Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 17 July 2022

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The week’s mastheads:

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




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Oak Express arriving in Lyttelton port. Picture by Alan Calvert, in Africa Ports & Ships
Oak Express arriving in Lyttelton port. Picture by Alan Calvert
Oak Express being escorted to her berth. Picture by Alan Calvert, in Africa Ports & Ships
Oak Express being assisted to her berth. Picture by Alan Calvert
Oak Express bridge and accommodation + funnel. Picture by Alan Calvert
Oak Express bridge and accommodation + funnel. Picture by Alan Calvert

A ship from across the waters this week to grace our FIRST VIEW section. This is the oil and chemical products tanker OAK EXPRESS (IMO 9405196) photographed arriving in Lyttelton, New Zealand, this being the port for nearby Christchurch where they play rather good rugby.

New Zealand, it appears, faces a similar predicament to South Africa, in that their only refinery has closed down, resulting in a much greater number of tankers arriving in the respective ports with different types of refined fuel.

Oak Express is just one of those. Completed in 2009 at the Hyundai Mipo shipyard at Ulsan, South Korea, the ship whose original name until 2016 was Pacific Duchess, is owned by Double Bright Shipping Ltd, c/o Mitsui OSK in Tokyo. Her ISM manager is Bernhard Schulte in Singapore and commercial and ship manager is Mitsui OSK Lines in Tokyo. The 46,696-dwt vessel has a length of 183 metres and a beam of 32m and has a maximum draught of 12.2 metres.

Her main engine is a two stroke MAN B&W diesel model 6S50MC-C producing 8,058 KW (10,956 HP) driving a single fixed pitch propeller to give the ship a speed of14,5 knots. The vessel has a total of 14 cargo tanks. She is flagged in Hong Kong.

These pictures are by Alan Calvert





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TPT takes steps to improve Durban Container Terminal stack handling efficiencies

Durban Container Terminal North Quay. Picture: TPT in Africa Ports & Ships
Durban Container Terminal North Quay. Picture: TPT

Steps are being introduced to improve terminal stack fluidity at the Durban Container Terminals and to remove inefficiencies from the supply chain by updating the storage procedure currently being applied.

Previously, the counting of the free 78 hours would start after all containers on a vessel had been offloaded. Under the new operating model, the counting of the free 78 hours will begin from the date the container is offloaded from the vessel and placed in the stacking area to be collected.

Cargo owners will continue to receive the free import storage as referenced in the tariff book and there will be no additional charges, however, the start of the free storage period will be updated.

Earlier this week the terminals notified all stakeholders of the intention to change and will further engage on the matter with implementation planned for 1 September 2022 for DCT Pier 2 and 1 October 2022 for DCT Pier 1.

According to newly appointed Managing Executive at the Durban Terminals Earle Peters, “Instead of waiting for all containers to offload before we advise industry, DCT will be starting the free storage clock from the date the container lands in the stacking area.

“Peters said this will discourage the truck congestion associated with pick up on the last 24 hours of the allocated free 78 hours.

The initiative, he said, would aid a smoothed collection process that would ensure fluidity on public roads and within the operational area at the terminals.

“Through this initiative, we are able to optimise existing capacity and importantly – eliminate wasted time as congestion in the stacking area slows down the operation.”

Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2, North Quay. Picture: TPT In Africa Ports & Ships
Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2, North Quay. Picture: TPT

Container discharges have increased

Over the past few years, vessels calling at the Durban Container Terminals have increased in their call exchange size.

As an example – two years ago, the biggest import vessel would carry 3,000 containers for offloading. It now carries 4,000 containers that need to be offloaded, requiring additional stacking capacity and a longer duration to offload.

“So if we offload 1,500 containers in the first 24 hours like we do, importers can immediately start sending trucks for collection instead of waiting on all 4,000 containers to offload before advising industry of availability for collection,” explained Peters.

This, he said, will reduce unnecessary dwell times in the terminal and aid the evacuation of containers by the cargo owner as soon as possible after landing, enhancing the entire supply chain.

Mass rail evacuation

In partnership with Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the Durban Container Terminals have also piloted a mass rail import evacuation system to ease the movement of trucks which were congesting Bayhead Road after the April floods. This back–of–port facility initiative will continue for the benefit of all users of the terminals.

As an example, one 50-wagon train now replaced 53 road trucks that previously called at the terminals via Bayhead Road.

Citrus cold storage

In addition, the terminals have collaborated with the cold storage logistics chain and TFR by offering the mass export solution for their citrus ambient reefers as South Africa enters month three of citrus season.

The Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) has given approval for ambient reefer movements between Bayhead and the terminals. “Engagements with industry are ongoing and we are working with our logistics service providers to make use of the operation as its success depends on their uptake,” said Peters.

The Durban Container Terminals have been introducing several improvements in the past two years having started with the truck appointment system in 2020 which balanced the number of trucks calling at the terminal at peak times. This was in a bid to successfully respond to requests from the surrounding communities where their operations are located.

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Added 15 July 2022


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WHARF TALK: LR1 oil products tanker – RIVER SHINER

The Greek tanker River Shiner after arriving in Cape Town harbour. Picture: Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The Greek tanker River Shiner after arriving in Cape Town harbour. Picture: Dockrat’

Story by Jay Gates
Pictures by ‘Dockrat’

Tankers continue arriving at the Cape as midwinter pushes the need for more domestic fuels and heating oils. Of interest to the casual observer, is the arrival of Spot Market deliveries on tankers that were originally designed, and built for use in other more climatically challenging trades and routes, and not likely, or at least not often, to be seen in these waters.

On 11th July at 23h00 the large LR1 products tanker RIVER SHINER (IMO 9289752) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Al Ruwais in the UAE, and remained out in the bay for the next twelve hours. At 12H00 on 12th July she entered Cape Town harbour, and proceeded into the Duncan Dock, going, as all LR1 tankers do, to the long tanker berth in the Tanker Basin.

As a LR1 sized tanker she berthed at the longer of the two tanker berths. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
As a LR1 sized tanker she berthed at the longer of the port’s two tanker berths. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2005 by STX Shipbuilding at Jinhae in South Korea, ‘River Shiner’ is 228 metres long and has a deadweight of 73,788 tons. She is powered by a single STX MAN-B&W 7S60MC-C 7 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 18,491 bhp (13,789 kW), driving a single fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN-B&W 7L23/30H generators providing 910 kW each, and a single Cummins NT855 emergency generator providing 127 kW. She has a Kangrim EM19DC12A2 exhaust gas boiler, and a Kangrim MB07S01 oil fired boiler. She has 14, pure epoxy coated, cargo tanks with a cargo carrying capacity of 81,193 m3. An aerial view shows that she has a ‘Winch Only’ helicopter area towards her bow.

As with a lot of vessels that are seeking trades where environmental concerns are given the highest priorities, after 2019 ‘River Shiner’ was retrofitted with an exhaust gas scrubber. Even for a vessel of that size, no aesthetic consideration was given to her looks with the retrofitted unit, and it was simply ‘plonked’ down behind the funnel, with no attempt made to blend it in with the existing infrastructure. Is it environmentally friendly? Yes. Is it pleasant to look at? No.

Built for Norwegian owners, the tanker is now owned, operated and managed by an Athens-based company. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Built for Norwegian owners, the tanker is now owned, operated and managed by an Athens-based company. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her design gives some clues as to her original trade routes, as she was originally built for Norwegian owners, and has a fully enclosed bridge, which indicates time spent in far northern climates. This is further confirmed with the fact that she has one of the highest ice classifications of ICE 1A, which categorises ‘River Shiner’ as being able to operate in Northern Baltic waters with first year ice thickness up to 0.8 metres, and in Arctic Polar waters with first year ice thickness between 0.3 metres and 0.7 metres.

The tanker's accommodation and bridge area - note the enclosed bridge wing. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The tanker’s accommodation and bridge area – note the enclosed bridge wing. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her previous employment in far north waters is further confirmed when you realise that in her 17 year career thus far, she has received 35 State Port Inspections, and that 12 of these inspections were undertaken by the Russian Authorities, with the majority taking place in the Arctic oil exporting ports of Murmansk and Vitino, and the northern Baltic port of Ust-Luga.

The process of discharging River Shiner's liquid bulk cargo. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
The process of discharging River Shiner’s liquid bulk cargo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Back in July 2011, ‘River Shiner’ was the first tanker of the season to be escorted by Russian icebreakers across the roof of the world, and the Northern Sea Route. She had loaded a near full cargo of 70,000 tons of oil condensate in the Barents Sea port of Murmansk, located north of the Arctic Circle at 68°58’ North 33°04′ East.

Table Mountain overlooking the scene at the harbour, as it has done so for generations. Picture by 'Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
Table Mountain overlooking the scene at the harbour, as it has done so for generations. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She had been chartered by the Russian State Oil Company Novatek, and her destination for discharging her condensate cargo was a port in China, with a transit time from Murmansk of three weeks, which would have been half the time that it would have taken ‘River Shiner’ if she had departed Murmansk for China, and routed via the Suez Canal.

She is owned, operated and managed by Prime Tanker Management Incorporated, of Athens, and whose funnel colours she flies.

A different view of the tanker viewed from directly above. Picture: Univis Crewing Agency in Africa Ports & Ships
A different view of the tanker viewed from directly above. Picture: Univis Crewing Agency

In August 2021, when ‘River Shiner’ was lying at anchor off Lagos in Nigeria, a routine patrol by the Nigerian Navy apprehended four stowaways who were attempting to hide atop the ship’s rudder. The arrested miscreants stated that they were hoping to make it to Europe, although how they thought they would survive such a voyage in the position that they had chosen beggars belief, and questions their intelligence, but not their motivation.

For the nomenclature reader, ‘River Shiner’ is one of two sisterships, built for northern oil trades, and her name is that of a small North American river fish, of the genus Notropis blennius. Her sistership is also named after another fish of the genus Notropis, namely ‘Emerald Shiner’.

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Global trade hits record $7.7 trillion in Q1 2022

UNCTAD Report on Global Trade banner in Africa Ports & Ships

The positive trend for international trade may soon come to an end amid tightening policies and geopolitical frictions

The value of global trade rose to a record $7.7 trillion in Q1 of 2022, an increase of about $1 trillion relative to Q1 2021, according to UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update published on 7 July.

For a copy readers are invited to SEE HERE

UNCTAD report on Global Trade in Africa Ports & Ships

This growth, which represents a rise of about $250 million relative to Q4 2021, is fuelled by rising commodity prices, as trade volumes have increased to a much lower extent. Although expected to remain positive, trade growth has continued to slow during Q2 2022 it has been reported by UNCTAD.

UNCTAD’s Global Trade Update indicates: “The war in Ukraine is starting to influence international trade, largely through increases in prices.”

It adds that rising interest rates and the winding down of economic stimulus packages will likely have a negative impact on trade volumes for the rest of 2022.

Volatility in commodity prices and geopolitical factors will also continue to make trade developments uncertain.


Trade growth strong for both developed and developing countries

According to the report, trade growth rates in Q1 2022 remained strong across all geographic regions, although somewhat lower in the East Asia and Pacific regions.

Export growth has been generally stronger in commodity-exporting regions, as commodity prices have increased. Trade in merchandise goods reached about $6.1 trillion, an increase of about 25% relative to Q1 2021, and a jump of about 3.6% relative to Q4 2021.

The value of merchandise exports from developing countries was about 25% higher in Q1 2022 than in Q1 2021. In comparison, this figure is about 14% for developed countries. Merchandise trade between developing countries also strongly grew during Q1 2022. Trade in services grew to about $1.6 trillion, an increase of about 22% relative to Q1 2021, and a rise of about 1.7% relative to Q4 2021.

UNCTAD Global Trade Report in Africa Ports & Ships

Substantial increases across sectors

The report shows that most economic sectors recorded substantial year-over-year increases in the value of their trade in Q1 2022. High fuel prices are behind the strong increase in the value of trade in the energy sector. Trade growth was also above average for metals and chemicals. By contrast, trade in the transportation sector and in communication equipment has remained below the levels of 2021 and 2019.

Slower economic growth, war in Ukraine dim prospects

In addition the report says the evolution of world trade for the remainder of 2022 is likely to be affected by slower-than-expected economic growth due to rising interest rates, inflationary pressures and concerns over debt sustainability in many economies.

Furthermore, the report states that the war in Ukraine is affecting international trade by putting further upward pressure on the international prices of energy and primary commodities. In the short term, because of the inelastic global demand for food and energy products, rising food and energy prices would likely result in higher trade values, and marginally lower trade volumes.

Other factors expected to influence global trade this year are continuing challenges for global supply chains, regionalisation trends and policies supporting the transition towards a greener global economy.

Africa trade

Specifically with regard to Africa the document says of trade agreements and regionalisation trends that trade agreements have recently entered into force (for example the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the African Continental Free Trade Area) and these should provide additional momentum for intra-regional trade. On the other hand, inter-regional trade will likely continue to be negatively affected by rising transport costs, logistic disruptions, and geopolitical frictions.

Paul idgway, London in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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IN CONVERSATION: Stranded in Cape Town — Ukraine’s polar vessel Noosfera recalls harrowing Antarctic quest

The Ukrainian Research and Supply Vessel Noosfera arrives in Cape Town harbour from Antarctica. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ in Africa ports & Ships
The Ukrainian Research and Supply Vessel Noosfera arrives in Cape Town harbour from Antarctica. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Not without its own accounts of bravery, Ukraine’s recently wrapped Antarctic maiden voyage aboard the Noosfera, the state’s newly minted polar research vessel, was taken on by a crew with no previous experience on the storm-ridden Southern Ocean. 

The decades-old vessel had been bought from the UK for a bargain peppercorn deal and finished her dramatic season at the end of May in the port of Cape Town, an established Antarctic gateway. This marked Ukraine’s first independent voyage to Antarctica in two decades, despite the war on its domestic turf.

“Some people did not believe we could manage this job,” said 47-year-old Panasyuk, speaking from Noosfera’s new moorings. As conflict rages on in Ukraine, and the vessel cannot return to her Black Sea home-port in Odesa, she is forced to seek refuge in the shadow of Table Mountain until she is called back to Antarctica for renewed scientific research and supply duties in the 2022/23 summer. 

“But we did it,” Panasyuk smiled, as he stood on the bridge. 

Rescuing 27 countrymen — stranded for months in Antarctica’s punishing conditions without their expedition vessel — is a singular feat of polar endurance that will remain Shackleton’s preserve. 

But thwarting Russia’s advance on Kyiv amid Europe’s largest land war since 1945 is now forever inseparable from Ukraine’s fêted “go f**k yourself” grit. And without the Noosfera’s intervention, it would have fallen upon another state to rescue Ukraine’s polar staff: the latest out of 27 overwintering expeditions to have served the war-torn nation’s West Antarctic interests since the mid-1990s. 

Previously, Ukrainian researchers and technical support staff had travelled south on other expedition vessels.

But it was this “special mission” — collecting their compatriots with the state’s own ice-class vessel — that powered the 26-strong crew across treacherous latitudes, including the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties, Panasyuk said. And under the 1959 Antarctic Treaty that sets aside the icy south for “peace” and “science”, it was also the vessel’s mission to study the Southern Ocean, and resupply Ukraine’s Vernadsky scientific research base with new staff and provisions to last the 2022 winter. 

Noosfera entering Duncan Dock prior to berthing. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ in Africa Ports & Ships
Noosfera entering Duncan Dock prior to berthing. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

‘A special mission’ for polar rookies

The crew, largely hailing from the war-besieged cities of Odesa, Mariupol, Kherson and Mykolaiv, were virgin sailors of the Southern Ocean — in the most recent summer, dangerously booby-trapped with bergs after the sea ice had plunged to historic lows. 

“I have worked almost everywhere on the ocean since I was 18. I have extensive experience on offshore industrial vessels, as well as underwater operations, but this was my first time in Antarctica,” the Odesa-born Panasyuk revealed. “For all the crew — they have huge international experience, but this was their first time, too.” 

Joining the Ukrainians at the Canary Islands, senior British crew showed the Antarctic neophytes how to steer the vessel into the storied Southern Ocean. 

“You ask, why did you go there? Because we all wanted to be in Antarctica. I thought … this could be that one chance to get to this amazing place,” Panasyuk mused. “And some other people? They pay big money to visit Antarctica. But this chance for us … it was relatively easy.” 

It is Ukraine’s established friendship with the UK that delivered the 32-year-old Noosfera — previously the RRS James Clark Rossto Odesa last October. Inspected by President Volodymyr Zelensky himself, the ice-class vessel had been the star of the UK’s polar fleet, until she was recently replaced by the souped-up RRS Sir David Attenborough. At nearly £200-million, the price tag for the new UK polar ship dwarfs the nominal amount spent by Zelensky’s government on the Noosfera. The former British ice-class vessel cost £4-million, noted an email by Ukraine’s National Antarctic Scientific Centre, the state agency executing polar interests.

But, like Vernadsky, formerly a British base, the Noosfera appears to represent a goodwill sale to bolster Ukraine’s war-hammered presence in West Antarctica, where the UK maintains frozen territorial interests overlapping with similar claims by Chile and Argentina.

“When we crossed the equator, it was 22 February,” Panasyuk noted, stressing the urgency of a quest stretching into autumn — when the ice begins to regrow and fortress Antarctica against the outside world throughout the long, dark night

“But after only one day … war in Ukraine. It was very difficult for the crew. All the time it was bad news. A serious mood settled over the ship,” he recalled. 

“But, anyway, we had a special mission. We had to make the crew change for Vernadsky. It was the last chance to do it this season.”

Climate wars

“During our trip down, before we even received the bad news about the war, we had already been motivated. When we received the bad news from Ukraine, our motivation became higher. We understand — we are Ukrainian… ” 

Panasyuk’s voice broke. He pursed his lips and looked away. 

“I’m sorry, it’s a little bit hard,” he said. “We understand we are Ukrainian, we have to do it. Any weather. Doesn’t matter the condition of the ice. We need to do it, because our people are in Antarctica. That’s it.” 

Named for the geochemist Vladimir Vernadsky’s “noosphere” hypothesis, which claims evolution is driven by a layer of human knowledge that wraps around the Earth, the Noosfera’s scientific work has been markedly slashed under war conditions. Still, she managed to lift sediments from the deep seabed as well as areas around the Argentine Islands, probing Antarctica’s geology, climate history and the behaviour of ice. Reading the radio spectrum, the science crew also peered into star-scattered geospace hundreds of kilometres above the vessel, and tens of kilometres around it — aiming to improve weather models and forecasts. 

At Ukraine’s Antarctic Peninsula base off South America, the vessel picked up seasonal scientists and 12 overwinterers: including kitchen, mechanical, IT and medical staff; and researchers tasked with meteorology, biology and geophysics duties.

As the war on the other side of the world was deeply felt by the overwinterers (one scientist reportedly mistook radar activity for a Russian nuclear attack), a changing climate caused by human consumption waged its own onslaught upon the melting Antarctic. 

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, temperatures rocketed by up to 40°C above normal. Shelves sheared off East Antarctica — that part of the continent once thought quite stable. And, on 25 February, the day after Russia invaded Ukraine, the extent of Southern Ocean ice thawed to historic lows. 

“Antarctica is amazing, but it was stressful the whole time,” Panasyuk cautioned. “There were a lot of icebergs. Sometimes we had to cut through ice, but not too much … it was not proper ice.”

Noosfera’s entire history of ownership can be read here. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ in Africa Ports & Ships
Noosfera’s entire history of ownership can be read here. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

‘A second special mission’

Before turning towards the port of Punta Arenas in Chile, the Noosfera was called out on a “second special mission”, said Panasyuk — to scoop up “about 10 or 12” Polish researchers reportedly refusing to return home on a Russian ship plying the area.

“They were very happy to be onboard our vessel. They can see the difference between a Russian vessel and a Ukrainian vessel — our crew are friendly and positive. And we have good conditions on this vessel. They told us, ‘We want to work only with you — only with your vessel and your crew,’” the captain chuckled. “So, that was our second special mission.” 

Poland also maintains a recently reactivated research station on the opposite side of the continent in East Antarctica, a distinctly remote stretch of icebound wilderness facing the Indian Ocean. From there a group of Polish researchers returned to Cape Town aboard the Akademik Fedorov, a flagship Russian polar vessel, in March. 

However, the spectre of the Polish protest in West Antarctica reared its head again at the Antarctic Treaty’s annual meeting in May and June, when multiple member states including Poland, Ukraine and the UK — but not “non-aligned” South Africa — staged a walkout during a speech by the Russian delegation. 

This meeting was held days after a year-long Daily Maverick investigation showed Russia had not stopped searching Antarctica for oil, gas and other minerals since the region’s 1998 mining ban kicked in. Extensive, Kremlin-backed mineral surveys into the Southern Ocean had been conducted via Cape Town.

Meanwhile, Neptune would smooth the Noosfera’s way across the caddish Drake Passage towards South America in a velvety day and a half — only to vent his pent-up wrath as the exhausted crew pushed on to southern Africa’s Cape of Good Hope.

“We have a lot of stories, but sometimes it is not easy to explain. Departing off South America took us 20 days. All the time we had bad weather — rolling, pitching, rolling, pitching,” Panasyuk sang, recalling fiendish waters in a nod to the hellish voyage. “Sometimes we had waves up to seven metres.” 

The two countries are at war in the bloodiest conflict across Europe since World War 2, yet here two vessels, one Ukrainian and the other Russian are ‘parked’ right across the narrow quay from each other! Let’s trust the respective crews observe the typical respect among seafarers. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ in Africa Ports & Ships
The two countries are at war in the bloodiest conflict across Europe since World War 2, yet here two vessels, one Ukrainian and the other Russian are ‘parked’ right across the narrow quay from each other! Let’s trust the respective crews observe the typical respect among seafarers. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

‘Scientists running with Kalashnikovs’

A spokesperson for the National Antarctic Scientific Centre confirmed that the Noosfera would stay in Cape Town until the upcoming polar summer.

She may now be a hoary lady of the sea, with decades of notations crammed into the ship’s log, but Panasyuk explained she had life in her yet: “She can still do working expeditions like this one for at least 10 years — but we do need funding to maintain her in this tradition.” 

Despite war-induced budget cuts, Ukraine was expected to sustain its Antarctic presence through a condensed science programme and, potentially, proposals to rent the vessel for studies by other treaty states.

“And we have to get back to the Polish base, to exchange cargo and staff, because they don’t want to be on Russian vessels,” Panasyuk hastened to add.

However, while his sailors have just conquered the Antarctic, perhaps the seafarer’s ultimate challenge, some may have no homes to return to at all.  

Panasyuk’s wife and daughter fled Ukraine during the war, and some crew’s families were safe; although other relatives — particularly those from ruined, Russian-controlled Mariupol — were still missing at the time of publication. 

Most polar staff who had spent the past year in Antarctica have now continued their research, the centre confirmed by email, but not all are likely to lay eyes upon Far South’s aching beauty any time soon. 

“The base commander and IT specialist have joined the Ukrainian army,” the centre noted. “The base commander is now in the border police and the IT specialist in [a] special operation unit.” 

“Some of the crew want to go back to Ukraine for fighting with the Russians,” the captain added, peering out from the Noosfera’s bridge at his temporary new home on the southwestern edge of Africa. “I cannot do anything about that when people are at the end of their contract. They will go back to Ukraine. Some of our scientists there are running around with Kalashnikovs. 

“Of course, now, the crew are a bit tired. They have already been on the vessel for months. But, anyway, we can still manage the next season. It’s easy, because now we know how.” DM/OBP

This article first appeared on Daily Maverick and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

See related story by Jay Gates about the Ukrainian ship’s arrival in Cape Town WHARF TALK: Ukrainian Antarctic research ship – NOOSFERA

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TPT business model focusing on youth development

Durban Container Terminal, one of 19 terminals operated by TPT, in Africa Ports & Ships
Durban Container Terminal, one of 19 terminals operated by TPT    Picture Transnet

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) says it has recorded progress in June as 29% of its workforce was representative of young people who were aged 35 years and below. In addition, with over R127.6 million spent in youth development over the past five years, TPT now boasted a total of 16% youth at management level across the business.

TPT is a network of 19 port and inland terminals and is South Africa’s leading terminal operator responsible for loading and offloading cargo aboard vessels calling the seven of South Africa’s commercial ports. The company has a staff compliment of over 9,000 across 16 sea-cargo terminals and 3 inland terminals, targeting four major market sectors of automotive, containers, bulk and break bulk.

TPT annually invests on various feeder pipeline programs which aim to offer youth workplace exposure, with opportunities advertised on its website at varying intervals. The programs include the Young Professionals in Training Program targeting graduates; Sector Specific Trainee Program targeting matriculants with a desire for operations; Work Integrated Program and Technicians in Training Program targeting technical students.

In addition, the Engineering in Training Program targets graduate engineers.

TPT Youth article in Africa Ports & Ships

Learnerships and apprenticeship opportunities are also available annually. Students with disabilities also formed part of some of these programs. In the current financial year TPT has committed and invested to develop a total of 263 Trainees on the above programs.

“We understand the future requires a dynamic workforce and it is important for the business to plan for both succession as well as skills in support of future operational environments,” says Caroline Mayeza, TPT People Management General Manager.

Mayeza also noted the need to focus on recruiting youth in the communities where TPT operates to support the corporate social investment strategy of Transnet overall. Currently, the company has a total of 45 full-time bursars pursuing various studies including Engineering, Computer and Data Science, Logistics as well as Business Science.

Once the bursars completed their studies, they then joined the TPT business to obtain on-the-job exposure.

Engagement with universities in port cities were continuing where meaningful dialogue will ensure the company’s expansion plans and projected growth result in a greater absorption of competent youth. There remains an opportunity for institutions of higher learning to tweak curricula in line with changing workplace practices and the digital era.

In supply chain management, Transnet Port Terminals had allocated 13% of its total measured procurement spend amounting to R423 million to black youth-owned suppliers. The company had spent a further R20 million in the last five years through enterprise and supplier development initiatives. These included the Exporter Development Program carried out in partnership with Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal which assisted a total of ten black owned companies, 30% of the beneficiaries black youth.

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Cable Theft disrupts Majuba Power Station coal deliveries by rail

The recent spike in cable theft incidents in the country has critically constrained coal by rail to the Majuba Power Station, reports Transnet.

At the heart of this constraint, is that the portion of the network, which is owned by Eskom and which feeds directly into Majuba, has been severely damaged by the theft of overhead cables and critical overhead track equipment.

Eskom has been unable to restore the overhead track equipment.

As part of contractual arrangements between TFR and Eskom, TFR delivers coal trains to the Majuba Power Station at a maximum of three trains per day in line with the current capacity of the Eskom owned section of the line.

TFR could previously run six trains per day. However as a result of rampant cable theft and vandalism the system is now constrained to three trains per day.

TFR’s electrically powered mainline locomotives are unable to deliver trains directly to the Majuba Power station and TFR is therefore forced to change to diesel locomotives, which are already limited, for the last leg of the trip, which TFR says leads to train delays and operational difficulties due to damaged overheads.

A new spike in cable theft incidents on the Container Corridor and in the Delmas – Ogies area have made even the three trains per day impossible to achieve. The cable theft in the Delmas – Ogies area have not only affected TFR operations, but have led to numerous train cancellations by customers due to disruptions of mine operations.

On 5 July 2022 two guards were attacked (one killed and another critically injured) during a cable theft incident in the Sentrarand area. This highlights the gravity of what TFR contends with daily. In this particular incident, 804 metres of cable was stolen.

Sentrarand forms part of the Central Corridor which serves as a crucial junction feeding into all corridors – incidents in this region have devastating ripple effects across the network.

TFR issued a request to the general public to assist in the fight against this scourge by contacting the Crime-Stop hotline on 0860 010111 to report any suspicious activities near and around the rail network.


Before the rail deliveries of coal to Majuba Power Station stopped in December 2019, Hawerklip siding in the Delmas area was one of the main sidings loading trains to Eskom Power Stations. The train deliveries to Majuba Power Station stopped abruptly after a fire at the Majuba Power Station coal silos made rail deliveries impossible.

In the two years that Majuba Power Station did not order trains, the TFR 30km feeder line between Delmas and the Hawerklip siding was stripped of all cable, mast poles and rail tracks. The theft escalated after the closure of Delmas mine.

Rail services to Eskom’s Thuthuka Power Station also stopped abruptly in January 2022 when Eskom informed TFR that technical problems at the Thuthuka Power Station more than halved its generation capacity.

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Good news as fourth lane of Durban’s Bayhead Road is opened

A deserted Bayhead Road during the April storms which left great craters across the strategic road, in Africa Ports & Ships
A deserted Bayhead Road during the April storms which left great craters across the strategic road  Picture Transnet

It was good news for trucking companies and anyone doing business with Transnet or one of the other companies in the Durban Bayhead area, when Transnet announced that the fourth lane of Bayhead Road had been re-opened.

All four lanes of the important strategic road leading to and from the Durban container and liquid bulk terminals, were severely damaged in the April floods.

The Umbilo and Umhlatuzana rivers both came down in flood and washed away a part of the bridge close to where the rivers entered Durban Bay and its harbour. The road suffered further damage in different places.

Transnet worked hard and urgently to reopen one lane in the immediate aftermath of the heavy rains that devastated large areas of Durban nd the province, causing over 450 fatalities and countless losses to private and corporate property.

This important part of the port was all-but isolated for several days.

Transnet was later able to reopen a further two lanes which brought more relief to an embattled port and its users, and now the fourth and final lane is open and traffic can return to normal on this section.

The KZN Growth Coalition, a joint initiative of organised business and the KwaZulu Natal provincial government, praised the urgent steps taken by Transnet SOC Ltd to repair damage caused by the recent KwaZulu-Natal floods, which it said will make a substantial difference in restoring economic activity in the province.

“Transnet’s interventions – which include repairing and reopening the line on the container corridor between Durban and Cato Ridge – have resulted in the reinstatement of freight traffic between Gauteng and Durban harbour, and have provided great relief to both the provincial government and business in the province, the Growth Coalition co-chairman, Moses Tembe, said in a statement.

Screenshot of Moses Tembe, co-chairman of the KZN Growth Coalition , in Africa Ports & Ships
Screenshot of Moses Tembe, co-chairman of the KZN Growth Coalition

“At the same time, the KZN Growth Coalition welcomes Transnet’s decision to provide additional facilities in Durban’s Bayhead Road, ensuring that delays are avoided when moving traffic to the Durban Container Terminals and Island View Precinct.

Tembe said the KZN Growth Coalition has been impressed by the speed at which Transnet has moved to repair flood damage to its rail and port facilities, and is confident that the reopening of rail links and the restoration work at the port will enable substantially increased economic activity in the province.

“Transnet is also to be commended for providing work opportunities for local community members in its restoration programme – for example, the employment of more than 1,300 community members as fixed-term contract staff.

“The floods had a major impact on economic activity in the province, and both government and business appreciate the speed and focus of Transnet in responding to the crisis, and in ensuring that logistical links with the rest of the country are restored as a matter of urgency.

“We are more than satisfied with the leadership shown by Transnet in getting the wheels of our economy moving again.  This was a massive task, the scale of which should not be underestimated, and Transnet’s rapid and effective response is to be commended.”

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Jindal coal mine at Chirodzi drops Beira port in favour of Nacala

The Jindal open cast coal mine at Chirodzi in Mozambique’s Tete province, which has a proven reserve of 700 million tonnes, has opted to send its coal for export along the Nacala Corridor railway to the port at Nacala-a-Velha.

Jindal previously transported its export coal to the port of Beira, via the Sena Railway.

The Indian-owned mine has been ramping up toward a target of 10 million tonnes a year, a figure not yet achieved.

Jindal’s sister company Vulcan Resources acquired the Moatize coal mines from Brazilian miner, Vale, earlier this year and also acquired the Nacala Logistics company that operates the rail from Moatize to the Nacala port, via Malawi.

Jindal’s Chirodzi mine produces coking coal and high grade thermal coal and began shipping through the Beira port in 2013.

At one stage Jindal was considering the construction and operation of Africa’s first coal slurry pipeline to transport the product from the mine to the port of Beira, a distance of several hundred kilometres.

Coal train on the Nacala line out of Moatize
Train on the Nacala line out of Moatize, in the colours of previous owner, Vale   Picture Vale

A conceptual study for the development of the coal slurry pipeline from the Indian company’s mine to the Beira port was submitted to the Mozambican government for review.

This latest development by Jindal must bring serious consequences for the Beira port, which initially lost the Vale export coal when the Brazilians linked Moatize with the Nacala and Malawi railways in Malawi, thus opening the full extent of a 912km railway to Nacala, where a new modern coal terminal capable of handling Capesize vessels was built at Nacala-a-Velha across the bay from Nacala itself.

Now with the decision by Jindal to utilise the company’s own rail and port facilities instead of the Sena railway, it’s history repeating itself and the handling of coal at Beira will be further diminished.

The third major coal mining interest in Tete province, India’s ICVL, a joint venture of five Indian state-owned firms, also had ambitious targets for its mining operations at Benga, in the Changara District of Tete province, including a venture to build a new railway from Benga to the coast where a new coal port would be built at Macuse.

Benga has one of the largest deposits of coal in the world, 1.9 billion tonnes of coking coal as well as thermal coal.

The modern deepwater coal terminal at Nacala -a-Velha, ome of the reasons why the mines are turning here instead of to the port of Beira
The modern deepwater coal terminal at Nacala -a-Velha, one reason why the mines are turning here instead of to the port of Beira   Picture Vale

Although work commenced on this US$ 2.7 billion, 500-kilometre railway and port, things came to a sudden halt in 2015 when the mining operations were suspended as the international price of coking coal dropped to below $80 a tonne.

Two years later when prices improved considerably, ICVL restarted mining operations, using the Beira port in the meantime for its exports, all of which were for India and its five consortium members in the JV – the Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), Coal India Ltd, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd (RINL), NTPC Ltd and NMDC Ltd.

None of this augurs well coal exports at the Beira port, which is operated by Dutch company Cornelder. The port has gone to considerable lengths to improve landside and navigational facilities at Beira in order to cater for anticipated large scale coal exports.

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Richards Bay coal line (North Corridor) shuts down for maintenance

Coal train heading to the port at Richards Bay in Africa Ports & Ships
Coal train heading to the port at Richards Bay, crossing the concrete bridge over the White Umfolozi River  Picture Transnet

The annual maintenance shutdown of the North Coridor, otherwise known as the Richards Bay heavy-haul coal line, has shut down as from Tuesday 12 July so that Transnet Freight Rail could commence with the annual maintenance programme. The line is scheduled to re-open on Friday 22 July.

According to Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the 2022/23 shutdown for essential maintenance is key to the corridor’s volume recovery plans.

The maintenance and repair work will cover Richards Bay to Pyramid South with key maintenance activities taking place in Richards Bay to Ermelo section, and DC section between Ermelo and the mines as well as the Pyramid section.

TFR says plans are at an advanced stage for the successful execution of this mega project aimed at uplifting a total of 16 temporary speed restrictions equating to 34 kilometres of railway track.

This project will see the restoration of 8 slots in the network for the North Corridor.

The scope of work to be executed during the shutdown includes among other things the following:

1. Formation Rehabilitation
2. Turnout Component Replacement
3. Repair drainage
4. Sleeper replacement

“The North Corridor shutdown is planned to coincide with the shutdowns by our critical stakeholders to enable them to perform their own maintenance to their infrastructure,” said Ali Motala, managing executive for the corridor.

“Maintenance shutdowns are an essential part of the business as they ensure that routine maintenance work is performed which supports railway operations and improves business competences.

“Amongst the benefits, will be to improve the deteriorated Network conditions, to create resilient Infrastructure and accelerate the Network Renewal programme,” Motala said.

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Transnet successful in re-entering the international bond market

Transnet container terminal in Africa Ports & Ships
Transnet container terminal

South Africa’s freight and logistics company Transnet SOC Ltd has successfully re-entered the international syndicated loan market with the signing of a five-year Senior Unsecured term loan facility of up to USD 1.5 billion, led by Deutsche Bank AG.

Transnet says the facility will be used to finance its capital expansion programme, and refinance existing debt in line with Transnet’s corporate funding plan for 2022/23.

The first drawdown amounting to USD 685 million is scheduled for July 2022. The facility is also structured to be repaid in eight equal semi-annual instalments after a 12-month grace period.

There is an Accordion feature in the transaction for up to USD 1.5 billion, subject to Transnet’s consent until December 2022. Given the Accordion feature, Transnet will have approximately USD 800 million available for drawdown up until 31 December 2022, subject to market conditions and investor appetite.

The transaction saw participation from a number of investors and DFIs, including Deutsche Bank AG as Global Coordinator, Bookrunner and Arranger, Africa Finance Corporation as Bookrunner & Arranger, African Export-Import Bank as Bookrunner & Arranger and Ahli United Bank as Lead Manager.

Transnet banner in Africa Ports & Ships

“This is a significant milestone to stabilise Transnet’s liquidity position in support of our financial sustainability,” said Transnet’s Group Chief Financial Officer, Nonkululeko Dlamini.

“It has been the single largest funding transaction which Transnet has been able to secure in the last seven years with the benefit of diversifying our investor base in the process.”

He said the confidence demonstrated by the investors is encouraging. “We continue to focus on improving the operational and financial performance of Transnet.”

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SA Port Statistics for the month of June 2022

South Africa's only river port, East London in Africa Ports & Ships
South Africa’s only river port, East London  Picture Transnet

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

The statistics below show port cargo throughputs, ships berthed and auto and container volumes handled together with bulk and dry bulk volumes.

Motor vehicles are measured in vehicle units are included in tonnage oin the basis of 1 tonne per unit (correction on May report).

Containers are counted in TEUs, with each TEU representing 13.5 tonnes.

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

Port Statistics continue below

Figures for the respective ports during June 2022 are:

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

PORT June 2022 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.753
Durban 6.736
Saldanha Bay 7.462
Cape Town 1.689
Port Elizabeth 1.242
Ngqura 1.564
Mossel Bay 0.084
East London 0.196
Total all ports 26.726 million tonnes

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

PORT June 2022 TEUs
Durban 240,965
Cape Town 76,606
Port Elizabeth 14,566
Ngqura 73,921
East London 4,846
Richards Bay 24
Total all ports 410,928 TEU

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

PORT June 2022 CEUs
Durban 52,892
Cape Town 3
Port Elizabeth 10,234
East London 9,507
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 61,567 CEU

SHIP CALLS for May 2022

PORT June 2022 vessels gross tons
Durban 254 8,685,398
Cape Town 138 3,450,091
Richards Bay 123 5,322,597
Port Elizabeth 73 1,973,609
Saldanha Bay 54 3,517,348
Ngqura 76 3,147,764
East London 30 1,072,841
Mossel Bay 26 159,482
Total ship calls 783 27,557,206
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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WHARF TALK: a tale of drama at sea – RESTLESS WAVE

The purse seine fishing vessel Restless Wave, in capsize position but safe in harbour. Picture by 'Dockrat', in Africa Ports & Ships
The purse seine fishing vessel Restless Wave, in capsize position but safe in harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Jay gates, Africa Ports & Ships


South Africa’s fishing industry operates an incredibly diverse fleet, made so by the fact that it’s economic waters cover every form of water column from shallow water to deep water, from cold water to warm water, from a temperate current regime to a sub-tropical current regime, both inshore and offshore, from coastal to oceanic, and everything in-between.

It needs a wide variety of specially designed vessels to operate in those specialist fishing arenas that South African waters present to the industry. It is a dangerous industry, and the seas off South Africa can present further dangers, and casualties do occur. The loss of any fishing vessel is a sad event, made easier only if there is no injury, or loss of life, to the crew of the casualty. The loss is tempered further if the vessel itself is eminently salvageable, with a view to returning it to service.

On 25th June at 04h00 the purse seine fishing vessel RESTLESS WAVE (MMSI 601499300) left her home port of Laaiplek, located on the West Cape coast, in St.Helena Bay, at the mouth of the Berg River. She was heading for the inshore fishing grounds located between Hout Bay and Cape Point, where the movement of great shoals of pelagic, mid-water, fish can be found. The predominant target, midwater shoaling fish species being Anchovy and Sardine.

Restless Wave in happier times. Picture: Michael Theart, in Africa Ports & Ships
Restless Wave in happier times. Picture: Michael Theart

Her voyage took her to a point some four miles off Cape Point, when she threw her purse seine net around a suitable target, and as she was drawing in the purse, to capture her prey, it became apparent that she hit a problem. Two of the problems that purse seine fishing vessels want to avoid if possible, are to avoid getting the net snagged on the seabed when hauling it in, and also to overload the net when hauling, which prevents the winches from lifting the net clear of the water.

This was the position of the ship out at sea when she capsized. Picture taken in Cape Town after Restless Wave was towed in. Picture: Dockrat' in Africa Ports & Ships
This was the position of the ship after she capsized out at sea. Picture taken in Cape Town after Restless Wave was towed in. Picture: Dockrat’

Both instances noted can result in a potential capsize, and although it is not yet known officially what went wrong, ‘Restless Wave’ capsized within a minute of the problem becoming acute, and with her net in the water. Despite the speed of the capsize, her crew of twelve were able to abandon the vessel safely, and all were rescued by other fishing vessels in the vicinity.

Restless Wave at her launch, 23 August 2021. Picture: Tallie Marine, in Africa Ports & Ships
Restless Wave at her launch, 23 August 2021. Picture: Tallie Marine

Built in 2021 by Tallie Marine of St.Helena Bay, ‘Restless Wave’ is one of the shipyards popular, and successful T83 designs of purse seine trawler. She is 24 metres in length and is powered by a MTU 8V400 8 cylinder 4 stroke main engine producing 1,000 bhp (746 kW), driving a single fixed pitch propeller for a transit service speed of 10 knots. Her auxiliary power is derived from a single Doosan T066TI generator providing 96 kW. For added manoeuvrability she also has a transverse bow thruster.

Oceana Mercury, also built by Tallie Marine. Picture: Ivan Mouton, in Africa Ports & Ships
Oceana Mercury, which was also built by Tallie Marine.   Picture: Ivan Mouton

In the early hours of 26th June, at around 04h00 hours, a Mayday call was put out, and at 04h44 hours the Cape MRCC alerted all vessels to the unfolding incident. Three other purse seine vessels were able to rescue the crew of ‘Restless Wave’, and they included the 1972 built, 25 metre long, ‘Oceana Concorde’, which rescued 7 crewmembers, the Tallie Marine built, 25 metre sistership, ‘Oceana Mercury’ which rescued 4 crewmembers and the 1973 built, 30 metre, ‘Alert III’ which rescued the one remaining crewmember. All 12 were safely landed in Hout Bay at 08h00 that morning, where after medical checks, they were all repatriated by road back to their families in Laaiplek.

Oceana Concorde which also went to the rescue. Picture: Jaco Louw, in Africa Ports & Ships
Oceana Concorde which also went to the rescue. Picture: Jaco Louw

After capsizing, it was clear that ‘Restless Wave’ was in no imminent danger of sinking, and appeared to be anchored to the seabed. Cape Town based Guerrini Marine Construction (GMC) were tasked to effect the stabilisation and salvage of the vessel, and they despatched an assessment team the next day, followed on the 28th June, by their combined Salvage Tug and Workboat ‘Strandloper’, which sailed from Cape Town at 06h00, to attend to the casualty.

Alert III helped rescue crew from the capsized vessel. Picture: Jaco Louw, in Africa Ports & Ships
Alert III helped rescue crew from the capsized vessel. Picture: Jaco Louw

Built in 1983 at the Dorman Long Swan Hunter shipyard in Durban, ‘Strandloper’ (MMSI 601363700) is 19.7 metres long and had a deadweight of 73 tons. She is powered by two Cummins KTA 1150M 6 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 1,878 bhp (1,400 kW), to drive two fixed pitch propellers for a maximum intervention speed of 10.9 knots, and a normal service speed of 9 knots.

The workboat and salvage vessel Strandloper. Picture: Glen Kasner, in Africa Ports & Ships
The workboat and salvage vessel Strandloper. Picture: Glen Kasner

Her auxiliary machinery includes two generators providing 55 kW each. For her towage and salvage requirements, she has a modest bollard pull of 12 tons. She was purchased in 2016, at auction, for the bargain price of ZAR800,000 (US$47,009).

For those who might think that ‘Strandloper’ looks vaguely familiar, it is because she was previously one of a class of four Transnet workboats, to be found in most all of Transnet harbours, and where all of her sisterships are still plying their important trade, with two of them still serving Transnet in Cape Town. The ports of East London, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay were the ports where ‘Strandloper’ spent most of her Transnet working life.

Strandloper towing Restless Wave to Cape Town. Picture: Hercules Roelefse, in Africa Ports & Ships
Strandloper towing Restless Wave to Cape Town. Picture: Hercules Roelefse

There was a clearly planned sequence of events for GMC to follow, which included;

1.Keep the Restless Wave afloat, monitoring freeboard and any signs of pollution.
2.Safely remove the fishing gear and recover, with a suitable fishing vessel capable of handling the fishing gear.
3.Tow casualty vessel to a safe berth in Cape Town Harbour.
4.Prior to entry of Cape Town Harbour remove as many underwater obstructions as possible.
5.Once vessel is safely berthed, and an anti-pollution boom is in place, divers carry out an underwater inspection, with video and audio records.
6.Develop a suitable plan for the righting of the vessel with minimal environmental impact.
7.Once the vessel has been righted, SAMSA and other relevant parties will inspect the vessel.
8.Once all relevant parties have completed their inspections, the owners’ plans are to tow the ‘Restless Wave’ back to her home port for repairs.

Strandloper during the tow to Cape Town. Picture: GMC in Africa Ports & Ships
Strandloper during the tow to Cape Town. Picture: GMC

With the fishing gear, safely disconnected from ‘Restless Wave’, the tow back from Cape Point to Cape Town went according to plan, and both ‘Strandloper’ and the upturned hull of ‘Restless Wave’ safely arrived back on 30th June at 14h00, entering the Duncan Dock, The casualty was safely placed alongside the Repair Quay, where an anti-pollution boom was placed around her, as per the working plan for her full salvage.

With the vessel capable of holding 45,000 litres of fuel, care must now be taken to remove the fuel, prior to the attempt of the righting of the vessel. The completion of the plan to return ‘Restless Wave’ back into service continues.

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CRUISE NEWS: Swan Hellenic’s SH Vega on first cruise

SH Vega shortly after her floating out at Helsinki Shipyard, in Africa Ports & Ships
SH Vega shortly after her floating out at Helsinki Shipyard    Picture Helsinki Shipyard

Following her naming ceremony at the Helsinki Shipyard where she was built, Swan Hellenic’s new ship SH VEGA has departed for Tromsø, Norway from where on 20 July the ship will depart on her maiden cruise to explore the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

Readers will recall that SH Vega was the subject of a recent auction following the default of a Russian-leasing company – arising from EU-imposed sanctions on Russia. See that report by CLICKING HERE.

Swan Hellenic, for whom the ship was to have been chartered in the first place was given advance rights at the ‘auction’ which has allowed the ship, the second of a planned three ice-class sister vessels, to enter service with no further delay.

The naming of the SH Vega was performed ceremoniously by Patrizia Zito née Passalacqua, wife of Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito.

SH Vega is powered by a 5-megawatt diesel-electric propulsion system with selective catalytic reduction and a PC5 ice-strengthened hull with extra-large stabilisers for exceptional passenger comfort. The 10,600-gt ship is 113 metres in length and employs exhaust gas cleaning, advanced wastewater treatment systems and the waste storage facilities required for operating in sensitive polar areas.

She has 76 staterooms and suites for a maximum passenger capacity of 152, attended to by a staff of 120 on board ship.

Her maiden cruises in Arctic waters will take her into but not through the Northwest Passage before sailing down the east coast of North America visiting New York, Norfolk, Charleston and Miami. By November the ship will be in Antarctic waters with a range of 11 and 21-day cultural cruises in the deep south until March next year when she heads up the west coast of Africa to the Canary Islands and Western Europe to Britain and Ireland en-route to her second Arctic season.

In early 2023 the slightly larger SH Diana, which is currently under construction at the Helsinki Shipyard, will join the Swan Hellenic fleet.

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CRUISE NEWS: Another two cruise ships for Explora Journeys – LNG powered

A memorandum of agreement has been signed between shipbuilder Fincantieri and Explora Journeys to build two LNG/hydrogen-powered cruise ships.

Explora Journeys is a division of MSC Cruises. They will be the first in a series of luxury LNG/hydrogen powered cruise ships being built by Fincantieri for the brand and are due to enter service in 2027 and 2028.

The ships, which will become the fifth and sixth in the fleet, will be powered by LNG and a hydrogen fuel cell.

The vessels will run on LNG but hydrogen will be used to power a six-megawatt fuel cell to produce emission-free electricity for hotel operation requirements in port, with the engines turned off.

Explora III and IV

It was also announced that Explora III and Explora IV currently under construction, will be lengthened from their original design by 19 metres to enable the installation of a new power generation system based on LNG and hydrogen, which has required a redesign of both ships.

The extended size also permits additional suites and larger public spaces.

Delivery of these two will now be in 2026 and 2027.

“Explora Journeys is building ships for tomorrow, utilising today’s latest technologies and being ready to adapt to alternative energy solutions as they become available,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, the owner of the ultra luxury Explora brand.

“The announcement marks another significant step forward in our goal as a business to reach net zero emissions by 2050 across all our cruise operations for the two brands, and a further proof of our commitment to invest in the most advanced marine environmental technologies available to develop sustainable solutions for the future,” he said.

“This transition to zero emissions operations for the maritime industry is the biggest challenge that we will ever face, and this will only be achieved by everyone playing their part – by investing in research and development and through significant investment both by companies but also governments.”

In terms of emissions with a global impact, LNG plays a significant role in climate change mitigation with the engines having the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 per cent compared to standard marine fuels. In addition, with the increasing availability of bio and synthetic forms of LNG in the future, it is intended that this energy source will provide a pathway toward eventual decarbonised operations.

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CRUISE NEWS: Meet Captain Serena Melani, master of Explora I

Captain Serena Melani, master of Explora I, in Africa Ports & Ships
Captain Serena Melani, master of Explora I

While on the subject of the MSC Explora fleet, it was announced in June that Captain Serena Melani had been appointed as master of Explora I, the first of four ships (soon to be six – see above). Explora I will launch into service in May next year when it will have in command the first female Captain and first Italian-born female cruise ship Captain in the entire MSC Cruises fleet.

In 2010, Melani became Bridge Officer with a luxury cruise line and was swiftly promoted to Master in 2016, leading to her becoming their first female cruise ship Captain. In 2020 Captain Melani became the world’s first female Captain to bring a cruise ship out of a shipyard.

She began her studies at the Nautical Technical School in Livorno, Italy before gaining experience as Bridge Officer onboard different types of cargo ships. She was born and grew up in Livorno, an Italian port city on Tuscany’s coastline which is also a major port for the cruise industry today.

Never venturing too far from the ocean, she now splits her time between Italy and her home in Croatia where she lives with her husband.

“It is gratifying to see Captain Melani join our Explora Journeys at this important moment as we get ready for Explora I to take to the seas. She represents all that I and the founding family envisioned for our new luxury lifestyle brand as a disruptive force in our sector that will make it more diverse and inclusive. We look forward to welcoming more experienced women officers to the brand and our overall Cruise Division as it continues to grow and go from strength to strength,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of the MSC Group’s Cruise Division.

Explora I in her dock prior to floating out. in Africa Ports & Ships
Explora I in her dock prior to floating out   MSC

Michael Ungerer, Chief Executive Officer, Explora Journeys added they were delighted to have Captain Melani join them at Explora Journeys leading Explora I in the direction, style, and mindset envisioned for their first ship.

“Explora Journeys provides enriching experiences to explore the world and reach an ‘Ocean State of Mind’. Captain Melani will steer our first ship to some remarkable, both familiar and off the beaten path destinations across the world with her incredible experience as well as her passion for exploration, and respect for the ocean and nature, which reflects our own and, we wish her every success.”

On 30 May 2022 the Float Out Ceremony of Explora I was held at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. During her first year, Explora I will visit 132 ports in 40 different countries, including two destinations (Kastellorizo, Greece and Saint Pierre, Martinique) which have never been visited by cruise ships before.

The itineraries include the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the US East Coast, Caribbean, South America, and Hawaii. Sailings start from 6-night journeys and culminate in an epic 44-night Northern Europe, Grand Journey.

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IN CONVERSATION: COVID hurt West and Central Africa’s small-scale fishers. They need more support



Coastal communities in West and Central Africa were severely affected by COVID which brought many aspects of food and seafood supply chains to a halt. Picture: Unsplash, in Africa Ports & Ships
Coastal communities in West and Central Africa were severely affected by COVID which brought many aspects of food and seafood supply chains to a halt. Picture: Unsplash


Richard A. Nyiawung, University of Guelph and Philip A Loring, University of Guelph

From Senegal through Ghana to Cameroon, small-scale fishing is both a livelihood and a way of life for people in coastal parts of West and Central Africa, with more than two million small-scale fishers. It has been this way for centuries – but that is changing.

Fishers are faced with diminishing fish stocks, competition from foreign industrial fleets, illegal fishing, unstable governance, and a lack of infrastructure to support fishing operations. Small-scale fisheries in these countries, as in other areas of the global south, are often part of the informal economy. Despite being critical to local livelihoods – across sectors, informal employment accounts for over 80% of all employment on the continent – small-scale fisheries are generally not regulated or protected by the state.

The COVID-19 pandemic only worsened the situation. It brought many aspects of food and seafood supply chains to a halt. Fisherfolk and coastal communities in West and Central Africa were severely affected.

Our newly published research from Cameroon and Liberia studied these effects. We found that small-scale fisheries brought in fewer fish and less income. Fish wastage was also a bigger problem than usual because storage facilities weren’t available for fisherfolks.

These experiences, coupled with the sector’s bigger systemic problems before the pandemic, deserve attention. Fishing communities in West and Central Africa receive little attention from academics and policymakers despite their contribution to the region’s food security and employment economics.

From better ocean stewardship activities to better governance of these resources and those who depend on them, there is much to be done for small-scale fisheries in this region. There is a need for better innovations and policies to help improve the fisheries sector in this region.

Vibrant, diverse fisheries

Small-scale fishers in West and Central Africa have a great deal to tell researchers. Small-scale fisheries are central to food and nutritional security.

They are also remarkably multicultural. It is common to see people from other nationalities settled and fishing in a neighbouring country. In Cameroon, for example, our research has shown that many fisherfolks are migrants from Ghana and Nigeria. Similarly, fishers in Liberia are mostly Ghanaians who have obtained fishing permits to fish in the country.

These patterns of migration result in highly culturally diverse fishing communities; fishers bring not just their families to these neighbouring countries but also their traditions and customs. However, this brings in problems in terms of access and mobilisation of collective efforts to address problems as they arise.

COVID-19 exacerbated existing threats to this important informal sector. For instance, it confirmed how the lack of robust governance systems at the state level leaves workers vulnerable to shocks like pandemics and climate change impacts. Workers in these fisheries rarely benefit from any sort of state protections or services related to their employment and occupational safety.

They also don’t have access to the kind of infrastructure that might have kept fish fresh for longer during periods when markets weren’t open or people were afraid to leave their homes because of the pandemic. One Liberian fisher told us:

COVID-19 affects our business greatly. Like before, we used to have many customers coming to buy our fresh fish at the beach, but currently, our mothers dry the fish we caught and take to the market. After weeks from drying the fish and they are not bought it gets spoiled.

So, how can small-scale fishers in these countries be better supported?

The need for action

The UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 emphasises the need to conserve ocean resources and to use them sustainably.

Coastal populations are growing, and the dependency on fishing and the ocean in these places will continue to increase. Coastal dwellers’ wellbeing and livelihood are at risk – and that’s a threat to both the short and long-term resilience of the fish food system in West and Central Africa.

With increasing environmental stresses and emerging systemic shocks such as COVID-19, there is a need for action to not only achieve this but also to ensure the well-being of those who depend on these resources.

For example, the digitalisation of the fisheries sector could be a sustainable response approach to shocks. In North America, fisherfolks use digital services such as smartphone apps to sell and deliver seafood to the consumer. This could be replicated in West and Central Africa. Fisherfolks can use local telephone networks and e-money services to facilitate communications and transactions.

Also, the establishment of community supported fisheries programmes can help reorganise local fish marketing, reduce fish losses across the value chain, and build community resilience to shocks.

Whatever approach is taken, it’s crucial to include the fishers themselves in discussing possible pathways forward. They can help guide policy makers on how to ensure sustainable fisheries practices. Regional and international bodies also need to get more involved by providing funding and institutional support to enhance the fisheries sector.The Conversation

Richard A. Nyiawung, PhD Candidate in Geography and International Development Studies, University of Guelph and Philip A Loring, Associate Professor and Arrell Chair in Food, Policy, and Society, University of Guelph

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

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Mozambique transport minister moves to introduce reforms and improvements to Maputo Corridor

Ressano Garcia border crossing with South Africa. Picture: Lowvelder, in Africa Ports & Ships
Ressano Garcia border crossing with South Africa. Picture: Lowvelder

Mozambique’s minister of transportation and communications, Mateus Magala, has indicated a need for expanding and modernising the Maputo Corridor between the port city of Maputo and the South African border at Ressano Garcia/ Komatipoort.

He says his visit identified that various infrastructure along the corridor is in need of attention, while the training of state agents to improve the quality of service provided is necessary.

The minister paid visits to the Ressano Garcia border with South Africa, the Infulene railway station and the port at Maputo, where he inspected and held discussions that confirmed that manual procedures for freight clearance and traffic control measures contribute to the slow crossing of the border.

At Infulene, the minister was updated about the operation of the new Railway Telecommunication System (STC – Safe Train Control), an important tool for train circulation and the promotion of railway safety.

His visit to Ressano Garcia saw him inspecting the International Road Terminal, the Border Bypass and the Transit Cargo Rail Terminal.

Later, at the port, Magala was taken through the operation of the various terminals, including their expansion prospects.

Port of Maputo visited by transport minister, in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of Maputo visited by transport minister   DP World

His visits served to identify the need for the introduction of digitalisation to improve services and reduce the time taken in crossing the border and to improve access to the road and rail terminals at Ressano Garcia.

Magala pointed to the need for a Corridor Manager to coordinate the actions and performances of those involved in the logistics services and identified the need for urgent reforms to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the Maputo Corridor.

For this purpose, a multi-sector team comprising representatives of the State institutions involved in the Maputo Corridor and transport infrastructure managers has already received instructions. according to a press release from the Transport Ministry.

This team will work to define specific actions, accountability and deadlines for their implementation.

“The visit was aimed at finding out about the operation of the infrastructures visited, identifying and systematising the main challenges and prospects for improving the performance of this Corridor,” a statement issued after the visits read.

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NATO Operation Sea Guardian concluded in Western Mediterranean

Our photograph shows the end of Operation Sea Guardian being marked in a simple ceremony bringing together participants’ representatives. Picture: NATO ©, In Africa Ports & Ships
Our photograph shows the end of Operation Sea Guardian being marked in a simple ceremony bringing together participants’ representatives. Picture: NATO ©

NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) concluded maritime security patrols in the Western Mediterranean Sea on 30 June after two weeks at sea. This was reported by the NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) Public Affairs Office in Northwood, NW London last week.

OSG’s flagship Spanish frigate ESPS Reina Sofia led the NATO Task Group joined by a submarine from Italy and Maritime patrol aircraft and airborne early warning aircraft from Canada, Portugal and Spain.

Over two weeks, the OSG Task Group conducted fourteen days of focused security patrols at sea to deter and identify potential illicit maritime activity.

In the words of Commander Juan Jose Izquierdo, Spanish Navy, Commander Task Force: “ESPS Reina Sofia, her ship’s company and Task Group are proud of contributing to maritime security as a team effort. This Focused Patrol made the Mediterranean Sea an even more secure environment for our maritime communities, making NATO Allies stronger.”

This iteration of focused security patrols concluded with a port visit to Tangiers, and an at-sea passing exercise with the Moroccan Navy. In Tangiers, Commander Izquierdo met Moroccan local authorities. On completion, the crew of ESPS Reina Sofia and Moroccan navy personnel held coordination meetings to coordinate the passing exercise, an event to deepen the good relationships and collaboration between both navies.

Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) is a standing Maritime Security Operation working with Mediterranean stakeholders to deter terrorism and mitigate the risk of other threats to security in the Mediterranean Sea.

Furthermore, it helps facilitate a fusion of information to create a comprehensive picture of daily activities in the Mediterranean via Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA) activities and six focused security patrols each year. This includes monitoring sea lines of communication (SLOCs), localised traffic patterns in international waters outside ports of interest in the Mediterranean Sea, and coordination with national navies to enable timely decision making and address potential maritime security challenges.


This is NATO’s centre for all maritime matters in the North Atlantic Alliance. It is a multinational workplace manned by military and civilian personnel from 22 NATO countries. NATO maritime operations such as Operation Ocean Shield and Operation Sea Guardian are planned and commanded here as well as major NATO maritime and joint level exercises.

Commander Maritime Command (COM MARCOM) is NATO’s maritime expert, responsible for providing advice on maritime affairs to the strategic level, which is the Allied Commander Operations in Mons, Belgium.

Approximately 400 people work for NATO Maritime Command. Host nation British staff work alongside military members from 21 Allied nations, civilians employed by NATO and about 60 personnel from the NATO Communication agency, the NCIA.

Given the historical geographic focus on the Atlantic, the NATO Nations contributing to MARCOM’s staff were predominantly North European. Since the command restructuring of MARCOM becoming the single maritime command, the headquarters has an increased representation from Southern European nations. This strong Allied presence in Northwood contributes to making this site a world-class hub in international maritime operations and a truly stimulating working environment.

Paul idgway, London in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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IN CONVERSATION: Morocco – a top fertiliser producer – could hold a key to the world’s food supply

Michaël Tanchum, Universidad de Navarra

Morocco has a large fertiliser industry with huge production capacity and international reach. It is one of the world’s top four fertiliser exporters following Russia, China and Canada.

Fertilisers tend to divide into three main categories; nitrogen fertilisers, phosphorus fertilisers, potassium fertilisers. In 2020 the fertiliser market size was about US$190 billion.

Morocco has distinct advantage in the production of phosphorus fertilisers. It possesses over 70% of the world’s phosphate rock reserves, from which the phosphorus used in fertilisers is derived. And this makes Morocco a gatekeeper of global food supply chains because all food crops require the element phosphorus to grow. Indeed, so does all plant life. Unlike other finite resources, such as fossil fuels, there is no alternative to phosphorus.

In 2021, the global phosphorus fertiliser market amounted to about US$59 billion. In Morocco, the sector’s 2020 revenues amounted to US$5.94 billion. Office Chérifien des Phosphates, the producer owned by the Moroccan state, accounted for about 20% of the kingdom’s export revenues. It is also the country’s largest employer, providing jobs for 21,000 people.

Morocco plans to produce an additional 8.2 million tonnes of phosphorus fertiliser by 2026. Currently production is at about 12 million tonnes.

The state company recently announced that it would increase its fertiliser production for the year by 10%. This would put an additional 1.2 million tonnes on the global market by the end of the year. This will significantly help markets.

But, as I argue in a new report, Morocco faces new challenges. Its production of fertiliser is threatened by increasingly daunting environmental and economic challenges. They include the COVID pandemic and the severe supply chain disruptions that have followed.

The timing to address these is crucial.

Russia is currently the world’s largest fertiliser exporter – 15.1% of total exported fertilisers. And fertiliser represents one of the greatest vulnerabilities for both Europe and Africa. For instance, the EU27 (all of the 27 member state of the European Union) as a whole depends on Russia for 30% of its fertiliser supply. Russia’s advantageous position is amplified by its status as the world’s second-largest natural gas producer. Gas is a main component of all phosphorus fertilisers as well as nitrogen fertilisers.

Because of this, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has serious implications for global food security. Both in terms of supply, and also because fertiliser can be used a economic weapon or tool.

Morocco could therefore become central to the global fertiliser market and a gatekeeper of the world’s food supply that could offset the attempt to use fertiliser as a weapon.

The journey

Morocco started to mine phosphorous in 1921. During the 1980s and 1990s it began to produce its own fertiliser. Office Chérifien des Phosphates built the world’s largest fertiliser production hub in Jorf Lasfar on Morocco’s Atlantic coast.

Before the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, the company had over 350 clients on five continents. About 54% of phosphate fertilisers bought in Africa come from Morocco. Moroccan fertilisers also account for major domestic market shares in India (50%), Brazil (40%) and Europe (41%). India and Brazil have reached out to Morocco to fill additional supply gaps.

Image from the OCP’s 2020 sustainability report.

Morocco’s economy has reaped the benefits of the transformation into an international fertiliser exporting giant. And in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, the combination of joint venture partnerships in local fertiliser production and direct outreach to farmers has resulted in a remarkable boost to African agricultural yields.

It’s also expanded Morocco’s soft power influence across the continent. For instance, Morocco supplies over 90% of Nigeria’s annual fertiliser demand.

But, how well Morocco manages challenges to the industry will affect both its own economic development and the stability of food supplies across the world.

The challenges

Water and energy constraints

Phosphate extraction and fertiliser production uses a lot of energy and water. Morocco’s phosphate and fertiliser industry consumes about 7% of its annual energy output and 1% of its water.

But Morocco is among the countries suffering the most from water scarcity. This is due to a dry climate, high water demand, climate change and reservoir contamination and siltation.

Morocco is trying to address this through a National Water Plan 2020-2050. It envisages building new dams and desalination plants and expanding irrigation networks, among other measures, to sustain agriculture and ecosystems. It’s estimated to cost about US$40 billion.

Natural gas costs

Nitrogen is the other basic fertiliser element that plants need. Diammonium phosphate, the most popular type of phosphorus fertiliser worldwide (and which Morocco makes along with monoammonium), is composed of 46% phosphorus and 18% nitrogen. Natural gas accounts for at least 80% of the variable cost of nitrogen fertiliser.

This means the price of natural gas massively affects production costs. But Morocco has scant natural gas resources. And natural gas prices have been soaring.

How well Morocco manages the food-water-energy nexus will affect both its own economic development and the stability of food supplies across the world.

Some answers

The key is to expand its renewable energy sector. Morocco holds considerable solar and wind resources. Fertiliser manufacturing could become powered by renewable energy, and renewable energy could be used within the fertiliser itself.

In 2020, the state’s fertiliser company covered 89% of its energy needs by co-generation (producing two or more forms of energy from a single fuel source) and renewable energy sources. Its aim is to eventually cover 100% of its energy needs in this way.

Renewable energy could also be used within the fertiliser itself. Instead of importing ammonia derived from natural gas, Morocco could produce its own using hydrogen produced from its domestic renewable energy resources.

According to the state company, 31% of its water needs are met with “unconventional” water resources, including treated wastewater and desalinated seawater.

Morocco’s growing reliance on desalination plants to satisfy industrial, agricultural and residential needs will require sizeable new investments in power generation from renewable energy sources. Desalination plants require 10 times the amount of energy to produce the same volume of water as conventional surface water treatment.

To sustain operations and expand green ammonia production, Morocco will have to strike a careful balance between its fertiliser exports, its drive to expand its high-value agricultural exports and the provision of drinking water to its population.

Using its large solar energy resources to power green hydrogen and green ammonia production, along with desalination, Morocco could escape the vicious cycle of the upward spiralling of prices in the food-energy-water nexus.The Conversation

Michaël Tanchum, Associate Senior Policy Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations and Professor , Universidad de Navarra

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

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Maersk resigns as board member of International Chamber of Shipping (ICS)

Maersk container ship, in Africa Ports & Ships
Maersk container ship  Picture: Unsplash

Maersk has resigned its position on the board of the International Chamber of Shipping over differences on climate policy.

In its statement Maersk said the decision was taken after a climate-driven review of its memberships.

“We scrutinise our memberships once a year to ensure that the trade organisations of which we are members lobby in accordance with targets of the Paris Agreement and other crucial issues,” said the Maersk statement.

“Consequently, we assess if their approach and efforts reflect our attitudes and values. One outcome of the 2022 process is our decision to support the strengthening of the WSC (World Shipping Council) and dedicate internal resources hereto.

“Our choice to step down from the ICS Board should also be seen in this context.”

Maersk has adopted a bold stance over the matter of carbon regulation, having committed to a net-zero-by-2040 approach, which is ten years ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement goal for non-shipping sectors, and has also called for a $450-per-tonne bunker levy to close the price gap between VLSFO and future clean fuels, and is funding a research institute to help find practical solutions for decarbonisation.

This contrasts strongly with the approach of the ICS which prefers to have carbon regulation remaining in the hands of the IMO.

Maersk remains a member of Danish Shipping – an ICS member association – as well as BIMCO, the Getting to Zero Coalition, WSC, and the A.P. Maersk-McKinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, among other initiatives.

The resignation by Maersk serves to emphasise differences among shipping lobby groups, with container lines, of which Maersk is counted, are under pressure from customers to reduce carbon emissions, as pointed out in an article by Peter Tirschwell in industry publication

‘The action brings to light important differences among shipping lobby groups. In representing container lines who are under pressure from retailers to reduce so-called Scope 3 emissions, the WSC has adapted a more aggressive stance on issues such as a carbon tax or fuel availability versus associations such as the ICS and BIMCO, whose membership includes tanker and bulk carrier owners.

‘A core difference between container and bulk carriers is that container lines try but don’t always fully succeed in passing along fuel costs to shippers, therefore they are more motivated to improve efficiency of vessels. Bulk shipowners fully pass fuel costs on to charterers.’

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APM Terminals establishes three macro regions – new regional MDs

APM Terminal at Tanger Med, Morocco, in Africa Ports & Ships
APM Terminal at Tanger Med, Morocco    APMT

Next step on its strategic journey

Following the introduction of its ‘Safer, Better, Bigger. strategy in 2021, APM Terminals has taken the next step on its transformation journey with the ambition to be the Best Terminal Company, by establishing three strategic regions – Africa & Europe, Americas, and Asia & Middle East, each with newly appointed CEOs.

This is in addition to its Hubs & Collaboration organisation, which primarily focuses on operational synergies and innovation opportunities between Terminals and Maersk Ocean.

This new organisational structure is aimed at accelerating customer centricity and decision making, improving its agility and enabling responsible growth.

On top of these changes comes a streamlined and simplified management structure to enable better proximity to the markets, with Regional Managing Directors now reporting directly to the CEO and with a more focused COO function to further drive operational excellence and automation.

Keith Svendsen, APM Terminals CEO, in Africa Ports & Ships
Keith Svendsen, APM Terminals CEO

“As we dive deeper into our strategy execution this year, we are introducing changes that help us keep up with market developments and customers’ expectation, and which make us safer, more agile and better performing,” says APM Terminals CEO, Keith Svendsen.

“In parallel, we maintain our strong commitment to the communities where we operate, anchoring our local strength, expertise and experience with our terminals around the world.”

Igor van den Essen has been appointed Regional Managing Director, Africa & Europe, Jon Goldner, Regional Managing Director, Asia & Middle East and Leo Huisman, Regional Managing Director, Americas.

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HMS Montrose intercepts Iranian rocket parts and weapons on smugglers’speedboats

Some of the sophisticated weapons seized when the speedboats coming from Iran were intercepted. Picture: Royal Navy, in Africa Ports & Ships
Some of the sophisticated weapons seized when the speedboats coming from Iran were intercepted. Picture: Royal Navy

It was disclosed last week that in January and February 2022 the Royal Navy type 23 frigate, HMS MONTROSE, intercepted and seized Iranian weapons from several speedbooats being operated by smugglers in international waters south of Iran.

HMS Montrose was on routine patrol in the Gulf of Oman while, in the early hours of the morning, the ship’s Wildcat helicopter, which is equipped with state of the art radar systems, was airborne and scanning for vessels smuggling illicit goods.

On two occasions, 28 January and again on 25 February the helicopter crew spotted small vessels moving at speed away from the Iranian coast. On each occasion the Wildcat helicopter pursued the speedboats and reported back to HMS Montrose that suspicious cargo could be seen on deck.

After intercepting the speedboats the British warship discovered sophisticated weapons from Iran that included surface-to-air-missiles and engines for land attack cruise missiles, in contravention of UN Security Council resolution 2216 (2015).

In the February interdiction, A US Navy destroyer, USS GRIDLEY supported efforts by deploying a Seahawk helicopter to provide critical overwatch during the operation. As with the earlier interception the RN helicopter followed the suspicious vessels until a Royal marine team in inflatable boats (RHIBS) could intercept the speedboats and make an inspection on board.

HMS Montrose F236, in Africa Ports & Ships
HMS Montrose F236    MOD

Dozens of packages containing advanced weaponry were discovered, confiscated and taken back to HMS Montrose.

The seized packages were returned to the UK for technical analysis which revealed that the shipment contained multiple rocket engines for the Iranian produced 351 (Quds-1) land attack cruise missile and a batch of 358 loitering anti-aircraft munitions.

The 351 is a cruise missile with a range of 1,000km (600 miles), which is regularly used by the Yemeni Houthis to strike targets in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was also the type of weapon used to attack Abu Dhabi on 17 January 2022, which killed three civilians.

“The UK is committed to upholding international law, from standing up to aggression in Europe to interdicting illegal shipments of weaponry that perpetuates instability in the Middle East,” said UK Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey.

HMS Montrose has been deployed in the Middle East since early 2019, carrying out a permanent presence in support of multi-national maritime security operations and protecting the interests of the United Kingdom and its allies.

The ship operates under the control and direction of the UK Maritime Component Command (UKMCC), based in Bahrain.

In the wider Gulf, HMS Montrose regularly works alongside international partners as part of the 38-nation coalition Combined Maritime Forces (CMF). HMS Montrose has taken part in numerous successful operations to seize illicit drugs in the Gulf of Oman, most recently in May. This year alone, the ship has intercepted nearly £100m of illegal narcotics.

Watch short promotional YouTube video of the frigate HMS Montrose [2:19]

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Added 11 July 2022


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WHARF TALK: YACHT SPRAY 1897 & 1898 The First Solo Round The World Voyage

Joshua Slocum's yacht Spray in Africa Ports & Shipsy
Joshua Slocum’s yacht Spray. Picture: WoodenBoat


Jay gates, Africa Ports & Ships

by Jay Gates

Yachting and Yachts don’t get much of a mention on these pages, but yachting is a major sport, leisure past time and supports a small industry in South Africa. For a Yachtsman, the ultimate challenge, in this day and age, is probably to undertake a solo round the world voyage. It matters not if such a voyage is non-stop, or includes a few necessary revictualling stops along the way. The challenge is simply to undertake the adventure.

Solo round the world yacht voyages are no longer rare events, and there are still some competitions that pit man against the ocean, under full racing conditions. The first such event was the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race in 1968. Out of a starting field of nine yachts, the race only had one finisher, Robin Knox-Johnston, in his yacht ‘Suhaili’, who started from Falmouth in 14th June 1968, returning to Falmouth on 22nd April 1969.

Sir Alfred Milner, Governor of the Cape, in Africa Ports & Ships
Sir Alfred Milner, Governor of the Cape

Other great events include The Velux 5 Oceans Race, formerly known as the BOC Challenge, the Global Solo Challenge, and the iconic Vendée Globe. This ‘seat of your pants’ solo race is remembered for the 1997 Vendée Globe race when British Yachtsman, Tony Bullimore, on his yacht ‘Exide Challenger’, lost his keel, on 5th January 1997, and overturned in the Southern Ocean, in position 52°South 100°East, and over 1,300 nautical miles south of Australia.

His capsized yacht was found by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Lockheed P-3 Orion patrol aircraft, and he was rescued by Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Adelaide on 10th January. He survived alone in the cabin, in the dark, and with only a chocolate bar for 6 days.

Sir Francis Chichester, on his yacht ‘Gypsy Moth IV’, became the first solo yachtsman to circumnavigate the globe from West to East, following what is known as the Clipper Route. His voyage started from Plymouth on 27th August 1966, and ended on 28th May 1967. Of course, somebody has to be the first yachtsman to circumnavigate the world, in any direction, and that occurred as the 19th Century was coming to an end.

The sloop Spray which sailed out of Boston Harbours.... Picture: Wikipedia, in Africa Ports & Ships
The sloop Spray which sailed out of Boston Harbours…. Picture: Wikipedia

On 24th April 1895, the Sloop ‘Spray’ sailed out of Boston Harbour, in the USA, and would not return to Boston until 27th June 1898, some three years later. The ‘Spray’ was crewed by Captain Joshua Slocum, who had been born at Mount Hanley, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on 20th February 1844. His maritime life started at a young age, when he ran away from home at the age of 12 years old, and embarked as a crew member of a local fishing boat.

By the age of 16 he had sailed before the mast, and completed a transatlantic voyage from the Canadian port of St.Johns, in New Brunswick, to Dublin in Ireland. He switched to steamships for a while, gaining, Board of Trade navigation qualifications, and at the age of 25, he returned to sail, and he was given his first command, which included sailing the Barque ‘Washington’ from San Francisco, in California, to Sydney, in Australia.

As a Ship’s Captain who had been commander on full rigged ships, his solo round the world yacht voyage would not have presented him with too many problems. He was 50 years old when he departed on his incredible endeavour. He stopped off many times, to take on water and food supplies, and his longest transit, was for 72 days across a portion of the Pacific Ocean.

The derelict yacht Spray on which Joshua Slocum worked at the New Bedford Whaling Station, in Africa Ports & Ships
The derelict yacht Spray on which Joshua Slocum worked at the New Bedford Whaling Station

The ‘Spray’ was built as a Chesapeake Bay Oyster Catcher, and when Joshua Slocum purchased her, she was out of the water, in a field near Boston, and in a near derelict condition. She was 11 metres in length and had a burthen tonnage of 12.7 tons. During his stopover in Buenos Aires in November 1895, when heading south to round Cape Horn, he added a mizzen mast, and converted her rig to that of a Yawl.

Burgee of the RNYC, in Africa Ports & Ships
Burgee of the RNYC

As he approached the continent of Africa, he stopped off at the island of Rodrigues on 8th September 1897, taking on fresh fruit and vegetables, before sailing on 16th September and heading for Port Louis in Mauritius, arriving there on 19th September 1897. Joshua Slocum did not want to approach Southern African waters in the winter months, so he had a longer stay at Port Louis than originally intended. He finally sailed on 26th October 1897, bound for Port Natal.

The Royal Natal Yacht Club original club house in Durban, the oldest in South Africa, in Africa Ports & Ships
The Royal Natal Yacht Club original club house in Durban, the oldest yacht club in the Southern Hemisphere

He arrived off Durban, or Port Natal as Joshua Slocum called it, on 17th November 1897. He enjoyed his stay in Port Natal, and his endeavour gave him celebrity status, as nobody had ever attempted to achieve that which he was undertaking. He was invited down to the oldest Yacht Clubs in Africa, and in fact, the oldest Yacht Club in the Southern Hemisphere, namely the Royal Natal Yacht Club, and there he was invited to join none other than the Premier of the Natal Colony, Harry Escombe, on his yacht ‘Florence’, for a cruise out in the bay. The Durban suburb of Escombe is the legacy of Harry Escombe.

Sir Harry Escombe 1838-1899, Premier of Natal, in Africa Ports & Ships
Sir Harry Escombe 1838-1899, Premier of Natal

He met Henry Stanley, the feted African Explorer who found Doctor David Livingstone, whilst staying in the Royal Hotel in Durban. Stanley was interested to hear how he had navigated his vessel around the world. Joshua Slocum was invited to give talks to enthralled schoolchildren across schools in Durban. After almost a month in Natal, he sailed from Port Natal on 14th December 1897, bound for Cape Town.

Out on the ocean, his fame was becoming well known, and as he approached Cape Agulhas, he was sent a Christmas greetings message by a passing British steamer, and received best wishes from the Lighthouse Keeper at Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. He finally arrived in Table Bay on 29th December 1897, where he was towed into the V&A Dock by the steam tug ‘Alert’, and taken out of the water to receive a small refit.

Again, as with Port Natal, Joshua Slocum was feted by the people of Cape Town. He gave a talk on his voyage, which was oversubscribed, and they had to turn people away. The talk was introduced to the listening public by none other than the Cape Astronomer Royal, Dr. David Gill.

The Cape Colonial Government gave Joshua Slocum a free railroad pass to allow him to travel anywhere he wished in the colony. He headed for Kimberley, then Johannesburg, ending up in Pretoria, where he met Transvaal State President Paul Kruger.

Transvaal's President Paul Kruger 1898, in Africa Ports & Ships
State President Paul Kruger at his inauguration in 1898

When he told President Kruger that he was sailing AROUND the world, he was corrected by the President who told him that he was sailing ROUND the world, as such a journey was impossible. Most people are not aware that President Kruger was one of many of the Afrikaner ruling class in the Transvaal who still believed that the world was flat. When Joshua Slocum tried to explain how the world was in fact round, President Kruger became very agitated, and ended the meeting.

When he returned to Cape Town, he received a visit from none other than the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir Arthur Milner, who came aboard ‘Spray’ with a small party, and enjoyed a convivial afternoon with Joshua Slocum on his yacht. The Cape Town suburb of Milnerton is the [Cape] legacy of Sir Arthur Milner.

He also received the ultimate naval accolade when he was visited by Admiral Sir Harry Ransom, the Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy’s Cape Naval Squadron at Simonstown. Admiral Ransom, naturally as a mariner himself, was extremely interested in ‘Spray, and especially as to how she handled when she sailed around Cape Horn, a route that the Admiral had taken himself on a sail assisted Royal Navy vessel.

After a long sojourn in the Cape, which included visits out to the vineyards of the Boland, Joshua Slocum was ready to depart from Cape Town, and on 26th March 1898, the steam tug ‘Tigre’ towed ‘Spray’ out of the V&A Dock, and she headed north to St.Helena.

Joshua Slocum, the first man to solo around the world. Picture: Sir Thomas Lipton Association, in Africa Ports & Ships
Joshua Slocum, the first man to solo around the world. Picture: Sir Thomas Lipton Association

Joshua Slocum continued to make oceanic voyages on ‘Spray’, especially annual cruises from Boston to the Grand Cayman islands in the Caribbean. On 14th November 1909, he sailed once more from Vineyard Haven, in Massachusetts in the USA, heading back to the Caribbean and the Orinoco River region. He never arrived, and neither he, nor ‘Spray’ were ever seen again. There is conjecture about his succumbing to bad weather, or to having been run down in the night, as his route took him across five well known steamer routes.

His legacy continues to this day, with many yachtsmen naming their own yacht, or their house, after ‘Spray’, and the library of every Yacht Club in the world having on its shelves, a copy of his 1900 memoir which commemorates his fantastic first solo achievement. The book is called ‘Sailing Alone Around the World’, by Joshua Slocum, and has been reprinted many times.

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NSBT’s berth extension launched in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Directors of NSBT, James Sonnie John, Guy Wilkes, and Jim Page, In Africa Ports & Ships
Directors of NSBT, James Sonnie John, Guy Wilkes, and Jim Page

The Nectar Sierra Leone Bulk Terminal (NSBT) recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for the newly launched Berth Expansion Project at Queen Elizabeth II Port in Freetown, SL.

Marking the special day in the life of the West African port were an impressive number of dignitaries and partners, with the Guest of Honour, First Lady Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, turning the sod.

Sierra Leone's First Lady Dr Fatima Maada Bio, in Africa Ports & Ships
Sierra Leone’s First Lady Dr Fatima Maada Bio

With the expansion now underway, the project highlights will include the design and construction of a new deep-water berth of 190 metres length and enhanced quay space of 1.2 hectares (12,000 sq m). This will facilitate a larger-class of vessel size to call at QEII terminal at Freetown (the largest natural harbour on the African Continent).

In addition the project incorporates refurbishment of the existing berths in partnership with Marine Consulting Engineers, Beckett Rankine and Civil Engineering firm, Eiffage Génie Civil.

The collaboration is part of steps being taken to meet international standards of the terminal in every operational aspect, with NSBT significantly investing in equipment and infrastructure at Sierra Leone’s primary multi-user bulk and break-bulk port, says General Manager of NSBT, Jim Page, who previously ran a stevedore operation in Port Elizabeth for 15 years.

“The berth extension project marks the commitment, belief, and trust that Nectar and NSBT have in the future of Sierra Leone and its people,” he told Africa Ports & Ships.

“We are proud to partner with the Sierra Leone Port Authority to expand the capacity of the port and ensure that generations to come will benefit from it.

“Nectar Group is proud to invest in Sierra Leone in this strategic project that will be of benefit to the local community, the people of Sierra Leone and the economy in general for years to come. The berth expansion project has been two years in development, and it is a proud moment to see this project move to the next stage of construction.

“We would like to thank all our local and international partners on the work done to get to this point and for their ongoing support and trust in us and the work we do and look forward to handling new business when the berth is completed.”

Jim Page, General Manager of NSBT, in Africa Ports & Ships
Jim Page, General Manager of NSBT

Chief Operating Officer of Nectar Group, Chris Leonard pointed out that Nectar has a long history with the Port of Freetown since handling cargoes there in the late 1980’s.

“The berth expansion cements the commitment made to Sierra Leone Ports Authority to deliver greater capacity and improved facilities for what is a major gateway to the country,” he said.

“We are very proud of our team in Sierra Leone and what has been achieved in a relatively short space of time and when considering the challenging worldwide economic conditions of the past two years.”

According to Guy Wilkes, Commercial & Business Development Director of Nectar Group, the Nectar Group handles over 10 million tonnes of cargo each year, currently employs over 400 people around the world, and has operated in 156 different locations in 75 countries to date.

“As a global market leader of specialist bulk cargo handling services at ports and terminals across the world, Nectar Group’s historical connection in Sierra Leone can be traced back to the late 1980s, when the company founded bulk/bagging operations at Freetown under the USAID’s Title II (Food for Peace) initiative, pioneered logistical savings for importers of rice and other basic commodities.

“Since 2015, Nectar Group has supported the Freetown Port with substantial investment to develop the logistical capabilities, helping drive economic prosperity and noteworthy commercial advantages. Nectar Group and the Government of Sierra Leone have a partnership agreement of 21 years + 7-year option concession to further realise the area’s full potential.”

Wilkes said the QEII project will not only strengthen Nectar Group’s enterprise with Sierra Leone Ports Authority (SLPA) in relation to competitiveness and growth, it will additionally provide positive environmental and sustainability improvements following the berth expansion.

“The new berth will increase vessel discharging speeds and enable enhanced cargo handling capabilities,” he said.

“Nectar Group and NSBT are fully committed to supporting and promoting new technologies and sustainability within shipping and port management, as we jointly drive innovation and future development to Freetown, Sierra Leone. This 3rd berth expansion programme promotes the country’s aims and vision to advance the local economy into a major logistical hub for imports and exports in West Africa.”

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TNPA to invest R16.1 billion in Western Cape ports over seven years

Port of Cape Town, R5.5 billion investment over seven years in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of Cape Town, R5.5 billion investment over seven years    Picture Transnet

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) says it is strategically repositioning its Western Region ports to efficiently facilitate trade enabled by a seven-year R16.1 billion capital investment programme for infrastructure development at the ports of Mossel Bay, Saldanha and Cape Town.

This was unveiled at a meeting held in Cape Town last Thursday.

Africa Ports & Ships was unable to participate via a the virtual facilities due to not being  provided with an internet link, hence the following report  and comment is unedited as received afterwards from TNPA.

The Western Region’s capital investment programme has an allocation of R2.2b to the Port of Mossel Bay, R8.4b to Saldanha and R5.5b to Cape Town over a seven-year period.

“Our capital investment plan demonstrates our commitment to the operationalization of our Reimagined TNPA operating model that was launched in 2021. We are intentional about prioritising capital projects that will create future capacity whilst not neglecting the immediate needs required to enhance port efficiencies.” said TNPA Managing Executive for the Western Region, Advocate Phyllis Difeto.

Zooming into the current financial year – 2022/23, TNPA boasts a capital investment programme of R452 million in the Western Region ports.

Port of Mossel Bay, R2.2 billion investment over seven years, in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of Mossel Bay, R2.2 billion investment over seven years    Picture Transnet

Mossel Bay

At the Port of Mossel Bay some of the key capital projects include the slipway facility refurbishment and Quay 3 sheet pilling. These key projects form part of the Port of Mossel Bay’s R10.2m port infrastructure development plan for 2022/23. Projects that are spread across the seven-year period include the deepening of the port and Quay 4 as well as breakwater extension.

Port of Saldanha Bay, R8.4 billion investment over seven years, in Africa Ports & Ships
Port of Saldanha Bay, R8.4 billion investment over seven years    Picture Transnet

Saldanha Bay

The implementation of capital projects planned for the Port of Saldanha for 2022/23 is already underway, which includes the acquisition of a tugboat, installation of perimeter fencing and provision of bulk power. These will derive capital expenditure of R182m for the port in 2022/23. The broader seven-year programme includes the extension of Berth 205, berth construction of the ore expansion phase 2 as well as the refurbishment of the main breakwater and causeway rock revetment.

Cape Town

In the current financial year 2022/23 the Port of Cape Town will see the delivery of a robust R260m capital programme, comprising the procurement of a helicopter and the replacement of two tugboats. Phase 2 of the Cape Town Container Terminal expansion and the acquisition of ten dry dock cranes form part of the port’s seven-year programme.

Difeto said that she is confident that the realisation of the port infrastructure and superstructure development plans will translate into the desired port efficiencies, which is one of the major priorities for the Western Region ports.

The TNPA Reimagined Operating Model places emphasis on accelerating the execution of capital projects on time and within budget.

“As we sharpen our focus on capital investment deliverables, we acknowledge the historical under expenditure. It is for this reason that we have adopted a fresh approach to project execution, an approach that ensures all hands on deck from the project sponsors, engineers and support teams through participation in CAPEX War Rooms,” said Thecla Mneney, TNPA General Manager: Infrastructure.

According to Mneney, TNPA is continuously creating an enabling and performance-driven environment that unlocks bottlenecks and accelerates the execution of strategic projects through the establishment of regional and national capital investment war rooms designed to enable the project teams. This approach will ensure that TNPA delivers on its capital investment commitments in the Western Region.

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IMO combating maritime security threats: Western Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden

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

Signatory States to the revised Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area, known as the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017 (DCoC), have agreed a raft of measures to combat new and emerging threats to maritime security. This was reported by the IMO media service on 4 July.

This high-level meeting, held in Dubai from 28 to 30 June, acknowledged that maritime threats have evolved and expanded beyond piracy into other challenges that have a damaging effect on the economies of the Signatory States.

The meeting adopted four resolutions aimed at strengthening measures to meet the new challenges. These include measures to develop a robust regional information sharing network; better coordination of capacity building through strengthening of relations of international partners through the Friends of the DCoC forum; measures to boost the DCoC Trust Fund; and to develop mutually beneficial relationships with international organisations and coalitions with a common vision to enhance maritime security in the region.

In the words of the European Union Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Andrea Matteo Fontana: “The response to all these challenges and the promotion of maritime security, cannot be achieved by one country or organisation alone. The efforts must be collective and multinational.”

Co-chair HE Mrs Mariam Aweis Jama, Somalia Minister for Ports and Marine Transport, commented: “Under the Jeddah Amendment, the region has now come up with very good initiatives for what we can consider as regional solutions for regional problems. The Jeddah Amendment also offers a very good framework for such cooperation.”

The high-level Dubai meeting was launched by the UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, HE Suhail Mohammed Almazrouei, the Chairman of the DCoC Steering Committee, General Mohammed bin Addullah Al-Shehri, and the EU Ambassador to UAE, Andrea Matteo Fontana. IMO Secretary-General Mr. Kitack Lim conveyed his message via video.

Seychelles Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine, Mr Alan Renaud was the other co-chair and the meeting was attended by more than 70 participants representing 15 signatory States, international donors, other regional organizations and implementing partners. The meeting was jointly organised by IMO and the United Arab Emirates, with financial and in-kind contributions from the European Union through the CRIMARIO* project and the United Arab Emirates.

* CRIMARIO, Critical Maritime Routes Indo-Pacific: The European Union (EU)’s maritime capacity building initiative established between 2015 to 2019, contributed to enhancing Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through information sharing, capacity building and training, in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). This was achieved through the development of the IORIS platform, a maritime coordination and communications tool for the region, coupled to extensive training programmes on maritime data processing.

Since CRIMARIO I was a success, the EU decided to extend the project’s geographical reach with the ambition of inter-connecting the Indo-Pacific through CRIMARIO II (2020-2024), also implementing law enforcement capacity building activities. This supports the EU’s recently promulgated Indo-Pacific strategy where the Union is underlining its role as a global maritime security provider, to promote an open and rules-based regional maritime architecture.

CRIMARIO II is a four-year EU funded project, with a budget of €7.5 million (May 2020-April 2024), and implemented by Expertise France. SEE HERE for more.

Paul idgway, London in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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Poor ole King Cole, still down in South Africa’s dumps

The giant Richards Bay Coal Terminal capable yet now incapable through no fault of their own in Africa Ports & Ships
The giant Richards Bay Coal Terminal capable yet now incapable through no fault of their own    Picture Transnet

At a time when South African coal miners are tearing their hair out in frustration over difficulties in getting coal exports to the port at Richards Bay, Australia’s national economy is receiving a welcome boost as its trade surplus shoots to a record level in May.

Coal is Australia’s key export earning US$43.9 billion last year. Coal ranks at number 4 in South Africa where it is one of the country’s key exports, worth US$6.08 billion in 2021.

Australian coal exports increased by 20% in the period to May, with exports mainly to China along with other ores, helping to prop up Australia’s economic growth for the second quarter.

In South Africa, as already reported in these columns, Transnet has lifted force majeure over coal exports for certain mining groups, provided they signed a new service agreement involving new prices among other conditions. CLICK HERE to see our report of this, ‘Transnet lifts force majeure for those coal exporters who have signed a Deed of Amendment’.

Several other mines have yet to indicate whether they intend signing.

It’s tough when you are asked to pay more than a contracted price agreed by both parties, especially when there are several years to run in the contract.

But signing an agreement over tariffs will not guarantee that coal miners will be able to rail their product timeously to the export port at Richards Bay, or even to Maputo for that matter. Many problems continue to exist with the state-owned railway, including a shortage of working locomotives and problems with maintenance of the basic infrastructure along what was until recently the world’s leading heavy-haul railway.

How was it allowed to get to that state?

Transnet has acknowledged its “inability to perform services at its stated system capacity.”

In 2021 coal exports decreased to 58.7 million tonnes, its worst performance in the past 25 years. The terminal at Richards Bay, which is operated by a group of miners and not by Transnet, was anticipating exporting 77 million tonnes for the year.

It’s little wonder that company’s like Exxaro Resources are angry. These disappointments are continuing at a time when coal prices have been soaring internationally as a result of the global demand for energy amidst certain shortages. A report in Miningmx quoted RMB Morgan Stanley as saying “the country would lose about R15bn in tax take given the improvement of the thermal coal price offset by the declining rail volumes.”

Miningmx also quoted Peregrine Capital executive chairman, David Fraser, as saying that “a lack of locomotive investment was the tip of the iceberg at Transnet,” adding that based on anecdotal evidence the company was using antiquated planning systems while on the ground management was falling short with drivers not turning up for shifts and thefts occurring during daytime as security was only at night.

“We potentially need to get someone [from] inside Transnet to actually give us the truth and actually give us some attribution as to … how … these volume losses … are coming,” Faser is quoted by Miningmx.

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South32 acquisition gives it a 63.7% share in Maputo’s Mozal Aluminium

Mozal Aluminium Plant in Matola, Mozambique, in Africa Ports & Ships
Mozal Aluminium Plant in Matola, Mozambique    Mozal Aluminium

Australia’s South32 has confirmed it has purchased an additional 16.6% of Mozal Aluminium in Maputo (Matola) from MCA Metals Holding GmbH.

The acquisition gives South32 a 63.7% share of Mozal, providing an equity share of a 281,000 tonnes production for this year and 370,000 tonnes for 2023 fiscal year.

The purchase of the additional 16.6% came at a price of about US$ 200 million.

“Our acquisition of an additional interest in Mozal Aluminium is another major milestone and comes 22 years following the commissioning of the hydro-powered smelter,” said Graham Kerr, South32 chief executive officer.

“It further integrates our position along the aluminium value chain with the smelter a major customer of our Worsley Alumina refinery. We are continuing to increase our exposure to metals important to a low carbon future.”

Kerr said South32 was on track to grow its annualised equity share of green aluminium production by more than 100% before the end of the fiscal year 2023, which will take the Group’s total aluminium production next year to 1,230,000 tonnes.

He called the Mozal share purchase “momentous for South32”.

South32, a spin-off of BHP Billiton, operates mines in Australia, South Africa and South America.

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IMO and strengthening of port security in Tunisia

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

Strengthening port security was the focus of a workshop held in Hammamet, Tunisia from 4 to 8 July.

It is understood that thirty-six participants from Tunisia’s Ministry of Transport, Port Authority, stevedoring companies, and other entities directly involved in port security attended to develop ways in which to collaborate and cooperate at the national level with a view to enhancing implementation and compliance with international requirements. This was reported by the IMO media service.

Key issues under discussion were implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) for Designated Authorities (DA) and Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs).

Participants went on to enhance their ability to effectively perform their duties in accordance with the relevant provisions of IMO’s maritime security measures, including SOLAS Chapter XI-2, the ISPS Code, the IMO/ILO Code of Practice on Security in Ports, and related guidance.

Oversight roles and responsibilities of the DA responsible for implementing the ISPS Code were also covered during the workshop, which was organised by IMO and the UK Department for Transport (DfT).

Paul idgway, London in Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway

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South African citrus exports lagging as new challenges surface

Reefer Cool Eagle alongside the Durban FPT terminal loading citrus in May 2021. Picture by Ken Malcolm in Africa Ports & Ships
Reefer Cool Eagle alongside the Durban FPT terminal loading citrus in May 2021. Picture by Ken Malcolm

At the halfway point in this year’s citrus season, South African exports of citrus are lagging behind what was achieved in 2021, according to reports.

At the midway point the country has exported 62 million cartons (15kg) compared with 67 million the year before. In 2020 the number was 70 million.

Total expected exports for this year stands at 166.8 million cartons, compared with the 161 million exported in 2021, which suggests a busy second half of the season.

With slow fruit ripening costing several weeks, hence the shortfall in the first half, this means that over a hundred million cartons will need to be packed and shipped in the remaining 14 or 15 weeks weeks remaining.

Much of this will be exported through the port of Durban, adding strain on a fractured road and rail corridor and added pressure on Durban cold storage steri facilities which are running at full capacity currently.

“Draconian, vicious and unethical” EU protocol

Meanwhile there is growing consternation and anger at a EU protocol introduced at the urging of Spain that threatens maximum disruption to further exports of South Africa oranges.

This relates to the coddling moth debate and a new requirement that oranges destined for Europe must now be precooled and shipped under prescribed temperatures.

Most of South African oranges, some 60%, are grown in the Limpopo province where they have been loaded at ambient temperature for Europe. Of South Africa’s total orange crop, 40% is exported to Europe at a time which is counter-seasonal to Europe’s own production, of which Spain is the biggest producer.

After mid October Europe’s production is protected by tariffs against South African citrus.

citrus in SA in Africa Ports & Ships

Experts say the new European protocol, which came as a huge last-minute surprise, will have a huge and dramatic impact.

The immediate problem lies with questions of whether South Africa has the handling capacity to comply with the protocol. “No lead time to prepare, coming right in our peak weeks, and with the details communicated to us very late, leaving us no time to build capacity at cold stores,” says Charles Rossouw, owner of Roslé Citrus in Limpopo’s Senwes area.

Rossouw said that fruit will lie in cold rooms for a week longer at a time when cold rooms are already under massive pressure and completely full. He said bottlenecks will develop and some farmers won’t be able to get all of their fruit to the harbour. Calling it a draconian protocol, he said it was vicious to dump it on South Africa in the midst of its peak weeks.

“It’s 100% certain some farms will go out of business”

According to one KZN cold store manager, politicians had highjacked the debate from scientists who had initially rejected the same amendments to the protocol.

The Citrus Growers’ Association has described how from the moment the Spanish government involved itself in the decision-making process, the new protocol was rushed through and adopted in a single day. source: FreshPlaza

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Deal or no deal – CGA chief executive speaks out on EU’s latest citrus move

Reefer Aconcagua Bay, a regular caller at South Africa ports. Picture: Fleetmon, in Africa Ports & Ships
Reefer Aconcagua Bay, a regular caller at South Africa ports. Picture: Fleetmon

The Citrus Growers Association (CGA) chief executive Justin Chadwick has spoken out on the controversy surrounding the European Union’s latest move of changing the rules applying to the FCM Management System (False Coddling Moth) adopted by South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.

FCM was applied some four years ago (when FCM was declared a regulated pest) and has since been applauded by leading scientists around the world, says Chadwick in his recent Newsletter to the industry.

Justin Chadwick, chief executive of Citrus Growers Association in Africa Ports & Ships
Justin Chadwick, chief executive of Citrus Growers Association

“One of the reasons why the FMS gets this recognition is that the system categorises product into different risk categories, and then mitigates the risk appropriately,” says Chadwick.

“As is the case in any new system – the FMS is revised each year in line with any perceived weaknesses or opportunities; in the case of the FMS it has been extremely effective (with decreasing interceptions year on year).

“In November 2021, after reviewing the few reported interceptions, the FMS was further strengthened through changes to preharvest monitoring to improve phytosanitary categorisation of the fruit, and changes to certain post-harvest cold handling requirements to appropriately align with the phytosanitary category of each consignment of fruit. This is all based on scientific efficacy data.

EU’s DG SANTE & Green Deal

“It seems that EU’s DG SANTE does not grasp the concept of a systems approach – with no regard for the effectiveness of the FMS by then tampering with one element of the system. You now have a blanket shipping time-temperature requirement, regardless of the measured phytosanitary status of the fruit.

“At the same time, the EU is rolling out the EU Green Deal. Amongst the EU Green Deal’s ambitious goals are to increase organic production, decrease energy consumption, decrease waste and decrease use of plant protection products.

“Although this is a domestic policy, it is likely that imported products will also need to comply with these goals. Growers in South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe support the goals of the EU Green Deal. Then along comes DG SANTE, and in clear policy disjuncture imposes new measures that will result in exactly the opposite.

oranges in Africa Ports & Ships

“The infant organic orange sector in southern Africa will find it very difficult, if not impossible to comply. In the past three years there have been zero (nil, nothing, nada) interceptions for FCM in organic consignments – the FMS would have catered for organics as a low risk product; the illogical, technically flawed, disproportionate, unnecessary EU measure now requires a blanket approach that will go against the objectives of the Green Deal.

“The FMS has different shipping temperature regimes dependent on phytosanitary status of the fruit. The new EU measure now requires a blanket approach with pre-cooling, which will significantly increase the energy usage of all consignments. In addition, the clairvoyant/social media approach to notify southern African plant health authorities of implementation (and the impossible dates set) means that there is a risk that hundreds of containers could be held up at EU borders as the authorities try to make sense of a senseless rule.

“Indeed, this is why measures are not introduced in the middle of a season (unless an emergency exists) – it is to try and reduce the likelihood of confusion and mayhem. Such was the urgency to protect domestic production interests that these principles were abandoned.

Biological controls

“Southern African growers have adopted biological controls as part of the systems approach (sterile insect technology and virus treatments to name two). The use of these biological solutions assists in getting the product into the lower risk brackets, meaning less use of plant protection products and more energy efficient cold handling requirements.

“The use of these biological solutions does come at a higher cost. By subjecting all oranges to the same shipping temperature the benefit of using these more costly biological solutions is undermined – once again in direct conflict with the goals of the Green Deal.

“Deal or no deal? If the EU continues to impose technically flawed, unnecessary, disproportionate and uncoordinated requirements that are clearly protectionist then southern African growers will be forced to say – ‘no deal’, said Chadwick”

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