Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 17 April 2022

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The week’s mastheads:

Monday: Port Harcourt
Tuesday: Port Elizabeth Manganese Terminal
Wednesday: Port Elizabeth Container & Car Terminals
Thursday: Port of Walvis Bay
Friday: Port of Ngqura
Saturday: Port of Ngqura Container Terminal
Sunday: Port of Mombasa




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MSC Radiant III arrives at the Durban port entrance in early April this year, just the latest of her several calls over the years. Picture by Keith Betts in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Radiant III arrives at the Durban port entrance in early April this year, just the latest of her several calls over the years. Picture by Keith Betts
MSC Radiant III in the Durban entrance channel earlier in April. Picture by Trevor Jones, in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Radiant III in the Durban entrance channel earlier in April. Picture by Trevor Jones
MSC Radiant II on her rmost recent call at Durban in early April. Picture by Trevor Jones in Africa Ports & Ships
MSC Radiant II on her most recent call at Durban in early April, with the Bluff in her background. Picture by Trevor Jones
Bomar Radiant made one of her calls at Durban in January 2021. Picture by Keith Betts
Bomar Radiant, the future MSC Radiant III, made one of her calls at Durban in January 2021. Picture by Keith Betts

Our Front Page ship this week is the MSC RADIANT III (IMO 9235402), shown arriving at Durban earlier in April. Built at the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering yard in Geoje, South Korea in either 2001 or 2002 (sources differ), the 33,836-dwt container vessel has a length of 209 metres and width of 30m and has a container carrying capacity of 2,452 TEU, including 320 reefer points. The self geared ship has three 45-ton cranes spreading over five holds covered by 10 hatches.

MSC Radiant III is powered by a single two-stroke Sulzer diesel engine, model 6RTA72U providing 17,962 kW of power ( 24,421 HP) and driving a fixed pitch single propeller to give a speed of 21.4 knots.

In her 20 (or 21 years) of service the German-owned ship has sailed under a variety of names on behalf of different operators. The ship was christened Northern Enterprise but in the same year as she went on charter she became Andhika Lourdes. This was followed by Cap Salinas in 2003, NY Freesia in 2004, Cap Salinas again in 2005, back to Northern Enterprise in 2008, and Niledutch Hong Kong in 2010. That must have been a one-year charter because by 2011 she had reverted to Northern Enterprise, which remained until 2016 when she was named Bomar Enterprise. It appears she remained as Bomar Radiant until becoming MSC Radiant III either late last year or earlier this. Under several of her names the ship called at South African and other African ports, the most recent of course being as Bomar Radiant which included calls in South and East Africa in 2021.

The ship is currently operating between South Africa and India via Mozambique and East Africa and the Arabian Gulf.

These pictures are by Keith Betts and Trevor Jones





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Scene from the Durban Container Terminal. Picture Transnet
Scene from the Durban Container Terminal. Picture Transnet

As a result of the heavy and sustained rain and flooding in KZN province and in particular the port city of Durban over the past weekend and early this week, Africa Ports & Ships has been cut off with a lack of electricity, Internet and cell phone connectivity since late on Monday night, shortly after the posting of our Tuesday News Bulletin.

This connectivity is now restored, hours ahead of the Easter long weekend. However, the following statements from Transnet National Ports Authority concerning the status of the Port of Durban are of immediate importance and are reproduced here unedited.

Durban, 14 April 2022, 18h30 – Transnet SOC Ltd. (Transnet) has made progress in identifying alternative access routes for trucks destined to the container terminals and the liquid bulk terminals at Island View. This follows damages incurred on Bayhead Road after the inclement weather in the recent days.

Subsequent to assessments of the damage, the Port of Durban has appointed contractors to commence with the engineering works to restore Bayhead Road and allow contraflowing traffic on 2 outbound lanes. Contractors are expected to work throughout the weekend on repair work of the washed away area on Bayhead Road. There is rain forecast for eThekwini over the weekend, which could impact on the conclusion of this work.

An alternative access road (Bluff Road) to the container terminal and the Island View Precinct has been identified after engagement with the Bluff community to temporarily relax the municipal bylaws. An assessment was carried out to ensure the safety of Bluff residents and transporters during the period where trucks will be utilising the road.

The Port will continue to prioritize evacuation of essential goods, including food, medical supplies and petroleum products during this time. Truck owners are urged to avoid creating congestion around the area, as this also poses many dangers given the condition of the roads.

Shipping has resumed following the cleaning of debris from the harbour, and as at 14:00 on Thursday, 14 April, the Port of Durban had done 10 of the 11 planned vessel movements.

The fuel pipeline is operational and pumping fuel to the inland market. Engagements have been held with the Island View tenants and SAPIA to ensure security of supply of fuel in the KZN area. On the rail side, the Kingsrest yard has been partially reopened, and the six trains in the yard with export containers are being moved to the Durban Container Terminal.

Yesterday, Transnet senior leadership led by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan and the Group Chief Executive, Portia Derby visited the harbour and rail sites to assess the extent of the damage and seek areas of collaboration with all provincial stakeholders.

Transnet, with the support of stakeholders, will continue to work around the clock to ensure that full operations resume as soon as is possible. 14 April 18:31

The following statement was issued by TNPA on Tuesday 12 April 2022. It is listed here for the record.

Durban, 12 April 2022 – Disruptive weather conditions in KwaZulu-Natal have adversely affected Transnet operations in the province, and we continue to assess the extent of the damage. Heavy rains have damaged the road infrastructure leading into the Port of Durban, affecting access into the terminals.

As a precautionary measure and for safety reasons, operations across the Durban Terminals had to be suspended at around 19H30 on 11 April 2022. There have been no major incidents reported at the terminals thus far.

Shipping has been suspended until further notice as a result of environmental damage caused by the adverse weather, and vessels on berth are on standby.

A multi-disciplinary command centre, comprising the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), operators and customers has been set up and is monitoring activities.

Customers have been requested to hold back on bringing trucks into the port, to avoid congestion.

In Richards Bay, the terminals are operating at limited capacity, with challenges experienced in handling wet cargo.
Rail lines in certain parts of the province are operating at limited capacity as a result of flooding. Transnet Freight Rail’s engineering teams will assess the extent of the damage, before full operations can resume.

The safety of Transnet employees remains paramount. All critical safety inspections will be conducted prior to full resumption in operations, to ensure that equipment and infrastructure is safe to use. Issued: 12 April 2022

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Suez Canal widening project making progress



The impressive and large cutter suction dredger, Hussein Tantawy, which entered service with the SCA last year. Picture: SCA in Africa Ports & Ships
The impressive and large cutter suction dredger, Hussein Tantawi, which entered service with the SCA last year. Picture: SCA

The project to dredge and widen a further section of the Suez Canal in underway and reported to be making good progress.

When this section is complete an additional 10 kilometres of two-way canal will be available.

The intention of the project is to improve traffic safety, brought more forcefully than ever following the grounding of the giant Evergreen container ship, Ever Given.

Although this additional two-way section will become available on completion of the project, the transit time through the canal will remain the same at 11 hours.

Most of the canal will remain a single traffic lane, with two sections offering double-lanes and allowing ships to move in opposite directions. It is expected that it will be many years if ever that the canal will be able to offer two-way traffic throughout.

As a consequence, ships transiting the canal will continue to do so in convoys. Ever Given was travelling in one such convoy when she suffered engine failure and went aground, resulting in huge costs to shipping and ports, and most important, to cargo owners.

Hard at work for the Suez Canal Authority are two large cutter suction dredgers, with the latest, the 148-metre long Hussein Tantawi having joined the authority fairly recently.

The widening project is costing 3 billion Egyptian pounds ($191 million) and is due for completion in June 2023.  Source: Suez Canal Authority & Dredging Today

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WHARF TALK: BP bunkering tanker – AMBER II

With the assistance of two of the port tugs, Amber II is manoeuvred for placing alongside the tanker berth on the Eastern Mole. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
With the assistance of two of the port tugs, Amber II is manoeuvred for placing alongside the tanker berth on the Eastern Mole. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

The provision of bunkers at major South African ports, and the opening up of competition within those ports, has led to a growing number of handy sized bunker tankers taking up station around the coast. In the case of Cape Town, the competition to the established operator is now provided by BP, with a sizeable bunker tanker in situ at the port.

However, bunker tankers still need to have their tanks replenished on a regular basis. In the case of the BP bunker tanker, which at Cape Town is ‘Al Safa’ (IMO 9222649), this is accomplished with the regular arrival in the port of the contracted coastal BP tanker, which brings in the replenishment cargo from the BP refinery in Durban. That vessel is the ‘Maersk Altus’ (IMO 9724570), which itself is a former member of the BP Shipping fleet. Both vessels have featured in Wharf Talk in the last year.

The BP bunker tanker Amber II arrives in the Duncan Dock at Cape Town. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The BP bunker tanker Amber II arrives in the Duncan Dock at Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On arrival, the ‘Al Safa’ comes alongside ‘Maersk Altus’ and receives a ship to ship transfer of the required amount, and types, of bunker fuel that she requires to complete her job at the port. What is unusual is when BP sends their other bunker tanker, which is on permanent station at another South African port, all the way around the Cape, to do the same job as ‘Maersk Altus’. The end result is the rare occurrence of a bunker tanker, alongside a bunker tanker, to conduct a bunker transfer.

On 7th April at 11h00 the small handy tanker AMBER II (IMO 9604031) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage from Durban, and remained out at anchor for just over a day. At 15h00 on 8th April she entered Cape Town harbour and went alongside the tanker berth on the Eastern Mole in the Duncan Dock. Once safely alongside, the ‘Al Safa’ also left the Table Bay anchorage, where she normally waits for her next customer, entered Cape Town harbour and went alongside ‘Amber II’ to start the process of transferring the bunker cargo to her own tanks.

Amber II under the shadow, as it were, of Table Mountain. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
Amber II under the shadow, as it were, of Table Mountain. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2012 at the Wenzhou Xinwanyu Shipyard at Yueqing in China, ‘Amber II’ is 103 metres in length and has a deadweight of 6,786 tons. She is powered by a single Yanmar 6N330-EN 6 cylinder 4 stroke main engine providing 3,452 bhp (2,574 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller. For added manoeuvrability she has a transverse bow thruster providing 250 kW, and despite her current area of operations she has a classification of Ice Class 1C.

She has 6 cargo tanks, and she has a cargo carrying capacity of 6,717 m3. Her normal cargo load consists of up to 5,700 tons of Marine Fuel Oil (MFO), and 800 tons of Marine Gas Oil (MGO), with a pumping rate of 550 tons per hour when conducting ship to ship bunker operations.

Amber II comes alongside the tanker berth, assisted by one of the harbour tugs. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Amber II comes alongside the tanker berth, assisted by one of the harbour tugs. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her design is another of the universal designs provided by the Chinese State Shipyards to shipowners, and built at various smaller shipyards throughout China, that specialise in tankers smaller than 10,000 deadweight tons. She is one of two sisterships currently operating for her owners.

She complies with the recommendations contained in the OCIMF/ICS Ship to Ship Transfer Guide (Petroleum), to enable her to conduct ship to ship fuel transfer operations. The state of her hull on arrival at Cape Town testifies to the fact that she regularly conducts such transfers, and where her normal area of operations is in the port of Richards Bay.

In November 2017 she became the first coastal bunker barge (sic) licensed to conduct BP bunkering operations in Richards Bay. As with ‘Al Safa’ at Cape Town, ‘Amber II’ remains out in the Richards Bay anchorage, until required to enter the port to provide bunkers to any vessel requiring a top up. All of her own cargo of bunker fuels comes from the BP refinery at Durban, and she makes frequent short coastal transits down to Durban to refill her tanks at one of the Sapref berths at the Island View Terminal on the Bluff.

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

As with most things to do with Transnet, it took over a year for TNPA to grant an operating license for AMSOL to operate the vessel. Both BP and AMSOL were required to commit to BEE requirements for the operating crew, which were originally a mixture of Filipino, Indonesian and Sri Lankan officers and crew. Within a period of two years, the owners of ‘Amber II’ were expected to employ a number of local South African crewmembers, plus at least one officer.

Nominally owned by Amber Shipping Limited, ‘Amber II’ is operated by Coral Shipping of Athens, and is managed by AMSOL of Cape Town. On completion of her cargo discharge ‘Amber II’ sailed from Cape Town at 08h00 on 10th April, with her destination set as Durban, where she will load another full cargo of MFO and MGPO bunker fuels, before returning to her normal station, and providing bunkers for the myriad of bulk carrier callers at Richards Bay.

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Kenya signs agreement for new Med Marine tug for Port Lamu

Robert Allan RAstar 3800-series tug, in Africa Ports & Ships
Robert Allan RAstar 3800-series tug.  Picture Med Marine

An agreement has been signed between Kenya Shipyard Limited and Med Marine for the construction of a MED-A3085 tug for the Kenyan port of Lamu.

The MED-A3085 is a well-known tug design coming from Canada’s Robert Allan RAstar Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering firm.

The tug will be outfitted in Ereğil Shipyard in Turkey’s Zonguldak region and following delivery, will be
operated by Kenya Port Authority in the new port of Lamu.

The MED-A3085 is a 30-metre 85-tonne bollard pull vessel and can comfortably accommodate a crew of 8 in its climate controlled living quarters.

“We are very pleased to receive a new order for Med-A3085 class tugboat and looking forward to grow our strong relationship with the Kenya Shipyard Limited and Kenya Port Authority,” said Med Marine’s Business Development Manager, Muhammet Gökhan.

Med Marine recently supplied a MED-A42100 tug to the Kenya Ports Authority for use in the port of Mombasa.

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US Navy ship seizes $350 million cocaine from fishing vessel off West Africa

Confiscated drugs are lifted aboard the US ship. Picture: Africom, in Africa Ports & Ships
Confiscated drugs are lifted aboard the US ship. Picture: Africom

The US Navy expeditionary sea base vessel USS HERSHEL ‘WOODY’ WILLIAMS has intercepted a fishing vessel sailing near the Cape Verde off the West African coast, that was found to have onboard 600kg (13,228 lbs) of suspected cocaine.

According to an Africa Command (AFRICOM) statement by the US, the fishing vessel, which is Brazilian flagged, was stopped and boarded by sailors, Coast Guardsmen and Marines from the naval ship, who then undertook a search of the vessel.

The interception and boarding was undertaken under the jurisdiction of Cape Verde and in support of law enforcement agents from the island country.

The islands making up Cape Verde lie about 400 miles west of Dakar in Senegal.

“This successful interdiction sends a clear message that the countries of West Africa are poised to enhance their national and regional prosperity by intercepting and prosecuting illegal activity,” said Rear Adm. Anthony Carullo, director of operations for U.S. Naval Forces Africa.

USS HERSHEL ‘WOODY’ WILLIAMS, which has visited a number of African countries and ports, including Cape Town, is an expeditionary sea base homeported at Souda Bay in Greece. The ship operates within U.S. 6th Fleet’s area of responsibility, and is the first ship assigned to AFRICOM.

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Nigeria commences rehab of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway

The Nigerian federal government is unhappy with the slow progress in rehabilitating the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line, which has been delayed through a lack of funding.

The project to refurbish the 1443-km railway, which connects Port Harcourt on the Gulf of Guinea coast, with the city of Maiduguri in the north-east of the country, has been long mooted but remains short of funds.

Federal Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who made an inspection of the line at Port Harcourt this past week, said the assessment of the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), would begin in several weeks time, although preliminary work is believed to have already commenced.

“When the project started, they were not funded but now we have given something that can make the work move forward,” he said of the contractors, adding that he hoped the loan to fully finance the rehabilitation of the line would be secured shortly.

Without disclosing the source of the loan, Amaechi said the finance minister had yet to provide a mandate letter. “They [the funders] said part of the money is ready but they need a mandate letter first.”

Amaechi indicated the initial loan would cover refurbishment of the railway up to the Imo river.

“I expect that they should have started formation work,” which he described as reconstruction of the original formation. “Clearing should have gotten to Imo River if we must get to the target of Enugu by September.”

He said that infrastructure along the line would be built to standard gauge specifications, in order that if the line were to be converted later to standard gauge, the infrastructure would already be in place.

The exisiting (original) railway formation from Port Harcourt was built to Cape gauge specifications (1067mm/3ft 6ins).

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WHARF TALK: SA Port Statistics for January 2022

Breakbulk terminal and berths at the Port of Richards Bay, in Africa Ports & Ships
Breakbulk terminal and berths at the Port of Richards Bay      Picture:  Transnet

Port statistics for the month of January 2022, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

These statistics have only now become available from the port authority, hence the delay. Statistics for the month of February will appear tomorrow (Tuesday 12 April 2022).

Total tonnage handled at the 8 ports in January was 23,192 tons while containers handled amounted to 374,505 TEU. This is a considerable improvement on the achievements of January 2021.

The number of vessels calling at South Africa’s ports appear to have levelled out while the gross tonnage remains steady, a continuing pointer to larger ships remaining a factor.

Further details are available in the tables below and in the link provided for comparison for January 2021.

The details in the tables below show port cargo throughputs, ships berthed and auto and container volumes handled together with bulk and dry bulk volumes.

Statistics involving motor vehicles are measured in vehicle units. These include imports and exports, earth-moving and all ro-ro or wheeled vehicles each qualifying as a single unit and rated as at an average of one tonne each.

For comparison with the equivalent month of the previous year, January 2021 CLICK HERE

These statistical reports on Africa PORTS & SHIPS are arrived at using an adjustment on the overall tonnage compared to those kindly provided by TNPA and include containers recorded by weight; an adjustment necessary on account of TNPA measuring containers by the number of TEUs without reflecting the weight, thus leaving the SA ports undervalued in volumes when compared with other ports across the world.

To arrive at such a calculation,  Africa PORTS & SHIPS uses an average of 13.5 tonnes per TEU, which probably does involve some under-reporting (most international ports use 14 tonnes per TEU).  Without this distinction South African ports would be seriously under-reported in comparison with others internationally and across Africa.

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Breakbulk terminal and berths at the Port of Richards Bay in Africa Ports & Ships
The oil & chemical products tanker MAERSK KATE (IMO: 9431276) sails from Durban on 6 March 2022. Up ahead, the port helicopter, having lifted off the marine pilot from the tanker, heads on to the next ship waiting to enter port, . Picture by Trevor Jones

Figures for the respective ports during January 2022 are:

Total cargo handled by tonnes during January 2022, including containers by weight

PORT January 2022 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.543
Durban 6.859
Saldanha Bay 4.846
Cape Town 1.456
Port Elizabeth 1.075
Ngqura 1.083
Mossel Bay 0.053
East London 0.099
Total all ports 23.192 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during January 2022
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT January 2022 TEUs
Durban 247,484
Cape Town 70,026
Port Elizabeth 6,431
Ngqura 49,089
East London 837
Richards Bay 638
Total all ports 374,505 TEU

MOTOR VEHICLES RO-RO TRAFFIC (measured by Units- CEUs) during January 2022

PORT January 2022 CEUs
Durban 43,364
Cape Town 2
Port Elizabeth 5,625
East London 1,302
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 50.293 CEU

SHIP CALLS for January 2022

PORT January 2022 vessels gross tons
Durban 211 8,389,686
Cape Town 118 3,289,487
Richards Bay 113 4,868,080
Port Elizabeth 55 1,673,721
Saldanha Bay 55 3,686,885
Ngqura 40 1,652,287
East London 13 373,236
Mossel Bay 26 183,641
Total ship calls 631 24,117,023
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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WHARF TALK: anchor handling tug & supply vessel, JARVIS

The multipurpose anchor handler tug and supply vessel (AHTS) Jarvis which called at Cape Town recently. Picture is by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The multipurpose anchor handler tug and supply vessel (AHTS) Jarvis which called at Cape Town recently. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

Whenever a vessel reports their AIS destination to be Aliaga in Turkey, or even Chittagong in Bangladesh, it does not necessarily mean they are headed for the scrapyard, as these destinations are also vibrant ports. However, if the destination is given as Gadani Beach in Pakistan, or Alang in India, then there is a good chance that the vessel is being delivered to the scrapper’s beach. Unless, of course, you are a tug, in which case you might simply be being utilised as the delivery vehicle, rather than the subject of the scrapping.

On 5th April at 13h00 the multipurpose anchor handler, tug and supply vessel (AHTS) JARVIS (IMO 9197301) arrived off Cape Town and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding to the Landing Wall in the Duncan Dock. Callers to the Landing Wall are often merely transitory calls, usually for shoreside engineering assistance, or sometimes simply for an uplift of store and bunkers.

Built in 1998 by VT Halter Marine shipyard at Escatawpa, in the US state of Mississippi, ‘Jarvis’ is 78 metres in length and has a deadweight of 2,680 tons. She is powered by four General Motors EMD 645-F7B V16 2 stroke main engines producing 3,073 bhp (2,260 kW) each, for a total output of 12,292 bhp (9,040 kW), to drive two controllable pitch, nozzled, propellers for a service speed of 10.8 knots.

The work deck of the Jarvis, seen as she was berthed on Cape Town's Landing Wall. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The work deck of the Jarvis, seen as she was berthed on Cape Town’s Landing Wall. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes a generator providing 400 kW, and an emergency generator providing 190 kW. She has two transverse bow thrusters providing 597 kW each, and a single transverse stern thruster providing 597 kW. Together with her two controllable pitch propellers, this gives ‘Jarvis’ a dynamic positioning classification of DP1, all controlled through a Kongsberg DP system.

She is an HLX2241 class design of offshore vessel, with accommodation for 24 persons. For anchor handling work, she has a working deck area of 607 m2, and when acting in a supply role, her working deck can hold 1,000 tons of cargo. Additionally, as a supply vessel, her below deck cargo facilities include cargo tanks for fuel holding 884 m3, drilling mud of 313 m3, drilling brine of 313 m3, base oil of 313 m3, drilling water of 1,222 m3, potable water of 889 m3 and a dry bulk cargo tank of 224 m3.

When acting in her capacity as an ocean tug, she has a bollard pull of 138 tons, and her operating speed to reach a casualty can be increased from her normal service speed of 10.8 knots, to a maximum speed of 14.8 knots. She has acted as an emergency towing vessel on at least two previous occasion, when operating off the east coast of Canada.

In December 2014, she was requested to go to the aid of the Aframax tanker ‘Australian Spirit’ (IMO 9247455), which was carrying a full load of 90,000 tons of crude oil, and en-route from Placentia in Newfoundland, to Staten Island in New York. She suffered a serious steering problem when her rudder fell off, and ‘Jarvis’ took her in tow and delivered her to Halifax, in Nova Scotia. She ended up being towed to Portugal for a replacement rudder to be fitted.

In September 2020, she was again requested by the Canadian Coast Guard to go to the aid of another casualty. The bulk carrier ‘Golden Opal’ (IMO 9470404) suffered a steering gear failure when transiting the Davis Strait, between Canada and Greenland. She had loaded iron ore from Milne Inlet, located at Baffin Island, and was en-route to the port of Immingham in the UK. Once more, ‘Jarvis’ took the casualty in tow and delivered her to Nuuk in Greenland to affect repairs.

The upper works, or accommodation and bridge area of the tug Jarvis. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The upper works, or accommodation and bridge area of the tug Jarvis. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned by Star Matrix Ltd. of Hong Kong, ‘Jarvis’ is operated by Hermes Maritime Services Pvt. Ltd. of Mumbai in India, and she is managed by Hermes Shipmanagement Pvt Ltd, also of Mumbai. Her owners operate a small fleet of second hand offshore AHT and AHTS vessels, for the near sole purpose of delivering redundant offshore rigs, FPSOs and structures to the scrapyard. Prior to her arrival in Cape Town, she had previously been operating offshore Libya.

She was purchased by her present owner in December 2020, from the Canadian offshore operator, Secunda Canada. Some 16 months later, she still displays her previous owner’s hull colours, and still carries a ship’s wheel on her funnel, which is the houseflag of Secunda Canada.

For the nomenclature folk out there, who wonder about her name ‘Jarvis’. Her owners have a policy of naming all of their towing vessels after comic book superheroes. As any aficionado of the Marvel Hollywood film franchise knows, ‘Jarvis’ is the loyal household butler of the Stark family, and notably to Tony Stark, better known as ‘Ironman’.

The stay of ‘Jarvis’ in Cape Town, as happens to many visitors to the Landing Wall, was less than 24 hours, and after an uplift of stores and bunkers, she departed Cape Town the next day on 6th April at 12h00, with her destination set for Alang, located in the state of Gujurat, in India.

Alang is well known for her famous beach where vessels are driven up the beach at full speed during high tide periods, to allow them to be scrapped in situ. There are 183 plots along the beach at Alang, set aside for scrapping vessels. In 2020, 196 vessels were beached at Alang for breaking up. Alang is currently the largest breakers yard in the world, and was only developed as a recycling site in 1983. Since the establishment of this industry at Alang, the total wealth generated for the industry there has surpassed US$110.6 billion (ZAR1.62 Trillion).

The tug Jarvis, as Venture Sea, towing the Aframax tanker ‘Australian Spirit’ into Halifax harbour, in Africa Ports & Ships
The tug Jarvis, as Venture Sea, towing the Aframax tanker ‘Australian Spirit’ into Halifax harbour

However, after departure from Cape Town, her original speed on approaching Cape Agulhas, to round the Cape, was given as only 2.1 knots and with ‘restricted manoeuvrability’, and with an ETA at Alang of 29th May, which is almost 8 weeks away. The indication was that she may be acting as a towing vessel, with something in tow for the Indian breakers yard.

However, according to AIS, she then increased speed to 9 knots, which is a fast towing speed. So the question is whether or not ‘Jarvis’ is delivering another vessel to Alang for scrapping, or whether she is on her own and is heading for the breakers yard herself, or possibly it is a scenario where both vessels are headed for the scrappers torch, at a tidy speed.

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Record annual throughout for Durban Car Terminal

Durban Car Terminal, which just broke its own record for the most vehicles handled for import and export, in Africa Ports & Ships
Durban Car Terminal, which just broke its own record for the most vehicles handled for import and export.  Picture:  Transnet

The Durban Car Terminal has broken its annual record having handled a total of 531,755 fully built motor vehicle units over the 12-month period ended March 2022.

According to Kwazi Mabaso, Acting Managing Executive at the Durban Terminals, “Recovery from COVID-19 is happening sooner than expected in the automotive industry as car hire companies re-fleet with the opening up of the hospitality industry and back orders from preceding years materialise.”

The terminal’s volumes had dwindled to 323,300 fully built units handled in the COVID-19 year ended March 2021.

The product mix sees import volumes contributing 53% of overall volumes comprising mainly of entry-level cars. There has also been a surge in transhipments as the appetite for second hand cars within South Africa and neighbouring countries continues to grow.

Transhipments contributed 12% to overall volumes at just over 60,000 fully built units – a volume increase of 55% year on year. Second hand cars imported solely for the South African market made up 2% of overall volumes. Despite shortages in parts and semi-conductor chips, export volumes improved significantly from the previous year to 34% of overall volumes.

“Asian imports like Haval, GWM, Suzuki, Hyundai, Chery and JAC are doing particularly well in the entry-level category and are expected to continue in the current financial year,” said Mabaso.

He added that while projections were promising in the new year, automotive manufacturers would be impacted by the Russia and Ukraine stand-off as many manufacturers sourced wire harnesses used for electrical power and communication between parts in the Ukraine.

Durban Car Terminal in Africa Ports & Ships

The availability of semi-conductor chips used to power vehicle features like braking systems remains very low and has already compromised export volumes.

Mabaso said a recent benchmark exercise in Thailand would help the Durban Car Terminal enhance its offering through a review in yard planning, allowing for ample preloading space that will ensure no vehicles are received for the vessel on berth. See that report HERE

“Our relationship with industry is pro South Africa. The collaboration we have with original car manufacturers and shipping lines is exemplary and can only grow from hereon as we focus our energies on customer centricity,” said Mabaso. He added that the terminal had created additional waterside capacity to keep up with the demand.

The Durban Car Terminal will from September this year handle Ford’s new Ranger. Varying models of the Chery and JAC brands will also contribute to current year volumes. The Durban Car Terminal continues to employ COVID-19 standard preventative measures for its employees, with a full in-house vaccination program in place.

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Positive export outlook from Citrus Growers Association

The splendid reefer vessel Cool Eagle that called at Durban for the first time during May 2021, seen here entering port at night. Picture by Paulo Franco / FPT, IN Africa Ports & Ships
The splendid reefer vessel Cool Eagle that called at Durban for the first time during May 2021, seen here entering port at night. Picture by Paulo Franco / FPT

The South African Citrus Growers Association (CGA) says the outlook for the 2022 citrus export season which commences during April, is looking reasonably good, though there are some challenges ahead.

In a statement issued by Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association, it was reported that a number of citrus growing regions across the country have provided their predicted export volumes for the upcoming season.

The statement reads:

These estimates reveal that the industry will continue to see steady growth across most citrus varietals, with an estimated 4% growth in exports across these categories.

Justin Chadwick, CGA CEO in Africa Ports & Ships
Justin Chadwick, CGA CEO

This is good news for the South African economy in light of the local industry sustaining 120,000 jobs and bringing in R30 billion in export revenue last year alone. However, several challenges facing the sector, which include: soaring input costs including fuel and fertiliser price hikes and a major increase in freight rates; red tape hampering access to some overseas markets, as well as ongoing operational challenges at the country’s ports, continues to threaten the profitability and future sustainability of growers.

Regions have provided estimates for the following varietals for the upcoming season (the mandarin estimates will be available by 14 April):

Lemons: The current prediction is that 32.3 million (15kg) cartons will be exported to key markets, which is an increase of 1.3 million cartons when compared to 2021. Young trees beginning to bear fruit in some regions including the Western Cape and Senwes in Limpopo will contribute to this growth. However, a cooler summer could result in smaller fruit in some regions, which could impact the final number of cartons packed and shipped.

Navels: Current predictions show a 1.5 million increase in (15kg) cartons of navels that will be shipped during the coming season, with 28.7 million cartons expected to be exported in total. While hailstorms in some areas such as the Eastern Cape Midlands resulted in a decrease in predicted estimates, good rains in other areas such as the Sundays River Valley means this region should enjoy a 9% growth in navel export volumes.

Valencias: An estimated 58.2 million (15kg) cartons of valencias is predicted to be exported in 2022, which will be a 3.2 million increase from the 55 million cartons shipped last season. However, the final number shipped could decrease depending on market conditions towards the end of the season, in particular narrowing market windows which could make it difficult to ship remaining volumes.

Grapefruit: An estimated 14.8 million (17kg) cartons of grapefruit is predicted to be exported during the upcoming season.

Mandarins on the tree, in Africa Ports & Ships
Mandarins on the tree


However, a number of outside forces could negatively impact this total including the Russian conflict in Ukraine due to Russia being a major importer of South African grapefruit. Furthermore, should fuel and shipping costs continue to escalate, PP fruit that is sent for processing and Class 2 grapefruit will not be exported which will also reduce the final export total.

Improve operational capacity and efficiency at the ports

Chadwick continued: It is clear that, in order for the industry to continue on the upward trajectory it has enjoyed over the past few years, government and stakeholders across the value chain need to work together to improve the operational capacity and efficiency at the country’s ports and to secure, maintain, and retain as many market access opportunities as possible.

Key markets that offer major potential for expanded access and require particular attention during the coming season are the United States and India. This is the only way the growers will be able to offset increasing input costs that are squeezing their profit margins and for the industry to remain competitive, particularly considering local production expected to grow by another 300,000 tons over the next two years.

The CGA said it remains committed to working with all role players to ensure the continued inclusive growth of the sector and, in turn, the creation of more jobs and revenue for the country.

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A P Moller – Maersk launches Maersk Air Cargo

Maersk Air Cargo – B767-300 series cargo aircraft

Response to customers’ global air cargo needs

From Copenhagen on 8 April A P Moller – Maersk (aka Maersk) announced Maersk Air Cargo as the company’s main air freight offering serving the logistics needs of its clients with integrated logistics.

At the same time Maersk has chosen Denmark’s second largest airport, Billund, as its air freight hub for Maersk Air Cargo with daily flights creating several jobs in the region. To this end Maersk Air Cargo also announces their intent to enter into an agreement with the Flight Personnel Union (FPU) which is a part of the Danish Confederation and Trade Unions (FH).

“Air freight is a crucial enabler of flexibility and agility in global supply chains as it allows our customers to tackle time-critical supply chain challenges and provides transport mode options for high value cargo,” said Aymeric Chandavoine, Global Head of Logistics and Services at A P Moller – Maersk.

“We strongly believe in working closely with our customers. Therefore, it is key for Maersk to also increase our presence in the global air cargo industry by introducing Maersk Air Cargo to cater even better for the needs of our customers.”

Maersk’s owned controlled capacity, powered by Maersk Air Cargo, is designed to make supply chain movements more resilient. When combined with its ocean, inland, warehousing and Customs services it will enhance clients’ supply chains.

DStar Air in Africa Ports & Ships

Star Air

The new air freight company is the result of the existing in-house aircraft operator, Star Air, which has transferred activities into Maersk Air Cargo, the new carrier supporting existing and new customers and Maersk’s end to end logistics. The process of transferring activities has received excellent support from customers, suppliers, employees and the Danish Civil Aviation Authority.

Torben Bengtsson, Global Head of Air & LCL (Less than Container Load), A P Moller – Maersk described Maersk Air Cargo as an “important step of the Maersk Air Freight strategy, as it will allow us to offer customers a truly unique combination of air freight integrated with other transport modes.

“We see an increased and continued demand for air cargo both today and going forward as well as a growing demand for end-to-end logistics, why it is important for us to strengthen our own-controlled capacity and advance further on our air freight strategy.”

It is understood that Maersk last operated from Billund in 2005. From the continent Maersk Air Cargo will progressively deploy and operate a controlled capacity of five aircraft – two new B777F and three leased B767-300 cargo aircraft. Three new B767-300 freighters will also be added to the US-China operation, which will be initially handled by a third-party operator. The new aircraft are expected to be operational from second half 2022 and onwards up to 2024.

Maersk’s ambition is to have approximately one third of its annual air tonnage carried within its own controlled freight network. This will be achieved through a combination of owned and leased aircraft, replicating the structure that the company has within its ocean fleet. The remaining capacity will be provided by strategic commercial carriers and charter flight operators.

Maersk Air Cargo is expected to be fully operational by the second half of 2022.

Diversification is the key, of course, but with not too many eggs in one basket. In a past century it was Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s dream that the Great Western Railway, GWR or ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’, would bring together the track and trains and the transatlantic ships to enable one company to achieve the whole route structure of benefit to the passenger and trade.

It is known as entrepreneurship.

Today, we witness a cargo operator prominent at sea and now in the air. Let is hope that we see that beautiful blue livery in the skies over Africa before too long. Another example of air and sea trade we hear of around the bazaars is that of ship owner rival MSC, in partnership with Lufthansa, is said to be seeking to buy Italy’s former national airline Alitalia, now known as ITA.  The possibilities for expansion and economies are endless.

Paul Ridgway, London Correspondent, in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Transnet gets tough with airport tenant – Operation Thatha Okwethu

The site of the former Durban International Airport, the future Durban dig-out port and currently used for storage of motor vehicles and other purposes In Africa Ports & Ships
The site of the former Durban International Airport, the future Durban dig-out port and currently used for storage of motor vehicles and other purposes    Picture:  Transnet

Transnet Property, one of the operating divisions of Transnet SOC Ltd, has embarked on a project known as – Operation Thatha Okwethu, to reclaim all illegally occupied buildings owned by Transnet, and to stop any unregulated activities.

The operations aims at dealing with non-paying tenants in all its properties.

The latest operation happened in the early hours of Friday morning at the Durban Logistics Hub (formerly known as the Old Durban Airport), where the main tenant owes Transnet in excess of R180 million in rental, rates, electricity and water.

Despite numerous attempts and legal interventions, the tenant has not paid what is due to Transnet.

Transnet Property said it is committed to ensuring efficiency and world-class property management practices. As such, asset protection is a key priority.

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SHIPS IN PORT: Grande Marocco – rare visitor to Port Elizabeth

Grande Marocco at the Port Elizabeth Container & Car Terminal Quay. Picture by Kirsten Gerber via Facebook, in Africa Ports & Ships
Grande Marocco at the Port Elizabeth Container & Car Terminal Quay. Picture by Kirsten Gerber via Facebook

Grimaldi Lines’ ships are regular callers in West Africa, so much so that one of our ‘masthead’ photos is of a Grimaldi RoRo vessel in the original Tema harbour in Ghana.

The vessels calling in the Gulf of Guinea operate a service between the Mediterranean and West Africa, which is why having one of the line’s vessels arriving at a South African port is an unusual occurrence.

The ship that arrived in P.E. last week, Friday 8 April, is the GRANDE MAROCCO (IMO 9437907) which was built in 2010 and is registered in Palermo, Italy, with her nominal owner shown as Grimaldi Deep Sea SPA in Naples. The Grimaldi Group also of Naples are her ship and commercial managers.

Grande Marocco’s visit was fleeting and she sailed the next morning shortly after 08h00 bound for Emden in Germany, where she is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday, 26 April 2022.

The background to Grande Marocco’s arrival is unknown to us and any further information will be welcome.

Grande Marocco has a gross tonnage of 47,634 tons and a length of 211 metres and width of 32m. She was built at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co Ltd in Ulsan, South Korea and has a container capacity of 800 TEU.

Down in her engine room the vessel is powered by a 2-stroke MAN B&W model 8S60ME-C main engine producing 19,040 kW or 25,887 HP and driving a single controllable pitch propeller at a speed up to 21 knots. The vessel is equipped with side thrusters.

The Ro-Ro vessel has a single ramp at the stern and is equipped with two 40t cranes to handle deck cargo aft of the main covered Ro-Ro section.

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Operation Copper extended by one more year

The South African frigate SAS Mendi sails from Durban on 15 SDeptember 2011, having earlier that year inaugurated the patrols of Operation Copper. Picture: Clinton Wyness In Africa Ports & Ships
The South African frigate SAS Mendi sails from Durban on 15 SDeptember 2011, having earlier that year inaugurated the patrols of Operation Copper. Picture: Clinton Wyness

South Africa has extended Operation Copper, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative to undertake naval patrols in the southern regions of the Mozambique Channel and in particular along the Mozambique side of the channel, has been extended by a further year until March 2023.

This was announced by the South African government by way of a letter from President Cyril Ramaphosa to the South African parliament and now made public.

The cost of the exercise is expected to be R154 million.

Operation Copper, which mainly involves the deployment of a single naval ship of the South African Navy and which generally makes use of the port of Pemba as a ‘main’ base from which to patrol the channel waters, has been a feature since patrols commenced in January 2011 with the frigate SAS Mendi.

Other than on one occasion when the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg assisted naval forces of Tanzania and the EU Navfor naval units in shepherding a pirate skiff northward after the pirates attempted to approach south of Zanzibar and Pemba Island, there have been no reported or known cases of pirate incursion into the Mozambique Channel.

The chain of islands making up the Quiramba Archipelago off the northern Mozambuique coast have become prey to the islamist insurgents now active throughout Cabo Delgado province. Picture: Terry Hutson, in Africa Ports & Ships
The chain of islands making up the Quirimbas Archipelago off the northern Mozambuique coast have become prey to the islamist insurgents now active throughout Cabo Delgado province. Picture: Terry Hutson

It is usual for Mozambique military personnel to deploy aboard the South African naval ship during the patrols – otherwise there is no other SADC involvement in Operation Copper.

More recently however, with the advent of increased activity by islamist insurgents in northern Mozambique, having a naval presence in the affected waters has taken on a more urgent role. The insurgents are known to make use of marine craft to launch their attacks on islands and towns along the northern Mozambique coast – recently Matemo island was subjected to a terrorist occupation until Mozambique forces retook the island.

Piracy in the western Indian Ocean has been on the decline in the past decade, after previously having been regarded as the most pirate-infested waters across the world. Active naval presences in the affected seas, along with the use of armed guards on board ships sailing in those waters, has contributed greatly to this reduction.

Sunset over Matemo Island off the Cabo Delgado coast of northern Mozambique. Sadly, the islamnd was the focus of a recent attak and occupation by the terrorists. Picture by Terry Hutson in Africa Ports & Ships
Sunset over Matemo Island off the Cabo Delgado coast of northern Mozambique. Sadly, the island was the focus of a recent attack and occupation by the terrorists. Picture by Terry Hutson
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European Union funds 30 RHIBs towards defence of Gulf of Guinea

Damen-designed and built Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB) in Africa Ports & Ships
Damen-designed and built Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIB)  Damen

Essential maritime security equipment necessary for the security of the Gulf of Guinea region is to be financed by the European Union (EU), it has been announced.

The maritime equipment will directly benefit all 12 coastal states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

30 Rigid-hulled (RHIB) boats

According to the media announcement the EU has committed to release US$5.4 million for the acquisition of 30 rigid-hulled boats (RHIBs) which will be delivered to the respective countries.

“Maritime insecurity has long been one of the most persistent and difficult threats to maritime communities and economic prosperity in West Africa,” said Abdourahman Dieng, Head of the Regional Security Division of ECOWAS.

The Gulf of Guinea has earned the reputation of being described by the International Maritime Bureau (IBM) as the riskiest area in the world for maritime navigation, although in recent months the level of illegal maritime acts such as piracy or illegal boarding of ships has been greatly reduced.

In 2020 the IBM said of the Gulf of Guinea that “95% of worldwide acts of piracy and kidnapping were reported in the region.”

The report identified Nigeria as the country from which most armed groups operating in the region originated. Since that date Nigeria has increased its efforts at combatting this unwanted reputation and can be credited for much success in reducing the incidents of illegal boarding of ships.

The EU continues to play its part and naval ships from EU nations have taken up deployments into the Gulf of Guinea waters. Other nations too have taken part – most recently two Canadian naval ships, HMCS Summerside and HMCS Kingston, deployed from Halifax for the Gulf to participate in Exercise Obangame Express 2022 and then to undertake security patrols in the region in conjunction with members of ECOWAS.

EU funding meanwhile will play a significant role in “strengthen[ing] water security off the Gulf of Guinea, restoring confidence in shipping companies and restarting regional trade,” said ECOWAS.

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Inchcape Shipping Services at 175 acquires new owner: Capital boost for future growth

Credibility factor key for Inchcape survey and inspection services in Middle East. Pictures: Inchcape Shipping Services, in Africa Ports & Ships
Credibility factor key for Inchcape survey and inspection services in Middle East. Pictures: Inchcape Shipping Services

Epiris the new owner:

Inchcape Shipping Services (or ‘ISS’) is set to embark on a new era of growth after UK-based private equity investment firm Epiris signed an agreement to acquire ownership of the global maritime services provider to coincide with its 175th anniversary this year. This was announced by Inchcape on 4 April.

This transaction, which follows a sale process by Inchcape’s former Dubai-based owners, will greatly enhance its core port agency business as well as expand digitalisation of its services for customers, according to Chief Executive Frank Olsen. He commented: ‘We wish to thank our previous owners for their supportive investments in Inchcape over the years that have enabled us to develop and expand our operations worldwide.

“Epiris is now making a transformational investment in our successful business that will establish a new platform for customer-focused growth and enable us to take our marine services and digital solutions to the next level as we transition into the future.”

Charles Elkington, Partner at Epiris added: “ISS is a global leader in a resilient market experiencing long-term growth, driven by ship owners’ and operators’ focus on cost effectiveness, sustainability and compliance. Frank and his team have made great strides towards building on this favourable backdrop – initiatives they have introduced include, for example, the SmartPay international payments system – and we look forward to working with them to grow the business further.”

screenshot for ISS in Africa Ports & Ships

Resilience and rejuvenation

At the same time, Olsen said “Inchcape is coming home” with the takeover by London-headquartered Epiris that returns the company to its British roots after it was originally founded in 1847 by Scottish merchants William Mackinnon and Robert Mackenzie before being renamed in the last century under the erstwhile ownership of the Inchcape family from Scotland.

Olsen reflected: “Inchcape has demonstrated its resilience as a stalwart provider of maritime services to keep international trade flowing over nearly two centuries of tumultuous global change, while evolving in step with the changing demands and challenges of the shipping industry.”


Industry consolidation

As a resilient brand in a fragmented shipping services market, it is understood Inchcape will pursue industry consolidation through complementary acquisitions to strengthen its port agency business as well as opportunities in the maritime data segment to enhance its leading digital portfolio.

Inchcape has pioneered the use of digital technology in port agency services in support of improved operational efficiency, transparency, compliance, and environmental, social and governance principles towards the goal of sustainability, according to Olsen.

It was reported that Inchcape sees digitalisation along with data-sharing as an important element in its transparency drive for increased visibility of operational data, costs and integrated compliance to achieve improved operating efficiency, cost savings and a collective sustainability effort.

Building back stronger

Olsen explained that digitalisation is the enabler for operational measures such as better voyage planning and faster port turnaround that are key to decarbonisation of shipping as they can reduce fuel consumption, thereby improving environmental sustainability.

He also highlighted the fact that Inchcape is building back stronger after overcoming the logistical challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, with digitalisation and decarbonisation core to its future growth strategy at an inflection point for the shipping industry.

Olsen emphasised that the new owner is firmly supportive of Inchcape’s current management team to deliver on this strategy, as well as its diverse global workforce of professional and dedicated personnel.

screenshot for ISS article in Africa Ports & Ships s

About Inchcape Shipping Services

Inchcape Shipping Services is a leading port agency and marine services provider with a global network covering 85% of the world’s ports. Inchcape combines its worldwide infrastructure with local expertise by way of over 240 offices in 60 countries and a team of more than 2,700 staff.

About Epiris

Epiris is a private equity firm which invests in opportunities to transform businesses in partnership with exceptional management teams. It targets control positions in UK-headquartered businesses with an enterprise value of between £75 million and £500 million, deploying between £40 million and £150 million of equity.

Paul Ridgway, London Correspondent, in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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

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