Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 1 April 2022

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The week’s mastheads:

Monday: Port of Cape Town Dry Dock
Tuesday: Port of Cape Town Tanker Basin
Wednesday: Port of Cape Town Duncan Dock
Thursday: Port of Cape Town from the V&A
Friday: Port of Cape Town
Saturday: Port of East London West Bank
Sunday: Port of East London




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Jolly Vanadio. Picture by Trevor Jones, in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture by Trevor Jones
Jolly Vanadio. Picture by Trevor Jones, in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture by Trevor Jones

We haven’t seen much of this member of the Ignazio Messina Line RoRo fleet, JOLLY VANADIO (IMO 9668972) – her previous and only other visit, according to our records, was in January 2019. Built in 2015 at the STX Offshore Shipbuilding yard in Jinhae, South Korea, she is one of the later batch of Linea Messina’s roll-on, roll-off cargo vessels to appear in African waters, being deployed on this occasion between Genoa in Italy and Durban in South Africa via the East Coast.

The 51,055-dwt Jolly Vanadio is 240 metres in length and 37.5m wide and has a container capacity of 3,001 TEU with 200 reefer points. The vessel has a single ramp for her RoRo duties and is powered by a diesel two-stroke MAN B&W 7L70ME-C8 main engine producing 22,890 kW (31,21 HP) to drive a fixed pitch propeller that gives the ship a speed of 20 knots.

Jolly Vanadio is registered to Ignazio Messina & C SPA of Genoa in Italy and managed by the same company.

The Messina vessels, all prefixed by the name ‘Jolly’ meaning Joker, always dock at the Point, or multi-purpose terminal when arriving in Durban, the southern terminus for this service. Being as large as they are they tend to dominate the scene and are quite visible from the adjacent Mahatma Gandhi Road (Point Road). They all fly the Italian flag and on this service sail from Genoa to Durban and return, calling at Mediterranean and Red Sea ports and several East African ports en-route.

The pictures are by Trevor Jones




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Historic step as Transnet commences with sale of rail slots to third-party operators

The next time you see a container train along the Natal Corridor, it may be under private operation. Picture by Charles Baker, in Africa Ports & Ships
The next time you see a container train like this along the Natal Corridor, it may be under private operation. Picture by Charles Baker

Transnet SOC Ltd on Friday (1 April 2022) opened the sale of slots on two key corridors on its rail network, and is inviting interested and qualifying operators to respond.

This is a significant step in the rail reform process, and advances the increased use of rail for the transportation of freight, as envisaged in the Draft White Paper on the National Rail Policy (2017).

Transnet has prioritised the Container Corridor (Gauteng to Durban) and the South Corridor (Gauteng to East London) for this first phase of third party access, for a 24-month period between 2022 and 2024 .

The two corridors are key for South Africa’s main growth sectors, particularly manufacturing, the automotive industry and agriculture.

The Container Corridor links the Port of Durban to the Gauteng economic hub through an extensive rail network of roughly 714km. The railway connection between Transnet’s container terminals in the Port of Durban and Transnet’s inland terminals in City Deep, Kascon, Pretcon, Kaalfontein, and several accredited private sidings in Gauteng, are crucial to expanding the custom bonded facilities network beyond the port.

This is critical to supply chain efficiencies and reducing congestion in the Port of Durban.

The South Corridor provides a strategic route between Gauteng and the ports of East London and indirectly Port Elizabeth, that can be customised and configured to suit the unique requirements of the rapidly expanding agricultural and automotive sectors.

The system will operate by means of slots (temporary occupation of sections of the network to enable end to end passage of a train), with Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) retaining ownership of the network.

The sale of slots to third-party operators expands the access that Transnet already grants to PRASA, approved Branch Line Operators, the luxury hospitality services provided by Rovos Rail and the Blue Train and Steam Train Operators to the rail network.

Analysis of this report by Transnet will be carried in our Monday edition.

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a special feature

Cover picture in Africa Ports & Ships


The South African Navy and its predecessors
1922 – 2022

by  André Wessels

ISBN numbers 9781928530978 (paperback), 9781776172023 (eBook)
496 PAGES, 222x148mm

Available from Tertia Swart at Naledi: mailto:  tel 078-648 8616.  Price R280 incl p&p local – outside SA enquire from Naledi publishers.


Andre Wessels in Africa Ports & Ships

Andre Wessels was born in Durban. He matriculated in that port city in 1974, and although he then studied and worked elsewhere in South Africa, he still has close ties with his “home town” – the place where his interest in naval history developed since his early childhood days, going on board  many visiting South African and foreign warships that in those days mainly went alongside at Maydon Wharf. He writes:


Throughout the ages, the politics and strategy of sea power was (and still is) of crucial importance for littoral countries; and sea power had (and still has) a profound influence on the history of the world.  To ensure the free flow of trade around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, a naval presence was (and still is) very necessary.  The development of South Africa’s naval forces has to be seen against this background.

The South African (SA) Navy is neither one of the oldest nor one of the major navies in the world, but it nevertheless has a fascinating and proud history, albeit also a chequered history. In the light of the fact that South Africa’s naval forces date back to at least 1 April 1922, the Navy’s centenary (i.e. on  1 April 2022) should be used to take stock of the Navy’s past, its present state of affairs, and its future.  After all, South Africa is, everything taken into consideration, supposed to be a maritime nation.

With oceans forming three of the Republic of South Africa’s borders, the country is thus – geographically speaking – a large peninsula.  It has a coastline of approximately 2 800 km and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that stretches 200 nautical miles from the coast into the oceans.  Approximately 30 000 ships sail around South Africa annually, including some 13 000 that enter the country’s ports.  Some 1 750 km southeast from Port Elizabeth lies South Africa’s Marion and Prince Edward Islands.  In the light of the fact that South Africa also has an EEZ around these islands, the country’s total EEZ covers just more than 1,5 million square km, which is larger than the country’s land surface of just more than 1,2 million square km. Also take into account that the South African maritime domain navigational area of responsibility, comprises an area of approximately 27 million square km.  When it is furthermore considered that at least 90 % of South Africa’s trade flows through the country’s harbours, it should be clear why the country should be a maritime nation, but in practice this is not necessarily the case.

How many South Africans know and appreciate the abovementioned facts?  For most inhabitants the sea is merely a holiday destination, and many South Africans suffer from what could be regarded as “sea blindness”.  How many South Africans know the fascinating albeit chequered history of their country’s navy?

In the course of the first century of its existence (1922-2022), South Africa’s naval forces have, on several occasions, undergone a process of transformation.  The South African Naval Service (SANS) was established on 1 April 1922 as a small coastal force, with only one survey ship and two minesweeping trawlers, but the world-wide Great Depression (1929-1935) led to the withdrawal from service of all three these ships.  As a consequence, from 1934 until 1939, the SANS existed only as a nominal naval force, with no ships.  In the meantime, war clouds gathered in Europe, and in September 1939, the Second World War broke out.

The SANS became the Seaward Defence Force (SDF) in 1939, which in turn, was transformed in 1942 to become the South African Naval Forces (SANF).  Under die leadership of South Africa’s wartime prime minister, General Jan Smuts, the Union Defence Force was expanded, including its naval forces.  By the end of the war, more than 8 000 persons had served in the country’s naval forces, inter alia on board 88 naval vessels – mostly fishing trawlers and whalers that had been converted into minesweepers or anti-submarine vessels.  Towards the end of the conflict, the SANF acquired three “Loch” Class frigates from Britain, one of which was in due course sent to the Far East to serve in the war against Japan.

In the course of the Second World War, South Africa’s naval forces made a small but nonetheless noteworthy contribution towards the Allied war effort, while approximately 2 000 South Africans serving in the Royal Navy, saw action in all the war zones.  South Africa was spared physical attack,  but 133  Allied merchant  ships  were  sunk  within 1 000 nautical miles (1 852 km) off the South African coast.  More than ever before, was the importance of safeguarding the Cape sea route emphasized.

After the cessation of hostilities, the SANF (renamed the SA Navy in 1951) was first down-sized, but expanded from 1947 onwards.  In 1947, the SANF acquired two ocean minesweepers, as well as a ship that was in due course converted into a hydrographic survey ship.  Further expansions followed, with no fewer than eighteen new or second-hand ships acquired in the course of the 1950s: two destroyers, one frigate, five seaward defence (i.e. patrol) boats, and ten coastal minesweepers.  This was namely the result of the Simon’s Town Agreement of 1955, which also led to Britain handing over their Simon’s Town Naval Base to the SA Navy on 1 April 1957.  The SA Navy thus became a small, blue-water navy, capable of guarding the Cape sea route in the interests of South Africa and the West.

The SA Navy continued to expand and became stronger in the course of the 1960s and 1970s, acquiring, inter alia, three new Type 12 (“President” Class) frigates (1962-1964) and a replenishment ship (SAS Tafelberg) in 1967, and establishing a Submarine Service. The Navy wished to acquire British “Oberon” Class submarines, but in the light of a British arms embargo, had to buy three French-built “Daphné” Class submarines (1970-1971) which in practice proved to be a better choice. The last British-built naval vessel to be acquired was the hydrographic survey ship, SAS Protea, in 1972 (which still serves in the Fleet).

The Navy entered the missile age, thanks to the acquisition of nine missile-carrying strike craft in the years 1977 to 1986: three built in Israel, he other six locally in Durban.  For several decades, the SA Navy was the guardian of the Cape sea route, even though in its heyday, it could only to a lesser extent, defend this sea route on its own.  But the National Party’s policy of separate development (apartheid) led to ever-growing international isolation, which also negatively impacted the Navy.  Naval contact with other countries was limited, and it became impossible to order new ships and submarines from abroad.  In 1977, in the wake of the mandatory United Nations arms embargo, the delivery of two corvettes and two submarines was cancelled by the French government.  By 1985 (and until 2006), the SA Navy was reduced to a small-ship navy that concentrated on the defence of South Africa’s harbours and coasts, albeit the Navy did play an important role in the War for Southern Africa (which included the so-called Border War), especially in the years 1975 to 1988.  This included assistance to South African Army Special Forces (Recces), when Navy strike craft and submarines transported them to locations on the coast of Angola and Mozambique to operate “behind enemy lines”, and then safely brought them back again.  In the meantime, in 1987, the SA Navy commissioned a second combat support ship, namely SAS Drakensberg – the largest of any kind of ship thus far designed and built in South Africa.

The run-up to and dawn of a new and truly democratic South Africa in 1994, created new opportunities for the SA Navy and thanks to the commissioning of four new frigates and three new submarines from 2006 to 2008, the Navy regained its blue-water status, and enhanced its power.


In the course of a century since 1922, South Africa’s naval forces have provided support to other government departments (including, for example, SA Navy’s role in the Antarctic in the 1990s), have taken part in numerous search-and-rescue operations, as well as humanitarian and other support operations.  Navy ships and submarines have also successfully taken part in numerous exercises, from the DURBEXs, CAPEXs and SANEXs of the 1940s to the 1960s, to the  “new” SA Navy’s participation in, for example, “ATLASUR”, “IBSAMAR”, and “Good Hope”. Other achievements of the Navy include the fact that at certain crucial times in the history of the SA Navy, its leaders were able to convince the politicians that money had to be allocated to expand or modernise the Navy, including new submarines and frigates (2006-2008). The last-mentioned acquisitions were not only necessary lifebuoys for the then ailing Navy, but indeed gave it more tools and confidence to fulfil its mandate. They have also played an important role in the Navy’s counter-piracy “Operation Copper” in the Mozambique Channel.  Since 1922, South Africa’s naval forces have also done excellent survey work along the country’s coasts, making it safe for ships to sail along the coasts, and to enter and exit the ports.

Everything considered, the biggest achievement of South Africa’s naval forces since 1922, and in particular since 1988, has been its diplomatic outreach actions. The traditional exchange of diplomats between friendly countries, reciprocal visits by heads of states and cabinet ministers, and the holding of summit meetings, are not the only means of strengthening relations between countries.  Throughout the ages it has, for example, been the practice of seafaring countries to send warships to one another from time to time; sometimes to take part in joint exercises, but usually to establish better relations or to strengthen ties that already exist.  In this regard the SA Navy is no exception.  These visits have nothing to do with “gunboat diplomacy”, i.e. diplomacy backed by the threat of military force.  In the world of diplomacy, warships do in fact play a very important role, and the presence of a warship can be the most tangible and visible sign of bilateral and multilateral friendships.

Since the end of the Second World War, 60 of the country’s 68 major warships have conducted approximately 100 flag-showing cruises, visiting more than 100 ports in approximately 50 countries.  This has included, in the years 1994 to 1996 (i.e. in the wake of the establishment of the new democratic RSA), eight tailor-made flag-showing cruises to at least 29 ports in 23 countries, for the first time showing the new flag of the new South Africa, renewing old friendships and establishing new diplomatic and naval ties.  The ability to deploy warships to other countries to show the flag and in many instances also to take part in naval exercises, sends out important military and diplomatic signals and serves as barometer of a navy’s self-confidence.  Even in the years 1985 to 2003, when the SA Navy was reduced to a “coastal force” which primarily consisted of strike craft and mine countermeasures vessels, the Navy was successful in the diplomatic field.  In this regard, the fact that the Navy had two combat support ships, was of great importance.

A warship is both a reflection and projection of the state it represents.  The more the RSA moved out of diplomatic isolation, the more South Africa needed warships to underpin its diplomatic efforts.  The acquisition of four new frigates and three new submarines boosted the Navy’s confidence, and provided the Navy with new “grey diplomats” that would enhance the Navy’s (and the RSA’s) image abroad.

The importance of the SA Navy’s “grey diplomats” cannot be disputed.  They have proved that in times of peace, the Navy’s role in the support of the state’s diplomatic initiatives encompasses a wide range of activities.  The Navy’s diplomatic activities, have shown to what extent contact with other navies, countries and people has been made, fostering mutual respect and insight; bringing about co-operation and joint training opportunities; supplying relief and other assistance, whether in areas where people have suffered from the results of natural disasters or as a consequence of political upheaval.  Of particular importance in this regard has been the role played by the SA Navy in the African context, as well as in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean rim areas.  It is very unfortunate, that financial considerations have in the past decade forced the SA Navy to curtail its flag-showing cruises.  The fact that there is a mismatch between the required missions of and funding for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), including the SA Navy, undermines certain of the state’s diplomatic and other initiatives.

In accordance with the SA Navy’s core business, namely “To fight at sea”, its mission, namely “To win at sea”, and its vision, namely “To be unchallenged at sea”, it is of the utmost importance that the RSA should have a well-equipped, well-balanced, well-trained and disciplined navy.  And yet there are South Africans who challenge the mere existence of a navy, and even of a defence force.  There are those who (erroneously) argue that South Africa is under no military threat. But what about terror groups and other threatening organisations?  What about piracy?  What about the unstable international situation, especially thanks to super/great power rivalry in the Far East, and (especially as of March 2022 once again) in Europe?

Throughout its chequered history, South Africa’s naval forces have been hampered by a lack of funds.  This led to the almost complete demise of the SANS in 1934; the radical down-sizing of the SANF in 1945; the early retirement of the two remaining Type 12 frigates (in 1980 and 1985 respectively), and the redefinition of the Navy as a coastal defence force; the loss of an additional fourteen hulls in 1985; further staff reductions in the early 1990s; and ship and submarine maintenance issues, which persist to the present day.  Credit is due to the SA Navy’s personnel that they were (and still are) able to keep the Navy afloat in difficult times.  However, the continued mismatch between the SA Navy’s mandate and its funding, is something that will have to be addressed sooner rather than later; otherwise, the Navy will no longer be able to deploy its ships and submarines.

The abovementioned challenges have also to be seen against the background of an underlying problem in South African society, with serious consequences for the country’s navy: the lack of a maritime culture amongst the largest portion of the population. There are even in this day and age, South Africans who challenge the mere existence of a navy.  South Africa is (or should be) a maritime nation, but many South Africans are ignorant with regard to the importance of the sea in the history, the economy, and the future of the country.  They thus also do not appreciate the fact that the history of what is today the RSA, was to a large extent, determined by the power struggle between colonial powers over command of the oceans; and that South Africa as a political entity is the product of the rivalry between seafaring nations (the Netherlands, France and Britain) for control over the world’s most important trade routes (including the Cape sea route).  Most South Africans have a land-bound culture and a “land rat” mentality; thus not knowing that more than half of the country’s GDP is generated by the country’s maritime interests, including trade into and out of its commercial ports, and by the fishing industry.  Small wonder that there are politicians who also do not appreciate the value of the country’s armed forces, including its navy, and the concomitant decline in the country’s defence budget (today less than 1 % of GDP, instead of the international norm of at least 2 % of GDP), which also has serious consequences for the Navy.

In light of the abovementioned issues, it is understandable – but still unacceptable – that so much of South Africa’s naval heritage has either been lost forever or is being neglected.  However, in Simon’s Town there is the SA Naval Museum – a museum in excellent condition and comparable to, for example, naval museums in Australia and New Zealand, and elsewhere.  Excellent work is also done by the SA Naval Heritage Trust and concomitant Society with regard to the preservation of South Africa’s naval heritage.  See in this regard, for example, the Society’s oral history project, their series of publications, namely the Naval Digest (32 published 1999-2021, and continuing), several other book publications, as well as many other projects.


In the years 1922 to 2022, South Africa’s naval forces have developed a proud tradition with regard to support and assistance to South Africa and all its inhabitants.  The SA Navy must build upon this tradition and hopefully, all South Africans, including those in government, will appreciate and support their navy.  After all, the SA Navy has indeed been transformed into a navy of and for all the people of South Africa.


André Wessels (Senior Professor (Emeritus) and Research Fellow, Department of History, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein) is the author of several publications that deal with the history of the South African National Defence Force, including its Navy.  His latest book publication is A century of South African naval history:  The South African Navy and its predecessors 1922-2022 (Naledi, 2022).

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WHARF TALK: expedition cruise ship SILVER EXPLORER

Silver Explorer among the ice. Picture: Silverseas in Africa Ports & Ships
Silver Explorer in her element among the ice. Picture: Silverseas

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

This is the time of year, under normal circumstances, that cruise liners on their world cruise itineraries, or expedition cruise liners returning from Antarctica, are regular callers into Cape Town. So far this year, the total, excluding the Durban based MSC offering, has been three callers. Two have come from the Hapag Lloyd cruising fleet, with one calling twice, and one from the Silversea cruising fleet. Interestingly, all of them are from the ultra-luxury segment of the industry, but with none of them connected to any Antarctic cruise programme. Until today.

On 28th March at 08h00 the ultra-luxury expedition cruise vessel SILVER EXPLORER (IMO 8806747) arrived off Cape Town, from Gough Island, but because of thick sea fog was forced to wait out in Table Bay for the sun to get to work, and burn enough of it off to coax the harbour authorities to poke their noses outside of the harbour breakwater and bring her in. This did eventually happen, later in the day, and she proceeded into Cape Town harbour, and berthed at the Cape Town Cruise Terminal, at E berth in the Duncan Dock.

Silver Explorer in Cape Town alongside the cruise terminal berth E. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Silver Explorer in Cape Town alongside the cruise terminal berth E. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

It looks like ‘Silver Explorer’ will be the only expedition cruise vessel of this season to be repositioning through Cape Town, en-route to warmer waters and populated destinations, after a long season operating out of Puerto Williams in Chile, to the Antarctic peninsula region. Her cruise had her calling at New Island, West Point Island and Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, Tristan da Cunha, Inaccessible Island, and finally Gough Island on her way across the South Atlantic Ocean, having departed from Chile on 9th March.

Built back in 1989 by Rauma-Repola OY Shipyard at Rauma in Finland, ‘Silver Explorer’ is 108 metres in length and has a deadweight of only 635 tons. She is powered by two Wärtsilä 6R32D 6 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 3,060 bhp (2,250 kW) each, which drive two controllable pitch propellers for a cruising service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Wärtsilä generators providing 870 kW each, and she has two Wiesloch-Alfa Laval Aalborg boilers. For added manoeuvrability she has a single, bow, transverse thruster. As an expedition cruise vessel, ‘Silver Explorer’ has an ice classification of Lloyds 1A, which allows her to operate in first year ice thickness of up to 0.7 metres.

Silver Explorer, the expeditionary cruise ship which arrived in Cape Town from Gough Island in the South Atlantic. Picture by Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Silver Explorer, the expeditionary cruise ship which arrived in Cape Town from Gough Island in the South Atlantic. Picture by Dockrat’

As an ultra-luxury vessel, ‘Silver Explorer’ operates with a large crew of 118, catering for only a maximum of 144 passengers, who are accommodated in 72 cabins. The cabins vary in size from a luxurious 67 m2, with a balcony, down to a modest 14 m2 with no balcony. She has seven decks, of which five are made over solely for the use of passengers.

She is well outfitted to cater for her wealthy passengers as, for a small expedition vessel, she has 3 lounges, a lecture theatre, restaurant, outdoor grill, library, internet café, boutique, spa, fitness centre, beauty salon and reception. She also has a small fleet of Zodiac inflatables, which allows her to land her passengers in out of the way places, on beaches and small boat harbours. Interestingly, for a cruise liner, albeit an expedition vessel, she has no swimming pool, only two small whirlpools located aft.

She is owned by Silversea Discoverer Shipping Company of Monaco, operated by Silversea Cruises, also of Monaco, and managed by V Ships Leisure SAM, also of Monaco. She was the first expedition cruise vessel to be added to the Silversea Cruise brand.

As befits an expedition cruise vessel, the itinerary of the current cruise of ‘Silver Explorer’ will take her to destinations, and places, that are off the beaten track, and never visited by the larger cruise liners. After an overnight stop in Cape Town, ‘Silver Explorer’ sailed at 18h00 on 29th March, with her next destination being the Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth, with an arrival time of 06h00 on 31st March.

Silver Explorer in Duncan Dock heading for the Cape Town harbour entrance. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Silver Explorer in Duncan Dock heading for the Cape Town harbour entrance. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her cruise is scheduled to take 18 days, and after leaving Cape Town ‘Silver Explorer’ will call at Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, and Richards Bay in South Africa. Then she sails north to Inhaca Island, Bazaruto Island and Santa Carolina Island in Mozambique. From there she will cross the Mozambique Channel to call at Ampangorinana, Nosy Tanikely, Nosy Be and Nosy Hara in Madagascar. Thence to Assumption Island and Aldabra Island in the Seychelles Group, before ending her cruise in Zanzibar on 15th April.

Her current cruise will be her last ever call at South African ports under her current name, as in January 2022 ‘Silver Explorer’ was officially sold to the Exploris company of Paris in France. However, transfer of the vessel will only take place in September 2023. There are no plans in the 2022-2023 cruise seasons of ‘Silver Explorer’ calling into any Southern African, or East African port. When she transfers over, her new name will be her tenth in her long career.

As with most passenger vessels, ‘Silver Explorer’ was greatly affected by the onset of the Covid pandemic. In March 2020 she was forced to call into Castro, in Chile, to drop off a sick passenger who has tested positive for the virus. At the time she was carrying 111 passengers and 120 crew members.

In June 2019, whilst conducting an Arctic cruise programme, and operating in the Bering Sea, she managed to have one of her propellers completely entangled in a drifting fishing net, which forced her to cancel her cruise, and limp back into the nearest American port to undergo an emergency drydocking, in order to remove the offending article.

The open sea beckons and Port Elizabeth awaits, as Silver Explorer leaves Cape Town for the last time in this guise. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The open sea beckons and Port Elizabeth awaits, as Silver Explorer leaves Cape Town for the last time in this guise. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In January 2013, whilst engaged on her annual Antarctic cruise programme, ‘Silver Explorer’ got caught in the notorious storms that are frequently faced in the Drake Passage, whilst en-route from South America to the Antarctic Peninsula. The heavy seas, and rogue waves, in the storm she encountered caused some serious damage to the vessel, and resulted in injuries to four of her crew. Again, the cruise was cancelled, and she returned back to Ushuaia in Argentina, where the storm damage she received was repaired. The damage was such that the following cruise to Antarctica also had to be cancelled, as the vessel was not ready to sail on time.

In her long career, she has received no fewer than 78 port state inspections. Only one of them has resulted in her being detained. This occurred in May 2010, at Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, when she was detained for three serious deficiencies. Her detention was only for one day, and was due to lack of maintenance of both the ship and ship’s equipment, lack of resources and personnel, and for an overloading based on her load line.

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DP World launches e-commerce platform in Tanzania

The port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, in Africa Ports & Ships
The port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania   Picture  TPA

DP World has launched its wholesale e-commerce platform in Tanzania. The online marketplace will give Tanzanian businesses better access to international markets and will also provide a more secure and reliable supply chain, through DP World’s worldwide ports and logistics network.

This includes reliability, secure financial transactions, and safe movement of goods.

The new platform enables Tanzanian businesses to buy wholesale products across a variety of categories both domestically and abroad. The new digital trading corridors created by will be supported by the physical corridors DP World has built across the African continent, including ports, terminals, and logistics operations offers users a unique combination of advanced technology and DP World physical infrastructure – which includes the Port of Berbera in Somaliland – to solve several key challenges facing the growth of e-commerce in Africa.

This latest expansion of follows launches in Kenya and Rwanda in 2021, which created an online business community of more than 1500 active merchants. The move into Tanzania demonstrates’s commitment to creating a strategic trading gateway into East Africa by working in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.

The wholesale platform brings efficient, reliable B2B eCommerce to Tanzania, enabling market access for businesses of all sizes.

Speaking at this week’s launch, Mahmood Al Bastaki, Chief Operating Officer of Dubai Trade World said that presents an opportunity for homegrown businesses to transform into international enterprises by providing access to new markets in Africa, the Middle East and the rest of the world.

“We are thrilled to continue our expansion into East Africa with our launch in Tanzania, a key strategic market given its rapidly growing economy and under-served e-commerce marketplace. It is our hope that access to these new digital tools will enable local businesses to prosper.”

According to Paul Koyi, President of Tanzania Chambers of Commerce, Tanzania’s developmental vision for 2025 is to have a strong, diversified, resilient and competitive economy – one which is easily and confidently able to adapt to the changing market and technological conditions of the regional and global economy.

We know that exciting opportunities such as those provided by our strategic partnerships with DP World and will help us drive this vision forward. It will allow us to increase our country’s trading connectivity, build an easy access market for Tanzanian entrepreneurs, and help us secure long-term, sustainable growth.

“With our local expertise, and DP World’s global footprint and influence, we have a bright and prosperous future as part of a global market ahead of us.”

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Added 31 March 2022


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WHARF TALK: modern bulk carrier / logger – LUENHO

On 19 March the bulker Luenho arrived fully laden in Cape Town port to discharge her cargo of fertiliser. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
On 19 March the bulker Luenho arrived fully laden in Cape Town port to discharge her cargo of fertiliser. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

Sometimes it is hard to tell how advanced, or ecologically friendly, a modern vessel is. That is, unless you get to read about what was put into its design, and into its hull, to give it the eco-friendly moniker. In the case of most modern vessels, and especially that of bulk carriers, one of the starters that draw you into thinking they might be special is the propensity for the modern design of such vessels to have an extremely bluff bow. After that, it requires some research.

On 19th March at 10h00, the fully laden handymax bulk carrier LUENHO (IMO 9715220) arrived off Cape Town, from Bergen in Norway, and entered the harbour, proceeding to B berth in the Duncan Dock, where FPT terminal operatives began the discharge of her cargo of 35,000 tons of fertiliser. Interestingly she flew two ensigns, one of Hong Kong, and above that, one of China.

Luneho's bluff bow, a feature of many moedern bulk carriers of today. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Luneho’s bluff bow, a feature of many moedern bulk carriers of today. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2016 by Zhejiang Ouhua Shipbuilding at Zhoushan in China, ‘Luenho’ is 180 metres in length and has a deadweight of 39,752 tons, which puts her into the Handymax category. She is powered by a single Hudong Wärtsilä 5RT-Flex50B 5 cylinder 2 stroke main engine, producing 8,226 bhp (6,550 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 740 kW each, and an emergency generator producing 120 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Composite boiler. She has five holds, serviced by four 36 ton MacGregor electric cranes. Her cargo carrying capacity is 50,645 m3. Holds 2, 3 and 4 are box shaped holds and, unusually for a bulk carrier, her cranes can be used in tandem to achieve a lift of 72 tons.

The accommodation and bridge area of the bulker, with her Swire Group houseflag prominent on the ship's funnel. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The accommodation and bridge area of the bulker, with her Swire Group houseflag prominent on the ship’s funnel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is owned by Swire Bulk Holdings Pte Ltd. of Singapore, and she is operated and managed by China Navigation Company Pte Ltd., also of Singapore. Her operating company is that of the great British Colonial shipping company whose early history was spent operating out of Hong Kong, prior to the hand over of the ex British Colony to China.

The bow, and funnel of ‘Luenho’ display the famous houseflag of the Swire Group, the same as that displayed on the airliners of the great Hong Kong flag carrying airline, Cathay Pacific, who are also a part of the Swire Group.

She is a BDelta39 design of combined bulk carrier and logger, with her logging capability being visible with log restraint bars along the whole length of her main deck, Designed by Deltamarin Limited of Raisio in Finland, ‘Luenho’ is one of 20 sisterships built as bulk carrier/loggers across two Chinese shipyards for China Navigation. A further four sisterships were built as pure loggers.

With the port tug USIBA close in attendance, Luenho begins her turn towards her berth in the Duncan Dock. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
With the port tug USIBA close in attendance, Luenho begins her turn towards her berth in the Duncan Dock. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The BDelta39 is very much a design that focuses of making the vessel as eco-friendly as you can get. Her engine is Tier II for low emissions, and her bluff shaped bow, hull lines and propeller design combine to achieve low fuel consumption. Her exhaust gas heat is used to produce steam that heats the fuel, and two of her generators are also configured to produce steam for the same purpose.

Her electric cranes use 40% less power than the traditional electro-hydraulic cranes. She uses only electric winches and windlasses, and is fitted with low power lighting throughout. She has a ballast water management system, an advanced incinerator to burn waste, and she has an advanced oily water separation system.

Her cargo of fertiliser comes from a loading port, and nation, that is not usually associated with fertiliser exports to those not in the know. Norway has huge reserves of natural gas, which is used as a feedstock for the production of chemical fertilisers. Norway is the second largest producer of NPK complex fertilisers in the world, with over 2 million tons exported in 2020, with a value of US$28.04 million (ZAR407.42 million).

The ship has now turned in the direction of the FPT terminal where she will begin discharing her cargo. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The ship has now turned in the direction of the FPT terminal where she will begin discharing her cargo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

NPK complex fertilisers are so called as they are produced with a combination of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Their chemical importance for agriculture is due to the fact that Nitrogen is largely responsible for the growth of leaves on the plant, and Phosphorus is largely responsible for root growth and flower and fruit development, with Potassium being a nutrient that helps the overall functions of the plant perform correctly.

On completion of her fertiliser cargo discharge, ‘Luenho’ sailed from Cape Town at 18h00 on 23rd March, bound for d’Ehoala in Madagascar. This is a purpose built modern port, located close to Tôlanaro (Fort Dauphin), in the south of the country, and built for the export of Ilmenite, which is a Titanium Oxide ore, and mined at the nearby joint venture mine owned by Rio Tinto and the Madagascan QMM company.

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Maersk explores new ways to accelerate green fuel production

Santa Catarina at berth in the port of Itapoá, Brazil. The vessel is sailing East Asia/South & East Africa in the network of Hamburg Süd, a strong brand in the Maersk family. Picture: Maersk, in Africa Ports & Ships
Santa Catarina at berth in the port of Itapoá, Brazil. The vessel is sailing East Asia/South & East Africa in the network of Hamburg Süd, a strong brand in the Maersk family. Picture: Maersk

Maersk and Egyptian authorities have signed a partnership agreement to explore the establishment of large-scale green fuel production in Egypt.

In the presence of the Egyptian Prime Minister, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed on 28 March in a joint bid to further accelerate the supply of green fuels and the global transformation to net-zero shipping.

This partnership follows six fuel-partnerships announced earlier this month (March) *, and with it Maersk joins forces with the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone), the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt for Investment and Development (TSFE).

“Egypt has excellent conditions for renewable energy production and ambitions to become global leader in the green energy value chain,”commented Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO, Fleet & Strategic Brands, Maersk. “We are very excited to be able to explore options together, drawing on our more than 100 years of business relations in the country.”

It is understood that the parties will be conducting a feasibility study before the end of 2022 to examine an Egypt-based hydrogen and green marine fuel production, powered by renewable energy with Maersk as committed offtaker (that is the purchaser of the refined product).

Thygesen concluded with: “The availability of green energy and fuel in sufficient quantities and at cost competitive price levels is the single biggest challenge to the decarbonisation of global shipping.

“For Maersk, our recently announced strategic partnerships with six industry leading companies are key in addressing this challenge, but to stay on the 1.5-degree pathway even more scale is needed within this decade. That is what this partnership is exploring.”

Eng.Yhia Zaki, Chairman, SCZone, said: “Capitalising on Egypt’s fundamentals and vision, SCZONE’s strategic integrated areas of ports and industrial parks around the Suez Canal, and leveraging on the solid and enduring longstanding relationship we have with Maersk, I am looking forward to the evolvement of this project, which meets our mutual target of transforming into the green economy.”

Ayman Soliman, CEO of The Sovereign Fund of Egypt, said the partnership presents a unique opportunity to strengthen a longstanding relationship with a key strategic partner to the Egyptian Government over the last 100 years.

“Specifically for The Sovereign Fund of Egypt, this potential opportunity adds a new dimension to our roadmap towards zero emission targets. Maersk’s bid to accelerate the supply of green fuels and the global transformation to net-zero shipping will expand the Suez Canal’s service offering as a main global hub for green bunkering in the region.”

Maersk intends to explore similar opportunities in other regions with strong potential for renewable energy development, drawing on business and governmental relations to facilitate opportunities for nations and commercial players to embrace the rapid acceleration in green fuel production that is key to the decarbonisation of shipping.


Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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IN CONVERSATION: DRC is set to become 7th member of the East African trading bloc: what’s in it for everyone

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi waves an official copy of the nation’s Constitution during his swearing in on January 24, 2019.  Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

Jonathan Ang’ani Omuchesi, Catholic University of Eastern Africa

Shortly after his controversial electoral victory in early 2019, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi sought to get his country admitted into the East African Community. Recently, the East African Community ministers recommended the DRC’s admission, a decision set to be formalised by the bloc’s presidents when they meet on 29 March. Regional integration expert Jonathan Ang’ani Omuchesi discusses key points of the decision.

What’s the state of East African Community integration?

East African Community is one of the most vibrant and best performing in Africa. This is according to the African Regional Integration Index which ranks blocs on five aspects of integration – trade, productive, macroeconomic, infrastructural and movement of people.

Currently, it has six members: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

East Africa’s integration is envisioned under four pillars. These are the customs union, the common market, the monetary union, and the political federation. So far, the bloc has been implementing protocols on a customs union and a common market. These have helped improve trade and investments in the region since 2006 and boosted country relations.

Under the customs union protocol taxes on goods produced within the region have been eliminated. East Africa is also applying a common external tariff on imports from outside the region.

In the long run, an operational customs union should open up the regional economy so that small economies are able to gain access to industries that would otherwise be out of their reach.

For its part, the purpose of a common market is to ease cross-border movement of goods, persons and workers. It’s implementation has seen the east African governments harmonise immigration procedures and order border posts to operate for 24 hours. Some of the governments in the region, notably Rwanda and Kenya, have also waived the work permit fee for citizens from the region.

The bloc is now preparing the ground for its third pillar, the monetary union. This began with the adoption and signing of the East African Monetary Union Protocol on 30 November 2013. The protocol set a timeline of 10 years within which the partner states need to have a common currency. That’s in 2023, a deadline that’s unlikely to be met. There has been mixed progress in the implementation of agreed action on this front.

How do countries get admitted?

The criteria for admission into the bloc is provided under Article 3 of the East African Community treaty signed in 1999. The regional law provides the following grounds for admission of a new member:

  • acceptance of the Community as set out in the East African Community Treaty;
  • adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice;
  • potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the East African region;
  • geographical proximity to and interdependence between it and the partner states;
  • establishment and maintenance of a market driven economy; and
  • social and economic policies being compatible with those of the Community.

So far, the body has had three admissions: Rwanda and Burundi in 2007 and South Sudan in 2016. The DRC shares borders with Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. There has been opposition to its plan to join the East African Community due to its past human rights record.

What does the East African Community gain?

The DRC’s admission would give the bloc its first port on the Atlantic coast. At the moment, the region relies on Indian Ocean-based seaports of Kenya and Tanzania for trade with the rest of the world. The challenge of intermittent piracy off the Somalia coast has exposed the need for an alternative trade route.

The DRC is also set to significantly expand the regional trading bloc’s size. The DRC’s geographical area is far much larger than all the six East African states put together. The DRC has a geographical area of 2.4 million sq km while the bloc is about 1.8 million sq km. The additional geographical area – known uniquely for its copper, coltan, cobalt, tin and other minerals – is set to boost East Africa’s profile as an investment destination.

On a world stage, the East African Community gains a bigger clout with the DRC’s huge population (consumer base) of about 90 million people and an economy of nearly US$50 billion . It is estimated that the bloc has a population of 177 million people and an economy of US$193.7 billion.

What’s in it for the DRC?

The DRC is already doing substantial trade with the East African Community bloc which could benefit from lower or eliminated tariffs. Goods produced in the DRC will no longer be subjected to customs taxes at any of the region’s border points.

It already has established trade relations with Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. For imports, parts of the DRC rely on the trade corridor that runs from Mombasa port via Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. These connections are set to firm up as national agencies of the East African governments ease tariffs and administrative barriers on the new bloc member.

Does it matter that this is the third bloc the DRC is joining?

Generally, membership in more than one customs union is technically impossible. Firstly, one country cannot apply different common external tariffs. Secondly, integration agenda differs from one bloc to the next meaning overlapping membership may lead a country to conflicting obligations. According to the World Trade Organisation, the practice hurts global trade liberalisation, especially when affected traders have to meet multiple sets of rules.

But analysis of the treaties of the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa shows they do not preclude members from maintaining prior trade arrangements or entering into new ones.

The DRC is already a member of the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. But it won’t be the only East African Community country with overlapping membership of regional blocs. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa while Tanzania is a member of Southern African Development Community.

The East African Community, for instance, has not been able to establish a full customs union since it had to allow Tanzania to grant preferences to its southern Africa partners.

The three blocs are currently harmonising their agenda and laws with the aim of integrating their economies and markets.

This fits into the broader objective of the African Union, of accelerating economic integration of the continent.The Conversation

Jonathan Ang’ani Omuchesi, Lecturer In Governance and Regional Integration, Catholic University of Eastern Africa

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

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IMO developing regional strategy for preventing invasive aquatic species in Red Sea & GoA

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

Invasive aquatic species: IMO and regional prevention of transfer

States in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden region have begun developing a regional biofouling management strategy and action plan to prevent a damaging transfer of invasive aquatic species. This was reported by the IMO Media service in week ending 26 March.

A meeting bringing together government representatives from PERSGA member States* to coordinate efforts in the region was held in Hurghada, Egypt on 22 and 23 March.

This event was organised by PERSGA under the GloFouling Partnerships project and follows earlier efforts in the region such as the regional seminar conducted in 2021 to raise awareness on the issue of ships’ biofouling as one of the main vectors for the transfer of invasive aquatic species.

PERSGA member States established a Regional Task Force and elected its Chair (Jordan) for a two-year term. Jordan is a Lead Partnering Country of GloFouling Partnerships and has already made considerable progress at the national level, with the development of a national status assessment report and a draft national strategy.

Participants also discussed and agreed on the contents of a draft regional strategy and an action plan on biofouling management that will help harmonise efforts, identify priority activities and set a communication channel for knowledge sharing.

Two kinds of invasive species found on hulls of ships that would typically pass through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden in Africa Ports & Ships
Two of the various kinds of invasive species found on hulls of ships that sail in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden

Regional efforts are key to pooling resources, share experience and increase the number of countries that develop national assessments and a national policy on biofouling management, in line with the IMO Biofouling Guidelines to prevent invasive aquatic species and protect their negative impacts on marine biodiversity.

It is understood that the next steps in the region will be the endorsement of the draft strategy and its action plan, and the implementation of the first activities identified, followed by another meeting of the regional task force in 2023.

To learn more about the biofouling issue, which is the accumulation of aquatic organisms such as micro-organisms, plants and animals on surfaces and structures immersed in or exposed to the aquatic environment, readers are invited to SEE HERE.

* Secretariat of the regional organisation for the conservation of the environment in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA) member States: Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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The Abidjan-Ouagadougou railway network, from yesterday to today

Enjoy the new documentary on the history of Sitarail, a railway network in West Africa. Discover this 1,155 km long railway through towns, villages, forests and savannahs linking the port of Abidjan to Ouagadougou, carried by the know-how of the men and women who are the pride of Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. A South African company holds some recent history with Sitarail.

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New citrus terminal at port of Maputo to open

Santa Catarina alongside the Maputo Container Terminal. Picture: DP World in Africa Ports & Ships
Santa Catarina alongside the Maputo Container Terminal. Picture: DP World

A new terminal to handle citrus exports is underway at the Port of Maputo and will be ready to handle the 2002 season’s first exports in a matter of days.

That’s the news from Mozambique media house Zitamar who reported a spokesman for the newly established Maputo Port Fruit Terminal (MPFT).

With Maputo being ideally situated in relation to the citrus growers of South Africa’s Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, the port may be expected to grow its citrus exports in the future. The first vessel alongside the terminal is expected on Friday, 1 April.

The new facility will service fruit exporters from southern Africa, and development plans include cold storage facilities by 2023. Target markets will be mainly in South East Asia and the Middle East, and “maybe Russia.”

He claimed the Maputo terminal will help alleviate congestion at Durban and that Maputo was the “logical choice as an export channel.”

“For fruit producers in Eswatini, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, it makes perfect sense also from a logistical cost perspective — especially the producers closer to Maputo than Durban,” the company spokesman said.

Citrus is not a new commodity to the Maputo port, having been exported from a citrus terminal until 2013, with South African citrus growers sending up to 120,000 pallets per year through Maputo.

Writing in the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) bulletin, Mitchell Brooke noted that a renewed focus on exporting citrus from Maputo during 2022 is taking shape.

Most described developments in Maputo to be likened to the ‘chicken or the egg’ scenario, Brooke wrote, asking “should growers wait for the ships, or should shipping lines wait for the cargo. Well it seems as though the chicken has arrived and the egg has hatched.

“A number of growers and their export agents have committed to a number of containers a week enticing CMA CGM to place a ship a week. Reefer containers are already on the ground, passed by PPECB waiting to load. The immediate focus is on exports to Far East countries that do not require cold treatment or precooling as the containers will be packed ambient from a facility in Maputo.

He wrote that efforts are underway to possibly ship cold treatment containers to China as well this year – “a DALLRD approved inspection point is being prepared as well as PPECB approval of a cold treatment facility in Malelane – this to be pre-approved by Chinese authorities first.

“At the start limited containers are being planned for 2022, but should the system work it could pave the way for more exports later in the year and be the stepping stone for future expansion of the Maputo corridor.”

A new shiplloader in action at Matola bulk terminal, part of the greater Port of Maputo complex. Picture: Grindrod
A new shiploader in action at Matola bulk terminal, part of the greater Port of Maputo complex. Picture: Grindrod

Earlier in March the Port of Maputo, managed by the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), had a further 138 hectares of land added to the port’s existing 140 ha, enabling the MPDC to embark on an expansion programme.

This will include the construction of two rail lines to double chromium handling capacity from 2 million tonnes to 4 million tonnes; extending the ore storage area to 9.2 million tonnes; and expanding the coal and magnetite storage area at the Matola Coal Terminal from the current 7.3 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes.

The port currently has a 32-million tonne cargo capacity, which it expects to increase to 42 million tonnes per year.

In 2021 the port of Maputo handled a total of 22.2 million tonnes of cargo. source: Zitamar, Foodplaza, CGA, Africaports.

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WHARF TALK: Spanish research vessel – SARMIENTO DE GAMBOA

The Spanish research vessel, Sarmiento de Gamboa, in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The Spanish research vessel, Sarmiento de Gamboa, in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The majority of folk know that South Africa was one of the original 12 member states of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty. It is still an active signatory, and participant, in Antarctic research, supported by the ‘S.A. Agulhas II’ and with the SANAE 4 base on the Antarctic continent. Cape Town is rightly known as the ‘Gateway to Antarctica’ and both the support vessels, and the research vessels, of the UK, Germany, Norway, Russia, India, Japan, Belgium and the USA are regular users of Cape Town as they sail to, and from, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

However, the list of Antarctic Treaty members has grown since 1961, and currently has no less than 28 consultative member states who conduct research in Antarctica. Consultative status is only granted to those states who are active in Antarctic research, supported by bases on the continent, and with support vessels. What is less known to most South Africans, because their Antarctic research and support vessels are rarely seen on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, is that one of these consultative member states is Spain.

On 16th March at 1000 the Spanish Research Vessel SARMIENTO DE GAMBOA (IMO 9335238) arrived off Cape Town, from Punta Arenas in Chile, and entered Cape Town harbour proceeding to the Landing Wall in the Duncan Dock. Punta Arenas is known as the ‘Gateway to the Antarctic Peninsula’ and services most vessels that operate in that part of Antarctica.

The stern of the research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The stern of the research vessel Sarmiento de Gamboa. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2007 by Construcciones Navales P. Freire SA Shipyard at Vigo in Spain, ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ is 71 metres in length and has a deadweight of 850 tons. She is diesel-electric and has three Wärtsilä 8L20 8 cylinder 4 stroke main engines, producing 1,931 bhp (1,440 kW) each to two General Electric reversible motors of 1,200 kW each. The motors drive a single fixed pitch propeller to give her a service speed of 14 knots.

For added manoeuvrability ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ has a forward azimuth thruster providing 590 kW, and a stern transverse thruster providing 350 kW. These give her a dynamic positioning category of DP1, controlled via a Kongsberg DP system.

Built as a multipurpose oceanographic vessel (BO), ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ is equipped with a wide variety of winches, all capable of operating in deep oceanic water. She has a CTD winch with 8,000 metres of cable, a Coring winch with 8,000 metres of cable, a Plankton winch with 6,000 metres of cable, a Sounder winch with 7,000 metres of cable, and a 2+1 Fishing winch with 5,500 metres of cable.

She also has two Multipurpose winches, each with 8,000 metres of cable, which allow ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ to deploy Sediment Corers, Rock Dredges, Gravimeters, Doppler Current Profilers, Towed Sidescan Sonars and ROVs. She has a 12 ton stern A-frame gantry, which supports the deployment of her large deepwater ROV.

Sarmiento de Gamboa alongside the berth in Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Sarmiento de Gamboa alongside the berth in Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her aft working deck area is 325 m2, and she is equipped with six scientific laboratories for various oceanographic disciplines. She has an endurance of 50 days and has accommodation for a crew of 17 persons, and a scientific complement of 26. She can conduct a wide range of scientific disciplines which include Oceanography, Hydrography, Geophysics, Seismics and Fisheries. For seismic work ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ carries two airgun array lines.

Her hull supports a variety of transducers, with most mounted on two retractable keels, which allows them to be lowered out of the noise created by the hull and propeller. Her transducer array is for a variety of echosounders and sonars, including a Navigation sounder, deepwater low frequency sonar, fishing sounder, fishing sonar, multibeam sounder, seabed penetration sounder, and sub-bottom profiler.

Owned by the Government of Spain, through the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ is both operated and managed by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), which is the Spanish National Research Council, and whose logo is displayed on her funnel. She also receives funding from the Local Government of Galicia, where she is home based.

She is named after the Spanish Explorer, Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, of Galicia in Northern Spain, who was Captain of the flagship of the Spanish expedition that sailed from Peru in 1567, under instructions to search for then great unknown Southern continent, Terra Australis Incognita, that we know today as Antarctica. They failed to discover the continent, but instead discovered two of the island archipelagos of the South Pacific, specifically the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu, formerly known as the Ellice Islands.

The ship's funnel and houseflag. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The ship’s funnel and houseflag. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her arrival in Cape Town came at the conclusion of her 2021-2022 Antarctic support season for the Spanish Antarctic programme. She conducted two voyages, with the first voyage departing Punta Arenas in Chile on 12th December, and finishing on 28th December at Ushuaia in Argentina. Her second voyage reversed her track, departing Ushuaia on 29th December and returning to Punta Arenas on 1st February.

Her programme had her providing logistical support to the two Spanish Bases on the Antarctic Peninsula, namely the Juan Carlos 1 base, located on Livingston Island at 62°39’ South 060°23’ West, and founded in 1988, and the Gabriel de Castilla base, located on Deception Island at 62°58’ South 060°40’ West, founded in 1990. She also conducted oceanographic research, and on developing future oceanographic projects.

Her cruise over from South America was an American National Science Foundation (NSF) funded expedition, known as the Global Ocean Biogeochemistry Array cruise (GO-BGC). The cruise took a track up to the 34.5° line of latitude, off Buenos Aires, and then sailed a straight line across to South Africa, ending just south of Cape Town at the same latitude. During the cruise the ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ laid six equidistant oceanic data buoys, which will remain out at sea for the next five years.

The buoys are extremely complex and highly technical, in that they are programmed to monitor ocean health by continuous measurement of ocean and climate data. This is achieved by the buoy slowly sinking to a depth of 1,000 metres, collecting data as they go. They will then drift at that depth for between 5 to 10 days. They will then sink further to 2,000 metres depth continuing to collect oceanic data, before rising to the surface where they will take further readings and then transmit all data, via satellite, back to a control centre in the USA. The buoy will then submerge once more and repeat the sequence of data collection. The five year life of the buoy is limited only by the life of the internal battery.

The Spanish icebreaking support vessel ‘BIO Hespérides A33’ is a previous caller at Cape Town, seen here at her V&A berth on 14 March 2010 in Africa Ports & Ships
The icebreaking support vessel ‘BIO Hespérides A33’ is a previous Spanish Antarctic caller at Cape Town, seen here at her V&A berth on 14 March 2010

This is not the first time that a Spanish Antarctic vessel has called at Cape Town, as there have been a number of previous visits to the port by the large icebreaking support vessel ‘BIO Hespérides A33’, which is operated by the Spanish Navy for the CSIC, and where BIO stands for Buque de Investigación Oceanográfica, or Oceanographic Research Vessel. On her last visit to Cape Town, Hespérides berthed at the V&A, then a regular occurrence for both small passenger cruise liners, and Antarctic vessels, but sadly something that Transnet now will not allow.

On completion of her minor maintenance requirements, and having taken on bunkers and fresh stores, ‘Sarmiento de Gamboa’ sailed from Cape Town at 10h00 on 18th March, bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, and from there on to her home port of Vigo, in the Spanish province of Galicia.

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Guinea wants ambitious start to production by 2025 from the Simandou iron ore deposit

West Africa’s Guinea says its has reached agreement with its mining partners to resume the development of the Simandou iron ore deposit to be producing ore for export by 2025.

Considered an ambitious target, development of the West African four billion ton deposit, must be completed by 2024 in time for the following year’s export production.

Experts had considered the mine would have production being shipped for export only in 2028 and consider the Guinean government’s expectation as unlikely to be achieved.

Guinea’s partners with the development of Simandou, said to be the world’s largest iron ore deposit with high grades, are Rio Tinto and Winning Consortium Simandou (WCS).

According to the Guinean government, Rio Tinto and the Chinese-backed WCS, risk losing their mining licences if they fail to meet the new deadline. Rio Tinto was first granted an exploration licence 25 years ago.

In terms of the new agreement signed last week, the partners have not only to begin mining the ore but will also collaborate on a 670-kilometre railway as the construction of a port in order to get the ore to market.

Guinean mining minister Moussa Magassouba said the companies had to “put aside many egos, many other interests to return to what is a win-win partnership for all parties.”

Guinea’s Presidency has issued a videoed warning that that significant penalties including the withdrawal of the mining licence would apply. This was after the Ruling Junta ordered Rio to stop all work on its Simandou project – which observers consider was merely a negotiating tactic.

In terms of the agreement, Guinea will hold a 15% stake in the mine, rail, and port. Rio hold 45.05% and Chinalco 39.95% in the venture.

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Port of Nacala rehabilitation complete next year

Mozambique port of Nacala. Picture by Penta Construction in Africa Ports & Ships
Mozambique port of Nacala.  Picture by Penta-Ocean Construction

The expansion and modernisation of Mozambique’s port of Nacala is well underway with a completion date set for April 2023.

The port is situated at 14° 32′ 29″ South, 40° 40′ 3″ East in the northern province of Nampula in what is one of the deepest natural harbours in the world. Nacala serves not only the immediate region of Nampula province but neighbouring Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in addition to the Mozambique province of Tete with its coal fields at Moatize, to which it is connected by a 912-km Cape-gauge privatised railway.

Coal and other minerals are exported at the dedicated coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha on the opposite side of the huge bay.

Nacala port was concessioned to Corredor de Desenvolvimento do Norte (CDN), who managed the commercial and marine departments, together with stevedoring operations. That concession however came to its 15-year conclusion in January 2020 and was not renewed, with state-owned CFM resuming control of the port and its operations.

The port has three general cargo berths (North Terminal, 8.5m draught), two container berths (South Terminal 14m draught) and a liquid cargo berth (North Terminal 10m draught).

Nacala cannot truly be said to operate in competition with any of the major ports of East or Southern Africa, although the port has opportunity aplenty to grow cargo levels for the immediate hinterland including Malawi and Zambia. A feasibility study carried out in 2014 however revealed the need for improved infrastructure including cargo handling equipment.

The study highlighted the lack of proper landside facilities for container handling and lack of cranes and other cargo handling equipment, in addition to other issues. Since then the container terminal has been completed and is in operation.

With financing from Japan the rehabilitation of the port sets out to address many of these issues and improve the marketability of Nacala and offer the port as a serious alternative for regional traffic.

The coal loadng pier at Nacala-a-Velha, in Africa Ports & Ships
The coal loadng pier at Nacala-a-Velha

Nacala currently handles around 100,000 TEUs a year and will soon have a capacity of 250,000 TEU a year, together with reefer facilities. With existing equipment the container terminal handles an average of 10 containers per hour at the container park but a more ambitious 25 container moves an hour has been targeted for Nacala.

A new entrance gate capable of handling ten lanes of traffic (five in and five out) will help improve the flow of trucks in and out of the port especially at peak periods

The huge bay that hosts the ports of Nacala and Nacala-a-Velha in Africa Ports & Ships
The huge bay that hosts the ports of Nacala and Nacala-a-Velha

“It will be a port with state-of-the-art technology, a properly controlled breakdown system. It will be a decoy for ships and other shipping lines to dock here in the port,” said Edgar Jorge, director of the Nacala Port rehabilitation project, recently.

The port of Nacala plays a highly important role in the fortunes of the Nampula province, generating 80% of tax revenue collected by the tax authority in the province.

A question mark remains over the fact of CFM managing and operating the port in place of a private port or terminal operator and whether the requisite finances for ongoing improvements will be made available for maintaining the port with efficient cargo handling equipment. On this will hinge the question of how serious a port offering Nacala will become along the south-eastern coast of Africa.

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Stolt Tankers Pool provides support for reforestation projects

Picture: Stolt-Nielsen, in Africa Ports & Ships
Picture: Stolt-Nielsen

Stolt Tankers BV has announced that the Stolt Tankers Joint Service (STJS) Pool, together with its partners NYK Line, Tufton, and Farvatn Capital, had donated US$100,000 to One Tree Planted and We Forest, two non-profit organisations with extensive experience managing reforestation, carbon absorption and environmental impact projects.

This donation reflects Stolt Tankers’ [whose vessels are regular callers at Durban and other African ports] broader ambition to reduce its own carbon intensity by 50% by 2030 (relative to 2008) and to become a fully carbon-neutral business by 2050.

The STJS Pool is the first tanker pool to implement a Green Bunker Procurement Fund with proceeds fully dedicated to carbon reduction, fuel efficiency and environmental initiatives.

Commenting on the partnership with One Tree Planted and We Forest, Lucas Vos, President of Stolt Tankers noted: “I am pleased to make this $100,000 donation jointly with our partners NYK, Tufton, and Farvatn and believe addressing the many aspects of decarbonisation in shipping requires an all hands-on-deck approach.

“This contribution demonstrates our mutual commitment to addressing the climate challenges of today, and tomorrow, by supporting reforestation and ocean mangrove ecosystems. We hope our support will make an impact by both capturing carbon and helping the communities and ecosystems on the front line of climate change.”

Ethiopian reforestation

In total, three projects will be supported by these donations. The first project is led by We Forest and focused on reforestation of the Desa Forest in Northern Ethiopia. The group is also supporting We Forest on their Philippines’ Indigenous Bamboo and Native Tree Reforestation project which will remove 500,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Lastly, Stolt Tankers is pleased to be supporting One Tree Planted on their Pacific Northwest reforestation project which plants trees alongside rivers and streams to improve water quality and ultimately the health and quantity of salmon to support wild orca populations.

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Eastern Cape’s Hannes de Waal is new chairman of Citrus Growers Association

citrus in Africa Ports & Ships

Hannes de Waal is the new chairman of South Africa’s Citrus Growers Association.  De Waal, who hails from the Eastern Cape, was elected last Friday for a two-year term as the new chairman of the Citrus Growers Association (CGA).

Hannes de Waal, chairman of the Citrus Growers Association, in Africa Ports & Ships
Hannes de Waal, chairman of the Citrus Growers Association

Justin Chadwick, CEO of the CGA extended his congratulations and said he looked forward to working with de Waal, adding that he brings a wealth of experience to his new role after having served in various leadership positions in the citrus industry for many years.

“I look forward to continuing our work together with the aim of furthering the interests of our citrus growers when it comes to expanding market access and creating an inclusive, profitable, and sustainable industry,” Chadwick said.

According to de Waal, the process of establishing strategy within the CGA is well structured and is a result of a strong team effort that feeds off the fact that all board members are experienced citrus producers and businessmen.

The new chairman has been in the citrus industry for more than 26 years.

The CGA was established by citrus growers in the wake of deregulation in 1997 over concerns that certain functions previously carried out by the Citrus Board could be discontinued or downsized. The CGA sees it is their role to fill that void – CGA.

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Phase 2 of Mombasa’s second container terminal ready for commissioning

The arrival of three new ship-to-shore (STS) cranes for the Port of Mombasa Container Terminal 2
The arrival of three new ship-to-shore (STS) cranes for the Port of Mombasa Container Terminal 2.. Picture KPA

MSC through KSNL set to be the terminal operator of Mombasa’s second container terminal

Preparations are being made for the official commissioning of phase 2 of the port of Mombasa’s second container terminal. Phase 1 was completed in 2016.

According to one report, the commissioning is due to take place in the first week of April, although no official date appears to have been announced.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) head of corporate affairs, Bernard Osoro, said the contractor responsible for building the terminal is adding the final touches to the US$280 million project and that the commissioning was expected ‘soon’.

In recent years the Mombasa port became the second sub-Saharan Africa container port, after Durban in South Africa, to exceed one million TEUs per annum and remains in that No.2 capacity, although West African ports such as Tema are fast catching up.

The new container terminal at Mombasa was financed through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and construction work has been undertaken by Japan’s Toyo Construction Company. The 450,000-TEU capacity terminal 2 is able to handle larger deep water container vessels and has increased the Kenyan port capacity to around two million TEU.

It is the Kenya Government’s intention that a private terminal operator will be brought in to manage and operate Mombasa’s new facility. This intention has a long history, going back at least seven years to 2015 when the KPA issued a request for tenders to operate the then-planned terminal on a 25-year concession.

Although various international terminal operators expressed interest, the concession was never awarded. According to some reports, having being involved with the financing of construction, the Japanese Government was keen that a Japanese terminal operator be appointed.

The unions also expressed their concern, with the Kenya Dock Worker Union and other interested parties worrying over potential job losses.

It appears that Geneva-based MSC will play a pivotal role in the operation of the terminal. MSC is increasing its stake in the Kenya National Shipping Line (KNSL) to equal that of the KPA, which currently holds a 74.8 per cent stake in the national shipping line. The MSC stake will be held by Shipping Agencies Services Sàrl (SAS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of MSC.

When the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Competition Commission sat to examine the proposal in terms of the regulatory approval, it stated that “KNSL will, as part of the joint venture, become the new operator of the Mombasa Container Terminal 2 (CT2) at the port of Mombasa in Kenya and commence offering freight forwarding services and container liner shipping services.”

The commission added that “KPA will continue to operate Mombasa Container Terminal 1, Conventional Cargo Terminal, Shimanzi Oil Terminal and the Kipevu Oil Terminal, which are all based in Mombasa as well as the terminals in Lamu, Malindi, Mtwapa, Kiunga, Shimoni, Funzi and Vanga.”

Meanwhile, phase 2 of the Mombasa Terminal 2 is approaching completion and will add to the list of Africa’s fast improving port facilities.

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WHARF TALK: Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) – PACIFIC LEADER

Pacific Leader on her berth at the repair quay in Cape Town harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Pacific Leader on her berth at the repair quay in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

One gets forgetful that the offshore oil and gas industry is about more than construction support vessels, and seismic survey vessels. It is the behemoth subsea construction vessels and the complex pipelay vessels that take the eye of the observer. Yet, the Cinderella’s of the industry are the run of the mill platform supply vessels (PSV), that are designed to be a simple large open deck, and whose only role is to take out all the needs and requirements of the platform, FPSO, drilling rig or drill ship. However, some of these Cinderella PSVs are big and complex in their own right, and just as interesting as the big Ugly Sisters that take the spotlight.

On 11th March at 06h00, the large Platform Supply Vessel (PSV) PACIFIC LEADER (IMO 9648362) arrived off Cape Town, after a long trans-Atlantic voyage from Georgetown in the South American nation of Guyana. She immediately entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded directly to the Repair Quay in the Duncan Dock, no doubt to receive some shoreside maintenance support, as well as take bunkers and stores before heading out to her next offshore contract.

The large working deck of Pacific Leader. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The large working deck of Pacific Leader. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2014 by JMU Shipyard at Maizuru in Japan, ‘Pacific Leader’ is 97 metres in length and has a deadweight of 5,263 tons. She is a diesel-electric powered vessel and has four MAN-B&W 6L27/38 6 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 2,655 bhp (1,980 kW) each, which power Hyundai generators each producing 1,900 kW each. She has two General Electric Inovelis Azimuth thruster pods, each providing 2,500 kW to give her a service speed of 12 knots.

She has a MAN D2876 emergency generator providing 340 kW. For added manoeuvrability she has three Brunvoll bow transverse thrusters of 965 kW each. Together with her twin GE azimuth thrusters, the dynamic positioning capability of ‘Pacific Leader’ is classified as DP2, all controlled through a GE C-series DPS-21 system. She is also classed as a FiFi1 vessel for offshore firefighting purposes.

Below her bridge ‘Pacific Leader’ carries the famous houseflag of the Swire Group, who are also the parent company of the great colonial China Navigation Company, and of the Hong Kong based airline, Cathay Pacific Airways. She was the first of four sisterships completed for her owners, Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) of Singapore, all known as ‘L’ Class PSVs within the SPO fleet, and classed as ‘Large’ PSVs. She has a large working deck with dimensions of 57 x 16 metres, with a working deck area of 912 m2, capable of holding a cargo load of 3,350 tons.

Pacific Leader has 360 degree visibility on her bridge, essential with the type of operations performed by this vessel. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Pacific Leader has 360 degree visibility on her bridge, essential with the type of operations performed by this vessel. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She also has five cargo tanks, all located below the working deck, capable of carrying both wet and dry bulk cargoes. The five individual tanks can carry 1,799 m3 of drilling mud, 1,033 m3 of drilling brine, 340 m3 of dry bulk, 694 m3 of fresh water and 821 m3 of cargo fuel. All of the cargoes are able to be loaded and discharged by a pressure vacuum system.

She was designed for deepwater support, and the nature of the offshore work of ‘Pacific Leader’ means she is classed as a Special Purpose Ship (SPS), and she is also considered SPS compliant by the IMO. She also carries a ‘Clean’ classification, which means she is compliant with pollution prevention measures, environmental regulations, onboard recycling requirements, and both emission and discharge agreements.

Her advanced design as a large PSV means that she can go for a full 7.5 years between mandatory drydockings. Additionally, her design means that both her transverse thrusters and her azimuth propulsion pods can all be changed out whilst she remains fully afloat.

As with most vessels of her type, Pacfic Leader presents an imposing view from ahead. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
As with most vessels of her type, Pacfic Leader presents an imposing view from ahead. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

With accommodation provided for 37 persons, ‘Pacific Leader’ as a Platform Supply Vessel can be differentiated from a similar Anchor Handling Vessel, by virtue of her working deck is completely enclosed, for cargo carrying purposes, and not open to allow working with anchor chains and towing wires, plus she does not have any large towing winches, mounted in voids below her bridge, nor does she have any deck paraphernalia connected with ocean towing.

Once her maintenance requirements were completed, and her bunker and stores uplifts were all completed, ‘Pacific Leader’ sailed from Cape Town on 17th March at 10h00, bound for Kakinada in India.

Kakinada is located in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, on the Bay of Bengal side of India. It is also a major offshore base, supporting the mainly natural gas fields in the Krishna Godavari Basin, found 50 kilometres off the Andhra Pradesh coast, and the location of India’s biggest reserves of natural gas.

In a surprise move made in early March, Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO), who own, operate and manage ‘Pacific Leader’, announced that they had sold their entire fleet of 50 offshore vessels to Tidewater Incorporated, of Houston in the USA. This means that SPO will exit the offshore oil and gas arena after more than 50 years operating in support of the offshore industry.

Pacific Leader's Swire Group houseflag below her bridge. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Pacific Leader’s Swire Group houseflag below her bridge. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The sale was considered to be ‘Garage Fire’ sale as the sale price for Tidewater was only US$190 million (ZAR2.84 billion). This included 29 Anchor Handling Tug vessels (AHTS) and 21 Platform Supply Vessels (PSV). Such a low price indicates that the whole fleet was sold for less than half of their current market value, and at a time when oil and gas prices are skyrocketing due to the Ukraine crisis. This means increased production, and development activity, offshore about to take place, in order to replace lost Russian oil and gas supplies.

The sale of SPO to Tidewater now makes them the largest operator of offshore support vessels (OSV) in the world. Once integration takes place between the two companies, Tidewater will shortly be operating a fleet of 174 OSVs, ahead of their two nearest competitors, which are Bourbon Offshore with 149 vessels, and Edison Chouest Offshore with 143 vessels. The acquisition of SPO also means that Tidewater will also become the biggest operators in West Africa, the Middle East and in Southeast Asia.

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BOOK REVIEW: Wartime Standard Ships

Wartime Standard Ships
By Nick Robins. Published by Seaforth Publishing
ISBN: 978 1 84832 376 6
Price £25.00

Book Cover, reviewed in Africa Ports & Ships

IN both World Wars there arose a pressing need for merchant tonnage both to supplement existing ships but, more importantly, to replace ships that had been sunk by enemy action, and the key to the Allied strategy in both wars was a massive programme of merchant shipbuilding, almost unimaginable today. This need gave rise to a series of standard designs with increasing emphasis on prefabrication and a progression towards welded hulls.

This 177-page hardback book published in 2017 and still available from the vast Pen & Sword list of naval, military and aviation titles is very much current. It tells the remarkable story of the design and construction of the many types that not only contributed to their country’s war efforts, but were also responsible for a cultural change in world shipbuilding that would lay the foundations for the post-war industry.

The story begins in the First World War with the National-type cargo ships which were the first examples of prefabricated construction. The best known of all types of wartime standard ships, of course, were the Liberty ships [of WW2] and their successor, the better-equipped Victory ships, both built in the United States.

Some 2,700 Liberty ships were built and this incredible achievement undoubtedly saved the Allies from losing the War. In Canada, the Ocean and Park ships made a further major contribution. Two examples of the Liberty ship remain preserved in the United States, Jeremiah O’Brien (built 1943) and John W Brown (1942) lie in San Francisco and Baltimore respectively.

Germany and Japan also introduced standard merchant shipbuilding programmes during the Second World War and these are covered in some detail. Different types and designs are considered and roles explained, while the design criteria, innovative building techniques and the human element of their successful operation are presented.

We must not forget the post-war merchant fleets, the mainstays of which were former wartime standard ship tonnage; the Greek merchant fleet is one example.

Some of the story has been told in a range of books and articles, a few with extensive fleet lists. Here is a fine history of the 20th century wartime-built standard merchant ship that records the appropriate technical, political and military background.

Paul Ridgway

Reviewed by Paul Ridgway
London Correspondent
Africa Ports & Ships

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Nigeria’s new large Dangote fertiliser plant will grow country’s exports

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the new 3 million metric tonne capacity Dangote Fertiliser Urea Plant, which will not only provide a huge fillip to Nigeria’s agricultural sector, but will also result in fertiliser becoming available for export.

The new plant is located at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos Free Trade Zone within the periphery of the Dangote refinery.

President Buhari said the coming on stream of the plant would create huge opportunities in the areas of employment, trade, warehousing, transport and logistics. He said the plant will generate wealth and reduce poverty while helping to secure the future of the nation.

“In the agricultural sector… ..we expect a boom as fertiliser is now readily available. Many Nigerians who hitherto practiced subsistence farming because of non-availability of necessary inputs can now take up agriculture as a business. We expect a rise of new breed of agropreneurs who will add value to farming and make the nation self-sufficient in food production,” Pres Buhari said.

“As we all know, good roads contribute to easy movement of goods and services across the nation, thus reducing cost of doing business and improving productivity. We are also rehabilitating our railway lines and building new ones to lessen the burden on our roads and create more effective multi-model transportation networks.”

Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, described the new plant as a game changer, as it has the capacity to make Nigeria become self-sufficient in fertiliser production, with spare capacity to export to other markets in Africa and the rest of the world.

He added that already, Dangote fertiliser has reached the markets in the USA, Brazil and Mexico.

Dangote said the fertiliser plant, which is the largest granulated Urea fertiliser complex in Africa, occupies 500 hectares of land, and was built at a cost of US$2.5 Billion.

He said that agriculture accounts for 20 per cent of the nation’s GDP and that the new plant was an ambitious project that would provide both direct and indirect employment, thereby reducing youth restiveness

“Dangote Fertiliser is working with Farmer Associations, Corporate Farmers, NPK Blenders, NGO/development partners and State Governments all over Nigeria, and governments across Africa and beyond who are looking for sustainable approach to improving soil quality and farm yields,” he explained.

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, said Nigeria is indeed indebted to Aliko Dangote for his adding value to Nigeria’s economy.

“It is great that a Nigerian has taken not just this great initiative of helping to solve our perennial problem of importing petrochemical products including fertiliser but has taken advantage of the emerging huge market opportunity presented by recent global developments.”

The CBN governor described the fertiliser plant as timely considering the recent developments in the global market, where prices of wheat, fertiliser and crude oil spiked by over 20 per cent, following the start of the Russia – Ukraine war.

“In addition to the lessons we learnt from the protectionist actions of countries during the early days of Covid-19, this investment is again a glaring testament to the foresight and tireless efforts of Mr President in encouraging domestic production of items that can be produced in Nigeria, especially agriculture.”

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IN CONVERSATION: Red gold: the rise and fall of West Africa’s palm oil empire

Pauline von Hellermann, University of London

For thousands of years, the oil palm – indigenous to West Africa – has had an intimate relationship with people. An explosive expansion of oil palm groves throughout western and central Africa in the wake of a dry period around 2,500 years ago enabled human migration and agricultural development; in turn, humans facilitated oil palm propagation through seed dispersal and slash-and-burn agriculture.

Archaeological evidence shows that palm fruit and their oil already formed an integral part of West African diets 5,000 years ago.

With the exception of “royal” oil palm plantations, established in the 18th century for palm wine in the Kingdom of Dahomey, all of West Africa’s oil palms grew in wild and semi-wild groves.

Women and children collected loose fruits from the ground, while men harvested fruit bunches by climbing up to the top of the palms. The fruit was then processed into palm oil by women, through a time-consuming and labour-intensive process involving repetitively boiling and filtering the fresh fruits with water. Similar methods are still widely used throughout West Africa.

While pure red palm oil was derived from the palm fruit’s fleshy outer mesocarp, women also, often with the help of children, cracked the palm kernels to make brown, clear palm kernel oil.

Palm oil was, and remains, a key ingredient in West African cuisine, including the simple dish of boiled yam, palm oil and Kanwa salt, and Banga soup.

Throughout West Africa, palm oil was also used in soap making; today Yoruba black Dudu-Osun soap is a trademark Nigerian brand. In the Benin Kingdom, palm oil was used in street lamps and as a building material in the king’s palace walls. It also found hundreds of different ritualistic and medicinal uses, in particular as a skin ointment and a common antidote to poisons. In addition, the sap of oil palms was tapped for palm wine, and palm fronds provided material for roof thatching and brooms.

Early 19th-century boom

Palm oil has been known in Europe since the 15th century. It was Liverpool and Bristol slave traders who, in the early 19th century, began larger-scale imports. They were familiar with its multiple uses in West Africa and had already been buying it regularly as food for slaves being shipped to the Americas.

With the abolition of the slave trade to the Americas in 1807, British West Africa traders turned to European markets and natural resources as commodities, in particular palm oil. At the time, the main sources of fats and oils in northern Europe were animal-based – such as lard or fish oils -– products for which it could be a challenge to secure regular supplies. There was a ready market for palm oil.

Palm oil was used as an industrial lubricant, in tin-plate production, street-lighting, and as the fatty semi-solid for candle making and soap production. Breakthroughs in chemistry, in the 1820s facilitated a change to large-scale, industrial soap production.

Ever larger quantities of palm oil – increasing from 157 metric tonnes per year in the late 1790s to 32,480 tonnes by the early 1850s – were brought to the UK by small-scale West African traders.

The trade was not for the faint-hearted. Once a year, traders would spend up to six weeks travelling in small schooners to one of the many trading stations on the West African coast. There were several dozen trading stations in the Oil Rivers area of today’s Niger Delta -– the heartland of the West African palm oil trade.

European traders lived and traded entirely on abandoned sailing ships. This was partly to try and avoid deadly diseases, such as malaria and yellow fever, but also because local authorities didn’t let them build on land. Inland trade was controlled tightly by local brokers and village chiefs.

European traders gave these brokers European goods such as cooking utensils, salt and cloth. Then the traders waited on board their ships for them to return, sometimes for months at a time. Many of the African brokers were themselves former slave traders. The slave trade in the Niger Delta did not immediately stop with abolition but continued alongside the palm trade until the 1840s. Palm brokers and European traders continued to use the same network and system developed for the slave trade.

While waiting, the European traders’ coopers would assemble large casks to hold palm oil.

It was largely West Africa’s existing wild and semi-wild groves that furnished European demand. In the hinterland of the Oil Rivers and many other areas, there was an abundance of wild oil palm that could be harvested. Some planting did take place; the Krobo in southeastern Ghana, where fewer oil palms were growing naturally, began systematic cultivation in response to European demand.

In Dahomey, too, more plantations were set up. Some parts of southeastern Nigeria focused so much on the production of palm oil that they became completely reliant on yam imports from further north. However, there was no large-scale, radical transformation in land management, ownership or ecology.

The rise in oil palm brokers

West African producers successfully responded to growing European palm oil demand through the modification and expansion of existing small-scale production methods.

Young men did the dangerous work of harvesting fresh fruit bunches. In palm oil processing another, far less labour-intensive method, developed. Fresh fruit was left to ferment and then stamped on in large pits dug in the ground, or sometimes in old canoes. The resulting oil was much dirtier and inedible. It also fetched lower prices, but the new technique enabled much larger-scale production than before.

There was plenty of work in transporting palm oil, carrying calabashes filled with oil along forest paths to the nearest river and working on canoes. This brought some cash income for young men, but it was generally older, already wealthier men, and in particular chiefs, who were able to profit most from “red gold”, through the labour of their wives and slaves and from control of trade.

It was through brokerage that most wealth and power could be gained, and local power structures were deeply enmeshed with trade in palm oil. A particularly powerful broker at this time was William Dappa Pepple, the amanyanabo (king) of Bonny (in today’s southeastern Nigeria) from 1837 to 1854.

Colonial takeover

In the late 19th century, chemists discovered that hydrogenation could be used to process vegetable oils into margarine. Margarine played an increasingly important role in supplying fats for the diet of Europe’s growing urban working class. While the volume of imports of West African palm oil into the UK levelled off between the 1850s and 1890s, large-scale production of this new edible product stimulated renewed demand for palm oil in the early 20th century.

Between 1854 and 1874, France and Britain had already started to create formal European colonies in Senegal, in Lagos, and in the Gold Coast. British West Africa eventually included Sierra Leone, the Gambia,the Gold Coast, and Nigeria (with the British Cameroons).

In the 1930s, British West Africa exported around 500,000 tonnes of palm produce annually. Palm produce continued to play a significant role in West African rural economies, but local control of the trade eroded under colonial administration; the opportunities for wealth and power palm oil had offered local people were no longer available.

Moreover, as the colonial powers continued expanding their reach elsewhere in the tropics, a game-changing development was slowly beginning: the rise of the oil palm plantation.

Within a few short decades, expanses of Southeast Asian forest had been cleared, creating a fast track to industrial-scale monoculture plantations, thus ending West Africa’s position as the global hub of palm oil production.

A version of this piece was originally published on China DialogueThe Conversation

Pauline von Hellermann, Senior Lecturer, Anthropology, University of London

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

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Höegh Autoliners’ introduces Aurora-class of vehicle carriers

Images: Höegh Autoliners in Africa Ports & Ships
Images: Höegh Autoliners

It was reported recently that the Norwegian owner, Höegh Autoliners had entered into a contract with China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co Ltd (CMHI) for four fixed and eight optional multi-fuel and zero carbon ready Aurora class vehicle carrier vessels.

Under the terms of the contract, the first two vessels will be delivered in the second half of 2024 and the next two vessels in the first half of 2025. In addition, Höegh Autoliners has options for another four plus four Aurora class vessels.

The Aurora class will have DNV’s ammonia and methanol-ready notation and will be the first in the PCTC segment to operate on zero carbon ammonia. Together with the capacity to carry up to 9,100 cars, the industry-leading Aurora class will be the world’s largest car carriers.

Leif O Høegh, Höegh Autoliners chairman, in Africa Ports & Ships
Leif O Høegh, Höegh Autoliners chairman

Leif O Høegh, Höegh Autoliners chair commented: “We are proud to partner with one of the largest and most reputable shipbuilders in China. The collaboration with China Merchants Industry represents a breakthrough in reaching our ambitious net zero emissions target by 2040.

“The innovative design of the zero carbon-ready Aurora class will enable our customers to decarbonise their supply chain. Together with CMHI we are leading the way towards a net zero emissions future for our industry.”

This transformational newbuilding programme will accelerate Höegh Autoliners’ green transition, expand the fleet, and deliver market leading low-to-zero emission transport services to its customers.

Andreas Enger, Höegh Autoliners CEO, in Africa Ports & Ships
Andreas Enger, Höegh Autoliners CEO

Andreas Enger, Höegh Autoliners CEO added: “We are excited to partner with China Merchants Heavy Industry and secure the delivery of the world’s largest and most environmentally friendly PCTC vessels by 2024. The Aurora class represents the future of our business. It will further strengthen our service offering, accelerate our path to zero and put us in the forefront of sustainable shipping.”

It is reported that China Merchants Industry has been expanding its shipbuilding business over the past two years and it is now the largest PCTC builder and one of the largest shipbuilding groups in China. The business owns Deltamarin, which has designed the new Höegh Autoliners Aurora-class.

Finally, we learn that the Aurora-class is designed to transport the cargo of the future. The vessel’s strengthened decks and enhanced internal ramp systems enable electric vehicles on all decks and provides more flexibility for heavier project cargo.

The vessel’s multi-fuel engine will be able to run on marine gas oil (MGO) and LNG. With modifications, the vessel can transition to use future zero carbon fuels including ammonia or methanol.

To view short video of the new Aurora-cass vehicle carrier WATCH HERE

MacGregor equipment order

Meanwhile we learn that MacGregor has received a significant order to supply comprehensive RoRo equipment for these four vessels. The order, with a value of more than $15 million is for the first two vessels to be delivered during the second half of 2024 and the next two in the first half of 2025. Höegh Autoliners also has options for a further four plus four vessels.

MacGregor’s scope of supply encompasses design, supply and installation support for a large stern quarter ramp and door, side ramp and door, and liftable car decks.

Aurora-class vehicle carrier, in Africa Ports & Ships
Aurora-class vehicle carrier

China Merchants Heavy Industry

China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co Ltd (CMHI) is a large backbone enterprise wholly owned by China Merchants Industry Holdings Co Ltd (CMI). With HQ in Hong Kong, CMI has several production and manufacturing bases in the Yangtze River economic zone, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Great Bay Area, Yangtze River Delta area, Bohai Bay, as well as subsidiaries and institutions abroad in Italy, Netherland, Singapore, Finland, Poland.

CMI’s business mainly focuses on five aspects including repairs and conversion, marine and offshore equipment newbuilding, specialized shipbuilding, cruise shipbuilding, new materials and special equipment.

Höegh Autoliners

Höegh Autoliners is a leading global provider of Ro-Ro services delivering cars, high and heavy and breakbulk cargoes across the world.

The company operates around forty RoRo vessels in global trade systems and makes about 3000 port calls each year. Its plan is to develop innovative methods for greener and more sustainable deep-sea transport and is on a path to a zero emissions future with customers and partners.

Höegh Autoliners has its head office in Oslo and employs around 375 staff in its 16 offices worldwide [including offices at Durban and Randburg] and 1300 seafarers.

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Added 29 March 2022


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Dodgy ISRAR fishing fleet moves into Indian Ocean after insurer ends coverage

The Israr 1, 2, and 3 fleet of fishing vessels referred to in this EFJ report, are listed on ICCAT’s IUU Vessel List for fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the area managed by ICCAT without an ICCAT authorisation, in Africa Ports & Ships
The Israr 1, 2, and 3 fleet of fishing vessels referred to in this EFJ report, are listed on ICCAT’s IUU Vessel List for fishing for tuna and tuna-like species in the area managed by ICCAT without an ICCAT authorisation  ICAAT


Fleet of fishing vessels now thought to be operating in Indian Ocean

In a progressive step towards ending illegal fishing, marine & energy insurance company Hydor has ended its contract with a fleet of vessels, currently named ISRAR 1, 2, and 3, that were discovered fishing illegally across the Atlantic by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).

Without insurance, the fleet operators are at risk of severe financial losses. Oceana, who worked with EJF to warn Hydor about its unwitting association with an illegal fleet, says that other insurers should follow suit to tighten the net and make illegal fishing untenable.

The Israr fleet was blacklisted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) late last year, after having been discovered engaging in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) tuna fishing.

See that report HERE

The Israr fleet operator took various actions that raised the suspicion that it was attempting to avoid any oversight of its suspected illegal activity. For example, the vessels appear to have started off flying the flags of one nation, only to switch to another. There is also a good indication that they were ‘stateless’ for a time – registered to no country’s flag at all.

EJF, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in 2000, conducted an investigation that uncovered further evidence that the vessels appeared to have changed names: they left West Africa under one identity and entered port in Mauritius using a different identity, switching ID codes mid-voyage on the ‘automatic identification system’ that is used by fishing vessels to prevent collisions.

Illegal transhipments

EJF’s investigations also revealed suspected illegal transhipments. Under this practice, vessels meet at sea to transfer catch, supplies, or crew. While this can occur legally if properly registered and monitored, it is often used by illegal operators to ‘launder’ fish caught illegally and perpetuate the abuse and enslavement of crew, by enabling vessels to stay away from port for months or even years.

Pascale Moehrle, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe, said there are clear actions companies can take to avoid becoming embroiled with illegal fishing. “By using the freely available Combined IUU Fishing Vessel List, companies such as Hydor can easily identify vessels that have been found to engage in IUU fishing and ensure they are not provided with insurance coverage or other essential services that keep them afloat.

“They can also help to increase transparency in the fishing sector, for instance by requiring that vessels they provide services to are actively using vessel tracking technology and are registered with a unique vessel identifier such as an International Maritime Organization number.”


Steve Trent, CEO and founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation commended Hydor for working with EJF on this case.

“If it was commonplace for the insurance industry to require transparency, and sever all ties with illegally fishing vessels, it would not only help to end the destruction of our ocean ecosystems and human rights abuse at sea, it would reduce the risk for insurers being damaged by such association.”

According to both EFJ and Oceana, the decision by Hydor to end the coverage could be an effective way of making IUU fishing unworkable for operators, providing it becomes commonplace across the insurance industry.

“By withholding coverage for vessels engaged in illegal fishing, insurers are reducing operators’ access to essential services that keep them in business. Alongside increasing financial risk for operators, this action could also prevent illicit operators from making fraudulent insurance claims after deliberately and unlawfully sinking their own vessels, an evasive tactic that has been attempted in the past,” they said in a joint statement.

In many countries, insurers are legally prohibited from supporting illegal fishing operations. Those who do may be at risk of prosecution, which can end in financial or even custodial penalties. Even in countries without these laws, it puts companies at increased risk of fraudulent claims, financial losses, and reputational damage.

IUU fishing can be linked to other criminal activities, including human trafficking, slavery, and the transportation of arms and drugs.


There is evidence that the Israr fleet has shifted its operations from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, leaving the jurisdiction of ICCAT. While the vessels do have permission to fish in the Indian Ocean as a result of the switch to their new flag – Oman – early evidence raises the suspicion that they may be continuing to use illegal transhipment, in breach of the rules of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.

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WHARF TALK: long wait outside for – ELKA DELPHI

A fine shot of the MR2 tanker Elka Delphi in Cape Town harbour, with on of the port tugs assisting. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
A fine shot of the MR2 tanker Elka Delphi in Cape Town harbour, with one of the port tugs assisting. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The continuing flow of tankers, bringing much needed refined fuel products, to South African ports, appears to be split into three visiting categories. One is of those tankers, all MR class, who are contracted by the majors out of Island View in Durban, to take fuel to all of the major Southern African ports.

The second are the ‘one off’ spot market visitors which includes all LR class tankers, who arrive from anywhere on earth, pump out their precious cargo and sail off, generally never to be seen again. The third category are those who are regular callers, nearly all MR class tankers, who arrive in South African ports at frequent intervals, mostly originating in the Gulf region, and all expected to return at some point in the near future.

On 9th March at 13h00 the MR2 class tanker ELKA DELPHI (IMO 9705902) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage from Durban, and had to ensure a wait of six days out at anchor, before entering Cape Town harbour on 15th March at 10h00 and proceeding to the Tanker Berth in the Duncan Dock. Her arrival from Durban indicated she had already discharged a parcel of fuel at the Island View terminal in that port, before heading to Cape Town to complete her discharge.

Elka Delphi on her berth in the port of Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Elka Delphi on her berth in the port of Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2015 by STX Offshore and Shipbuilding of Jinhae in South Korea, ‘Elka Delphi’ is 189 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,990 tons. As with most newbuilds out of the STX shipyard, she is powered by a single STX MAN-B&W 6G50ME-B9.3 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 14,031 bhp (10,320 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15.1 knots.

The stern on the tanker Elka Delphi. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The stern on the tanker Elka Delphi. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes four STX MAN-B&W 6L23/30 generators providing 745 kW each. She has a Kangrim PB0301AS18 boiler, and a Kangrim PCZZZZP32 auxiliary composite boiler. She has 12 cargo tanks, and a cargo carrying capacity of 55,800 m3. She is one of five sisterships built for the same Greek owners, all completed in the same year.

A view of the port side of the tanker Elka Delphi. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
A view of the port side of the tanker Elka Delphi. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Nominally owned by Elymnios Maritime Incorporated, of Monrovia, ‘Elka Delphi’ is controlled by European Navigation Incorporated, of Athens in Greece, whose houseflag she flies on her funnel. She is both operated, and managed, by European Product Carriers Limited, also of Athens in Greece.

The accommodation and bridge area of the tanker. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The accommodation and bridge wing area of the tanker. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This current call at Cape Town, and Durban, is her sixth Southern African call in the last year. Prior to her early March arrival in Durban, ‘Elka Delphi’ had also previously called at Durban in January 2022, December 2021 and November 2021, with further calls back in September 2021 and August 2021.

Elka Delphi seen leaving her berth at the Tanker Terminal. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Elka Delphi seen leaving her berth at the Tanker Terminal, having completed her discharge. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In all previous cases she arrived with refined fuel cargoes from a variety of Gulf oil ports, and oil storage terminals, including Ras Laffan in Qatar, Al Ruwais in the UAE, Sohar in Oman, and on this current two port call, she had loaded her South African cargo at Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia.

Elka Delphi departs from Cape Town after a lengthy call. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Elka Delphi departs from Cape Town after a lengthy call. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her recent regular voyages through the pirate laden waters of the Gulf of Oman, over the last eight months, has seen her present a token anti-piracy measure, with the stationing of a single ‘permanent lookout’ stationed on the lifeboat embarkation deck.

On completion of her discharge at Cape Town, ‘Elka Delphi’ sailed from that port on 16th March at 16h00, where she was bound for Fujairah in the UAE to load her next cargo. On her current record, she is almost certain to return to Southern African waters in the not too distant future.

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TICT at Tin Can Island orders two mobile cranes

The Tin Can Container Terminal in Lagos, in Africa Ports & Ships
The Tin Can Container Terminal in Lagos    NPA

The Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT) in the port of Lagos has placed a order for two eco-efficient Konecranes Gottwald Generation 6 mobile harbour cranes. These will be delivered in June 2022 and will improve the operational efficiency of TICT and support its container traffic development, says Bolloré Ports.

TICTS is a consortium made up of Bolloré Ports and a Chinese partnership formed by China Merchants Holding International (CMHI) and China Africa Development Fund (CADF).

in Africa Ports & Ships

The cranes on order have a working radius of 54 metres and a lifting capacity of 150 tons. They feature strong lifting capacity for improved performance and have also a customised propping base adapted to local conditions, as well as a tower extension to reach higher container stacks.

“This new acquisition is part of a global project to boost the competitiveness of the port of Lagos,” said Etienne Rocher, managing director at TICTS.

“The two mobile cranes that will equip the container terminal will provide improved handling capacity to meet the demands of the steadily growing business and enhance our productivity. We are also working in the meantime to expand our barging activities to promote a more sustainable logistics solution to our clients in line with our CSR strategy.

Since 2006, TICT has been making significant investments to modernise the container terminal at Lagos with the goal of making Tin Can the most efficient terminal in Nigeria’s economic capital, and is now involved in other projects which include the modernisation of the barging service to mitigate urban congestion.

TICT is also committed to accelerate its efforts in the environmental field based on the eight fundamental pillars of the Green Terminal label. This new approach approved by Bureau Veritas has been launched in 2021 by Bolloré Ports and covers all environmental issues.

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Ukraine war’s impact on Trade and Development: UNCTAD report

UN Photo/Albert González Farran © Screenshots taken from the Report. Reproduced with due acknowledgement. UNCTAD © in Africa Ports & Ships
UN Photo/Albert González Farran © Screenshots taken from the Report. Reproduced with due acknowledgement. UNCTAD ©

UNCTAD’s rapid assessment of the war’s impact beyond the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine shows a rapidly worsening outlook for the world economy, with the situation especially alarming for least developed countries. This was made clear in a statement from Geneva-based UNCTAD on 16 March.

An UNCTAD rapid assessment of the war in Ukraine’s impact on trade and development confirms a rapidly worsening outlook for the world economy, underpinned by rising food, fuel and fertiliser prices.

The published report also shows heightened financial volatility, sustainable development divestment, complex global supply chain reconfigurations and mounting trade costs.

This document is available HERE

The impact on trade and development of the war in Ukraine in Africa Ports & Ships

Russian Federation and Ukraine: Global players  in Agrifood markets (percentage) 

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said in a statement. “The war in Ukraine has a huge cost in human suffering and is sending shocks through the world economy.

“All these shocks threaten the gains made towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and block the path towards sustainable development.”

The two fundamental ‘F’s

Concern abounds over the two fundamental ‘F’s of commodity markets – Food and Fuels.

Ukraine and Russia are global players in agri-food markets, representing 53% of global trade of sunflower oil and seeds and 27% of global trade of wheat.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said in a statement. “The war in Ukraine has a huge cost in human suffering and is sending shocks through the world economy.

“All these shocks threaten the gains made towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and block the path towards sustainable development.” in Africa Ports & Ships


Exports to Africa

This rapidly evolving situation is especially alarming for developing nations. We understand that as many as 26 African countries, including some least-developed countries, import more than one third of their wheat from the two countries at war. For 17 others , the share is over half.

Ms Grynspan added: “Soaring food and fuel prices will affect the most vulnerable in developing countries, putting pressure on the poorest households which spend the highest share of their income on food, resulting in hardship and hunger.”

According to UNCTAD calculations, on average, more than 5% of the poorest countries’ import basket is composed of the products that are likely to face a price hike due to the war. The share is below 1% for richer countries.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said in a statement. "The war in Ukraine has a huge cost in human suffering and is sending shocks through the world economy. "All these shocks threaten the gains made towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and block the path towards sustainable development."

Risk of civil unrest

The risk of civil unrest, food shortages and inflation-induced recessions cannot be discounted, the report says, particularly given the fragile state of the global economy and the developing world due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

UNCTAD’s Secretary General added: “Long-standing effects of rising food prices are hard to predict but an UNCTAD analysis of historical data sheds light on some troubling possible trends.”

Agri-food commodity cycles, for example, have coincided with major political events, such as the 2007-2008 food riots and the 2011 Arab Spring.

The link between food price spikes and political instability (until 9 March 2022) Price index (base year = 2008)

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said in a statement. "The war in Ukraine has a huge cost in human suffering and is sending shocks through the world economy. "All these shocks threaten the gains made towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and block the path towards sustainable development." in Africa Ports & Ships

Freight rate hikes

Restrictive measures on airspace, contractor uncertainty and security concerns are complicating all trade routes going through Russia and Ukraine. The two countries are a key geographical component of the Eurasian Land Bridge.

In 2021, 1.5 million containers of cargo were shipped by rail west from China to Europe. If the volumes currently going by container rail were added to the Asia-Europe ocean freight demand, this would mean a 5% to 8% increase in an already congested trade route.

From the UNCTAD report we learn that; “Due to higher fuel costs, re-routeing efforts and zero capacity in maritime logistics, the impact of the war in Ukraine can be expected to lead to even higher freight rates.” It is appreciated that such increases would have a significant impact on economies and households.

In 2021, UNCTAD simulated that the freight rate increase during the pandemic raised global consumer prices by 1.5%, “with particularly oversized effects in vulnerable economies such as small island developing states, landlocked developing states and least developed countries.”

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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IN CONVERSATION: Whale migrations: how new UN treaty aims to protect species on the high seas

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) frolicking at the ocean surface.  Tony Wu/WWF, Author provided

Ryan Reisinger, University of Southampton; Ari Friedlaender, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Daniel M. Palacios, Oregon State University

A humpback whale we tagged while it was feeding off the Western Antarctic Peninsula made a nearly 19,000 km-round trip in 265 days, travelling north from Antarctica to its breeding area off Colombia and back. Whales migrate thousands of kilometres each year, gathering to mate and give birth in the tropics and subtropics during winter and then heading for cooler waters in higher latitudes to feast on abundant prey during summer.

Theories abound, but scientists still can’t agree on why whales undertake these epic migrations, or even how they manage to navigate vast ocean basins.

In a new report from WWF, a global environment charity, scientists compiled the migration tracks of over 1,000 whales worldwide, recorded using satellite tags. For the first time, the global scale and extent of the routes whales traverse during their migrations were illuminated. The report adds to the growing understanding among scientists that the routes between critical feeding and breeding habitats are as important to whales as the endpoints themselves.

A map of the world with whale migration routes highlighted.
Migration tracks of over 1,000 whales worldwide, from the WWF Protecting Blue Corridors report.  WWF, Author provided

These routes also reveal how perilous the ocean is becoming for these giants. Climate change is shifting the places and times that whales can reliably find food, while fisheries are discarding nets and ropes that can ensnare and drown whales. Meanwhile around 11 billion tons of cargo is moved by sea each year. The routes these ships use cross the paths of migrating whales and other marine animals which may be struck and killed.

Six out of the 13 largest whale species are either endangered or vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, even after decades of protection following the end of most commercial whaling in 1986.

Marine protected areas created by individual countries are one way to shield whales from some of these threats. These are zones where certain activities, like fishing, are restricted or prohibited. Currently, marine protected areas cover less than 8% of the ocean.

But whales move through the waters of multiple countries during their migration and spend much of this time in the high seas, where only 1.2% of the ocean is under some form of protection. Clearly, protecting whales requires a global effort.

Whales beyond borders

Geopolitical boundaries are invisible to whales but have extraordinary consequences for them. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, countries have rights to fish and pursue other activities in 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zones (EEZ) extending from their coastlines. Countries designating marine protected areas within their EEZs can help conserve local ocean habitats.

But since laws vary substantially from country to country, it’s difficult to coordinate efforts to protect whales, although international agreements like the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals try to do just this.

It does little good protecting whales in one country, using measures like marine protected areas or rules restricting shipping and fishing, when they may face looser regulation in another country’s EEZ during a single migration. The WWF report showed that 367 humpback whales tracked by satellite in the southern hemisphere together traversed the EEZs of 28 countries during their migrations.

The 64% of the ocean which encompasses the high seas is beyond any EEZ and the authority of any single nation. Whales migrate between habitats thousands of kilometres apart, so it’s unsurprising that many species spend much of their lives there. The 367 tracked humpbacks spent half their time in these areas of the ocean beyond national jurisdictions.

A 2018 study tracked 14 large species, from leatherback turtles to white sharks, throughout the Pacific Ocean and revealed that 29% of all the positions recorded by satellite tags were in the high seas. In a 2020 study, we estimated that only 27% of important areas for marine mammals and seabirds in the Southern Ocean were within EEZs.

Five large open whale mouths surrounded by sea gulls at the ocean surface.
Some whales congregate in cool, productive waters to feed.  Chad Graham/WWF-Canada, Author provided

Marine protected areas on the high seas

International negotiations are underway to figure out how to protect ocean species, including whales, outside of EEZs. In the more than 222 million km² that make up the high seas, there are almost no marine protected areas.

United Nations member states agreed in 2017 to negotiate an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of the high seas. The fourth and final session of these negotiations takes place in New York on March 7-18. The treaty will include ways that marine protected areas could be designated in the high seas, and these areas could restrict activities that threaten whales and other marine species in areas critical for their survival.

The treaty won’t design and implement these marine protected areas, though. That will rely on organisations like the Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force, which, with the help of scientists, has located at least 159 important marine mammal areas that could become protected. The migration tracks in the WWF report will be essential when it comes to identifying them.

Marine protected areas are only one measure among several which will be needed to make the high seas safer for marine mammals. Conservationists have to address mounting threats from climate change, fisheries, shipping and pollution.

There are glimmers of hope, however. The International Maritime Organization and the International Whaling Commission are collaborating to prevent ships from striking whales. Meanwhile, modifications to fishing equipment and other tools have reduced the number of dolphins caught in eastern tropical Pacific yellowfin tuna fisheries by 99%. Critical to any successful conservation effort is a solid foundation of scientific evidence and cooperation on local, regional and international scales.The Conversation

Ryan Reisinger, Lecturer in Marine Biology and Ecology, University of Southampton; Ari Friedlaender, Professor of Ocean Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Daniel M. Palacios, Endowed Associate Professor in Whale Habitats, Oregon State University

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

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Botswana sugar now imported through Port of Walvis Bay

The vessel Amar Glyfada which docked at the Port of Walvis Bay with a consignment of Brazilian sugar, in Africa Ports & Ships
The vessel Amar Glyfada which docked at the Port of Walvis Bay with a consignment of Brazilian sugar   Namport

The Port of Walvis Bay in Namibia has recently handled its first breakbulk consignment of sugar stuffed in 50kg bags. The total consignment was for 20,800 tons which originated from Brazil.

Over the past decade, the Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) working with Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG), has persistently promoted the use of the Port of Walvis Bay and the Namibian corridors linking its ports to major SADC markets in Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Angola and South Africa.

Walvis Bay has been promoted as a crucial hub for the Brazilian imports into Southern Africa.

“These efforts have finally borne the much desired fruits with this first consignment of 20,800 tons breakbulk sugar imports, which is hopefully the first of many to follow,” said Phillemon Mupupa, Business Development Partner at Namport.

The sugar is destined for Botswana and the importation/handling as well the storage of this consignment is facilitated by SEARAIL Botswana which is the terminal operator for the Botswana Dry Port, situated at the Port of Walvis Bay.

Another shipment of 15,000 tons of sugar is expected to arrive in the second half of 2022 and the Ports Authority is optimistic for this to become a regular import for the Port of Walvis Bay.

The Namibian Ports Authority says it remains committed to enhancing its clients experience through efficient and highly productive port services, consequently allowing the entity to make meaningful steps towards its vision of being the best performing seaports in Africa.

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Boskalis to replenish eroded Togo & Benin coastline

A typical eroded Benin beach, in Africa Ports & Ships
A typical eroded Benin beach    Supplied

Boskalis to construct innovative sand engine

It was announced from Papendrecht, The Netherlands, on 24 March that Boskalis has been awarded the contract for the protection and replenishment of more than 40 kilometres of coastline stretching from the eastern coastline of Togo to the western coastline of Benin in West Africa.

This coastal protection project is part of the West African Coastal Areas Management (WACA) programme. The award was made by the governments of Togo and Benin with the financing made available by the World Bank. The contract carries a value of approximately €55 million.

The current coastline has suffered from significant erosion, resulting in coastal retreat that serves as a threat to vital infrastructure and the livelihoods of the local population.

Under the project, fifteen new groynes will be constructed and six existing groynes will be refurbished. A beach replenishment programme will also take place using more than one million cubic metres of sand. Furthermore, on the Benin side of the border, a 6.4 million cubic metre sand engine will be constructed.

The sand engine concept was co-developed by Boskalis and has been successfully applied in the Netherlands over the past decade.

A large volume of sand will be deposited at a strategic location and, over time, the natural motion of wind, waves and currents will spread it eastwards along the coastline. This principle of building with nature will reinforce the coastline in a robust and natural way. The project will start immediately and is expected to be completed late 2023.

The WACA programme was developed in partnership with West African communities who live on the coast and depend on it for their livelihoods, nutrition, food security, and prosperity. The programme supports several countries’ efforts to improve the management of their shared coastal resources and reduce the natural and man-made risks affecting coastal areas.

Along the west coast of Africa average rates of coastal retreat are between one and two metres per year. However, more serious rates of more than ten metres per year have been observed locally. Coastal erosion has devastating effects, inducing the loss of infrastructure such as roads.

It also threatens local populations, who can no longer live close to the coastline which is often linked to their source of income. These challenges are expected to increase due to climate change and sea level rise.

Boskalis’ strategy is aimed at leveraging on the key macro-economic drivers that are fuelling global demand in its selected markets: global trade, increasing energy consumption, expanding population pressures and the challenges of changing climate conditions. This coastal protection project is driven by population growth and climate change.

Paul Ridgway

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Sale of Vale Moatize coal mine to India’s Vulcan confirmed

Mineheads at Vale's Moatize Coal Mine in Mozambique, now acquired by Idia's Vulcan Minerals, in Africa Ports & Ships
Mineheads at Vale’s Moatize Coal Mine in Mozambique, now acquired by India’s Vulcan Minerals

The sale of the Brazilian Vale coal mine interests at Moatize in Mozambique, to India’s Vulcan Minerals, has been authorised by the Mozambique government.

The sale of Vale’s coal mining interests in Moatize, for a figure of US$ 270 million, was announced in December 2021 subject to approval from the government. Vale was active in Mozambique for 15 years.

The development of the Brazilian mining company’s coal interests in the African country were largely responsible for the reopening and subsequent upgrading of the Sena Railway between Moatize in Tete province and the port of Beira, and later to the linking of a railway connecting Moatize and the Nacala – Malawi railway and the new marine coal terminal at Nacala-a-Velha.

In terms of the agreement Vale now has ten days to pay the capital gains tax to the Mozambican State, after which the order becomes effective.

India’s Vulcan is a privately owned company that is part of the Jindal group with a market value of $18 billion. It is already present in Tete province where it operates the Chirodzi mine.

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TNPA launches 2022 Internship Programme

TNPA banner in Africa Ports & Ships

The roll-out of Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) 2022 Internship Programme has been announced but with only a few days notice to get in those applications.

According to TNPA the programme is an effort at addressing South Africa’s high level of youth unemployment.

Graduates will be provided with practical and meaningful work experience for a period of 24 months in their respective fields or related disciplines, to enhance their employability. The Internship Programme is open to University or University of Technology students with a 3-year diploma/degree or a postgraduate qualification from an accredited higher education institution.

The internship opportunities are available in a wide range of fields including engineering, communications, information and communication technology (ICT), maritime, finance and procurement amongst others. Placement opportunities are available across the port system from TNPA head office in Gqeberha (Ngqura) to the eight commercial ports operated by TNPA in Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Saldanha, Durban, Richards Bay, East London, Port Elizabeth and Ngqura.

Interested persons are invited to apply by registering on the Transnet Website

Applicants can also apply through by sending a curriculum Vitae (CV) to the email addresses below:

TNPA Head Office:

Eastern Region – Ports of Richards Bay and Durban:;

Central Region – Ports of East London and Nelson Mandela Bay (PE and Ngqura):

Western Region – Ports of Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha:

The advertisement is also available on the TNPA’s social media platforms:
• LinkedIn: Transnet National Ports Authority
• Facebook: Transnet National Ports Authority
• Twitter: @TransnetNPA
• Instagram: Transnet Nat. Ports Authority

Suitable qualified people with disabilities and members of the designated groups from urban and rural areas are encouraged to apply. The closing date for applications is this coming Thursday, 31 March 2022.

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