Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 8 July 2019

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Maersk Stadelhorn arriving in Durban during June, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news. Picture: Kieth Betts
Maersk Stadelhorn. Picture: Kieth Betts

Maersk Line’s container vessel MAERSK STADELHORN (IMO 9726671) arrives in Durban harbour with a near capacity cargo of containers earlier in June. The 117172-dwt ship, which was built in 2015, is owned and managed by the Danish Maersk Line and if her name appears typically German or perhaps Austrian, the ship was once briefly named EL GRECO! The impressive-looking ship is 300 metres long and 48m wide and was arriving from the Far East and is described as a 10,000-TEU class vessel, which probably means around 12,000 or 13,000-TEU nominal. Maersk Stadelhorn was built at the Hyundai Heavy Industries, Ulsan Shipyard in South Korea. The above picture is by Keith Betts



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Chrysanthi S, the oil products tanker involved with an oil spill in Algoa Bay. Picture: Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Chrysanthi S, the oil products tanker involved with an oil spill in Algoa Bay. Picture: Shipspotting

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) said on Sunday it has launched an investigation to establish why up to 400 litres of oil spilled into the ocean off Port Elizabeth early Saturday morning.

The spill occurred while the vessel, the 80,280-dwt Liberian-flagged bulk carrier Chrysanthi S was being refuelled by a bunker barge from the bunker service company SA Marine Fuels.

The cause of the accident was overflow.

SA Marine Fuels immediately activated an oil spillage control exercise to contain the oil spread.

The Department of Environmental Affairs together with SAMSA say the spill has been contained to the water and is not expected to reach the beach or islands. According to SAMSA a company has been contracted to assess the effect of the spill and has confirmed that there are “no oil traces in the water” – whatever that means. Where did the oil go?

SAMSA and other authorities will conduct a check of the beaches and islands off Port Elizabeth tomorrow (Monday, 8 July 2019) to confirm that the oil will not reach land, says acting SAMSA CEO Sobantu Tilayi.

“SAMSA will conduct a comprehensive investigation into this unfortunate incident. While responsibility for preventing pollution by ships at sea no longer resides with SAMSA but with the Department of Environmental Affairs, we take our role as the custodian of the country’s maritime affairs and for promoting South Africa’s maritime economy extremely seriously.

“We know the impact that an oil spill can have, from the marine wildlife affected to the people who earn their living from the sea and the local economy, and we will do everything in our power not only to ensure that the impacts of this spill are contained, but also to ensure that it never happens again, Tilayi added.

He said that the bunkering protocols adhered to by South Africa’s bunkering services companies were of world-class standard and that the South African public did not need to fear a repeat.

While it is good to have this immediate response, environmentalists and conservationists will be saying that what they feared and regarded as inevitable has happened in Algoa Bay.

The incident is also one of the bunker operators worst fears. The idea of refueling a ship even in the safe calm waters of a harbour is fraught with risk, and these are amplified while being conducted outside in the open ocean.

Even though Algoa Bay provides shelter, it covers a huge expanse of open water and when there’s a swell running and a wind blowing, which it often does off the windy city, then those risks are multiplied.

First Bunker Operator

Lefkas, Aegean's first bunker barge to be registered in Port Elizabeth. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news Picture by Shipspotting
Lefkas, Aegean’s first bunker barge to be registered in Port Elizabeth. Picture: Shipspotting

In 2016 there was surprise among the country’s few bunker traders when it was suddenly announced that a Greek-owned operation, Aegean Bunkering Services (now renamed Minerva Bunkering) had been granted a licence by SAMSA and TNPA to conduct bunkering services offshore in Algoa Bay.

Until then all applications by local bunker traders to undertake offshore bunkering had been dismissed, with bunkering restricted to the ports of Richards Bay, Durban and Cape Town.

Several bunker tanker/barges arrived and one was promptly placed on the local register, to much publicity as further evidence of the advantages this was bringing to the region.

Second Bunker Operator

Further surprises were in store when in 2018 a second bunker operator, SA Marine Fuels was licensed. Part of the justification was that this was a South African-owned, black-women managed company, although by definition they could be bringing little practical experience such as the Greeks provided.

Since then, barely a year down the road and SA Marine Fuels has been acquired by Oryx Energies, a company active in Africa but with Swiss/Maltese ownership. Gone is the boast of South African ownership, removed in less than a year.

Third Bunker Operator

We know of a third bunker operator who may be appointed in Algoa Bay, a highly sensitive area including the four islands of Jahleel, Brenton, St Croix and Bird islands. Each of these are conservation areas in need of protection from illegal visitation.

So sensitive is Algoa Bay that the Algoa Bay Management Plan stated that Ngqura harbour, 22km across the bay from Port Elizabeth, should not be opened for recreational or commercial fishing vessels.

Tier 1 Incident

Meanwhile, the the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries referred to Saturday’s spill as a ‘Tier 1 level incident’ and said it did not require national authority intervention on the basis that local resources were sufficient.

The department said the oil was unlikely to reach the coast and was moving in an offshore direction. Does that mean it is acceptable if it is just the open ocean that gets polluted?


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Map of Angola with Mocamedes Railway in the far south of the country, inland from Namibe, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Map of Angola with Mocamedes Railway in the far south of the country, inland from Namibe

Traffic on the Moçâmedes Railway is expected to increase as result of the commencement of pig-iron production at two municipalities.

The financial manager of the railway management company, António Conceição said the turnover for the railway would increase from 700 million to over 1 billion kwanzas per year.

The 905-km railway covers the provinces of Namibe, including the harbour at Namibe, Huíla and Kwando Kubango and carries about 12,000 tonnes of miscellaneous cargo each month. This could increase to 400,000 tonnes monthly once…


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Iran has threatened to retaliate over the detention of a tanker by the UK Gibraltar authorities (see story above) that it alleges is carrying Iranian oil bound for Syria.

Pacific Voyager. Picture: Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Pacific Voyager.     Picture: Shipspotting

On Friday an Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander, Mohsen Rezai said on Twitter: “If Britain does not release the Iranian oil tanker, it is the authorities’ duty to seize a British oil tanker.”

The Iranian government had meanwhile summoned the British ambassador in Tehran to voice a strong objection to the “illegal and unacceptable” seizure of what it called its ship and cargo.

This appears to have eliminated any doubts concerning whether…


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Grace 1 at Gibralter on Thursday 4 July 2019. Picture: Peter Ferrary / Shipspotting, as featured in report carried by Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime ns
Grace 1 at Gibraltar on Thursday 4 July 2019. Picture: Peter Ferrary / Shipspotting

News broke in the UK early on 4 July that a tanker had been arrested in Gibraltar waters. This was the crude oil tanker Grace 1, (IMO No 9116412) Panama-flag, believed to be managed by iships Management Pte Ltd of Singapore. (Previous names found to have been: Meridian Lion (2013) and Overseas Meridian (2011) both on the Marshall Islands’ Register.

This 330 metres loa, 300,579-dwt crude oil tanker, built in 1997 by Hyundai Heavy Industries of Ulsan, ROK, was understood to have been carrying a cargo of crude from Iran to a Syrian refinery in contravention of EU sanctions. The vessel was boarded by Royal Marines with the support of the Royal Gibraltar Police and HM Customs.

Grace 1 had sailed the long way around Africa, past the Cape from the Middle East to enter the Mediterranean. This demonstrates the lengths the regime in Iran will take to avoid detection especially as transit of the Suez Canal would have been extensively monitored and the vessel’s intentions made likely.

According to a report in The Gibraltar Chronicle the 28-man crew of Grace 1 was made up of Indians, Pakistanis and Ukrainians and they were being treated as witnesses not criminal suspects.

Following the vessel’s arrest the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, The Hon Fabian R Picardo made a statement on 5 July which we are privileged to publish here:

“Ïn the early hours of this morning, Gibraltar Port and Law Enforcement agencies, assisted by a detachment of Royal Marines, boarded a super tanker carrying crude oil to Syria.

“We have detained the vessel and its cargo.

“This action arose from information giving the Gibraltar Government reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel, the Grace 1, was acting in breach of European Union sanctions against Syria.

“In fact, we have reason to believe that the Grace 1 was carrying its shipment of crude oil to the Banyas Refinery in Syria.

“That refinery is the property of an entity that is subject to European Union sanctions against Syria.

“Yesterday (4 July) we published Regulations and a Notice to enforce those sanctions against this vessel and its cargo.

“I also gave a Direction requiring the Captain of the Port, assisted by the Royal Gibraltar Police and Her Majesty’s Customs to take control of the Grace 1.

“With my consent, our Port and Law Enforcement agencies sought the assistance of the Royal Marines in carrying out this operation.

“As the sanctions being enforced are established by the EU, I have written this morning to the Presidents of the European Commission and Council, setting out the details of the sanctions which we have enforced.

“I want to thank the brave men and women of the Royal Marines, the Royal Gibraltar Police, Her Majesty’s Customs Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Port Authority, for their work in securing the detention of this vessel and its cargo.

“Be assured that Gibraltar remains safe, secure and committed to the international, rules-based, legal order.”

The Minister’s video statement is available here [1:50]:


It was reported that in total about 60 officers worked together on the operation. The Royal Gibraltar Police and HM Customs have had approximately 50 officers on board conducting various roles. Currently the vessel is at anchor in Gibraltar waters.

According to a statement from the Gibraltar Government on 5 July owner(s) of the vessel are not clear and it is expected that this will unfold during the course of the investigation.

Extension of Detention

On 5 July the Attorney General of HM Government of Gibraltar obtained an Order from the Supreme Court of Gibraltar extending the period of detention of the Grace 1 by 14 days.

Under the Regulations made pursuant to the Gibraltar Sanctions Act, the dynamic detention of the vessel allowed the authorities to stop the ship for 72 hours. Continuing the period of detention beyond that required an Order of the Gibraltar Supreme Court upon an application from HM’s Attorney General for Gibraltar.

The Supreme Court granted the Order after a hearing In Private and issued this order on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to consider that the detention of Grace 1 is required for the purposes of compliance with the EU Regulation 36/2012 on sanctions on Syria.

Comment on Detention

In relation to its actions regarding Grace 1, HM Government of Gibraltar has confirm that all its decisions were taken as a direct result only of it having reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel was acting in breach of established EU sanctions against Syria.

The Gibraltar Government in a statement emphasised that there had been no political request at any time from any Government that the Gibraltar Government should act or not act, on one basis or another. Information which related to the alleged Syrian destination of the vessel and its cargo legally required Gibraltar to take the necessary action once the vessel entered the jurisdiction.

Furthermore, decisions of HM’s Government of Gibraltar were taken totally independently, based on breaches of existing law and not at all based on extraneous political considerations. These important decisions about breaches of Gibraltar laws were certainly not decisions taken at the political behest or instruction of any other state or of any third party.

In nations governed by the rule of law decisions about the application of laws relating to what are potentially criminal offences are decision made based on facts and legal analysis and are not decisions made on the basis of political requests, whoever the requesting party may be.

Reported by Paul Ridgway


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Locals flock to Slangkoppunt Lighthouse for commemoration

Bergvliet resident Dr Fred Wannenburgh (seated), 80, was the oldest visitor to the tallest cast-iron lighthouse on 2 July 2019, in celebration of World Marine Aids to Navigation Day. He is pictured with Katherine Sinden (left), Robin Poggenpoel (middle) and Tembisa Niselo (right) from TNPA Lighthouse and Navigational Systems., featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Bergvliet resident Dr Fred Wannenburgh (seated), 80, was the oldest visitor to the tallest cast-iron lighthouse on 2 July 2019, in celebration of World Marine Aids to Navigation Day. He is pictured with Katherine Sinden (left), Robin Poggenpoel (middle) and Tembisa Niselo (right) from TNPA Lighthouse and Navigational Systems

More than 350 locals braved the Cape Winter to celebrate the inaugural World Marine Aids to Navigation Day on 1 and 2 July 2019 at the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse in Kommetjie.

Local resident Maggy (left) was the lucky hundredth visitor to the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse on World Marine Aids to Navigation Day. Tembisa Niselo (right) from TNPA Lighthouse and Navigational Systems handed over a goodie bag to Maggy and her children Zayn and Zahra, fgeaturing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Local resident Maggy (above) was the lucky hundredth visitor to the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse on World Marine Aids to Navigation Day. Tembisa Niselo (right) from TNPA Lighthouse and Navigational Systems handed over a goodie bag to Maggy and her children Zayn and Zahra

The occasion also celebrated the centenary of the lighthouse, which is the tallest cast-iron tower on the South African coast. It was commissioned on 4 March 1919 and is one of 45 active lighthouses operated and managed by Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA’s) Lighthouse and Navigational Systems business unit.

As a member of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) – the only body concerned with the provision of marine aids to navigation systems (AtoNs) at sea and on inland waterways – TNPA was proud to participate in the first ever World Marine Aids to Navigation Day.

Erika Gerhardt (left), Scarlet Berning (middle) and Annegret Gerhardt (right). The lighthouse was completed in 1914, but was lit for the first time in 1919, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Erika Gerhardt (left), Scarlet Berning (middle) and Annegret Gerhardt (right). The lighthouse was completed in 1914, but was lit for the first time in 1919

“We had a fantastic two days at the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse and welcomed a number of interesting visitors, many of whom had fond memories of the lighthouse,” said David Gordon, Executive Manager for Lighthouse and Navigational Systems at TNPA.

Visitors climbed the 139 steps to the top of the tower to inspect the 1st Order, 4-panel Chance Brothers catadioptric rotating lens system. The light’s character is 4 flashes every 30 seconds, with a range of 30 nautical miles.

Fish Hoek resident André Theron was born at the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse, while his father Mr Petrus Theron was the lighthouse keeper between 1951 and 1953, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Fish Hoek resident André Theron (left) was among the special guests who paid a visit. He was born at the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse, while his father Mr Petrus Theron was the lighthouse keeper between 1951 and 1953.

False Bay College lecturer Johan van Zyl and family braved the wind and the rain to visit the lighthouse, while members of Songezo’s Cycling Academy in Masiphumelele also made a special trip to take in the structure.

TNPA was also honoured to welcome Bergvliet resident Dr Fred Wannenburgh 80, who was the oldest person to grace the lighthouse with his presence on the two days.


False Bay College lecturer Johan van Zyl and family braved the wind and the rain to visit the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse on 2 July, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
False Bay College lecturer Johan van Zyl and family braved the wind and the rain to visit the Slangkoppunt Lighthouse on 2 July



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More Volvos now being moved by train to final destination thanks to line between China and North Sea Port in Ghent

On 4 July North Sea Port* indicated that Volvo Cars now exports vehicles to China, Italy and Austria by rail from its rail terminal several times each week.

Arrival of the first Volvo XC60 cars from China into Kluizendok, at North Sea Port.   Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©, featured in reports in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Arrival of the first Volvo XC60 cars from China into Kluizendok, at North Sea Port.   Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©

The first train carrying 190 Volvo XC60s from China arrived at the Kluizendok this week (w/c 1 July) and will shortly be returning to the Chinese port of Xi’an with 180 XC90, V90 and V60 Volvo motor vehicles. This service is unique in that the same train is employed on both the West-and East-bound legs.

It is reported that the new rail connection from Ghent is in line with Volvo Cars’ strategy of operating faster, more sustainable and more cost-effective deliveries not only in terms of production but in logistics.

Furthermore, it is understood that exporting some of the cars by rail instead of by ship or truck reduces the impact on the environment and the cars reach their final destination more quickly. The lead time from plant to final destination can be cut by up to half, it has been said.

In the words of Stefan Fesser, Plant Manager Volvo Car Ghent: “Our aim is to deliver our vehicles as quickly as possible to the final customer. By establishing the new rail transport directly to Volvo Car Ghent we will reduce the lead time to customers up to 50%. This demonstrates our commitment to drive efficient and sustainable solutions along the entire supply chain.”

Daan Schalck, CEO North Sea Port, added: “Volvo Cars is able to make full use of the good hinterland connections in North Sea Port by opting in Ghent for sustainable transport by rail to the European hinterland and to China. This strengthens North Sea Port’s position as multimodal port.”

Rail operator Lineas is in charge of managing the exports by rail from North Sea Port to China and Italy and its CEO Geert Pauwels commented: “After our close cooperation for transport to Sweden, Volvo has now deliberately opted for fast and cost-efficient rail transport to Italy and China. Volvo is setting an example here of how rail transport is not only sustainable, but is also the best option for optimising its supply chain.”

The North Sea Port to China Volvo motor vehicle service was inaugurated in the first week of July.  Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The North Sea Port to China Volvo motor vehicle service was inaugurated in the first week of July.  Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©

The service

Within North Sea Port freight trains to Italy are loaded at the DFDS terminal at the Mercatordok while the China train arrives at and leaves from the Kluizendok.

It is estimated that this modal shift to rail has enabled Volvo Cars to take around 5,000 trucks off the road each year.

Part of the hybrid rail service: ro-ro between Ghent and Poland and a container train between Poland and Xi’an. Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Part of the hybrid rail service: ro-ro between Ghent and Poland and a container train between Poland and Xi’an. Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©

Six rail connections per week

Currently Volvo exports cars by train from North Sea Port in Ghent four times a week and from the port of Zeebrugge twice a week.

From North Sea Port there are two rail services each week to Xi’an, China. The capacity of each train is 190 cars with an estimated 100 trains moving as part of the service annually. This amounts to a hybrid rail service with ro-ro between Ghent and Poland and a container train between Poland and Xi’an.

Volvo XC60s are freighted from China to Ghent and XC90, V90CC and V60 models are shifted from Ghent to China. The rail service takes 22 days over the route: Ghent – Malaszewicze (Poland) – Xi’an. Rail management is by Lineas.

There is a twice weekly rail service to Sacconago near Milan (Italy). Trains will have a capacity per train of 200 cars and 92 trains will run annually. Journey time is one day and rail freight management is by Lineas.

From the port of Zeebrugge there are twice weekly rail services to Schwertberg (Austria) with a capacity per train of 200 cars carried by 90 trains annually for the two-day trip over the route: Zeebrugge – Germany –Schwertberg, under the management of Hödlmayr.

Loading into covered wagons as part of the service to Poland. Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Loading into covered wagons as part of the service to Poland. Photo: Volvo Car Gent ©

About Volvo Car Ghent

Volvo Car Ghent (VCG) is a car factory in the port of Ghent and is owned by the Volvo Car Corporation. It consists of a welding factory, a paint shop and a final assembly line. With 6,500 workers, VCG is the largest industrial employer in East Flanders. In 2018, Volvo Car Ghent produced 200,396 cars. The V40, XC40 and V60 models are made here.

* North Sea Port, the 60 kilometres long cross-border port area stretching from Vlissingen in the Netherlands to Ghent in Belgium.


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MSC Gulsun. Picture: courtesy Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Gulsun. Picture: courtesy Shipspotting

After a lull during which some analysts might have pondered if the container carriers had at last come to their senses, the next ship to break a barrier as the world’s largest has entered service.

The 23,000 TEU capacity container ship MSC GULSUN (IMO 9839430) was delivered this week from South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries.

The giant 210,000-gt ship will depart on her maiden voyage on a Silk/AE10 service operated with 2M partner Maersk on Monday (8 July) sailing from Xingang to northern Europe.

Measuring 400-metres in length she is the first container ship to feature 24 rows across her 61.5 metre width – this has resulted in…


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SAS Drakensberg seen at Durban. Picture: Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
SAS Drakensberg seen at Durban. Picture: Trevor Jones

The SA Navy’s combat support ship SAS DRAKENSBERG (A301) has arrived on station in the Mozambique Channel to do duty on counter piracy and human trafficking patrols.

This forms part of the long-standing counter piracy action performed on behalf of the member states of the South African Development Community (SADC) which has involved units of the SA Navy and SA Air Force being stationed at Pemba or other appropriate centres in the channel.

The exercise has been carried out with frigates and offshore patrol vessels as well as on one other occasion using the Drakensberg.

On that particular patrol A301 was used by the…


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AS-12 Loasharik, featured in news report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
AS-12 Loasharik.    Picture: Germanovich – EastWest News

A fire on a Russian Navy research submarine identified as Losharik (AS-12), a deepsea submersible has resulted in the death of 14 men trapped in a burning compartment.

According to Russian commentary on the tragedy, the men sacrificed themselves by locking the hatch separating the burning compartment from the rest of the vessel. Before shutting the hatch a civilian among them was able to exit and became the only survivor of the group. However, other reports say there are five survivors who have been admitted to hospital.

The remainder of the crew on board the submarine who were conducting underwater bathymetric measurements in the Russian territorial waters of the Barents Sea on Monday, 1 July, were able to extinguish the fire from outside the compartment but not before the 14 inside had died from smoke inhalation.

The submarine immediately surfaced and was taken in tow to the Russian Northern Fleet base at Severomorsk, according to fishermen eye-witnesses.

Seven of those who died held the rank of captain of the first rank, and two were holders of Heroes of the Russian Federation, Russia’s highest honorary title. According to the report of five survivors, these were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation and concussion.

Captain Denis Dolonsky, fetured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Captain Denis Dolonsky

Among those who died is First Rank Captain Denis Dolonsky, the commander of the Losharik. Dolonsky was one of those mentioned as a ‘Hero of the Russian Federation’ awarded six years ago for Arctic and Antarctic research work.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the victims’ families, calling the incident “a big loss” for the fleet and the army.

The Russian Defence Ministry described the actions of those who died as having extinguished the fire “thanks to the self-sacrificing actions of the team.”

The submarine has been towed to the Russian North Fleet headquarters in Severomorsk where an investigation is underway, according to the news agency TASS.

Undated photograph of Russian submarine Losharik (AS-12), featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Undated photograph of Russian submarine Losharik (AS-12)

Losharik AS-12 is a nuclear-powered submarine involved with the Russian Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research, also known as GUGI. The Directorate reports to Russian military intelligence, also known as the GRU, and not to the Russian Navy.

The specialised submarines that GUGI has access to are utilised for Russia’s most covert underwater operations, with Losharik being among these. Naval experts estimate her crew to number about 25.

The boat is constructed with a series of seven inter-connected orbs or large balls forming the compartments throughout the length of the boat, giving her additional strength for extra deep-diving. Losharik is known to have operated at depths of between 2000 and 2500 metres in the Arctic but other reports suggest she is capable of going much deeper.

According to American military sources one of her purposes is to sever underwater communication cables.

Weighing around 2000 tons the submarine can be slung below a specially modified Delta III nuclear ballistic missile submarine.

In 2008 20 Russian sailors died in an accident on board the nuclear-powered submarine NERPA. Eight years earlier 118 sailors died in another accident involving the nuclear-powered missile submarine KURSK.


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A fishing community and pirogues in Gambia, featured in reports carried in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
A fishing community and pirogues in Gambia

Fish accounts for more than one-fifth of the protein intake of African south of the Sahara and provides a livelihood to millions of people

Africa’s small-scale fisheries play a critical role in global food security and must be supported with greater research and investment, say international and African experts.

Industry, NGO, government and academic representatives attended Murdoch University’s second Blue Economy Symposium in Tunis last week as part of the Africa Blue Economy Forum (ABEF) 2019 and Murdoch University’s (Perth, Australia) Third Commission, a research investigation focusing on issues of public concern to Africa.

Fish accounts for more than one-fifth of the protein intake of African south of the Sahara and provides a livelihood to millions of people.

Murdoch University Adjunct Professor, Dr Jeremy Prince, who attended the symposium and is contributing to the work the Third Commission in this area, said the collective value of the small scale fisheries of Africa was too big to ignore.

“It is critical that we stabilise and rebuild these fisheries to ensure both food security and the future of the blue economy,” Dr Prince said. “The time to act is now.”

Discussions at the Tunis symposium provided useful insights and contributions to the fine-tuning of the focus and narrative of the Blue Economy chapter of the Third Commission’s report. A strong emphasis was placed on the need to highlight clear and innovative actions to effect lasting transformation of the blue economy in Africa.

Participants in the symposium called on all nations and international institutions to recognise the value and economic impact of small-scale fisheries in Africa. Their recommendations included:
Increasing investment to allow fishing communities to be more involved in the co-management of fisheries; and
Directly engaging with fishing communities to collect and share relevant data regarding the state and economic value of small-scale coastal fisheries.

About the Third Commission

In keeping with Murdoch University’s commitment to quality research and teaching in public policy at both the national and international levels, Murdoch Commissions are exercises in applied public policy informed by rigorous scholarly research and analytical thinking. They bring together senior practitioners, international experts and thought leaders from Australia and around the world to work on pressing problems and issues of public concern.

The first Murdoch Commission, “Western Australia and the evolving regional order: challenges and opportunities” published its final report in November 2013 and the second Murdoch Commission, “Food security, trade and partnerships: Towards resilient regional food systems in Asia” released its report in December 2015.

Murdoch’s Third Commission commenced in June of 2018 and is focused on six themes firmly rooted in the agenda for action identified by the Africa Progress Panel (APP) as being in need of more significant research attention, bolder policy innovation, faster implementation on the ground, enhanced political leadership and the conceptualisation and roll out of innovative research solutions.

These themes are:
* Promoting Equity in the Extractive Industries: Managing the Extractives Industry in a more equitable, transformative and sustainable;
* Boosting the Blue Economy: Better Monitoring, Governing and Harnessing of the Blue Economy;
* Promoting Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production: Enhancing Sustainable Farming and Food Production and Nutritional Security;
* Increasing Power and Light: Creating greater and more innovative access to Modern Energy (Electricity and Light) Fast; and
* Cross-cutting themes of Women & Youth and Climate Change.

An overarching focus of the Third Commission is identifying small scale policy interventions that have potential to make big impacts. Additionally, it seeks to enhance Murdoch University’s links with Africa in areas of the university’s comparative advantage, including research and innovation expertise, strategic interest and networking capabilities within Australia, in Africa and globally.

The Third Commission report is due to be published in 2020.


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SunStone's Greg Mortimer which is nearing completion in China, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
SunStone’s Greg Mortimer which is nearing completion in China

With it being halfway through the winter months and the first cruise ship of the coming summer season now less than four months away, it is good a time as any to begin thinking again of cruise ships and the immense industry that has developed around this important segment of shipping.

It’s safe to say that passenger and cruise ships have almost without exception been designed and built in Europe although with passenger ships more than a few exceptional examples came from the shipyards of the United States.

Since their replacement with cruise ships designed for an entirely different purpose, this has been a European shipyard speciality. This is based on the belief that no other shipyards could possibly have the same expertise and capability of attention to detail when it comes to ‘finishing’ a ship – a conviction that is now under challenge.

There was a similar argument used to explain why luxury yacht hulls being built here in Durban in the days of Oceanco had to be taken to Europe for their accommodation and and final finishing – South African shipyards, we were told, lacked the skills in providing those demanding final touches and polishes expected by the owners.

It seems more likely that there were tax reasons for transporting the hulls to Europe back then, but that’s yet another story in the annals of our port.

Cruise ship Greg Mortimer in the water after launching, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Cruise ship Greg Mortimer in the water after launching

Returning to cruise ships, an American-based company that specialises in expedition type ships, i.e. smaller cruise vessels able to go where larger vessels cannot, has chosen to buck the trend and build a fleet of new ships in China.

The cruise company SunStone Ships, which charters out its vessels, says there are several benefits in building new ships in China, not the least of which is that there are large shipyards available to start building almost immediately.

SunStone’s CEO Niels-Erik Lund says that apart from availability of yards there is the question of finance, with longer financing options available. In Europe, he says, laws prohibit loans of more than 12 years for repayment, whereas in China longer periods can be negotiated.

Another crucial factor is that all the major yards in Europe are always fully booked. Lund said that despite SunStone having dealt with European yards for a long time, the situation forced them to either go to a smaller European yard with no cruise ship experience, or look eastward. He acknowledged that some of the smaller European yards have since begun taking cruise ship orders but these lacked resources and some have been late with deliveries.

Chinese shipyards have thousands of employees and if there are delays they simply allocate more people to the project, he said.

SunStone’s first Chinese ship is now nearing completion, on time and so far to the owner’s satisfaction. The new vessel, with the name Greg Mortimer, is the first of seven being built by China Merchants Heavy Industry, with options for three more.

The new ship undergoes sea trials on 10 July and is due to be named in September after which the ship will be delivered to the charterer Aurora Expeditions, an Australian concern.

However, in deferment to conventional thinking most of the equipment on the new ship has come from Europe where suppliers had to have had a 15-year track record within the cruise industry.

One of the more significant aspects was the choice of Norway’s Ulstein Group for the technical design and sourcing of the vessel and this meant the use of Ulstein’s unique X-Bow design.

Nothing revolutionary about this except perhaps for a cruise ship – the X-Bow has been deployed in 115 ships while Ulstein itself has built over 50 ships in China and has been supervising their involvement at the Chinese shipyard.

All interior spaces in Greg Mortimer was constructed by the Finnish company, while Design USA handled the vessel’s interior design, leading Mr Lund to reassure the doubters that the first of seven Infinity-class ships was European designed and assembled in China.

All seven Infinity-class ships have been chartered by different cruise operators, with differing layouts and finishes according to charterer requirements. They will be operating in different places and have differing demographics and passengers, explained Mr Lund.

The vessels are 104 metres in length, 18 metres wide and have a draught of 5.1m. Greg Mortimer has accommodation for 160 passengers and two restaurants but other ships in the series may carry up to 200 passengers with between 85 and 115 crew. Each ship is being built to a Safe Return to Port design, with Dynamic Positioning and Zero Speed and are Ice class 1A, Polar Code 6.

The unique shape of the X-Bow means that at the waterline it is much wider than a conventional bow and this reduces the pitching and slamming experienced in bad weather. There is also less noise, fuel consumption is improved and passengers enjoy a more comfortable ride. As an expedition ship, Greg Mortimer can expect rough seas and bad weather.

On account of where this ship will mostly cruise, Greg Mortimer has a helicopter deck instead of a pool. Perhaps at some stage we will be lucky to welcome the ship here in South Africa.

This article compiled by Terry Hutson has also appeared in The Mercury Network dated 3 July 2019


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Participants in the annual Port of Mossel Bay cahrity fishing competition, which was featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Around R7000 was raised when 83 Garden Route fisherman together with their friends and families turned out to support the Mossel Bay Charity Fishing Competition, hosted by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Port of Mossel Bay on Saturday, 29 June 2019.

Dubbing the charity event a resounding success, the initiative was held in honour of Youth Month in collaboration with The CALL, a non-profit organisation operating in and around Mossel Bay.

Participants in the annual Port of Mossel Bay charity fishing competition, which was featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Participants in the annual Port of Mossel Bay charity fishing competition

Port Manager, Shadrack Tshikalange thanked participants for supporting the drive, proceeds of which will go towards helping to keep underprivileged girls at Great-Brak Secondary in the classroom.

“We set a target of 100 participants and we are thrilled that the event attracted 83 enthusiastic fishermen, which is a significant improvement from previous fishing competitions, where numbers were very low,” he said.

“It was a great day filled with fun for the whole family and we appreciate the goodwill shown by the Garden Route community, who helped us realise our goal of keeping girls in school.


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UK Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP , featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
UK Shipping Minister Nusrat Ghani MP

In the UK the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced Maritime Safety Week 2019 currently underway to 5 July. Earlier in the week it launched its Maritime Safety Action Plan.

This follows the success of the inaugural Maritime Safety Week in 2018, introduced by Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani MP to bring the maritime industry together and provide a focus to highlight the work being undertaken daily to ensure the safety of seas and inland waterways around the UK.

The Minister’s stated objectives for the week are:

(a)to recognise and highlight all the excellent safety work that already takes place across the maritime sector;

(b)to provide an opportunity to focus on some specific challenges that the sector faces and efforts made to tackle them;

(c)to facilitate the sharing of knowledge, experience and best practice; and

(d)to capitalise on the momentum created by last year’s Maritime Safety Week by emphasise.

The Maritime Safety Action Plan is part of the continued implementation of the safety recommendations from the DfT’s Maritime 2050 strategy. This sets out the DfT’s approach to maritime safety and the priority areas for action to be taken forward.

Nusrat Ghani MP, Shipping Minister, in a statement to the House of Commons said: “I am delighted to inform the House today about the launch of Maritime Safety Week 2019 following the extremely successful inaugural event last year.

“The maritime industry is crucial to the UK economy. It is a simple truth that, if safety were not a priority for the sector, it would rapidly grind to a halt.

“The UK is recognised internationally for its world-class maritime safety framework and already sets the standard in ensuring the wide variety of people who use and enjoy our waters for business or pleasure can do so in safety. It is not only government that has achieved this reputation, through the work of organisations like the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the General Lighthouse Authorities, but also through sector bodies like the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

The marine environment can be dangerous, however, and there is always more that can be done to keep people out of harm’s way.”

Deputy Master of Trinity House, Captain Ian McNaught, offered the following message of support: “I am very happy that we at Trinity House—as well as our sister General Lighthouse Authorities the Northern Lighthouse Board and Irish Lights—can comprise a key element in this welcome partnership between government and the maritime sector.

“This is a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of maritime Britain and the part that safety at sea has to play in the government’s progressive Maritime 2050 strategy. Trinity House is already hard at work with its mission of maritime safety and remains alert at all times for meaningful ways to promote awareness of what the sea means to us as a nation and the challenges that mariners face.”

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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The impressive new MPS Terminal 3 at Tema, Ghana, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The impressive new MPS Terminal 3 at Tema, Ghana

The concession awarded to Meridian Ports (MPS) to operate the new Tema Port Terminal 3 will not result in any job losses among Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority personnel, says Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

This assurance has been issued following concerns expressed by staff at the port, including the Maritime and Dock Workers Union (MDU) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Transport Minister Kwaku Ofori Asiamah said the president had held a meeting with the shareholders of MPS to obtain their commitment of ensuring adequate revenue generation for the Tema port as well as the retention of existing jobs among GPHA employees.

The (old) port of Tema is facing a similar situation to that of Port Elizabeth in South Africa, where almost all the container traffic has been redirected to the adjacent (new) port of Ngqura. At Tema the majority of container traffic for Ghana is expected to go through the MPS Terminal 3 which is adjacent to but separate from the existing port.

The statement issued by the government said that all parties had committed to the successful opening and smooth operations of Terminal 3, which forms part of the Tema Port Expansion project.

Terminal 3 is a public-private partnership between the GPHA and MPS and has an initial container capacity of two million TEUs, making this one of the biggest container terminals in sub-Saharan Africa and capable of becoming the principal container hub for West and Central Africa.

However, as with most such developments its opening has sparked fears and concerns among existing port workers. GPHA employs about 1,780 people at the ports of Tema and Takoradi.


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Trinity House marks World Navigation Day, reported in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

On 1 July 2019 Trinity House London joined lighthouse and marine aids to navigation authorities around the world to mark the first ever World Marine Aids to Navigation Day, established to celebrate and promote the role of marine aids to navigation (AtoNs) and highlight the importance of safety at sea.

The body behind the day is IALA (the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities, see:, a non-profit international technical association established in 1957 to bring together marine aids to navigation authorities, manufacturers, consultants and scientific and training institutes from all parts of the world.

IALA’s 305 members—whether national or industrial—assemble across a number of committees and working groups to exchange and compare their experiences and achievements, with a view to drafting and publishing IALA Standards, Recommendations and Guidelines.

The aim of IALA—to which Trinity House (a founder member) subscribes and contributes—is to foster the safe, economic and efficient movement of vessels, through improvement and harmonisation of aids to navigation worldwide and other appropriate means, for the benefit of the maritime community and the protection of the environment.

The idea of launching the World Marine Aids to Navigation Day annually on 1 July was agreed at IALA’s 2018 conference in the Republic of Korea.

As a focal point for highlighting the importance of aids to navigation as a service for all mariners, Trinity House has chosen to emphasise its statutory duty as an auditor and inspector of local aids to navigation, rather than its more well-known duty as a provider of general aids to navigation such as lighthouses, lightvessels and buoys.

Local aids to navigation are owned and operated by Local Lighthouse Authorities rather than Trinity House, but the powers and duties granted to Trinity House by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 require it to audit and inspect over 11,000 local AtoNs.

This work is carried out by Trinity House’s Inspector of Seamarks and the Local AtoN Manager, both of whom enjoy meeting local operators and seeing so many often-hidden corners of the nation.

Our picture above shows Inspector of Seamarks Captain Graeme Proctor and Local Aids to Navigation Manager Joseph Anderson on a recent inspection tour in Devon and Cornwall

Inspector of Seamarks Captain Graeme Proctor says of the cyclical inspection schedule: “It’s a lot like painting the Forth Bridge, but I really enjoy meeting local Harbour Masters and their teams. It is hard work and a lot of long days, but there will often be a cup of tea waiting for me in the harbour office in the winter and we do enjoy an ice cream by the seaside in the summer months. Although it may not be the most famous of Trinity House’s contributions to maritime Britain, it’s a vital role for safety and is great for keeping us in touch with local aids to navigation providers and the marine users themselves.”

Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani MP said: “Lighthouses have a place in all of our hearts but their longstanding role can never be underestimated. Aids to navigation are crucial to keeping people safe at sea, alerting them to potential dangers. Our lighthouse authorities, including Trinity House, do a fantastic job of keeping our lighthouses, buoys and other assistance vessels in good condition around the clock.”

On 1 July Trinity House and IALA encouraged everyone with an appreciation of the various types of marine aid to navigation to take to social media to share their favourite AtoNs with #WAtoNDay.

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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Carnival Vista loaded on the semi-submersible heavylift Boka Vanguard, as featured in report carried by Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Carnival Vista loaded on the semi-submersible heavylift Boka Vanguard

Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. (Boskalis) has been awarded a contract by Carnival Cruise Line to lift the cruise ship Carnival Vista out of the water onto the BOKA Vanguard and transport it to a shipyard facility for a dry docking operation. This is a world first operation that will take place in the coming weeks in Freeport, Bahamas.

Carnival Vista is the second largest cruise ship in the Carnival fleet with a capacity of nearly 4,000 passengers and a length of 322 metres. Due to technical issues with Carnival Vista’s azipods, the ship’s main propulsion system, the vessel must be repaired in a dry dock which is currently not available in the region.

Boskalis is able to offer a unique solution to facilitate this dry dock repair by deploying…


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Alick Rennie, NSRI STation 5's new sea rescue vessel, which was used in Tuesday's rendezvous with a bulker off the Durban coast,which featured in a news report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Alick Rennie, NSRI STation 5’s new sea rescue vessel, which was used in Tuesday’s rendezvous with a bulker off the Durban coast

Andre Fletcher, NSRI Durban station commander, reported on Tuesday (2 July) that at 08h00 that morning the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Durban Station 5 launched its sea rescue craft Alick Rennie to rendezvous with a bulk carrier 10 nautical miles off-shore of Durban’s Port.

The NSRI crew was accompanied by a Metro Police Search and Rescue officer, a Police Search and Rescue officer and a Netcare 911 rescue technician.

The (unidentified) bulk carrier had been requested by MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre) to divert to assist the rescue of the crew and a dog from a yacht that suffered damage and was taking water 242 nautical miles off the South African east coast on Monday morning.

Communications during the incident were assisted by Telkom Maritime Radio Services.

Arrangements were made for the NSRI Durban to launch and rendezvous with the bulk carrier on Tuesday morning to transfer two males, one from Durban and one from Cape Town, their dog, and sadly to recover the body of a British female, the partner of one of the yachtsmen.

The two men and the dog were not injured in the incident.

The crew of the bulk carrier performed the rescue of the crew of the yacht and their dog and medical staff of the bulk carrier had performed CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) efforts on the female who sadly, despite the extensive CPR efforts, was declared deceased.

After rendezvousing with the bulk carrier a NSRI crewman, the Metro Police Search and Rescue officer and the Netcare 911 rescue technician were transferred onto the bulk carrier where they assisted the two male crew, their dog, and the body of the female to be transferred onto the sea rescue craft. These were then brought to the NSRI Durban sea rescue station from where the body of the deceased was taken into the care of the Forensic Pathology Services. The survivors have been reunited with family.

On behalf of the NSRI, Fletcher extended condolences to family and friends of the deceased.

He said the crew of the bulk carrier are commended for their efforts.

Alick Rennie in Cape Town shortly after arriving in South Africa from France, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Alick Rennie in the water at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront shortly after arriving in South Africa from France


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On 27 June the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued the report of its investigation of the grounding of the Australian Border Force Cutter (ABFC) ROEBUCK BAY on Henry Reef, Queensland, on 30 September 2017.

Illustration reproduced by kind courtesy of the Australian Border Force ©, featured and reported in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Illustration reproduced by kind courtesy of the Australian Border Force ©

This document has revealed underlying safety issues with the effectiveness of ECDIS type-specific training, ECDIS software updates and the use of a single point feature to represent relatively large physical features on electronic navigational charts.

While planning the passage from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait Islands archipelago to Lizard Island, south-east of Cape Melville, ABFC Roebuck Bay’s previously used passage plan was amended, with its route inadvertently plotted over Henry Reef.

Roebuck Bay’s electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) identified the reef as a danger to the planned route, however, the crew did not identify the danger either visually or by using ECDIS. The vessel continued on the amended route and grounded on Henry Reef just after midnight. There were no reported injuries or oil pollution, but the vessel sustained substantial damage.

At ATSB its investigation found the crew’s ability to check the amended route was limited as their training was not effective in preparing them for the operational use of their on board ECDIS.

Furthermore, the ATSB‘s investigation highlights that the safe and effective use of ECDIS as the primary means of navigation depends on operators being thoroughly familiar with the operation, functionality, capabilities and limitations of the specific equipment in use on board their vessel.

In the words of ATSB Chief Commissioner, Greg Hood: “ECDIS type-specific training needs to be designed, delivered and undertaken so operators have the required knowledge to confidently operate ECDIS as intended by the manufacturer.”

It was also found by the ATSB that the vessel’s ECDIS was not updated to the latest International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards and lacked the enhanced safety features of a new presentation library of symbology.

In a statement summarising the facts of the investigation the ATSB reminded regulators, manufacturers, hydrographic offices and other concerned parties that their ultimate goal must be to eliminate the significant risks with the use of ECDIS or at least reduce them to an acceptable level in terms of navigational safety.

Chief Commissioner Hood added: “Like all on-board equipment, ECDIS needs to be maintained and compatible with the latest applicable standards.

“With the recent introduction of ECDIS as the sole means of marine navigation and the replacement of paper charts, the grounding was an opportunity for the ATSB to explore any potential safety impact of ECDIS in a real-world operational environment.”

ATSBs’ investigation involved interviews with Australian Border Force officers, crew and shore staff and hydrographers from the Australian Hydrographic Service and the ECDIS manufacturer. Extensive ECDIS analysis was also carried out, as were various ECDIS simulations and testing procedures.

Hood continued: “As a result of the investigation, the ATSB considers the use of point features in electronic navigational charts to represent areas of relatively significant size on the earth’s surface is likely to increase the risk of the hazard posed by such features being misinterpreted and potentially reduce the effectiveness of ECDIS safety checking functions.

“While this did not specifically contribute to the grounding of Roebuck Bay, the investigation has shown that the implementation of ECDIS has introduced some unintended risks to marine navigation.

The ATSB recognises that ECDIS and electronic navigational charts are an essential tool for navigation with many safety benefits. However, it was stated that operating crew need to be aware that navigating with ECDIS is fundamentally different from navigation with paper charts.

In conclusion Hood commented: “By allowing operators to view and change an electronic navigational chart to a larger complication scale, ECDIS can make single point features representing rocks, wrecks and other obstructions appear progressively smaller as the scale is changed, creating the impression it is clear of a ship’s route or further away than what it actually is.

“The ATSB safety message from this investigation reminds regulators, manufacturers, hydrographic offices and other concerned parties that their ultimate goal must be to eliminate the significant risks with the use of ECDIS or at least reduce them to an acceptable level in terms of navigational safety.”

ECDIS is a complex software-based system and the ATSB acknowledges the many challenges faced in its design, manufacture, and operation to ensure navigational safety.

ATSB’s report MO-2017-009: Grounding of ABFC Roebuck Bay on Henry Reef, Queensland, on 30 September 2017 is available HERE

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Text based on material kindly provided by ATSB ©


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Sider Michelle feeling the swell. Picture: Keith Betts, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Sider Michelle feeling the swell.   Picture: Keith Betts

Last Friday we reported that adverse weather had caused the Port of Durban to close the port to incoming shipping – see HERE. We subsequently learned that the Port of Cape Town also experienced similar problems involving strong seas and swells and generally bad weather – it’s that time of year.

Although conditions have improved, or at least they did for a while although the weather has turned again and taken another step towards reminding us that this is winter season, we thought that perhaps we could illustrate the situation facing incoming ships at Durban whenever a strong swell is running.

The once infamous ‘bar’ outside the port entrance may…

Sider Michelle. Picture: Keith Betts, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Sider Michelle. Picture: Keith Betts


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Seen against a backdrop of the Durban Esplanade skyline are the minesweeper SAS Durban and the steam tug JR More. Picture: Terry Hutson, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Set against a backdrop of the Durban Esplanade skyline are the minesweeper SAS Durban and the steam tug JR More.     Picture: Terry Hutson

Once bitten, twice shy!   Some time back we announced that two of the vessels on display at the Port Natal Maritime Museum were on their way to the shipyards at Durban’s Bayhead for dry docking on respective floating docks.

That news proved sadly premature as first one shipyard withdrew from the contract and then it was found that water depth challenges would make it difficult for tugs to approach close enough to withdraw the steam tug JR MORE and the former SA Navy minesweeper SAS DURBAN from their berth.

In addition the minesweeper had to go back on tender once again and during this period of waiting additional work was added.

So it is with a certain amount of trepidation that we report (on Monday), thaty all being well the two historic vessels will leave their berths during Tuesday, possibly on the afternoon high tide, and depart for the much looked forward to drydocking, with both vessels at SA Shipyards where they will enter the yard’s floating dock to undergo thorough inspection and necessary repair.

As this is being compiled and written in advance of these events it is with the full realisation that fate is again being tempted and that tomorrow’s news reports may contain some form of abject apology and retraction.

For readers not familiar with either vessel, JR MORE is a former Transnet diesel-fuelled steam powered harbour tug that served many years in the port of Durban, being one of the largest tugs of her time and the final steam tug to be ordered by the then South African Railways & Harbours Administration (later SA Transport Services, moew recently still Transnet). She entered service in 1961 and was decommissioned in 1982, and later in the 19802 was handed over to the then emerging Durban museum.

SAS Durban is the sole surviving member of the ‘Ton’ class wooden minesweepers of the SA Navy, acquired from the UK in the 1950s. SAS Durban became the first ship to be delivered new from the builder’s yard to the navy, followed by SAS Windhoek whereas eight others were built for use with the Royal Navy and then transferred to South Africa. SAS Durban was laid down in 1956 and commissioned into the SA Navy in 1958.

The former SA Navy minesweeper SAS Durban M1499 is now the sole surviving member of the Ton class wooden minesweepers that were acquired from the UK in the mid-1950s and is one of only a few remaining in the world. It is thought that she is the last reminaing Ton class still decked out as a naval ship, the others having been converted for fishing or pleasure.

SAS Durban was powered by twin 18-cylinder Napier Deltic diesel engines of 3,000 bhp, which remain intact in the vessel.

It goes without saying that we hope to confirm in tomorrow’s news that these two historic ships are safely at the shipyards awaiting their refits.

UPDATE:  (Tuesday p.m.) We did suggest we were tempting fate and unfortunately that is how it has played out.  For several technical reasons the movement of the two vessels missed the deadline and will have to be re-scheduled.  Perhaps it is safer if, the next time we report on this, it is to say the maintenance and refits have been done and the vessels are back at the museum!


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Ancient shipwreck in the sea off Protaras, eastern Cyprus. Picture source: Department of Antiquities, Government of Cyprus, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Ancient shipwreck in the sea off Protaras, eastern Cyprus. Picture source: Department of Antiquities, Government of Cyprus
report by Venus Upadhayaya

Archaeologists have discovered an undisturbed Roman ship wreck loaded with ancient – era products, the study of which is expected to bring new understandings about ancient trade in the region.

Published in The Epoch Times, the discovery was made in the sea off Protaras, a town of resorts popular among the tourist for its beaches in the Mediterranean, according to a statement from the Department of Antiquities in the Republic of Cyprus. The Department of Antiquities says that the ship belongs to the time after Romans annexed the island in 58 B.C. and is loaded with “transport amphorae.”

[Transport amphorae can be regarded as the containers of their day – Africa PORTS & Ships]

Amphorae were “two-handled ceramic coarseware storage containers … used extensively for the transport and storage of wine, olive oil, marine products, preserved fruits, and other commodities throughout the ancient Mediterranean,” according to STQRY.

The official release said the shipwreck site was reported by a team of two volunteer divers from the Maritime Archaeological Research Laboratory (MARELab) at the University of Cyprus.

“The Department of Antiquities acted immediately after it was reported, in order to secure the necessary funds to cover the cost of the preliminary investigation, as soon as possible,” said the Department of Antiquities. It said a team of archaeologists is already at Protaras and is working on the documentation and protection of the site.

“The site is a wreck of a Roman ship, loaded with transport amphorae, most probably from Syria and Cilicia. It is the first undisturbed Roman shipwreck ever found in Cyprus, the study of which is expected to shed new light on the breadth and the scale of seaborne trade between Cyprus and the rest of the Roman provinces of the eastern Mediterranean,” said the Department of Antiquities.

Transport amphorae were plain and unglazed compared to the highly decorative ones. According to STQRY, they were specifically designed for marine transport and each could hold up to under half a ton.

“Transport amphorae shared these common features that enabled both pouring and stacking in ships: Two opposed handles; thick walls for strength; and a tapering base (usually with a short peg, though some had flat bottoms), allowed the amphorae to be stacked safely one upon the other,” said STQRY.

Ancient History Encyclopedia says that the amphorae were used to store and transport wine, olive oil, honey, milk, olives, dried fish, dry food such as cereals, or even just water.

Amphorae used as containers to store cargo on long voyages, gfeatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Amphorae used as containers to store cargo on long voyages

“The Romans used amphorae in much the same way as the Greeks but with the addition of such Roman staples as fish sauce (garum) and preserved fruits. For this reason, amphorae were sealed using clay or resin stoppers, some also had a ceramic lid when used to store dry goods,” said Ancient History Encyclopedia. Studying the amphorae and its products it is possible to analyze the trade that took place in the ancient era.

In another startling discovery, marine archaeologists discovered what they say is the world’s oldest intact shipwreck, at 2,400 years old, in the Black Sea. The ship was found at a depth of two kilometres (about 1.25 miles), using state-of-the-art technology previously only available to oil, gas, and renewable-energy companies. The ship is designed in the style of an ancient Greek trading vessel known only from ancient artworks, until now.

It has been officially radiocarbon-dated to 400 B.C., after being first discovered by the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (Black Sea MAP) last year, according to a statement on 23 October 2018.

“A ship, surviving intact, from the classical world, lying in over two kilometres of water, is something I would never have believed possible,” said University of Southampton professor Jon Adams, the Black Sea MAP’s principal investigator in a statement.   source: The Epoch Times


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Mental health awareness should be made a core component of first aid seafarer training, according to Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of leading shipmanager Synergy Group.

Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of Synergy Group, & Mr Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping – India, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Captain Rajesh Unni, CEO and Founder of Synergy Group, & Mr Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping – India

Speaking last week at a day-long training session designed to further the understanding of mental health at sea, he told delegates in Mumbai, India, that more must be done to understand and alleviate the mental strains of life at sea as the dangers became more apparent.

He noted that 5.9% of all deaths at sea were proven suicides. When suspicious cases of probable suicides – seafarers that went missing at sea – were included, the percentage jumped to 18.3%.

“That means almost one in five deaths at sea is a suicide which is absolutely horrific,” he said. “Ashore less than 1% of deaths are suicide. This is a problem that we can’t ignore.

“Shipboard staff should be equipped with the skills to…


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Humpback whale. Picture: Wikipedia, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Humpback whale.    Picture: Wikipedia

Whales and fishing gear entanglements are in the news at present. Yesterday we reported on action taken by the minister to suspend octopus fishing in False Bay, after the deaths of whales snagged by this gear.

Now comes news that SAWDN (SA Whale Disentanglement Network) have successfully disentangled a juvenile 8 metre Humpback whale from an entanglement in fishing gear off shore of Buffels Bay, Cape Point.

SAWDN were activated late on Sunday afternoon, 30 June, following eye witness reports of a whale appearing to be entangled.

SAWDN volunteers, aboard an NSRI Simonstown rigid inflatable sea rescue craft and the local whale watching boat Southern Right, responded to the scene and initiated a disentanglement operation but in unfavourable sea conditions – and after the whale was seen to be able to have relatively good freedom of movement – the operation was suspended last night and resumed on Monday morning, 1 July.

Humpbacj whale featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

During the night TMNP (Table Mountain National Park) rangers monitored the whale.

On Monday morning SAWDN volunteers, assisted by an NSRI Simonstown sea rescue craft and the whale watching boat Southern Right and the fishing vessel Albatross, took part in a disentanglement operation lasting just over an hour.

Using heavy cutting gear and grappling hooks, and with the assistance of the fishing vessel Albatross that lifted fishing line, the whale was successfully released from fishing rope entangled around its right flipper and the whale, appearing to be healthy and swimming strongly, confidently went on its way after being released.

SAWDN extended their thanks to NSRI Simonstown, Dave Hurwitz and his boat Southern Right and the fishing vessel Albatross for their assistance in Monday’s successful operation.

The South African Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was established in 2006 in order to manage entangled whales using specialised equipment and is comprised of trained volunteers from the National Sea Rescue Institute, KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, Department of Environmental Affairs, Centre for Sustainable Oceans at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Nature, Mammal Research Institute, South African National Parks, South African Police Service, Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, Bayworld, various boat-based Whale Watching and Shark Cage Diving Operators, the Rock Lobster Industry and the Octopus Industry and fully supported by the Dolphin Action and Protection Group.

SAWDN covers the entire South African coastline of over 2,850 kilometres.   Whales assisted to date: 185.


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Richards Bay Coal Terminal, fed by TFR's coal line, will have sufficient coal in its stockpile to seeout the ten-day shutdown of the railway. Report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Richards Bay Coal Terminal, fed by TFR’s coal line, will have ample coal in its stockpile to see out the ten-day shutdown of the railway network.

Transnet Freight Rail has announced that the entire rail network transporting coal from pits to the port at Richards Bay will shut down for the annual 10-day maintenance period in July.

The annual shutdown this year takes place between 2 – 11 July and will cover the entire coal railway which has flows originating from Ermelo, Vryheid, Richards Bay, Witbank, Ladysmith and Isando.

“The shutdown is an annual scheduled maintenance that is carried out to ensure that the company catches up on maintenance backlog, replaces old, obsolete and problematic infrastructure as part of sustainability of the business,” the state-owned company said on Friday.


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The city of Marseilles has paid tribute to one of its special citizens and the founder president of the CMA CGM shipping and logistics group, by renaming one of its emblematic boulevards in his honour.

Jacques R Saadé, founder chairman of French shipping group CMA CGM, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Jacques R Saadé

Jacques R Saadé passed away last year but now the Boulevard Jacques R Saadé has been inaugurated in his honour by the mayor of Marseilles, Jean-Claude Gaudin, in the presence of the Saadé family and many employees of the CMA CGM Group and other dignitaries  including a representative of the French state and the Ambassador of Lebanon in France.

The boulevard renamed in respect of the man who founded France’s most important shipping group is described as “one of the city’s most emblematic…. stretching along the Mediterranean Sea from the MUCEM, the city’s most famous museum, to the Group’s head office.”

An exceptional visionary and unique entrepreneur, Jacques R. Saadé made the CMA CGM Group a world leader in container shipping while maintaining its family dimension, its human values and a strong anchorage in Marseilles.

It was here that he arrived from Lebanon in 1978. Believing in the city’s unique potential, he dared to make it the starting point for an exceptional global entrepreneurial adventure. For over 40 years, The Group has been constantly involved in the region’s development in many fields, particularly in architecture, with the construction of a Tower which has become a symbol of the reconquest of the Euroméditerranée district.

The Group is are also fostering multiple educational and entrepreneurial initiatives to raise the awareness of youth in shipping and logistics and to help local businesses by offering them the benefits of CMA CGM’s international network.

Today led by Rodolphe Saadé and with 110,000 employees worldwide, the Group continues to invest in Marseilles and its region with the aim of making them a major economic centre.

At the inauguration of Boulevard Jacques R. Saadé, Rodolphe Saadé, President and Chief Executive Officer of the CMA CGM Group, declared: “You have honoured a man and a company by naming a boulevard after him. Jacques Saadé demonstrated that, from France, from this city, you could be an entrepreneur and build a world leader. He gave this country one of its finest industrial flagships. Rest assured that we will always remain committed to Marseilles, for a stronger, more dynamic and more inclusive territory.”

Jean-Claude Gaudin, Mayor of Marseilles, responded: “By giving the name of Jacques Saadé to one of Marseilles’ boulevards, we show that the 21st century is rich in great men that our city wants to honour, that Marseilles does not forget him, and that in the decades to come, many will remember him. With the Jacques Saadé Boulevard, of which the Tower is the lighthouse, Marseilles indelibly inscribes his masterful work, which is exemplary for many ambitious entrepreneurs, in the urban history of our city.” source: The Medi Telegraph & AP&S

Jacques R Saadé in front of one of his container ships, the Christophe Colomb, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Jacques R Saadé at the naming of one of his container ships, the Christophe Colomb


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São Tomé and Principe, beautiful islands in the Atlantic, but deep in debt, says the IMF, report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
São Tomé and Principe, beautiful islands in the Atlantic, but deep in debt, says the IMF

The public debt of São Tomé and Principe is “virtually uncontrolled” and “has reached a point so serious” that “very difficult measures” must be urgently implemented to control it, the representative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated on Thursday, reports Macauhub.

Xiangming Li had earlier met with Prime Minister Jorge Bom Jesus in São Tomé to discuss matters concerning…


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Mocimboa da Praia in northern Mozambique is experiencing repeated terror attacks, report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Mocimboa da Praia (circled) in northern Mozambique is experiencing repeated terror attacks

In the latest attack by Islamic fundamentalists in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, the insurgents killed seven people in the Dacia administrative post, in Mocimboa da Praia district, reports AIM.

The Defence Minister, Salvador M’tumuke, confirmed the attack to the independent newssheet Carta de Mocambique, saying the raid took place before dawn on Monday (24 June), but gave no further details.

That’s how much time it takes…


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Bryde's whale off New Zealand. Picture: Wikipedia, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Bryde’s whale off New Zealand. Picture: Wikipedia

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy has temporarily suspended exploratory fishing for octopus in False Bay.

In a statement issued on Friday, the department said the decision came after consultation with operators in the False Bay area.

“Our decision is taken following widespread public concern regarding recent whale entanglements in the False Bay area which has resulted in the untimely and cruel death of these magnificent creatures,” said Creecy in the statement.

During a recent engagement with fisheries stakeholders in Cape Town, the Minister indicated that she is seeking independent scientific advice on practical measures that can help prevent entanglement incidents in the future.

“Since then, the department has engaged with operators and agreed that the suspension will remain until such time as scientists can investigate the matter further and explore possible mitigation measures to reduce entanglements,” the department said in the statement.

In 2014, the department established an octopus exploratory fishery that is operating in Saldanha, False Bay and Mossel Bay. This programme, said the department, aims to gain scientific knowledge regarding octopus harvesting, with a view to enhancing job creation and economic development in coastal areas.

“Meaningful data has been collected between 2014 and 2018, and will continue until 2021 in order to ensure a solid statistical time series of catch and effort data,” said the department.

Bryde's whale featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The department added that once enough data has been collected, it will be analysed and subjected to proper scientific scrutiny and review, after which a recommendation will be made regarding the viability of establishing a new commercial fishery. Such a recommendation will also consider mitigating measures in the operations of octopus fishery.

“During the course of the exploratory fishery for octopus, the department has been working with Permit Holders and other stakeholders to implement measures to minimise the entanglement of whales in fishing gear.

“Many practical suggestions made by various stakeholders have been implemented through the permit conditions for octopus fishery,” said the department.

After special sinking lines with extra weights were introduced in 2017, there were no recorded whale fatalities in 2018.

Currently, discussions have been initiated to investigate the possible use of ‘acoustic release buoys’ or ‘time release buoys’ to minimise the need for vertical lines.

These options still require testing, but offer hope of dramatically reducing or eliminating whale entanglements in octopus fishing gear. Further work still needs to be done to assess commercial viability of these solutions.

Following the Friday meeting, the department said operators will commence removing the gear from False Bay, focusing initially on those areas identified as most sensitive and with the highest number of interactions. source:


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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Naval News

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