communications system failure at a critical moment as the frigate entered the harbour during which the naval ship was supposed to reduce speed.

    Although the attendant tugs attempted to bring the frigate to a standstill their attempts were not sufficient and the bow of SAS Spioenkop collided with the berthed combat support ship SAS DRAKENSBERG.

    Minor damage resulted to both ships, well above the waterline and there was no danger of either vessels taking on water.

    There were no reported injuries to sailors on board both vessels.

    The navy has said that a board of enquiry would be established to look into the circumstances of the incident.


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    We regret having to report that Willem Kruk, a well-known figure in the Port of Durban, has passed away after a sudden illness.

    Mr Kruk (69) was a director of Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH Shipyards) for many years where he headed their marketing team until his semi-retirement several years ago, although he continued working on a part-day basis during the mornings.

    He remained a strong supporter of SAIMENA – the South African Institute of Marine Engineers & Naval Architects – and was a member of the Friends of the Port Natal Maritime Museum.

    Willem Kruk, who went to sea as a young boy from the Netherlands, came ashore in Durban while still a young man, going to work for the late Thorleif Lunde, also a well-known figure in the port – with whom he remained a lifelong and close friend. He was a generous person who amongst other things enjoyed collecting and donating objects such as ship’s artifacts that he acquired at ship’s demolition yards. He also reached out to others in need such as building the lady who worked in his house on the outskirts of Durban her own new home as an expression of thanks.

    Willem’s funeral has been announced for this coming Thursday, 20 December at the City Hill Church in Hillcrest, Durban. We extend our condolences to his family.



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    Port statistics for the month of November 2018, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

    No less than six ports achieved more than one million tonnes of cargo throughput for November – Richards Bay with 9.445mt, Durban with 6.787mt, and Saldanha with 6.173mt but these were joined by Port Elizabeth which handled 1.070mt, Ngqura with 1.050mt and Cape Town with 1.010mt. The total cargo handled at South Africa’s ports was 25.759 million tonnes for the month. Details are available in the tables below.

    Containers handled for the month, measured in TEUs, came to 383,507. Top port with this commodity was Durban with 232,893 TEUs, followed by Ngqura (72,343), Cape Town (63,508), Port Elizabeth (9153) and East London with 5122). For all ports see below.

    Total cargo handled for the previous month (October) was 22.799 million tonnes. For other months refer to the tables published in earlier editions of Africa  PORTS & SHIPS  

    For comparison with the port turnover of the equivalent month of last year, November 2017 please CLICK HERE

    These statistic reports on Africa PORTS & SHIPS are arrived at using an adjustment on the overall tonnage compared to those kindly provided by TNPA and include containers recorded by weight; an adjustment necessary because TNPA measures containers by the number of TEUs and does not reflect the weight which unfortunately undervalues the ports.

    To arrive at such a calculation,  Africa  PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13.5 tonnes per TEU, which probably does involve some under-reporting.  Africa PORTS & SHIPS  will continue to emphasise this distinction, without which South African ports would be seriously under-reported internationally and locally.

    Port Statistics continue below

    Figures for the respective ports during November 2018 are:

    Cargo handled by tonnes during November 2018, including containers by weight

    PORT November 2018 million tonnes
    Richards Bay 9.445
    Durban 6.787
    Saldanha Bay 6.173
    Cape Town 1.010
    Port Elizabeth 1.070
    Ngqura 1.050
    Mossel Bay 0.062
    East London 0.162
    Total all ports 25.759 million tonnes

    CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during November 2018
    (TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

    PORT November 2018 TEUs
    Durban 232,893
    Cape Town 63,508
    Port Elizabeth 9,153
    Ngqura 72,342
    East London 5,122
    Richards Bay 0,485
    Total all ports 383,507 TEU

    SHIP CALLS for November 2018

    PORT November 2018 vessels gross tons
    Durban 303 11,000,258
    Cape Town 140 3,812,345
    Richards Bay 178 7,086,891
    Port Elizabeth 94 2,252,382
    Saldanha Bay 56 3,970,284
    Ngqura 45 2,776,539
    East London 28 970,283
    Mossel Bay 46 192,222
    Total ship calls 889 32,051,204
    — source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by AP&S


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    Trade & Industry Minister Rob Davies, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
    Trade & Industry Minister Rob Davies
      • South Africa has deposited the instrument of ratification of the Agreement establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.The instrument of ratification was deposited on the margins of the 7th African Union Meeting of Ministers of Trade (AMOT) meeting taking place in Cairo, Egypt, which got underway on Wednesday (12 December 2018).The TFTA comprises three regional economic blocks – the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).The deposit of the instrument means that South Africa has formally and legally committed to the TFTA which was launched in June 2015 in Sharm El-Sheikh.South Africa signed the agreement in July 2017 and Parliament ratified the Agreement in October this year. A total 22 of 26 member States have signed the agreement, which will enter into full force once it has been ratified by 14 countries.South Africa is the fourth country to deposit the instrument of ratification. The other three countries are Egypt, Uganda and Kenya.Davies, who is attending the two-day AMOT, said South Africa regards the tripartite initiative as extremely important.

        Africa Trade Blocs. Countries shown with multi colour stripes are members of the two blocs depicted by the colours, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
        Africa Trade Blocs. Countries shown with multi colour stripes are members of the two blocs depicted by the colours
      • “It was the tripartite initiative that led to the work of broadening the integration beyond our existing regional communities and working towards the establishment of large free trade areas across our continent, the initiative that is now taken forward by the African Union,” he said.Chair of the Tripartite Task Force and the Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Kapwepwe, congratulated South Africa and indicated that it was encouraging to the other countries that have already deposited their instruments.Kapwepwe said there are an additional six countries that are in the process of depositing their instruments.She said the TFTA’s focus on three pillars namely market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development adding that these areas have been prioritised to support the regional economic integration efforts in the region and the continent.Davies reiterated that numerous benefits would accrue to South Africa as a result of the agreement.These include access to new and dynamic markets characterised by a combined gross domestic product of $1.2-trillion and a combined population of about 626-million people, which is over half the total African population and economy.South Africa’s trade with TFTA countries represents about 16% of its trade with the world.In 2017, total trade with TFTA countries was in excess of US$27.6-billion. The bulk of the trade is with within Southern African Development Community (SADC). source:


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        Oil barge vessel MV Anthony with her bow section missing aground off the Tema port anchorage. Picture: GPHA, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
        Oil barge vessel MV Anthony with her bow section missing aground off the Tema port anchorage. Picture: GPHA

        Barely six months after an oil tanker loaded with 1,200 metric-tons of light crude oil split into two at the Tema Port anchorage, Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority (GPHA) reports that a second vessel, an oil barge tanker by name MT ANTHONY (IMO 8678102) from Lagos has also split into two at the Tema port anchorage.

        All ten crew members on board the vessel escaped unhurt.

        The oil vessel has been operating in the waters of Ghana for three years.

        One section of the vessel has been burnt, which sources said was a result of some residents of Tema New Town who had moved into the drifted half to fight over a pump.

        In the process, it was alleged that one of the residents set the vessel on fire.

        This was after GPHA’s marine department had towed the other half of the vessel from the anchorage to the Tema New Town area to prevent it from sinking.

        Attempts to speak to the agent of the vessel proved futile.

        The 2759-dwt oil tanker MV Anthony is owned and managed by a firm called Okasi P, registered at Plot 15, Bombay Crescent, Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria. MV Anthony was built in 1982. source: GPHA with additional information by Africa PORTS & SHIPS



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        One of the fast patrol boats built and supplied by a French company to Mozambique supposedly for fishery patrol,featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
        One of the fast patrol boats built and supplied by a French company to Mozambique supposedly for fishery patrol

        Personnel from the Mozambican navy and Ministry of Fisheries and Transport and Communications are being trained by France, says a report in O País.

        The article mentions that the Mozambicans are being exposed to techniques aimed at dealing with maritime piracy and other threats associated with the exploitation of natural resources.

        It says the initiative’s aim is to equip the Mozambican Navy and other participants with the capacity to deal with threats associated with the exploitation of natural resources.

        The Mozambique government initiative is supported by the French Navy. It is hoped that the training will help personnel combat illegal fishing and drug trafficking.

        Several years ago a French shipbuilder completed an order for a number of fast patrol boats for a Mozambique government-sponsored company known as EMATUM, together with 24 modern fishing trawlers. The order for these was signed off in the presence of the then presidents of France and of Mozambique and the vessels duly completed and shipped to Maputo.

        Since then they have largely remained either on the quayside or later in the water at the port and have not gone to sea except in one or two isolated cases. Who will ever operate the patrol boats has never been publically explained. Source: O País with additional information from Africa PORTS & SHIPS



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        SAS Protea. Picture: Clinton Wyness, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
        SAS Protea. Picture: Clinton Wyness

        Coming recognition for oceanographers and metocean experts, cartographers and navigators

        The IMarEST (Institute of Marine Engineering Science & Technology) has launched a new hydrography descriptor for its Chartered Marine Scientist register to allow hydrographers to distinguish themselves by using the letters “CMarSci(Hydrography)” after their name.

        No such designation has previously existed and the IMarEST is the only organisation that can offer the Chartered Marine Scientist register.

        Coming so soon after the start to building a new and highly sophisticated hydrographic survey ship for the South African Navy, which is being built at Southern African Shipyards in Durban, and the recent moves to increase the importance of hydrography in South Africa, the announcement from IMarEST has added interest.

        The hydrography post-nominal has been introduced to reflect the increasing importance of the discipline in allowing us to manage future challenges, IMarEST said in a statement.

        Every human venture in, on or under the sea depends on hydrographic knowledge. That is a knowledge of the nature of the seafloor, its depth and any hazards that may lie beneath, as well as an understanding of the tides and currents. Obtaining this information is fundamental to progress within the marine sphere.

        It is often said that we know more about the surface of Mars and the Moon than we do about our own planet. We really only have a detailed map of about 15% of the ocean floor at present and hydrographers are our key to not only growing this knowledge but, in doing so, to ensuring the preservation of the human race.

        IMarEST banner displayed in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

        The topography of the sea floor determines weather patterns, currents and can provide protection against coastal hazards such as approaching tsunamis. Mapping the sea floor is crucial for us to be able to navigate safely, build offshore structures including renewable energy generators, find natural resources, use fish stocks sustainably, lay communication cables and conduct search and rescue missions, amongst many other crucial activities.

        The ocean is already a hectic environment, teeming with activity. And as our global climate changes, we face new challenges that mean the oceans will only get busier. The work of our hydrographers is central to facing these challenges.

        As climate change results in more extreme weather, the prediction of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis will become increasingly important, as will the development of early warning systems that can reduce the impact of such events.

        Equally, these events may change the coastal landscape, rendering navigation hazardous around them until they can be surveyed again by hydrographers and consequently mapped. Simulations of rising sea-levels could also provide insight into where may soon no longer be safe for navigation, allowing us to move our harbours and ports in good time, as well as improving coastal defences against this rise in other areas.

        As the temperature and chemistry of the oceans changes, so will the ecosystems they support. Hydrographic surveys will be vital in identifying the coverage of flora and fauna across the oceans and how they change over time.

        Another important future application will be for the construction of a greater variety of offshore structures and even entire floating cities. For such creations to be feasible, a detailed understanding of the ocean floor is paramount. We will need to know which areas are safe to anchor to, build on and run cables through, as well as whether or not there are enough resources available and if the structures will be able to withstand variable weather.

        David Loosley, Chief Executive, IMarEST said that he was delighted that hydrographers can now demonstrate their unique and hugely important expertise through the CMarSci(Hydrography) post-nominal.

        “We will also, over the course of the coming year, recognise oceanographers and metocean experts, and cartographers and navigators in a similar way with added descriptors to the CMarSci and CMarTech registers respectively,” Loosley said.



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        Palma and district in northern Mozambique, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
        Palma and district in northern Mozambique, earmarked for increased port activity with the oil & gas industry

        Another three terror attacks have taken place in the Palma district of northern Mozambique, close to the Tanzania border.

        The terrorists in the recent past have all been extreme Islamist-affiliated and are thought to be linked to terrorist groups in Tanzania, Kenya and Somalia. The name of al-Shabaab has been bandied about. al-Shabab in turn is said to have links with another more notorious group, al-Qaeda.

        The Mozambican daily newssheet Carta de Mocambique reported that three attacks took place – the first being a pre-dawn Monday attack on the village of Nalyandele, which is about 20km from the town of Palma.

        Palma is expected to play an important role in the development of offshore and possibly on-shore oil and LNG exploitation.

        In the Nalyandele attack one man was shot dead in his own home.

        A second report in another newssheet, Mediafax also reported the attack but said three people were killed in the village and 15 houses burned down.

        The terrorist attacks in the recent past generally see a few people killed and houses burned down. In some of the attacks villagers get wind of the coming attack and flee into the surrounding bush.

        Also on Monday the village of Malamba was attacked at about 11am. Here one person was killed and three others – two of who are elderly and one disabled) were kidnapped. The mother of the disabled young person was stripped of her clothes and left on the road. Malamba is about 10 kilometres from Palma.

        A third attack took place also on Monday in the area of Makanga, which is near the Rovuma River that forms the border with Tanzania. Three young men collecting firewood were surprised by the terrorists – they attempted to escape but one was shot and then beheaded.

        Reports say there have been other attacks of people working in the fields but no positive detail is provided. Local people, having realised that Mozambique security services is proving to be of little help, have begun to resist and on Sunday an alleged insurgent was caught and then killed near the boundary between Nangade and Mocimboa da Praia districts.

        AIM reported that members of the Mozambican defence and security forces were seen heading towards Miando, while residents were fleeing from the village in the direction of Palma town. No other details are available.

        The authorities have had some success and a trial is currently taking place in the Cabo Delgado Provincial court, which is sitting in the port town of Pemba. In total 189 people stand accused in connection with the insurgency – details are sketchy as the trial is taking place mostly behind closed doors despite this being in clear violation of the constitutional principal of trials being open to the public.

        It is assumed that many of those appearing before the court are local people thought to be sympathisers. Source: AIM



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        CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery at southampton docks. Picture: Wikipedia Commons featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
        CMA CGM Antoine de Saint Exupery at southampton docks. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

        The giant French container shipping company CMA CGM has been recognised for its initiatives with environmental issues facing the shipping sector by being given the Environment Award at the annual Lloyd’s List Global Awards, which was held in London on Tuesday (11 December 2018).

        This prize rewards the actions the CMA CGM Group has been carrying out for several years to reduce its environmental footprint as well as its pioneering choice to power its future vessels with LNG, thereby leading the entire industry towards an unprecedented energy transition.

        Maritime transport is arguably the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation of goods. According to CMA CGM, the Group is constantly seeking to find innovative ways of making its ships more environmentally-friendly.


        CMA CGM Banner, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime newsOne example is the 400-metre long, 21,000-TEU container ship CMA CGM ANTOINE DE SAINT EXUPERY which emits less than 3 grams of CO2 per ton transported per kilometre, as compared with 91 grams for a truck and 470 grams for a plane.

        The Group has additionally reduced its CO2 emissions per container transported per kilometre by 50% between 2005 and 2015, and it has set up a plan to achieve a further 30% reduction by 2025. As proof of its commitment, the Group achieved a 10% reduction in 2017 alone.

        During 2018 CMA CGM was awarded the ‘Gold Recognition Level’ for the fourth consecutive year by the ratings agency EcoVadis. EcoVadis assesses companies’ corporate social responsibility, particularly through the prism of environmental protection. This evaluation positions CMA CGM among the top 1% most responsible companies in its sector and among the top 5% most responsible companies across all sectors.

        The jury of Tuesday’s Lloyd’s List Global Awards, comprised of a panel of leading journalists and figures of the shipping world, annually rewards leaders and companies who are seen as advancing the shipping industry.

        The Environment Award acknowledges the company that has launched the most significant environmental initiatives.


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          Dragon's sea-boat approaches the dhow. All pictures Courtesy: CMF, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Dragon’s sea-boat approaches the dhow. All pictures Courtesy: CMF

          In a report by the Combined Maritime Forces’ HMS Dragon, the Type 45 Daring-class destroyer operating under the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has conducted her second major seizure of narcotics in less than two weeks.

          HMS Dragon was on patrol as part of CMF’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 when the crew found and destroyed more than 500kg of drugs, including nearly 200kg of Heroin and 9kg of crystal methamphetamine.

          The drugs would have sold locally for more than US$2.1 million and for many times that had they made it to their final markets. These sales of illicit drugs are a known source of funding for terrorist groups and criminal networks. This year CTF 150 has destroyed 49,255 kg of illicit drugs.

          Crew of HMS Dragon with the haul of narcotics, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Crew of HMS Dragon with the haul of narcotics

          CTF 150 has recently come under the command of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The Task Force is led by Commodore Darren Garnier RCN. He was delighted to achieve such a result so early in his command: “I thank HMS Dragon for its continued vigilance and support to CTF 150 so early in our tenure of command, and for a superbly executed drug interdiction operation. This seizure of illicit drugs is continuing to deny terrorists the use of the high seas as a pathway for illegal activity.”

          Winching the sea-boat back on board the Dragon, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Winching the sea-boat back on board the Dragon

          HMS Dragon encountered the suspicious dhow on the ‘Smack Track’ smuggling route running from the Makran Coast of Iran and Pakistan to the shores of East Africa.

          Lt Jonathan Bennett is one of HMS Dragon’s Officers of the Watch and also the ship’s Royal Naval Boarding Officer. He was on watch on the bridge when he spotted something unusual: “I had just taken over the watch when I spotted this dhow, and whilst a common sight within the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, this was in an unusual area for the size of vessel,” he said.

          “It looked suspicious, and as we closed in on the vessel, the boarding teams went out in the sea boats to talk to the crew of the dhow. Their answers raised our suspicions further, and so we started a boarding. Following a search by our trained teams we were able to locate and recover these narcotics, stopping their onward likely travel to their final markets, as well as disrupting the funding of illicit activity.”

          Commander Michael Carter Quinn, the Commanding Officer of HMS Dragon, is delighted to be working for CTF 150 again and have another success under the new command: “to achieve this seizure, so swiftly after the last, is demonstration of the hard work and professionalism of all the Dragons on board. I am delighted for the new team at CTF 150 to start their Command so positively.”

          CMF is a multi-national military organisation based in Bahrain. Its purpose is to maintain maritime security in the busy sea lanes of the Middle East. HMS Dragon will spend the period over Christmas at sea continuing her support to CTF 150 and her great work ensuring the security of the high seas.

          Ship's company sort and weigh the narcotics, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Ship’s company sort and weigh the narcotics



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          Hurricane ravaging Western Europe

          Special Feature: Courtesy Tugs Towing & Offshore


          m.s. MÜNCHEN, fatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          m.s. MÜNCHEN

          Eternal Father, Strong to Save

          “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” is a British hymn traditionally associated with seafarers, particularly in the maritime armed services. Written in 1860, its author William Whiting was inspired by the dangers of the sea described in Psalm 107. It was popularised by the Royal Navy and the United States Navy in the late 19th century, and variations of it were soon adopted by many branches of the armed services in the United Kingdom and the United States. Services who have adapted the hymn include the Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, the British Army, the United States Coast Guard and the US Marine Corps, as well as many navies of the British Commonwealth. Accordingly, it is known by many names, variously referred to as the Hymn of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, the Royal Navy Hymn, the United States Navy Hymn (or just The Navy Hymn), and sometimes by the last line of its first verse, “For Those in Peril on the Sea”. The hymn has a long tradition in civilian maritime contexts as well, being regularly invoked by ship’s chaplains and sung during services on ocean crossings.

          The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is a painting from 1633 by the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt van Rijn, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          The Storm on the Sea of Galilee is a painting from 1633 by the Dutch Golden Age painter Rembrandt van Rijn

          Some went out on the sea in ships; they were merchants on the mighty waters.
          They saw the works of the Lord, his wonderful deeds in the deep.
          For he spoke and stirred up a tempest that lifted high the waves.
          They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.

          Eternal Father, strong to save,
          Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
          Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
          Its own appointed limits keep;
          Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
          For those in peril on the sea!


          Remember Winter in the North Atlantic 40 years ago
          Hurricane ravaging Western Europe

          Rig towage to Marseille

          The ocean-going tug Smit Rotterdam with her 22,000 horsepower departed from Rotterdam in October 1978 and connected up a Jack-up rig in the North Sea bound for Marseille. On board was the famous maritime cineaste Pim Korver to make a movie of the Smit Rotterdam and her crew just to show the difference after the movie of Holland’s Glory.

          The weather was fair and the tug made a good speed and within three weeks time she delivered the Jack-up rig to the client in Marseille. The Smit Rotterdam continued her voyage to Barcelona to change her captain and to drop off Mr Pim Korver. In the port of Barcelona was seen the replica of the Santa Maria, the flagship and supply ship of Christopher Columbus, who in 1492 ‘discovered’ America. However, he was not the first European to set foot there, that was a Viking from the ship of Leif Eriksson, who came from Greenland probably in 1001 or 1002.  Columbus’

          The replica of the Santa Maria at Barcelona, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          The replica of the Santa Maria at Barcelona

          ship was originally called María Galante, but since this was also synonymous with a prostitute, it was decided to change the name. On the Christmas night of 1492 the Santa Maria suffered shipwreck off the coast of Quisqueya, later called Hispaniola. It was very shocking to see such a small ship in comparison with the big and strong Smit Rotterdam and difficult to understand that they had some 100 sailors on board while the Smit Rotterdam sailed with 18 persons only.

          Once the Smit Rotterdam was cleared from Barcelona she set sail to Horta on the Azores island of Faial to take up her station duties during the winter months.

          Station duties Azores

          Horta is a single municipality and city in the western part of the Archipelago of the Azores, encompassing the island of Faial. In 1921, Dutch seagoing tugboats began to use Horta as the salvage station of the North Atlantic shipping crossings. After World War II, they returned during the period of European reconstruction.

          The Port of Horta on the island Faial in the Portuguese Azores of the North Atlantic, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          The Port of Horta on the island Faial in the Portuguese Azores of the North Atlantic

          The Smit Rotterdam anchored in the marina bay with giving the Smit crew a daily view of the well-known Café Sport. This was a period of waiting for the crew of the Smit Rotterdam, with normal duties of maintenance and salvage equipment testing, while listening to the North Atlantic radio traffic. And so it was that the worst winter station of December 1978 started, althoughit is good to remember.

          S.O.S. Greek cargo vessel

          On 10 December the radio officer of the Smit Rotterdam received a mayday call from a Greek vessel in distress in the Gulf of Breton. She reported that the shaft sealing was leaking and she was flooding with water. The Smit Rotterdam anchored up and with full power sailed to the given position. The weather was very bad, strong winds with hurricane force 10 to 11. After more than 12 hours sailing the Greek reported that she had everything under control and was continuing her voyage. The Dutch ocean-going salvage tug Smit Rotterdam returned back to her salvage station and in the meantime she received a telex that the München had sent out a Mayday. The search for the München begins.

          Smit Rotterdam directed the search for the m.v. München, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Smit Rotterdam directed the search for the m.v. München

          On 12 December 1978, the Smit Rotterdam, which was off the Azores at the time, received a telex from the listening service with the information that the German containership München, had sent out a mayday signal. In a severe storm gusting to force 10 the Smit Rotterdam with captain P de Nijs in command, sped to the position given. The Smit Rotterdam shipped heavy seas, which battered her and even caused damage to one of the working boats, but the ocean going tug fought her way through the raging water. From search- and rescue planes the Smit Rotterdam received only negative reports. Not a trace was to be found of the München in the area in question and no further distress signals were received. The Smit Rotterdam crew realised that the situation was critical.

          Captain P de Nijs at the chart table, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Captain P de Nijs at the chart table

          The radio-station served as a communications- and crisis centre. Radio-officer Ronnie Verschoor constantly sent out appeals to all vessels in the neighbourhood to report, while captain de Nijs plotted all their positions on the map. The mate had posted double look-outs on the wings with all crew members available, Whilst the remaining crew members got the remaining workboat, the inflatable Zodiac, the hospital, diving gear, tools and numerous lines and wires ready.

          During the following ten days of radio silence, so as to be able to hear any distress signals, captain de Nijs and radio-officer Verschoor hardly ever left the radio station. All reports and further particulars from the searching ships and aircraft were channelled to this communications-centre. A search pattern had been set out on the sea chart, and all ships movements were continually updated on the plotting table. For days on end some 14 ships in line with the Smit Rotterdam at about four miles distance from one another searched the map sections. On reaching the end of each section the hole convoy pivoted round the Smit Rotterdam to begin searching the next section.

          Radio-officer R. Verschoor at the radio station, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Radio-officer R. Verschoor at the radio station

          In view of the fact that the search area was in the centre of the transatlantic shipping route, a total number of 110 vessels participated in the search. The sixteen search- and rescue planes were also controlled from the Smit Rotterdam and on the basis of the findings they reported, ships were directed to the supposed floating objects. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a false alarm in most cases. Only fishing gear, oil slicks, or garbage were found. Ultimately only three lash-barges were found but one sank later on. The other two were towed to Lisbon by the Smit Rotterdam and the the German tug Titan.

          It was the first time in history that an ocean-going tug had directed such a unique search of that magnitude. Notwithstanding all the efforts and the vast amount of work carried out by the crew of the Smit Rotterdam, the outcome was regrettably negative. The loss of the München is likely to remain a mystery for ever. Captain, officers and the other members of the crew of the Smit Rotterdam received messages of thanks and appreciation from the Hapag-Lloyd shipping company and from Land’s End coastguard for the professional way in which they handled the search.

          m.s. München, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          m.s. München

          m.s. München was a German LASH carrier of the Hapag-Lloyd line that sank with all hands for unknown reasons in a severe storm in December 1978.

          The most accepted theory is that one or more rogue waves hit the München and damaged her, so that she drifted for 33 hours with a list of 50 degrees without electricity or propulsion.

          Early career

          m.s. München was launched on 12 May 1972 at the shipyards of Cockerill, Hoboken, Flanders, Belgium and delivered on 22 September 1972. The München was a LASH ship and was the only ship of her kind under the German flag. She departed on her maiden voyage to the United States on 19 October 1972.

          Lash carrier Rhine Forest in 2006 in the Waalhaven of Rotterdam, Netherlands, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Lash carrier Rhine Forest in 2006 in the Waalhaven of Rotterdam, Netherlands

          Her sister ship m.s. Bilderdijk was built for the Holland America Line at the Boelwerf Temse Shipyard, also in Flanders, Belgium (Yard number 859). She sailed under the Dutch flag until 1986 when she was renamed Rhine Forest. This ship was retired from commercial operation on 15 December 2007. She has been scrapped in Bangladesh.


          Last voyage and search operations

          The München departed the port of Bremerhaven on 7 December 1978, bound for Savannah, Georgia. This was her usual route, and she carried a cargo of steel products stored in 83 lighters and a crew of 28. She also carried a replacement nuclear reactor-vessel head for Combustion Engineering, Inc. This was her 62nd voyage, and took her across the North Atlantic, where a fierce storm had been raging since November.

          Radio station of the München with call sign 'DEAT', featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Radio station of the München with call sign ‘DEAT’

          The München had been designed to cope with such conditions, and carried on with her voyage. The exceptional flotation capabilities of the LASH carriers meant that she was widely regarded as being practically unsinkable.

          The München was presumed to be proceeding smoothly, until the night of 12/13 December. Between 00:05 and 00:07 (all times GMT) München’s radio officer Jörg Ernst was overheard during a short radio communication on a “chat” frequency. He reported bad weather and some damage to the München to his colleague Heinz Löhmann aboard m.s. Caribe, a German cruise ship 2,400 nautical miles (4,440 km) away. Ernst also transmitted München’s last known position as 44°N 24°W. The quality of the transmission was bad, so that not everything was understood by Löhmann. Since it was a standard communication, the information was not relayed back to the ship’s owner until 17 December.

          Distress call

          The Greek Panamax freighter Marion received the SOS calls from the München, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          The Greek Panamax freighter Marion received the SOS calls from the München.

          Around three hours later (03:10-03:20), SOS calls were received by the Greek Panamax freighter Marion, which relayed it to the Soviet freighter Marya Yermolova and the German tug boat Titan. m.s. München gave her position as 46°15′N 27°30′W, which was probably around 100 nautical miles (200 km) off her real position. The messages were transmitted via morse code and only parts of them were received. One fragment received was 50 degrees starboard, which could be interpreted as a 50-degree list to starboard. Automatic emergency signals were also received by multiple radio stations starting at 04:43. No further calls were recorded after 07:34, probably because US stations stopped listening on the frequency 2182 kHz. At 17:30 international search and rescue operations were initiated and co-ordinated throughout by HM Coastguard at Land’s End, Cornwall. Wind speeds of 11-12 Beaufort were reported in the area of the search, hampering efforts. The initial search requested by HMCG was by RAF Nimrod maritime recognisance aircraft this air asset co-ordinated by SRCC RAF Mountbatten.

          Initial search efforts and further communications

          appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

          The next day, 13 December, an additional C130 Hercules aircraft from Germany and six ships searched for the München. At 09:06 Michael F Sinnot, a Belgian radio amateur in Brussels, received a voice transmission on the unusual frequency 8238.4 kHz, which is usually used by the German ground station Norddeich Radio. The transmission was clear but interrupted by some noise, and contained fragments of München’s name and callsign. Later in court, Sinnot reported that the voice was calm and spoke in English but with a distinct German accent. Since Sinnot only had a receiver for this frequency, he relayed the message via telex to a radio station in Ostend.

          Between 17:00 and 19:14, ten weak Mayday calls were received by the US Naval Station Rota, Spain at regular intervals, mentioning “28 persons on board”. The messages may have been recorded and sent automatically. München’s call sign, ‘DEAT’ which was sent in Morse code, was received three times on the same frequency. The Dutch ocean-going salvage tug Smit Rotterdam, which was returning from other Mayday calls in the Gulf of Breton and the English Channel, received the calls as well and went to the designated position under the command of Captain PF de Nijs.  Seas were heavy, with a swell averaging 22 metres. Lands’ End CG provided the search planning and areas to be covered and appointed the salvage tug Smit Rotterdam as On scene Commander co-ordinating the activities of eventually more than 100 ships and also the 16 aircraft all now temporarily based in the Azores.

          The search intensifies

          On 14 December wind speeds dropped to Force 9. By now four aircraft and 17 ships were participating in the search operation. Signals of München’s emergency buoy were received. At 19:00 the British freighter King George picked up an empty life raft at 44°22′N 24°00′W. The same day, Hapag-Lloyd’s freighter Erlangen found and identified three of München’s lighters. The following day, 15 December, a British Hawker Siddeley Nimrod patrol aircraft discovered two orange objects shaped like buoys at 44°48′N 24°12′W and the salvage tug Titan recovered a second life raft. A third one was located at 44°48′N 22°49′W the next day by m.s. Badenstein; all were empty. A yellow barrel was also sighted that day.

          On 17 December, at 13:00 Düsseldorf Express salvaged München’s emergency buoy. By now wind speeds dropped to Force 3. The freighter Starlight found two life belts, at 43°25′N 22°34′W the Sealand Consumer picked up a fourth empty life raft. Also three life vests were sighted, two of them by Starlight and another one by Evelyn.

          The search is called off

          The international search operation officially ended in the evening of 20 December, a week after it had begun. The West German government and Hapag-Lloyd decided to search for two more days, with British and American forces supporting them. The search effort had been the largest undertaken to that date. Altogether 13 aircraft from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Portugal and Germany, and nearly 80 merchant and naval ships had searched for the München or her crew. On 16 February, the car transporter Don Carlos salvaged a lifeboat from the starboard side of München, the last object discovered from her.


          The subsequent investigation into the disappearance of the München centred on the starboard lifeboat and in particular the forward block from which it had hung. The pins, which should have hung vertically, had been bent back from forward to aft, indicating the lifeboat hanging below it had been struck by a huge force, that had run from fore to aft of the ship and had torn the lifeboat from its pins. The lifeboat normally hung 20 metres above the waterline. With the existence of rogue waves then considered so statistically unlikely as to be near impossible, the investigation finally concluded that the severe weather had somehow created an ‘unusual event’ that had led to the sinking of the München.

          As the science behind rogue waves was explored and more fully understood, it was accepted that not only did they exist, but that it was possible that they could occur in the deep ocean, such as in the North Atlantic. Investigators later returned to the question of the München and considered the possibility that she had encountered a rogue wave in the storm that night. Whilst ploughing through the storm on the night of 12 December, she was suddenly faced with a wall of water, between 80 and 100 feet (24 to 30 metres) high, looming out of the dark. The München would have plunged into the trough of the huge wave, and before she could rise out of it, it collapsed onto her, breaking across her bow and superstructure, tearing the starboard lifeboat out of its pins and likely smashing into the bridge, breaking the windows and flooding her. Having lost her bridge and steering, she would probably have lost her engines. Unable to maintain her heading into the storm, she would have been forced broadside into the waves. She seems to have floated for a number of hours, during which the storm and inaccurate positioning prevented her from being located. The force of the waves then hulled or even capsized her; another rogue wave may have contributed to her distress. She would then have succumbed to the flooding and sunk within a short period.

          Report from one person onboard of a searching vessel

          It’s the night of 11 to 12 December. Over the North Atlantic raging for days a heavy hurricane, the mean wave height, so the predictions and measurements, is more than 16 metres. Massive volumes of water have begun to move in the north-west storm, the sea is boiling, the wind is screaming.

          Rogue wave phenomena, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

          In the middle of it, a large LASH carrier heads for the American East Coast, powered by a state-of-the-art 26,000-horsepower machine capable of driving 18 knots. The huge ship is five days out from Bremerhaven, far out in the Atlantic, a good 830 km north of the Azores and 1,700 km behind Lizzard, the exit from the English Channel. With a length of 240 metres and 37,000 GRT, it is significantly larger than the Titanic and, with state-of-the-art technology of its time, represents the pride of German maritime shipping. It has loaded “heavy stuff”, machine and steel components into self-floating barges, stacked in a double position, which occupy the entire length of the ship behind the bodywork. Her name is München and we write the year 1978.

          In the late evening, shortly after midnight, the radio operator of the large ship still has contact with the German passenger ship MV Caribe several thousand kilometres away on the “Sabbelwelle”. He reports of very bad weather and – as a result – damage to the structure, but speaks neither of imminent danger or even distress. After contact, the ship will probably continue its course through night and storm.

          Just a few hours later, at 03.10, two ships on the Atlantic take on an electrifying paging: “SOS SOS SOS DEAT DEAT DEAT” and a mutilated position message. This is the international call sign of the German cargo ship. The call will be routed as usual, with several ships in range immediately changing their course and heading for the distressed vessel’s reported location, not a safe haven in prevailing weather conditions. The shipping company is notified, and in turn makes contact with the families of the sailors. Early in the morning, a first “Nimrod” long-range reconnaissance aircraft sets off from England and flies out into the storm, finding weather conditions with west winds from 11 to 12 Beaufort and arriving hours later in the target area. Calls to the München remain unanswered, the aircraft cannot find anything in the reported position. Slowly it gets scary. Such a powerful ship cannot just disappear.

          In the afternoon, the Dutch salvage tug Smit Rotterdam takes over the coordination on-site at sea and probably the largest search operation of German maritime shipping begins. More and more ships hurry to the busy North Atlantic route, are divided and search in the next few days from an area that is five times the size of today’s Federal Republic.

          The German Navy relocates “Breguet” sea ice reconnaissance aircraft from Northern Wood to southern England, later to the Azores, and flies non-stop search missions. British, Portuguese and American machines are also in use. In the end there are 75 ships and 13 planes on the way and find … NOTHING.

          On the evening of 13 December in the Azores it is said that two hours of slower calls for help from the München will be intercepted. On the morning of the 14th, the München EPIRB buoy begins automatically to send the vessel identification, a sure sign that it has floated out of its cradle at one of the highest points on the ship. Freezing cold is spreading across the radio network. Everyone who hears about it knows the meaning. Slowly you come to realise in the course of the day that you may have searched due to an incorrect position 350 km too far south. In the new search area are relatively fast driving barges, the radio buoy, life jackets and unopened life rafts in a thick layer of oil. No crew. Neither alive nor dead.

          It will continue to search. With high expenditure on ships, airplanes and humans. On 20 December the international search will be stopped. The shipping company in Hamburg does not want to give up, continues to search with its own ships, it is supported by German, American and English aircraft. On 22 December 22 they must also stop the search. The München and her 28-member team remain missing.

          The world is puzzled. How could such a thing happen? What had gone so horribly wrong that such a “super ship” and with it 28 people just disappear almost without a trace into the depths?

          As one of the innumerable possibilities, experts assume “green water” on deck, ie the impact of an unbroken wave on the deck or on the bodywork. Trials in the towing tank later revealed clues to this thesis. For the damages also speak on the retaining bolts of the found lifeboat. In professional circles, this is called a sea beating and – depending on the amount of water – can have disastrous consequences for the integrity of the ship’s hull. Years later, the only identical sister ship of München, the Dutch Bilderdyk, also experienced such a storm. She just got away from it.

          However, in 1978 there cannot be such huge waves by definition of science and its “linear model” of wave development. Among seamen, however, there have always been rumours of “monster waves”, “Kaventsmännern” or “Freakwaves”, the round, monstrous, all-destroying mountains of water which seemed to come from nowhere and are so much bigger, higher and more powerful than anything around them. But no one spoke loudly, certainly not a helmsman or captain who kept his council and did not want to be suspended for drunkenness in the service. Only 17 years after the München the Norwegian oil drilling platform Draupner-E was unequivocally documented during a storm in the North Sea experiencing a single wave with a 26 m height. A rethinking began. Today, you do not just know that they exist, but also that such monsters are much more common than assumed. There even seems to be “hotspots” for them and they are obviously still much higher than the Draupner wave – 35 metres cannot be ruled out.

          Ultimately, the reason for the downfall of the München cannot be clarified. Most likely is a chain of events that may have started with a sea beating. It is equally certain that the ship stayed afloat for many hours, possibly until the morning of 14 December, just as the buoy began to swell and send. After a careful examination of the few pieces of evidence, the Maritime Inspectorate later made a short statement: “… an extraordinary event must have occurred due to bad weather, causing the sinking of the ship.”   She lies in the dark depths of the North Atlantic, her grave north of the Azores, somewhere on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, close to the last reported position at 46.15 N 27.30 W. There, the sea is between 1,000 to 4,000 metres deep and any search would probably be in vain. And for what?

          What do I have to do with it? I had been aboard my training ship since the summer of 1978, and we were at sea at the time of the search, albeit in a distant part of the world. Nevertheless, we followed everything, the listening radio operator gave out a bulletin every few hours of how things stood with the search. After the first few hours of no success, the mood became ever more depressed – everyone on board knew how small the chance wsa for the colleagues on board. And I myself could not imagine it – after all, I had been standing in the Bremerhaven at the Kaiserschleuse in the spring of that year and admired the huge ship that was on its way to the North Sea. Unimaginable that something so enormous could be brought to an end by ANYTHING! When the search was stopped there was silence on board. Everyone knew he could have been in the place of the concerned sailors. On Christmas Eve we were in Santos on the South American coast and I celebrated Christmas in the local sailor’s club. In the devotion, as in the pre-selected speech of the Federal President, the team of the München was thought about.  It was depressing.

          On 3 January 1979, there was a memorial service for the crew in the Bremen Cathedral. Two thousand people came.  In Hamburg and Bremen flags flew at half-mast. The ceremony was broadcast, the Bremen taxis were wearing mourning fleur, the people took part. At the end of the moving celebration, the names of the 27 crew members and the traveling woman companion of e of the helmsmen were read out.

          Towing lash barges to Lisbon, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Towing lash barges to Lisbon

          On 22 December the search to the München was halted. Everybody on board the Smit Rotterdam was depressed and felt that this tragedy had made a very heavy impact on their lives. But there was no time to think about it. Work continues and the search for the floating Lash container called for their attention. Just after a half day the first Lash container was found. The problem for the crew of the Smit Rotterdam was how to connect this Lash container for towage. Her very heavy 9 inch towing wire was useless for this job. The weight of the towing wire is so big that when connected the towing wire should pull the Lash-barge down and sink her. However a connection was made with a smaller towing wire connected on the Lash-barge and connected to the Smit Rotterdam’s wire storage reel. After the connection the Smit Rotterdam slowly towed the Lash-barge to Lisbon. The weather was much better but the sea was still rough with high waves. On the 26th the second Christmas day the tug arrived on the Lisbon roads. But if you think that all was clear and fine for the crew it was a mistake. During the handover of the Lash-barge to the local tugs, strong winds gusting with heavy rain overtook the transport. But the experienced crew succeeded transferring the Lash-Barge to the harbour tugs who moored the barge safely to a berthing place. Likewise the Smit Rotterdam was moored safely to a berthing place. The engine were stopped and the full crew were relaxed after three weeks of intensive duties.

          Station duties

          After the delivery of the Lash barge the Smit Rotterdam set sail to South West Portugal for station duties. She dropped anchor on 29 December in the Bay of Lagos. It is good to give crew some rest after the efforts and experiences of the past two and a half weeks. However much rest to the crew was not provided. The Smit Rotterdam received orders from the head office in Rotterdam to pick up her Azores station sailing with economic speed. In the morning of the last day of the year the anchor was heaved up and the Smit Rotterdam sailed from the Lagos Bay bound for Horta.

          Around 21.00 hrs the same day, the crew not on watch noticed that the engines of the tug were running on full power. A few minutes later the Captain enters the messroom with a notice that says there is a tanker in distress and the Smit Rotterdam with make full speed to the casualty.


          The tanker, the 46,827-ton Dutch-owned, Liberian-registered Getafix, was in trouble with a flooded engine room 95 miles north-northwest of Lisbon. “She was stopped dead in the water,” the duty officer reported. It was not immediately known what, if any, cargo it had or how many crewmen were aboard. The weather was reported as poor.

          In the morning of New Year’s day 1979 the tanker, with a black out and rolling heavily in the North Atlantic swell, was reached. The life/workboat was being made ready with salvage equipment, pumps and generator sets. The engine room flooded but reported with the seawater inlet valves closed and flooding stopped.

          The workboat reaches the Getafix and the salvage equipment is transferred on board the tanker. The second engineer of the Smit Rotterdam also went on board to start the pumps to empty the engine room and make ready the emergency towing connection.
          Getafix, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

          The radio officer of the Getafix wrote the message below describing the events around the voyage of the tanker from the time when he signed on in Rotterdam until the Getafix was safely delivered back in Rotterdam.

          A trip to remember

          After 40 years it is time to put my memories on paper.

          Mid May 1978 I joined the Liberian flagged tanker Getafix as a 20 year old radio-officer in Europort – Rotterdam, not realizing how it would end.

          The Getafix was a tanker of 102,065 tons dwt, built in Norway as Credo. In 1976 it was transferred to the Liberian flag and technical and crewing management were put in the hands of Nievelt, Goudriaan & Co, at the time a well-known Dutch shipping company based in Rotterdam.
          From Rotterdam we departed for Teesport / U.K. to load Northsea-crude for Freeport Bahamas. Upon completion of discharging we were ordered to proceed to the Mediterranean, with a prospective trip to the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually we loaded in Arzew / Algeria and Ras es Sider in Libya. While passing off Malta a technician came out by small tug with a Loran navigator. This was necessary to comply with US rules and regulations on navigation equipment. In the Gulf of Mexico the greater part of the cargo was ship-to-ship transferred to another tanker while the remainder was discharged in Houston.

          From Houston there was an eight week voyage to Singapore where a drydocking was planned. During this eight week trip preparations were carried out such as tank-cleaning. The drydock was to last for about six weeks.

          At the Sembawang shipyard in the north part of Singapore, two Norwegian class surveyors were in charge of the surveying during the drydock period. The Getafix was originally Norwegian and classed by DNV. After the drydock a voyage from Indonesia to West Europe was planned. Unfortunately the drydock period did not deliver much benefit; we were regularly plagued by black-outs etc. Quite annoying when you are awaiting your turn with Scheveningen Radio to obtain or send your Radio traffic. At a certain moment a more serious problem developed in the engine-room. In consultation with Nievelt (Nigoco) it was decided to carry out emergency repairs in Capetown. However, a few days before arriving at Capetown we received a telegram from Nigoco that the emergency repairs were cancelled because of economic reasons. The engineers were not very pleased by this decision, to put it mildly. So we kept soldiering on towards Rotterdam.

          Unfortunately on 31 December 1978 we encountered a real problem. A main coolwater pipe burst and the engine-room flooded, resulting in a dead (the lights o/b flickered a couple of times, but we were all already used to that).

          The chief officer appeared suddenly in the radio room, saying the legendary words : “Sparks, I think It is now time to call your friends.” (I have always been and still am a tug-lover, which can be easily explained by the fact I grew up in Maassluis, homeport of the Smit tugs.)

          I did send a XXX message requiring tug assistance, we were dead ship. The call was acknowledged and relayed by Monsanto radio / CUL. Also a Russian vessel with callsign URIL responded. After a short while the tug Smit Rotterdam offered assistance and gave ETA early morning 1 January. Also the German tug Titan offered assistance, but because of our Dutch background Smit Rotterdam was accepted. Despite a heavy swell still running, the workboat of Smit Rotterdam succeeded in transferring two small generators and pumps o/b Getafix. Also 2nd engineer Hans van der Ster managed to get o/b Getafix. An emergency towing connection was made (easier said than done on a dead ship) and course was set for Vigo / Spain. After a three-day towing trip we entered the Bay of Vigo. Towing line was disconnected and Smit Rotterdam came alongside to provide electricity etc. As our galley was dead as well, we endured three days of compulsory cold buffet. The complete crew of Getafix was therefore invited for a good hot meal on board Smit Rotterdam. It was nice to see on the noticeboard on mit Rotterdam: “o/b the casualty NO SMOKING”.
          featured on Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime nrews

          Arrangements were made to get a more powerful generator from Holland o/b Getafix in order to provide energy to keep the cargo of 96,000 tons of Indonesian crude at the correct temperature. Also a proper towing connecting was set up for the trip to Rotterdam. In the meantime two (rather nervous) company Superintendents arrived o/b. There were a few spare seats in their charter plane, so some of the officers left the vessel, stating: “I do not sail another mile with this derelict floating oiltin, certainly not without a radio-officer.” In the end I was asked whether I was willing to stay o/b during the towing trip to Rotterdam. I agreed, being a tug-lover…… but this time on the other end of the tow-line. I did the 3rd officers navigational watch and radio communications in between. Navigation also had my interests and putting Decca positions in the chart does not require a genius.

          Shortly after departure from Vigo the weather was very nice and speed about 8 knots, but as soon we entered the Bay of Biscay the weather deteriorated fast. Speed reduced to 2 knots, vessel heavily rolling and lots of water on deck. Upon approaching the entrance of the English Channel the French navy provided escort services with a standby tug.

          Getafic arriving Rotterdam under tow 1979, feeatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

          Despite regularly transmitted navigational warnings that Getafix was sheering behind Smit Rotterdam, some ships [came] pretty close by. I frequently used the Aldis-lamp sending the letter D. In the end in consultation with the watch-keeping officer on Smit Rotterdam it was decided the switch on part of our deck-light. It is a fact that a lot of light on a pitch dark sea, scares most of the other ships away. On the early morning of 15 January we arrived at Rotterdam. Between the breakwaters Smit Rotterdam disconnected and with the assistance of four harbour tugs we were safely berthed.

          My brother and father travelled to Hook of Holland, despite very wintry conditions and icy roads to see us enter port and take some photos. Another fact which still surprises me today, is that my brother had to read in a newspaper [that] we encountered problems during New Year’s eve. My father phoned the ship’s office, and Radio Holland, the content of his conversation is not suitable to put in writing here. Fact remains both were not able (or willing) to supply information.

          These memories are strictly personal and any accusation towards Nigoco are on my account. The message with the cancellation of emergency repairs for economic reasons is very real. Nowadays a trade union or crew would most probably prosecute the shipping company, or Port State detention would have been very likely. I certainly do not regret that Nievelt in the end ceased to exist as a shipping company.

          Henk Ros
          Radio officer Getafix / 5LPC

          Andros Patria

          On the same day as the troubled Getafix another tanker faced problems in the North Atlantic at the Spanish coast near La Coruna. The Andros Patria was a Greek oil tanker which caught fire on 31 December 1978 northwest of Spain. Two Dutch ocean-going tugs, Typhoon from Wijsmuller at Ijmuiden and the Poolzee from Smit International at Rotterdam, were alerted and proceeded to the given location.

          Off the north-west coast of Spain the Greek tanker Andros Patria had caught fire. The explosion occurred midships and the captain, fearing that the entire ship would explode, ordered the lifeboats to be launched. Almost the entire crew along with the captain abandoned the burning tanker. Only the chief engineer and one crewman stayed aboard.

          The fire did not spread and the chief managed to restart the engines, set the autohelm to avoid the coast thus saving the ship and a greater environmental disaster. The tanker was carrying over 200,000 tons of Iranian crude oil and ultimately released over 14,000,000 gallons into the Bay of Biscay.

          The ship was later taken in tow and was salvaged. The lifeboat carrying the captain and the thirty-three crewmen who abandoned the ship capsized in the heavy seas and all were drowned.

          The accident

          The tanker Andros Patria of the United Shipping & Trading Company of Piraeus, Greece was on a journey in December 1978 from Kharg to Rotterdam with 208,000 tons of crude Iraqi heavy crude.

          Andros Patria, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

          At 6:20 pm on 31 December in bad weather off Cape Finisterre the ship developed a crack in the outer skin through which oil spilled out. About two hours later, an explosion occurred at the cracked tank 3 of the ship, which set fire to the ship’s expiring oil cargo. The ship initially requested that the crew be lifted off by helicopter, but 34 of the 37 people on board, including the captain, his wife and two-year-old son, left the ship soon after in a ship’s lifeboat. The boat capsized in the heavy sea, killing all persons. The remaining three people on board were rescued by helicopter one day later. On 4 January 1979, a salvage team boarded the ship and the damaged vessel was later taken in tow. Because Spain, Portugal, France and Great Britain refused to allow the damaged vessel through their territorial waters the Andros Partia was towed to the sea area south of the Azores where the remaining cargo was lightened until 9 February 1979. After that, Portugal allowed the now empty tanker to be brought to Lisbon. Arriving in Lisbon, the insurers declared the ship to be a constructive total loss. The Andros Patria was sold for demolition and scrapped from 19 June 1979 in Barcelona.

          Note: The Smit Rotterdam was the last tug that remaineed as salvage tug on the Azores station. After this terrible winter the company decided for economic reasons to leave the station. The cost of having big ocean going tugs on station is much higher than the profit paid by the insurers. After 57 years, 1921-1978, the Azores salvage station came to an end. However, the salvage company still exists and operates under the name Smit Salvage and is a part of Royal Boskalis. Salvages are carried out in a different way today. Tugs are hired and salvage material is held on standby at various strategic locations around the world. ISU president Charo Coll said: “We need to accept the realty of different ways of working. The shipping and insurance industries must, in their own interest, recognise the need to provide sufficient remuneration to encourage investment in vessels, equipment, training and the development of highly qualified staff in order to continue to provide an essential global emergency response capability.”

          Tugs Towing & Offshore News, from which this narrative is produced with permission
          Sleeptros February 1979
          Memories of Harm Jongman, chief officer of the Smit Rotterdam
          Memories of Hans van der Ster (towingline), second Engineer of the Smit Rotterdam
          Memories of Henk Ros, Radio Officer of the Getafix
          Timmscorner: reports from a searching vessel
          Photo Andros Patria
          Martyn Wingrove:,salvors-adapt-to-changing-commercial-realities_56128.htm



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          Isandlwana, dredging at Mossel Bay, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Isandlwana, dredging at Mossel Bay

          Transnet National Ports Authority’s Dredging Services has confirmed that its trailing suction hopper dredger ISANDLWANA has sailed from the Port of Durban and was due to arrive in the Port of Mossel Bay on Sunday, 9 December 2018.

          Isandlwana will spend approximately 10 days at the Southern Cape port to address some high spots in Mossel Bay’s port entrance channel.

          See our earlier report Total prepares to start drilling off South African coast

          Dredging the high spots is a necessity ahead of an oil drilling expedition from December 2018 to March 2018 by petroleum refining company, Total, where supply vessels to support the activity are being utilised.

          Port of Mossel Bay, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Port of Mossel Bay

          “The Port of Mossel Bay has some high spots in the entrance channel and the sand trap is full,” said Port Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange. “The high spots in the channel pose a navigational risk especially during low tides. We want to ensure that we provide an excellent service to our customers, hence we have brought forward the dredging activity to ensure the drilling expedition and the movement of the platform supply vessel are not compromised.”

          The benefits of dredging the areas will be an entrance channel that is dredged to the designed depth and all high spots that would have posed a navigational risk, will be removed, explained Tshikalange. The dredged sand trap will then again have capacity for the migrating sand to not settle in the entrance channel of the port.

          Regarding Total’s local oil drilling expedition, Tshikalange said TNPA was supportive of the initiative as positive results would contribute towards unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans and subsequent job creation as part of Operation Phakisa, which was proclaimed in 2014.

          TNPA’s Dredging Services division aids the removal of approximately four million m3 per year of dredged material from South Africa’s ports. The present fleet of dredgers includes two trailing suction hopper dredgers, the Isandlwana and the Ilembe, the 750m3 grab hopper dredger Italeni; the Ingwenya trailer hopper dredger and the Impisi plough tug.



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          HMS Queen Elizabeth returns to Portsmouth, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          Illustrations MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©

          HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed back into Portsmouth yesterday (10 December) after successful completion of initial fast jet trials in America, marking a new era in UK Carrier Strike capability.

          The 65,000-tonne carrier’s first transatlantic deployment, which began in August, saw her embark two F-35B Lightning II test aircraft, from the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. She also conducted an historic, week-long visit to New York.

          During the development trials, the jets conducted 202 take-offs from the ship’s ski ramp, 187 vertical landings, and 15 shipborne rolling vertical landings (SRVL) —a landing technique unique to the UK. They also dropped 54 inert bombs, testing the weight loading in a variety of weather conditions and sea states. The operating envelopes will be further expanded during operational trials, scheduled for next year.

          Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural deployment to the US has not only marked the return of the Royal Navy’s carrier strike capabilities, but also strengthened our special relationship with US forces. A true statement of our global reach and power, this ship will serve the United Kingdom for generations to come, keeping the nation safe and supporting our allies as we navigate increasing threats.”

          Having assumed Command from Rear-Admiral Jerry Kyd in New York, Captain Nick Cooke Priest summed up the deployment, saying: “The WESTLANT 18 deployment has been a real success; and let us not forget that we are just a year on from the ship being commissioned and accepted into service. The main effort – Fixed Wing Flying trials – have delivered outstanding results, which is testament to the co-operation, hard work and dedication of both the ship’s company and the US Integrated Test Force, assisted by the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Their combined efforts have put us in an excellent starting position for next year’s Operational Testing. The ship has proudly flown the flag for the UK across the Atlantic.”

          Commander Air onboard, Commander James Blackmore, oversaw the flight trials and said: “Since the ship sailed from build only 17 months ago we have operated Fixed Wing – most notably the F-35B – Rotary Wing and the Tilt Rotor MV-22 Osprey – nine different aircraft types in all. We have proved the incredible design of the Queen Elizabeth Class of ship and the partnership with the F-35B. In that combination, we have something very special that will provide significant operational capability for decades to come, strategic choice for our government and a Task Group focus for the Royal Navy; we are truly back in the Super Carrier era.”

          Illustrations MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©

          The deployment was also the first for the reformed UK Carrier Strike Group staff, headed up by Commodore Michael Utley, who said: “This has been an extraordinarily successful deployment on the Royal Navy’s journey to full Carrier Strike capability. It has once again demonstrated the strongest of relationships with our closest allies in the US and will underpin future work as we re-introduce fixed wing aviation at sea.

          “The design of HMS Queen Elizabeth, specifically built for the immensely capable F-35B Lightning II, has enabled outstanding progress which will form the basis of Operational Testing in 2019. The other Task Group units deployed, including HMS Monmouth, our new Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Tidespring and the Merlin helicopters from 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons, as well as Royal Marines and members from our sister services, have all contributed to this significant success.”

          The WESTLANT 18 Task Group comprised HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Monmouth, RFA Tidespring and aircraft from 820, 845 and 814 Naval Air Squadrons, as well as Royal Marines from 42 Commando and supporting units from the US Navy and US Marine Corps.

          It is understood that Queen Elizabeth will remain in Portsmouth during the early part of 2019 undergoing maintenance.

          Edited by Paul Ridgway

          HMS Queen Elizabethj reurns to Portsmouth Illustrations MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©
          Illustrations MoD Crown Copyright 2018 ©



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          No truth that a Chinese fishing fleet is on its way to fish in Mozambique waters, says minister, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
          No truth that a Chinese fishing fleet is on its way to fish in Mozambique waters, says minister

          Mozambique’s Minister of the Sea, Inland Waters and Fisheries, Agostinho Mondlane, says he has no knowledge of the licensing of over 100 Chinese fishing vessels to operate in Mozambican waters.

          Mondlane was responding to last week’s independent newssheet Carta de Mocambique, which claimed that 114 Chinese fishing boats had been licensed by the Mozambican state and would shortly be arriving in Mozambique.

          The fisheries minister told a media conference that although his ministry handled the licensing of fishing vessels, he was unaware of any mass licensing of foreign boats, nor did he have any idea where the story came from. “We are paying attention to this report,” he said.

          According to the report carried by AIM, Carta de Mocambique quoted sources within the fishing sector and provided a long list of Chinese companies whose vessels have supposedly been licensed to fish in Mozambican waters. Some of the boats are trawlers and others are longliners.

          Mondlane said that fishing licences are not granted to foreign companies. Only companies registered in Mozambique can apply for licences, although they may acquire their boats from anywhere in the world.

          “Any boat must be operated by a company registered in Mozambique,” he insisted. The sole exception was for tuna fishing, since tuna is a migratory species and the boats might follow the shoals through more than one fishing jurisdiction.

          But the tuna vessels too must be licensed, even if the operator is not registered in Mozambique. “They must be authorised to enter our waters, otherwise they may be seized,” said Mondlane. “All fishing boats are inspected to ensure that the fishing gear used is legal, and that they comply with health requirements.”


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