Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 12 February 2022

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The Monday masthead shows the Port of Saldanha futuristic
The Tuesday masthead shows the Port of Saldanha Iron Ore Terminal

The Wednesday masthead shows the Port of Richards Bay Coal Terminal
The Thursday masthead shows Port of Richards Bay Bulk & Breakbulk Terminals
The Friday masthead shows Port Harcourt (Nigeria)
The Saturday masthead shows the Port Elizabeth Manganese Terminal
The Sunday masthead shows the 
Port Elizabeth Container & Car Terminals 





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CMA CGM Valparaiso. Picture: Keith Betts, in Africa Ports & Ships
CMA CGM Valparaiso. Picture: Keith Betts
CMA CGM Valparaiso. Picture: Keith Betts, in Africa Ports & Ships
CMA CGM Valparaiso. Picture: Keith Betts

The container ship CMA CGM VALPARAISO (IMO 9294185) is shown departing from the port of Durban bound for the Middle East and India. She is currently on her return voyage from the sub-continent having departed from Nhava Sheva on 28 January and is due back in Durban tomorrow morning, Tuesday 8 February 2022.

CMA CGM Valparaiso was built in 2006 and is sailing under the flag of Malta. Her container capacity is a modest 2,824 TEU which includes 586 reefer points. The 39,000-dwt ship has a length of 222 metres and a width of 30m

The container ship is a recent addition to the CMA CGM fleet, having been chartered in November last year. Prior to that she was known from 2016 as Irenes Respect, and before that for ten years going back to 2006 her name was Patricia Schulte.

The box ship is powered by a 2-stroke MAN B&W model 7K80MC-C engine producing 25,270 kW (34,357 HP) and driving a fixed pitch single propeller to provide the ship with a speed of up to 22 knots. She also has a side thruster type B-1-1100.

The pictures are by Keith Betts




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Ghana’s Port of Tema Terminal 3 sets new vessel productivity records

MSC Danit under the STS cranes at Terminal 3, Port of Tema, in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Danit under the STS cranes at Terminal 3, Port of Tema  Pictures MPS

The crew at  Meridian Port Services’ (MPS) Terminal 3 at the Ghanaian port of Tema has reason to celebrate, or at least to pat themselves on their collective backs.

In little more than a month the all-time container ship productivity record has been broken not once but twice during the calls made by two MSC ships.

First up on 3 February was the Portuguese-flagged MSC ANZU (IMO 9710426),a 300-metre long and 48m wide 109,619-dwt ship built seven years ago. MSC Anzu has a container capacity of 8,000 TEU but this particular call at Tema Terminal 3 was for the discharge pf 1,002 TEU – 661 boxes in all (320 x 20ft and 341 x 40ft).

The stowage plan called for the vessel to be under two cranes and the operations were completed with a productivity level of 52.56 moves per hour at an average productivity of 31 moves per hour.

MSC Anzu on the berth at Terminal 3 in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Anzu on the berth at Terminal 3

MSC Anzu sailed on Thursday 3 February at 16h40 shortly after the arrival of her big sister, the Panama-registered MSC DANIT (IMO 9404649) who docked alongside at the next berth at 15h30.

Both MSC vessels are running on the Africa Express Service from the Far East with a direct port call at Tema, Ghana, offering faster transit time and better reliability.

MSC Danit is a New Panamax-sized container ship with a cargo capacity up to 14,000 TEUs. The ship has an overall length of 366 metres, a beam of 51.20m, a maximum draught of 16m and a deadweight tonnage of 165,517 tonnes.

A total of 5,471 TEUs were handled on/off the vessel (1,456 discharge and 4,015 loaded) with a vessel productivity of 152.67 moves/hour at an average STS crane productivity of 33.4 moves per hour, deploying up to six STS cranes during part of the operation which is the highest crane density and best vessel stowage plan achieved so far at MPS Terminal 3.

At the start of operations and almost throughout the vessel call the overall productivity was in the range of 170 moves per hour, however towards the end of the call, fewer cranes worked to complete the loading and as per the vessel’s stowage plan.

Bird's eye view of MSC Danit on her berth and under the cranes at Tema Terminal 3, In Africa Ports & Ships
Bird’s eye view of MSC Danit on her berth and under the cranes at Tema Terminal 3

The new records to be broken Moves/Hour
Vessel productivity:        152.7
STS crane productivity:   33.5

Of the respective crane operators, Mr Ernest Nanor achieved the highest individual STS crane productivity with an excellent 37.2 moves per hour, followed by several of his colleagues (Messrs Samuel Danso, Kingsley Adu, Andrews Awusanya, Enoch Ablorde and Edem Avuletey) who all recorded over 31 moves per hour along with rest of the 22 team members that recorded move counts above 23 per hour.

Take note, Durban and Cape Town

The Group Chief Executive Officer of South Africa’s Transnet, Portia Derby, was recently in Ghana where she visited the offices of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority. During her visit Ms Derby said Transnet was looking forward to working more closely with the GPHA not only for investment opportunities in Ghana but for Ghana to also tap into the vast opportunities in South Africa.

She said Transnet was prepared to partner Ghana in its automotive drive, rail engineering industry as well as fruit exports.

Perhaps in return Transnet can take some advice from the operators at Terminal 3 at Tema, Ghana’s main container port, on how to drive productivity!

–  trh

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Added 11 February 2022


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WHARF TALK: a long. long wait for – NAUTICAL JANINE

The LR1 tanker Nautical Janine arrives in Cape Town harbour after a lengthy wait outside, to discharge her parcel of oil. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The LR1 tanker Nautical Janine arrives in Cape Town harbour after a lengthy wait outside, to discharge her parcel of oil. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

It seems pretty normal nowadays for vessels arriving at Cape Town, and for no apparent reason, having to sit outside in the Table Bay, or Sea Point anchorage for more than a week. Then follows an apparent longer than normal period of cargo working, which results in the vessel spending a total of over a fortnight in, and around, Cape Town. Generally speaking, this seems to be the preserve of the container vessel, though this is not always the case.

As far back as 23rd January at 06h00, the LR1 Panamax products tanker NAUTICAL JANINE (IMO 9794848) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Sarroch in Italy, and there she remained for over a week. On 31st January 31st at 09h00 she finally entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded to the long tanker berth in the Duncan Dock to begin her discharge of a full load of refined fuel products.

Nautical Janine was arriving from Sarroch in Italy. Picture by 'Dockrat' , in Africa Ports & Ships
Nautical Janine was arriving from Sarroch in Italy. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2019 by Jiangsu Hantong Shipbuilding Heavy Industry at Tongzhou in China, ‘Nautical Janine’ is 228 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 75,111 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 6S60ME-C8.5 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, producing 12,843 bhp (9,446 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

She is the second of a class of three sisterships, designed by the Ship Design and Research Institute (SDARI) of Shanghai, with ‘Nautical Janine’ known as a SDARI OT74 class. SDARI are better known for their designs of the very popular SDARI Dolphin classes of geared bulk carriers.

A three-quarter view of Nautical Janine's bridge and accommodation sections. Picture by 'Dockrat' , featured in Africa Ports & Ships
A three-quarter view of Nautical Janine’s bridge and accommodation sections. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As with most everything in China, SDARI are a state owned enterprise, and a subsidiary of the vast China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). With CSSC owning most of the large shipyards in China, it explains how the SDARI designs are available to be built all across China.

And this the side-on view, in which the massive size of the scrubber-fitted funnel is evident. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
And this the side-on view, in which the massive size of the scrubber-fitted funnel is evident. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is designed with all of the new IMO environmental standards in mind, and was fitted with a scrubber unit to ensure she complied with the 2020 SOx Sulphur limits, and she has a Ballast Water Management System (BWMS). Her cargo carrying capacity is 12,843 m3. The first of her sisterships, named ‘Nautical Deborah’, was awarded the accolade of ‘Significant Ship of 2018’ by the prestigious Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA).

Nautical Janine inside the Duncan Dock in Cape Town harbour, ready to manoeuvre towards the tanker basin. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Nautical Janine inside the Duncan Dock in Cape Town harbour, ready to manoeuvre towards the tanker basin. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is owned by Nautical Bulk Holdings Ltd, of Hamilton in Bermuda, whose logo is prominently displayed on the funnel of ‘Nautical Janine’. On completion, she was placed in the Navig8 LR8 Pool of tankers, for deployment in the spot market. As such, she is operated by Navig8 Asia Pte. Ltd, of Singapore. She is managed by Niederelbe Schiffahrts GmbH, of Buxtehude in Germany (NSB). NSB are more widely known as a container vessel operator, with many of their vessels chartered out to the big majors, rather than as an operator of tankers.

A nice view of the tanker looking towards the stern. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
A nice view of the tanker as she begins to turn 180 degrees. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her loading port in Europe, Sarroch, is located on the Italian island of Sardinia, and it is the site of the SARAS refinery. The refinery is located 20 miles south of the main Sardinian city of Cagliari, and it has the highest production capacity of any Mediterranean refinery.

SARAS have a refining capacity of 300,000 barrels per day, and the refinery produces 20% of Italy’s refined petroleum products. Her integrated port, is also known as Porto Foxi, and it has two jetties capable of berthing up to 13 tankers at any one time. It also provides 4.3 million m3 of bulk liquid storage facilities.

And finally we get to see the starboard side of the tanker, Nautical Janine. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
And finally we get to see the starboard side of the tanker, Nautical Janine. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After more than a week alongside, ‘Nautical Janine’ completed her fuel products discharge, and on 7th February at 10h00 she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Fujairah in the UAE. The gap between her arrival, and her departure, spanned a full 16 days. Her time in port equated to an ability to discharge just 1.5 of her tanks, or a mere 10,474 m3 per 24 hours, assuming her tanks were full on arrival, through the Cape Town port oil terminal infrastructure.

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IN CONVERSATION: Southern Africa’s summer has been wetter than normal: here’s why

Sarah Roffe, University of the Free State

March marks the end of southern Africa’s 2021/2022 summer wet-season. Since its onset in October, most summer rainfall zone regions have experienced wetter than normal conditions.

Wetter conditions are positive for southern Africa’s rainfed agricultural activities and water reservoirs. But excessive rainfall has caused widespread flooding. This is in addition to flooding caused by tropical storm Ana, which made landfall in late January. And there is more to come: flooding will likely occur when tropical cyclone Batsirai – currently affecting the southern Indian Ocean – makes landfall.

These unusually wet conditions are the result of a weak La Niña event since December 2021. This weather pattern typically brings above-average summer rainfall across southern Africa.

A La Niña event is one of three phases of a climate cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). The others are the El Niño and Neutral phases. These phases influence global atmospheric circulation and consequently global rainfall and temperature patterns. So the El Niño-Southern Oscillation is one of Earth’s most important climate phenomena.

What causes the La Niña event

The El Niño-Southern Oscillation is a naturally recurring phenomenon in which the ocean and the climate are related to each other. Every two to seven years, there are shifts in the temperature of the surface water of the tropical Pacific Ocean. There are also changes in the region’s east-to-west trade winds.

The Neutral phase, representing “normal” conditions, occurs almost half of the time. Sea surface temperatures are near-average and steady trade winds blow. The trade winds cause warm water to pile up in the western Pacific, while cool waters are drawn up from the bottom of the ocean to the eastern Pacific surface. Warm, moist air rises in the western Pacific, while in the eastern Pacific cool, dry air descends. This cycle of moving air is called the Walker Circulation. It pushes air over the equatorial Indian and Atlantic Oceans – which is one reason why the El Niño-Southern Oscillation makes an impact far away from the equatorial Pacific.

La Niña phases are basically enhanced Neutral phases. Trade winds blow harder, causing an expanded western Pacific warm pool and a more intense eastern and central Pacific cool pool. This causes a stronger sea surface temperature gradient which intensifies Walker Circulation.

El Niño phases are almost the direct opposite of La Niña phases. Trade winds weaken, or even reverse in direction, allowing warm waters to drift to the central and eastern Pacific. This eventually breaks down Walker Circulation.

The degree to which tropical Pacific Ocean waters deviate from average temperature determines the strength of La Niña or El Niño phases. That in turn determines their impact on global climate.

Influence on southern Africa’s weather

El Niño-Southern Oscillation phases have a regionally unique, although generally predictable influence on weather. For instance, while southern African summers typically have more frequent and heavier rainfall during La Niña events, southern USA regions usually experience the opposite conditions.

The current La Niña is the second event in two years. Impacts for this La Niña event are similar to last year, when southern African summer rainfall zone regions experienced a generally wetter and cooler than normal wet-season. This is the typical impact of a La Niña event. El Niño events typically have the opposite effects.

El Niño-Southern Oscillation phases influence the number of typical summer weather systems and where they form. That in turn influences rainfall and temperature patterns. Wetter and cooler conditions occur during La Niña phases because tropical temperate troughs – large rain-producing cloud bands – form more frequently and are located more eastward. Tropical lows – storms similar to very weak tropical cyclones – form more frequently and further south. Conversely, high-pressure systems – which promote hot, dry conditions – have reduced intensity and are located further south. The opposite occurs during El Niño phases.

Future outlook

El Niño-Southern Oscillation forecasts suggest the current weak La Niña should migrate to a Neutral phase during April-June. Southern Africa’s summer rainfall regions will likely continue experiencing wetter than normal conditions and additional flooding might occur.

Farmers, water managers and people generally should closely monitor daily weather forecasts and weather alerts issued by the meteorological bureau’s such as the South African Weather Service.

Looking beyond the current summer wet-season, it’s important to highlight the difference between climate variability and climate change. Southern Africa’s current above-average rainfall is a climate variability signal – a short-term fluctuation in average wet-season conditions. It will not necessarily cause an increase in the long-term wet-season rainfall average. Rather, the outlook under human-induced climate change suggests that southern Africa’s summer wet-seasons will likely become drier and shorter, but individual rainfall events may intensify.

Wet-season drought events may intensify and happen more often. These changes will have implications for long-term crop yield and surface water supply. Adaptation strategies need to account for this. Climate variability signals will, however, induce short-term implications, and to prepare for these seasonal forecasts need to be monitored.

Climate change will also likely have an impact on how El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycles behave and influence global climate. It’s not entirely clear exactly how the cycles will change. Some research suggests that El Niño and La Niña cycles may intensify, causing more intense impacts on global rainfall and temperature. El Niño-Southern Oscillation cycle changes are also expected to intensify current impacts on southern African summer wet-season periods.The Conversation

Sarah Roffe, Postdoctoral Fellow Climatology, University of the Free State

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

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Added 11 February 2022


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TRADE NEWS: Value Maritime installs world’s first CO2 capture & Storage unit on operational ship

Vissershipping's feeder container ship Nordica, operated by X-Press Feeders. Picture by Shipspotting, in Africa Ports & Ships
Vissershipping’s feeder container ship Nordica, operated by X-Press Feeders. Picture by Shipspotting

Value Maritime, a young maritime technology company based in Rotterdam, has installed the world’s first onboard CO2 capture and storage unit on an operational vessel.

The CO2 Capture & Storage module captures carbon dioxide (CO2) from the vessel’s exhaust and uses this to charge a CO2 Battery, a carbon dioxide storage facility on which the gas can be charged and discharged.

The Capture module will be integrated in Value Maritime’s Filtree System; a small prefabricated, pre-installed, “plug and play” gas cleaning system. Value Maritime’s first CO2 Capture Module and CO2 Battery will be installed on Visser Shipping’s Nordica vessel in October this year, making the Nordica the first vessel to capture and store CO2 onboard of a vessel whilst in operation.

The container vessel will be operated by X-Press Feeders, the world’s largest independent common container carrier with a fleet of more than 110 vessels and operating with offices in Singapore, Dubai, Mumbai, Barcelona, Hamburg and Panama.

Read the rest of this report in the TRADE NEWS section available by CLICKING HERE

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IMO urges members to accept Council expansion

IMO Headquarters in London, UK, in Africa Ports & Ships
IMO Headquarters in London, UK

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has urged member states to accept amendments to the IMO convention to expand the size of the Council from 40 to 52 members.

In December 2021 the text of the amendments adopted by the IMO Assembly were circulated to members in which they were urged to agree to the expansion of the size of the IMO Council as soon as possible.

The amendments to the IMO Convention call for the council to be increased to 52 members from 40; extending the term of its members to four years; and recognising three additional language texts as authentic versions of the IMO Convention.

The move to expand the Council reflects the increasing IMO membership over recent decades. The IMO says it will support the attainment of a representative, balanced, diverse, and efficient Council, that can support the interests of the whole membership and ensures the representation of all the major geographic areas of the world.

The amendments to Articles 16, 17, 18, 19(b) and 81 of the Convention on the International Maritime Organization require acceptance by two thirds of the IMO Membership, or 117 Member States (based on the current membership of 175 member states) for entry into force.

The IMO Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Members of the Organization to accept the amendments as soon as possible, with the goal of entry into force of these amendments by 2025.

Expansion of the Council

The current status of the Council under the three categories is:

Category (a): 10 States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services (listed in alphabetical order) – China, Greece, Italy, Japan, Norway, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States. Will be increased to 12 States.

Category (b): 10 States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade – Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates. Will be increased to 12 States.

Category (c): 20 States not elected under (a) or (b) above, which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world – Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey and Vanuatu. Will be increased to 28 States.

South Africa and Nigeria failed to be elected under category (c) in December 2021, with South Africa losing its seat and Nigeria again failing to gain a seat. The voting for this category showed the two African countries having been placed 20th and 21st respectively, thus losing out.

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Added 10 February 2022


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IN CONVERSATION: State capture in South Africa: how the rot set in and how the project was rumbled

State capture in South Africa, Part 2 of the Zondo Report has significant relevance for the maritime logistic activity in South Africa, in particular its focus on Transnet and this company’s relationship with the Guptas and other state capture practioners. For this reason alone we republish this Conversation article among our reports and articles on the African shipping and logistics scene.

Keith Gottschalk, University of the Western Cape

It seems the time of reckoning for the massive corruption that has hobbled South Africa’s economy is nigh. Two parts of the three-part report by the judicial commission investigating allegations of state capture under former President Jacob Zuma have now been published. The third is due at the end of February.

“State capture” has become the South African term for what is elsewhere called kleptocracy.

Here I reflect on Part 2 of the report.

Ideally, a review of the complex Zondo Commission Report Part 2 requires a team of three co-authors: a chartered accountant, a political scientist, and a jurist specialising in company law. This review cannot do justice to a summary of a report when part 2 alone exceeds 640 pages. Instead, I will focus on some thoughts and analysis.

These opening observations are drawn from my knowledge of politics, informed by what’s in the report.

Firstly, the Gupta family – friends of former President Jacob Zuma’s who, the commission says, orchestrated massive corruption and the capture of the South African state with Zuma’s help – were rumbled by events that caught them off-guard.

They had not, for example, anticipated that their actions in South Africa would result in a media uproar and political backlash. The media’s role in the ultimate demise is recognised in this latest report. The commission praises Shadow World Investigation (Zondo,pp.19, 229); AmaBhungane (Zondo, p.260); Mail and Guardian ; and Open Secrets, (Zondo,p.261); for investigative exposés of state capture.

These exposes eventually saw the Gupta’s fleeing to the United Arab Emirates in 2016.

They also never anticipated that South African banks would close down all their corporate and personal accounts. This ultimately pressured the South African branch of India’s Bank of Baroda – their original home base – to reluctantly follow suit.

These developments indicate that South Africa’s institutional safeguards, civil society NGOs, and democratic culture are more robust than those of some other countries.

The Guptas were also rumbled because they failed to take note of the fact that the most successful parasites never harm their hosts. That’s so they enjoy a lifelong nurturing host environment. The scale of their rapaciousness meant that, within just a few years, the institutions they leeched were in a state of collapse. These included Transnet, the transport parastatal, South African Airways, the national carrier, Eskom, the power utility, Denel, the state defence, security and related technology company.

Aspects of the report show how this happened.

Zondo Commission report part 2

The specifics of this part of the Zondo report are that procurement and related crimes cost Transnet, R41 billion (equivalent to US$2,7 billion), which amounts to 72% of all contracts tainted by corruption (p.19).

These losses mounted following successive decisions that were driven by avarice and corruption. One example was the decision over a new chief executive for Transnet. When Barbara Hogan, then a cabinet minister in charge of the state transport company, resisted Zuma’s demands on who to appoint as chief executives, he fired her from the cabinet, and sought to redeploy her as ambassador to Finland.

The commission found that the man Zuma preferred, Siyabonga Gama, should be prosecuted for transactions involving the Guptas, amounting to billions.

There were other attempts at resistance too. Take the actions of Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee. He refused to take bribes. But his efforts came to nought. The Guptas, through Zuma’s new appointment Lynn Brown to the portfolio of running state enterprises, simply suspended him and appointed a new board of directors that was more pliable to the Guptas.

Beyond detailing how appointments were made, the report focuses a great deal of analysis about highly technical banking techniques and financial transactions. These show how in every case the lowest bid tender, or the most cost-effective solution, was rejected, so as to provide openings for middlemen, Gupta-controlled companies, to profit.

The fight back

In the immortal words of one of Nigeria’s heroes against corruption, its former finance minister and current World Trade Organisation president, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala:

when you fight corruption, corruption fights back.

Corruption is indeed fighting back.

As a result, it has become one major dimension of the factionalism now wracking the ruling African National Congress (ANC). It is evidenced by pseudo-populist attacks on “white monopoly capital”, the “Stellenbosch mafia”, and on President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In US slang, this is not grassroots rhetoric, but an Astroturf campaign, referring to a campaign pretending to be populist, but actually waged by a business clique of tenderers and their political clients.

They richly deserve the South African Communist Party witticism denouncing “tenderpreneurs” – ‘businesspeople’ who enrich themselves through government tenders, often dubiously.


The Zondo Commission makes useful recommendations.

One is that in future, Cabinet ministers should not have unlimited power to appoint their cronies as chairs or board members to parastatals. Instead, all candidates for board members of state-owned enterprises should be subject to the background checks and procedures akin to those of the Judicial Service Commission, which advises the government on any matters relating to the judiciary or administration of justice and adjudicates complaints brought against judges.

In turn the board members, not the minister, should elect their chairs and CEOs.

Zondo also points out that it is not yet a crime in itself to abuse public power for a politician’s private interest. This should be criminalised across the board, from the President down to the lowest official.

Finally, the success or failure of the Zondo Commission Report will be what consequences will result from it for the criminals and corrupt, such as prosecutions, and reclaiming illegal and illicit profits from tenderers.

South Africa has witnessed a decade of unimplemented recommendations of commission reports, from the Khayelitsha Commission, appointed in December 2012 to investigate police inefficiency, to the Farlam Commission into the 2012 Marikana massacre.

It’s not known if the Zondo Commission reports will fare any better.

What’s clear, however, is that the number of successful prosecutions, and the amount of plundered funds retrieved, will be a key deterrence to future instances of corruption. Crucial here will be to what extent Treasury will increase the budget allotted to the National Prosecution Authority, the Special Investigative Unit, and the Assets Forfeiture Unit.

The country now awaits the third part of the Zondo Commission report, due at the end of February.The Conversation

Keith Gottschalk, Political Scientist, University of the Western Cape

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

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Added 10 February 2022


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WHARF TALK: a second heavylift vessel only hours apart – BBC RUSHMORE

BBC Rushmore takes bunkers from the Cape Town bunker tanker, Southern Valour. Clearly seen is the deck cargo of a ferry, built in Port Louis for a South American client. Picture by 'Dockrat', In Africa Ports & Ships
BBC Rushmore takes bunkers from the Cape Town bunker tanker, Southern Valour. Clearly seen is the deck cargo of a ferry, built in Port Louis for a South American client. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

Rather like London buses, you don’t see one for ages, and then two will turn up together. Heavylift vessels are a rare breed, and for two to arrive at the same port, yet alone two from the same specialist company, within hours of each other, is nigh on unheard of. The visits were unconnected, as both were heading in the opposite direction from each other. As always, with heavylifters, it was the visible deck project freight cargo that was causing all the interest.

On 3rd February at 0700, the multi-purpose heavylift vessel ‘BBC Rushmore’ (IMO 9508469) arrived off Cape Town, from Port Louis in Mauritius and, in another unusual berthing arrangement, she proceeded into Cape Town harbour and into the Ben Schoeman Dock, going alongside berth a halfway point between berth 601 and 602.

Her berthing position was a strange decision, as the security fence between the Dormac repair facility, and the rest of the quayside, bisected the vessel, leaving the majority of the vessel in an accessible area, and the accommodation block being behind the fence, and within the security zone. No sooner had BBC RUSHMORE (IMO 9508469) gone alongside, and both ship chandler trucks and the bunker tanker ‘Southern Valour’ arrived to provide her requirements for her onward voyage.

Built in 2012 by Xingang Shipbuilding at Tianjin in China, ‘BBC Rushmore’ is 126 metres in length and has a deadweight of 9,355 tons. She is powered by a single MaK 7M43C 7 cylinder 4 stroke main engine, producing 8,568 bhp (6,300 kW) to drive a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.5 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN D2840 LE301 generators providing 400 kW each, and a MAN D2866 LXE emergency generator providing 250 kW. She has a Konus AKV exhaust gas boiler, and a Konus KOH oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a transverse bow thruster providing 500 kW.

BBC Rushmore in Cape Town to load bunkers and supplies before sailing for South America. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
BBC Rushmore in Cape Town to load bunkers and supplies before sailing for South America. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has two holds served by two NMF 350 ton cranes, which can lift 700 tons when used in tandem. She has a cargo carrying capacity of 13,119 m3, and a container carrying capacity of 660 TEU, with the provision of 60 reefer plugs.

Owned by Wiltshausen Briese Schiffahrts GmbH, of Leer in Germany, ‘BBC Rushmore is operated by BBC Chartering GmbH, also of Leer, and managed by Briese Heavylift Schiffahrts GmbH, also of Leer.

One of eight sisterships, all of which are named after famous mountains, ‘BBC Rushmore’ is known by BBC Chartering as a BBC-9K-700A class vessel, and is named after the famous mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota in the USA, which has had the faces of four American presidents carved across it. Another of the class has an African alpine connection, namely ‘BBC Kibo’, which as all mountaineers know, is named after the highest of the three volcanic cones, which crown Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania.

The deck cargo of ‘BBC Rushmore’ was quite an unusual item, namely a double ended ferry, named ‘Malani’. The ferry was built by Chantier Naval de l’Ocean Indien (CNOI), the shipyard based at Port Louis in Mauritius. She was built to the order of Comité Territoriale de Guyane, better known as the overseas department of French Guiana, located in the northeast of South America. She was loaded onto ‘BBC Rushmore’ in Port Louis on 25th January.

Launched in June 2021, ‘Malani’ is 36 metres in length, and 56 metres long overall (includes her twin ramps), and is designed to carry up to 200 passengers and vehicles. She is to be used on the only road ferry crossing, that links French Guiana and Suriname, which is the old Dutch Guiana. The crossing takes place between Saint Laurent du Maroni, in Guyane, and Albina in Suriname, across the Maroni River. Known as a Bac Amphidrome in French, ‘Malani’ is named after a tributary source river that eventually becomes the Maroni River.

BBC Rushmore is a small ship and her accommodation and bridge section appears small and narrow when compared withthe larger cargo ships nearby. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
BBC Rushmore is a small ship and her accommodation and bridge section appears small and narrow when compared withthe larger cargo ships nearby. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As an overseas French Department, Guyane is eligible to receive funding from the European Union (EU), and received direct funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to build ‘Malani’.

Local funding was received from the Programme de Interreg Amazonie (PCIA), which prioritises the connectivity, development and improvement to transport links in the territory. Also, further funding was received from the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES), which is the French government space agency, based in Guyane, and from where the James Webb Space Telescope was launched on an Ariane-5 rocket, on Christmas Day 2021, from the Kourou Spaceport.

The purpose of this voyage is to deliver a ferry to the client in South America, close to the notorious 'Devil's Island' Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The purpose of this voyage is to deliver a river-crossing ferry to the client in South America, shown here as deck cargo on the vessel.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On completion of her bunkering and storing, ‘BBC Rushmore’ sailed after a stop of only 15 short hours and, at 20h00 on 3rd February, she sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS indicating that she was bound for the ÎIes de Salut, site of the famous Devils Island prison, made famous in the film ‘Papillon’, and located just offshore from the Kourou Spaceport. From there, it is expected that ‘BBC Rushmore’ will move closer to the mouth of the Maroni River to offload ‘Malani’, and for the new ferry to proceed downriver to her new home at Saint Laurent du Maroni.

In her career, ‘BBC Rushmore’ has received two Port State Inspections in South Africa, a surprise in itself, with both of them taking place in the port of Ngqura. They were conducted under the auspices of both the Abuja MoU, and the Indian Ocean MoU. The first inspection took place in November 2016, and the second one took place in June 2019. In both cases, there were nil findings made against the vessel.

In August 2020, when transiting the Welland Canal, which is a part of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada, ‘BBC Rushmore’ collided with the approach wall of Lock No.3, at St. Catherines, in Ontario. She berthed at Port Colborne, and after an inspection she continued on her voyage to Bay City, located on Lake Huron, in the US state of Michigan. Bay City, of course, being the place where the Scottish teeny-bopper boy band of the 1970s, the Bay City Rollers, took their name.

BBC Rushmore is shown here in Port Louis harbour, Mauritius, loading the ferry using her own cranes. Picture CNOI, in Africa Ports & Ships
BBC Rushmore is shown here in Port Louis harbour, Mauritius, loading the ferry using her own cranes. Picture CNOI

The Welland Canal is 27 miles long, and consists of eight locks, linking Lake Ontario (Lock 1) and Lake Erie (Lock 8), in the American Great Lakes system. It rises 99.5 metres, above the Niagara Escarpment, bypassing Niagara Falls. It was first opened in 1829, and has been rebuilt and enlarged four times, with the current canal being operational since 1932.

Here the ferry is being lifted on board the BBC Rushmore. These ships are described as 'heavylift ships' due mainly becuase of their twin heavy cranes that are capable of lifting very heavy loads. Picture CNOI, in Africa Ports & Ships
Here the ferry is being lifted on board the BBC Rushmore. These ships are described as ‘heavylift ships’ due mainly because of their twin heavy cranes that are capable of lifting abnormally heavy loads. Such cargo is often destined for ports or landing places devoid of any suitable harbour cranes, such as when the ship reaches her destination off the South American coast. Picture CNOI

The prefix acronym of ‘BBC Rushmore’ does not take its name from the erudite British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC. The founding of ‘BBC Chartering’ took place in 1987 when shipowners Roelf Briese, of Leer in Germany, and Bruno Bischoff, of Bremen in Germany, formed a joint venture company. The acronym of the company simply takes the initials of the joint owners, i.e. Briese Bischoff Company (BBC).

The new joint venture company was based at Leer, located in East Friesland, close to the German border with Holland. The port of Leer has the second largest concentration of German shipowners within Germany, second only to the great Hanseatic city of Hamburg. More than one quarter of the German merchant shipping fleet is either registered, or directly controlled, from offices located in the port of Leer.

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USCGC Polar Star arrives McMurdo: Supporting Operation Deep Freeze

US Icebreaker Polar Star. Picture: US Coast Guard Pacific Area © 2022, in Africa Ports & Ships
US Icebreaker Polar Star. Picture: US Coast Guard Pacific Area © 2022

On 7 February the United States Coast Guard (USCG) reported that 157 crew members of the Coast Guard Cutter POLAR STAR (WAGB 10) had arrived at McMurdo Station in Antarctica that day following an 86-day transit from the United States and the cutter’s departure from its Seattle homeport on 13 November last year.

This deployment marks Polar Star’s 25th passage to Antarctica supporting Operation Deep Freeze, an annual joint military service mission to resupply the United States Antarctic stations in support of the National Science Foundation (NSF), lead agency for the United States Antarctic Program (USAP).

Each year the 399-foot loa, 11,000 tons displacement cutter breaks a navigable channel through miles of ice, sometimes as much as 21-feet (6.4m) thick, to allow fuel and supply ships to reach McMurdo Station, the US Antarctic Program’s logistics hub and largest station.

US Icebreaker Polar Star. Picture: US Coast Guard Pacific Area © 2022, in Africa Ports & Ships
US Icebreaker Polar Star and crew posing on the ice. Picture: US Coast Guard Pacific Area © 2022

Polar Star reached the Ross Sea, Antarctica, on 3 January and commenced breaking the 37 miles of ice that extended from the ice pier in Winter Quarters Bay at McMurdo Station out to open water. Polar Star spent four weeks breaking ice and grooming the shipping channel. The crew’s efforts were aided by favourable winds and currents and by month’s end had created an open and ice-free approach for the supply vessels.

The cleared channel to McMurdo Station will enable two supply vessels, Maersk Peary and Ocean Giant, to safely discharge over 8 million gallons of fuel and 1,000 cargo containers. Together these two ships carry enough fuel, food, and critical supplies to sustain USAP operations throughout the year until the next sealift opportunity in the austral summer of 2023.

Ocean Giant seen in the New Zealand port of Lyttelton on 5 February, en-route to McMurdo Station with supplies. While in the South Island port Ocean Giant loaded some equipment for the NZ research station at Scott Base, which she will visit together with the US icebreaker Polar Star. See below. Picture by Alan Calvert, in Africa Ports & Ships
Ocean Giant seen in the New Zealand port of Lyttelton on 5 February, en-route to McMurdo Station with supplies. While in the South Island port Ocean Giant loaded some equipment for the NZ research station at Scott Base, which she will visit together with the US icebreaker Polar Star. See below. Picture by Alan Calvert

Polar Star made international port calls in Wellington and Lyttelton, New Zealand, on passage to Antarctica. While in New Zealand, the crew engaged with the Royal New Zealand Navy, the United States Embassy and volunteered in Christchurch at the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Polar Star will also partner with the Royal New Zealand Navy’s largest ship, HMNZS Aotearoa, in support of resupplying Scott Base, New Zealand’s year-round Antarctic research facility.

Captain William Woityra, CO of Polar Star commented: “It is a tremendous honour to lead the men and women of Polar Star on this important mission. This team brought renewed energy and passion to this 46-year-old ship, and overcame significant challenges to deliver exceptional results.”

US Icebreaker Polar Star at McMudo Station. Picture: US Coast Guard Pacific Area © 2022, in Africa Ports & Ships
US Icebreaker Polar Star at McMudo Station. Picture: US Coast Guard Pacific Area © 2022

Assigned to Operation Deep Freeze each year, the 46-year-old icebreaker spends January and February breaking ice in Antarctica. Polar Star is due to return to the United States after completing the mission.

Stephanie Short, section head of NSF’s Antarctic Infrastructure & Logistics added: “We are excited to welcome the return of the Polar Star to McMurdo Station this year. Continuing the U.S. Antarctic Program’s vital operations would simply not be possible without [the cutter’s] support and the hard work of the captain and crew.”

This year also marks Polar Star’s return to Antarctica following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the 2020-2021 season Polar Star conducted a winter Arctic deployment, during which the cutter steamed to the Arctic Circle to project constructive presence in the northern high latitudes under winter conditions and to train the next generation of polar sailors. Their efforts resulted in setting a record for the furthest north any American surface vessel has been in the winter months.

In the US the Coast Guard has been the sole provider of the nation’s polar icebreaking capability since 1965. Commissioned in 1976 Polar Star is the United States’ sole heavy icebreaker. The Coast Guard is increasing its icebreaking fleet with construction of three new polar security cutters to ensure persistent national presence and reliable access to the Polar Regions.

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Maersk enjoys record earnings for 2021 – with strong outlook for 2022

Picture courtesy: Unsplash, in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture courtesy: Unsplash

On Wednesday 9 February A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) delivered its results for 2021, reflecting record earnings during what it called an exceptional year with focus on ‘mitigating supply chain risks for customers while strengthening the integrated logistics offering.’

In 2021, revenue was up 55 per cent to US$ 61.8 billion, EBITDA tripled to US$ 24 billion and free cash flow was US$ 16.5 billion. This, the company says, has allowed it to make strategic long-term investments into decarbonisation and logistics growth, combined with strong cash distribution to shareholders.

“Exceptional market conditions led to record-high growth and profitability in A.P. Moller – Maersk, however it also led to supply chain disruptions and severe challenges for our customers,” said Søren Skou, A.P. Moller – Maersk CEO.

“We spent tremendous efforts in mitigating bottlenecks by expanding capacity across Ocean, improving productivity in Terminals and growing our global logistics footprint. We will continue these efforts as we see the current market situation persist into Q2.

“At the same time, we see conversations with customers change from procurement-led freight rate discussions to more holistic conversations on how we truly partner to keep supply chains running end-to-end. This clearly validates our strategy,” Skou said.

The company continued to strengthen its Logistics & Services business throughout 2021, outperforming the market growth with a revenue increase of 41 per cent to US$ 9.8 billion. Of this 62 per cent of the 34 per cent organic growth came from cross selling to their Top 200 Ocean customers.

Six businesses were acquired within air, e-commerce, warehousing and fulfillment, and 85 new warehouses opened, improving capabilities and footprint across the company’s product portfolio.

Ocean Transport

Within Ocean, profitability increased substantially with a revenue of US$ 48.2 billion in 2021, compared to US$ 29.2 billion in the previous year, and driven by high freight rates due to the ongoing impact from the pandemic that has resulted in disruptions of global supply chains.

To increase predictability and reliability, capacity was increased both for equipment and vessels, with significant effort made to prioritise contracted volumes. AS a result long-term contracts now represent 65 per cent, up from 50 per cent a year ago.


Profitability in the Terminals division continued to grow in 2021 driven by strong volumes performance and storage income. With a focus on increased efficiency, utilisation and improving quality through digitisation and automation, Maersk says the return on invested capital (ROIC) increased to 10.9 per cent, which is above the target of minimum 9 per cent.

During the year, the use of digital solutions and services grew significantly, with turnover on reaching US$ 38 billion. Traffic increased 15 per cent as customers continued to adopt digital solutions even further. In addition, bookings via mobile app increased more than 15-fold.

Looking into 2022

A.P. Moller – Maersk says it expects the current market situation to continue into Q2 2022 with a normalisation to occur early in the second half of the year. Based on these assumptions A.P. Moller – Maersk expects for full year 2022:

An underlying EBITDA of around US$ 24 billion
An underlying EBIT of around US$ 19 billion
Free cash flow (FCF) of above US$ 15 billion

Ocean is expected to grow in line with global container demand, which is expected to grow 2-4 per cent in 2022, subject to high uncertainties related to the current congestion, network disruptions and demand patterns.

For 2022-2023, the expectation for the accumulated CAPEX is US$ 9.0-10.0 billion, driven by intensified growth in Logistics & Services and ESG investments. The CAPEX guidance for 2021-2022 of US$ 7 billion is maintained. source: A.P. Moller – Maersk

Financial highlights

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Call for Africa to overhaul and transform its transport sector

Meeting in Addis Ababa this week (7 February) as well as virtually, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), working with Google Africa and Africa 24, issued a call for Africa to benefit fully from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by transforming its transport sector.

ECA was staging the fifth Africa Business Forum on the margins of the thirty-fifth ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the ECA outlined how critical transport was in order for the most to be made of AfCFTA.

“The continent would require close to 2 million additional trucks, over 100,000 rail wagons, 250 aircraft, and more than 100 vessels by 2030, if the Free Trade Area is fully implemented,” she stated, referring to ECA research.

“When we look at the continent today, we still need two million trucks if we were going to be able to generate the kind of ambition that the AfCFTA is promising. We are in a deficit of two million trucks to be able to move goods around [the] continent.

“This is going to cost US$ 345 billion. So, there is investment [opportunities] for the private sector. It is a no-brainer that if we have that kind of investment we can get where we want to.”

She pointed out that while Africa currently transports just 3% of total intra-Africa freight by rail, Europe has surpassed 17 per cent. Africa has the potential to increase this to 6.8 per cent with the implementation of AfCFTA.

“To make things really work, countries need railroads, airlines and shipping…. $36 billion is what is needed to boost that to 6 per cent,” Songwe said.

The meeting was informed that Africa’s immense potential for trade, travel and tourism is languishing virtually untapped.

President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, pointed out that the potential for improving transport infrastructure and services across Africa depends on “economic policies [that] had to be recentered to include transportation. That included ships, boats, trains, planes and automobiles,” he said.

Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, called for a greater emphasis on financing growth and embracing digital transformation. “Africa was on the brink of a digital transformation,” he said, “one which would be crucial to the transport and tourism sectors.””

The African Business Forum is a flagship initiative that aims to promote continuing dialogue between the African private and public sectors on current matters of strategic importance to the continent and to optimise collective efforts to achieve Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want, of the African Union and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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Tanzania to buy 1,430 rail wagons from China

The Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) has signed a contract to purchase 1,430 rail wagons worth over US$ 127 million from China’s state-owned CRRC Corporation Limited (CRRC) rolling stock manufacturer.

The contract was signed in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday 8 February, during which the Minister of Works and Transport, Professor Makame Mbarawa, urged the TRC to oversee the quality and delivery of the rolling stock. He described the purchase as an indication of government’s determination to assist the transport sector in adding to Tanzania’s GDP.

The contract will take 12 months to complete, it was disclosed, with the last batch of wagons set to arrive in Tanzania in February 2023.

Tanzania has embarked on a rail renewal programme that involves the construction of a standard gauge rail network extending from the port city of Dar es Salaam, to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika, Mwanza on Lake Victoria and to the neighbouring states of Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda.

A contract was recently signed with Burundi to this effect. See Africa Ports & Ships report Tanzania and Burundi agree on rail connection to Dar es Salaam.

The standard gauge railway (SGR, 1435mm) is currently under construction in phases by several different contractors. The route inland roughly parallels the colonial-built metre gauge railway to Kigoma and Mwanza. The new SGR is expected to relieve the pressure on road transport and to provide a more efficient means of moving freight in both directions.

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Cyclone Batsirai fades away but its legacy remains across Madagascar

Graphic courtesy JTWC,in Africa Ports & Ships
Graphic courtesy JTWC

As the tropical depression that was Cyclone Batsirai moves away from land south of the Mozambique Channel and is curving towards the south-east, we learn something of the dramatic effect the cyclone had on the island of Madagascar and its people.

At 12h00 UTC on Tuesday 8 February the depression was in position near 28.5 S / 42.1 E, still generating winds of 40 knots which will continue until Thursday 10 February before the wind strength weakens further.

According to reports coming from Madagascar up to 150,000 people have been displaced by the cyclone, with houses destroyed or badly damaged, crops such as rice washed away and waters continuing to rise in the rivers and streams.

With the rice fields swamped or washed away, food prices have begun to soar and food insecurity has been drastically increased.

Madagascar has now been devastated twice in a fortnight by cyclones. Welfare organisations such as the WFP (World Food Programme) are hard pressed to assist across the affected areas, which involves much of the huge island.

“We have 150,000 people affected but these numbers can easily rise,” said WFP Country Director of WFP Madagascar, Pasqualina DiSirio.

“We have right now still waters increasing in the canals, in the rivers and people are still at danger. We know for sure that rice fields, that rice crops will be damaged, will be lost so, this is the main crop for Malagasy people and they will be seriously affected in food security in the next 3-6 months if we don’t do something immediately and we don’t help them recover.”

According to government estimates 600,000 people could potentially be affected and 150,000 displaced. With 12 highways and 14 bridges damaged, access to affected areas by road is a challenge.

The cyclone Batsirai came hot on the heels of Storm Ana that saw severe damage to livelihoods, agricultural land and key infrastructure. The Government of Madagascar declared a State of Emergency on 27 January 2022. But this is feared to be just the start, the ongoing cyclone season (October 2021 to May 2022) is expected to see between eight and twelve tropical systems.

Frequent climate extremes

In Madagascar, frequent climate extremes are driving hunger and eroding development. With no time and means to recover, communities are having to rely on humanitarian assistance.

WFP is meanwhile working with farming families to promote sustainable agricultural practices and adapt to climate change, making them more resilient. Evaluations have shown that these communities have reported increased yields and improved ability to resist disasters. Other activities include improved natural resource management, soil and water conservation and actionable climate advisory for smallholder farmers.

The UN body also combines financial instruments like insurance and savings to ensure that households have an increased ability to absorb risks.

WFP in Madagascar is helping communities build resilience so they can withstand shocks better and protect development. This is key to mitigating the impacts of increasingly frequent and destructive storms that amplify food insecurity.

In anticipation of Cyclone Batsirai, the WFP provided the government authorities with IT equipment (smartphones and power banks), logistics support as well as access to WFP’s data collection platform to fast-track the registration and management of displaced people eligible for aid. WFP has also contributed tarps and wooden pallets for the set-up of temporary shelters.

Before the cyclone struck, WFP prepositioned 50 tonnes of food assistance in Manakara and Tamatave, the two main towns on the east coast, to be able to quickly provide emergency food assistance to 10,000 people.

WFP provided hot meals to preventively evacuated people before the cyclone and displaced people after the cyclone in Manakara and Tamatave.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has started flights to help conduct aerial assessments to map most urgent needs and move food, humanitarian staff and other goods.


The short video available below shows a few scenes from during and the aftermath of Cyclone Batsirai including WFP aerial surveys, hot meals distribution to people displaced by the storm, and an interview soundbite with the WFP country director.

The video can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE

Once open click on the video on the left.

More videos  of Cyclone Batsirai can be found on the YouTube channel.  This next one is an up-to-date summary that may be of interest.

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WHARF TALK: Forest product bulker – HERANGER

Heranger against the wharf at the Eastern Mole in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat', In Africa Ports & Ships
Heranger against the wharf at the Eastern Mole in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The arrival of any bulk carrier is always interesting, especially when the vessel in question is one built to service a very particular trade, and has deck cargo loading equipment that makes it stand out. These are the forest products carriers, which are not to be confused with wood chip carriers, lumber carriers, or any other standard bulk carrier. They are rare callers in South African ports, and one of the giveaways for a forest products carrier is the fact that they have covered travelling gantries, rather than sporting the standard bulk carrier fixed deck cranes.

Shipboard travelling gantries, as carried on forest products carriers, are not entirely a rare phenomenon on vessels, as those who know their South African Merchant Navy history will recall. Between 1977 and 1991, Unicorn Lines of Durban, operated two coastal feeder container ships, ‘Berg’ and ‘Breede’, both built by Dorman Long Vanderbijl in Durban. Both vessels were fitted with travelling gantries for self-handling of containers at East London and Walvis Bay, where, at the time, no shoreside cranes were available to load, or discharge, containers.

On 1st January at 10h00, the multi-purpose, open hatch, general cargo vessel HERANGER (IMO 9079121) arrived off Cape Town, from Portocel in Brazil, and proceeded directly into Cape Town harbour, berthing at the Eastern Mole in the Duncan Dock. As always, this berth is generally for those vessels that are seeking bunkers, stores and, occasionally, shoreside maintenance support.

Hernager arrived to have what appeared to be some maintenance repairs doen to her travelling gantry. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Heranger arrived to have what appeared to be some maintenance repairs done to her travelling gantry. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built back in 1995, and now 27 years old, ‘Heranger’ was built by Daewoo Heavy Industries of Okpo in South Korea. She is 213 metres in length and has a deadweight of 50,198 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 6S60MC-C 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, producing 15,640 bhp (11,475 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 16 knots.

Heranger's accommodation block and funnel. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Heranger’s accommodation block and funnel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes two MAN-B&W 7L28/32H generators providing 1,575 kW each, and a single MAN-B&W 6L23/30H generator providing 780 kW. She has a MAN D2866TE emergency generator providing 189 kW. She has an Alfa Laval Aalborg AQ2 exhaust gas boiler, and an Alfa Laval Aalborg AQ12 oil fired boiler.

For added manoeuvrability, ‘Heranger’ is unusual in that, as a general cargo vessel, she has a transverse bow thruster of 1,471 kW, and a transverse stern thruster of 736 kW. She has twelve cargo holds, all served by two 70 ton, weather protected, travelling gantry cranes. Her cargo carrying capacity is 66,631 m3, and she has a container carrying capacity of 2,148 TEU.

A close-up look at one of the ship's travelling gantries. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
A close-up look at one of the ship’s travelling gantries. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Conjecture as to the maintenance support required was that, whilst alongside the Eastern Mole, which is not a bulk cargo working berth, it was noted that she ran her forward gantry out to the forward hold area, and fully opened up the aft gantry arms, as if she was working cargo. After a stop of almost four days, ‘Heranger’ sailed on 6th February at 02h00, bound for Singapore.

One of four sisterships, ‘Heranger’ is owned by Masterbulk Pte. Ltd. of Singapore. She is operated by Saga Welco AS, of Tønsberg in Norway, and she is managed by Westfal-Larsen Management Skipsrederi AS, of Bergen in Norway. Her operating company, Saga Welco, as displayed on her hull, is a joint venture between Saga Forest Carriers AS, of Tenvik in Norway, and Westfal-Larsen Shipping AS, of Bergen.

As can be seen, the gantries can be moved along the deck to cover the particular hatch in which cargo is being worked. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
As can be seen, the gantries can be moved along the deck to cover the particular hatch in which sensitive cargo is being worked. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The emblem of Westfal-Larsen, a Bee Hive, is prominently displayed on the prow of her hull. Despite ‘Heranger’ not operating on a known piracy route, i.e. Brazil to South Africa, it is noticeable that she has anti-boarding razor wire, slung around her bow, but only where her mooring ropes enter the vessel.

Her port of departure in Brazil, Portocel, located at 19° 51’ South 040° 03’ West, some 30 miles north of the port of Vitória, in the state of Esperito Santo, gives some clue as to what cargo ‘Heranger’ might be carrying. Portocel is dominated by the bulk pulp trade, as the industrial area outside the port includes two large cellulose factories that produce wood pulp, with a dedicated terminal for these products in the port. In fact, Portocel advertises itself as the only port in Brazil that specialises in the export of Wood Pulp.

Heranger at Cape Town Harbour's Eastern Mole. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Heranger at Cape Town Harbour’s Eastern Mole. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

However, the Portocel port authority has been diversifying, and they have recently started an export trade in Granite stone blocks. Interestingly, the exporter stated it would be exporting the blocks on vessels owned by Saga Welco. The first shipment of 16,500 tons of granite blocks was scheduled to depart Portocel in December 2021. The cargo was to supply the markets of India, Africa and China, and the port has plans to gradually expand this new export market.

Look closely and you can see the barbed or razor wire protecting the openings for the mooring ropes. This is probably to deter would-be stowaways from using one of their favourite places to board a ship at night. Picture by 'Dockrat', featured in Africa Ports & Ships
Look closely and you can see the barbed or razor wire protecting the openings for the mooring ropes. This is probably to deter would-be stowaways from using one of their favourite places to board a ship at night. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Back in March 2015, ‘Heranger’ was involved in a minor collision on the Mississippi River, as she was approaching Mile Marker 89 on the river, and proceeding to the anchorage at Chalmette, which is located just downriver from the city of New Orleans.

She had a complete blackout, lost all power, and drifted into the bulk carrier ‘Costas L’, which was already moored to the Chalmette Buoys. The anchor of the ‘Heranger’ got entangled with the mooring lines of the ‘Costas L’, and caused minor damage. The collision did not affect navigation on the river, and the flow of river traffic was unimpeded by the incident.

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Concession to manage & operate Onitsha River Port in Nigeria awarded

The Onitsha River Port on the Niger River in Anambra State has been concessioned after a protracted process lasting a number of years. Onitsha is one of four inland river ports in Nigeria with the others being Lokoja in Kogi State, Baro in Niger State and Oguta in Imo State.

The concession has been awarded to Universal Elysium Consortium based in Abuja, for a period of 30 years.

According to the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), the Onitsha River Port, with an adequate water connectivity, is an alternative means of transporting cargo to the South East from the sea ports of Lagos and Port Harcourt among others.

The concession is awarded under a Rehabilitate-Operate and Transfer (ROT) arrangement, and is targeting a revenue generation of N50 billion (US$120 million).

Nigeria showing position of Onitsha, in Africa Ports & Ships
Nigeria showing position of Onitsha

According to a government spokesman, the concession is part of the bigger Federal Government’s plan to concession the remaining river ports and enhance inland waterways transportation in the country.

“The 30-year concession is expected to generate over N50 billion to the Federal Government and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, while facilitating more efficient trade within the country through cheaper, easier and cleaner methods of transporting goods and services,” said Manji Yarling, acting head of Federal Media and Publicity.

He said the port is equipped to deal with general cargo such as containers, bulk cargo and other packaged freight. and has a land area of over 12 hectares.

“The wharf is 324 metres long with a further provision for additional expansion of 234 metres. The port also has facilities such as storage workshops and parking areas to cater for operations,” Yarling said.

Use of the Niger river for transport purposes goes back over centuries but the concept of a modern river port at Onitsha to serve a wider community was conceived in 1983 during the federal presidency of Shehu Shagari, but apart from basic infrastructure, it has remained largely neglected.

In 2012 the port underwent a degree of refurbishment but has since remained underutilised and neglected by the authorities.

The current concessioning process, which commenced in 2017, has been bedevilled with delays, objections and problems, including accusations that one of the shortlisted companies was being favoured by the ICRC. Nine companies entered their names before four of them were shortlisted. This was after an earlier concessioning process in 2011 came to nothing.

Of the four companies shortlisted, Universal Elysium Consortium was unsuccessful and did not then feature. The shortlisting was subsequently discarded and now comes the news that the concession has finally been awarded.

In 2021 the Federal Government issued operating licences to approximately eight barge operators to move containers from the Lagos ports (Apapa and Tin Can), to the Onitsha River Port and other inland river ports.

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The EU’s Copernicus Sentinel: The wonders of the Earth, brought to us

Antarctic - Larsen Ice Shelf. Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery ©, in Africa Ports & Ships
Antarctic – Larsen Ice Shelf. Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery ©

Sea ice break-up on the Antarctic Peninsula
Rising temps West Mediterranean

Antarctic Peninsula

The Larsen Ice Shelf is a large glacial shelf extending along the east coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. Researchers studying Antarctica divide this area into four: Larsen A (the smallest), Larsen B, Larsen C (the largest), and Larsen D.

A large sheet of sea ice has coalesced on the eastern coast of the Larsen B over the past ten years. However, January 2022 saw a breakup of the sea ice. The cause was probably a boreal summer warmer than usual.

This image, acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites on 28 January, shows the sea ice after it broke away from Larsen-B.

Every month, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) publishes a Climate Bulletin that details the current status of the climate, including a detailed overview of the temperatures in Antarctica.

Western Mediterranean. Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 imagery ©, In Africa Ports & Ships
Western Mediterranean. Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 imagery ©

Western Mediterranean

Now for the effects of rising sea temperatures on the western Mediterranean basin. The second image here shows the Sea Surface Temperature of the western part of the Mediterranean basin, as retrieved from measurements by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites on 2 February 2022.

Researchers of the University of Barcelona conducted a study in the abovementioned area, demonstrating that an increase in sea surface temperature since the 19th century has affected plankton dynamics, resulting in a severe decrease in their primary productivity in this part of the Mediterranean.

One of the objectives of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite mission is to accurately measure Sea and Land Surface Temperature using the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) instrument. Coupled with the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) and the Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL), the SLSTR provides accurate and reliable measurements that support oceanic, environmental, and climate monitoring efforts.

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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IN CONVERSATION: Arms trade to Africa can be opaque: why this is dangerous

Nicolas Florquin, Graduate Institute – Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID) and Alaa Tartir, Graduate Institute – Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID)

Eolika, a Guyana-flagged cargo vessel, had already been detained in the port of Senegalese capital, Dakar due to ‘inconsistent’ declarations.

Authorities in the West African nation then searched the ship, seizing three containers of Italian manufactured ammunition worth an estimated US$5 million.

According to initial accounts, port authorities in La Spezia authorised the shipment, which was reportedly headed to the Dominican Republic.

But at the time of writing, it remained unclear why the vessel made the unexpected stop in Dakar, leading civil society groups to call for more transparency on the transfer.

The consignment highlights the fact that the international small arms trade is shrouded in ambiguity. Available statistics don’t capture all actual (as opposed to reported) transfers.

Yet it’s important to be able to measure the extent of the trade.

Our organisation, the Small Arms Survey, maintains a database on the transparency of global authorised small arms transfers: the Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer.

Launched in 2003, the Barometer provides annual updates on states’ arms export reporting. This is a way to assess the transparency of the world’s major exporters of small arms, light weapons, as well as their parts, accessories, and ammunition.

A trade that lacks transparency

The 2021 edition found that the 50 exporters under review scored on average 12.61 points out of a possible 25.

While this score marginally increased compared with 2020, it remains low. It shows that the international community still has a long way to go in fostering openness in the arms trade.

The quality of data on the small arms trade in Africa is no exception. Information on ammunition transfers to the continent is particularly scarce.

Our 2020 trend analysis of the global authorized small arms trade, Trade Update 2020: An Eye on Ammunition Transfers to Africa, showed that African ammunition imports amounted to USD 97.7 million in 2017, or 42% of the continent’s total small arms imports.

This is not the full picture. The scope of the trade originating from the least transparent exporters is particularly difficult to assess.

Field research on ammunition used in conflict areas and export records compiled by commercial entities, reveal a broader range of ammunition transfers than what is reported by African states and their trading partners.

From authorised to diverted

The 2020 Trade Update also illustrates some of the ways in which authorised transfers can subsequently end up in the hands of unauthorised armed groups.

Such ‘diversion’ can occur when declared end users participate in unauthorized retransfers.

There are also often instances where armed groups and criminals manage to seize national stockpiles or capture weapons on the battlefield, sometimes shortly after the delivery of this material to the state entities.

For instance, in 2014, the UN Group of Experts monitoring the arms embargo on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) documented the presence of heavy machine gun ammunition bearing markings that were consistent with Chinese manufacture in armed group arms caches in the country’s North Kivu province.

In its 2015 report, the Group of Experts established that this ammunition was originally part of a 2012 delivery of 12.7 × 108 mm ammunition from China to the Armed Forces of the DRC.

The transfer was not transparent in that it had not been notified to the United Nations Sanctions Committee. It therefore violated the exemption procedures established under the arms embargo on the DRC.

The case illustrates how rapidly –in less than two years– unreported ammunition transfers can be diverted into the illicit sphere.

Destabilising effects

New illicit flows of arms and ammunition feed into existing trafficking networks, which in West Africa contribute to fuelling conflict and instability in several ways.

Small Arms Survey research in the tri-border region of Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali, for example, documented an increase in smuggling and trafficking activities due to growing local demand for illicit goods and firearms.

This demand is fuelled by banditry, communities’ need for self-defence, traditional hunters’ reliance on firearms, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

The growing trade is challenging states’ ability to monitor and control their borders.

Several governments in the region have sought to contain and respond to insecurity by increasing their reliance on local self-defence groups for providing community protection.

This raises concerns about the risk of excessive use of force, harsh punishments, or even extra-judicial killings.

A map showing West and trans Saharan Africa small arms smuggling route

Reproduced from Small Arms Survey, Author provided

Regional trafficking routes also extend well beyond local borders, and connect the Gulf of Guinea to the Sahara in the North and to Central and East Africa (see map).

Some of the main smuggling and trafficking hubs are located in the Sahara–Sahel region, which has been particularly affected by conflict and the attacks of prominent terrorist-designated armed groups.

Security-focused responses to address these threats have also shown their limits. They tend to affect the livelihoods of local communities who depend on the informal cross border trade.

They also risk enticing smugglers into becoming involved in trafficking and other illicit activities for a living.

While the specific linkages between arms trafficking and insecurity are complex and context-specific, it is clear that illicit transfers to Africa have the potential to rapidly reach countries and regions affected by insecurity and armed violence.

Achieving more transparency in the small arms and ammunition trade would support better and more independent monitoring of the legal trade. This, in turn, would contribute to preventing its diversion to unauthorised users and traffickers.

Emilia Dungel, Communications Coordinator and Lead Editor at the Small Arms Survey, contributed to the writing of this articleThe Conversation

Nicolas Florquin, Head of Data & Analytics and Senior Researcher for the Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute – Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID) and Alaa Tartir, Senior Researcher and Coordinator of the Security Assessment in North Africa project at the Small Arms Survey, Graduate Institute – Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement (IHEID)

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

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Harnessing ammonia as a ship fuel: What are the key challenges

Green ammonia - production and use, in Africa Ports & Ships
Green ammonia – production and use

Smells like sustainability: Harnessing ammonia as ship fuel

Ammonia is one of the most promising future fuels in the maritime world, but introducing it to the fuel mix is far from straightforward. What are some of the biggest challenges that need to be overcome? And what are DNV and other companies doing to tackle them?

MAN engine from the joint development project, in Africa Ports & Ships
MAN engine from the joint development project

Before ammonia-fuelled ships can hit the water, central questions need to be answered, including supply, sustainability, engine technology and safety considerations.

Green ammonia has the potential to support the maritime industry’s efforts to decarbonise. Which approaches are available to tackle the new risks that ammonia as ship fuel poses and how far advanced is the necessary infrastructure? One promising aspect: the first dual-fuel ammonia-powered combustion engines are expected to enter the market by 2024.

To read the article in DNV Maritime Impact >>>  CLICK HERE

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Tresta Star remains aground on the rocks of Reunion

Picture courtesy Prefecture la Reunion, in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture courtesy Prefecture la Reunion


The small Mauritius-registered tanker TRESTA STAR (IMO 9869629) remains firmly aground on the rocky shore of south-eastern Reunion, a victim of the recent Cyclone Batsirai after the tanker lost engine power while seeking the the relevant shelter of the south of the island.

Cyclone Batsirai was passing some 100 miles to the north of Reunion island.

To see our first report of this casualty CLICK HERE

The 11-man crew of the vessel were evacuated safely from the tanker on the same day she went aground. The ship is hard on the rocks with a short cliff of black volcanic-like rock overhanging the scene. With seas pounding against the side of the vessel it is likely that she is incurring serious damage to her hull and general structure.

Tresta Star was fortunately in ballast at the time of her grounding, but has a certain amount of diesel fuel on board – no information regarding this has been made public.

Watch two short YouTube videos of the grounded ship.

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Three of the missing crew of FPSO Trinity Spirit found alive

It has been learned that three of the crew of ten on board the FPSO TRINITY SPIRIT when it suffered an explosion and fire, before sinking in the Gulf of Guinea last week, were found alive.

A fourth person’s lifeless body has been discovered near the wreckage.

The Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) exploded and caught fire in position near Escravos off the Warri (Nigeria Delta) coast last Wednesday.

Se our report of the explosion HERE

Ikemefuna Okafor, the managing director of SEPCOL (Shebah Exploration & Production Company Limited), who owned the FPSO, confirmed that three survivors had been found “in the community” while one body had been recovered. He said a joint investigation involving the relevant authorities, stakeholders and accident experts had convened on Saturday to look into the accident.

“The focus of our joint efforts is to prioritise investigations towards establishing the whereabouts, safety, and security of the seven [now six] crew members still missing, clean up and limit damage to the environment, and establish the cause of the explosion.”

He thanked various organisations and authorities who he said had been of immense assistance.

It has been reported that the FPSO was carrying between 50,000 and 60,000 barrels of crude oil when the explosion occurred.

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WHARF TALK: Maiden voyage with a difference for COSCO SHIPPING GRACE

South African salvage tug SA Amandla leads in her tow, the brand new pulp carrier, COSCO Shipping Grace. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
South African salvage tug SA Amandla leads in her tow, the brand new pulp carrier, COSCO Shipping Grace. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The stationing of one of the world’s most powerful salvage tugs on the South African coast, despite her advancing years, has paid dividends time after time. In the last year alone ‘SA Amandla’ had gone to the rescue of three vessels that had developed serious propulsion issues, as a result of onboard calamities. As 2022 kicks in, she has gone into action once more.

On 30th January, the brand, spanking new, multi-purpose pulp carrier, COSCO SHIPPING GRACE (IMO 9928865) was en-route, on her maiden voyage, carrying a cargo of empty containers from Ningbo in China, to Santos in Brazil. She had already passed around the Cape, and was well offshore, abeam Kleinsee on the Northern Cape coast, when her AIS changed to ‘Not Under Command’.

The next day her AIS appeared to be switched off, and the rumour mill began to creak into action. It was rumoured that she had had a major engine breakdown and was struggling to get underway once more. This was confirmed when ‘SA Amandla’ got underway from a position on the Southern Cape coast, and started making her way towards the presumed casualty.

Cosco Shipping Grace had broken down on her maiden voyage, with engine room trouble. In Africa Ports & Ships
Cosco Shipping Grace had broken down on her maiden voyage, with engine room trouble.

On 4th February, AIS was showing that both ‘SA Amandla’ and ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ were both together, and under way towards Cape Town at a steady towing speed of 5.6 knots. Just after 08h00 on 6th February, both arrived off Cape Town, and with a shortened towing bridle, both vessels entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding directly to the Repair Quay in the Duncan Dock, shepherded the whole way in by the Transnet harbour tugs ‘Umbilo’ and ‘Usiba’.

A newbuild, ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ was built in 2021, being delivered to her owners on 20th December, just over six weeks ago. She was built at COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry Shipyard at Dalian in China, and she is 202 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 61,614 tons. Being so new, technical data on her machinery is still not readily available, although it is thought she has the most up to date MAN-B&W 6G50ME-C10.5 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, which is the cause of her current predicament. Her normal service speed is 13.5 knots.

The red and white 'pilot flag' is painted so low on the ull that it is below the waterline when the ship is fully loaded. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The red and white ‘pilot flag’ is painted so low on the hull that it will be below the waterline when the ship is fully loaded. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has six box shaped holds, served by four 75 ton cranes. Unusually for an Ultramax sized, multi-purpose bulk carrier, her cranes can be used in tandem to conduct 150 ton heavy lifts. Her decks are strengthened for heavy cargoes, and even more unusual is that her hatch covers for holds 1 and 6 only, are of the normal folding type. However, the hatch covers for holds 2, through to 5, are single plate covers.

These plate covers serve a dual purpose, and which allows for large project freight items to be carried on deck, and also provides a better seal for when she carries wood pulp cargoes. Her holds are fitted with dehumidification systems to maintain the quality of the wood pulp cargo.

The towed vessel now faces directly towards Table Mountainas she enters the Duncan Dock. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The towed vessel now faces directly towards Table Mountain as she enters the Duncan Dock. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built at a cost of US$33.68 million (ZAR520.6 million), she is designed to be, primarily, a wood pulp bulk carrier. However, the multi-purpose arrangement of ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ is such that, whilst she has a cargo carrying capacity of 72,500 m3, she also has a container carrying capacity of 2,000 TEU, as well as her heavylift capability, and she is classed as a bulk grain and general cargo carrier also.

Owned by Cosco Shipping Development, of Shanghai, ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ is operated by Cosco Shipping Specialised Transportation, of Guangdong, and she is managed by Tianjin Cosbulk Ship Management, of Tianjin. With COSCO being an acronym for China Ocean Shipping Company, headquartered in Shanghai.

Assisted by the harbour tugs Usiba (left) and Umbilo, the crippled newbuild is manoeuvred towards her berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Assisted by the harbour tugs Usiba (left) and Umbilo, the crippled newbuild is manoeuvred towards her berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Cosco Shipping ordered a total of twenty pulp carriers, due to a Carriage of Affreightment (COA) contract being set up with the Suzano group in Brazil. The vessels were designed to serve the Chinese strategic development of their national paper industry. The vessels being built in the second half of the order, are an improved version of the first ten delivered, with a higher ice class, larger fuel tanks and improved main engine efficiency. As such, ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ is the third of the improved class to be delivered, and the 13th of the new pulp carrier class.

The whole class are of an eco-design, bluff bowed, all fitted with scrubbers, and the improved class were fitted with improved Tier III engines, with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology, to further reduce NOx emissions.

The failure of this improved engine on ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ is considered so serious, that there are reports that MAN-B&W Engineers are already en-route to Cape Town, to try and determine what catastrophic incident happened, to a brand new engine, on a maiden voyage, only six weeks after the vessel was accepted by its new owners.

Cosco Shipping Grace under tow within the Duncan Dock. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Cosco Shipping Grace under tow within the Duncan Dock. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

An interesting addition to ‘Cosco Shipping Grace’ is that the place where the Pilot Launch should come alongside, for the transfer of the Harbour Pilot, is marked with a ‘Pilot Flag’ read and white stripe. The thing about the location of this aid to the Pilot Launch, is that it is placed so low on the hull, i.e. well below the plimsoll line marks, that it would be below the water line when the vessel is fully loaded, and thus unseen.

The class of vessel is obviously very technologically advanced, with some extremely complex innovations used to operate the vessel, and monitor the operating systems. The shipyard is rightly proud of their futuristic design, and this is advertised in their online offerings.

The ship is finally about to come alongside the quay where technicians will undertake the necessary repairs to the brand new ship. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The ship is finally about to come alongside the quay where technicians will undertake the necessary repairs to the brand new ship. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

However, as is sometimes the case, things get a little bit lost in the translation, when going from Mandarin Chinese to English. Here is what the COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry Shipyard has to say about their new class of multipurpose pulp ship:

“This is COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry (Dalian) Co., Ltd. first intelligent ship certificates of multipurpose pulp ship, the intelligent system by intelligent integration platform, intelligent navigation, intelligent engine room and the efficiency of four parts, the intelligent navigation system by intelligent integration platform, detection alarm system, such as concentrated connected to the LAN system unified network environment, to build the data center of ship, to achieve the interconnection of the ship information, as well as the ship side with the shore data exchange.”

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Batsirai loses its strength in Mozambique Channel as it moves off to the south

Ex-cyclone Batsirai's project path into the southern oceans. Map: Meteo France, in Africa Ports & Ships
Ex-cyclone Batsirai’s project path into the southern oceans. Map: Meteo France

Cyclone Batsirai has continued to weaken as it followed a path southward down the Mozambique Channel and has since been reclassified to a tropical depression status (meaning it is no longer seen as a cyclone). At 12h00 on Monday 7 February the centre of the storm was near 24.6S 41.8E and tracking southward in the direction of a weakness in the subtropical ridge.

This route takes it across the main trade shipping lane between South Africa and the east (Mauritius and Sri Lanka) and will have some effect on these ships in this area, but the main force of the storm appears to be spent and will further weaken as it moves further in a southeasterly direction. This will also reduce any effect on the African coastline although increased wave action is possible.

However, waves in the Mozambique Channel are likely to be in the region of up to 6 metres, posing risks to shipping generally in the southern part of the channel. Heavy rains can be expected in the area of Inhambane and further south in Mozambique.

On the west coast of Madagascar the storm should begin to weaken from Tuesday in the area from Morombe to Cap Sainte-Marie with wind and rain lessening.

The ex-Batsirai cyclone will disappear later in the week within a broad surface trough in the south of the Indian Ocean.

As the storm crossed Madagascar it displaced an estimated 50,000 people and left houses, roads and bridges wrecked and largely unusable, with trees felled and power supplies disrupted.

Climate change

Warnings given by scientists earlier in the year said people living in KZN and southern Mozambique and adjacent inland areas inckuding Limpopo and Moumalanga and Swaziland, could expect cyclones to strike further south in the future, as a result of changes in the climate.

These areas can count themselves lucky this time round with Cyclone Batsirai, which turned south on crossing Madagascar when it cold also have crossed the Mozambique Channel, strengthening in the warm waters of the channel, and then causing heavy flooding and damage once ashore. sources: JTWC, Meteo France, Cyclocane.

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Shell and Partners strike oil on Namibian side off the Orange River mouth

Location of the Graff-1 welloff the southern coast of Namibia , in Africa Ports & Ships
Location of the Graff-1 well off the southern coast of Namibia   QatarEnergy

QatarEnergy, who is an equal 45% partner with Shell, who is the operator, announced the news on Friday 4 February of an oil discovery in a deep-water exploration well drilled in the PEL-39 license located in the Orange Basin, offshore the Namibian coast.

The consortium partners comprising QatarEnergy (45%), Shell (operator, 45%) and National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia, known as Namcor (10%), have successfully concluded drilling operations of the Graff-1 well establishing the presence of a working petroleum system with light oil.

The next step is to conduct analysis on the well data and further exploration activity to determine the full size and recoverable resource potential.

Mr Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi, the Minister of State for Energy Affairs in Qatar and President and CEO of QatarEnergy, said they are encouraged by the Graff-1 well results, which he said will enhance the potential of their exploration acreage in Namibia’s offshore.

He thanked and congratulated Shell and Namcor and his colleagues in QatarEnergy for their great efforts that led to this discovery. “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with the government of Namibia on the next steps, following this discovery.”

The Valaris drill ship DS-10 which struck oil off the Namibia coast, see here as ENSCO-DS10. Picture: Valaris
The Valaris drill ship DS-10 which struck oil off the Namibia coast, seen here as ENSCO-DS10. Picture: MarineTraffic/V Tonic

The Graff-1 well was drilled to a total depth of 5,376 metres in water depths of approximately 2,000 metres in the PEL-39 license area, which covers a total area of 12,299 km2.

QatarEnergy has interests in three areas (PEL39, 2912, & 2913B) in offshore Namibia covering a total area of 28,327 km2.

The Graff-1 well was drilled by the VALARIS DS-10 drillship, commencing in December 2021 and completing in early February 2022.

Managing Director of Namcor, Mr Immanuel Mulunga, said that a second exploratory well will be required to determine the size and recoverable potential of the identified hydrocarbons.

“We hope that this discovery puts to rest doubts about the hydrocarbon potential of Namibia and opens a new dawn in the country’s future prosperity,” he said.

Shell is meanwhile intending to carry out a seismic survey off the South African west coast offshore and below the Orange River mouth. Shell recently aborted a seismic survey off the Wild Coast of South Africa after losing a court hearing on the matter.

France’s TotalEnergies meanwhile began drilling offshore of the Namibian coast in the Venus-1 well in Block 56, not far from the Graff-1 area. Early last year a drillship operating for TotalEnergies struck gas and light oil in the Outeniqua Basin off the coast of South Africa near Mossel Bay.

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IMO GHG SMART workshop series: Online course progress, funded by ROK

Picture: IMO, in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture: IMO

It was reported by the IMO Media service on 1 February that the organisation has delivered the first in a series of tailor-made workshops to help Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) implement IMO’s GHG Strategy1 and address other GHG-related issues specific to their regions (such as climate finance, alternative fuels and so forth). The five-day online course was organised as part of a four-year training programme funded by the Republic of Korea (RoK) and implemented by IMO.

The IMO-RoK GHG SMART2 training workshop held from 24 to 28 January enabled more than twenty participants to learn and network with each other using an interactive platform that also supported the delivery of live lectures from international experts in the field of maritime decarbonisation.

It is understood that although future courses will be tailor-made to suit the learning needs of participants, the first training workshop has been developed based on previous consultations with LDCs and SIDS. This comprised six learning modules which will be followed by a seventh module being a field visit to the Republic of Korea, all as hereunder:

* Module 1: International Regulatory Framework.

* Module 2: Global Efforts, IMO GHG Strategy and related MARPOL Annex VI Regulations.

* Module 3: Development of NAP and awareness raising on Impact Assessments.

* Module 4: Shipping and Ports Decarbonisation.

* Module 5: Shipping and Ports Alternative Fuels.

* Module 6: Climate Finance and Maritime Decarbonisation.

* Module 7: Industrial Visits and Work Placement.

Africa and the Indian Ocean states well-represented

This first GHG-SMART workshop was attended by participants from Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Comoros, Dominica, Jamaica, Liberia, Madagascar, Maldives, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Vanuatu, alongside representatives from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries and the Korea Maritime Transportation Safety Authority (KOMSA).

The industrial visit and work placement planned for the first delivery of the training course has been delayed due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This field visit will allow participants to gain a practical understanding of how port officials are meeting IMO GHG emission reduction targets and undertake more tailor-made, in person assignments as per their Trainee Structured Training Plans (TSTPs).

IMO’s Department for Partnerships and Projects (DPP) is working directly with LDCs and SIDS to organize further GHG SMART workshops in the near future we understand.

1] For more on the IMO Greenhouse Gas Strategy readers are invited to SEE HERE

2] For more on the IMO-RoK GHG SMART training workshop please CLICK HERE

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Nor-Shipping Summit to demystify ship autonomy

The US Ambassador naming the Mayflower 2 as the worlds first autonomous ship as it prepares to set sail from Plymouth 400 years to the day after the original Pilgrim Fathers set sail. Picture by Wayne Perry in Africa Ports & Ships
The US Ambassador naming the Mayflower 2 as the worlds first autonomous vessel as it prepares to set sail from Plymouth 400 years to the day after the original Pilgrim Fathers set sail.  16 September 2020.  Picture by Wayne Perry

The Third International Ship Autonomy and Sustainability Summit will take place as a live event at Nor-Shipping 2022 on 5 April.

The event, organised in collaboration with Norwegian Forum for Autonomous Ships (NFAS) and EU’s Directorate General for Transport (DG MOVE), gathers thought leaders, authorities, owners and other key industry stakeholders to share developments, enable progress and demystify a field promising huge potential for shipping, particularly with regard to environmental performance and efficiency.

The day-long summit will be held in Nor-Shipping’s Hall E, in Lillestrøm, on the Conference stage and is a ticket only event.

Clarity from confusion

“Autonomy is a hot topic, but, for many, a challenging one to get to grips with,” says Nor-Shipping Director Sidsel Norvik.

“Developments are moving fast and it can be difficult to keep pace and understand the implications for business. This summit will help clear the fog; covering the key regulatory, technology and business developments, while also diving into how increased digitalisation, automation and autonomy can unlock significant environmental gains.

“If you want to come face-to-face with the future of shipping I can’t think of a better place,” Norvik added.

The autonomous container ship Yara Birkeland which has begun operations in the Baltic, seen here in December 2020. Picture: Yara in Africa Ports & Ships
The autonomous cargo ship Yara Birkeland which has begun operations in the Baltic, seen here in December 2020. At this stage the Yara Birkeland was not yet operating fully unmanned.  Picture: Yara

The third summit sees a return to a physical format, after the 2020 event was forced online due to coronavirus restrictions. Over 600 digital delegates – from research groups to shipowners and operators – tuned in for the last programme, which was broadcast from Brussels.

This year’s outing will see panel discussions moderated by Ørnulf Jan Rødseth, NFAS Manager and an acknowledged expert on autonomous ship technology, alongside regulatory updates, regional analysis and expert industry forecasts.

Critical gathering

“Ship autonomy is surrounded by much uncertainty, but it continues towards maturity,” says Magda Kopczynska, Director of DG MOVE Waterborne, who will be amongst the keynote summit speakers.

“EU is supporting these developments through several research projects, but we are also committed to provide realistic and up to date information about possibilities and obstacles to the wider user community. Our participation in the summit is a critical part in this effort,” she said.

In addition to a packed programme of panel sessions and talks, marine operations from the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (a unique solar- and AI-powered research vessel, exhibiting in Nor-Shipping’s Blue Economy Hall) will be streamed throughout the day. A special drinks reception will also take place immediately after the planned programme, at approximately 16.30.

To book a ticket, and for further summit details, CLICK HERE

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Major distributor slams poor port performance at Durban

Hudaco's 2021 Preliminary Report, critical of Durban port performance, in Africa Ports & Ships
Hudaco’s 2021 Preliminary Report, critical of Durban port performance

Hudaco Industries, one of South Africa’s oldest companies and a diversified industrial distributor with a strong reliance on the South African port system, says in its Preliminary Report for 2021 that challenging port performances, particularly at the port of Durban, have hampered its operations.

The Gauteng-based company said its respective businesses recovered exceptionally well from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns and “we are delighted that we were able to grow headline earnings by 21% against 2019…. in a year where difficulties have once again beset business in South Africa.”

Hudaco compared its performance in 2021 with the year 2019 – “In our opinion, it is a more relevant yardstick because of the devastating effect of Covid-19 lockdowns on the 2020 results.”

The distributor company said that 2021 was a year where they had to be agile and adapt to ever-changing business conditions, including three Covid waves during the year and with KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng experiencing eight terrible days of dramatic and violent riots and looting in July.

During the week of riots Hudaco lost two KZN branches and had to close several businesses for the week. This was followed by the three-week NUMSA metal industries strike, which affected most of their engineering consumables businesses, added to which load shedding was intermittent throughout the year.

Supply chain constraints

Hudaco highlighted supply chain constraints, internationally and locally, of which most started with Covid lockdowns early in 2020, and which became a persistent challenge.

“Many factories, particularly in China, still have production backlogs. There is still a worldwide shortage of semiconductors and certain raw materials, which has a knock-on impact on many other products.

“Once we were allocated products by suppliers, finding shipping containers became the next hurdle, followed by challenges finding ships prepared to carry our cargo.

Durban Container Terminal, criticised for poor efficiencies causing ships to avoid the call in Africa Ports & Ships
Durban Container Terminal, criticised for poor efficiencies and delays, causing ships to avoid the call    Picture: Transnet

Reluctance to dock in Durban port

“Shipping lines are increasingly becoming reluctant to dock in Durban port and endure docking and offloading delays and the ensuing related congestion, for which our largest container port has become notorious.

The report said that freight forwarders and suppliers immediately took advantage of supply chain congestion and product shortages to increase prices. “The cost of shipping a container has risen to more than tenfold the pre-Covid cost.”

As having stock available is critical for Hudaco, the decision was taken to increase stock early in the year by one month of sales, which stood them in good stead, because they could supply when many of their competitors could not.

“This supreme effort by all our businesses in the strategic management of their entire value chain kept us a step ahead.”

Government economic policy failures

The report says that the ANC government’s economic policies and its governance failures have been significant contributors to the challenging economic conditions and the ballooning numbers of unemployed experienced by South Africa, with the findings set out in the recently released Zondo Report on State Capture presenting glaring examples of the deterioration in the country’s governance.

“We urge the government to take decisive action to implement the recommendations of the Zondo Commission, to hold people to account for their actions, to in future appoint only highly ethical, competent people to senior state positions and, for the benefit of all citizens of South Africa, to embrace the well-known economic policies that have brought great prosperity to many modern nations over the past seven or so decades.”

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Cyclone Batsirai UPDATE Sunday 23h00

Cyclone Batsirai at 18h00 Sunday 6 February, in Africa Ports & Ships
Cyclone Batsirai on 6 February ay 18h00

Cyclone Batsirai (8S) on Sunday 6 February 2022 passed over the island of Madagascar having buffeted much of the land including near the capital of Antananarivo with strong winds and heavy rain, but has since weakened as the storm moves into the Mozambique Channel, having emerged near the port town of Tulear at 16h00 UTC.

There are reports of flooding and damage across the path of Batsirai – full details will only become available once people have been able to emerge and begin mopping up and restoring their lifestyles. Early report indicate thousands of people affected by the storm, the second in two weeks to hit Madagascar.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbour reports the storm centre at 18h00 on Sunday as being near 23.2S 43.9E, approximately 236 nautical miles east of Europa island in the Mozambique Channel.

The cyclone has tracked southwestward at 10 knots over the previous six hours. Winds at that stage were averaging 50 knots, gusting to 65 knots. It is expected now that although the storm, reclassified as a moderate cyclone but with a large circulation, will strengthen over the warm waters of the Mozambique Channel, the predictions are that Batsirai will take a sharp turn southwards by Monday morning and after passing the southernmost part of Madagascar in mid-week, will curve south-eastward as it plunges towards the south, losing strength rapidly as it goes.

It is not predicted to approach any further to the African coastline.

Cyclone Cliff (10S)

Further east, Cyclone Cliff (10S) was near position 23.2S 78.7E at 18h00 on Sunday 6 February and tracking southwestward at 9 knots. The cyclone is dissipating rapidly as it moves further south and west and is not considered a risk to any landmass. sources: JTWC, Meteo France, Cyclocane.

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Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table 2021/2022

Issued in London on 31 January the annual Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table, from the International Chamber of Shipping, identified reporting on seafarer wellbeing as a ‘casualty of the pandemic.’

The Table is intended to encourage ship owners to maintain a dialogue with their Flag states, and help facilitate necessary improvements in the interests of safety, the environment and decent working conditions, among other issues. The Flag State of a merchant ship is the jurisdiction under whose laws the ship is registered or licensed and is deemed the nationality of the vessel.

ICS report in Africa Ports & Ships

This year’s Table highlights a drop in levels of reporting on the status of national ILO labour standards, including the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), underscoring the severe administrative pressures of the pandemic and the ongoing crew change crisis on seafarers, governments and the industry alike. The Table’s criterion assessing flag states’ reporting on ILO labour standards, including the MLC, revealed a 6% decrease in Flag States successfully meeting their obligations.

The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, which compiled the report used by the ICS Table, noted that “there was a sharp decrease in the number of reports received by the deadline of 1 October this year in relation to previous years.” In total, of the 2,004 reports on labour standards requested by the ILO from governments in 2021, only 42.9% of these requests were granted. This is in comparison with a 70.7% rate of reporting received by the ILO the previous year.

The findings were an outlier against a generally strong performance across the board from most Flag States, on criteria such as Port State Control (PSC) records and ratification of international conventions. ICS noted that while this trend can be partly explained by administrative pressures brought about by Covid-19, it also serves as a reminder that the hardships suffered by the global workforce throughout this pandemic may not be at the forefront of national administrations’ minds.

Guy Platten ICS Secretary General in Africa Ports & Ships
Guy Platten ICS Secretary General

Guy Platten, ICS Secretary General, commented: “The pandemic has been a challenge for us all and one that Flag States have also had to weather. However, the drop off in reporting against ILO Labour Standards, including the MLC, is further evidence that seafarer wellbeing has been an unintended casualty of the pandemic.

“Hundreds of thousands of seafarers have been trapped on ships for many months beyond their scheduled tours of duty throughout the last two years. This report is a reminder that Flag States must keep seafarer wellbeing as a top priority.”

Amongst the ten largest ship registers (by dead weight tonnage), covering more than 75% of the world fleet, none have more than two indicators of potentially negative performance, and five have no negative indicators at all.

The findings also suggest that distinctions between traditional flags and open registers are no longer meaningful, with many open registers amongst the very top performers, alongside several European registers.

To read the document

Produced by the ICS in association with the Asian Shipowners’ Association and the European Community Shipowners’ Association the publication: Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table 2021/2022 at ten pages is available to be downloaded HERE

About the ICS

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the global trade association representing national ship owners’ associations from Asia, the Americas and Europe and more than 80% of the world merchant fleet.

Established in 1921, ICS is concerned with all aspects of maritime affairs particularly maritime safety, environmental protection, maritime law and employment affairs.

ICS enjoys consultative status with the IMO and the ILO.

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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WHARF TALK: one of the mighty mouse fleet – BBC NAPLES

The heavylift BBC Naples at the lay-bye berth 700 off the Ben Schoemann Dock in the port of Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The heavylift BBC Naples at the lay-bye berth 700 off the Ben Schoemann Dock in the port of Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

There is one specialised heavylift, and project freight, carrier whose vessels are regular callers at South African ports throughout the year. Some visits are for the purpose of delivering large items of project freight, and others are merely to call in for bunkers and stores whilst en-route to making a cargo delivery elsewhere. One thing that is always the same with this carrier is that the cargo she is carrying, or at least the visible deck cargo, is always something interesting.

On 2nd February at 11h00 the multi-purpose heavylift vessel BBC NAPLES (IMO 9484223) arrived off Cape Town, from Singapore, and entered Cape Town harbour. In an extremely unusual berthing procedure, she entered the Ben Schoeman Dock, not for berthing at one of the Cape Town Container Terminal berths but, instead, she went alongside berth 700, which is one of the outside lay-up berths.

BBC Naples was on the lay-bye berth to attend to some mechanical maintenance while en-route to Ghana. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
BBC Naples was on the lay-bye berth to attend to some mechanical maintenance while en-route to West Africa. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2010 by Heshun Shipyard at Qingdao in China, ‘BBC Naples’ is 132 metres in length and has a deadweight of 9,775 tons. She is powered by a single MaK 8M32C 8 cylinder 4 stroke main engine, producing 5,150 bhp (3,840 kW) to drive a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 13 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Scania DI1262M generators providing 324 kW each, and a single Sisu 49-CTAG-4V emergency generator providing 128 kW. She has a Tec CHR exhaust gas boiler, and a Tec CHO oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a bow transverse thruster of 500 kW. To allow her to trade in all waters, her classification is the high Ice Class 1A.

She has two holds with a cargo carrying capacity of 12,822 m3, and her container carrying capacity is 474 TEU, with 20 reefer plugs provided. To service her two holds, and for heavylift working, she has two, offset, 60 ton Liebherr Electro-Hydraulic cranes, which can lift 120 tons when used in tandem.

Owned and managed by Held Bereederungs GmbH, of Haren in Germany, ‘BBC Naples’ is operated by BBC Chartering GmbH of Leer, also in Germany. She is one of a series of 12 sisterships, of which five of the class are currently placed within the BBC Chartering fleet. BBC Chartering refer to this class of vessel as BBC-9K-120A.

As with all BBC vessels, her visible deck cargo included some interesting items, the most obvious being a set of ten giant, dumper truck bodies. These were all Jec bodies built by Austin, of Perth in Australia, who are in partnership with ETT, of Richards Bay in South Africa. ETT, together with Austin, are specialist manufacturers of giant mining support vehicles, used in surface and open pit mining. This particular deck project cargo on ‘BBC Naples’ were all for the order of African Mining Services, of Accra in Ghana, who are a subsidiary of the Perenti Group, of Perth in Australia.

Her arrival in Cape Town harbour, and the unusual place of her berthing appeared to be down to her need for shoreside maintenance support, for an unknown problem. The issue was resolved the next day, as she sailed from Cape Town on 3rd February at 20h00, citing ‘Sea Trials’ on her AIS. The trials must have been a success, as by 21h00 her AIS changed to Soyo, in Angola, and she cleared Table Bay heading north at her service speed of 12.9 knots.

In her twelve year career, ‘BBC Naples’ has received 58 port state inspections, of which two of them resulted in her detention. The first port detention occurred in February 2014 in Safaga, in Egypt, resulting in a one day detention, as a result of deficiencies in documentation relating to onboard Safety Equipment and Synopsis Records.

Among the visible deck cargo on BBC Naples were a set of ten giant, dumper truck bodies. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Among the visible deck cargo on BBC Naples were a set of ten giant, dumper truck bodies. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her second port detention occurred in August 2019 in Philadelphia, in the USA, which resulted in a two day detention, as a result of deficiencies with her emergency generator, and for non-compliance with her Safety Management System (ISM), relating to the reporting of incidents and hazardous occurrences.

In April 2021, ‘BBC Naples’ was the centre of an incident where she was not detained in a port, but rather she was expelled from a port. Whilst en-route from Rotterdam, to an unknown Chinese port, ‘BBC Naples’ developed engine problems and called into the Chinese operated port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, in order to effect repairs.

It was discovered that she was carrying a radioactive cargo, namely Uranium Hexafluoride, which is listed by the IMO as Dangerous Goods, with a UN number of 2978. Uranium Hexafluoride is used for enriching uranium for the purposes of producing fuel for nuclear reactors, or nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, the vessel agents failed to declare the cargo, and as the importation of radioactive substances into Sri Lanka is strictly prohibited, the local authorities ordered ‘BBC Naples’ to be removed immediately from both the port, and from Sri Lankan waters. The ‘BBC Naples’ had inadvertently violated Sri Lanka’s Atomic Energy Act No. 40 of 2014, which requires the declaration of radioactive materials.

Once she had sailed from Hambantota harbour, and on passing outside the six nautical mile limit, ‘BBC Naples’ anchored and continued with the repairs to her engine. These were completed the next day, and she continued on to the Chinese destination.

The port of Hambantota itself is a recent addition to Sri Lankan port facilities, as it is a new port brought into operation only in 2010, and built by a Chinese harbour construction firm, at the insistence of the Chinese state bank that made the loans to the Sri Lankan government. The local port operators struggled to make the port viable, and it was sold to the current Chinese port operators of Hambantota, who are a Chinese government, part state owned, enterprise.

The sale of the port to the current operator in 2017 caused a local outcry, and the agreement was delayed for several months due to concerns that the port could be used for Chinese military purposes, and due to opposition from both trade unions and political parties, which called it a sell-out of Sri Lankan national assets to China. Both India and the USA raised concerns that Chinese control of Hambantota port could harm their interests in the Indian Ocean.

A stern look at BBC Naples' accommodation area and of course, her funnel. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
A stern look at BBC Naples’ narrow accommodation area and of course, her funnel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The large Chinese bank loans, the inability of the Sri Lankan government to service the loans, and the subsequent 99 year Chinese lease on the port, from an original 35 year lease, together with an increase in Chinese ownership, up from the original 65% to 85%, have also led to accusations that China was practicing debt-trap diplomacy, the factual accuracy of which is disputed.

The political fall-out of the sale to the Chinese has not abated, as in February 2021 the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister said the lease agreement was a mistake made by the previous government, and should be revisited. In September 2021 a Sri Lankan geopolitical analyst described the whole episode as a ‘strategic trap’.

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EU to boost its naval presence in the northwest Indian Ocean 

Operation Atalanta naval ships intercept and deter piracy and smuggling in the northwest Indian Ocean, in Africa Ports & Ships
Operation Atalanta naval ships intercept and deter piracy and smuggling in the northwest Indian Ocean     EUNAVFOR

It has been reported that the EU is ready to boost its naval presence in the northwest area of the Indian Ocean including as far south as the central Mozambique Channel, in order to ‘uphold freedom of navigation’.

The report in EUobserver called the project a ‘concept note’ by the EU foreign service. It said the project was modelled on existing EU anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Guinea and Horn of Africa regions, and would operate in a new “MAI [maritime area of interest]” covering a vast region of ocean from the Red Sea, to Madagascar, the Maldives, and the Strait of Hormuz.

“Member states deploying assets [warships] in the new NWIO [north west Indian Ocean] MAI … would be a good opportunity” to “enhance the EU’s diplomatic influence,” the foreign service said.

It would “strengthen relations with maritime industry, enhancing the EU’s status as a global maritime security provider. It would open new opportunities for strategic dialogue with key partners, such as India,” it stated.

But when pressed for more information about the project, the EU foreign service told EUobserver, “There is not much we can say at this stage.”

Naval ships on patrol in the NW Indian Ocean, a region that the EU is looking to expand, in Africa Ports & Ships
Naval ships on patrol in the NW Indian Ocean, a region that the EU is looking to expand   EUNAVFOR

Enhanced naval deployment

It did add however, that “As the high representative [EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell] has mentioned in the past, the EU is currently exploring ways to ensure an enhanced naval deployment by our member states in the [Indian Ocean] region, taking into account the lessons learned from the first pilot case of the [EU naval mission] … in the Gulf of Guinea,” it said.

“For the NWIO MAI, most stakeholders are already aware of the EU’s ambitions … MS [member states] are ready to commit assets,” it said, with the concept note saying that plans were well under way.

Area crucial to world trade

The report emphasised how the area concerned is crucial to world trade.

“Tensions and alliances reverberate on the African shore of the Red Sea where Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia and UAE), together with Egypt, are competing against Turkey and Qatar, as well as China and Russia, for ports and influence, as well as on interpretation of Islam,” it said.

The EU foreign service noted that while there had been no recent “significant [maritime] security incidents” in the Strait of Hormuz, there were “numerous” missile attacks on Saudi Arabia by pro-Iranian rebels in Yemen, and that Iraq was “unstable”, while the US and China were building up assets in a “maritime power play” in the Arabian Sea.

“The recent Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has triggered fears of a renewed wave of terrorism in the region” from “dormant cells, in particular in the Arabian Peninsula”, it also warned.

An expanded region of interest for EU naval forces. map: EUobserver in Africa Ports & Ships
An expanded region of interest for EU naval forces. map EUobserver

International strategic competition

“There is … international strategic competition present in the western Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, within which Bab el-Mandeb [a strait between Djibouti and Yemen] and the Strait of Hormuz are the geographical epicentres,” it said.

The EU report said that the EU’s Horn of Africa anti-piracy mission, Atalanta, was currently “contributing to securing the Bab El Mandeb Strait.”

In addition, nine countries, including eight EU ones and Norway, also have naval forces in the so-called Agenor mission, which patrol around the Strait of Hormuz area to “de-escalate” tension.

Where hard power counts

In a part of the world where hard power counted, the “show of force, deterrent effect” of Atalanta and Agenor have been what the EU foreign service dubbed “key features” of their effectiveness.

Spelling out why Indian Ocean security was vital to European interests, the EU foreign service said: “The Red Sea is one of the busiest maritime corridors in the world, channelling an important proportion of global trade – and nearly all exchanges between Europe and Asia – each year.

“80 percent of the world’s trade passes through the Indian Ocean,” it said, and 20 percent of global oil production goes via the Strait of Hormuz.

It was not always about intercepting smugglers or pirates. Here crew from the Spanish ship ESPS Meteoro go on board an arab dhow to render medical assistance to sick crew, in Africa Ports & Ships
It  is not always about intercepting smugglers or pirates. Here crew from the Spanish ship ESPS Meteoro go on board an arab dhow to render urgent medical assistance.  EUNAVFOR/Spanish Navy

NW Indian Ocean dynamic centre of economic growth

Noting that the wider north western Indian Ocean was “one of the most dynamic centres of economic growth in the world,” and that the fight against local piracy, such as maritime trafficking and/or smuggling was still in its infancy in the region, it pointed out that its future was “dependent on safe and secure sea lines of communication … to link trade between Middle East, Africa, East Asia, and Europe.”

Relative to the above, EU NAVFOR announced it is working with regional partners including the Indian Ocean Commission, to strengthen a sustainable security architecture. EU NAVFOR said that in close partnership with regional states, the EU has been developing a comprehensive approach to address maritime threats in the Western Indian Ocean to increase Maritime Domain Awareness through capacity building and information exchange.


On 16 December 2021, EU NAVFOR Atalanta, the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar, and Regional Centre for Operational Coordination (RCOC) in Seychelles, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate and contribute to the coordination of maritime security operations and to foster the sharing and exchange of maritime information.

Referring to the signing of the MoU, Vice Admiral José M. Núñez Torrente, the Director of the RMIFC, called it a landmark and said: “I am confident that we will develop synergies that will help us to fulfil our missions in the most efficient way with a better understanding on how we can support each other both, now and in the future.

“Given the recent adjustment of EU NAVFOR’s mandate to address other illegal activities, our interactions with the regional centres needed to be strengthened, particularly in terms of information sharing and coordination at sea.”

He said there is a strong demand for support from both centres in terms of exchanges of information and expertise. “More specifically, Atalanta and regional states in the area share the common interest of tackling transnational criminal networks in general, and drug trafficking, in particular.”

The agreement is the first of its kind with maritime security centres and will be at the heart of the new enhanced cooperation on the region.

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INTERCARGO: EU Beginning to Grasp Realities of Shipping

Pictures: INTERCARGO, in Africa Ports & Ships

The recent proposal by Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Peter Liese to update Amendment 9 of the EU emissions trading system (ETS) draft directive and support the ‘polluter pays’ principle is cautiously welcomed by INTERCARGO, the international association representing the world’s quality dry bulk shipping sector.

This recognition that often the shipping company is not the commercial entity controlling the ship operation, and thus is not responsible for the resulting GHG emissions, is long overdue.

Pictures: INTERCARGO, in Africa Ports & Ships

INTERCARGO Chairman, Dimitrios Fafalios (pictured, left) commented: ‘Although we retain our reservations on the EU emissions trading system (ETS) as a whole, we are pleased to see the EU take steps in the right direction, as regulators finally grasp some of the realities of our industry.

‘Trading patterns within the dry bulk sector are diverse and dispersed. A significant share of the bulk carriers’ operation is administered by charterers, which not only take responsibility for purchasing the fuel, but also take operational decisions that directly affect the CO2 emissions of the ship, such as speed of transit.

‘At the same time, whilst the proposal recognises the need to establish a contractual requirement between the ship owner and commercial operator to pass on the costs, it must be understood that this will be easier said than done.’

Pictures: INTERCARGO, in Africa Ports & ShipsDespite this move, INTERCARGO is still firmly committed to supporting the role of the IMO as the global forum and regulator for driving the elimination of all CO2 emissions from shipping worldwide.

The Association does, however, support any initiative designed to ease this transition for ship operators, and as such supports Mr Liese’s proposal for the establishment of an Ocean Fund to finance R&D into maritime decarbonisation and to fund R&D projects aimed at bridging the price gap between cleaner and conventional fuels.

INTERCARGO’s annual report for 2020 / 2021 may be accessed HERE

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Contracts awarded to dredge open Senegal’s Port of St Louis River

The current river port of St Louis on the Senegal River. Picture: Pinterest
The current river port of St Louis on the Senegal River. Picture: Pinterest

Aids to navigation and marine lighting awarded to Sealite

Agence Nationale des Affaires Maritimes (ANAM), the maritime authority of Senegal, based in Dakar, has awarded a contract for the dredging and effective reopening of the Port of St Louis on the Senegal River in the West African country.

The port has remained commercially unnavigable since a long drought in the 1970s. The project will include a fishing port, a marina and a commercial port for the city of Saint Louis.

The intention now is for the little-known port to be reopened and to be used to help important West and North African trade links with Europe and Asia.

The overall project is in the hands of Dredging International, part of the Belgian DEME Group. The dredging and widening of the channel involves the removal of 1,314,000m3 of material within the next 3½ months.

Dredging International in turn has awarded a contract to Sealite, a technology expert in the design and manufacture of marine aids to navigation (AtoN) equipment. These include Marine Lighting, Navigation Buoys, Marine Floats, Port Entry Lighting systems, Lighthouse Lighting Equipment and Monitoring and Control systems software.

Sealite's Poseidon 1750 Ocean Buoy and Navigational Light, in Africa Ports & Ships
Sealite’s Poseidon 1750 Ocean Buoy and Navigational Light

Sealite, part of SPX Corporation, is a global manufacturer of products that guide vessels safely into ports and harbours around the world.

Sealite’s appointed partner is Dakar-based company Deparentis, which is commissioning 72 marine buoys and lanterns, to be installed along a 10.2km stretch of the St Louis River channel. Sealite was awarded the contract based on its reputation and ability to meet very tight supply deadlines. Although Sealite has been supplying Aids to Navigation into the African region for many years, this is its first large scale project in Senegal.

The managing director of Sealite’s Australia, Asia, Pacific and the Middle East division, Michael Walker, said Sealite planned to keep growing its presence in the African region.

Sealite’s Poseidon-1750 marine buoys and SL-B1200-FW fast water buoys have been selected for this project. They will be partnered with SL-70’s and SL-C310 self-contained marine lanterns. GPS synchronisation will ensure all the lights flash in unison, clearly identifying safe passage for mariners. The use of satellite monitoring will provide visibility and control utilising the Star2M secure asset monitoring and control platform.

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MSC Cruises announces details for 2022/2023 cruise season

MSC Poesia in Ajaccio. The ship is already fully booked for her 2023 World Cruise, one of two such cruises that MSC Cruises has on offer. Picture: Wikipedia Commons, in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Poesia in Ajaccio. The ship is already fully booked for her 2023 World Cruise, one of two such cruises that MSC Cruises has on offer. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

MSC Cruises’ will have 21 ships visiting more than 190 destinations in 85 countries with choices of mini-cruises, 4 and 7-night sailings as well as longer cruises during the 2022/23 season, during which two new ships, MSC World Europa and MSC Seascape will make their debut.

The fleet will sail in Middle East waters, the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America and South Africa, in addition to having two ships circumnavigating the world at the same time.

One of the new ships, MSC World Europa is the company’s first LNG-powered ship and the first of a new class, and will be based in Doha for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ after which the new ship will offer cruises calling Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas (United Arab Emirates) Doha (Qatar) and Dammam (Saudi Arabia).

Demand in the Middle East is so strong that MSC has extended its season in the region. The three ships are MSC World Europa, MSC Opera and MSC Splendida.

The second ship to debut this year is MSC Seascape, the second EVO class which will operate two different 7-night itineraries out of Miami. MSC Seascape joins MSC Meraviglia, MSC Divina and MSC Seaside visiting a variety of cruise destinations throughout the Caribbean and Antilles.

Mediterranean highlights for winter 2022-2023 include three ships sailing in this iconic cruise region, two of them among the company’s most innovative ships – MSC Grandiosa and MSC Virtuosa – giving guests not only the chance to discover everything that the Mediterranean has to offer but also a memorable experience on board.

MSC Grandiosa will offer 7-night cruises from Genoa, Civitavecchia and Palermo (Italy), Valetta (Malta), Barcelona (Spain) and Marseille (France).

MSC Virtuosa will sail from Genoa, La Spezia/Florence and Naples (Italy), Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona (Spain) and Marseille (France). Sales for MSC Virtuosa will open in the coming days.

MSC Lirica will offer longer cruises for voyages of discovery of 11 nights from Genoa, Civitavecchia, Messina (Italy), Lindos/Rhodes (Greece), Limassol (Cyprus), Haifa (Israel), Heraklion/Crete (Greece), all from Genoa (Italy) or 10-nights from Genoa that calls Marseille (France), Barcelona (Spain), Tangier and Casablanca/Marrakech (Morocco), Ceuta, Malaga and Alicante/Costa Blanca (Spain)

Northern Europe sees MSC Preziosa offering a new 7-night winter itinerary introduced this season visiting five of Europe’s most popular cities – Hamburg, Zeebrugge for Bruges and Brussels, Rotterdam, Le Havre for Paris, and Southampton for London.

South America highlights for winter 2022-2023 include no less than five ships to choose from, sailing in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, all hand-picked and vibrant destinations right in the heart of the South American region.

The ships are MSC Seashore, MSC Seaview, MSC Fantasia, MSC Armonia, and MSC Musica with ships homeported in Rio de Janeiro, Santos and Salvador, Itajai/Santa Caterina, and Buenos Aires

Lastly, but not least, two ships will operate in South Africa during the 2022/2023 summer season with MSC Sinfonia homeporting in Cape Town from December 2022 and sailing the southern and west coasts to Mossel Bay, Walvis Bay and Luderitz.

MSC Orchestra will be based in Durban and perform calls including Pomene and Portuguese Island/Inhaca Archipelago in Mozambique, as well as Cape Town and Walvis Bay.

Details of the South Africa cruising season may be FOUND HERE

MSC World Cruise for 2022-2023:

MSC Magnifica and MSC Poesia will perform World Cruises in 2023, hosting over 5,000 passengers across the two ships for a circumnavigation journey around the world. They will depart from Civitavecchia and Genoa respectively on 4 and 5 January, Marseille in France one day later and Barcelona Spain on 7 January.

Once the two ships have exited the Mediterranean Sea via the Strait of Gibraltar, they will part ways in the Atlantic Ocean. MSC Poesia is already sold-out but there are limited cabins available on MSC Magnifica.

To find out more VISIT HERE.

Itineraries for the balance of the MSC fleet have still to be announced and are due soon.

Cruising with Confidence

MSC Cruises holidays are open to vaccinated guests only and this will continue to be the case for winter 2022/2023. The line will continue to implement the appropriate measures, adapting to the health situation ashore, to ensure that guests can enjoy one of the safest holidays options out there all whilst having a memorable time on board.

For more information on MSC Cruises’ health & safety protocol and embarkation requirements, SEE HERE

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The Pilot Safety agenda: Understanding it with the latest edition of The Navigator

Pilot safety, including the condition of rope ladders, digital tools and technology and best practices is the focus of the latest edition of The Navigator.

In the age of digital navigation and ECDIS, it might seem surprising that safety can depend on rigging a rope ladder correctly – but for many Pilots, this is literally where ship safety starts.

The Navigator appearing in Africa Ports & Ships

All too often, boarding arrangements put lives at risk.

The February issue of the free magazine from The Nautical Institute, aimed at maritime navigators around the world, sets out to change this by increasing knowledge and awareness around Pilot safety issues.

Contents of the journal includes articles about the digital tools available to modern Pilots, issues surrounding pilot ladder safety and why traditional seamanship skills remain just as vital today as they always have done.

An article in cooperation with the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) looks at the results of the most recent pilot ladder safety survey – and will be followed by a live webinar on Thursday 14 April, looking at some of the issues raised in the magazine.

David Patraiko, Director of Projects for The Nautical Institute, commented: ‘A successful pilotage operation calls for a huge scope of seamanship – from Pilots and ship’s crew alike. At the most basic level, the pilot ladder needs to be rigged well and safely. This may call upon some of the most traditional seamanship skills dating back to tall ships.’

How to obtain The Navigator

The Nautical Institute launched what is known as its Navigator Distributor scheme in 2015, encouraging a wider, global distribution of the free, 12-page magazine to as many professional marine navigators as possible.

Readers of Africa Ports & Ships interested in finding out how their organisation can take part in the scheme are invited to VISIT HERE

The Navigator is produced by The Nautical Institute with support from the Royal Institute of Navigation. Sponsored by IFAN and Trinity House, it is available as a free pdf, digital magazine or app via The Nautical Institute website.

Printed copies are distributed alongside The Nautical Institute’s membership magazine, Seaways, as well as through missions and maritime training establishments.

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Added 7 February 2022


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Cyclone Batsirai on course to strike Madagascar

Cyclone Batsirai, in Africa Ports & Ships
Cyclone Batsirai nearing Madagascar

This image, captured on 4 February 2022 by one of the Sentinel-3 satellites, shows cyclone Batsirai shortly after it passed near the French overseas department of La Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa.

Batsirai brought torrential rains and extreme winds to La Réunion, with gusts of 200km/h. The rough seas generated by the cyclone also caused an oil tanker to go aground off the southern coast of La Réunion, resulting in an oil spill. [See next report below.]

Despite the highly adverse meteorological conditions, teams from the department’s fire and rescue service were successful in recovering all eleven members of the tanker’s crew.

For France 24 news with film (in French)  SEE HERE

Using Sentinel satellite data and in situ data, the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service Sea Models can be used to evaluate the potential effects and predict the drifts of oil spills through products such as OSERIT for the North Sea, or MEDSLIK in the Mediterranean.

Paul Ridgway in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Added 5 February 2022


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Mauritian tanker Tresta Star goes aground off Reunion during height of Cyclone Batsirai

Tresta Star, which has gone aground off the island of Reunion. Picture: Bhavik Naginlal Modi/MarineTraffic, in Africa Ports & Ships
Tresta Star, which has gone aground off the island of Reunion. Picture: Bhavik Naginlal Modi/MarineTraffic

The TRESTA STAR (IMO 9869629), a small oil products tanker possibly used for bunkering and registered in Mauritius, has run aground off the eastern coast of Reunion Island during the height of Cyclone Batsirai on Thursday (3 February 2022).

It appears the tanker was heading towards the south of the island, possibly to seek protection from the force of the cyclone which at that time was passing to the north of Reunion, when it suffered engine trouble and was blown towards the shore.

Tresta Star's movements off the coast of Reunion before going aground, taken from MarineTraffic AIS , in Africa Ports & Ships
Tresta Star’s movements off the coast of Reunion before going aground, taken from MarineTraffic AIS

The ship went aground off Pointe du Tremblet near the south-east corner of the island. The crew of the vessel numbering 11, comprise seven Indian nationals and four Bangladeshis and are all reported safe.

According to officials on Reunion, Tresta Star was not carrying a cargo of oil at the time and any threat to the coastline will be limited to diesel fuel used in the engine room.

An earlier report suggested an attempt was to be made to take the tanker in tow before she went aground but it appears this was not achieved.

The tanker, which was built in 2019, has a length of 76 metres and width of 16 metres.


Video via Twitter: French Navy – Use your BACKSPACE button to return here

The track of Cyclone Batsirai until Friday 4 February 2022 at 09h00, in Africa Ports & Ships
The track of Cyclone Batsirai until Friday 4 February 2022 at 18h30

Cyclone Batsirai

Cyclone Batsirai has meanwhile passed to the north of Reunion and was near position 19.4S 52.6E at 12h00 on Friday 4 February. The cyclone is expected to go ashore on the coast of Madagascar on Saturday afternoon between Mahanoro and Mananjary at a condition of being an intense cyclone, possibly very intense, with a maximum predicted wind speed of 120 knots (138 mph).

The rain expected overland is in the area of 100mm. In the littoral zones in the south of the landing zone and on the chain of the east between 300mm and 400mm of rain is forecast. The coastal swell will be of the order of reaching 7 to 8 metres but with a maximum height of 15m possible. In the landing zone a surge of between 1 and 1,5 metres or higher is likely.

The latest forecasting suggests the cyclone will weaken over land until it crosses into the Mozambique Channel on the west coast of Madagascar, near the latitude of Europa island on Monday. Once back over water it will again strengthen, with the cyclone however curving to the south and lessening the risk of another cyclone over parts of Mozambique and even northern KZN in South Africa, together with adjacent inland areas. The cyclone will weaken as it then moves further south but around 300 or so miles from the South African coast.

Cycvlone Batsirai (8S) and Tropical Storm Cliff (10S) in the Indian OIcean on Friday 4 February 2022, in Africa Ports & Ships
Cyclone Batsirai (8S) and Tropical Storm Cliff (10S) in the Indian OIcean on Friday 4 February 2022

Tropical Storm 10S (Cliff)

The second tropical storm previously reported, now named Tropical Storm Cliff (10S), to the east in the Indian Ocean and situated near 18.1S 83.8E some 920 n.miles southeast of Diego Garcia, was tracking south-southwestward at 6 knots at 09h00 Friday 4 February, with a maximum wave height of 12 feet. Its current path will take the storm well to the south of Mauritius and Reunion islands.   sources: Cyclocane, Meteo France, Joint Typhoon Warning Center

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Added 5 February 2022



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