Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 29 March 2020

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Chinese missile tracking ship Yuan Wang 7 arriving in Durban March 2020. Picture by Trevor Jones

Chinese missile tracking ship Yuan Wang 7 sailing from Durban March 2020. Picture by Trevor Jones
YUAN WANG 7.    Pictures: Trevor Jones

The Chinese missile tracking vessel YUAN WANG 7 called at Durban late last week (Thursday 19 March) to take on supplies and bunkers, before heading, so it is thought, for the South Atlantic range where, if similar ship visits in the past can be relied on, she will provide support for another Chinese space launch mission. Similar visits by an earlier version of the ship, YUAN WANG 3, followed that routine with calls in either Durban or Cape Town before taking up station off the Namibian coast and this latest arrival will possibly follow along similar lines. The 27,180-gt Yuan Wang 7 was built in 2016 and has accommodation for hundreds of scientists and technicians, in addition to her crew. Pictures by Trevor Jones



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USNS Comfort is deployed on US East Coast 
On the West Coast it is USNS Mercy

USNS Comfort. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard/Released. USN ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
USNS Comfort. US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua D. Sheppard/Released. USN ©

The Military Sealift Command (MSC) ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Los Angeles on 27 March deployed in support of the nation’s COVID-19 response efforts in a similar way as USNS Comfort was deployed on the East Coast last week.

The two hospital ships are part of MSC’s operation with more than 110 ships around the world.

With the designation USNS (United States Naval Ship) they are not commissioned ships. They are crewed by civilians. Some MSC ships have small military departments assigned to carry out specialized military functions such as communications and supply operations. MSC ships carry the prefix ‘T’ before their normal hull numbers.

The two Mercy-class hospital ships have become prime assets in the US Navy’s efforts to reach out to foreign countries and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Since 2001, the hospital ships have conducted a number of humanitarian-assistance and disaster-response missions at home and abroad, providing care to more than 550,000 people.

Comfort, which originally drew most of its medical staff from the Washington area, was transferred to Norfolk, Virginia, in 2013 to be closer to the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, where most of its medical staff now is based. Comfort deployed for 180 days for Continuing Promise 2015. In 2017 Comfort deployed to Puerto Rico to support relief efforts after Hurricane Maria, and in 2018 she deployed to South and Central America for Enduring Promise 2018.

Mercy has made three 150-day deployments in recent years including Pacific Partnership 2015, 2016 and 2018. Comfort also provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria in 2017.


USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) each contain 12 fully-equipped operating rooms, a 1,000 bed hospital facility, digital radiological services, a medical laboratory, a pharmacy, an optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen producing plants.
Each ship is equipped with a helicopter deck capable of landing large military helicopters. The ships also have side ports to take on patients at sea. When fully operational, the hospital ships have a crew of about 71 civilians and up to 1,200 Navy medical and communications personnel. The precise crew composition and size varies by mission type. During humanitarian-assistance missions, the crew often includes representatives from other US services, foreign militaries and non-governmental organisations.


Both hospital ships are converted San Clemente-class super tankers. Mercy was delivered in 1986 and Comfort in 1987.

Normally, the ships are kept in a reduced operating status in Norfolk, Virginia, and San Diego, California, by a small crew of civil service mariners and active duty Navy medical and support personnel.

It is reported that each ship can be fully activated and crewed within five days.

Edited by Paul Ridgway

USNS Mercy. US Marine Corps photo by Corporal Alexa M Hernandez/Released USN ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
USNS Mercy. US Marine Corps photo by Corporal Alexa M Hernandez/Released USN ©



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Durban on a previous visit. Picture: Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Queen Mary 2 in Durban on a previous visit.   Picture: Trevor Jones



Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 arrived off Durban on Thursday 26 March and, in an unusual action for the Queen, went to anchor outside port at the anchorage opposite Umhlanga. By Friday midday the ship, which has always been welcomed by crowds of Durbanites even in the days when access to the North Pier was heavily restricted, remained in this position, not far from another anchored cruise ship visitor, MSC Orchestra.

The liner was arriving from Fremantle, where most of her passengers were disembarked. Those that remain on board are understood to be passengers returning to the UK who are otherwise unable to fly and will return instead with the ship, whose destination remains Southampton. When she finally enters port to take bunkers and any necessary supplies, it will be a silent mostly ‘non-event’ save for those fortunate people living in apartments along the beachfront.


Arcadia in Durban this past week, purely to take bunkers and supplies. Picture: Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Arcadia in Durban on a windy and overcast day this past week, purely to take bunkers and supplies. The bunker barge can be seen alongside. Picture: Trevor Jones

The P&O Cruises’ Arcadia arrived in Durban on Sunday 22 March – her movements being similar to those of Queen Mary 2, of going to anchor outside until cleared with ‘free pratique’ and allowed to enter harbour. With Arcadia it involved several false alarms and it was Thursday 26 March before she was finally cleared, allowing the ship to proceed to P berth on the T-Jetty.

It appears the port authority and health officials were required to carry out COVID-19 tests on 13 symptomatic individuals onboard the vessel, which turned out to be negative. The Port of Durban helicopter transported a medical doctor out to the vessel to conduct the testing in full personal protective equipment (PPE).

TNPA subsequently advised that the vessel was then cleared and granted free pratique (a clean bill of health) by the Port Health Unit of the Department of Health. Arcadia then docked on the morning of Thursday, 26 March 2020 and departed for Southampton at 7pm on the same day.

Arcadia was one of six cruise ships that were already on their way to South Africa before new regulations were promulgated by the Minister of Transport on 18 March 2020, which now ban cruise liners and prohibit passenger embarkation and disembarkation at all South African cruise ports.

As a result Arcadia’s other cruise calls in South Africa were cancelled and she docked in Durban to receive bunkers and provisions. Four South African crew members were allowed to disembark, as permitted by the new regulations which allow cruise ships only to disembark a returning South African citizen and/or a permanent resident.


The arrival of this ship back in Durban after a final cruise to Mozambique has been recorded in earlier editions. After all passengers and crew had disembarked, save for a small ‘skeleton’ crew sufficient to operate the ship, MSC Orchestra moved to the outer anchorage where she will remain until a date in April when the ship may then return to the Mediterranean.


SAS Durban returns to the Port Natal Maritime Museum in Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
SAS Durban returns to the Port Natal Maritime Museum in Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones

This is not a cruise ship item by any means but may be of interest to some readers. After a long eight month sojourn at the Bayhead shipyards, undergoing very necessary repairs and maintenance, the former SA Navy mine sweeper, SAS DURBAN M1499 was returned on Tuesday 24 March 2020. She joined another museum exhibit, the former Transnet salvage and harbour tug JR MORE, which had also returned from the shipyard some weeks earlier.

While appearing much more sprightly than when she went for repair last August, it was noticeable that more work is required to place the naval ship back in good appearance. An onlooker made the comment as the vessel returned to the museum, saying he was left seriously underwhelmed by the external appearance of the minesweeper. “She didn’t look to me like a craft that had received six months of shipyard attention to spruce her up.”

A fresh coat of paint should do wonders.


AIDAmira, which concluded an otherwise successful cruise season operating in South African waters. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
AIDAmira, which concluded an otherwise successful cruise season operating in South African waters, and is likely to return in the coming summer

Much has already been reported on the AIDAmira and the fears of having cases of the coronavirus on board, after six passengers arriving from Turkey were reported to have been in the proximity or company of two crew of the inappropriately-named bulk carrier, CORONA, who were joining the ship in Cape Town.

Tests on the passengers proved negative and after some delay in port, during which the passengers disembarked to take chartered flights back to Germany, AIDAmira sailed at around 14h30 on Thursday, 26 March, bound for Gibraltar.


Sail training ship Sagres, which called briefly at Cape Town. Picture:, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Sail training ship Sagres, which called briefly at Cape Town. Picture:

Amidst all the fuss over the pending lockdown and cruise ship arrivals and departures, not much notice was taken of one of the more spectacular Tall Ships that slipped into Cape Town harbour on Wednesday 25 March 2020. Her stay was short and later the same day Sagres, a training ship of the Portuguese Navy, sailed from the Cape bound for Vitória in Brazil. CORRECTION: Sagres is returning direct to Lisbon (acknowledgements to Sergio Rezendes and Ricardo Gaudino for this update)

Because of the COVID-19 scare and the approaching lockdown any thought of the crew on board being able to enjoy and explore the wonders and beauty of the Western Cape were dispelled, while local folk were equally denied the opportunity of visiting and exploring the sailing ship.

One a final note, Transnet reports that to date there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any South African sea-port.


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Port of Durban container terminals - only three of 8 possible berths available, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Port of Durban container terminals – only three of 8 possible berths available

So you thought you heard it said that ports will remain open for cargo working, while passenger services would end? Well what it meant was something different – only certain selected services would remain available during the country’s 21-day lockdown.

And keep in mind that 21-day lockdown may well be extended…..

The news of selective workings only at the ports came in a letter issued by Transnet to its “valued customers” dated yesterday 26 March 2020 and signed by the group chief executive, Portia Derby.

The following port facilities are closed for three weeks or are cutting back:

Automotive(car) terminals, containers at East London are closed, Durban Container Terminal cut back to two berths available only, Durban Point and Cape Town Multi Purpose Terminal will each operate with a single open berth, DCT Pier 1, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town Container Terminals each with a single berth.

Other measures include prioritising ‘essential containers’ depending on their contents – examples of non-essential boxes are those carrying minerals, or empties. Transshipments may be turned away, but are subject to Transnet Port Terminals’ approval.

All clearance and assignment of containers must be provided to TPT prior to berthing of the ship and TPT reserves the right not to berth a ship if these conditions are not met.

All this is aimed at reducing exposure between Transnet’s staff and others.

Mineral mining customers of TPT-operated terminals will require the approval of the Department of Mining and the Department of Public Enterprises.

Agri-bulk (grains, soya bean meal, fertiliser, woodchips) will operate on a single berth at the ports of East London, Richards Bay and Durban agri terminals.

Cape Town MPT, Richards Bay MPT and Durban MPT terminals will each operate with a single berth. East London MPT, Saldanha MPT, Port Elizabeth MPT and Durban Maydon Wharf MPT will be closed.

A host of detail and conditions are covered in the letter sent to Transnet clients yesterday.

Concern is already being expressed by commodity brokers and exporters regarding exports of minerals from the Zambian and DRC copperbelts, involving copper and cobalt as primary export commodities – some 10 per cent of global production is carried to South African ports overland by road, with China, now emerging from her own crisis involving COVID-19, the principal importer of these African products.

If not permitted through South Africa’s ports, the fear is that exporters, brokers etc will turn to Dar es Salaam or even Maputo and if that works satisfactorily for them, the South African end of this trade will be lost. These commodities are not considered essential in terms of the present circumstance.

“Transnet has taken a decision to scale down all of its transportation services and operations for non-essential cargo during the period of the state of lockdown,” the letter to Transnet clients states.

Meanwhile, what do ships already on the water and heading for South African importers do with containers considered as non-essential by TPT? Where does this cargo end up?

Force Majeure

Transnet meanwhile is talking about a cautionary notice of potential Force Majeure, but goes on to say that its commodity managers are engaging with respective clients to “ensure that contractual Force Majeure and Hardship provisions are invoked and appropriate measures are put in place for the duration of the state lockdown.”


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Lieber rubber tyre gantry crane similar to those being supplied to the DPWorld Berbera Terminal, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Liebherr rubber tyre gantry crane similar to those being supplied to the DP World Berbera Terminal

Liebherr has secured a contract with DP World for the manufacture and supply of eight rubber tyre cranes (RTGs) to go into service with Somaliland’s Berbera terminal. According to Liebherr the RTGs will be available and ready for operation before the end of this year.

The RTGs will be variable speed diesel-operated and…


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The once mighty South African Airways, grounded for now, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
The once proud and mighty South African Airways, grounded for now bt a bug

Questions are again being raised as to whether South African Airways will be able to claw its way back after closing a number of its international and regional routes, suspending the remainder and now taking the decision to suspend all domestic flights with effect from Friday 27 March 2020.

This suspension does correspond with the lockdown across the country from the same date, for a period – initially at least – of three weeks, aimed at…


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Port of Beira, Picture by Anup Rampiar, feaured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Port of Beira, Picture by Anup Rampiar

Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM) has implemented stronger surveillance and preventative measures aimed at exercising greater control over the entry into Beira of ships from high risk countries.

This is to “promote the information and awareness of all actors in the Beira Corridor logistics chain in order to strictly follow the recommendations of WHO and the Government of Mozambique on this true global calamity,”Cornelder said in a statement.

The set of preventive measures adopted by the CdM to prevent the proliferation of the virus and minimise the effects of a potential outbreak of infection cases include the basic health requirements – frequent washing of hands and providing disinfectant equipment for sanitising of hands etc at places that attract concentrations of people.

These include entrance gates, the container terminal, general cargo terminal, truck parking, warehouses and public service locations. Covid-19 information dissemination posts have been installed.

All professionals who work in the administrative area of Beira Port, as well as those in the operation area, are instructed to practice mandatory hand washing with a frequency concomitant with the nature of their work, using alcohol-based solutions for this purpose.

Likewise, the observance of safe inter-personal distances recommended by WHO and the reduction of physical contact between people to the minimum necessary for carrying out normal work processes is being recommended.

CdM said that in coordination with the Provincial Health Directorate of Sofala, all crew members of ships docking at Beira Port are also being screened using infrared thermometers. CdM is in the process of acquiring more thermometers, so that all those entering and leaving the port area can also be screened.

At the same time, and following this series of measures, CdM has also decided to limit direct customer service, opting to conduct by electronic means certain operations that were previously carried out through direct contact at branches.

Cornelder de Moçambique is also temporarily suspending employees’ travel abroad, as well as avoiding agglomerations as a result of operational meetings, training and seminars. sources: CdM, Carta de Moçambique


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Not all approaching craft are obviously pirates but all should be treated with suspicion. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Not all approaching craft are obviously pirates but all should be treated with suspicion

Dryad Global reports a second vessel being approached by a suspicious craft this time…


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Scarabe. Picture: Peter Beentjes/ MarineTraffic, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Scarabe. Picture: Peter Beentjes/ MarineTraffic

Dryad Global reports another pirate attack in the Gulf of Guinea, involving the Greek-flagged bulk carrier SCARABE (IMO 9712967).

The attack by pirates in a speedboat/skiff occurred on Wednesday, 25 March 2020 at 10h05 local time and in position 03°07’N, 005°35’E. This is 79 nautical miles South-West of Brass and 19.7 nautical miles South of the Agbami Terminal.

The 60,435-dwt bulk carrier Scarabe is…


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ESPO banner, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
ESPO banner

With the slogan ‘Transport keeps us going’, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), together with 33 organisations issued a Declaration on 24 March stressing the essential role transport is playing in the corona crisis. [This has strong relevance to transport elsewhere, in particular across Africa and with several countries including South Africa about to go into ‘lockdown’]

Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary General, commented: “Transport and logistics play a crucial role in the supply of essential goods in this critical period. To ensure that transport can continue to keep us going, the free flow of goods between Member States must be guaranteed. We must also support and encourage all the people working in transport.

“Their contribution in overcoming this crisis is vital. In times of emergency, ports have an essential role in providing citizens, health services and businesses with the goods and materials they need. Europe’s ports take this public responsibility very seriously. We hope the Member States are following the recommendations of the Commission to ensure that goods keep moving in Europe, in the interest of every single EU citizen.”

On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO*) declared the COVID-19 a pandemic and governments worldwide have taken wide-ranging measures to contain the spread of the virus.

The transport sector has a crucial role to play in the supply of goods, in particular medicines, medical devices, food and other essential commodities needed to overcome this crisis. The transport sector also proves to be a vital instrument in these times where many European citizens are restricted in their mobility.

A statement of endorsement

The undersigned European associations representing transport, infrastructure managers, operators, workers in all transport modes and logistics, contractors, local and regional authorities, logistics service providers, shippers, users and equipment suppliers in the maritime, port, inland waterways, railways, road, cycling, aviation and intermodal sectors, as well as supporting industries and companies, jointly endorse the following statement:

Highlight the key role transport and logistics are playing for the supply of essential goods in this critical period: stress that transport infrastructure is in this respect critical infrastructure;

Show their respect and support to all workers in the supply chain enabling the continuity of transport services, the movement of goods and essential commodities, as well as the repatriation of stranded citizens, and thus playing a major role in helping the European citizens to overcome this crisis;

Call on the Member States to enable smooth border crossings for freight transport, both intra-EU and with third countries, in this respect fully support the establishment of green freight lanes in coordination with the concerned transport stakeholders;

Support the measures and actions taken at EU-level and by national governments to contain the spread of COVID-19 and call on the Member States to coordinate their response to the COVID-19 and to follow the European Commission’s guidelines on border management;

Reiterate the importance of protecting the health and safety of transport workers, notably through personal protective equipment, as well as access to clean and disinfected sanitary facilities, food and drink;

Highlight that the transport and logistics sectors are based on a physical work force and call on the European Commission and the Member States to facilitate its mobility, including repatriation of the transport work force;

Urge the policy makers to assist the heavily affected transport sector in its recovery, to ensure future connectivity for both passengers and freight, and to revitalise the arteries of the internal market as soon as the crisis is over.


Edited by Paul Ridgway

Transort Essential banner, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS


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The battlements of Sao Joao Batista Fort on Ibo island which once provided authorty, safety and protection for the Portuguese. Today the people of Quissanga on the mainland opposite the island have again sought protection, this time from radicalised Islamic terrorists ransacking their mainland town. This picture: Terry Hutson , featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
The battlements of Sao Joao Batista Fort on Ibo island  of the coast of nothern Mozambique which once provided authority, safety and protection for the Portuguese. Today the people of Quissanga on the mainland opposite the island have again sought protection, this time from radicalised Islamic terrorists ransacking their mainland town. This picture: Terry Hutson

Jihadists have attacked and looted a second town in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado, in just 48 hours.

The terror group attacked the small town of Quissanga, a district headquarters town directly opposite the historic island of Ibo, and resulting in large numbers of the town’s population fleeing for their lives.

On Monday this week two groups of terrorists invaded the harbour town of Mocimboa da Praia by land and sea, driving away Mozambican military and police station in the town and looting shops and banks. Money taken from the banks was used to distribute to any local people who dared show their faces, bringing about some instant support for their cause.

Threats were made that the Jihadists were looking for Christians in Mocimboa – the large majority of people in Cabo Delgado province are either Muslims or follow African traditional beliefs. More than half the population of Mozambique is Christian and around 20 per cent is Muslim, with the latter predominating in the north of the country.

Quissanga is considerably further south from Mocimboa da Praia, by about 200 km and more worryingly, is close to the port town of Pemba, the main centre of the coastal region. This latest attack suggests that even Pemba is under risk of an attack, particularly so with the terrorists having taken to operating by sea.

Reports said that many of Quissanga’s residents fled to the island of Ibo, which can be reached on foot at low tide. From Ibo smoke was seen in the direction of Quissanga, suggesting that some buildings may have been set on fire. source: Lusa


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To keep the port operational and combat coronavirus

North Sea Port, March 2020, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
North Sea Port, March 2020

In a statement issued on 23 March North Sea Port (Vlissingen, Terneuzen, Ghent) indicated that it is still fully operational. This is assured by actions and measures being taken, some of which are outlined below.

Last week (w/c 15 March), the Belgian and the Dutch governments announced stricter measures to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. North Sea Port is adhering to these measures. At the same time, North Sea Port is continuing to focus on keeping the port operational where it is possible and safe to do so.

Task force closely monitoring maritime and economic impacts

In addition to the Crisis Team, a Task Force team has been operational since 20 March. This team is focused more specifically on the operational and economic aspects of the port and on safeguarding the supply of raw materials, goods, food and life-saving resources.

The aim is to ensure that, where possible and safe, shipping and all associated maritime activities continue in North Sea Port (ranging from possible delays to ships, the deployment of pilots and tug services and boatmen/dockers, the operation of bridges and locks, to loading and unloading and transport via hinterland connections). To this end North Sea Port are in close contact with companies, service providers and public authorities.

The economic impact on companies is being monitored on a daily basis and North Sea Port is constantly looking at how it can offer solutions to meet needs.

North Sea Port, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
North Sea Port

Enforcement of strict measures for shipping and health

Wherever possible, North Sea Port and the companies will continue their operational activities in complete safety. Strict measures already apply to shipping before it can call at North Sea Port.

Arrangements already agreed in consultation with the national health services GGD (for the Netherlands) and Saniport (for Belgium) will continue to apply:

In the case of shipping, vessels must, as usual, complete the Maritime Declaration of Health. This procedure is closely coordinated with the health services.

The Maritime Declaration of Health must be completed 24 hours before entering the port.

If even a single question on this form is answered “yes”, the health service is immediately alerted.

A number of terminals have now introduced additional questionnaires or temperature measurements.

No ships quarantined, cruises halted

There are no ships in quarantine in North Sea Port at this time (23 March) it is reported. The port authority is working very closely with the national health services in this matter.

All sea and river cruises have been cancelled until at least 17 April. This action was taken by the companies involved.

Reduced ferry service

The ferry services in the port area are very important for enabling employees to get to/from work. However, the timetables and services have been modified

Police surveillance in the port area

Police surveillance is in place in the port area in order to ensure that the measures imposed by the government are complied with.

Good response to call for surgical masks

North Sea Port, East-Flanders Chamber of Commerce and Portiz asked the companies in the port to provide any available surgical masks, safety goggles and other protective equipment for healthcare professionals and doctors in view of the urgent need. There has been a good response to this appeal. Healthcare professionals and doctors are highly appreciative of this move.

North Sea Port makes bicycles available to companies

Every day, Max Mobiel brings up to 1,500 employees to work at companies in the Ghent area of the port zone. This service was discontinued on 19 March. North Sea Port and Fietsambassade (City of Ghent) are making 100 bicycles available which companies can offer to their employees so that they can come to work. This solution is a collaboration between North Sea Port, the East Flanders Chamber of Commerce, Portiz and the city of Ghent and covers both the Ghent and the Zeeland areas of the port.

North Sea Port, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
North Sea Port

Seamen’s Institutes remain closed

The Seamen’s Institutes throughout North Sea Port are closed. The Seamen’s Institute in Vlissingen and Ghent have launched a service for seamen to provide them with data cards so that they can contact family and friends.

Welfare and safety first for North Sea Port employees

Certificates have now been issued for employees who perform essential work for North Sea Port: both those who have to cross the border and those who do not. As an employer, North Sea Port guarantees that the vital functions of the port authority can continue in the event of additional, even more stringent measures. Additional arrangements have been made for the harbourmaster’s offices so that shipping can be supervised safely and smoothly.

North Sea Port buildings remain closed

Additional measures will also continue to apply to the public/non-public buildings and locations of North Sea Port until at least 4 April:

Only those whose visits are strictly necessary will be permitted access to the offices of North Sea Port. Additional hygiene measures are in place for the (small number of) colleagues who are present and extra cleaning is being carried out.

The Port House at Graslei in Ghent is closed. The exhibition about the port is therefore not open to visitors.

No port cruises and port bus

The measures also mean that:
All North Sea Port cruises are cancelled until further notice. Those who had registered for cruises have been informed. We will look into replacement cruises at a later time, when the situation permits.

The North Sea Port port bus (between the port, the Stella Maris seamen’s institute and the centre of Ghent) will no longer operate until further notice.

*The cross-border port known as North Sea Port was founded on 1 January 2018 and is the result of a merger between the Dutch Zeeland Seaports (Vlissingen and Terneuzen) and the Flemish/Belgian port of Gent.

As a top European port, North Sea Port operates globally with its ten largest trade partners: Russia, the United States, Great Britain, Brazil, Canada, Sweden, Norway, France, Turkey and Spain.
Recorded in 2019: 71.5 million tons (a 1.5% increase) transhipment of goods by sea-going vessel; 60 million tons (a 3.4% increase) transhipment of goods by inland vessel.

Sustainable economic activity

North Sea Port strives for sustainable economic activity. By doing so it contributes to the prosperity of the region and generates value for our community and shareholders. By actively working with its stakeholders to serve their interests, North Sea Port creates opportunities for growth. It supports 525 companies, 100,000 jobs and provides €14.5 billion of added value.

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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How the COVID-19 crisis will impact the maritime threat picture

Intelligence Insights from Dryad Global

Jolly Roger fgeaturing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

What Happened

The emergence of COVID-19 as a severe global public health issue has created significant ramifications, including economic disruption and the threat of a global recession, logistical complexities, geopolitical considerations, and security issues (reports Dryad Global).

The shipping industry and maritime domain has not been insulated from these. It is expected that COVID-19 will be the defining threat trend of the year, which will shape commercial and security trends within shipping. During this period of instability, it is…


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Hellenic Republic and NSRI medical evacuation, featured in Aferica PORTS & SHIPS

NSRI Table Bay Station 3 duty crew were called out on Monday evening (23 March, 19h56) to prepare to launch and rendezvous with a bulk carrier, HELLENIC REPUBLIC, in order to evacuate an ill 59-year old seafarer suffering a medical emergency.

This followed a WC Government Health EMS duty doctor’s medical evaluation that the seafarer required an urgent medical evacuation from his ship.

The Hellenic Republic departed from Table Bay earlier but when 22 nautical miles South-East of Cape Point the alarm was raised which required the ship to turn about and head back toward Cape Town.

Quentin Botha, NSRI Table Bay duty coxswain, reported that the NSRI sea rescue craft Spirit of Vodacom launched at 23h30 accompanied by two WC Government Health EMS rescue paramedics and an NSRI doctor.

“We rendezvoused with the ship…


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Live Export Horror: Sheep may end up stranded at sea due to COVID-19

Al Messilah sailed from East London last Friday 20 March with 70,000 sheep loaded for Oman and Kuwit. Now the NSPCA isconcerned at news that Kuwait closed its borders including ports due to the COVID-10 outbreak, although this may not necessarily apply to cargo vessels. Picture courtesy Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Al Messilah sailed from East London last Friday 20 March with 70,000 sheep loaded for Oman and Kuwait. The NSPCA is concerned at news that Kuwait closed its borders including ports due to the COVID-19 outbreak, although this may not necessarily apply to cargo vessels.   Picture courtesy Shipspotting

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has expressed its grave concerned about the fate of the sheep that are supposed to be exported live by sea next week to the Middle East.

This follows news received by the NSPCA that Kuwait has closed its borders due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

70,000 live sheep were shipped from East London on Friday 20 March on the 40-year old livestock carrier AL MESSILAH (IMO 7924425), destined for Middle Eastern countries by the Kuwaiti export company, Al Mawashi. The countries are Oman and Kuwait but according to Al Mawashi’s legal team last Wednesday, the ship would only be going to Oman due to the sudden closure of the port in Kuwait because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We learnt yesterday that the Kuwait ports are now open for ‘cargo’. The NSPCA is concerned that these ports will close with no notice, leaving 70,000 sheep stranded in the Arabian Sea,” Marcelle Meredith, Executive Director of the NSPCA said.

“This is a monumental cause for concern – when livestock carriers have become stranded with live animals in the past, which has happened to the AL MESSILAH (IMO 7924425) vessel before, the consequences have been catastrophic to both the animals and the crew on board.”

She said the NSPCA has grave concerns. “We consider this an open warning to the Government, Al Mawashi, and any other role player involved in this shipment, should the ship carrying South Africa’s sheep be stranded,” she said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak is well publicised and the risks are clear, if the ship is permitted to go and becomes stranded, the aforementioned entities will be held accountable.”

Two years ago the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) stopped the same ship from loading sheep in Fremantle after a port state control inspection found numerous deficiencies with the vessel. Among these were holes corroded in the decks and bulkheads throughout the ship as well as wastage of the supporting structure; multiple issues with the electrical cabling including wasted conduits, improperly mounted cables, exposed wires and unsealed electrical junction boxes; an unserviceable generator; damaged bulkhead structure; and poor quality repairs throughout the livestock decks.

AMSA then withdrew the ship’s Australian Certificate for the Carriage of Livestock pending the completion of repairs.


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Mocimboa Bay scene. Picture A Verdade / Flickr, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Mocimboa Bay scene. Picture A Verdade / Flickr

Islamist terrorists made a sudden attack on the coastal Mozambique town of Mocimboa da Praia on Monday (23 March), surprising the Mozambique military and townspeople as they attacked from land and sea and succeeding in seizing a sizeable portion of the town.

Mocimboa, about 200km north of the port of Pemba, is an important centre with a developing harbour facility for the burgeoning oil and gas industry. The town has…


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Picture: Anon via WhatsApp, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Picture: Anon via WhatsApp

A 52-year old Cape Town truck driver was killed on Friday morning when the spreader from a Transnet Port Terminal crane collapsed and crushed his truck cab inside the container terminal.

The accident occurred around 11h00 on Friday morning when the truck arrived to collect a container at the TPT terminal.

According to independent witnesses the reach stacker crane passed over the truck when the spreader bar was dislodged and fell onto the cab of the truck.

The reason why the spreader fell is not clear but one witness claimed that the crane involved in the accident had been receiving attention from a technician shortly beforehand.

Immediately following the accident the crane operator attempted to hoist the spreader off the truck but was unsuccessful.

The driver of the truck was trapped in his cab and died at the scene despite the efforts of Transnet paramedics who were quickly on the scene.

Following the accident the South African Police Services opened an inquest docket for further investigation. Operations remained suspended for some hours until all regulatory authorities currently onsite, concluded their assessments.

According to reports the maintenance of the Kalmar equipment at the port was recently taken over by Transnet.


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Nigerian Navy ships NNS Centenary in Lagos, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Nigerian Navy ships NNS Centenary in Lagos

The Nigerian Navy says it has been tasked with tracking all vessels arriving in Nigerian ports and waterways in order to halt and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

That’s the word from Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral David Adeniran.

The admiral told a…


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map of West Africa

Several West African countries have closed their borders in efforts aimed at slowing the onset of the coronavirus Pandemic. There are in addition to special precautions at seaports and airports that have been instituted.


Ghana closed its land borders to human traffic following the first recorded death from the virus.

The closures do not however relate to the movement of…


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– Fast L-Band satellite network speed

Northern Sea Route map, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

Passage through northern shipping routes and Arctic waters has received a boost following the doubling of the connectivity speed of the Iridium Certus™ network. This was reported by maritime communications specialist IEC Telecom from Norway on 23 March.

As the shortest sea route between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the Northern Sea Route holds…

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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ABI logo, featured with article in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

For many firms, the outbreak of COVID-19 has meant staff working from home and more use of teleconferencing rather than face to face meetings. However, it’s a different situation for manufacturers because, despite investments in automation, reducing the need for staff on assembly lines, they still need to receive raw materials.

The impact of Coronavirus is both global and unpredictable, and the supply chain shock it is causing will most definitely and substantially cut into the worldwide manufacturing revenue of US$15 trillion currently forecasted for 2020 by global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research.

According to ABI, the virus will have both short- and long-term ramifications for manufacturers. “Initially, plant managers and factory owners will be looking to secure supplies and be getting an appreciation of constraints further up the supply chain plus how much influence they have on their suppliers,” says Michael Larner, Principal Analyst at ABI Research.

In the longer term, manufacturers will need to conduct an extensive due diligence process as they need to understand their risk exposure, including the operations of their supplier’s suppliers too.

“To mitigate supply chain risks, manufacturers should not only not source components from a single supplier but also, as COVID-19 has highlighted, shouldn’t source from suppliers in a single location,” Larner advises.

In software applications in the manufacturing setting, ABI Research forecasts that the supply chain impact of Covid-19 will spur manufacturer’s spend on enterprise resource planning (ERP) to reach US$14 billion in 2024. While many ERP platforms include modules for inventory control and supply chain management, in light of the outbreak, many manufacturers will also turn to specialist providers.

“Supply chain orchestration requires software to be more than a system of record and provide risk analysis and run simulations, enabling manufacturers to understand and prepare for supply chain shocks,” says Larner.

Industry 4.0 has received much attention; however, the focus has been on the activities inside the factory gates.

ABI logo, small, featured with article in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

“But investments in robotics or IoT sensors and the like assume that assembly lines receive a steady flow of raw materials. COVID-19 demonstrates that manufacturers need to be as focused on their supplier’s capabilities as they are on their factory floor,” Larner concludes.

These findings are from ABI Research’s Supply Chain Trends and Technologies in 2020 application analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Freight Transportation and Logistics research service, which includes research, data, and ABI Insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific application, which could focus on an individual market or geography.

About ABI Research
ABI Research provides strategic guidance to visionaries, delivering actionable intelligence on the transformative technologies that are dramatically reshaping industries, economies, and workforces across the world. ABI Research’s global team of analysts publish groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms, empowering its clients to stay ahead of their markets and their competitors. See more HERE


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Onne and the WACT, before the installation of the first arrival of the first two mobile cranes, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Onne and the WACT, prior to the installation of the first two mobile cranes

The West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), has welcomed the arrival of the first direct container ship calling in East Nigeria and without first calling at one of the terminals in Lagos.

Maersk Line’s 4,800-TEU gearless vessel KYPARISSIA (IMO 9157698) arrived in Onne port on Maersk Line’s FEW 3 service from the Far east to Nigeria’s east coast port, bring the comment of Noah Sheriff, WACT Commercial Manager: “The long awaited FEW3 service, which is a direct service from Far East into East Nigeria has started, and we are here to witness the first call.”

Sheriff said that with WACT’s Mobile Harbour Crane operations, the terminal was well positioned to handle the larger gearless vessels. The terminal will be receiving additional mobile cranes and other cargo handling equipment later this year.

He said the FEW 3 service would call WACT in Onne on a weekly basis, which is coupled to a shorter transit time for cargo coming from the Far East.

“This is a product many customers have been asking for and we at WACT shall ensure that we turn these vessels around quickly,” Sheriff said.

Maersk Nigeria Limited’s East Nigeria Manager, Chibuzor Ejiofor, described the Kyparissia’s visit as historic which would bring benefits to businesses in Eastern Nigeria.

She said the service had been introduced in order not to impact Onne-based and Eastern Nigeria customers. “Maersk decided to put Onne on a direct service from Far East. That doesn’t mean that Maersk doesn’t call Lagos. We are still calling Tin Can and Apapa but that is on another service altogether.

“For Onne based customers, I think that’s something to be really attractive as it adds value to your business. You can get your cargo on time directly from Far East without adding 30 days of Lagos waiting time. You can turn around your money, your products and that’s why we are here just to recognise this unique offering to our customers.”

Onne Port Manager, Ismaila Al-Hassan, pointed out that the direct Maersk service to the port will help decongest Lagos ports.

WACT introduced the handling of gearless ships, which previously could only be handled at the ports in Lagos, in 2019. This came after investing US$14 million in Phase 1 of the upgrade to acquire modern cargo equipment including two mobile harbour cranes, 14 specialised terminal trucks and two reach stackers. The investment brought high operational efficiency and set WACT apart from other ports in Nigeria.

In Phase 2 over the next 18 months WACT will add three additional mobile harbour cranes increasing the total to five, and will introduce 20 Rubber Tyre Gantry Cranes (RTGs) and three Reach Stackers.


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MSC Talia F which has been attacked by West Africa pirates, with seven crew kidnapped. Picture: VesselFinder, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
MSC Talia F which has been attacked by West African pirates, with seven crew kidnapped. Picture: VesselFinder

Dryad Global reported on Sunday the illegal boarding of a ship some 52 nautical miles west of Port Libreville, in position 0°33’N, 008°25’E.

The attack was reported as taking place on Sunday, 22 March at 07h26 UTC.

The Portuguese-flagged container ship MSC TALIA F (IMO: 9308601), length…


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In many developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, it is clear that even if they are fortunate enough to escape the brunt of the health crisis, they will suffer economically, just as they did after the 2008 crisis. Picture: Africa PORTS & SHIPS
In many developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, it is clear that even if they are fortunate enough to escape the brunt of the health crisis, they will suffer economically, just as they did after the 2008 crisis. Picture: Africa PORTS & SHIPS

OECD Secretary-General commits policy support, saying efforts must have “Ambition of Marshall Plan, vision of New Deal”

On 21 March Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurría called for sweeping joint action by governments to defeat the health, economic, and social threats of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In calling on governments to better coordinate their efforts, Gurría announced that the OECD would channel its efforts into immediate support to policymakers combating the crisis, launching a new online policy hub immediately.

With regard to Africa in particular we are privileged to report on his extensive briefing in which he said: “The sheer magnitude of the current shock introduces an unprecedented complexity to economic forecasting. The OECD Interim Economic Outlook, released on 2 March 2020, made a first attempt to take stock of the likely impact of COVID-19 on global growth, but it now looks like we have already moved well beyond even the more severe scenario envisaged then.

“The behaviour of financial markets reflects the extraordinary uncertainty of the situation. It is looking increasingly likely that we will see sequential declines in global GDP, or regional GDPs, in the current and next quarters of 2020.

And while it is too early to tell how far-reaching an impact COVID19 will have on many developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, it is clear that even if they are fortunate enough to escape the brunt of the health crisis, they will suffer economically, just as they did after the 2008 crisis. We are closely monitoring events and will be updating our analysis regularly.

Further, in his statement, Gurría called for immediate policy action in four specific areas.

  1. Responding to the health challenge: Scientific effort must be complemented by regulatory and other measures to ensure that vaccines and treatments are developed, produced, and deployed as quickly as possible.

2) Shoring up the economy: Governments should cushion immediate negative impacts with           coordinated spending across sectors such as:

*  Health care: to cover extensive testing; treatment for all patients, regardless of whether they are insured or not; support to health-care workers; return of health-care retirees, while protecting high-risk groups; the enhanced provision of masks, ICUs and respirators, among others;

*  People: to cover short-term employment schemes, reduced requirements to benefit from unemployment insurance, cash transfers to the self-employed and support to the most vulnerable;

*  Firms: to cover charges and tax payment delays, temporary VAT reductions or deferrals, enhanced access to working capital through credit lines or state guarantees, special support packages for SMEs, especially those in services and tourism.

3)  Combining efforts for financial regulation and supervision: Building on action underway by Central Banks, co-ordinated monitoring, diagnosis of emerging strains and coherent regulatory action will produce more positive results.

4)  Restoring confidence: Addressing trade tensions, high corporate debt, and economic inequalities that deepen danger for the most vulnerable will help to resolve underlying weaknesses exacerbating the shock.

Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

Collated by Paul Ridgway


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Seafarers association featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS

With worldwide coronavirus restrictions impeding the ability of port chaplains the world over from carrying out their ministries, several organisations are turning to virtual reality to compensate.

In South Africa the Sailors’ Society is offering virtual chaplaincy to…


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The following notes were kindly provided to us following an impromptu briefing at the Durban port.

Arcadia in Cape Town on a previous visit to South Africa. Picture by Ian Shiffman
Arcadia in Cape Town on a previous visit to South Africa. Picture by Ian Shiffman

SAMSA Acing CEO, Sobantu Tilayi drew attention to the new Regulations released by the Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula on Wednesday, 18 March to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through South African ports. This and the movement of cruise ships was covered earlier in Africa PORTS & SHIPS. See HERE

These Regulations now prohibit crew changes and passenger ships…


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Kitack KLIm, IMO Secretary-General, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
Kitack KLIm, IMO Secretary-General


In an address on 20 March IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim stressed the vital need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers’ welfare in the face of the coronavirus shut down.

“The spread of the coronavirus has placed the entire world in an unprecedented situation. To slow the spread of the disease and mitigate its impacts, travel is being curtailed and borders are being closed. Transport hubs are being affected. Ports are being closed and ships denied entry.

“In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.

“It is, therefore, crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted. At the same time, the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment must also remain paramount.

“One of the goals of the IMO, as stated in its Convention, is to ensure availability of shipping services to the commerce of the world, for the benefit of humanity. I urge all IMO Member States to bear this in mind when framing their policy decisions with regard to the coronavirus. Defeating the virus must be the first priority, but global trade, in a safe, secure and environmentally friendly manner must be able to continue, too.

“We must also remember the hundreds of thousands of seafarers on ships. They are, unwittingly, on the front line of this global calamity. Their professionalism ensures that the goods we all need are delivered – safely and with minimal impact on our precious environment. These are people, usually far from home and family. Their own health and welfare is as important as that of anyone else.

“Again, I urge a practical and pragmatic approach, in these unusual times, to issues like crew changeovers, resupply, repairs, survey and certification and licensing of seafarers.

“Together with our industry partners and colleagues in the World Health Organization, IMO has been developing and issuing practical advice and guidance on a variety of technical and operational matters related to the coronavirus. You can find this on our website, and we will be updating this as appropriate as the situation develops.

“I will personally be initiating a series of meetings and consultations with leaders from shipping, ports and other key related sectors so that we can all better understand the issues being faced and develop sensible, practical and unified solutions.

“I have spoken many times of our ‘voyage together’. Never has the spirit of those words been more important than it is now.”

Reported by Paul Ridgway

Video copy of the SG’s message in which IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim stresses the vital need to maintain commerce by sea and protect seafarers’ welfare in the face of the coronavirus shut down:

Here is his 3 minute 20 second [03:20] video briefing issued on 20 March  CLICK HERE


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MSC Orchestra, a disturbed first season in South Africa, feautred in Africa PORTS & SHIPS
MSC Orchestra, a disturbed first and only season in South Africa


MSC Orchestra returned to Durban on Friday morning around 03h30, with owners having to explain why the ship sailed on Monday with between 2,804 passengers plus 900 crew despite new government regulations about to come into force.

According to MSC Cruises South Africa, the ship sailed into Mozambican waters but did …


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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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

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

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

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section.

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