Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 13 December 2020

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The Sunday masthead is of Port Elizabeth Container & Ro-Ro terminals




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MSC Flaminia Pictures by: Keith Betts, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Flaminia Picture by: Keith Betts
MSC Flaminia Pictures by: Keith Betts, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Flaminia Picture by: Keith Betts


We’ve previously featured this ship, for she is becoming a regular caller at South Africa’s container ports. However, the first time we featured MSC FLAMINIA (IMO 9225615) was probably in July 2012 when the post-Panamax ship was deployed on the North Atlantic service. On the 14th of that month MSC Flaminia caught fire in one of her containers, which spread rapidly to other containers and later to several holds. Crew attempted to extinguish the fire but eventually had to abandon ship after explosions were heard – they were picked up by rescuing ships hurrying to the scene. One of the crew died on a rescuing ship, another died in hospital from his wounds and a third remains missing and is presumed dead. There were two passengers on board in addition to the crew of 23. The fire was eventually brought under control after which the ship was towed to Europe but only in September was she permitted to enter a port at Wilhelmshaven in Germany. In March of the following year MSC Flaminia was taken to Romania for repairs which took another year before being completed in July of 2014.

The 85,800-dwt MSC Flaminia was built in 2001 for German owners at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea as hull number 4073. She has been on charter to MSC from the beginning. The 300-metre long, 40m wide ship has a container capacity of 6,750 TEU. These pictures are by Keith Betts



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Nurdle density heat map, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Nurdle density heat map


The cleaning up of nurdles is continuing along the coast in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. The nurdles have been washing up at various beaches in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape since early October 2020, reports the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

This incident of nurdle pollution is being investigated by SAMSA. Further updates on the outcomes of this investigation will be communicated in due course.

In the meantime Spill Tech has been appointed to assist in the nurdle clean-up operations by P&I Associates (Pty) LTD while the investigation into the nurdle spillage is still being concluded. In addition to the cleaning up of nurdles Spill Tech is also conducting inspections of nurdle sightings along the coast and storing all collected nurdles until a waste management decision has been agreed upon by authorities and P&I Associates (Pty) LTD.

It is therefore urged that nurdles collected should not be recycled until a reconciliation has been completed.

Spill Tech is currently deployed along various identified hotspot locations from False Bay Eastwards towards Plettenberg Bay. Please note the nurdles density heat map graphic above for more information on hotspots.

The public and coastal landowners are encouraged to assist with the cleanup operations and allow access to the Spill Tech team for further nurdle inspections and cleanup operations. Clean-up operations conducted by Spill Tech commenced on 4 November 2020 and, since that time, manual gathering of individual nurdles from beaches has recovered 4351.2 kilograms of nurdles to date.

A number of municipalities and members of the public, through NGOs and volunteer groups, have also been conducting nurdle clean-up campaigns in the affected areas. SAMSA says their efforts are greatly acknowledged, appreciated and encouraged.

Authorities would like to work more closely with NGOs to maximise cleanup efforts. Please note that clean-up methodology is available HERE.

It is important to note that during a previous nurdle spill incident, caused by a storm event that took place in Durban in 2017, approximately 70% of the nurdles that were lost at sea were recovered through clean-up operations.

Spill Tech will be assisting in the collection and drop-off of all nurdles and associated packaging at a number of collection points. Please note the flyer below which has been produced by the Spill Tech team for further information on drop off locations.

Further information regarding collection points and arrangements for pick-up of nurdles can be obtained through the Spill Tech’s 24/7 contact number 063 404 2128. This number is also contactable through Whatsapp.

Spill Tech Nurdle flyer, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Spill Tech Nurdle flyer


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BUSY BUT COPING – UK ports handle global container surge

poster appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


In the last week of November the UK Major Ports Group (UKMPG), the voice for the UK’s largest port operators including all deep sea container ports, announced that it had surveyed its members to find out how they were coping with a worldwide surge in container movements. In short it was found that ports were very busy but coping as they adapted to conditions.

UKMPG’s surveying revealed that container activities in ports were certainly very busy, with some ports seeing 20% more activity than they did a year ago. However, ports were found to be adapting and coping, redeploying resources and making use of extra capacity. It was found that container terminals were working hard and liaising closely with shipping lines and supply chains with backlogs reducing.

Furthermore, it was established that container facilities were working hard to keep trade flowing as imports were showing pre-Brexit stock build and Christmas order fulfilment.

Commenting on the current position Tim Morris, CEO of UKMPG, said: “There’s no doubt that the pandemic-driven events of 2020 have put huge strain on global supply chains. The situation we’re seeing at ports around the world has symptoms here in the UK too.

“However, the situation on the ground is improving with container terminals having increased resources, ports around the UK playing their part and through intensive work with supply chain partners. But just as container congestion didn’t occur overnight there are no instant, magic wand solutions. Ports and their supply chain partners will need to continue to work constructively together, demonstrating again the resilience of the logistics sector, to keep up improvement.”

Impact of COVID-19; Supply chain volatility; Brexit; automotive

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has caused unprecedented difficulties in the global supply chains on which economies depend. Some of the impact is direct, for example manufacturing and retail activity has been suspended at differing times across the globe. Here a major influence comes from underlying changes in consumer behaviour, such as the rise of e-commerce and different products benefiting from discretionary spending. In other words after the first lockdown people had more money to spend so they ordered online and the goods are now arriving.

Such volatility has without doubt impacted the patterns that are the main arteries of global trade with ports all around the world experiencing significant congestion in container throughput.

It has been seen that demand surged with significant problems at Asian ports causing disruption which rippled across the world. This recent trend follows global balances that have built up containers following disruption to the normal conveyor belt of large container ships providing liner services between Asia and Europe or the US.

Local factors in the UK have added complexity. It is clear that businesses are bringing in more stock to meet Christmas demand and also to beat the end of the UK’s transition period out of the EU (Brexit) which concludes on 31 December.

Furthermore, there have been imports of huge volumes of PPE for the National Health Service with unconfirmed reports that they are not being imported with sufficient haste, that is to say removed from the container yard, as there is no space for them outside the port and they are only taken up to fulfil demand, a lengthy process this will be.

Building materials

In recent days the Builders’ Merchants’ Federation (BMF) has indicated that supply chains are being stretched because of shipping delays such that firms face a struggle to secure materials with products caught up in congestion at ports, again ahead of Brexit. A particular example being building products shipped from Asia and includes ironmongery, plumbing items, tools and natural stone.

At the port of Felixstowe on the East Coast there has been increased demand reported as firms try to beat the Brexit deadline and where since September the port has been handling about a third more goods than usual as firms rush to stock up.

John Newcomb, chief executive of the BMF, said: “There appears to be an increasing issue getting these products through ports, with some ships being stopped from landing and sent back to Rotterdam. Rather than taking a maximum of one week to unload, it is taking up to four weeks.

“We’ve raised this matter with government and asked about the readiness of ports and customs, as we head into Brexit.”

Car maker Honda reported on 9 December that it had suspended production at its Civic plant in Swindon (S England) after a shortage of parts was linked to the pandemic and potential Brexit hindrance with resultant port congestion

Representatives of the UK automotive industry have warned of Brexit tariff damage as new figures reveal that no deal would cut vehicle production by two million units over the next five years. Here WTO tariffs would strike a £55.4 billion blow to the UK sector by 2025 with annual production falling below one million units consistently, it has been reported. There is no doubt that the UK and Europe are tightly intertwined in terms of automotive trade.

While there are hopes a deal between the UK and EU will be reached this week both sides say there are still significant differences between them.

Paul Ridgway

Paul Ridgway

To view a short animation on the vital contribution ports make to the UK, readers are invited to click below


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IN CONVERSATION: It might be the world’s biggest ocean, but the mighty Pacific is in peril


Jodie L. Rummer, James Cook University; Bridie JM Allan, University of Otago; Charitha Pattiaratchi, University of Western Australia; Ian A. Bouyoucos, James Cook University; Irfan Yulianto, IPB University, and Mirjam van der Mheen, University of Western Australia

The Pacific Ocean is the deepest, largest ocean on Earth, covering about a third of the globe’s surface. An ocean that vast may seem invincible. Yet across its reach – from Antarctica in the south to the Arctic in the north, and from Asia to Australia to the Americas – the Pacific Ocean’s delicate ecology is under threat.

In most cases, human activity is to blame. We have systematically pillaged the Pacific of fish. We have used it as a rubbish tip – garbage has been found even in the deepest point on Earth, in the Mariana Trench 11,000 metres below sea level.

And as we pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the Pacific, like other oceans, is becoming more acidic. It means fish are losing their sense of sight and smell, and sea organisms are struggling to build their shells.

Oceans produce most of the oxygen we breathe. They regulate the weather, provide food, and give an income to millions of people. They are places of fun and recreation, solace and spiritual connection. So, healthy, vibrant oceans benefit us all. And by better understanding the threats to the precious Pacific, we can start the long road to protecting it.

This article is part of the Oceans 21 series

The series opens with five profiles delving into ancient Indian Ocean trade networks, Pacific plastic pollution, Arctic light and life, Atlantic fisheries and the Southern Ocean’s impact on global climate. It’s brought to you by The Conversation’s international network.

The ocean plastic scourge

The problem of ocean plastic was scientifically recognised in the 1960s after two scientists saw albatross carcasses littering the beaches of the northwest Hawaiian Islands in the northern Pacific. Almost three in four albatross chicks, who died before they could fledge, had plastic in their stomachs.

Now, plastic debris is found in all major marine habitats around the world, in sizes ranging from nanometers to meters. A small portion of this accumulates into giant floating “garbage patches”, and the Pacific Ocean is famously home to the largest of them all.

Most plastic debris from land is transported into the ocean through rivers. Just 20 rivers contribute two-thirds of the global plastic input into the sea, and ten of these discharge into the northern Pacific Ocean. Each year, for example, the Yangtze River in China – which flows through Shanghai – sends about 1.5 million metric tonnes of debris into the Pacific’s Yellow Sea.

A wildlife killer

Plastic debris in the oceans presents innumerable hazards for marine life. Animals can get tangled in debris such as discarded fishing nets, causing them to be injured or drown.

Some organisms, such as microscopic algae and invertebrates, can also hitch a ride on floating debris, travelling large distances across the oceans. This means they can be dispersed out of their natural range, and can colonise other regions as invasive species.

Read more:
For decades, scientists puzzled over the plastic ‘missing’ from our oceans – but now it’s been found

And of course, wildlife can be badly harmed by ingesting debris, such as microplastics less than five millimetres in size. This plastic can obstruct an animal’s mouth or accumulate in its stomach. Often, the animal dies a slow, painful death.

Seabirds, in particular, often mistake floating plastics for food. A 2019 study found there was a 20% chance seabirds would die after ingesting a single item, rising to 100% after consuming 93 items.

A turtle tangled in a fishing net
Discarded fishing nets, or ‘ghost nets’ can entangle animals like turtles.

A scourge on small island nations

Plastic is extremely durable, and can float vast distances across the ocean. In 2011, 5 million tonnes of debris entered the Pacific during the Japan tsunami. Some crossed the entire ocean basin, ending up on North American coastlines.

And since floating plastics in the open ocean are transported mainly by ocean surface currents and winds, plastic debris accumulates on island coastlines along their path. Kamilo Beach, on the south-eastern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, is considered one of the world’s worst for plastic pollution. Up to 20 tonnes of debris wash onto the beach each year.

Similarly, on uninhabited Henderson Island, part of the Pitcairn Island chain in the south Pacific, 18 tonnes of plastic have accumulated on a beach just 2.5km long. Several thousand pieces of plastic wash up each day.

Kamilo Beach is referred to as the world’s dirtiest.

Subtropical garbage patches

Plastic waste can have different fates in the ocean: some sink, some wash up on beaches and some float on the ocean surface, transported by currents, wind and waves.

Around 1% of plastic waste accumulates in five subtropical “garbage patches” in the open ocean. They’re formed as a result of ocean circulation, driven by the changing wind fields and the Earth’s rotation.

There are two subtropical garbage patches in the Pacific: one in the northern and one in the southern hemisphere.

The northern accumulation region is separated into an eastern patch between California and Hawaii, and a western patch, which extends eastwards from Japan.

Locations of the five subtropical garbage patches.  van der Mheen et al. (2019)

Our ocean garbage shame

First discovered by Captain Charles Moore in the early 2000s, the eastern patch is better known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch because it’s the largest by both size (around 1.6 million square kilometers) and amount of plastic. By weight, this garbage patch can hold more than 100 kilograms per square kilometre.

The garbage patch in the southern Pacific is located off Valparaiso, Chile, extending to the west. It has lower concentrations compared to its giant counterpart in the northeast.

Discarded fishing nets make up around 45% of the total plastic weight in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Waste from the 2011 Japan tsunami is also a major contributor, making up an estimated 20% of the patch.

Read more:
Whales and dolphins found in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch for the first time

With time, larger plastic debris degrades into microplastics. Microplastics form only 8% of the total weight of plastic waste in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but make up 94% of the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic there. In high concentrations, they can make the water “cloudy”.

Each year, up to 15 million tonnes of plastic waste are estimated to make their way into the ocean from coastlines and rivers. This amount is expected to double by 2025 as plastic production continues to increase.

We must act urgently to stem the flow. This includes developing plans to collect and remove the plastics and, vitally, stop producing so much in the first place.

Divers releasing a whale shark from a fishing net.

Fisheries on the verge of collapse

As the largest and deepest sea on Earth, the Pacific supports some of the world’s biggest fisheries. For thousands of years, people have relied on these fisheries for their food and livelihoods.

But, around the world, including in the Pacific, fishing operations are depleting fish populations faster than they can recover. This overfishing is considered one of the most serious threats to the world’s oceans.

Humans take about 80 million tonnes of wildlife from the sea each year. In 2019, the world’s leading scientists said of all threats to marine biodiversity over the past 50 years, fishing has caused the most harm. They said 33% of fish species were overexploited, 60% were being fished to the maximum level, and just 7% were underfished.

The decline in fish populations is not just a problem for humans. Fish play an important role in marine ecosystems and are a crucial link in the ocean’s complex food webs.

A school of fish
Overfishing is stripping the Pacific Ocean of marine life.   Shutterstock

Not plenty of fish in the sea

Overfishing happens when humans extract fish resources beyond the maximum level, known as the “maximum sustainable yield”. Fishing beyond this causes global fish stocks to decline, disrupts food chains, degrades habitats, and creates food scarcity for humans.

The Pacific Ocean is home to huge tuna fisheries, which provide almost 65% of the global tuna catch each year. But the long-term survival of many tuna populations is at risk.

For example, a study released in 2013 found numbers of bluefin tuna – a prized fish used to make sushi – had declined by more than 96% in the Northern Pacific Ocean.

Developing countries, including Indonesia and China, are major overfishers, but so too are developing nations.

Read more:
When hurricanes temporarily halt fishing, marine food webs recover quickly

Along Canada’s west coast, Pacific salmon populations have declined rapidly since the early 1990s, partly due to overfishing. And Japan was recently heavily criticised for a proposal to increase quotas on Pacific bluefin tuna, a species reportedly at just 4.5% of its historic population size.

Experts say overfishing is also a problem in Australia. For example, research in 2018 showed large fish species were rapidly declining around the nation due to excessive fishing pressure. In areas open to fishing, exploited populations fell by an average of 33% in the decade to 2015.

A plate of sushi
Stocks of fish used to make sushi have declined in number.  Shutterstock

So what’s driving overfishing?

There are many reasons why overfishing occurs and why it is goes unchecked. The evidence points to:

Read more:
The race to fish: how fishing subsidies are emptying our oceans

Let’s take Indonesia as an example. Indonesia lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans and is the world’s third-biggest producer of wild-capture fish after China and Peru. Some 60% of the catch is made by small-scale fishers. Many hail from poor coastal communities.

Overfishing was first reported in Indonesia in the 1970s. It prompted a presidential decree in 1980, banning trawling off the islands of Java and Sumatra. But overfishing continued into the 1990s, and it persists today. Target species include reef fishes, lobster, prawn, crab, and squid.

Indonesia’s experience shows how there is no easy fix to the overfishing problem. In 2017, the Indonesian government issued a decree that was supposed to keep fishing to a sustainable level – 12.5 million tonnes per year. Yet, in may places, the practice continued – largely because the rules were not clear and local enforcement was inadequate.

Implementation was complicated by the fact that almost all Indonesia’s smaller fishing boats come under the control of provincial governments. This reveals the need for better cooperation between levels of government in cracking down on overfishing.

Man checks fishing haul
Globally, compliance and enforcement of fishing limits is often poor.

What else can we do?

To prevent overfishing, governments should address the issue of poverty and poor education in small fishing communities. This may involve finding them a new source of income. For example in the town of Oslob in the Philippines, former fishermen and women have turned to tourism – feeding whale sharks tiny amounts of krill to draw them closer to shore so tourists can snorkel or dive with them.

Tackling overfishing in the Pacific will also require cooperation among nations to monitor fishing practices and enforce the rules.

And the world’s network of marine protected areas should be expanded and strengthened to conserve marine life. Currently, less than 3% of the world’s oceans are highly protected “no take” zones. In Australia, many marine reserves are small and located in areas of little value to commercial fishers.

The collapse of fisheries around the world shows just how vulnerable our marine life is. It’s clear that humans are exploiting the oceans beyond sustainable levels. Billions of people rely on seafood for protein and for their livelihoods. But by allowing overfishing to continue, we harm not just the oceans, but ourselves.

fish in a net
Providing fishers with an alternative income can help prevent overfishing.

Read more:
Poor Filipino fishermen are making millions protecting whale sharks

The threat of acidic oceans

The tropical and subtropical waters of the Pacific Ocean are home to more than 75% of the world’s coral reefs. These include the Great Barrier Reef and more remote reefs in the Coral Triangle, such as those in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Coral reefs are bearing the brunt of climate change. We hear a lot about how coral bleaching is damaging coral ecosystems. But another insidious process, ocean acidification, is also threatening reef survival.

Ocean acidification particularly affects shallow waters, and the subarctic Pacific region is particularly vulnerable.

Coral reefs cover less than 0.5% of Earth’s surface, but house an estimated 25% of all marine species. Due to ocean acidification and other threats, these incredibly diverse “underwater rainforests” are among the most threatened ecosystems on the planet.

A chemical reaction

Ocean acidification involves a decrease in the pH of seawater as it absorbs carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere.

Each year, humans emit 35 billion tonnes of CO₂ through activities such as burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

Oceans absorb up to 30% of atmospheric CO₂, setting off a chemical reaction in which concentrations of carbonate ions fall, and hydrogen ion concentrations increase. That change makes the seawater more acidic.

Since the Industrial Revolution, ocean pH has decreased by 0.1 units. This may not seem like much, but it actually means the oceans are now about 28% more acidic than since the mid-1800s. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the rate of acidification is accelerating.

An industrial city from the air
Each year, humans emit 35 billion tonnes of CO₂.   Shutterstock

Why is ocean acidification harmful?

Carbonate ions are the building blocks for coral structures and organisms that build shells. So a fall in the concentrations of carbonate ions can spell bad news for marine life.

In more acidic waters, molluscs have been shown to have trouble making and repairing their shells. They also exhibit impaired growth, metabolism, reproduction, immune function, and altered behaviours. For example, researchers exposed sea hares (a type of sea slug) in French Polynesia to simulated ocean acidification and found they had less foraging success and made poorer decisions.

Ocean acidification is also a problem for the fishes. Many studies have revealed elevated CO₂ can disrupt their sense of smell, vision and hearing. It can also impair survival traits, such as a fish’s ability to learn, avoid predators, and select suitable habitat.

Such impairment appears to be the result of changes in neurological, physiological, and molecular functions in fish brains.

A sea hare
Sea hares exposed to acidification made poorer decisions.  Shutterstock

Predicting the winners and losers

Of the seven oceans, the Pacific and Indian Oceans have been acidifying at the fastest rates since 1991. This suggests their marine life may also be more vulnerable.

However, ocean acidification does not affect all marine species in the same way, and the effects can vary over the organism’s lifetime. So, more research to predict the future winners and losers is crucial.

This can be done by identifying inherited traits that can increase an organism’s survival and reproductive success under more acidic conditions. Winner populations may start to adapt, while loser populations should be targets for conservation and management.

Read more:
Acid oceans are shrinking plankton, fuelling faster climate change

One such winner may be the epaulette shark, a shallow water reef species endemic to the Great Barrier Reef. Research suggests simulated ocean acidification conditions do not impact early growth, development, and survival of embryos and neonates, nor do they affect foraging behaviours or metabolic performance of adults.

But ocean acidification is also likely to create losers on the Great Barrier Reef. For example, researchers studying the orange clownfish – a species made famous by Disney’s animated Nemo character – found they suffered multiple sensory impairments under simulated ocean acidification conditions. These ranged from difficulties smelling and hearing their way home, to distinguishing friend from foe.

A clownfish
Clownfish struggled to tell friend from foe when exposed to ocean acidification.

It’s not too late

More than half a billion people depend on coral reefs for food, income, and protection from storms and coastal erosion. Reefs provide jobs – such as in tourism and fishing – and places for recreation. Globally, coral reefs represent an industry worth US$11.9 trillion per year. And importantly, they’re a place of deep cultural and spiritual connection for Indigenous people around the world.

Ocean acidification is not the only threat to coral reefs. Under climate change, the rate of ocean warming has doubled since the 1990s. The Great Barrier Reef, for example, has warmed by 0.8℃ since the Industrial Revolution. Over the past five years this has caused devastating back-to-back coral bleaching events. The effects of warmer seas are magnified by ocean acidification.

Read more:
Coronavirus is a ‘sliding doors’ moment. What we do now could change Earth’s trajectory

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions must become a global mission. COVID-19 has slowed our movements across the planet, showing it’s possible to radically slash our production of CO₂. If the world meets the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement and keeps global temperature increases below 1.5℃, the Pacific will experience far less severe decreases in oceanic pH.

We will, however, have to curb emissions by a lot more – 45% over the next decade – to keep global warming below 1.5℃. This would give some hope that coral reefs in the Pacific, and worldwide, are not completely lost.

Clearly, the decisions we make today will affect what our oceans look like tomorrow.The Conversation

The Pacific Ocean off the Taiwan coast
Our decisions today will determine the fate of tomorrow’s oceans.

Jodie L. Rummer, Associate Professor & Principal Research Fellow, James Cook University; Bridie JM Allan, Lecturer/researcher, University of Otago; Charitha Pattiaratchi, Professor of Coastal Oceanography, University of Western Australia; Ian A. Bouyoucos, Postdoctoral fellow, James Cook University; Irfan Yulianto, Dosen Pemanfaatan Sumber Daya Perikanan, Fakultas Perikanan dan Ilmu Kelautan, IPB University, and Mirjam van der Mheen, Fellow, University of Western Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

** The story of the Indian Ocean was published here in Africa PORTS & SHIPS on 7 June 2020 – see HERE


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VOS Princess, proceedi g to northern Mozambique to assist the Eni drillship SAIPEM 12000. Picture: VOS and appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
VOS Princess, proceedi g to northern Mozambique to assist the Eni drillship SAIPEM 12000. Picture: VOS

Italian oil major ENI has fixed the charter of two dynamic positioning class 2-capable platform supply vessels (PSVs), VOS PRINCESS and VOS PRINCIPLE on a long-term contract in support of the drill ship SAIPEM 12000, which is off the northern Mozambique coast.

VOS Princess and VOS Principle have both completed the necessary special surveys and are now proceeding to African waters, where they will commence work in the coming weeks.

VOS Principle, managed by VOS Genoa, had previously worked for ENI in the Rovuma Basin region in northern Mozambique during 2019 and 2020. Her docking and special survey were carried out in Italy and Greece, before departure to Mozambique.

The second PSV, VOS Princess, under management of VOS Singapore, had spent the earlier part of this year on an Indian charter performing supply and accommodation duties. Her docking and special survey were conducted in early November at the Keppel Yard in Singapore.

Vroom Offshore Services (VOS) said the continuing strict COVID-19 guidelines made these dockings and surveys somewhat of a logistical challenge and they were grateful to all those who enabled them to complete the work successfully and on time.

ENI’s drilling campaign is to resume in the second half of December, after a suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project is scheduled to last around seven months.

VOS Principle, also ransferring to the Rovuma Basin in support of the drillship SAIPEM 12000, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
VOS Principle, also ransferring to the Rovuma Basin in support of the drillship SAIPEM 12000. Picture: VOS


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An aerial view of Apapa port, Lagos, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
An aerial view of Apapa port, Lagos

Access roads to Apapa and Tin Island ports have become notorious for congestion, adding costs to the collection of containers and other cargo at the terminals. So much so that the Federal Government appointed a special Presidential Task Team in order to clear the backlogs and congestion.

Instead of providing solutions, the security agencies involved, including the task team, are now accused of extorting bribes from truck drivers wanting to access the various terminals.

The truck drivers, together with similar reports from…[restrict] clearing agents, cargo owners and other operators, claim they are being forced to pay bribes of between N70,000 and N200,000 (US$180 – $500) before being allowed in.

They describe the illegal operation of the officials as “well organised and institutionalised.”

Those accused of the extortion include members of the Presidential Task Team, police and port security officials who are accused of creating artificial traffic situations on the Apapa-Oshodi expressway as well as the port access road that only a bribe can fix.

Mr Sanni Bala of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) and a truck owner himself, was quoted in the media as saying that security agents assess their demands according to the ability of the drivers to pay. He called it an institutionalised nightmare.

The (AMATO) Chairman, Remi Ogungbemi, claimed he had personally witnessed on several occasions truck drivers having to pay huge bribes before being allowed into the port to do business. Complaints to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) management went unanswered, he said.

Users say the time spent on negotiating a bribe adds to the congestion outside the ports.

The National Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr Kayode Farinto, said that clearing agents lose an average of N300 million ($780,000) weekly to illegal collections by security agents. He called for the disbandment of the Presidential Task Team.

Farinto called for the Nigerian Ports Authority to introduce an electronic call-up system. He said the manual system in use encourages corruption.

A spokesman for the Presidential Task Team, Kayode Opeifa dismissed the stories of extortion and called on the media to investigate the claims of those making accusations against the security teams.

“These people talking are criminals, they know the problem, they are the cause of the traffic situation in Apapa,” he said.

Nasiru Ibrahim, NPA Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communication, said described the claims that have been made as mere allegations as nobody has been caught. sources: Vanguard & Premium Times[/restrict]


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Chinese-built locomotives being discharged in Durban harbour. Picture courtesy: Charles Baker, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Chinese-built locomotives being discharged in Durban harbour. Picture courtesy: Charles Baker

In a statement issued last night (Wednesday 9 December) Transnet refuted reports that a settlement had been reached with McKinsey regarding allegations of State Capture, saying that no final settlement has been reached.

Transnet SOC Ltd (Transnet) said it has noted the statement issued earlier by the Secretary of the
Judicial Commission into Allegations of State Capture with regard to McKinsey.

“Transnet wishes to confirm that no final settlement has been reached with McKinsey.

“Up until last night, discussions were still underway between Transnet and McKinsey, with the main point of dispute being the repayment of the substantial interest earned on McKinsey’s fees.

“In respect of contracts associated with Regiments Capital, the fee paid to McKinsey was a total of R688-million. In addition, according to Transnet’s calculation, the interest cost relating to these payments is close to R558-million.

“The amount owed to Transnet, therefore, is just over R1.2-billion, and that is what we continue to insist must be repaid in full.

“In July 2018 McKinsey agreed to return the fees earned at Eskom plus interest, in similar circumstances.” source: Transnet SOC Ltd


SARS freezes R2.76 billion from being paid to Chinese rail company

In a similar matter the Pretoria High Court earlier this week ordered that R2.76 billion of kickback money for Gupta-related offshore companies must remain frozen and not paid over.

This followed action taken by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to prevent the transfer of funds alleged to have been illicit kickbacks on the controversial order placed by Transnet with Chinese rail company, CRCC.

An amount of R1.26 billion was about to be released to CRCC when the urgent order was handed down. In addition another R1.5 billion will also remain frozen pending a bank guarantee, bringing the total to R2.76 billion frozen until SARS has finalised a tax claim against CRCC.

According to a report by the investigative journal amaBhungane, the South African Reserve Bank froze the release of these funds three years ago “based on irregular outflows and inflows from an Exchange Control perspective”.

The evidence that led to the action by the Reserve Bank was first revealed by amaBhungane and its #GuptaLeaks partners that CRRC companies were paying 21% of their revenue from Transnet locomotive contracts to Gupta offshore fronts as kickbacks.

The Reserve Bank later blocked additional amounts, which currently stand at a total of R4.2-billion, but the initial tranche of R1.26-billion was due to be released this coming Saturday, 12 December under a rule that funds must be unfrozen after 36 months. In terms of the order by the Pretoria High Court, these funds remain frozen (see above). source: amaBhungane


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WHARF TALK:  Namdock says its facilities remain ‘shipshape’

The docking of UOS Explorer, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The docking of UOS Explorer


Namdock, which is now a wholly Namibian-owned entity with its shareholding held entirely between Namport and the EBH Consortium — the latter being a group comprising prominent Namibian business leaders — has issued a statement saying that its facilities remain “truly shipshape”.

Namdock is situated in the harbour of Walvis Bay, strategically positioned on the southwest coast of Africa and is favourably positioned as the preferred marine repair partner in the region.

Because of this, Namdock says it…[restrict] aims to build on its regional and international expertise and experience, while illustrating its diverse capabilities, along with its solid track record of customer service excellence.

In water repairs at Namdock, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
In water repairs at Namdock

According to Namdock’s Acting CEO, Heritha Nankole Muyoba, Namibia is recognised for its stable and ethical political landscape, while enjoying a supportive, business-friendly environment.

She says Namdock has highly skilled and qualified professionals who can compete on an international level, with experience in an extensive variety of disciplines: from rigging, piping and coating to fabrication, carpentry, electrical and propulsion.

“While its floating docks and ship repair amenities form a significant part of Namdock’s revenue, we are also diversifying our focus to include land-based industries such as the West African mining industries and general engineering, as the company is ideally positioned geographically to further enhance its effectiveness by fabricating locally and shipping products to North and West Africa,” she says.

Namdock’s facilities include three floating dry docks: Namdock 1, with a lifting capacity of 8,000 tons; Namdock 2 with a lifting capacity of 6,500 tons and the Panamax-sized Namdock 3 with the lifting capacity of 15,000 tons.

“We also have fully-equipped workshops for undertaking a wide range of marine repair, engineering and maintenance projects,” says Namdock Marketing Manager, Quintin Simon.

“Because Namdock is closely aligned to Namport – which oversees the port of Walvis Bay – we have access to Namport’s synchrolift and quayside berthing services. These can accommodate vessels up to 2,000 tons displacement and a length of 80-metres and 12m width.”

“The synchrolift area has four 80m repair quays of 8m draught, used for alongside-pier repairs and maintenance.”[/restrict]


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IN CONVERSATION: The Atlantic: The driving force behind ocean circulation and the taste for cod

Fishing boats coming into Le Guilvinec, Brittany, France, at the end of the day.

Suzanne OConnell, Wesleyan University and Pascal Le Floc’h, Université de Bretagne occidentale

Did the Atlantic close and then reopen?” That was the question posed in a 1966 paper by the Canadian geophysicist J. Tuzo Wilson.

The answer? Yes, over millions of years. And it was the breakup of the supercontinent Pangea, starting some 180 million years ago, that began creating the Atlantic Ocean basin as we know it today.

Earth’s surface is made up of intersecting tectonic plates. For much of our planet’s history these plates have been bumping into one another, forming chains of mountains and volcanoes, and then rifting apart, creating oceans.

When Pangea existed it would have been possible to walk from modern Connecticut or Georgia in the U.S. to what is now Morocco in Africa. Geologists don’t know what causes continents to break up, but we know that when rifting occurs, continents thin and pull apart. Magma intrudes into the continental rocks.

This story is part of Oceans 21

Five profiles open our series on the global ocean, delving into ancient Indian Ocean trade networks, Pacific plastic pollution, Arctic light and life, Atlantic fisheries and the Southern Ocean’s impact on global climate. All brought to you from The Conversation’s international network.

The oldest portions of crust in the Atlantic Ocean lie off of North America and Africa, which were adjacent in Pangea. They show that these two continents separated about 180 million years ago, forming the North Atlantic Ocean basin. The rest of Africa and South America rifted apart about 40 million or 50 million years later, creating what is now the South Atlantic Ocean basin.

Magma wells upward from beneath the ocean floor at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, creating new crust where the plates move apart. Some of this ocean crust is younger than you or me, and more is being created today. The Atlantic is still growing.

World map with colored zones showing age of ocean plates
This map shows how ocean crust rises upward at rifts between tectonic plates and spreads outward. In the Atlantic, light blue crust began forming 180 million years ago when North America and Africa rifted apart. Green crust was produced 128 million to 84 million years ago when Africa and South America rifted apart. Dark red crust is the youngest, formed up to 10 million years ago.

Winds and currents

Once the ocean basin formed after Pangea’s breakup, water entered from rain and rivers. Winds began to move the surface water.

Thanks to the unequal heating of Earth’s surface and its rotation, these winds blow in different directions. The Earth is warmer at the equator than near the poles, which puts air in motion. At the equator the planet’s heat causes moist air to warm, expand and rise. At the polar regions cold, dry, heavier air descends.

This motion creates “cells” of rising and descending air that control global wind patterns. Earth’s rotation dictates that different parts of the globe travel at different speeds. At a pole, a molecule of air would just spin around, while a particle of air at the equator in Quito, Ecuador, would travel 7,918 miles (12,742 kilometers) in a single day.

This different movement causes the air cells to break up. For example, in the Hadley Cell, tropical air, which rose at the equator, cools in the upper atmosphere and descends at about 30 degrees north and south latitude – roughly, near the northern and southern tips of Africa. Earth’s rotation turns this descending air, creating trade winds that flow from east to west across the Atlantic and back to the equator. At higher latitudes in the North and South Atlantic, the same forces create mid-latitude cells with winds that blow from west to east.

Atmospheric circulation diagram
Earth’s atmospheric circulation, showing the Hadley, midlatitude and polar cells, and the wind patterns they produce.    NASA/Wikimedia

As air flows across the ocean’s surface, it moves water. This creates a circulating system of gyres, or rotating currents, that move clockwise in the North Atlantic and counterclockwise in the South Atlantic. These gyres are part of a global conveyor belt that transports and redistributes heat and nutrients throughout the global ocean.

The Gulf Stream, which follows the U.S. East Coast before heading east across the North Atlantic, is part of the North Atlantic gyre. Since the current carries warm water north, it is easy to see on false-color infrared satellite images as it transports heat northward. Like a river, it also meanders.

Moving water masses

These wind-blown surface currents are important for many reasons, including human navigation, but they affect only about 10% of the Atlantic’s volume. Most of the ocean operates in a different system, which is called thermohaline circulation because it is driven by heat (thermo) and salt (saline).

Like many processes in the ocean, salinity is tied to weather and circulation. For example, trade winds blow moist air from the Atlantic across Central America and into the Pacific Ocean, which concentrates salinity in the Atlantic waters left behind. As a result, the Atlantic is slightly saltier than the Pacific.

This extra salinity makes the Atlantic the driving force in ocean circulation. As currents move surface waters poleward, the water cools and becomes more dense. Eventually at high latitudes this cold, salty water sinks to the ocean floor. From there it flows along the bottom and back toward the the opposite pole, creating density-driven currents with names such as North Atlantic Deep Water and Antarctic Bottom Water.

Thermohaline circulation map
Global thermohaline circulation is driven primarily by the formation and sinking of deep water. It moves heat from the equator toward the poles.
Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal, CC BY-ND

As these deep currents move, they collect surface organisms that have died and fallen to the bottom. With time, the organisms decompose, filling the deep water with essential nutrients.

In some locations this nutrient-rich water rises back up to the surface, a process called upwelling. When it reaches the ocean’s sunlit zone, within 650 feet (200 meters) of the surface, tiny organisms called phytoplankton feed on the nutrients. In turn, they become food for zooplankton and larger organisms higher up the food chain. Some of the the Atlantic’s richest fishing grounds, such as the Grand Banks to the southeast of Newfoundland in Canada and the Falkland/Malvinas Islands in the South Atlantic, are upwelling areas.

Much about the Atlantic remains to be discovered, especially in a changing climate. Will rising carbon dioxide levels and resulting ocean acidification disrupt marine food chains? How will a warmer ocean affect circulation and hurricane intensity? What we do know is that the Atlantic’s winds, currents and sea life are intricately connected, and disrupting them can have far-reaching effects.

Atlantic cod fishing

Now, let’s head back up to the surface, and into the wake of the first sailboats that set out to fish for cod along the Canadian coast. These pioneering ships paved the way for greater exploitation of the Atlantic’s wealth of fishery resources – particularly cod. Communities of people greatly benefited from these resources over the following centuries, until the threat of overfishing became impossible to ignore.

The history of fishing in the Atlantic is often said to trace back to the discovery of the cod-rich Canadian waters of Newfoundland, attributed to Italian navigator and explorer John Cabot, who led an English expedition there in 1497. From the 16th to the 20th centuries, cod-fishing mania swept European fleets. Between 1960 to 1976, ships from Spain, Portugal and France were responsible for 40% of the catch. However, in 1977 Canada extended its territory offshore by 200 miles, taking possession of the Newfoundland cod fisheries, which accounted for 70% of cod production in the Northwest Atlantic.

Fishermen aboard a boat with a haul of cod
Fishermen aboard a boat with a haul of cod.   Georg Kristiansen/Shutterstock

For five centuries, the only thing that mattered was the size of the catch. This drove innovations in the design and equipment of fishing boats. The sailboat cod-fishing industry in Newfoundland and Iceland hit its peak in the late 19th century; from 1800 to 1900, France – the main fishing operator alongside Britain – outfitted more than 30,000 schooners.

At the end of the 19th century, the rowboat was replaced by the dory, a small (two-person) boat from North America, which sharply increased production. A plaque commenting on the new safety of the dory in the French Museum of Fisheries, in Normandy – dedicated to the history of commercial cod fishing – noted that the hazard of losing a man overboard was “built into the mindset of cod-fishing.” But by the early 20th century, steamers had begun to replace these boats.

New productivity gains came with new techniques, such as using back-trawling instead of side-trawling in the 1950s and 1960s, alongside reduced crew sizes.

The biggest cod catch, at nearly 1.9 million tons, was recorded in 1968. After that, overall production declined year after year, reaching less than a million tons in 1973. Numbers slowly picked up again in the 1980s after European fleets were excluded from the Newfoundland area, but this comeback was short-lived. On July 2, 1992, the Canadian government announced a moratorium on cod fishing, confirming that populations had collapsed. This collapse in the northwestern Atlantic has since become a textbook example of the risks of overfishing.

The wider catch

Seafood production in the Atlantic went from an estimated 9 million tons in 1950 to more than 23 million tons in 1980 and 2000, and 22 million tons in 2018. This overall production has remained stable since 1970.

In the North Atlantic, whiting and herring are the two most fished species by tonnage. Sardine and sardinella hold the top spots in the Central Atlantic. In the South Atlantic, mackerel and Argentine hake dominate the catch.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has identified six production areas in the Atlantic Ocean, divided up cardinally, as shown on the map below. In 1950, these various areas accounted for 52% of the worldwide catch. From 1960 to 1980, this proportion went down to 37% to 43%. Since 1990, one-quarter of global seafood production is caught by fleets operating in the Atlantic.

Nearly 60% of seafood production now comes from fisheries in the Pacific Ocean, and 15% from the Indian Ocean.

FAO has identified six production areas in the Atlantic Ocean.
Le Floc’h (adapted from FAO’s map, 2003), CC BY-NC-ND

The northeastern Atlantic (FAO Area 27) covers fisheries operated by European fleets. This area is, by far, the most bountiful of the entire Atlantic zone, with a total catch of 9.6 million tons in 2018. Norway took the lead for seafood production by tonnage (2.5 million tons) in 2018, ahead of Spain (just under a million tons). It is also the most diversified zone, with more than 450 commercial species.

The northwestern Atlantic (FAO Area 21) stretches from the Rhode Island and Gulf of Maine coastlines in the U.S. to the Canadian coasts, including the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador. Cod has dominated the history of fishing in this area since the 16th century. The biggest overall catch was recorded in 1970, at more than 4 million tons. But, after 1990, that number dropped, as a consequence of the 1992 moratorium. Since 2000, the northwest area has accounted for around 10% of the Atlantic catch (1.7 million tons in 2018). There are 220 monitored species in the area.

Eastern Central Atlantic (FAO Area 34) stretches from the Moroccan to the Zairian coasts. Species caught include sardine, anchovy and herring. In 2018, this area accounted for a quarter of the total seafood production of all six Atlantic areas. That same year, West African fisheries recorded the second biggest catches after the northeastern Atlantic. The high number of commercial species identified by the FAO sets this region apart, at nearly 300.

Western Central Atlantic (FAO Area 31) stretches from the southern U.S. to the north of Brazil, including the Caribbean. Since 1970, catch size has remained between 1.3 million and 1.8 million tons (5% to 10% of the entire Atlantic catch). Lobster and shrimp are the target species in the Caribbean waters.

Southeast Atlantic (FAO Area 47) connects the African coastlines of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Production surpassed 2 million tons in 1970 and 1980, accounting for 10% of the total Atlantic catch. Since 1990, the catch has been stable, with a plateau of 1.5 million tons. It’s the least diversified region in the Atlantic, with 160 species monitored by the FAO. Mackerel, hake and anchovy make up 59% of total production.

Southwest Atlantic (FAO Area 41), which stretches along the coastlines of Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina in South America, was the lowest-producing of the six areas until 1980. It recorded no more than 5% of the total Atlantic catch. But from 1990, fisheries produced 1.8 million to 2 million tons (8% to 10% of the overall catch). This can be attributed to investment from the Argentinian government into fishing fleets in the 1980s. Some 225 commercial species are being statistically monitored, with 52% of total production coming from hake, shortfin squid and shrimp.

Catches in the Atlantic (1950-2018) according to the FAO areas.
Le Floc’h, CC BY-NC-ND

Protecting the entire ecosystem

At a time when scientific research predicts that all living marine resources will be exhausted by 2048, a new fisheries approach is required to avoid new tragedies, like the one that befell the cod populations in the northwestern Atlantic.

In this context, protecting ecosystems has become a priority. This growing acknowledgment of the impacts of fishing is a direct result of the successful work undertaken by ecological and social science researchers since the 1970s, who placed the concept of resilience at the heart of their studies.

This new ecosystem-based management approach, now inscribed in law in Europe and Canada, has been positive. A similar U.S. policy was revoked by President Donald Trump, but likely will be restored by incoming president Joe Biden. However, there is still work to do to tackle the main challenge – making this approach a reality in all Atlantic fisheries.The Conversation

Suzanne OConnell, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Wesleyan University and Pascal Le Floc’h, Maître de conférences, économiste, laboratoire Amure (UBO, Ifremer, CNRS), Université de Bretagne occidentale

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

** The story of the Indian Ocean was published here in Africa PORTS & SHIPS on 7 June 2020 – see HERE


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NIMASA banner featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has again highlighted the need for the observance of cabotage practices in Nigerian waters, saying that Nigerian cargo should be carried on Nigerian vessels in order to promote a greater local participation in the maritime space with a concurrent increase in the international shipping trade.

In a speech given on behalf of NIMASA Director-General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, the Head of Shipping Promotions Unit, Mr Momoh Alhassan, said that trade and commerce beyond borders to prosper, there had to be an effective cargo and shipping industry.

“Nigeria has…[restrict] cargoes and these cargoes should be carried by Nigerians to promote indigenous participation in the maritime space,” he said at the 15th Abuja International Trade Fair.

He was speaking under the theme of Investment Opportunities for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Nigerian Blue Economy.

NIMASA logo featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

He said that not only would it promote diversification and increase international shipping trade, it would encourage the development the capability of the country to manufacture and produce products internally while helping reduce the need for importation of goods and services.

This in turn would help conserve foreign exchange and curtail capital flight from the country and will contribute meaningfully to GBD growth and economic stability.

The message from the director-general was that the National Shipping Policy, established under decree 10, 1987 stipulated that Nigerians should have a right of freight.

He said that section 37, sub-section six, of the act, also stipulated that NIMASA would determine an efficient strategy for the participation of national carriers in the carriage of crude and petroleum products to and from Nigeria.

“This covers both upstream and downstream sectors of the sector,”he said.

“These acts and policies that are favourable to indigenous players on the oil and gas sector shall be replicated in other sectors such as agriculture and solid minerals which have huge demand potential in global trade.”[/restrict]


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The location of the proposed new inland river port at Spijk. Picture: Boskalis, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The location of the proposed new inland river port at Spijk. Picture: Boskalis


Royal Boskalis Westminster NV, which operates in the dredging, maritime infrastructure and maritime services sectors, has been awarded two infrastructure projects in the Netherlands with a total contract value of approximately EUR 75 million.

One of these is to construct a new inland harbour in Spijk in the Netherlands on behalf of Rijkswaterstaat. The harbour is located on the river Waal close to the German border.

The harbour is intended for inland vessels and will increase capacity, safety and accessibility of these vessels. For this project approximately three million cubic metres of soil will be moved by means of a small cutter suction dredger and other earthmoving equipment.

Construction will commence early 2021 with a lead time of approximately 2.5 years. Boskalis expects to reduce its CO2 emissions by more than 50% on this project by using a sustainable biofuel.

The other project awarded to Boskalis involves redesigning the N241 provincial road in the North of the Netherlands and includes widening of the road and additional road safety related improvements.


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Kenya's SGR freight service, not meeting targets, featured in report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Kenya’s SGR freight service, not meeting targets


Kenya’s well publicised standard gauge railway from the port of Mombasa to near Nairobi, although not the first new railway in Africa to be built to the wider ‘standard’ gauge of 4ft 8.5ins (1435mm) but certainly the most widely known, has become an increasing challenge to the Kenya railway authority and the Kenya Government. How to generate enough money to pay the enormous bill owed to the Chinese banks.

It’s not that the railway, operated by…[restrict] the Chinese Africa Star Railway Operation Company Ltd, is unpopular with users, either passengers or freight, but there have been challenges that were unforeseen ahead of any decision to build an expensive new railway.

The SGR cost US$3.5 billion to build and requires another $163 million in annual operating costs.

The most serious of the challenges it faces has been the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide retraction of trade, which has affected East Africa in equal measure to other regions.

The SGR passenger service, which early in the COVID-19 crisis was ordered to cancel all passenger services during May and June, was able to resume in mid-July at 50% capacity. During the first nine months of this year the service generated $4.2 million from 422,471 passengers compared with 1.1 million passengers for the same period of 2019 and an income of $10.8 million.

Kenya's SGR Madaraka Express between Mombasa and Nairobi, fatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Kenya’s SGR Madaraka Express between Mombasa and Nairobi

In terms of cargo carrying, at the outset of the pandemic, the freight service was classified an essential service to evacuate cargo from the port of Mombasa. In 2019 the SGR carried 4.1 million tonnes while generating $107 million in revenue. This year for the first nine months the company has carried 3.1 million tonnes, which if annualised is on a par with the previous year, while the nine-month revenue generated in 2020 stands at $78 million ($104 million annualised).

However, the state-owned Kenya Railways Corporation (KRC), set a possibly over-optimistic target of eight million tonnes of cargo for this year, leaving an estimated $100 million shortfall in revenue and an added burden on government and KRC in obligations to meet the Chinese bill.

The loss of two months and a decrease in passenger numbers has only exacerbated KRC and the government’s problem. Since reopening the service it has not returned to carrying the passenger volumes of 2019.

A Transport committee report tabled in the country’s National Assembly in September said: “The government should initiate the process of renegotiating the terms of the SGR with the lender due to the prevailing economic distress occasioned by the effects of the global pandemic”.

Disturbingly, the committee suggested the possibility of reducing the operational costs by at least 50 per cent.[/restrict]


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Support African Continental Free Trade Area, says South Africa’s President

Africa map,


African Union Chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which comes into operation in January 2021.

“Our continent is one of the fastest growing markets in the world with a projection of more than a billion consumers.

“The AfCFTA brings with it the promise of new beginnings and increased opportunities for our continent and its people.

“We reaffirm our optimism that the AfCFTA will leverage on these opportunities by attracting more foreign direct investment and expedite the implementation of post-COVID-19 economic recovery plans,” he said.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, quoted talking of the AfCFTA in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Ramaphosa made the clarion call at the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union on the AfCFTA) which he presided over on Saturday (5 December).

The operationalisation of the AfCFTA is a historic milestone that brings together all 55 member states of the AU covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and aims to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market.

At its core is a developmental approach that seeks to liberalise trade, build value chains and overcome the infrastructure deficit on the continent.

For the AfCFTA to succeed, the President highlighted that the continent must address the political and socio-economic challenges that face the continent.

“We have to address issues of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. We have to address issues of security and instability, which are causing untold suffering for the African people and holding us back from realising our full potential.

“We have to renew our collective commitment to realising the aspirations of Agenda 2063, and not waver in our resolve to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by the end of this decade,” he said.

With plans for the operationalisation of the AfCFTA momentarily disrupted by the devastating coronavirus pandemic, President Ramaphosa urged the continent to remain united in implementing the AfCFTA while battling the pandemic.

“As we continue to battle this public health crisis, we are determined to remain firmly on the path of progress. In confronting this pandemic, we came together as never before.

“We have shown just what we Africans are capable of achieving when we stand united.

“Let us in the same spirit of unity and solidarity take forward the operationalisation of the AfCFTA and drive the post-pandemic economic recovery effort,” said the President.


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The Orange Marine cable ship Pierre de Fermat, a Vard design which can be assumed to resemble what the new ship recently ordered will look like. Picture: Orange Marine, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Orange Marine cable ship Pierre de Fermat, a Vard design which is likely to resemble the new cable ship that has been recently ordered. Picture: Orange Marine


Orange Marine (formerly France Télécom Marine), a wholly owned subsidiary of Orange, will build a new cable ship that it says will be even more efficient and with a reduced environmental footprint.

It will be the first cable ship of her generation specially designed for the maintenance of submarine cables, both fiber optic telecommunication cables and inter-array power cables used in offshore windfarms.

Submarine cables are the backbone of the global internet. While careful choices of optimised routes are made and specific means of protections are used during their installation, defaults creating service outages are still regularly experienced.

This can lead to major disruptions of internet and international telecommunications services, and in such cases a cable ship has to intervene. This will be the mission of this new vessel, ready to sail within 24 hours at any time when required. She will replace C/S RAYMOND CROZE, launched in 1983, which carried out more than one hundred cable repairs, mostly in Mediterranean, Black Sea and Red Sea.

This new vessel will be at the forefront of new, more efficient technologies and will be equipped with the latest state of the art equipment, in particular:

* Her streamlined hull is designed to reduce fuel consumption, 25% lower than average existing cable ships, and will be optimised for cable repairs,
* Her Azipod marine propulsion thrusters will give her unmatched maneuverability and reliability,
* The ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) used for cutting, inspecting and burying cables will be stored onboard in a dedicated hangar,
* The hybrid energy management system based on fuel production and electrical storage back-up using batteries will reduce her fuel consumption during cable works and will prevent any unexpected shutdown of a generator,
* Her capability to be connected through onshore power supply will enable her to reduce her carbon emissions when berthed.

Everything has been carefully designed to reduce her environmental footprint, which will lead to a reduction of 20% in CO2 emissions and an 80% reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions compared to the Raymond Croze.

With C/S PIERRE de FERMAT commissioned in 2014, this new vessel will enable Orange Marine to have one of the most modern fleets of cable ships in the world. She will fly the French flag.

The construction of this vessel was entrusted to the Colombo Dockyard shipyard assisted by the Norwegian company Vard, specialised in the design of special vessels. These two companies jointly designed and built the last cable vessel that was commissioned and Vard also designed and built the Pierre de Fermat. The launch of the ship is scheduled for the first half of 2023.

For Orange, this investment is a strong sign of the importance of this historic activity within the Group. It is part of the strategy of developing its position as a leading player in the international networks market in general and submarine cables in particular. Orange, in its Engage 2025 plan, announced the continued expansion of these networks.

Orange’s cable ship LEON THEVENIN is a familiar sight at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront harbour (Victoria Basin) where she is stationed. The repair ship was recently seen at work off the KZN coast opposite Amanzimtoti, just south of Durban.

Leon Thevenin at Cape Town's V&A Waterfront harbour. Note the difference i this older design of cable ship. Picture: Terry Hutson, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Leon Thevenin at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront harbour. Note the difference with this older design of cable ship. Picture: Terry Hutson


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IN CONVERSATION: Can countries end overfishing and plastic pollution in just 10 years?

Artem Mishukov/Shutterstock

Henrik Österblom, Stockholm University

In my career as a marine biologist, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the most remote islands in the world. These beautiful places continue to remind me why I have this job in the first place, but they also bring home the pervasive influence of human societies. Uninhabited bird colonies on the Canadian West Coast, remote tropical Japanese islands, and tiny bits of land in South East Asia all have one thing in common: plastic waste on the beach.

When at home in Sweden, I regularly swim and sail in the Baltic Sea. But agricultural fertilisers and other types of pollution have created dead zones where fish either leave or suffocate. Meanwhile, offshore fisheries and aquaculture farms in many parts of the world overharvest and pollute the water. We know what proper management of these activities could look like, but political will has so far not been equal to the challenge.

That may be about to change. A recent agreement between 14 heads of state – together representing 40% of the world’s coastline – promised to end overfishing, restore fish stocks and halt the flow of plastic pollution into the ocean within a decade.

A tropical beach strewn with plastic waste.
Ocean problems implicate every country – and demand coordinated solutions.
Musleemin Noitubtim/Shutterstock

Interconnected problems

Pollution, plastics and unsustainable seafood may look like isolated problems, but they influence each other. As nutrients run off farmland and into the sea, they affect the conditions fish need to thrive. Pollution makes our seafood less healthy and overfishing is pushing some fish stocks beyond their capacity to renew themselves.

All of these stresses are amplified by global warming. The ocean has been acting as a sink for CO₂ emissions and excess heat for decades, but there is only so much that marine ecosystems can take before collapsing. And we shouldn’t think these problems won’t affect us – stronger storms, fuelled by warmer ocean waters, are happening more often.

It’s in everyone’s interests to protect the ocean. Clean seas would be more profitable and research suggests that better managed fisheries could generate six times more food than they do currently. The exclusive economic zones of coastal states would be more productive if every country agreed to protect the high seas. And sailing in the Baltic Sea would be much nicer if the boat didn’t have to plough a thick, green sludge.

So how can the world make progress – and what’s holding us back?

International solutions

As part of the recent agreement between 14 heads of state, the participating countries – Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal – committed to a number of goals within their national waters, including investment in zero-emission shipping, eliminating waste and ensuring fisheries are sustainable. The aim is to ensure all activity within these exclusive economic zones is sustainable by 2025.

The countries agreed to fast-track their plan for action, rather than work through the UN. Their combined national waters roughly equal the size of Africa. They each have clear stakes in the continued functioning of ocean ecosystems and economies, so this pragmatic approach makes sense. That’s a sentiment that businesses could no doubt respect. After all, there are no economic opportunities in a dead ocean.

The agreement is an encouraging message from political leaders, and these states can leverage vast sums of money and resources to effect change. But the ocean is home to a dozen global industries, and around 50,000 vessels traverse it at any one time. Clearly, we need more than governments to deliver on this ambitious agenda.

Colourful shipping containers and cranes fill a bustling seaport.
Shipping accounts for nearly 90% of all global trade. Harmony Video Production/Shutterstock

My scientific colleagues and I have been developing a global coalition of businesses concerned with sustainable seafood. Our strategy is to find “keystone actors” within the private sector – companies with a disproportionate ability to influence change due to their size and strength.

The seafood industry is vast, and includes some of the largest companies in the world – from entire fisheries, to aquaculture farms and feed processors. After four years of working together, change within the participating companies is accelerating. For example, Nissui, the world’s second-largest seafood company, has evaluated their entire production portfolio for sustainability challenges.

Collaboration between scientists and businesses is vital to delivering commitments made by governments. Scientists can help define the problems, and business can develop, pilot and scale solutions. For instance, we’re developing software that can automatically detect which species of fish are caught on vessels, to radically improve the transparency of seafood production.

The ocean has been a source of inspiration, imagination and adventure since the beginning of time. It has fed us and generated livelihoods for billions. Politicians have stood serenely on the sidelines for some time now, content to be passive observers of deteriorating ecosystems. But the era of passive observation may finally be coming to an end.The Conversation

Henrik Österblom, Professor of Environmental Science, Stockholm University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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MSC co ntainer train between the UK's East Midlands and the port of Liverpool, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC container train operating between the UK’s East Midlands and the port of Liverpool, Picture: MSC


In the UK Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has introduced a new rail service connecting the East Midlands and the Port of Liverpool, driving enhanced connectivity and reduced road miles for MSC’s growing services into the North West of England.

Launched a week ago in partnership with rail operator, GB Railfreight, the train runs five days a week which according to MSC demonstrates the shipping and freight company’s continued commitment and investment to future growth in Liverpool.

“We are very pleased to announce that, together with our partners, we have launched the first daily intermodal rail connection between the Port of Liverpool and the East Midlands,” said Jonathan Burke, Operations Director at MSC UK.

“This new service enhances our nationwide port and intermodal network, further strengthening the breadth of our offering to clients whilst helping to reduce carbon emissions.”

John Smith, Managing Director of GB Railfreight, said that the rail company prides itself on innovation and commitment to partnership. “We are delighted to be working with our customer MSC, Peel Ports and Maritime Transport in delivering a new intermodal service into the Port of Liverpool – one which will see 20,000 lorry journeys off our roads.”

South Africa and rail corridors

Could the above be a forerunner of something similar developing in South Africa, with the two principal shipping companies, MSC and Maersk, and possible CMA CGM looking to co-operation with Transnet Freight Rail by way of introducing dedicated ‘MSC’ or ‘Maersk’ container trains on the Natcor corridor?

Unless we’re mistaken, hasn’t it already happened with ‘Safmarine/Maersk’ citrus trains from Limpopo to Cape Town, setting the precedent.


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By the time the MV Mako was docked in the Port of Aden, Yemen, a seafarer had been on board for twelve months - nine of them unpaid.- story in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
By the time the MV Mako was docked in the Port of Aden, Yemen, a seafarer had been on board for twelve months – nine of them unpaid.


Amid a concerning rise in cases of shipowners abandoning their vessels and crew, unions have helped recover more than US$1.7 million in wages owed to seafarers.

Since June this year, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its national union affiliates have assisted more than 135 seafarers across 12 ships in the Arab World to return to their families across the globe.

Mohamed Arrachedi is the ITF’s Arab World and Iran Network coordinator. While he thinks recovering the impressive haul for the workers shows the ITF’s effectiveness on behalf of seafarers, he is concerned that wages went unpaid in the first place.

“Cases of abandonment and unpaid wages are definitely on the rise across the world, and in this region in particular. We’re also seeing more employers withholding the wages they owe to seafarers – and seafarers are paying the price,” Arrachedi said.

“A major factor is crew change. Governments’ Covid-19 border restrictions and the cost of international flights mean that ever more employers are cutting their losses and abandoning their obligations towards seafarers – often folding their business with seafarers still on board and thousands of dollars out of pocket.”

ITF Arab World and Iran Network coordinator, Mohamed Arrachedifeatures in report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
ITF Arab World and Iran Network coordinator, Mohamed Arrachedi

Arrachedi says that, in typically cases of abandonment, employers will stop paying wages for a number of weeks, then months.

“They will promise the crew the outstanding wages, as well as speedy repatriation if the crew’s contracts are over. They keep promising. And then one day, a shipowner or their agent will stop responding to crew’s messages.”

“Employers can often vanish without a trace. Gone.”

But not all instances of unpaid wages result in abandonment, which can make it hard for seafarers to know when their employer is being honest about why wages are not being paid.

Seafarers scared to ‘rock the boat’

Many seafarers are often concerned about the consequences of arguing with their employer over matters like pay – even if they suspect or know that they are being cheated.

There are two reasons why seafarers feel intimidated.

Firstly, ‘blacklisting’, or the banning of seafarers by shipowners and their recruiting agents from future employment opportunities, is still thought to be widespread in the industry.

“Seafarers are worried that if they speak up, they won’t get another contract,” says Arrachedi.

The second reason for the hesitancy to speak out is that shipowners are seafarers’ tickets home. Under the Maritime Labour Convention, an employer pays for the cost of getting seafarers to and from ships. Seafarers worry that an angry shipowner could defer or deny them repatriation as punishment for raising concern over unpaid wages.

To make matters worse, right now there are up to 400,000 seafarers trapped working aboard cargo vessels and unable to go home. Often, their slim chances of overcoming government Covid border restrictions relies on the determination of their employers to navigate obstructive bureaucracy and put seafarers on record high-priced flights.

For many seafarers tired after 12, 14 or 18 months at sea and desperate to get home, making an enemy of their employer is a risk they are not willing to take.

“In most of these cases, we had to fight hard to ensure seafarers’ rights were respected, and it always requires that they first stand up for themselves and speak up. So many of these seafarers were intimidated and threatened for even contacting the ITF,” says Arrachedi.

Moldavian-flagged cargo carrier MV Mako

The 17-member crew of the Moldovan-flagged cargo carrier MV Mako dared to speak up after they went a full nine months without getting paid.

After being paid three months of wages from when he joined the ship in Algeria, Egyptian seafarer Hasan (not his real name) stopped receiving payments from his employer. Hasan said that, on reflection, warning signs were present when he was made to buy his own plane tickets to take up the job. He even had to supply his own safety boots and clothing to work in.

By the time the Mako was docked in the Port of Aden, Yemen, in August 2020, he had been on board for twelve months, nine of them unpaid.

Hasan demanded to leave the ship, be paid his outstanding wages, and be repatriated home. He contacted the ITF for assistance.

Under ITF pressure, the company agreed to arrange and pay for Hasan’s flight home. The ITF ensured he was paid his US$5,292 in withheld wages, as well as a refund for the travel expenses he incurred joining the ship.

Hasan’s crewmates aboard the MV Mako also experienced unpaid wages while working on the vessel. In fact, all of the other crew members had not been paid for at least some portion of their employment on board. After Hasan had been repatriated, some of his crewmates came forward to the ITF in the port Adabiyya, Egypt, determined to do something about their plight. With ITF help they were repatriated with US$38,792 of their wages in hand.

During the process of assisting seafarers experiencing unpaid wages, the ITF will often reach out to the Flag State where the ship is registered, requesting they encourage or compel a ship owner to do the right thing and pay outstanding entitlements to affected employees. However, the predominantly Syrian crew of the MV Mako did not receive support from Moldova during their pay battles.

More than 400 ships are currently registered to landlocked Moldova, a country which is still yet to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention. However, the convention is still applicable when Moldovan-flagged ships are in the ports of the 90 countries which have ratified the convention. Port State Control agencies are tasked with enforcing compliance with the MLC, and can detain ships.

“That’s why it is so important that crew speak up. In many cases, we can help them if they report unpaid wages and contract violations,” Arrachedi says.

MV Hannoud O, Beirut

Livestock carrier, Hannoud O. Picture: Balticshipping which featured in report in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Livestock carrier, Hannoud O. Picture: Balticshipping

As part of the recovered wages haul, Arrachedi and the ITF’s Arab World and Iran Network also helped 18 seafarers get back over four months’ of unpaid wages in Beirut.

The seafarers were crewing the Sierra Leone-flagged livestock carrier MV Hannoud when the shipowner abandoned their responsibilities, leaving the crew even without food and water.

Arrachedi said that in a serious situation like this, a ‘Flag State’ would typically step up and make sure seafarers on vessels sailing under their flag are provided with provisions, their unpaid entitlements, and a way home. However, Arrachedi says, the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration failed to respond as the plight of the MV Hannoud grew more dire.

The MV Hannoud was arrested by Lebanese authorities and docked in Beirut as interested commercial parties battled over the future of the ship in court. The ITF assisted the seafarers with provisions.

By the end of June, the legal battles were over and ship left Beirut. The ITF helped all 18 seafarers recover four months of owed wages, with US$141,790 paid out between them.

MV Algrace, UAE

The ITF also helped the crew of one Panamanian-flagged vessel recover almost US$100,000 in unpaid wages owed to the MV Algrace’s Syrian crew. Firstly, US$29,446 was returned to seafarers as the ship docked in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. When another seven seafarers came forward, another haul of US$62,773 was clawed back with ITF help.

Most of the crew disembarked on 7 September and were repatriated via Sudan two days later.

Network gets results

Arrachedi explains that a large share of the recovered wages is thanks to combined efforts of the ITF’s Arab World and Iran Network. Officially formed in 2018, the network is powered by volunteers from unions across the region who are concerned about the welfare of seafarers.

“I must say a big thanks and big merit must go to the continuous efforts of our ITF contacts in the Arab world – Brother Mazern in Yemen, Brothers Hamdan and Abdelhafiz in Sudan as well as Brothers Nasser and Haytham in Lebanon. I could not have achieved these outcomes alone.

“We are confident that with the growing awareness amongst the seafarers in the region of the signs of abandonment, that more seafarers will make a stand, denounce injustice and claim their rights. We can bring the impunity of some some bad shipowners to an end. The first step is for seafarer to contact the ITF.”


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Sealite webinar: The Role of IALA

15 December 2020/1100 Paris time

IALS logo featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
IALA logo (c)

Marine aids to navigation manufacturer Sealite welcomes Francis Zachariae (FZ), Secretary-General of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) to speak on his organisation in a forthcoming webinar.

Francis will discuss the history of IALA and the organisation’s focus on the development of standards and guidelines to ensure the safety of all mariners. He will also discuss IALA’s strategic move towards becoming an intergovernmental organisation (IGO).

Hosted by Malcolm Nicholson, global product manager for Sealite, this webinar is the opportunity to find out what is next for the marine industry to help it best prepare for these forthcoming changes.

Registration may be effected by CLICKING HERE

Edited by Paul Ridgway


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WHARF TALK: Durban Port Bulletin News

Moshe Motlohi, Transnet National Ports Authority General Manager reports:

Moshe Motlohi, Durban Port General Manager

As a port, this week (up to 3 December) afforded us an opportunity to appreciate that at last, we recorded a 9% above volume budget on container cargo handled in the month of November. This is an important morale booster for all involved. Things could be starting to look up. We are however anxious about the troubling signs of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Our marine services did not have a good run this week.

Multiple challenges were experienced and necessary intervention has been put in place. We continue to monitor these deviations.

We also close off this week on a low where we have been made aware of the fire incident which took place at the Engen Oil Refinery in Wentworth. Our well wishes go out to the teams on the ground. We do hope and trust that you will overcome this challenge. [The fire was extinguished the same day]

The port security team has joined forces with teams from Provincial & Local government in coming up with tactics that will mitigate against the challenges posed by the attack on trucks transporting goods.

The National Port planning department has started working on future plans with the focus on repositioning the port in order to adapt to projected market changes.

In the New Year we will be in a position to engage our customers about these plans.

Two important developments to note are;

The PRSAs [Port Regulator] decision* of TNPA tariffs application. With that being in the public domain, ours remains to focus on improving on our execution of the projects that have been allowed. We hope that the reprieve passed on to port users will be used towards reinvesting in all affected sectors. If that is done our economy will be the winner.

The second important development to note is the extension of the National State of Disaster until the 15th January 2021. As such all existing Level 1 restrictions will remain in force throughout the country.

Of relevance to us is that we must keep our guards up and ensure that we do not land our country into the COVID-19 second wave.

*  Port Regulator’s decision – CLICK HERE


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WHARF TALK: Durban Volume and Vessel Call Performance

Put on your sunglasses when this cruise ship NORWEGIAN JOY appears over the Durban horison on 18 December to dock in the harbour at M berth for bunkers and supplies. See story below. Picture: NCL, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Put on your sunglasses when this cruise ship NORWEGIAN JOY appears over the Durban horison on 18 December to dock in the harbour at M berth for bunkers and supplies. See story below. Picture: NCL


Yet another week where we see container volumes performing above the targeted budget.

Import cargo remained within budget; however exports and transshipments drove performance for the week.

Major contributor being exports at 61% above budget due to high export of empty containers.

Transshipments were well above target by 28%. Planned vessels called with larger than budgeted parcel sizes (4,754 budgeted and 4,855 handled on average).were within budget for the reporting week.

Automotive volumes were above budget this reporting week. The automotive sector has experienced a surge in volumes in the week .Exports were the forerunner with just over 6,600 units loaded with the major OEMs pushing out orders before they go into their respective annual shutdowns.

Imports also performed well with a total throughput of 5,648 units landed in the period.

Dry Bulk volume were above budget this reporting week. This sector has performed extremely well for the week.

Manganese ore exports have once again performed quite well with a throughput totaling 100,725 tons for the week. Fertiliser imports also improved from the previous period with just over 69,000 tons landed.

Other high volume drivers within this sector also performed marginally well in the period.

There was a spike in volumes for the break bulk sector this reporting week. Rice imports performed well which registered a total of 18,673 tons with the spike noted preceding the festive season. Steel imports also improved with just more than 21, 000 tons landed in the week.

Liquid bulk volumes were below budget this week. Six petroleum vessels were committed and only three were handled. This was mainly due to one vessel changing ETA and two vessels were early arrivals (sailed in the previous week). Chemical volumes achieved 21% below due to planned vessels calling with lower than budgeted parcel sizes.     source: TNPA

Cruise Ship News

Two items of interest involving cruise ship movements in South African waters.

The first is the ETA of the Norwegian Cruise Line vessel NORWEGIAN JOY which is booked at Durban’s M berth on the T-Jetty on Friday 18 December 2020. At present she is down for an 08h00 arrival. The ship is presumably arriving to take bunkers and possibly supplies while being re-positioned after a lengthy laybye in Manila Bay, where she sailed earlier this year to repatriate NCL crew.

The second movement involves another ship doing laybye duty, the MSC ORCHESTRA which has been at anchor off Durban since cruising in local waters ended in March. She is currently at M berth but for what purpose is not clear.

Should local cruising restart in South African waters at some time in the new year MSC Orchestra will take up those duties on behalf of MSC Cruises. At present it is understood the company is aiming at recommencing cruising in February, probably along the South African coast to remain in local waters. All depends however on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa at that time – at present the prognosis cannot be too hopeful.


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MSC Ship, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Picture: MSC


After having wait out a year following his departure from AP Moller-Maersk, Soren Toft has taken up his new role as Chief Executive Officer of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) as of 2 December 2020.

In a statement MSC said it was pleased to welcome him to the company, where he will report directly to Diego Aponte, MSC Group President, and Gianluigi Aponte, Founder and MSC Group Chairman.

Soren Toft, featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Soren Toft

In his role as CEO, Soren Toft oversees MSC’s global cargo businesses including ocean liner and logistics. He will also be a member of the board of directors of Terminal Investment Ltd (TiL), the terminals business which is majority-owned by MSC.

Soren Toft joins MSC from Maersk, where he served as Chief Operating Officer since 2013 and later as a Member of the Executive Board. The statement said his impressive long-standing career in shipping over more than two decades and extensive experience in leadership roles will add significant value to MSC’s cargo businesses, building on the company’s existing strengths and boosting its development plans even further.

Commenting on the new CEO’s arrival, Diego Aponte said:

“With his twenty-five years of experience in leadership roles at Maersk, and his comprehensive understanding of the future of the container shipping supply chain, Soren is the ideal match to help lead MSC into the future at the helm of our family company, building on the strategy which has made MSC such a growing success these past five decades.”

Soren Toft said he was very excited and humbled by the opportunity given to him by the Aponte family. “Helping to preserve the MSC DNA and lead such a successful company into the future is a great honour and a privilege for me.”


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IN CONVERSATION: An ocean like no other: the Southern Ocean’s ecological richness and sigmnificance for global climate



Ceridwen Fraser, University of Otago; Christina Hulbe, University of Otago; Craig Stevens, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and Huw Griffiths, British Antarctic Survey

In 2018, a map named after an oceanographer went viral.

The so-called Spilhaus projection, in which Earth is viewed from above the South Pole, was designed to show the connected nature of the ocean basins.

It is a perspective that comes naturally to those who live in the ocean-dominated southern hemisphere.

Map of the world's oceans
The Spilhaus map depicts the world’s oceans as a single body of water.
Spilhaus ArcGIS project, CC BY-ND

The Southern Ocean, also called the Antarctic Ocean (or even the Austral ocean), is like no other and best described in superlatives.

Storing heat and carbon

Let’s first look at the Southern Ocean’s capacity to store excess heat and carbon. The world’s oceans take up more than 90% of the excess heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels and a third of the additional carbon dioxide.

Southern Ocean, with open ocean and sea ice
The Southern Ocean is our planet’s primary storage of heat and carbon.
Crag Stevens, Author provided

The Southern Ocean, south of 30°S, is estimated to store about 75% of this global oceanic uptake of excess heat and about 35% of the global uptake of excess carbon from the atmosphere. It is the primary storage of heat and carbon for the planet.

The Southern Ocean connects all major ocean basins, except the Arctic. The link is the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) – the largest ocean current on the planet. It carries more than 100 times the flow of all the rivers on Earth and transports enough water to fill Lake Ontario in just a few hours.

A combination of strong winds and a nearly uninterrupted passage around Antarctica give the ACC its strong flows and speed.

Read more:
Explainer: how the Antarctic Circumpolar Current helps keep Antarctica frozen

Mixing global currents

The Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties are all popular names for the strong westerly winds that blow, nearly uninterrupted, across the Southern Ocean, creating equally impressive waves. This results in a massively energetic – and hard to measure – ocean surface.

Ship crossing the Southern Ocean
Strong westerly winds and the circumpolar current create massive waves in the Southern Ocean.  Craig Stevens, Author provided

But the heat and carbon exchanges across this complicated interface are globally important, and oceanographers have designed tools specifically for this challenging environment.

Ocean currents with different properties mix, rise and sink.  Craig Stevens, Author provided

To really comprehend the Southern Ocean, one must think in three dimensions. Waters with different properties mix both horizontally and vertically in eddies.

Relatively warm subtropical water is mixed south, deep cool water from the North Atlantic rises back up toward the surface and colder polar water masses mix northward and sink back down.

This complex interplay is guided by the wind and by the shape of the seafloor.

To the north, there are only three major constrictions: the 850km-wide Drake Passage, and the submarine Kerguelan and Campbell Plateaus. To the south, the ACC butts up against Antarctica.

Here the ocean plays another crucial role in the global climate system by bringing relatively warm — and warming — Circumpolar Deep Water into contact with the ice fringing Antarctica.

Annual thaw and freeze of sea ice

The annual cycle of sea ice growing and melting around Antarctica is one of the defining rhythms of our planet and an important facet of the Southern Ocean. The two polar regions couldn’t be more different in this regard.

The Arctic is a small, deep ocean surrounded by land with only narrow exits. The Antarctic is a large landmass with a continental shelf surrounded by ocean. Each year, 15 million square kilometres of sea ice advance and retreat in these waters.

sea ice around Antarctica
The annual freezing and thawing of sea ice around Antarctica is the world’s largest seasonal change.  Shutterstock/Maxim Tupikov

In contrast to the clear and dramatic changes in the north, the rhythm of Antarctic sea ice has followed less obvious patterns. In the face of a warming ocean, it was actually slowly expanding northward until around 2016, when it suddenly started to contract.

Read more:
Why Antarctica’s sea ice cover is so low (and no, it’s not just about climate change)

Looking at the annual cycle of Antarctic sea ice, one might think it simply grows and melts in place as things get cold and warmer through the year. But in truth, much of the sea ice production happens in polynya – sea ice factories near the coast where cold and fast Antarctic winds both create and blow away new sea ice as fast as it appears.

This process brings us back to global ocean circulation. When the new ice grows, the salt from the freezing sea water gets squeezed out and mixes with the seawater below, creating colder and saltier seawater that sinks to the seafloor and drains northward.

Polynya are in effect a metro stop on a global transport system that sees water sinking at the poles, flowing north to be mixed upwards in a cycle lasting close to 1,000 years.

Not all ice shelves respond the same

Computer simulations have shown how the ice shelves at Antarctica’s fringe have waxed and waned over past millennia.

Because these floating extensions of the ice sheet interact directly with the ocean, they make the ice sheet sensitive to climate. Ocean warming and changes in the source of the water coming into contact with an ice shelf can cause it – and in turn the whole ice sheet – to change.

Riiser Larsen Ice Shelf, in Antarctica
Floating ice shelves act like a buttress to hold back Antarctica’s massive ice sheet.

But not all ice shelves will respond to warming in the same way. Some ocean cavities are cold and slowly evolving. Others are actually described as hot – in polar terms – because of their interaction with Circumpolar Deep Water. The latter are changing rapidly right now.

We can observe many cryosphere processes from space, but to truly understand how far the ocean reaches beneath the ice we have to go hundreds of metres beneath the ice surface.

Making climate predictions requires an understanding of detailed processes that happen on short timescales, such as tidal cycles, in parts of the planet we are only beginning to explore.

Read more:
What an ocean hidden under Antarctic ice reveals about our planet’s future climate

Observing the Screaming Sixties

How do we sample something so big and so stormy? With robots.

Satellites have been observing the ocean surface since the 1980s. This technology can measure properties such as temperature and ocean surface height, and even be used to estimate biological productivity. But satellites can’t see beneath the surface.

When the game-changing Argo programme started in the 1990s, it revolutionised earth science by building a network of drifting ocean sentinels measuring temperature and salinity down to a depth of two kilometres.

Marine scientist deploying an ocean probe
Argo probes measure salinity and temperature as they drift with currents in the Southern Ocean.   NIWA/Daniel Jones, Author provided

The research vessel Kaharoa holds the record for the most deployments of Argo probes in the Southern Ocean, including its most recent storm-tossed, COVID-19-impacted voyage south of Australia and into the Indian Ocean.

The Argo program is only the start of a new era of ocean observation. Deep Argo probes dive to depths of 6km to detect how far down ocean warming is penetrating.

The past and future Southern Ocean

Earth hasn’t always looked as it does today. At times in the planet’s past, the Southern Ocean didn’t even exist. Continents and ocean basins were in different positions and the climate system operated very differently.

From the narrow view of human evolution, the Southern Ocean has been a stable component of a climate system and subject to relatively benign glacial oscillations. But glacial cycles play out over tens of thousands of years.

We are imposing a very rapid climate transient. The nearly three centuries since the start of the industrial revolution is shorter than the blink of an eye in geological context.

Calving ice shelf in Antarctica
Antarctica’s ice is changing as global temperatures rise.  Shutterstock/Bernhard Staehli

Future changes in the short (say by 2050) and long (by 2300) term are difficult to project. While the physics are relatively clear about what will happen, predicting when it will happen is more challenging.

Read more:
60 days in Iceberg Alley, drilling for marine sediment to decipher Earth’s climate 3 million years ago

Simulation tools that get the ocean, atmosphere and ice processes right are only starting to include ice shelf cavities and ocean eddies. The most recent synthesis of climate models shows progress in the simulated workings of the Southern Ocean. But sea ice remains a challenge to simulate well.

This is the frontier: a global research community working to connect data with rapidly improving computer models to better understand how this unique ocean operates.

Life in a sub-zero ocean

At first glance, Antarctica seems an inhospitable and almost barren environment of ice and snow, speckled with occasional seabirds and seals.

But diving beneath the surface reveals an ocean bursting with life and complex ecosystems, from single-celled algae and tiny spineless creatures to the well-known top predators: penguins, seals and whales.

The Southern Ocean is home to more than 9,000 marine species – and expeditions and studies keep revealing more.

Ship battling high waves
The RV Polarstern battles through a storm in the Southern Ocean.   Huw Griffiths, Author provided

It’s not easy to study life in the Southern Ocean. Waves can be more than 20 metres high, and icebergs and sea ice lurk among them.

The water temperature is often sub-zero – freshwater freezes at 0℃, but saltwater freezes at closer to -2℃. Although scuba diving is possible, a lot of research on life in the Southern Ocean is done through remote sampling.

Marine scientists use robotic tools such as remotely operated underwater vehicles to look at and collect samples, and grabs and dredges to bring up bottom-dwelling organisms. We take genetic samples from marine mammals by shooting tiny biopsy tubes (like needles), attached to a cord for retrieval, into the animal’s flesh from a distance.

Read more:
Genome and satellite technology reveal recovery rates and impacts of climate change on southern right whales

We can glean wider information on diversity from environmental DNA (eDNA). Traces of organisms are filtered from samples of water and analysed using genetic tools that can usually identify what sorts of species are or were present.

Every expedition reveals new species – some of which are potentially commercially valuable, and all of which are important parts of the Southern Ocean ecosystem. Our knowledge of the diversity of the region is growing rapidly.

Nonetheless, the Southern Ocean is vast, and much of it remains either unsampled or undersampled.

Down at the bottom of the food chain

In the Southern Ocean, primary producers (organisms at the start of the food chain) range from single-celled algae – such as diatoms with intricately detailed shells made of silica – through to large macroalgae like kelp.

Algae growing on the underside of sea ice in Antarctica.
Algae growing on the underside of sea ice.   Andrew Thurber, Author provided

Kelp and other large seaweeds generally only survive where icebergs don’t often scrape the seafloor. Diatoms are diverse, and some species thrive on the underside of sea ice.

Ice algae form an important food source for krill, small crustaceans that are a critical part of Southern Ocean food webs.

Antarctic krill
Antarctic krill is a key species in the Antarctic marine ecosystem.  British Antarctic Survey, Author provided

Astonishingly, the cold Southern Ocean is also home to hot hydrothermal vent systems. These communities, which include huge densities of crustaceans and echinoderms, get their energy from chemicals that seep out of Earth’s crust, rather than from the Sun.

An Antarctic hydrothermal vent on the East Scotia Ridge. The image was taken by a remotely operated vehicle during the ChEsSO expedition.  ChEsSO/NERC, Author provided

Antarctic invertebrates make up more than 90% of the species in the Southern Ocean. More than 50% are unique to this ocean.

These invertebrates are often much larger than their relatives in more northern, warmer waters. This phenomenon is know as “polar gigantism” and is found across many groups, with giant sea spiders, huge sponges and scale worms the size of a forearm.

A selection of invertebrates commonly found by scientists diving at Rothera Station, Antarctica.
A selection of invertebrates commonly found by scientists diving at Rothera Station, Antarctica.   British Antarctic Survey, Author provided

Nobody is quite sure why Antarctic invertebrates grow so large, but it may be related to high oxygen levels, slow growth rates or the absence of key predatory groups such as sharks and brachyuran crabs.

Colourful creatures that live on the seafloor.
Marine invertebrates on the seafloor off the Antarctic coast.  Alfred Wegener Institute, OFOBS team, Author provided

Higher up in the food chain

In the marine food chain, Antarctic krill swim between the algal primary producers and the iconic top predators we always associate with Antarctica.

Baleen whales get much of their energy from great gulps of swarming krill (10,000–30,000 individual animals per cubic metre), and the pink streaks in penguin and seal poo show they are also keen on these tasty crustaceans.

Chinstrap penguins on Deception Island
Chinstrap penguins on Deception Island. Many penguins pooh in pink, because their diet is rich in krill.   Michelle LaRue, Author provided

Fish and cephalopods (squid and octopus) thrive in the Southern Ocean, providing food for deep-diving marine mammals such as elephant seals. Some fish species are so well adapted to the oxygen-rich cold waters they no longer produce red blood cells but instead produce antifreeze proteins in their blood to help them survive in the subzero waters.

Minke whale in Antarctic waters
Many whale species depend on Antarctic ecosystems for summer feeding and migrate to warmer, lower latitudes for winter breeding. But Antarctic minke whales are resident all year round.   Huw Griffiths, Author provided

Protecting marine environments

Arguably the most voracious predators in the Southern Ocean are humans.

Antarctica might be remote, but in the 200 years since its discovery, the seas around Antarctica have been heavily exploited by people.

First came the sealers, then the whalers, driving species to the brink of extinction. Even penguins were harvested for their oil.

An abandoned whaling station.
An abandoned whaling station.   Ceridwen Fraser, Author provided

More recently, fish and krill (which is fished for food or dietary supplements) have been the main targets, and populations of some species have declined sharply as a consequence.

Read more:
Humans are encroaching on Antarctica’s last wild places, threatening its fragile biodiversity

When more indirect impacts like ocean warming and acidification combine with fishing, this can lead to declining populations of krill, which in turn leads to reduced numbers of top predators such as whales.

Graphic showing how people affect ecosystems in the Southern Ocean
Humans are changing Southern Ocean ecosystems in many ways, both directly (purple-blue arrows) and indirectly (red arrows).
From: Chown et al (2015) The changing form of Antarctic biodiversity. Nature, 522: 431-438, CC BY-ND

Fishing in the Southern Ocean can be hard to regulate because these waters do not belong to any one nation. To help manage the impact of fisheries, quotas that limit catches are now managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

This international body is also working to establish more marine protected areas.
Without these efforts to manage catches, critical parts of the food web (such as krill) could be exploited to such an extent that ecosystems could collapse.

Changing environments mean changing ecosystems

More than 21,000 tourists and scientists visit Antarctica each year, potentially bringing pollution, diseases and invasive species. To manage human impacts on Antarctic ecosystems, and to help with political negotiations, the Antarctic Treaty came into force on June 23, 1961.

The treaty regulates all activity south of 60°S and includes an environmental protection protocol.

The impacts of global climate change and ocean acidification are nonetheless evident in the Southern Ocean, with warming ocean temperatures, reduction in sea ice and collapsing ice shelves.

Ocean off the Antarctic coast
Antarctic ocean waters are warming dramatically.  Ceridwen Fraser, Author provided

Increasingly, research is showing that even the distant Southern Ocean is not truly cut off from the rest of the world, with warming, plastic pollution and non-native species making their way to Antarctic waters from beyond the mighty polar front.

Seals and seaweed on a southern beach.
Southern bull kelp does not grow in the Antarctic, but it floats well and recent research has shown that it can drift to Antarctica, travelling tens of thousands of kilometres across the Southern Ocean.  Author provided

Rafts of floating seaweeds from outside the Antarctic, some carrying animal passengers, are able to cross the Southern Ocean and reach Antarctic shores. At the moment, they don’t seem able to survive the extreme climate of Antarctica, but that could change with warming.

New species moving in and setting up shop will put a lot of pressure on Antarctica’s unique plants and animals.

Adélie penguins rest and breed on land ice, but go to sea to forage for food.
Michelle LaRue, Author provided

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Over the several decades since the Antarctic Treaty came into force, we’ve seen that nations can work together to help resolve challenges facing the Antarctic. One example is the establishment of Antarctic Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

This level of international cooperation should give us hope not just for the future of the Southern Ocean, but also for other key challenges the world faces.


This story is part of Oceans 21

Five profiles open our series on the global ocean, delving into ancient Indian Ocean trade networks, Pacific plastic pollution, Arctic light and life, Atlantic fisheries and the Southern Ocean’s impact on global climate. All brought to you from The Conversation’s international network.The Conversation

Ceridwen Fraser, Associate professor, University of Otago; Christina Hulbe, Professor and Dean of the School of Surveying (glaciology specialisation), University of Otago; Craig Stevens, Associate Professor in Ocean Physics, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and Huw Griffiths, Marine Biogeographer, British Antarctic Survey

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

** The above forms part of a series on the world’s ocean. The story of of the Indian Ocean was published here in Africa PORTS & SHIPS on 7 June 2020 – see HERE


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FLNG Hilli Epeseyo in position off Kribi, Cameroon, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
FLNG Hilli Epeseyo in position off Kribi, Cameroon


More then six million cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has been exported from Cameroon’s FLNG, HILLI EPESEYO, which is in position off the coast of Kribi. This is for the first nine months of 2020.

The announcement was made by Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Nguté while presenting the government’s 2021 Economic and Financial Program to the National Assembly.

A total of…[restrict] 6.182 million m3 is the exact amount exported.

The Norwegian-owned Hilli Epeseyo was commissioned in 2018 following delivery from the Keppel shipyard in Singapore, having become the first first floating liquefaction plant to be converted from a 294 metres long LNG tanker built in 1975.

According to Business in Cameroon, the LNG produced off the coast of Kribi is mainly marketed in Asia by the Russian firm Gazprom, with which Cameroon has signed an exclusive offtake agreement.

Hilli Episeyo also produces domestic gas for households, with about 2,000 metric tons of the gas being produced every month. However, this production has become insufficient since the fire outbreak that stopped the operations of Sonara, the country’s only refinery.

To cover the deficit, Cameroon expects to import 120,000 metric tons of domestic gas to meet the needs of Cameroonian households during the 2021 fiscal year. A call for tenders was launched to this effect on 23 November 23, 2020.[/restrict]


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The Ford Ranger stolen in Sandton discovered under piles of broom thatch on truck at Mozambique border. Picture: SAPS, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Ford Ranger stolen in Sandton discovered under piles of broom thatch on truck at Mozambique border. Pictures: SAPS


The South African Police Services have launched a manhunt for a suspect following the recovery of a stolen Ford Ranger bakkie at the Lebombo Port of Entry.

The incident, which was captured on a video which is going viral on the social media platforms, occurred in the afternoon of Saturday 5 December 2020. It is believed that the driver was intending to cross the border to Mozambique with the stolen car.

According to reports, the police at the border were busy with their duties when they noticed a suspicious white truck with Mozambican registration number plate fully loaded with traditional brooms.

The police officers were suspicious that there might be something ,more than meets the eye about the truck and its cargo. The driver was not available and it appeared that he had gone to SARS offices to complete certain documents required when crossing the border with goods.

The Ford Ranger stolen in Sandton discovered under piles of broom thatch on truck at Mozambique border. Picture: SAPS, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Officers then went to look for him at SARS offices but they could not find him while others began searching the truck. Whilst removing the traditional brooms, the police discovered a white Ford Ranger with false registration number plate. Upon further probe, police found that the vehicle was reported stolen at a garage in Sandton (Gauteng) a few days earlier (30 November 2020).

While police are still looking for the driver, anyone with information that can assist police in the investigation should call 013 793 7382 or 013 793 7321 or Crime Stop number on 08600 10111 or send information via MYSAPSAPP which can be downloaded to any smartphone. All information will be treated as confidential and callers may opt to remain anonymous. source: source: SAPS, Office of the Provincial Commissioner Mpumalanga

YouTube video [1:13]


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WHARF TALK: Cape Town port report

The tanker Manah, currently at anchor outside Cape Town port. Picture courtesy Shipspotting, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The tanker Manah, currently at anchor outside Cape Town port.     Picture courtesy Shipspotting


The port of Cape Town has been experiencing weather problems again, with strong winds interfering with cargo working as well as some ship movements. A week ago we reports of the SAECS vessel SANTA ROSA having missed her southbound Cape Town call on this account – see Snippets of news from port of Cape Town: port omission report.

Correspondent John Hawkins reports this week that on the matter of the wind versus the container berth being the major player in the port, on at least three days either all or most of the activities, stopped or were reduced in capacity.

The two vessels most effected were the M H HAMBURG,which departed on Saturday 5 December at 17h30 for Las Palmas, and the SANTA TERESA which arrived on Wednesday 2 December.

Meanwhile on Tuesday evening (1 December) at 17h30 the SAN VINCENT arrived from Durban and went into the inner anchorage off Milnerton. On Wednesday afternoon with the wind speed increasing San Vincent moved out of the anchorage and sailed off the west coast in the direction of Saldanha. For the following 48 hours she sailed back and forward along the coast and by Friday late evening she was off the Sandy Bay coast.

The container ship eventually berthed at 08h45 on Saturday. In the meantime SANTA BARBARA arrived from Durban at 08h00 and went into the inner anchorage. Also in the inner anchorage is the container vessel the LEONIDIO which arrived at 07h00 from Tema, Ghana and the container vessel MOZART which arrived in anchorage ex Durban just before midday.

On Sunday 6 December SANTA TERESA sailed from Cape Town at 09h20 bound for Pointe Noire.

One vessel that does not seem to have been affected by the wind is the tanker MANAH (IMO 9365764) ex Saldanha Bay on 1 December which is at anchorage in ballast.

Another vessel affected by the conditions is the oil and gas drilling rig, DEEPSEA STAVENGER, which has been constantly moving off the Cape Town coast and as the wind has settled has taken up position behind Robben Island. Deepsea Stavanger is he rig that twice struck significant gas deposits off Mossel Bay, the second and most recent in October this year.


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WMO Screenshot All images (c)WMO., featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
WMO Screenshot All images (c)WMO


Climate change continued its relentless march in 2020, which is on track to be one of the three warmest years on record. The years 2011-2020 will be the warmest decade on record, with the warmest six years all being since 2015, according to the World Meteorological Organization in a news item released from Geneva on 2 December.

Ocean heat is at record levels and more than 80% of the global ocean experienced a marine heatwave at some time in 2020, with widespread repercussions for marine ecosystems already suffering from more acidic waters due to CO2 absorption, according to the provisional WMO report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020.

The report is available HERE

WMO Provisional Report featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

This document is based on contributions of dozens of international organisations and experts. It shows how high-impact events including extreme heat, wildfires and floods, as well as the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season, affected millions of people, compounding threats to human health and security and economic stability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the COVID-19 lockdown, atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continued to rise, committing the planet to further warming for many generations to come because of the long lifetime of CO2 in the atmosphere, according to the report.

WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas commented: “The average global temperature in 2020 is set to be about 1.2°C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level. There is at least a one in five chance of it temporarily exceeding 1.5°C by 2024.

“This year is the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We welcome all the recent commitments by governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions because we are currently not on track and more efforts are needed.

“Record warm years have usually coincided with a strong El Niño event, as was the case in 2016. We are now experiencing a La Niña, which has a cooling effect on global temperatures, but has not been sufficient to put a brake on this year’s heat. Despite the current La Niña conditions, this year has already shown near record heat comparable to the previous record of 2016.

“2020 has, unfortunately, been yet another extraordinary year for our climate. We saw new extreme temperatures on land, sea and especially in the Arctic. Wildfires consumed vast areas in Australia, Siberia, the US West Coast and South America, sending plumes of smoke circumnavigating the globe.

“We saw a record number of hurricanes in the Atlantic, including unprecedented back-to-back category 4 hurricanes in Central America in November. Flooding in parts of Africa and South East Asia led to massive population displacement and undermined food security for millions.”

WMO Copernicus Sentinel satellite featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS MARITIME NEWS
WMO Copernicus Sentinel satellite

The 2020 provisional State of the Global Climate report is based on temperature data from January to October. The final 2020 report will be published in March 2021. It incorporates information from National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, regional and global climate centres and United Nations partners including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The global mean temperature for January to October 2020 was around 1.2°C above the 1850–1900 baseline, used as an approximation of pre-industrial levels. 2020 is very likely to be one of the three warmest years on record globally. Modern temperature records began in 1850.

The WMO assessment is based on five global temperature datasets. All five of those datasets currently place 2020 as the second warmest for the year to date, following 2016 and ahead of 2019. The difference between the warmest three years is small, however, and exact rankings for each data set could change once data for the entire year are available.

The most notable warmth was observed across northern Asia, particularly the Siberian Arctic, where temperatures were more than 5°C above average. Siberian heat culminated in late June, when it reached 38.0°C at Verkhoyansk on 20 June, provisionally the highest known temperature anywhere north of the Arctic Circle. This fuelled the most active wildfire season in an 18-year long data record, as estimated in terms of CO2 emissions released from fires.

WMO history picture, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


Since the mid-1980s, the Arctic has warmed at least twice as fast as the global average, reinforcing a long downward trend in summer Arctic sea ice extent which has repercussions on the climate in mid-latitude regions.

Arctic sea-ice reached its annual minimum in September, as the second lowest in the 42-year-old satellite record. Arctic sea ice for July and October 2020 was the lowest on record.

Sea-ice in the Laptev Sea has been exceptionally low through the spring, summer and autumn, and the Northern Sea Route was ice-free or close to ice free from July to October 2020.

Antarctic ice in 2020 was close to or slightly above the 42-year mean. ​

Greenland continued to lose ice despite a slower rate than 2019.

Sea-level rise and ocean heat

Ocean heat content for 2019 was highest on record in the datasets going back to 1960. There is a clear signal for faster heat uptake in recent decades. More than 90% of the excess energy accumulating in the climate system as a result of increased concentrations of greenhouse gases goes into the ocean.

On average, since early 1993, the altimetry-based global mean rate of sea level rise amounts to 3.3 ± 0.3 mm/yr. The rate has also increased over that time. A greater loss of ice mass from the ice sheets is the main cause of the accelerated rise in the global mean sea level.

Global mean sea-level in 2020 is similar to that in 2019, and consistent with the long-term trend. Developing La Niña conditions have led to a recent small drop in global sea level, similar to the temporary drops associated with previous La Niña events.

As with heatwaves on land, extreme heat can affect the near-surface layer of the oceans with a range of consequences for marine life and dependent communities. Satellite retrievals of sea-surface temperature are used to monitor marine heatwaves, which can be categorized as moderate, strong, severe or extreme. Much of the ocean experienced at least one strong marine heatwave at some point in 2020. The Laptev Sea experienced an extreme marine heatwave from June to October. Sea ice extent was unusually low in the region and adjacent land areas experienced heatwaves during the summer.

Ocean acidification is increasing. The ocean absorbs around 23% of the annual emissions of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere, thereby helping to alleviate the impacts of climate change on the planet. The ecological costs of this process to the ocean are high, as the CO2 reacts with seawater lowering its pH; a process known as ocean acidification. There is decline in average pH at the available observing sites between 2015 and 2019, the last year for which data are currently available. A wider variety of sources including measurements of other variables shows also a steady increase in the global ocean acidification

High Impact Events

Floods, Africa and Asia

Severe flooding affected many millions of people in East Africa and the Sahel, South Asia, China and Viet Nam.

In Africa – Sudan and Kenya were the worst hit, with 285 deaths reported in Kenya and 155 in Sudan. Lake Victoria reached record levels in May, the Niger and Nile rivers reached record levels at Niamey (Niger) and Khartoum (Sudan). Flooding also contributed to an ongoing locust outbreak.

In South Asia – India experienced one of the two wettest monsoon seasons since 1994​, August was the wettest month on record for Pakistan​, and widespread flooding was observed throughout the region (including Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar).

In China – persistent high rainfall in the Yangtze River catchment during the monsoon season also caused severe flooding. Reported economic losses exceeded US$15 billion, and at least 279 deaths were reported during the period.

In Viet Nam – heavy rains typical of the arrival of the northeast monsoon were exacerbated by a succession of tropical cyclones and depressions, with eight making landfall in less than five weeks.

Heat, drought and fires

In the interior of South America, severe drought affected many parts in 2020, with the worst-affected areas being northern Argentina, Paraguay and the western border areas of Brazil. Estimated agricultural losses were near US$3 billion in Brazil alone. There was significant wildfire activity across the region, most severe in the Pantanal wetlands of western Brazil.

In the USA, the largest fires ever recorded occurred in late summer and autumn. Widespread drought and extreme heat contributed to the fires, and July to September were the hottest and driest on record for the southwest. Death Valley in California reached 54.4°C on 16 August, the highest known temperature in the world in at least the last 80 years.

In the Caribbean, major heatwaves occurred in April and September. Temperatures reached 39.7°C at Veguitas on 12 April, a national record for Cuba, whilst Havana also had its hottest day with 38.5°C.

Australia broke heat records in early 2020, including the highest observed temperatures in an Australian metropolitan area, in western Sydney when Penrith reached 48.9°C on 4 January.

Europe experienced drought and heatwaves, although these were generally not as intense at in 2019. In the eastern Mediterranean with all-time records set in Jerusalem (42.7°C) and Eilat (48.9°C) on 4 September, following a late July heatwave in the Middle East in which Kuwait Airport reached 52.1°C and Baghdad 51.8°C.

WMO Atlantic hurricane names featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
WMO Atlantic hurricane names

Tropical Cyclones and storms

The number of tropical cyclones globally was above average in 2020, with 96 cyclones as of 17 November in the 2020 Northern Hemisphere and 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere seasons.

The North Atlantic region had an exceptionally active season, with 30 tropical cyclones as of 17 November, more than double the long-term average (1981-2010) and breaking the record for a full season, set in 2005. At a time when the season is normally winding down, two Category 4 hurricanes made landfall in Central America in less than two weeks in November, resulting in devastating flooding and many casualties.

Cyclone Amphan which made landfall on 20 May near the India-Bangladesh border was the costliest tropical cyclone on record for the North Indian Ocean, with reported economic losses in India of approximately US$14 billion. Large-scale evacuations of coastal areas in India and Bangladesh helped to lower casualties compared to previous cyclones in the region.

Risks and impacts

Approximately 10 million displacements, largely due to hydro-meteorological hazards and disasters, were recorded during the first half of 2020, mainly concentrated in South and South-east Asia and the Horn of Africa. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a further dimension to human mobility concerns.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added also another layer of risk to evacuation, recovery and relief operations related to high-impact events. In the Philippines, for example, although over 180,000 people were pre-emptively evacuated ahead of Tropical Cyclone Vongfong (Ambo) in mid-May, the need for social distancing measures meant that residents could not be transported in large numbers and evacuation centres could only be used at half capacity.

After decades of decline, the recent increase in food insecurity since 2014 is driven by conflicts and economic slowdown as well as by climate variability and extreme weather events. Nearly 690 million people, or 9% of the world population, were undernourished and about 750 million experienced severe levels of food insecurity in 2019 according to the latest FAO data. The number of people classified under crisis, emergency and famine conditions had increased to almost 135 million people across 55 countries.

According to FAO and WFP, over 50 million people have been hit twice: by climate-related disasters (floods, droughts and storms) and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Countries in Central America are suffering from the triple-impact of hurricanes Eta and Iota, COVID-19 and pre-existing humanitarian crises. The Government of Honduras estimated that 53,000 hectares of cropland were washed away, mainly rice, beans, and sugarcane.

Negative environmental effects include impacts on land such as droughts, wildfires in forest and peatland areas, land degradation, sand and dust storms, desertification and air pollution, with far reaching implications for nature and wildlife. Impacts on marine systems include sea level rise, ocean acidification, reduced levels of ocean oxygen, mangrove decay and coral bleaching.

Lessons and opportunities for enhancing climate action

According to the International Monetary Fund, the current global recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic makes it challenging to enact the policies needed for mitigation, but it also presents opportunities to set the economy on a greener path in order to boost investment in green and resilient public infrastructure, thus supporting GDP and employment during the recovery phase.

Sources of information

Information used in this report is sourced from a large number of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and associated institutions, as well as Regional Climate Centres, the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) and Global Cryosphere Watch.

United Nations partners include the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC), International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the World Food Programme (WFP)

WMO has extended its gratitude for all the dedicated hard work which makes this report an authoritative source of information on the state of the climate and on climate impacts.

WMO uses datasets (based on monthly climatological data from observing sites of the WMO Members) developed and maintained by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit.

It also uses reanalysis datasets from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts and its Copernicus Climate Change Service, and the Japan Meteorological Agency. This method combines millions of meteorological and marine observations, including from satellites, with models to produce a complete reanalysis of the atmosphere. The combination of observations with models makes it possible to estimate temperatures at any time and in any place across the globe, even in data-sparse areas such as the polar regions.

Internationally recognised datasets are used for all other key climate indicators. Full details are available in the report.

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water.

Paul Ridgway, London correspondent for Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


Edited by Paul Ridgway


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Depiction of Total's liquefaction plant now under development on the Afungi peninsula in northern Mozambique. Image courtesy: Total, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Depiction of Total’s liquefaction plant now under development on the Afungi peninsula in northern Mozambique. Image courtesy: Total


The ongoing insurgency in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, where large-scale oil and gas liquefaction plants are under construction, continues to intensify. This is despite efforts by the Mozambique military and private contractors (mercenaries by another name) who appear powerless to prevent a large area of the province from becoming a no-go area.

In the latest ‘incident’ a force of Mozambican soldiers were ambushed in the district of Muidumbe by the jihadists. The army who were travelling in military vehicles entered an area of dense forest when they were raked by fire from heavy weapons, according to reports by a military source.

In the ambush 25 soldiers died and at least 15 were injured before the jihadists, who now identify themselves as belonging to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, broke off the engagement and disappeared into the forest. Among the military dead were a colonel and a major.

A French news group quoted two military sources, speaking under an agreement of anonymity, who reported the ambush as having taken place on Sunday a week ago (29 November 2020). One of the informants commented how strange it was that the terrorists seemed to have advance information on military movements. He said the attacks were affecting the morale of the troops.

It is also reported that the harbour town of Mocimboa da Praia remains under the control of the terrorists, despite efforts by the army to retake the town, which is where the outbreak of terror activity began in October 2017.

Since then the insurgency has escalated into a full-grade terror war in the bush and rural districts, with even small towns coming under attack from terrorists who appear and then disappear at will. The town of Muidambe is reported to have been re-entered by terrorists.

The Mozambique Government which has been forced to acknowledge the insurgency, nevertheless continues to play down events and makes few announcements of the terrorist activity taking place, seldom confirming attacks such as the latest one reported above.

More than half the provincial districts have experienced terrorist activity and over 2,300 people are confirmed to have been killed, many in a most gruesome manner. Official sources estimate that over half a million people have been displaced by the conflict, which has included attacks on the Quirimbas group of islands along the coast, including some off the port town of Palma in the far north.


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On 4 December UK flagship HMS Albion returned to Devonport, Plymouth from her three-month experimental autumn deployment to the Mediterranean. All images MoD Crown Copyright 2020 ©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
On 4 December UK flagship HMS Albion returned to Devonport, Plymouth from her three-month experimental autumn deployment to the Mediterranean. All images MoD Crown Copyright 2020 ©


On 4 December UK flagship HMS Albion returned from her three-month experimental autumn deployment to the Mediterranean.

The assault ship sailed back home to Devonport having led Littoral Response Group (Experimentation) (LRG(X)) on a series of exercises which will help shape the Royal Navy and Royal Marines of tomorrow.

Working together with HMS Dragon and RFA Lyme Bay, the task group has focused on developing the tactics and technology which will drive the Future Navy and Royal Marine’s Future Commando Force.

They tested new equipment, such as drones, which could be used for resupplying equipment to commandos on the ground, miniature aerial helicopters for surveillance and underwater autonomous sonars to help map beaches for landings.

It is reported that a total of 40 experimental concepts were tested in nine major exercises, largely focused around Cyprus in October and November.

In addition to experimentation, the task group worked with NATO allies and regional partners to promote stability and security in the Mediterranean.

The warships, helicopters and Royal Marines trained alongside forces from Cyprus, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.

Albion and Lyme Bay, which is home in Portland next week, also took part in NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, where they investigated over 200 cargo vessels, tankers and container ships, operating on a vital commercial transit route between Asia, Africa and Europe.

On the bridge of Albion entering Devonport, at left, Flag Captain Captain Simon Kelly RN., featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
On the bridge of Albion entering Devonport, at left, Flag Captain Captain Simon Kelly RN.

In the words of Commander Jason Eacock Albion’s Executive Officer: “The Littoral Response Group task group has paved the way for the Future Navy and Future Commando Force. This deployment has focused on testing new ideas, concepts and kit to help us constantly adapt in a changing world. Additionally, we have also completed vital work in the Mediterranean, North Africa and Black Sea Regions alongside our NATO and regional allies to support regional security and stability.

“I am extremely proud of what has been achieved from our sailors and Royal Marines during this three-month deployment, especially with the added pressures and complications from Covid. We now look forward to reuniting with our family and friends for the Christmas holidays, and we thank them for supporting us during our time away.”

LRG(X) was the first time away for many of the ship’s company, the youngest sailor onboard HMS Albion, Able Seaman Tom Curry said: “This is my first deployment since joining the Royal Navy. Due to the pandemic, we were unable to leave the ship – but this meant that we embraced life onboard. To see how we are shaping the future for both the Royal Navy and Royal Marines has been really exciting.”

Although the LRG(X) deployment has finished, the beginnings of what they have achieved has just started. The Royal Navy and Royal Marines will continue to develop and learn from the deployment and prepare for future testing in the New Year.

The British Army in Africa

A few days before Albion’s return home it was reported that the British Army had deployed a Task Force to Mali in support of Operation Newcombe in order to provide specialist assistance to the UN mission currently operating in the West African country. It is understood that once fully established, the Task Force will comprise reconnaissance, infantry and support elements from across the British Army. Their contribution towards the operation is that of a peacekeeping force that aims to engage with the local population and help to stabilise the region.

Paul Ridgway, London correspondent for Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


Edited by Paul Ridgway


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The Africa Union, map featuring in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news


The African Union was hosting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Extraordinary Summit over the recent weekend, in preparation for the start of the AfCFTA on 1 January.

The South African Cabinet, in a statement following its meeting this week, said the AfCFTA holds “enormous benefits” for South Africa and said it serves as a catalyst to economic growth and investment.

“The free-trade area opens our exports of goods and services to a market of more than 1.2 billion people. As Chair of the AU, South Africa has been at the forefront of driving the implementation of the AfCFTA,” reads the statement.

Cabinet reiterated that the agreement advances economic integration and development, women empowerment on the continent, and strengthens efforts towards peace and stability in Africa.

Reconciliation Day

In the same meeting, Cabinet resolved that this year’s Reconciliation Day, 16 December 2020, will be under the theme: ‘United in Action against Racism, Gender-Based Violence and Other Intolerances’.

In the statement, Cabinet said the country should use this day to recommit itself towards achieving nation-building and social cohesion.

“This year’s focus on racism underscores the importance of each person taking responsibility to fight racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the country, said Cabinet.


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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.

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