Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 4 July 2021


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The Sunday masthead shows the Port of Cape Town Elliott Basin
The Monday masthead shows the Port of Cape Town Dry Dock & Ship Repair
The Tuesday masthead shows the Port of Cape Town Tanker Basin
The Wednesday masthead shows the Port of Cape Town Duncan Dock
The Thursday masthead shows the Port of Cape Town
The Friday masthead shows the Port of East London
The Saturday masthead shows the Port of East London
The Sunday masthead shows the Port of Durban Container Terminal




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MOL Explorer. Picture by Keith Betts, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MOL Explorer.    Picture by Keith Betts

Mitsui OSK Line’s (MOL) container ship MOL EXPLORER (IMO 9333826) heads out from Durban harbour for the open sea and her next port of call, Singapore, where she is due on 8 July. The 62,958-dwt ship is deployed on the Far East-South Africa service and was built in 2007. The Panamax vessel is 294 metres in length and 32m wide, and despite her imposing size, she has a container capacity of just 5,041 TEU. The registered owner is Kilimanjaro Container Carriers but the real ownership is perhaps better understood by going to the next part of her registry, the ship’s manager and operator, “c/o Mitsui OSK Lines, Tokyo”. MOL Explorer flies the flag of Panama and has remained in MOL service and under this name for all of her 14 years of service.

Picture by Keith Betts

Added 27 June 2021


Photographs of shipping and other maritime scenes involving any of the ports of South Africa or from the rest of the African continent, together with a short description, name of ship/s, ports etc are welome.



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Fire on Israeli-owned ship CSAV Tyndal after attack in N.Indian Ocean

CSAV Tyndall. Picture: Fleetmon and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
CSAV Tyndall. Picture: Fleetmon

The container ship CSAV TYNDALL (IMO 9627928) is reported to have come under attack, possibly by a missile, that caused a fire to break out on deck among its containers, while sailing in the Gulf of Oman.

The 116,058-dwt CSAV Tyndall, built in 2014, is listed as owned by a company with the name Polar 5 Ltd and operated by Oceonix Services Ltd, 21 Whitefriars Street, London, EC4Y 8JJ, United Kingdom, but is actually owned by the Israeli shipowner, Eyal Ofer through his company, Zodiac Maritime.

There are no details whether any crew were injured in the blast that caused the fire, which occurred as the ship was en route from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates.

The attack took place yesterday (Saturday 3 July 2021)

Israeli sources accuse Iran of being responsible, possibly using a missile in response to an Israeli attack on an Iranian centrifuge production site last month.

If these reports of an attack by Iran are correct, it will be the latest in a series of attacks and counter-attacks on shipping of Iran and Israel, using mines and other weapons against each other’s shipping interests.

Added 4 July 2021


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Transnet reaches wage agreement with unions, strike averted

Threat of strikes at the ports and railways averted after 5% wage increase agreement is reached, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Threat of a crippling strike at the ports and railways averted after Transnet and the unions reach a wage increase agreement

In an announcement late of Thursday (1 July 2021) Transnet SOC Ltd said it has reached a wage agreement with its recognised labour unions.

These are SATAWU (SA Transport Allied Workers Union) and UNTU (United National Transport Union).

In the wage agreement signed on Thursday, the parties have settled on a 5% increase for the current financial year for bargaining unit employees.

In April SATAWU and UNTU were demanding a 12% salary increase that was later reduced by 2% to 10% which was rejected by Transnet saying there could be no increases at present.

Transnet spokesperson, Ayanda Shezi said at that time that Transnet believed that its offer was reasonable and realistic, “particularly in the context of the climate that we find ourselves in which has resulted in a decline in the financial performance of the company.”

The following month UNTU’s General Secretary, Steve Harris, said the members of the union were angry and frustrated. “They were the ones who worked tirelessly through the hard lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that South Africans still have access to goods and food while their managers were sitting at home.

“An offer of a 2% wage increase, after having the Board of Transnet admitting that more than R210 billion was lost at Transnet due to the decade of state capture, is a slap in the face of each worker. Workers cannot bear the brunt because of the greed of a few individuals who have to date not been arrested and prosecuted,” said Harris.

Transnet meanwhile offered a 2% increase to the unions which was rejected. The unions subsequently lowered their demand to a 7% annual wage increase across the board, in an effort, they said, to get Transnet to move by showing goodwill.

Since then further negotiations have taken place, leading to today’s announcement of a settlement by way of a 5% annual wage increase. Thus any threat of a strike this year affecting, among others, the ports and railways in South Africa, has been avoided.

Transnet’s said its main focus remains on ensuring financial sustainability and operational improvements in the business, “to drive competitiveness of South Africa’s logistics system in all the segments that we operate.” It said a stable relationship between all the actors within the company remained crucial.

Added 1 July 2021, 20h15


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WHARF TALK: Fleeting visit for sophisticated offshore vessel SEVEN OCEANIC

The imposing front half of the giant offshore vessel, Seven Oceanic, which caled at Cape Town this week. Picture by 'Dockrat'. Featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The imposing front section of the giant offshore vessel, Seven Oceanic, which called at Cape Town this week. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The flow of offshore vessels into Cape Town for maintenance and overhaul periods has been slow as of late, and so it is always welcome to spot not just an offshore vessel arriving in port, but a very large and sophisticated offshore vessel, even if it was only in port for a few hours.

On Wednesday 30 June 30th at 08h00 the offshore vessel SEVEN OCEANIC (IMO 9468205) arrived at Cape Town and went immediately to the Eastern Mole to take on bunkers and supplies only. She had arrived from Dusavik in Norway, an offshore support base where she was previously based whilst working on an offshore construction contract in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

Her stay in Cape Town was short, and after completion of her victualing needs, and with sufficient bunkers onboard, she sailed at 19h00 the same evening with her destination initially set for Henderson in Western Australia, which is located just south of Perth. Henderson is the location of the Australian Marine Complex, one of the largest ship building precincts in Australia.

With her helideck up top and a large accommodation area the ship is superbly equipped for specialist tasks and a large workforce. Picture is by 'Dockrat' and is featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
With her helideck up top and a large accommodation area for 140 personnel and crew, the ship is superbly equipped for specialist tasks and a large workforce. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2011 with her hull completed at STX OSV Shipyard at Tulcea in Romania, Seven Oceanic was completed at the STX Vard Shipyard in Brattvåg in Norway. She is 157 metres in length and has a deadweight of 11,300 tons. She is a deepwater subsea operations vessel that specialises in flex-lay and heavy construction. In order to be able to conduct accurate deepwater operations, Seven Oceanic requires the highest dynamic positioning capability and is classed as DP3. Ensuring position accuracy also requires lots of power and great manoeuvrability.

A diesel-electric vessel, Seven Oceanic has two Wärtsilä W12V32 engines each providing 5,760 kW of power, and two Wärtsilä W8L32 engines each providing 3,840 kW of power, giving a combined output of 25,748 bhp (19,200 kW), for a service speed of 17 knots. She has a single CAT 3512 emergency generator providing 1,360 kW.

Propulsion is provided by two Rolls-Royce Ulstein tunnel thrusters each providing 2,448 bhp (1,900 kW), two Rolls-Royce Ulstein retractable azimuth thrusters each providing 2,046 bhp (1,500 kW), two Rolls Royce Aquamaster propulsion azimuth thrusters each providing 4,079 bhp (3,042 kW) and one Rolls Royce Ulstein shaft line propeller providing 5,364 bhp (4,000 kW).

The area aft is no less impressive on this magnificent vessel. Picture is by 'Dockrat' and is featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The area aft is no less impressive on this magnificent vessel. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

For her flex-lay operations, Seven Oceanic has a J-Lay tower and a 3,000 ton (2,356 m3) underdeck pipeline/cable carousel, and can operate with four 360 ton pipe reels on deck. For her heavy construction requirements she has a 400 ton, heave compensated, main crane, and a secondary 100 ton crane. She has accommodation for up to 140 crew and offshore personnel, and having Ice Class C allows her to work in any offshore region worldwide.

It is thought that her long voyage from the North Sea, and around the Cape to Australia is for Seven Oceanic to be in position to begin a contract that her owners and operators, Subsea 7 International Contracting of London, signed with Australian LNG company Woodside Energy back in 2019. The contract was for Subsea 7 to begin work on the second phase of the offshore Julimar-Brunello project, which is located 120 nautical miles off the Northwest coast of Western Australia.

This phase will see Subsea 7 installing a 13 mile long subsea gas transmission line, and an umbilical system, in the Julimar Gas Field with a water depth of over 700 feet (213 metres). Work is scheduled to start in 2021 at a cost of between US$155 million and US$300 million (ZAR1.64 billion to ZAR4.28 billion), with Subsea 7 to complete the scope of works using their own reel lay and heavy construction vessels, hence possibly why Seven Oceanic is headed for that very offshore region of Australia.

Added 1 July 2021


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Kleos Space second launch of reconnaissance satellites successful – eight now in orbit

Space-X Falcon rocket at launch and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Space-X Falcon rocket at launch

Kleos Space S.A., a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, successfully launched its second satellite cluster of four satellites, the Polar Vigilance Mission (KSF1), on 30 June 2021 (UTC) aboard the Spaceflight SXRS-5/SpaceX Transporter-2 Mission.

“Despite the schedule for the KSF1 satellites from placing the contract to launch being exceptionally ambitious, Kleos’ second cluster has been launched within the time window allocated and on budget,” said Kleos CTO Miles Ashcroft.

“We must acknowledge ISISPACE and Spaceflight as well as our Kleos’ technical team’s work, I am proud of the whole team who have worked together empathetically, and it has made a massive difference with an incredible outcome that cannot be overstated. Kleos is well on track to see its third constellation in orbit by the end of this year. With each cluster launched, coverage and volume of data increases, commensurately increasing our revenue opportunities.”

Deployed in Sun Synchronous orbit

Deployed into a 525km Sun Synchronous orbit from Cape Canaveral in Florida, the Polar Vigilance satellites further enhance Kleos’ global coverage and data collection capability and broaden the coverage range of Kleos’ first cluster of four Kleos Scouting Mission (KSM1) satellites. Satellite developer, Innovative Solutions In Space (ISISPACE), is performing the Launch and Early Operation Phase (LEOP) support, which includes commissioning of all spacecraft systems and manoeuvring the four satellites into operational formation.

The KSM1 Scouting Mission satellites were launched into a 37-degree low earth orbit in November 2020 and were the world’s first four satellite cluster flown in a formation for precision geolocation capability. Data from the KSM1 Scouting Mission is being delivered to customers and the satellites are being used to develop many space and ground segments for the company.

Early adopter revenue has commenced, with repeat subscription-based revenues delayed but anticipated to commence in Q3 & increase further in Q4 with the addition of the data from the second cluster, Polar Vigilance satellites. The constellation will grow further with the addition of Kleos’ third satellite cluster – the Polar Patrol Mission, which is on track for a late 2021 launch aboard another SpaceX Falcon 9.

The purpose

Kleos satellites collect data that is then processed to detect and geolocate radio frequency activity to improve the detection of hidden and illegal activities including piracy, drug and people smuggling, border security challenges and illegal fishing as they can detect transmissions, independent of other systems such as those used in active tracking, or when imagery is unclear, or targets are out of normal aircraft patrol range.

Kleos Space S.A.

Kleos is a space-enabled radio frequency reconnaissance data-as-a-service company with operations in Luxembourg, the US and UK. Kleos locates radio transmissions in key areas of interest around the globe, efficiently uncovering data points to expose human activity on land and sea. Using clusters of four satellites each, proprietary radio frequency data (RF Data) is collected, processed, and delivered to customers worldwide. Customers, including analytics and intelligence entities, will license data on a subscription basis (DaaS), for government and commercial use cases – aiding better and faster decision making.

Further information is available by CLICKING HERE

Added 1 July 2021


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World Marine Aids to Navigation Day
IFAN highlights the importance of safe navigation

World Maritime Navigation Day, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Image:   MENAS© 

On World Marine Aids to Navigation Day (1 July), the Board of the International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN) reminded the world’s ship owners that aids to navigation (AtoN) are imperative to keeping the Middle East Gulf region safe for vessels and crew but that they must be paid for.

The Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS), a subsidiary of IFAN, has been providing AtoN services since 1911 as no states can agree responsibility for the AtoN in the joint waters of the Gulf. This service is funded exclusively via navigation payments and the sustainability of the existing service, on which the shipping industry depends, is totally dependent on receipt of these nav dues.

Peter Stanley, CEO of IFAN, said: “World Marine Aids to Navigation Day is the perfect day to highlight the pivotal role played in aids to navigation internationally. MENAS is committed to providing world-class navigational aids, but ship owners need to acknowledge the services they receive and pay the necessary nav dues. All ships in the area share the benefit and safety of well-maintained AtoN.”

MENAS is currently the Gulf region’s leading innovator in the development, fabrication, supply and maintenance of AtoN. Operating from its main base in Bahrain and a support base in Abu Dhabi, MENAS owns and maintains an extensive network of buoys, lighthouses and DGPS transmitters. It also provides essential information and advice such as the issue of Notices to Mariners, advising on hazards to shipping and co-ordinating additions to navigation charts for the Gulf. Over 2,000 vessels rely upon MENAS equipment and services each month.

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


Reported by Paul Ridgway


Added 1 July 2021


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WHARF TALK: Seatrade reefer SCHWEIZ STREAM with fruit for the UK

The reefer vessel Schweizer Stream in Duncan Dock, Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The reefer vessel Schweizer Stream in Duncan Dock, Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

It is that time of year when South African ports have a wide variety of reefer vessels calling, although they are not always calling for that which South Africa is famous for, i.e. fresh fruit. Cape Town, in particular, on 26 June had five reefers alongside the berths, and only two of them were there for the obvious reason, both of which are Seatrade reefers.

On 24 June at 22h00 the reefer SCHWEIZ STREAM (IMO 9015216) arrived at Cape Town and was berthed immediately at B berth in the Duncan Dock. She had arrived from Port Elizabeth and this was her final South African call to complete loading for discharge in Europe.

Loading of the cargo of South African fruit was soon underway. Picture by 'Dockrat' and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Loading of the cargo of South African fruit was soon underway. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Initially arriving at Port Elizabeth for the first time back on 8 June to drop off reefer containers, Schweiz Stream then proceeded to Durban, arriving on 10 June, where she anchored for four days, before entering harbour on 14 June for a four day loading period. She then returned to Port Elizabeth on 19 June to begin three days of loading, before heading for her completion port of Cape Town.

Despite some delays due to Cape winter rains, Schweiz Stream completed final loading of pallets of citrus for the holds, as well as reefer containers for the deck, and she sailed from Cape Town on 29 June at 22H00, bound for the channel port of Dover in the United Kingdom. Dover is the preferred discharge port in the United Kingdom for all Seatrade vessels.

Schweiz Stream was one of two reefers together loading fruit. Picture by 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Schweiz Stream was one of two reefers together loading fruit. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 1992 by Danyard AS at Frederikshavn in Denmark, as one of six sisterships, Schweiz Stream is 158 metres in length with a deadweight of 13,930 tons. She is powered by a single Kawasaki MAN-B&W 8S60MC 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, providing 20,401 bhp (15,219 kW) for a service speed of 21.8 knots.

For her internal power and refrigeration needs, she has four auxiliary engines producing 5,200 kW (3,250 kVA), as well as an emergency generator providing 156 kW. She has one CHR Aalborg boiler, and one CHM Aalborg boiler.

Earlier in the month of June Schweiz Stream loaded fruit at the ports of Durban and Port Elizabeth, before heading to Cape Town to complete her loading. Here she is on the berth of the Fresh Produce Terminals (FPT) in the port of Durban. Picture is by Keith Betts, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Earlier in the month of June Schweiz Stream loaded fruit at the ports of Durban and Port Elizabeth, before heading to Cape Town to complete her loading. Here she is on the berth of the Fresh Produce Terminals (FPT) in the port of Durban. Picture is by Keith Betts

With four holds, all served by cranes, Schweiz Stream provides 645,586 cubic feet of refrigerated spaces, the equivalent of 7,565 m2, and she can stow 8,611 pallets. She has a container carrying capacity of 439 TEU, with the provision of 170 reefer plugs.

Owned by Chartworld Shipping of Athens, Schweiz Stream is operated by Seatrade BV of Groningen in Holland. Seatrade are currently very busy serving South Africa. They have an almost weekly sailing to the eastern seaboard of the USA, utilising Camden in New Jersey as their discharge port, and the sailing of Schweiz Stream is the second, recent, seasonal Seatrade sailing to Europe, utilising Dover in the UK as the discharge port. There are two further Seatrade reefers in South African waters, with a third vessel having sailed recently for the USA.

Added 1 July 2021



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Drama off Gansbaai as general cargo ship Unispace is taken under tow by SA Amandla

The genaral cargo vessel Unispace (formerly BBC Courage) which became disabled off Gansbaai overnight and is now unde tow behind the tug SA Amandla. Picture: Fleetmon featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The genaral cargo vessel Unispace (formerly Natacha C) which became disabled off Gansbaai overnight and is now unde tow behind the tug SA Amandla. Picture: Fleetmon

The general cargo ship UNISPACE (IMO 7269285) last night (Wednesday 30 June) reported that it had become disabled and had gone to anchor in a position five nautical miles south of Danger Point/Gansbaai on the Cape coast – not far from where the HMS Birkenhead went aground and was wrecked on 26 February 1852.

AMSOL reported via its social media this morning that its standby salvage tug SA AMANDLA, under command of Captain Simon Radebe, had departed the port of Cape Town in adverse weather conditions to respond to a callout by the disabled vessel.

Earlier this morning (Thursday 1 July 2021) SA Amandla arrived on scene and has successfully made a connection to the Unispace and is towing the disabled vessel further offshore prior to proceeding to Table Bay. AIS reports show the vessel destination still to be Durban which information we assume will be updated.

Unispace had sailed from Namibe anchorage in Angola on 26 June, with Durban as her destination. The reason for the disablement has not been disclosed at this stage. At around midday the tug and tow were in position 34.7904 S. 19.0297 E.

SA Amandla, In Durban Bay with another tow, the Sandock Austral floating dock, in 2019. Picture: Roy Reed featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
SA Amandla, in Durban Bay in 2019 with another tow, the Sandock Austral floating dock. Picture: Roy Reed Photography

The disabled vessel is a general cargo vessel built in 2003 and currently sails under the flag of Antigua & Barbuda.

The 146-metre long, 18m wide ship has a deadweight of 10,621 tons. When launched the ship was named NATACHA C until July 2013 when she was renamed THORCO COURAGE. In January 2017 she was again renamed this time as BBC COURAGE and more recently in March 2020 the ship became UNISPACE.

Her German owners are c/o MarShip Bereederungs GmbH & Co KG of Ems in Germany who are also the commercial and ship managers.

Added 1 July 2021, 14:15


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WHARF TALK: Reefer with zero space for containers, EVEREST BAY

The reeer vessel Everest Bay arriving in the port of Cape own to load a cargo of citrus. Picture: 'Dockrat' and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The reefer vessel Everest Bay arriving in the port of Cape Town to load a cargo of citrus. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The South African citrus export trade is continuing apace and, as expected, yet another reefer arrived at Cape Town to load a full cargo on the expected weekly seasonal Seatrade sailing to the eastern seaboard of the USA, and specifically to the Gloucester Maritime Terminal (GMT) in the port of Camden, New Jersey.

On 17 June at 13h00 the reefer EVEREST BAY (IMO 8911073) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage from Kaohsiung in Taiwan. She remained at the anchorage for three days and she entered Cape Town harbour on 20 June at 18h00, as soon as one of her fleetmates vacated B berth in the Duncan Dock en route to the Gloucester Maritime Terminal in the USA.

Everest Bay called to load citrus for the United States. Picture: 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Everest Bay called at Cape Town to load citrus fruit for the United States. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

Some typically inclement Cape winter weather delayed her onload of her cargo, but on 28 June at 17h00 Everest Bay sailed from Cape Town on her northbound leg. Initially, her destination was given on one AIS site as Gloucester, but not the one in New Jersey, but rather the port in the United Kingdom. Anyone who is aware of the port of Gloucester in the UK will know it is a small riverine port on the River Severn and reached only by small coasters and inland canal vessels. It was a simple, but embarrassing, geographical error to make by the Navigating Officer who was responsible for entering the details into the AIS unit console.

Everest Bay with the famous Cape Town landmark of Table Mountain in the background. Picture: 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Everest Bay with the famous Cape Town landmark of Table Mountain in the background. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

Built in 1989 by the Shin Kurushima dockyard at Imabari in Japan, Everest Bay is 141 metres in length and has a deadweight of 9,692 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsubishi Kobe Diesel 6UEC52LC 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 11,719 bhp (8,739 kW) to give a service speed of 17 knots. She has four auxiliary engines, including one emergency generator, capable of providing 2,310 kVA, and she has a single Tortoise vertical boiler.

Now on her berth the ship's derricks are in full use helping load the ship's cargo of South African citrus. Picture: 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Now on her berth the ship’s derricks are ready to go into full use helping load the ship’s cargo of South African citrus. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

She has no problem is dealing with the current shortage of reefer containers as, despite her age, it is still a surprise to see that her container carrying capacity is officially given as NIL TEU. Her four holds have 449,201 sq ft of refrigerated cargo space available, or the equivalent of 5,219 m3, enabling her to load a full cargo of 3,954 pallets. She also has no cranes for cargo handling work, but traditional derricks instead. She is owned by Centauri Partners of Nassau, and both operated and managed by Seatrade BV of Groningen in Holland.

Like another of her fleetmates, that recently sailed from Cape Town for the GMT, her use of derricks makes her suitable for ship to ship transshipping of cargo, and Everest Bay is currently licensed by the Western and Central Pacific Fishing Commission (WCPFC) to conduct ship to ship transfers at sea of frozen Tuna and Squid parcels.

Pallets of fruit being taken on board the Everest Bay. Picture: 'Dockrat' and eatured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Pallets of fruit being taken on board the Everest Bay. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

She is also licensed to conduct the same transshipment operations at sea by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). It is a matter of WCPFC and IOTC regulation that any transshipped cargoes can only be landed in Kaohsiung if the cargo is destined for Taiwan. This may explain her last port of call, prior to Cape Town, being that very port and her previous cargo was not fruit, but rather frozen fish.

The current seasonal service, carrying South African citrus, by Seatrade to the GMT in New Jersey is not new to Everest Bay as she was recorded arriving there from Cape Town in September 2018, and in 2020 she had the honour of being the first Seatrade vessel in that season to take a South African citrus shipment to the GMT. She berthed at the GMT in June 2020 with a full cargo of 4,000 tons, or 3,800 pallets, of Oranges and Clementines.

Added 30 June 2021


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IN CONVERSATION: Rooibos tea: EU protection is good news for South African agriculture


Enrico Bonadio, City, University of London and Magali Contardi, Universidad de Alicante

The European Union recently added rooibos (red bush) tea to its register of products with a protected designation of origin. The iconic tea is the first African product to receive such status in the EU, and the 40th from a non-EU country.

Rooibos is in good company – this is the same kind of protection given to champagne, prosciutto di Parma, feta and many other iconic foods. This designation contributes to a product’s global standing, and is likely to have benefits – economic and beyond – for the region.

Protected status is given to products whose quality is strictly linked to the local area and peculiar manufacturing techniques.

Rooibos is obtained through the infusion of dried leaves or stems of Aspalathus linearis. The plant grows in Cederberg, a mountain region with a fertile soil north of Cape Town, and in harsh microclimate conditions with hot dry summers and wet winters. Once harvested, the bushy plant is grown following a specific process to produce a tea that is fruity, woody, spicy in taste and naturally caffeine free.

Café de Colombia was the first ever non-EU product protected under this scheme in 2007, followed in 2011 by others such as Indian tea Darjeeling and Chinese green tea Longjing cha.

Part of the EU legal framework for protecting regional foods is that they have acquired a strong reputation among consumers. Favourable climates and centuries-old manufacturing techniques rooted in their designated areas have contributed to this renown.

These protected designations identify “products with a story”. Rooibos tea is now one of them. Its new EU status will “signal its unique quality to consumers, not only in Europe but all over the world”, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture Ivan Meyer said.

Authenticity matters

Such legal protection matters, as attempts to misappropriate the rooibos brand have occurred in the past. In 2013 a French company tried to register the trademark “rooibos” for skincare products in France (one of the health benefits of this tea is its rich antioxidant content that may improve skin health).

The new EU designation is likely to offer rooibos producers and farmers a valuable market advantage, because only infusions produced in the local area north of Cape Town and according to specific rules can be labelled “rooibos”. This ensures that tea produced in other areas cannot be sold in the EU – one of the biggest markets in the world – under the name rooibos/red bush. Evocative uses of such designations by third parties (for example, “Rooibos kind”, “Red Bush type”, “Rooibos style” or “Red Bush imitation”) are also prohibited.

Four people clinking glasses of champagne in front of a sunset
Champagne that doesn’t come from the Champagne region of France is just sparkling wine. Rooibos tea now has the same EU protected designation.  Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock

This brand monopoly in the EU will arguably enhance the economic development of the Western Cape and the whole of South Africa. The region already produces an average of 14,000 tonnes of rooibos per year, and in 2019-20 expanding global demand resulted in an increase to about 20,000 tonnes.

The South African Rooibos Council estimated that the total rooibos sales in 2020 equalled 6 billion cups of tea – close to one cup per human on Earth. It also reported that half the production is consumed locally, whereas the other half is exported to more than 60 countries. In 2019, the biggest export markets were Germany (28%), Japan (22%), the Netherlands (9%) and the UK (8%).

The global herbal tea market is growing at 7% per year. With rooibos’ new EU status, not only is the global demand for this product expected to increase, related sectors, such as agritourism, are also likely to benefit. In 2021, an EU report revealed that European food products listed on the EU register of all protected geographical names generated in 2017 an estimated sales value of €77 billion (£66 billion).

As the example of Darjeeling tea shows, premium pricing and more robust revenues often follow geographical name protection as a result of consumers’ recognition of the product’s quality. This is exactly what farmers and the entity that manages the rooibos brand (the South African Rooibos Council) now expect.

Beyond economics

The rooibos EU designation could also contribute to further promoting South African gastronomic heritage and genetic resources. As Mogale Sebopetsa, head of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture, put it, “in this way, we safeguard our heritage for posterity”.

The use of the dried leaves and stems of rooibos as a tea was first reported in 1772, although Khoisan indigenous people from western South Africa have been consuming the drink made with rooibos for centuries. The name itself derives from the Afrikaans language, meaning “red bush” and referring to the plant’s red-brown leaves.

Employment could be boosted, too. As confirmed in the rooibos council report, the rooibos industry is already the biggest employer of people from the rural provinces of South Africa, with direct income and employment given to more than 8,000 farm labourers, and many others in the supply chain (processing, packaging, retailing). With more production and international sales in sight, this trend will probably increase.The Conversation

Enrico Bonadio, Reader in Intellectual Property Law, City, University of London and Magali Contardi, PhD candidate, intellectual property law, Universidad de Alicante

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

Added 30 June 2021


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WHARF TALK: ‘Gateway to Antarctica’ hosts MORE SODRUZHESTVA

The Ukrainian Antarctic-class trawler More Sodruzhestva at the Landing Wall in Cape Town harbour, following another long season trawlig for Krill in the Southern Ocean. Picture: 'Dockrat' and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Ukrainian Antarctic-class trawler More Sodruzhestva at the Landing Wall in Cape Town harbour, following another long season trawling for Krill in the Southern Ocean.   Picture: ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The Southern Ocean surrounds the continent of Antarctica and represents approximately 15% of the world’s oceanic area. Cape Town is considered to be the ‘Gateway to Antarctica’ for the majority of nations that conduct Antarctic research and Oceanographic research anywhere south of South Africa.

In the 1970s and the 1980s, the scientific and commercial world was starting to take a serious look at a relatively new source of protein to be found in the Southern Ocean, namely Antarctic Krill, which is a crustacean similar to a small shrimp, but is in fact the largest species of Zooplankton. Krill is the staple diet of penguins, Antarctic seabirds, most Antarctic seal species, squid, fish and most importantly baleen whales, which had been hunted to become both highly threatened and in some cases, almost on the point of extinction, by this time.

South Africa had participated in every scientific cruise into Krill Research, carried out by the International Biomass Expedition, under the auspices of the Scientific Council of Antarctic Research (SCAR) since its inception in 1976. The five cruises were undertaken by SAS Protea (10 February to 12 April 1978), SA Agulhas (28 February to 2 April 1980 – preFIBEX), SA Agulhas (16 February to 10 March 1981 – FIBEX), SA Agulhas (24 March to 26 April 1984 – SIBEX 1) and RS Africana (20 February to 23 March 1985 – SIBEX 2).

A view of the accommodation block of the vessel. Picture: 'Dockrat'
A view of the accommodation block of the vessel. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

The severe depletion of the whale population created an explosion in the biomass of Krill and the Soviet Union were quick to exploit this by sending down a huge fleet of trawlers to exploit this new source of food, with many of the trawlers being sent south from the fleet that were harvesting hake off Namibia in the 1980s.

In March 1985, whilst engaged on the SIBEX 2 Krill research voyage, RS Africana developed a severe rudder problem, after a steering gear failure, whilst operating off Australian Antarctic Territory, in position 65 South 70 East, and that resulted in her having to be towed out of danger from ‘Iceberg Alley’, and eventually back to Cape Town. The vessel that arrived in response to the call for assistance was a Soviet Prometey class trawler, called Zvesda Chernomorya (Star of the Black Sea), which had been fishing for Krill nearby and towed her north to 56 South, where the tug John Ross took over the tow for Cape Town.

By 1989, when the Soviet Union collapsed, their Antarctic trawling fleet accounted for 93% of the world total catch of Krill. The difficulties and logistics of working in the extremes of the Antarctic environment were such that the Soviet Union set about building a class of super trawler that was specifically designed to operate in Antarctica and exploit Krill, and nothing else. That class of super trawler, of Project 16080, was to be called the ‘Antarktida’ class.

The stern of the impressive ship. Picture: 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The stern of the impressive ship. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

On 17 June at 13h00 the Ukrainian trawler MORE SODRUZHESTVA (IMO 8724315) arrived in the Table Bay anchorage, and by 20h00 that evening she was brought into Cape Town harbour and was berthed at the Eastern Mole. She had previously departed Cape Town on 8 December 2020, and had spent the whole time away fishing for Krill in Antarctic waters.

The serious shipspotter would have identified More Sodruzhestva as being one of the Antarktida class of super trawler that the Soviet Union had designed for exclusive operation in the Antarctic Krill fishery. The Antarktida class building programme began in 1984, but by 1988 only seven of the class had been built, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 ended the building programme, with no more being delivered. There are currently two of the class still being used for Krill fishing in Antarctica, with the other vessel being operated by the Chinese.

Built in 1986 by the Okean Shipyard at Nikolaev in the Ukraine, More Sodruzhestva, whose name translates as ‘Sea of Co-Operation’, is 115 metres in length and has a deadweight of 2,621 tons. She is powered by two Russkiy SEMT-Pielstick 6CHN40/46 6 cylinder 4 stroke engines, providing 7,004 bhp (5,252 kW). Her auxiliary power is provided by two Pervomaisk 8CHN25/34-2 producing 600 kW each, and a Transmash 6CH15/18 emergency generator producing 100 kW.

And the starboard side. Picture: 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
And the starboard side. Picture: ‘Dockrat’

Owned by Marissco Fishing Limited of Nicosia in Cyprus, More Sodruzhestva is operated by IKF LLC of Mikolaiv in the Ukraine. For her Krill fishing operations she is capable of freezing 25 tons per day, with a freezer hold space of 2,546 m3 and 1,800 tons capacity. She carries out all of her Krill fishing in the Antarctic fishing areas 48.1 (South Shetland Islands), 48.2 (South Orkney Islands) and 48.3 (South Georgia).

The Krill fishery is carried out within the framework of a license issued by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Resources (CCAMLR), where Krill is the only species that More Sodruzhestva is licensed to exploit. With a Krill biomass estimated to be in the region of 379 million tons, CCAMLR have set a modest limit of only 5.6 million tons for the whole fishery, of which only 3.75 million tons was landed in 2020.

South Africa is a member of CCAMLR, although not active in the Krill fishery, where there are only eight member nations conducting Krill fishing in Antarctica. Ukraine is the smallest of these eight nations, with the smallest catch landed of only 9,000 tons, and with only the More Sodruzhestva active under that nation’s CCAMLR membership. Krill is a source of Omega-3 rich oil, used as a health supplement, is eaten as canned or frozen Krill tails, as Krill meat in eastern seafood broths and as feed for both agriculture and aquaculture.

This is the same vessel, More Sodruzhestva when sailing under the Hammer & Sickle, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
This is the same vessel, More Sodruzhestva when sailing under the Hammer & Sickle

The Krill fishery is highly regulated with all vessels carrying a tamper proof, sealed, position indicating unit to allow continuous and ‘real time’ tracking of the vessel’s movements to take place by CCAMLR, and every Krill trawler carries a permanent and independent Scientific Observer on every voyage. To reduce bycatch of seals, every Krill net carries a marine mammal exclusion device which allows the seals to escape from the net. There was no seal bycatch reported in 2020, which indicates how successful these devices are.

In October 2018, the Captain of More Sodruzhestva was convicted for dumping sewage into South African coastal waters, in contravention of the MARPOL convention. He was fined ZAR300,000, or a 24 month prison sentence. SAMSA also raised further charges against both the Master and owners of the vessel, which saw a total penalty of ZAR1.7 million made against the vessel. The conviction came about as a result of the INTERPOL ‘30 Days at Sea’ global operation, of which South Africa participated, and was the first ever conviction of its kind for South Africa in support of the MARPOL convention on Marine Pollution.

Now on the Landing Wall in the Duncan Dock, More Sodruzhestva is now entering a period of maintenance after her six month sojourn into the Southern Ocean, and it is expected she will remain in Cape Town until the start of the next Krill fishing season in December this year. This is a programme that she has carried out every year since 2017, where she overwinters in Cape Town and undergoes drydocking and class surveys in the Sturrock Drydock, before spending the Austral summer in Antarctica.

Added 30 June 2021


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TFR rails an annualised 58 million tons of coal to Richards Bay – Exxaro talks of rail constraints

Bridge over the White uMfolozi near Ulundi with coal train crossing en route to the port of Richards Bay, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Bridge over the White uMfolozi near Ulundi with coal train crossing en route to the port of Richards Bay

South Africa’s leading coal producer, Exxaro Resources, announced in its six-month update statement that Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) railed 24.3 million tonnes of coal to Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) for the period January to the end of May 2021, for the equivalent of an annualised volume of 58Mtpa.

The statement makes it clear that logistical constraints involving TFR are however hampering the rail service in its ability to move coal both to customers and to the ports.

“The performance from Grootegeluk dropped from 6.9 trains per week on average in 2020 to 5.1 trains per week. The Mpumalanga export rail performance dropped from 25.3 trains per week in 2020 to 14.9 for the period January to end-May 2021.

“The alarmingly low TFR performance is due to poor locomotive availability, increased incidences of cable theft as well as increased vandalism of rail infrastructure.

“This matter has been extensively discussed with TFR by both Exxaro and the Coal Industry Forum through the Minerals Council South Africa.”

It said TFR’s poor performance by Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) meant that Exxaro may not fully benefit from the recent surge in commodity prices.

Exxaro's Grootgeluk coal mine, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Exxaro’s Grootgeluk coal mine

Stable Demand

Looking ahead, Exxaro said it anticipated the demand and pricing for sized coal domestically to remain relatively stable, as economic activity improves from levels observed in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“The domestic unsized market will continue to experience tremendous pressure on the back of TFR’s performance, as domestic mining operations continue to struggle with the evacuation of coal destined for export.

“On the international front, we expect that the impact of the pandemic on coal markets will continue into the Third Quarter 2021 as the second and third waves grip different parts of the world.

“TFR’s poor performance on domestic and export flows is most concerning and we expect this situation to continue to impact very negatively on our ability to move coal to customers and ports, resulting in lower than previously guided sales volumes. Further impacts on production and sales will be reviewed and communicated during our next market guidance in August.”

Exxaro said the changes in product demand and TFR performance has put a strain on its ability to produce coal at optimal levels, putting pressure on its unit cost in the Mpumalanga region.

“This has compelled us to think innovatively about how we can respond quickly to the value chain interruptions.”

Iron Ore Market

According to Exxaro, tight market conditions for iron ore are expected to persist during 2H21. “Strong steel mill profitability, ongoing stimulus and multi-year highs on leading indicators such as PMI reinforce the likelihood of further acceleration in steel production and iron ore demand.”

Added 30 June 2021


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MSC Messina incapacitated by engine room fire in Indian Ocean

Outward signs of the fire on the MSC Messina. Picture: Indian Coast Guard and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Outward signs of the fire on the MSC Messina. Picture: Indian Coast Guard

One seafarer is missing presumed dead after a fire broke out in the engine room of the container ship MSC MESSINA (IMO 9074042) on Thursday last week, 24 June 2021 . The ship has a crew of 28 seafarers.

Not much official information is being broadcast about this latest fire on a container ship. The MSC website is not reporting the matter.

The 300-metre long by 37m wide, 63,000-dwt MSC Messina was built in 1995 and has a container capacity of 4,743 TEU.

The fire cost the life of one of the seafarers on board MSC Messina. Picture Indian Coast Guard, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The fire cost the life of one of the seafarers on board MSC Messina. Picture Indian Coast Guard

The vessel sailed from Colombo on 24 June and appears to be empty of containers. Her next port of call was Singapore.

The fire broke out when MSC Messina was midway between the Sri Lankan port of Colombo and the Malacca Strait. The vessel was taken in tow behind the tug TC VIGOUR (IMO 9443530) and is being escorted by a second MSC ship, MSC DEILA (IMO 9461415)

The fire was extinguished but only after some damage occurred which left the ship without engine power and damage in accommodation areas.

On receiving reports of the fire the Indian Coast Guard deployed ships and aircraft to go to the aid of the container ship and made available the first pictures of MSC Messina.

MSC Messina in happier times, arriving in the port of Durban, September 2020. Picture by Keith Betts, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
MSC Messina in happier times, arriving in the port of Durban, September 2020. Picture by Keith Betts

MSC Messina has called in South Africa on other occasions and is shown arriving in Durban in September 2020 in this picture taken by Keith Betts.

Added 30 June 2021


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The future is here: Tanger Med receives its first real-life digital port call

Kobe Express, which completed the world's first real-life digitalised port call when it arrived at Tanger Med from South America. Picture: Tanger Med © and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Kobe Express, which completed the world’s first real-life digitalised port call when it arrived at Tanger Med from South America. Picture: Tanger Med ©

The world’s first digitally controlled port arrival has been enabled between the port of Tanger Med, shipping company Hapag-Lloyd and Anglo-Eastern Ship Management.

This achievement, involving the container vessel KOBE EXPRESS, was conducted within the framework of a partnership previously announced between Tanger Med Port Authority and Wärtsilä Voyage, with the aim of at digitalising maritime port calls.

Kobe Express (IMO 9143544), a container ship owned by Hapag-Lloyd and managed by Anglo Eastern, docked safely and on-time at Tanger Med port in Morocco on 25 June 2021 using the Wärtsilä Navi-Port system.

Wärtsilä Voyage’s Navi-Port system is a digital platform that facilitates the exchange of real-time data between ships and their destination ports to allow accurate arrival times.

The system exchanges required time of arrival digitally with the onboard navigation system and allows a ship’s speed schedule to be adjusted for a Just-in-Time (JiT) arrival by the clicking of one button, thereby saving fuel and costly waiting time at anchor.

The Kobe Express, a Bermuda-flagged container ship with a carrying capacity of 4,612 TEU, docked safely at Tanger Med on the Strait of Gibraltar on 25 June having sailed in from Cartagena in Colombia.

“This is a momentous accomplishment. We have moved beyond pilot and testing projects to real-life applications, and we see this as kick-starting a trend that will make both shipping and port operations more efficient and less carbon intensive,” said Dmitry Rostopshin, General Manager for Ship Traffic Control at Wärtsilä Voyage.

Wärtsilä Voyage and Tanger Med Port, the largest Mediterranean and African container port, are jointly developing a cutting-edge Port Management Information System (PMIS) with PortLink and featuring Wärtsilä’s Navi-Port system. A key aim of the PMIS is to facilitate JiT ship arrivals and enhance the port’s ship traffic control protocols.

“Tanger Med is committed to providing high-level services to ship-owners and international maritime alliances to ensure calls in the best condition. This is an important milestone in our joint project with Wärtsilä,” said Khalid Samir, Harbourmaster at Tanger Med.

Bjorn Hojgaard, CEO of Anglo-Eastern, said his company has partnered with Wärtsilä to digitalise the operations of the more than 600 vessels in their managed fleet.


“We anticipate that the Wärtsilä technology will speed the execution and planning of voyages and allow us to better monitor fuel efficiency and engine performance for optimal operations. Congratulations to Capt. Kishor Dinde and his crew, and to everyone else involved in this successful digital docking of the Kobe Express,” he said.

According to Ralf Belusa, Managing Director Digital Business at Hapag-Lloyd, technology is moving forward quickly in the shipping industry. He said this world-first achievement is evidence of entering an era of high efficiency and better environmental performance, which will benefit all industry stakeholders. “Congratulations to Wärtsilä and Tanger Med Port Authority for helping to make this happen,” Belusa said.

Bruce Mills, Business Development Manager for Ship Traffic Control at Wärtsilä Voyage, said a number of similar projects are well underway with other leading ports and shipping companies around the world.

“As the economic and environmental benefits of JiT operations are becoming increasingly clear to the maritime community, so Wärtsilä will continue to invest in developing our innovative solutions which also help to support the IMO’s decarbonisation and GHG reduction strategies” he said.

Added 29 June 2021


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Northern Mozambique:
Terror threat makes seafarer crew change impossible

Civilians flee the conflict in northern Mozambique where increasing violence makes safe crew change impossible.  Picture: © and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Civilians flee the conflict in northern Mozambique where increasing violence makes safe crew change impossible.  Picture:

Ship owners should stop attempting to perform crew changes in northern Mozambique while seafarers are at risk of attack or kidnapping by violent terrorist groups operating in the region, it has been stated.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) supports the calls by the Norwegian Maritime Unions (NMU) for a crew change suspension until the threat to seafarers’ lives reduces along the Mozambique coast.

It was reported late on 28 June that the NMU has written to the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association (NSA) asking the body’s members to avoid the province of Cabo Delgado since violence escalated in recent weeks due the growing power of terror organisations such as ISIL-affiliated Ansar-al-Sunna and local cells of al-Shabab (‘The Youth’). At least 51 children were kidnapped by non-state armed groups in the area in the last year, Save the Children reported.

Ansar-al-Sunna was initially known for beheadings but has shifted its strategy to attempting to the take-over of entire towns in Mozambique’s northern-most region, with even more deadly results. Ansar-al-Sunna fighters have specifically targeted foreign workers.

Now the ITF is extending the NMU’s call to all the world’s ship owners to steer clear of the conflict area, and to issue instructions to their ship management firms and manning agencies to do likewise.

“The security situation in Cabo Delgado is dire,” said Johnny Hansen, president of the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union, which is one of the three unions that form the NMU. He added: “Foreign workers are being targeted by terrorists, and seafarers will be no exception. Their lives are in danger.”

He added: “Asking seafarers to come ashore, to stay in Covid quarantine facilities, while the volatile situation happening outside risks their very lives. That is unacceptable. Seafarers could be killed or taken hostage on their way to airports and harbours.”

In conclusion he said: “All we are asking for is that the owners of ships serving northern Mozambique make alternative plans so that their crew changes can take place elsewhere, somewhere safer.”

Hansen said that while the union’s proposal does not solve the conflict or abate the violence being felt inflicted the local people, it was an important step to avoid hostage-taking becoming a viable revenue stream for the armed groups.

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


Edited by Paul Ridgway

Comment: Does much crew changing actually take place in northern Mozambique, say at any point further north of the port of Nacala? Which leaves only the port of Pemba as being reasonably close to the terrorist activity in Cabo Delgado. Until now Pemba and its immediate surroundings has remained free of any insurgency activity. Perhaps readers may have more information.

Added 29 June 2021


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IN CONVERSATION: Kenya’s huge railway project is causing environmental damage. Here’s how

Impalas walk near the elevated Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) in Nairobi National Park, Kenya. YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

Tobias Nyumba, University of Nairobi

Kenya is constructing a railway line that connects the coastal port of Mombasa and the interior of the country. It is expected to terminate at Malaba, a town on the border with Uganda, and link up with other railways that are being built in East Africa. It’s locally known as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

The passenger and freight railway line is one of the biggest infrastructure investments in Kenya’s history. Construction began in 2014 at an estimated cost of US$3.8 billion, 90% of which is supplied by a loan from the Export-Import (Exim) Bank of China and 10% from the Kenyan government.

Although the actual land area affected by the railway itself is small, parts of it are raised and it cuts through a wide range of the country’s ecologically fragile and important ecosystems. For instance, the railway cuts across Tsavo Conservation Area (which supports about 40% of Kenya’s elephant population) and the Nairobi National Park. It also traverses range lands in southern Kenya that support pastoral communities and are vulnerable to the impacts of climate and changes in land use.

My colleagues and I carried out a study to gain insights into all the impacts the railway was having on the environment.

The construction of the railway is being done in three phases. The first two phases (now completed) cover 610km. The third phase is still under construction. Our study focused along the entire stretch of the first two phases, covering eight counties from Mombasa to Narok.

Map of the railway corridor.

The project involves many stakeholders including various levels of government (such as the National Environment Management Authority and Kenya Wildlife Service), local communities, civil society organisations and the private sector. For our study, we hosted group interviews and meetings with 54 key informants from all these sectors.

We found that the construction and operation of the railways has degraded, fragmented and destroyed key ecosystems. It increased soil erosion, land degradation, flooding and habitat destruction. It also affected water bodies and wildlife movement.

Environmental impact assessments for the railway were conducted, and these are of an international standard. The final reports, which included recommendations, were written to facilitate licensing by the National Environment Management Authority, the government regulator.

However, it’s become clear that the recommendations weren’t fully implemented. Several observers identified a lack of funding, technical capacity and political interference as some of the barriers.

Project proponents must develop measures that properly mitigate the key ecosystem challenges and ensure they’re enforced.

Impact on land

Participants in our study identified that the railway line had an impact on soil, water and air contamination, during construction and operation of the line.

During construction, soil was compacted and excavated. It was also moved from one location to another to erect embankments. This has many effects on the environment. For instance, Community Forest Association officials (around the coastal mangrove forests in Mombasa) observed that sediment, eroded from the rail embankments, affected streams and plants. They said that:

not only did it affect mangroves seed development and self-germination but also blocked streams and reduced the stream size…

Another challenge was that underpasses were built to allow for movement under the railway. This is because the railway is raised. But these underpasses redirected surface water and rainfall courses. Respondents from Narok county observed that this led to erosion, leading to the siltation of water sources, including Lake Magadi – a unique saline, alkaline lake which is surrounded by wildlife and a major source of trona. This is a sodium carbonate compound that is processed into soda ash or bicarbonate of soda.

Another impact was the blasting of land for construction material. Communities around Nairobi said that this caused tremors, sometimes causing buildings to crack.


Floods have been a major challenge. To avoid cutting through the railway embankments, contractors rerouted natural surface water flows (such as streams) to the underpasses.

But this led to increases in the volume and speed of the water flow which caused flooding and soil erosion. This was compounded by the clearing of surrounding vegetation, which would usually slow water down.

In Voi, county officials explained how storm water flooded low lying homesteads and farms during heavy rains.

A blocked river in Kitengela.

In addition, silt from construction led to the blockage or drying up of rivers, notably the Empakashe and Mbagathi rivers around Nairobi. Most communities in these areas rely on the rivers for domestic consumption, watering their livestock and irrigation agriculture.


Another concern was oil spills. These occurred due to fuel transport accidents and because of train and railway maintenance activities.

For instance, local officials in Kibwezi County said that an oil spill polluted the Thange River. Now the river can’t be used for irrigation or domestic purposes. The land in the affected area is still unsafe for cultivation.

Noise pollution was also reported during construction and operation of the railway, particularly in the areas around Nairobi and Voi. Some communities were unable to sleep and school classes were disrupted due to the noise levels.

Dust pollution was an additional challenge. There were reports of coughs and chest pain.

Communities relying on wetlands and rivers in Voi, Kibwezi, Tuala and Narok areas lost access to some of these critical resources, and the long-term prospects are unclear.

An additional impact of the railway was the emergence of illegal activities, such as grazing in protected areas.

Officials of the Kenya Wildlife Service observed that:

local communities {were} using the underpasses to pass their livestock through to Tsavo National Park particularly around Buchuma gate.

The livestock incursions resulted in serious soil degradation in the southern part of Tsavo East.

Wildlife was also affected. About 120km of the line traverses through a key wildlife area, Kenya’s Tsavo National Park.

We learnt that elephants displayed early signs of behavioural modification. This included aggression and avoidance of the railway area.

These are consistent with behavioural adaptations observed among other species which shift their home ranges or alter their movement patterns due to infrastructure.

What next

Linear infrastructure projects like the railway must develop sustainable and ecologically sensitive measures to mitigate these impacts.

For example, underpasses must be at the right density and of the right size. At present, the underpasses are few and are located in areas not used regularly by wildlife.

In addition, water courses should be channelled and redirected to avoid flooding.

Furthermore another full assessment, involving all stakeholders, is needed of the environmental impacts of the railway. This is key to designing a sustainable railway. It must ensure that development gains are maximised while the ecosystem impacts are minimised.The Conversation

Tobias Nyumba, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Nairobi

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

Added 29 June 2021


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WHARF TALK: Bulker MEDI HIROSHIMA calling at five ports in Southern Africa

The bulk carrier Medi Hiroshima which has delivered wheat to five southern African ports. Picture by 'Dockrat' and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The bulk carrier Medi Hiroshima which has delivered wheat to five southern African ports. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

How many ports need to be visited in one country to discharge a single source, single item cargo from a five hold bulk carrier? One or two might be the usual answer, but in this case the answer is five, or the equivalent of the contents of one hold for each port visited.

On 19 June at 23h00 the Ultramax bulk carrier MEDI HIROSHIMA (IMO 9874973) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage and remained out at anchor until 21 June at 10H00, when she entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded to B berth in the Duncan Dock. She was scheduled to offload a modest parcel of just 3,600 tons of wheat at Cape Town.

However, she had loaded a full cargo of wheat at Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, back in late April and had sailed from Brisbane on 2 May. So the question was where had she been in the 48 days since she had sailed from the Queensland port? The answer is that she had to drop off other parcels of her bulk cargo elsewhere whilst en-route to the Cape.

After a 28 day ocean passage, Medi Hiroshima arrived at Richards Bay on 30 May and proceeded to Berth 606 to begin her epic Southern African offload. She sailed on 7 June to her second port, and arrived at Maputo on 8 June to continue her offload, completing on 11 June, when she then sailed for her third port, Durban, where she arrived on 12 June. After a short 24 hour offload, she sailed from Durban on 13 June for her fourth port, and arrived at East London on 14 June. After a four day offload on the Buffalo River, she sailed for her final and fifth Southern African port, arriving at the Cape Town anchorage on 19 June.

Picture by 'Dockrat' featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Picture by ‘Dockrat’

A relatively newbuild, Medi Hiroshima was built in 2020 by the Iwagi Zosen Shipyard at Kamijima in Japan. She is 199 metres in length and has a deadweight of 63,371 tons. Powered by a single Mitsui MAN-B&W 6S50ME-B9 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine providing 14,322 bhp (10,680 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots. She has 3 auxiliary engines and an emergency generator providing 2,370 kVA, and a single Miura vertical boiler.

Owned by Kinriki Kisen of Imabari in Japan, Medi Hiroshima is operated and managed by the d’Amico SDN Group of Rome. Her odyssey around the Southern African coast was not yet over. Typical Cape winter weather woes delayed the completion of her small wheat offload in Cape Town, and she finally sailed from there at 21h00 on 27 June. Now in ballast, she is now en-route for Richards Bay, presumably to take on an export bulk cargo from that port.

Loading of her original Southern African bound cargo of Australian wheat from Brisbane was unusual. In terms of Australian export tonnage, Queensland is the smallest producer of grain, of which only 37% of that is wheat. It is also the smallest Australian state exporter with wheat exports totaling only approximately 1 million tons per annum, which is only the equivalent of 4% of Australia’s total bulk wheat export shipments, with only 4% of that national total being exported to Africa.

Queensland operates only four bulk grain port terminal facilities, with one in Gladstone, one in Mackay and two in Brisbane itself. Graincorp operates three of these terminals, with one in each port, and the second Brisbane terminal being operated by Queensland Bulk Terminals. Graincorp’s dominant position means that it is responsible for 87% of all grain shipments from Queensland, with 32% of that total being exported from Brisbane. Sorghum makes up the majority tonnage of Queensland bulk grain exports.

Added 29 June 2021


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Mercy Ships’ GLOBAL MERCY is delivered from builders

Global Mercy during the handing over day ceremony as featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Global Mercy during the handing over day ceremony

Stena RoRo delivers world’s largest civilian hospital vessel, Global Mercy™ for Mercy Ships

Following a handing-over ceremony at the shipyard in China, the world’s largest civilian hospital ship, the GLOBAL MERCY, has been delivered to the charity organisation Mercy Ships.

The maiden voyage is to Europe where the Global Mercy will be further outfitted before the ship continues to Senegal for her first contribution to Mercy Ship’s important work in providing life-changing healthcare to the world’s poorest.

The Global Mercy has been built at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard in northern China under the project management of Stena RoRo since 2013.

“We are very proud to take delivery of this special ship,” said Per Westling, managing director for Stena RoRo. “The activities to be carried out on board have placed certain special and stringent demands on shipbuilding. For the shipyard, it was the first time they had built a vessel of this type – a challenge they have managed extremely well.

“For Mercy Ships, the delivery means that their capacity to provide care has more than doubled, and at Stena RoRo we are happy to be a part of their fantastic work through the construction of the Global Mercy.”

The journey to Senegal has begun

The ship’s captain is Taylor Perez. Together with a crew recruited by the Stena company Northern Marine Manning Services and flown to China, he is now sailing the Global Mercy on her maiden voyage to Belgium, where over the course of a few months she will be staffed with volunteers and have the last of the medical equipment installed.

Global Mercy will then continue to Rotterdam to be presented to sponsors, future volunteers, the media and other interested parties. After that, the Global Mercy will be ready to sail to West Africa for service at Dakar in Senegal.

Global Mercy during her sea trials and prior to handing over, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Global Mercy during her sea trials and prior to handing over

Mercy Ships makes a big difference for many people

Mercy Ships provides free healthcare to the world’s poorest. The Global Mercy has among other things, six operating theatres, beds for 200 people, a laboratory, and eye clinic. The ship is the first to have been designed and built for the specific needs of the organization.

Previous vessels were built for other operations and converted into hospital ships. One of these was AFRICA MERCY, which readers may recall was drydocked in Durban in September 2010, was a former rail and passenger ferry. The ship spent several months at the SA Shipyards (now Sandock Austral) undergoing mechanical replacement and refit, before sailing for hospital work in Madagascar.

Mercy Ships, whose work is based on the efforts of volunteers from all over the world, also contributes to the establishment of local skills and the infrastructure for medical care by training local healthcare personnel in the host countries. Due to this, the Global Mercy is also equipped with first-class training facilities.

A global project under Swedish management

The project with Global Mercy started back in 2013. Swedish Stena RoRo has been responsible for the design, contracting and execution of the unique and global project. French Barry Rogliano Salles, BRS, has served as the broker, detailed design was by Finnish Deltamarin and construction has been carried out at the Tianjin Xingang shipyard in China.

The Global Mercy, classified by Lloyd’s Register in the United Kingdom, will sail under the Maltese flag and operate along the coast of Africa.

The ship is rated for passenger traffic and, when in port, can accommodate 950 people including a crew of 641.

Global Mercy on the handing over day featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Global Mercy Technical

Length: 174 metres
Beam: 28.6
Draught: 6.15
Gross tonnage: 37,000 tonnes
Deadweight: 5,448 tonnes
Total area, interior: 30,000 square metres

Class and type: Hospital Ship
Length: 174 m
Beam: 28.6 m
Draft: 6.15 m
Decks: 12
Installed power: 4 x Wärtsilä 6L32 diesels
Propulsion: 2 x ABB Azipod CO propellers
Speed: 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Capacity: 641

Watch a short video about the ‘Floating Society’  – CLICK HERE

Added 29 June 2021


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IN CONVERSATION: How palm oil became the world’s most hated, most used fat source

Almost all the world’s production of Palm Oil is transported by sea

Oil palm fruit in North Aceh, Indonesia. Fachrul Reza / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Jonathan E. Robins, Michigan Technological University

Palm oil is everywhere today: in food, soap, lipstick, even newspaper ink. It’s been called the world’s most hated crop because of its association with deforestation in Southeast Asia. But despite boycott campaigns, the world uses more palm oil than any other vegetable oil – over 73 million tons in 2020.

That’s because palm oil is cheap. The plant that makes it, the African oil palm, can produce up to 10 times more oil per hectare than soybeans.

But as my new book on palm oil’s history shows, this controversial commodity hasn’t always been cheap. It became that way thanks to legacies of colonialism and exploitation that still shape today’s industry and that make it challenging to shift palm oil onto a more sustainable path.

Palm oil and its derivatives are ubiquitous in consumer products but can appear under hundreds of names, such as glyceryl and sodium lauryl sulfate.

From slavery to skin care

Palm oil has long been a staple food in a region stretching from Senegal to Angola along Africa’s western coast. It entered the global economy in the 1500s aboard ships engaged in the transatlantic slave trade.

During the deadly “middle passage” across the Atlantic, palm oil was a valued food that kept captives alive. As the author of a 1711 book noted, traders also smeared captives’ skin with palm oil to make them “look smooth, sleek, and young” before sending them to the auction block.

By the mid-1600s, Europeans were rubbing palm oil on their own skin, too. European writers, learning from African medicinal practices, claimed that palm oil “does the greatest cures upon such, as have bruises or strains on their bodies.” By the 1790s, British entrepreneurs were adding palm oil to soap for its reddish-orange color and violetlike scent.

Cakes of Sunlight Soap with vintage wrapper.
Lever’s Sunlight Soap, introduced in the 1880s, got its tint from palm oil.  SSPL vis Getty Images

After Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807, traders sought out legal products. In the following decades Britain slashed tariffs on palm oil and encouraged African states to focus on producing it. By 1840, palm oil was cheap enough to completely replace tallow or whale oil in such products as soap and candles.

As palm oil became increasingly common, it lost its reputation as a luxurious good. Exporters made it even cheaper with labor-saving methods that allowed palm fruit to ferment and soften, though the results were rancid. European buyers, in turn, applied new chemical processes to strip away foul odors and colors. The result was a bland substance that could be freely substituted for more expensive fats and oils.

Sketch of men pounding oil palm fruit with sticks
‘The Production of Palm Oil,’ by Édouard Auguste Nousveaux, 1844.  Metropolitan Museum of Art

Palm oil colonialism

By 1900, a new industry was gobbling up all kinds of oils: Margarine was invented in 1869 by the French chemist Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès as a cheap alternative to butter. It soon became a mainstay of working-class diets in Europe and North America.

Palm oil was first used to dye margarine yellow, but it turned out to be a perfect main ingredient because it stayed firm at room temperature and melted in the mouth, just like butter.

Margarine and soap magnates like Britain’s William Lever looked to Europe’s colonies in Africa for larger quantities of fresher, edible palm oil. However, African communities often refused to provide land for foreign companies because making oil by hand was still profitable for them. Colonial oil producers resorted to government coercion and outright violence to find labor.

They had more success in Southeast Asia, where they created a new oil palm plantation industry. Colonial rulers there gave plantation companies nearly unlimited access to land. The companies hired “coolies” – a derogatory European term for migrant workers from southern India, Indonesia and China, based on the Hindi word Kuli, an aboriginal tribal name, or the Tamil word kuli, for “wages.” These labourers toiled under coercive, low-paying contracts and discriminatory laws.

Two men with a large bunch of palm fruit suspended from a pole.
Two workers carry a large bunch of oil palm fruit on a Sumatran plantation around 1922. J.W. Meijster, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, CC BY

The oil palm itself also adapted to its new locale. While scattered palms grew to towering heights on African farms, in Asia they remained short in tight, orderly plantations that were easier to harvest efficiently. By 1940, plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia were exporting more palm oil than all of Africa.

A golden gift?

When Indonesia and Malaysia gained independence after World War II, plantation companies retained their access to cheap land. Indonesian authorities dubbed palm oil from their fast-growing plantation industry a “golden gift to the world.”

Palm oil consumption grew as competitors dropped away: first whale oil in the 1960s, then fats like tallow and lard. In the 1970s and 1980s, health concerns about tropical oils such as coconut and palm undercut demand in Europe and North America. But developing countries snapped up palm oil for frying and baking.

Plantations expanded to meet the demand. They kept costs down by recruiting poorly paid and often undocumented migrant workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal, reproducing some of the abusive practices of the colonial era.

In the 1990s, U.S. and EU regulators moved to ban unhealthy trans fat, a type of fat found in partially hydrogenated oils, from foods. Manufacturers turned to palm oil as a cheap and effective substitute. From 2000 through 2020, EU palm oil imports more than doubled, while U.S. imports shot up almost tenfold. Many consumers didn’t even notice the switch.

Because palm oil was so inexpensive, manufacturers found new uses for it, such as replacing petroleum-based chemicals in soaps and cosmetics. It also became a biodiesel feedstock in Asia, although research suggests that making biodiesel from palms grown on newly cleared land increases greenhouse gas emissions instead of reducing them.

The EU is phasing out palm oil biofuels because of concerns over deforestation. Undeterred, Indonesia is working to increase the palm component in its biodiesel, which it markets as “Green Diesel,” and to develop other palm-based biofuels.

Boycott or reform?

Today there are enough oil palm plantations worldwide to cover an area larger than the state of Kansas, and the industry is still growing. It is concentrated in Asia, but plantations are spreading in Africa and Latin America. A 2019 investigation of one company in the Democratic Republic of Congo found dangerous conditions and abusive labor practices that echoed colonial-era palm oil projects.

Endangered animals have received more press. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, tropical forest clearing for oil palm plantations threatens nearly 200 at-risk species, including orangutans, tigers and African forest elephants.

However, the IUCN and many other advocates argue that shifting away from palm oil is not the answer. Since oil palm is so productive, they contend, switching to other oil crops could cause even more harm because it would require more land to cultivate substitutes.

There are more just and sustainable ways to make palm oil. Studies show that small-scale agroforestry techniques, like those historically practiced in Africa and among Afro-descendant communities in South America, offer cost-effective ways to produce palm oil while protecting the environment.

The question is whether enough consumers care. Over 20% of palm oil produced in 2020 received certification from the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, a nonprofit that includes oil palm producers and processors, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and advocacy groups. But barely half of it found buyers willing to pay a premium for sustainability. Until this changes, vulnerable communities and ecosystems will continue to bear the costs of cheap palm oil.

[You’re smart and curious about the world. So are The Conversation’s authors and editors. You can read us daily by subscribing to our newsletter.]The Conversation

Jonathan E. Robins, Associate Professor of Global History, Michigan Technological University

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

Added 28 June 2021


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New vessel brings Furetank to the UN 2050 climate goal

Fure Viten, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Fure Viten

Furetank reported on 22 June that its new build FURE VITEN (IMO 9898204) had left the Yangzhou shipyard: a 17,999-dwt tanker with a cargo capacity of 20,300 cubic metres. It is a milestone for Swedish Furetank Rederi AB, but also an international flagship event concerning environment and climate.

IMO regulates emissions from new vessels through the EEDI energy efficiency design index, where a lower value means fewer emissions. Today, the requirement for a vessel the size of Fure Viten is to reach below 9.37 points, but Fure Viten reached a value as low as 4.65 points: the best result achieved in the size segment so far, it was reported.

Lars Höglund, CEO of Furetank commented: “We will operate the ships we build now for the coming 20 years, so we have put a lot of effort into investigating what is the best possible technology that we can invest in today. Climate change is a reality and we believe that politicians mean what they say. Thus, if we are to survive as a shipping company in the future, we must do our absolute best to reduce our climate and environmental impact.”

All systems energy-optimised

Fure Viten is the latest vessel in a series of eight vessels so far, out of which Furetank owns four and commercially operates all. The series is designed by Furetank and FKAB Marine Design in collaboration with Wärtsilä, with the aim of reducing fuel consumption as much as possible. Throughout the design and construction process, energy efficiency has been increased and the EEDI value improved.

Höglund added: “We have developed ships since the 1980s and used our entire experience to optimise every detail. There is not a single system that we haven’t improved. This combination of interacting, energy-saving technical solutions is unique.”

For example, batteries help reduce the use of auxiliary engines, a ducted propeller increases thrust and reduces power requirement, an improved hull shape minimizes drag, and the main engine and shaft generator use variable frequency to increase propeller efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

Gas propulsion brings great benefits

The eight dual fuel vessels will be operated with LBG (liquefied biogas) or LNG (liquefied natural gas). Gas propulsion provides major climate, environmental and health benefits compared to oil. In combination with the technical optimisations, emissions of climate-affecting carbon dioxide have been reduced by 55% compared to older vessels and eutrophic nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 86%. Emissions of acidifying sulphur oxide (SOx) and hazardous particles (PM) are known to be completely eliminated.

In conclusion Höglund added: “The next step will be to operate the ships completely without fossil fuels. We are in the process of securing the supply of larger quantities of biogas within a year or so, through an exclusive agreement with a supplier. My view is that in 2030 we will run these vessels largely on LBG with zero fossil emissions.”

First in Europe with full shore power

Fure Viten and preceding sister vessel Fure Vinga are the first tankers in Europe fully equipped to operate the energy-demanding cargo pumps with 6.6 kV high voltage shore power. This will reduce emissions even further as soon as ports offer the opportunity.

The method is being developed in collaboration with the ports of Gothenburg and Rotterdam, currently in the process of developing the full capacity power connection required to operate the pumps. An important effort, as the emissions in port can account for up to 20% of total emissions from a tanker, in an environment that is often even more sensitive to pollution and noise than the sea.

Reaches UN target for 2050

With the delivery of Fure Viten, the average carbon dioxide emissions from Furetank’s intermediate fleet have been decreased by 50% compared to 2008. Already today the vessel series fulfils its part of the IMO’s total emission target for the world fleet: to halve emissions up to year 2050.

Fure Viten, technical details

Deadweight: 17,999 tons
Load capacity: 20,300 cubic
Tanks: 12
Design: Furetank & FKAB Marine Design
Shipyard: China Merchants Jinling Shipyard Dingheng Co Ltd
Commercial manager: Furetank Chartering within the Gothia Tanker Alliance
Flag: Sweden
Ice class: 1A
Fuels: Dual fuel, LBG / LNG
EEDI value: 4.65

Ship film diary

Readers wishing to join Fure Viten’s maiden voyage are invited to follow the ship diary where after time spent in quarantine in a Beijing hotel the crew report on the delivery voyage from the shipyard in China to Europe:  CLICK HERE


Furetank, based on Donsö in the Gothenburg archipelago, is a Swedish, family-owned shipping company active in tanker shipping since the early 1950s. Furetank operates nine owned vessels and is a founding member of the Gothia Tanker Alliance, a market platform for small and intermediate product tankers, operating 40 vessels in European waters. We are not a giant but a leader – continuously striving to adopt green solutions for environment and climate.

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


Reported by Paul Ridgway


Added 28 June 2021


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Meet Canus Ebinipre Robinson, Nigeria’s first female tugmaster

Captain Canus Ebinipre Robinson, Nigeria's first female tugmaster, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Captain Canus Ebinipre Robinson, Nigeria’s first female tugmaster

Nigeria’s first female tugmaster is Meet Canus Ebinipre Robinson, Nigeria’s first female tugmaster, who has completed her training in the Philippines.

Robinson was trained on the Azimuth Stern Drive (ASD) tugboat under the National Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP) introduced by the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA). After completing her training in the Philippines, she gained seatime experience with her employer, LTT Coastal & Marine Services.

LTT Coastal & Marine Services manages the Nigerian Ports Authority’s various marine craft.

During a function held at the Continental Shipyard in Apapa, Lagos, Acting Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the NPA will continue to empower and provide opportunities for women in the maritime industry and to nurture young women maritime professionals.

Bello-Koko said the emergence of the first female tugboat captain in West Africa from Nigeria was an ‘uncommon feat’ that “stood as a challenge to other young ladies to aspire to achieve greater heights, not because of their gender but because of their capacity.

“If we must optimise the ever growing potential and dynamism of the global port system, we must create an atmosphere
conducive for increased participation of women in port operations,” he said, adding that the NPA places a high premium on gender in the overall talent development agenda.

He said that of the 23 General Managers at the NPA, six are women and this was just the start.

The Human Resources Manager at LTT Coastal & Marine Services, Theodora Nwaeze, said, “History is made today as we celebrate the first female ASD Tugboat Captain – Miss Canus Ebinipre Robinson.”

Captain Robinson is from Nigeria’s Bayelsa State and is a product of the National Seafarers Development Programme, promoted by NIMASA.

Added 28 June 2021


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Ghana Maritime Authority enters into e-Navigation partnership with Sternula

Meridan Terminal 3 at Port of Tema, Ghana, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Meridan Terminal 3 at Port of Tema, Ghana.   Picture: MPS

Satellite-Based VDES to Strengthen the Maritime Sector in West Africa

Denmark’s commercial satellite operator Sternula has just entered a new partnership with the Ghana Maritime Authority (GHA) in which a satellite-based VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) will be used for enhancing navigational and safety-related purposes in Ghanaian waters – a service that is in increasing demand globally.

It forms part of an ambitious plan to strengthen Ghana as a maritime forerunner in West Africa.

The new agreement is part of a strategic sector cooperation between Danish and Ghanaian maritime authorities and serves the purpose of strengthening the maritime sector in Ghana and West Africa.

Ghana Maritime Authority

More specifically, the Ghana Maritime Authority will be using Sternula’s e-Navigation connectivity service – a VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) solution – enabling reliable and accurate maritime navigational warnings to seafarers by the local authorities, while enhancing safety in Ghanaian waters.

“Naturally, we are very satisfied with the new agreement that will contribute to the positive maritime development of Ghana,” said CEO at Sternula, Lars Moltsen. “Almost 90 per cent of West Africa’s trade is handled by sea, so we see a great potential in implementing our satellite-based e-Navigation technology to boost the entire Ghanaian maritime sector.”

As one of Africa’s leading seafaring nations, Ghana is attracting more and more merchant traffic in and around the country’s largest ports. Therefore, it has become of governmental interest to integrate new technology to improve safety as well as efficiency of maritime trade and transport along the Ghanaian coast.

The Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Thomas Alonsi, said that in line with the GHA’s ambitious goals, they were entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the first Danish satellite-provider in advanced micro-satellites. “This marks the beginning of a new partnership that could lead to the deployment of cutting edge technologies in our maritime domain,” he said.

“Under the agreement, the Ghana Maritime Authority will be testing Sternula’s e-Navigation connectivity service – a VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) solution – enabling reliable and accurate Maritime Safety Information (MSI) warnings to be sent to seafarers by local authorities to enhance safety in our waters.

“This, it is envisaged, will help Ghana to gain a better and more accurate picture of the traffic in our waters, which – in these times of maritime insecurity – is an urgent necessity,” he added.

Sternula banner displayed on Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Global Demand for Satellite-Based VDES Services

While the maritime sector is becoming increasingly digitized, the interest in so-called e-Navigation, including VDES, has seen a rise. Recently, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) launched an e-Navigation Implementation Plan Strategy in which digital solutions will play a vital role in enhancing maritime purposes.

The e-Navigation strategy implementation plan was formalised under IMO several years ago. VDES is a new communications technology and a key element in realising e-Navigation,” project coordinator at the Danish Maritime Authority, Christopher Saarnak, explained.

“It will help both Danish and Ghanaian maritime authorities to interact with ships in these waters for a number of purposes, such as port calls and distribution of critical information without the need for internet onboard the ships.”

World’s first VDES satellite network

Sternula is currently building the world’s first VDES satellite network, which will be commercially available to maritime service providers and authorities. VDES is a new communication technology built on the capabilities of the well-known AIS technology, which supports the development of e-Navigation solutions.

“Unstable navigational coverage is often a challenge for maritime authorities in countries with infrastructural insufficiencies,” said Sternula CEO, Lars Moltsen. “Therefore, it has become natural to look towards digital services, such as satellite-based VDES, which can provide more stable, fast, and reliable coverage at much lower cost to ship owners and authorities, thus improving maritime safety and efficiency.”

He said that, simultaneously, the COVID-19 situation has shown how digital solutions can prove beneficial in maritime activities that would normally require physical presence, such as onboard inspections. “With VDES satellite services, authorities can communicate with vessels in areas with otherwise limited coverage without being physically present in the area.”

Extension of AIS technology

As an extension of AIS technology, VDES is expected to become mandatory under the Safety-of-Life-at-Sea (SOLAS) convention by the IMO. Therefore, said Moltsen, seafaring countries, such as Ghana, should start adapting to future technologies.

“Ghana is a great example of a leading maritime nation in its region that has an urgent need to implement SOLAS defined services in a future-proof manner. As the technological advancement continues and regulatory standards change, more and more countries need to embrace the digital development to secure a sufficient infrastructural backbone in the maritime area. It shows that the digital transformation has no intentions of abating.”

Watch short video [1:52[ about Sternula:

Sternula, which is Denmark’s first commercial satellite operator, will be offerings its VDE-SAT infrastructure enabling VDES on a global scale from 2023. Sternula offers a global VDE-SAT connectivity for maritime authorities and industries using its own fleet of advanced micro satellites in Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) which will be operational from 2022.


The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) is working towards harmonisation of Aids-to-Navigation and helps coastal nations to implement IMO and IALA standards. Deputy Secretary-General, IALA/AISM, Omar Frits Eriksson, said that IALA has been actively working for the standardisation of VDES, which they see as a technology that makes it much easier for maritime authorities to claim conformance to such standards.

Added 28 June 2021


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DP World’s new terminal at Berbera Port, Somaliland

DP World and Somaliland’s new terminal at Berbera Port. Pictures courtesy DP World, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
DP World and Somaliland’s new terminal at Berbera Port. Pictures courtesy DP World

An expanded port, economic zone and Berbera corridor will transform Berbera into an integrated maritime, industrial and logistics hub in the Horn of Africa, it is forecast. Berbera Economic Zone under development aims to attract investment, new businesses and create jobs.

It was announced from Berbera, Somaliland, on 25 June that Berbera Port’s new container terminal has been inaugurated. It has capacity for 500,000 TEU a year; the second phase expansion of the terminal will increase capacity up to two million TEU a year.

The new terminal was officially opened by HE Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, and Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, at a special event attended by over 200 guests, including a Government delegation from Ethiopia, led by Their Excellencies Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance and Dagmawit Moges, Minister of Transport. The event also included a symbolic ground-breaking for the new Berbera Economic Zone, the first phase of which is under construction.

The new container terminal with a deep draft of 17m, a quay of 400m and three ship-to-shore (STS) gantry cranes, can handle the largest container vessels in operation today, and increases the port’s container capacity from current 150,000 TEU to 500,000 TEU annually. The terminal also includes a modern container yard with eight rubber tyred gantry cranes (RTGs). A new port One Stop Service Centre is currently being built and will be ready in quarter three this year.

DP World has committed to investing up to US$442 million to develop and expand Berbera Port, and with the first phase now complete, Ahmed bin Sulayem also announced that work is already underway to further expand the port in a second phase. This includes extending the new quay from 400 to 1,000 metres, and installing a further seven STS gantry cranes, increasing the total from three to ten, enabling the port to handle up to two million TEU a year, and several large container vessels at the same time.

Part of the overall Berbera plan and modelled on DP World’s Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai, the economic zone is linked to the port and strategically located along the Berbera to Wajaale road (the Berbera Corridor). The economic zone will serve as a centre of trade with the aim to attract investment and create jobs, and will target a range of industries, including warehousing, logistics, traders, manufacturers, and other related sectors. It will allow producers, suppliers, and customers to operate in a conducive and competitive environment for investment and trade.

The Berbera Corridor road upgrade project, funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Hargeisa Bypass Road funded by UK Aid, is set for completion in Q4 of 2021 and Q3 of 2022, respectively. The road will link to the existing modern highway on the Ethiopian side and position Berbera as a direct, fast, and efficient trade route for Ethiopian transit cargo.

HE Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, said: ‘This is a proud and historic moment for Somaliland and its people, as the completion of the first phase has made our vision of establishing Berbera with its strategic location into a major trade hub in the region a reality. With the new terminal, along with the second phase of expansion and economic zone along the Berbera corridor, we are now firmly positioned to further develop and grow our economy through increased trade, attracting foreign direct investment and creating jobs.’

Left to Right: Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport, Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance Ethiopia, Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, and Mustafa Mohammed Omar, President of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia blowing air horns to officially mark the inauguration of the new container terminal at Berbera Port and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Left to Right: Dagmawit Moges, Ethiopia’s Minister of Transport, Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance Ethiopia, Muse Bihi Abdi, President of Somaliland, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, and Mustafa Mohammed Omar, President of the Somali Regional State in Ethiopia blowing air horns to officially mark the inauguration of the new container terminal at Berbera Port

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DP World Group Chairman and CEO, added: ‘Our further expansion of the port in a second phase, and its integration with the special economic zone we are developing along the Berbera Corridor, reflects our confidence in Berbera and intent to develop it into a significant, world-class centre of trade. It will be a viable, efficient and competitive option for trade in the region, especially for Ethiopian transit cargo.’

DP World Berbera, which began operations at the port in March 2017, has since increased volumes by 35% and vessel productivity by 300%, and reduced container vessel waiting time from four to five days, to only a few hours.

DP World and the Ethiopian Ministry of Transport signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May this year, with the aim of developing the Ethiopian side of the road linking Addis Ababa to Berbera, into one of the major trade and logistics corridors of the country’s international trade routes.

About DP World

DP World has an interconnected global network of 148 business units in 60 countries across six continents, with a significant presence both in high-growth and mature markets. It has a diverse and professional team of more than 54,620 employees from 137 nationalities.

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


Reported by Paul Ridgway


Added 27 June 2021


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More unrest reported from Palma

These were among the lucky ones able to flee from the Afungi Peninsula in March this year. Thousands of other refugees have also made their way to safety further south but more thousands remain stranded in the district, unable for lack of money to buy a passage on board the small vessels that continue to carry local people to safety in Pemba
These were among the lucky ones able to flee from the Afungi Peninsula in March this year. Thousands of other refugees have also made their way to safety further south but more thousands remain stranded in the district, unable for lack of money to buy a passage on board the small vessels that continue to carry local people to safety in Pemba

On Wednesday last week (23 June 2021) it was being reported that thousands of people trying to escape the danger of remaining in Palma in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, were remaining next to the beaches near the town and awaiting rescue by sea – the only route possible for them to reach safety.

The Portuguese-language O País reported that almost every day, ships carrying hundreds of people displaced from Palma, were arriving in Pemba to the south. The report said that attacks by the insurgents have not stopped since 24 March this year.

In the first two days of last week, O País reported over 500 refugees, mostly women and children, had landed on Paquitequete beach in Pemba bay. For several months this year this beach has been the main arrival point for survivors of terrorism.

Refugees say that a number of villages in Palma district are completely abandoned and many others risk becoming so as a result of actions by the armed groups that continue to murder and kidnap civilians in the province. Beheadings are common.

“We are fleeing a war. There are beheadings every day, and shooting. It’s a real war and there is no signs of it ending soon,” said Salima Momade, displaced from Palma with her husband and arriving in Pemba with two bundles of belongings.

Apart from the fear of being killed, the survivors see themselves as escaping abduction by the armed group. “There are few people left in Palma. You hear gunfire there every day,” said Bacar Fumo, who arrived in Pemba with only half his family.

“They kidnapped five of my children, plus a woman with two children and two girls, all relatives,” he reported. Having escaped death, he continues to suffer in Pemba, living in the open on Paquitequete beach.

Another refugee said that most of the remaining population of Palma is concentrated in a village in the coastal area. They are unable to flee to Pemba for lack of money to pay for transport, which costs 2,500 meticais per person.

On arrival in Pemba those with no family in the provincial capital are forced to live on the beach, where they are greeted only by Defence and Security Force personnel, not by humanitarian organisations, as was previously the case.

When O País requested an update on the situation in Palma and Pemba, it received no response. source: O País




Meanwhile at the summit of SADC leaders held on Wednesday last week (23 June 2021), the summit endorsed the ‘recommendations of the Report of the Chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation and approved the mandate for the SADC Standby Force Mission to the Republic of Mozambique, to be deployed in support of Mozambique to combat of terrorism and acts of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado.’

It also urged the Member States in collaboration with Humanitarian Agencies to continue providing humanitarian support to the population affected by the terrorist attacks, including the internally displaced persons.

It was also reported that while the SADC leaders were meeting, clashes between the Mozambique security forces and the insurgents had broken out in Palma district, near the multi-million-dollar Afungi LNG gas site.

Security forces claimed the insurgents were repelled with air support, but one helicopter that was trying to deploy troops had to make an emergency landing because of ‘technical problems’. There was no indication of casualties.

Separate reports said the helicopter had been hit by small arms ground force fire and forced to crash land.

“Palma has been under attack since 21 June,” said the military source, based in the nearby town, without giving further details.

Earlier this year a leaked SADC document recommended sending around 3,000 soldiers to Cabo Delgado province, where insurgents have seized control of towns and villages, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes. The force would consist of three light infantry battalions supported by a pair of Special Forces squadrons.

In addition, according to the leaked document, the force would be supported by attack and transport helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft and a submarine.

It remains unclear whether this SADC Standby Force Mission would actually deploy to Cabo Delgado, given the reluctance until now of the Mozambicans to allow outside agencies other than private contractors (mercenaries).  source; SADC and other reports

Added 27 June 2021


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IMO’s World Maritime Day
25 June
Theme: A Fair Future for Seafarers

dDy of the Seafarers appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

On Day of the Seafarer 2021 IMO envisaged what a ‘Fair Future for Seafarers’ will look like

The Day of the Seafarer, held on 25 June every year, draws global attention to the contribution that seafarers make to world trade.

As the world slowly moves through the pandemic, it is more important than ever not only to acknowledge the efforts that seafarers have made to keeping the supply chain open despite extremely challenging conditions, but also to ensure that the future being built is one that is fair to them. This is why IMO’s 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign chose the theme: A Fair Future for Seafarers.

Continued restrictions

For a second year IMO marked this day as hundreds of thousands of seafarers continue to face restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Access to repatriation, shore leave and medical support all continue to be a challenge. Although there has been a significant reduction in the number of seafarers caught up in the crew change crisis, the numbers remain unacceptably high.

As key workers, seafarers should be entitled to priority vaccination and allowed to travel without restrictions. IMO continues to urge more IMO Member States to give seafarers their due and designate them as key workers.

Currently only 60 IMO Member States have designated seafarers as key workers.

IMO will continue to work with sister UN Agencies, industry and member states in support of seafarers.

Secretary-General’s message

IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim

In his message on the Day of the Seafarer, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said: “Our 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign builds on the progress to support seafarers on pandemic-related challenges. It aims to draw global attention to all areas where fairness is important. This includes a safe, secure environment on ships, reasonable working conditions, fair treatment in all situations, as well as respect for the rights of all – regardless of race, gender and religion.

“I am especially pleased that IMO will be amplifying the voices of seafarers themselves as they discuss what a fairer future would look like to them under the hashtag #FairFuture4Seafarers.

“Seafarers, we are listening – and we will make sure you are heard.”

Readers are invited to see IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim in the 2021 Day of the Seafarer video:  

And from the UN Secretary-General

In his message on the Day of the Seafarer, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: ‘Seafarers must be recognized as key workers who deliver an essential service, and be given access to transit and travel. Seafarers must also have equitable access to vaccines, as nobody is safe until everyone is safe…We must acknowledge that the future of world trade depends on the people who operate ships. All stakeholders must work together to ensure a fair future for seafarers.’

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


Reported by Paul Ridgway


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WHARF TALK: Award-winning tanker NOTOS VENTURE calls at Cape Town & Durban

Notos Venture. Picture by Etienne Verbeckmoes / MarineTraffic and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Notos Venture. Picture by Etienne Verberckmoes / MarineTraffic

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

It is not uncommon within shipping for a charterer to arrange for one cargo to be split, and discharged in more than one port, rather than the whole parcel being offloaded in one port only. This becomes quite apparent when following a number of bulk carriers as they voyage around the South African coast when discharging agri-products. The number of ports they call into can vary, as can the destinations themselves.

On 14 June at 14h00 the Handymax bulk carrier NOTOS VENTURE (IMO 9725902) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage from La Plata in Argentina. She remained at anchor for less than a day and entered Cape Town harbour on 15 June at 11h00, going straight to B berth in the Duncan Dock to begin an offload of a parcel of Soya Beans.

Notos Venture on her berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' ans featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Notos Venture on her berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

With her offload completed, Notos Venture sailed on 19 June at 14h00 with her next destination being Durban, where she arrived on 22 June at 19h00, and duly entered the harbour and proceeded to Maydon Wharf 5 to complete her discharge of Soya Beans. With her discharge complete she moved out to the Durban anchorage on 26 June at 16h00. This is not her first visit to Africa as she delivered a cargo to Mombasa in April of this year.

Built in 2017 by Qingshan Shipyard at Wuhan in China, Notos Venture is 190 metres in length and has a deadweight of 43,477 tons. She is powered by a Yinchang MAN-B&W 5S50ME-B9.3 5 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, providing 8,113 bhp (6,050 kW), which drives a fixed pitch propeller to give a service speed of 14 knots. She has three auxiliary engines providing 680 kW each.

One of twelve sisterships of the successful HBC 43 class of bulk carrier designed by Delta Marin, Notos Venture was sold to her current owners by her original owner, along with three other sisterships, whilst still on the stocks.

The distinctive bow shape on the bulk carrier Notos Venture. Picture by 'Dockrat' and featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The distinctive bow shape on the bulk carrier Notos Venture. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In 2017 the HBC 43 design won the ‘Energy Efficiency Award’ by Nor-Shipping because of the fact that the EEDI III requirements were met by this design some nine years before they became a requirement, rated at being 20% below the required limit, and achieving a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions. The HBC 43 design also won the International Bulk Journal ‘Bulk Ship of the Year Award’ in 2017. One very visible aspect of the highly environmental and energy efficient vessel design that stands out clearly is her extremely bluff bow.

The HBC 43 class of ships cost US$23 million each, and on completion of the last vessel in the series, the Qingshan Shipyard was closed by their owner in 2018. The four sisterships were acquired by their present owners, Sucden Armateurs SARL of Paris, and are operated and managed by Intership Navigation of Limassol in Cyprus.

In July 2019 the Notos Venture delivered a cargo of 23,000 tons of Soya Beans to Lorient in France. Whilst offloading was underway, tests made on the port conveyor offloading system showed a salmonella contamination. It was suspected that the salmonella had come from the soya bean cargo and offloading was immediately suspended.

The aft section or stern of the bulk carrier Notos Ventures, whise name means South Wind Venture. Picture by 'Dockrat' as featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The aft section or stern of the bulk carrier Notos Venture, whose name translates to South Wind Venture. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

All of her cargo was then offloaded directly into trucks, rather than onto the bulk conveyor system. The Soya Beans were then removed from the harbour and taken into isolation storage elsewhere, whilst further tests were carried out, and to await a decision by the French Agriculture and Health authorities to treat or destroy the cargo of beans.

The origin of her name is another one for the etymologists out there. Notos was the Greek God of the South wind. The three other sisterships of Notos Venture, all under Sucden ownership, are Eurus Venture, Boreas Venture and Zephyr Venture, where Eurus was the Greek God of the East wind, Boreas was the Greek God of the North wind and Zephyr was the Greek God of the West wind.

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IN CONVERSATION: Offshore gas finds offered major promise for Mozambique: what went wrong

The following report is slightly dated (31 March 2021) but in light of the current circumstances remains useful and worthy of a read or re-read.

People displaced by the atacks on the town of Palma, northern Mozambique, flee to safety with meagre possessions.  Alfredo Zuniga / AFP via Getty Images

Theo Neethling, University of the Free State

Recent events in Palma, a town in the volatile Cabo Delgado province in the north of Mozambique, have taken bloodshed in the region to new levels. Dozens of people were killed when hundreds of Islamist militants stormed the town on Wednesday, 25 March. They targeted shops, banks and a military barracks.

The attack has been devastating for the people living in the area – as well as the country. The escalating violence has already left at least a thousand dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

The conflict has put a temporary lid on plans that have been in the making for more than a decade since rich liquefied natural gas (LNG) deposits were discovered in the Rovuma Basin, just off the coast of Cabo Delgado. Western majors like Total, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and BP entered the Mozambique LNG industry as well as Japan’s Mitsui, Malaysia’s Petronas and China’s CNPC.

The gas projects are estimated to be worth US$60 billion in total. Some observers recently predicted that Mozambique could become one of the top ten LNG producers in the world.

The development of the projects had led to the area becoming a hive of economic activity.

The plan was for Palma to become a LNG manufacturing hub where hundreds of skilled workers would be located. And, more broadly, the hope was that it would drive the rapid advancement of a country that ranks close to the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. More than 70% of the population have been classified as “multidimensionally poor” by the United Nations Development Programme.

The LNG projects in the northern Cabo Delgado area represented a silver lining of hope. Since 2012 the major multinational energy companies have spent billions of dollars on developing the offshore gas sites. Today, offshore exploration in the Cabo Delgado area includes Africa’s three largest LNG projects. These are the Mozambique LNG Project (involving Total and previously Anadarko) worth $20 billion; the Coral FLNG Project (involving Eni and Exxon Mobil) worth $4.7 billion; and the Rovuma LNG Project (involving Exxon Mobil, Eni and CNPC) worth $30 billion.

Production was scheduled to start in 2024 but intensifying attacks near the gas site on the Afungi peninsula are now posing serious challenges to the production time lines.

There have been no material benefits for the people of Cabo Delgado thus far. Moreover, many local people feel deeply aggrieved because many were evicted and had to relocate soon after the discovery of gas in Cabo Delgado to make way for LNG infrastructure development.

History of instability

Cabo Delgado is Mozambique’s most northern province. Neglected over many years, the people who live there have been politically marginalised. And the area is underdeveloped.

Since independence in 1975 investment, and rising incomes, were largely confined to the capital Maputo in the south as well as the southern parts of the country.

In addition, the central government in Maputo has only had a fragile and precarious control over the territory and borders of the country. A 16-year civil war that involved clashes between the central government and Renamo, a militant organisation and political movement during the liberation struggle and now opposition party, claimed more than a million lives.

More recently, since 2017, the militant Islamic movement, Ansar al-Sunna, locally known as Al-Shabaab, has been active in Cabo Delgado. It now poses the biggest security threat in the country, rendering some of the northern parts almost ungovernable.

The militants took advantage of the Mozambican government’s failure to exercise control over the entire territory of the country.

Ansar al-Sunna reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in April 2018. It was acknowledged as an affiliate of ISIS-Core in August 2019. In view of this, the US Department of State has designated Ansar al-Sunna Mozambique, which it refers to as ISIS-Mozambique, as a foreign terrorist organisation.

What makes this armed force so significant is that the movement has orchestrated a series of large scale and targeted attacks. In 2020 this led to the temporary capturing of the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado.

In addition, the turbulence caused by the militants’ attacks has displaced nearly 670,000 people within northern Mozambique. Obviously, foreign companies in the LNG industry with their considerable investments feel threatened, especially at the current stage where final investment decisions have to be taken.

In recent months the situation in Cabo Delgado has gone from bad to worse. In November 2020, dozens of people were reportedly beheaded by the militants. Now the bloodshed has spread to Palma.

Amid the development of an increasingly alarming human rights situation towards the end of last year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, appealed for urgent measures to protect civilians. She described the situation as “desperate” and one of “grave human rights abuses”. Bachelet also stated that more than 350,000 people had been displaced since 2018.

Growing risk

There is little doubt that Islamist insurgents are increasing the scale of their activities in Cabo Delgado. A lack of governance and a proper security response by both the Mozambican government and southern African leaders make this a case of high political risk for the LNG industry.

The escalation of the insurgency can potentially jeopardise the successful unlocking of Mozambique’s resource wealth. Until now, the main LNG installations and sites have not been targeted, but the attacks in Palma have brought the turbulence dangerously close to some of the installations.

The Mozambican armed forces are clearly stretched beyond the point where they can protect the local communities. A part of the solution lies in Southern African Development Community or at least South African military support to stabilise Cabo Delgado and restore law and order in the short term. Wider international support might even be necessary.

But this would require the Mozambican government to change its stance by allowing multinational foreign military forces on its soil.

At the same time, a long term solution should be pursued. This will require better governance of the northern areas and the local people in what has been called a forgotten province.

It is clear that Cabo Delgado is an area which the central government in Maputo is unable to control, govern effectively, or even influence. In short, weak state institutions – including weak armed forces – are key to the problems of Mozambique and specifically the turbulence in the northern parts.The Conversation

Theo Neethling, Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Studies and Governance, University of the Free State

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

Added 27 June 2021


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Hapag-Lloyd & ONE complete TradeLens cargo insurance digital integration

TradeLens banner in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd and Singapore-based Ocean Network Express (ONE) Pte. Ltd. have announced they have completed integration onto the TradeLens platform, a platform which aims at ensuring a more timely and consistent view of logistics data for their containerised freight around the world.

TradeLens is a neutral, third-party platform launched jointly by IBM and A.P. Moller – Maersk to help modernise the world’s supply chain ecosystems. TradeLens is run on IBM Cloud and IBM Blockchain.

Since the completion of multiple pilot projects as well as the integration, Hapag-Lloyd and ONE, the world’s fifth and sixth largest carriers respectively, are now working to help their clients and business partners across all major geographies to benefit from TradeLens’ ability to increase efficiency and improve access to information.

They join foundation carriers A.P. Moller – Maersk, as well as CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) who both completed their pilots and integration in October 2020, and five other carriers already inputting shipping data into the TradeLens platform.

Additionally, TradeLens continues to bring on board new organisations from across the shipping industry, recently adding shippers and importers including Van den Ban Tires which use the platform to address back office inefficiencies and improve the visibility of cargo.

Recently, also became the first freight forwarder in Latin America to join TradeLens to improve efficiency, decrease operational costs and advance’s goal of opening up international trade to all companies in the region, no matter the size of the business.

TradeLens technology provides the facility of enabling the digitization of supply chain processes and documentation handling.

Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd said that their customers will benefit from increased transparency, accuracy, speed and efficiency in their supply chains – leading to reduced cost.

Hapag-Lloyd & ONE complete TradeLens cargo insurance digital integration featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The TradeLens ecosystem now includes more than 300 organizations – encompassing ten ocean carriers and data from more than 600 ports and terminals. It has already processed 42 million container shipments, nearly 2.2 billion events and some 20 million documents.

In total, five of the top six global shipping carriers are now integrated onto the platform contributing to the digitization of documentation and automated workflows.

“We believe TradeLens can bring together all parties in the supply chain to the digital ecosystem where customers can get seamless, transparent and secure sharing of shipping milestones and trade documents, said Jeremy Nixon, CEO of Ocean Network Express.

“With its open standards and open governance, it can benefit our customers and the entire industry to drive for digitalization and automation.”

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Beira Port cargo achievements for 2020

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

Cornelder, the Dutch operator and manager at the Mozambique Port of Beira, says that despite the challenges dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on the global economy, in 2020 the Container and General Cargo Terminals of the port registered encouraging results.

Port Results for 2020

In 2020 the General Cargo Terminal handled a record volume of 3.13 million tons, surpassing the previous 2.64 million tons record from 2017. In 2019 the port handled 2,1 million tons, resulting in an impressive 46% growth for 2020.

Beira’s Container terminal recorded a total of 255,459 TEU handled in 2020. This compared with 259,938 TEU handled in 2019, representing a decrease of 1.7% for 2020.

Jan de Vries, Cornelder CEO, Port of Beira, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Jan de Vries, Cornelder CEO, Port of Beira

Cornelder credits its customers as the basis for the growth in general cargo (who else?) but says the container terminal was affected by the slowdown in maritime transport in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our customers are the basis for this growth, which is why they deserve our recognition. In order to celebrate the achievements that result from the collaboration of the various stakeholders, we decided to design an initiative that aims to bring together industry leaders and reward customers who have contributed to the growth of the Port of Beira.” This initiative [consisting of 11 categories] will occur annually, starting this year,” said Chief Executive Officer Jan Laurens de Vries.

Beira Multi-Purpose General Cargo Terminal

The General Cargo Terminal covers 4 quays with a length of 670 metres and a depth alongside of 9.5 metres. The terminal is equipped with mobile port cranes, a bagging machine, grapples, loading shovels, manoeuvre tractors, weighbridges for trucks, and can handle any type of cargo, including such commodities as fertiliser, sugar, chrome, granite, coal, pipes, etc.

According to Cornelder, the terminal’s quays and facilities can be adapted to the demands of the market, which change from year to year and from month to month.

The terminal has five covered warehouses with a total capacity of 15,000 square metres, in addition to 12,000 m2 of open paved space for storing ferro-chrome, granite, steel and other bulk cargoes. The are rail connections to all the warehouses.

Beira Container Terminal

Beira considers this to be one of the most modern terminals in Southern Africa. Facilities include a 645 metre long quay with a depth alongside of 12 metres, and four ship-to-shore (STS) container gantry-cranes, two of which have the capacity to carry 65 tonnes.

The terminal has a storage capacity of more than 10,000 TEU’s and has 148 electric reefer connection points for refrigerated containers. Currently, the terminal capacity if 300,000 TEU’s a year, but, with the continual investment programmed, the container terminal capacity can be gradually increased to 700,000 TEU.

Navis N4 System

The terminal is served by an extremely modern computerised management Navis N4 system. This is a computerised platform endowed with state-of-the-art technology which offers enormous advantages in increasing and improving the operations undertaken at the Container Terminal.

It also allows online communications with shipping lines, the shipping agencies and clients.

The container terminal has benefited from an investment to increase the capacity of its container storage space to an area of 3 hectares, as well as the building of a new five-lane access road, with the option to add a further two lanes in the future.

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More ships achieving astronomic rates of over $100,000 a day

The 4,506-TEU CO OSAKA (IMO: 9400291) which is benefiting from a two-month charter at $125,000 a day. Picture: Gert van Vooren / Vesselfinder, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The 4,506-TEU CO OSAKA (IMO: 9400291) which is benefiting from a two-month charter at $125,000 a day. Picture: Gert van Vooren / Vesselfinder

Remember our report earlier in the month of a 5,000-TEU container ship, S SANTIAGO (IMO 9302566), which was chartered for a short-term (45-90 day) charter at the record rate of US $135,000 per day?

That was no fluke, and several other similar size ships are being snapped up for rates exceeding the US$1000,000 a day mark set by the S Santiago.

Despite earlier talk of a downturn with the containership chartering market, the opposite appears to be happening with charter rates literally going through the roof.

Analyst Alphaliner now reports several other vessels receiving these extraordinary charters – the 4,506-TEU CO OSAKA (IMO: 9400291) benefiting from a two-month charter at $125,000 a day amd another smaller vessel being reported elsewhere as receiving a $90,000 a day charter

American Shipper reported last week of MPC Container Ships who revealed having the right ship in the right place at the right time could be to the owner’s advantage, with “astronomic rates in the short term”. MPC had just fixed a 2,800-TEU ship for more than $100,000 a day for a 65-80 day period. They had bought the 2008-built ship for $8 million – the latest charter is valued at $8 million.

Owners are selling their ships too, also at high prices. source: Alphaliner & American Shipper

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Karpowership plans for three ports scuppered

The Osman Khan, one of the Karpoership fleet of floating power stations, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The Osman Khan, one of the Karpoership fleet of floating power stations

South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has scuppered applications submitted last October that would have seen three Karpowerships and support LNG tankers from anchoring in the ports of Saldanha, Ngqura and Richards Bay to provide the country with up to 2,000 MW of emergency electrical power.

Turkish company Karpowership SA Pty Ltd was reported to have been favoured in a 20-year contract to stage the three floating power stations in the ports mentioned, subject to receiving an environmental authorisation for the development of gas to power via powerships.

The decision by the Department of of Mineral Resources and Energy to award the contract to Karpowership has been the subject of strong criticism, particularly on the basis of environmental concerns but also because of the cost of the contracts over a 20 year period.

It appeared the intention of bring the three ships to South Africa was all but a done deal, despite the opposition from certain quarters, until the intervention of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment which said the department had decided, “after due consideration of all relevant information presented as part of the environmental impact assessment process for all three applications in question, to refuse the applications for the environmental authorisations.”

The department said the proposal called for the locating of three powership projects at the three ports to generate electricity from natural gas to be evacuated through transmission lines to substations linking to the national grid.

The powerships would have arrived at the respective ports fully equipped and functional.

The applications came as a response to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s requests for emergency power supply interventions linked to the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Procurement Program.

The applications were adjudicated in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and specific sections of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations with the final reports submitted to the department for decision-making on 26 April 2021.

It is understood that Karpowership SA intends appealing against this decision.

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Protector sails north

Pictures courtesy Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2021©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Pictures courtesy Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2021©

In June this year HMS Protector (A173) was within the Arctic Circle in a position north of 80 degrees latitude carrying out ice ramming trials to ascertain the correct Polar Code rating following a recent refit.

Protector is the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship, and has recently completed a five- yearly refit and subsequent Operational Sea Training package.

Pictures courtesy Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2021©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

One of the most versatile ships in the Royal Navy, Protector will later this year deploy to the Antarctic where she will carry out work supporting the UK’s obligations as one of the signatories to the Antarctic Treaties. In addition, the ship will support partner agencies within HM Government and work with others to develop understanding and further the natural preservation of that great continent.

On 17 June while deployed in the Arctic, Protector’s hydrographic specialists conducted ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) training, practising driving skills and getting a unique underwater perspective of the ice.

Protector steamed through polar ice to within 1,050 kilometres of the pole as she gathered data about the ocean and environment

Only submarines – such as HMS Trenchant, which surfaced through the ice at the pole in 2018 – can travel further north than the position the Plymouth-based Protector reached: 80°41.5ʹ North in the Greenland Sea.

Protector completed the most extensive overhaul in her decade-long service in the Royal Navy in January this year, since when she has been conducting extensive trials and training – all with the goal of deploying to Antarctica in the autumn.

Having been nowhere near the ice in more than two years, the ship tested the power of her engines using a specialist bollard pull in Flekkefjord, southern Norway, then began icebreaking in earnest in the Fram Strait – between Greenland and the Norwegian island chain of Svalbard.

Pictures courtesy Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2021©, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

It was reported last week (25 June) the ship tested herself against various depths and types of ice, assisted by scientists, engineers and advisors including staff from the Ministry of Defence and the British Antarctic Survey.

Protector carries a SEABOTIX LBV300-5 ROV consisting of a control box with screen and joystick and as well as two cameras with sonar. Typically, these devices would be used for nearshore seabed surveys, wreck investigation, jetty survey or hull inspection. In the remote parts of the world with below freezing sea temperatures where Protector operates, the ROV provides these capabilities where divers would be restricted.

The SEABOTIX LBV300-5 ROV carried by Protector, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
The SEABOTIX LBV300-5 ROV carried by Protector

On the surface ten images taken will be used for a panorama showing the coast of Svalbard. Contrast and clarity of these when enhanced show geographical features which will be sent to the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) for publication in Sailing Directions.

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


Reported by Paul Ridgway

Added 27 June 2021


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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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