Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 10 February 2023

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Walrus Ace, Picture by Keith Betts
Walrus Ace, Picture by Keith Betts

The car carrier WALRUS ACE (IMO 9777826) which called at Durban on 3 February 2023. The 200 metre x 32m vessel was built in 2018 and is operated by MOL.

The ship’s vehicle carrying capacity is an impressive 6,700 units. The ship is flagged in Panama.

Pictures by Keith Betts

Take a virtual tour of the Walrus Ace, courtesy of YouTube and crewman Errol Caval [16:24]


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Maersk to recruit South African cadets for its global fleet

Maersk to recruit South African seafarers for its international fleet.  Picture: Maersk

has announced that, with the aim of diversifying its crew sourcing destinations, it will begin recruiting Cadets from South Africa starting this year.

This follows an extensive review process, during which South Africa has been identified as a high potential crew sourcing destination for the A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) fleet, which comprises 280 fully-owned and operated container vessels, employing 12,500 seafarers.

South African Cadets from the National Seafarer Development Program will be considered for placement with Maersk, and it is expected that the first cadets will be joining Maersk vessels from Q2 2023.

Niels Bruus

“The importance of having geographically diverse pools of seafarers was highlighted during the Pandemic,” said Niels Bruus, Head of Marine HR, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

“South Africa is a natural choice due to its maritime legacy and the number of high-quality South African seafarers currently employed in Maersk’s global container vessel fleet many of whom hold senior positions in our crews,” he said.

South Africa is considered a high potential crew sourcing area for several reasons: the country’s proven track record in providing quality ships Officers, its favourable geographical location, the existing maritime infrastructure, vast population, and English language capabilities.

South Africa’s socio-demographic profile and living cost index also lends itself to offshore employment.

The South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) was established in 2003 in Simons Town by the A.P. Moller- Maersk Foundation. SAMTRA offers a range of simulation-based skills development courses and will manage the Maersk South Africa Cadet Program.

SAMTRA is a leading provider of talent for the South African National Seafarer Development Program (NSDP), a programme sponsored by the South African Government via the National Skills Fund and the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI).

The STS Lawhill Maritime Centre offers three specialist maritime subjects (Nautical Science, Maritime Economics and Marine Science), as well as boarding facilities for the grade 10-12 learners. Maersk has been an anchor Page 02/02 sponsor at Lawhill over the last 28 years and through the strong foundation provided, this institution is a natural feeder to the SAMTRA Cadet Programs

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WHARF TALK: d’Amico Shipping’s MR2 products tanker – HIGH DISCOVERY

MR2 products tanker High Discovery in the tanker basin of Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Very often, as has been seen on many tankers that arrive in South African ports, the identity of the nominal shipowner doesn’t make sense, insofar as the so-called owning company does not have a link with the flag of convenience that is being flown and, sometimes, neither do they look sensible, as the given name of the owning company appears to be a random set of letters and numbers. The picture is not always clear.

In most cases, this is merely because the shipowner is not always a shipowner in the accepted sense of the word, but rather a major bank, or a financial leasing company. In some cases it is simply another lesser known shipowner, who specialise in sale and leaseback arrangements, or long bareboat charters, to the real owner. It is the usually the vessel operator, and/or the vessel manager, that is accepted as the real owner of the vessel.

On 5th February at 17h00, the MR2 products tanker HIGH DISCOVERY (IMO 9674725) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Durban, and went to anchor overnight. The next morning at 09h00 on 6th January she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and went alongside the her berth in the Tanker Basin to begin her products discharge.

High Discovery, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Whilst her previous port of departure was given as Durban, this was not where her current voyage had originated. She had loaded for the South African coast, at the Westport Oil Terminal, located at Port Klang in Malaysia. Her voyage took her first to Durban, where she had arrived on 1st February at 08h00, immediately proceeding into Durban harbour down the Bluff Channel to start her discharge at Island View 2. Her parcel discharge was complete just over 36 hours later, and she sailed for Cape Town at 23h00 on 2nd February.

Built in 2014 by the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard at Ulsan in South Korea, ‘High Discovery’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,990 tons. She is powered by a single Hyundai MAN-B&W 6G50ME-B9 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 9,762 bhp (7,180 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

High Discovery, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is one of two sisterships, and has 12 cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 51,432 m3. She is able to carry 7 grades of product at any one time, and she has no fewer than 12 cargo pumps, each capable of discharging at a rate of 600 m3/hour.

Whilst nominally, and jointly, owned by Hinode Kaiun KK, of Hiroshima in Japan, and Sunmarine Maritime SA, of Panama, ‘High Discovery’ is effectively owned by d’Amico International Shipping SA, of Luxembourg. She is operated by d’Amico Tankers DAC, of Dublin in Ireland, and managed by d’Amico Societa di Navigazione SpA, of Rome in Italy. The d’Amico name is emblazoned across her hull, and the d’Amico houseflag is proudly adorned on her funnel.

In an unusual launching ceremony at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, ‘High Discovery’ was part of a simultaneous launch of four tankers, all at the same time, and all for d’Amico International Shipping SA. She was launched together with her MR2 sistership ‘High Freedom’, and two other smaller d’Amico MR1, 40,000 dwt, eco-tankers.

High Discovery, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat

The historical convoluted ownership of ‘High Discovery’ started with her being wholly owned by d’Amico Tankers DAC, of Dublin. In July 2017, her owners signed a memorandum of agreement, together with a bareboat charter contract, for the sale of ‘High Discovery’ for a consideration sum of US$28 million (ZAR497.56 million). The contract called for the immediate leaseback of ‘High Discovery’ from her new, then undisclosed, Japanese owners. The new nominal owners were later identified as being Shinomiya Tanker Co., of Tokushima in Japan, who registered her as owned by a company called STK Line SA, of Panama.

Then in July 2022, something similar occurred again with her ownership. d’Amico Tankers DAC announced that they had reached a refinancing agreement, with an undisclosed Japanese company, for ‘High Discovery’, who turned out to be Hinode Kaiun KK. d’Amico Tankers DAC had opted to take ‘High Discovery’ out of her existing bareboat charter for a consideration sum of US$20.3 million (ZAR360.73 million), and refinance her with a new 10 year leaseback. The refinancing deal comes with a purchase obligation at the end of the charter, or a purchase option after two years of the new charter.

High Discovery, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In her 9 year career to date, ‘High Discovery’ has undertaken no less than 26 Port State Inspections, the last one of which took place at Apapa, in Nigeria, in December 2022. On this occasion no findings were recorded. In fact, in all 26 inspections, ‘High Discovery’ has only had three minor deficiencies recorded against her, with no detentions, which shows the high standards to which she is maintained by the d’Amico Group. She has had two further inspections during calls to African ports with one at Dakar, in Senegal, in December 2021, and another at Apapa in July 2019.

Her loading port of Port Klang in Malaysia, is better known as a major container port, but it also has two oil terminals within the port limits. The Northport Oil Terminal is mainly for the export of Palm Oil, for which Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of this vegetable oil. The Westport Oil Terminal is split into three separate terminals, one of which is a new LPG terminal with one berth.

High Discovery, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The other two terminals share five berths, with one being managed by Shell, and the other being managed by Stolt-Nielsen. Located at 02°58’ North 101°19’ East, the terminals have over 100 storage tanks, holding various products including chemicals, oleochemicals, vegetable oils, bitumen, and petroleum products. The Port Klang authority advertises that the average turnaround of a products tanker, at the Westport Terminal, is 1.3 days, or around 32 hours.

As statistics show, such an impressive turnaround time is, sadly, one that cannot be achieved in Cape Town harbour, and would possibly be hard pressed to achieve at any South African port, when it comes to a turnaround for any fully laden tanker. That said, for a partially laden tanker, ‘High Discovery’ was discharged by 18h00 on 8th February. She sailed shortly thereafter, with her destination set for Lomé in Togo, presumably for the anchorage at that port, to await orders.

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Mossel Bay port plans removal of asbestos in buildings

Port of Mossel Bay aerial view   Picture: Transnet


Transnet National Ports Authority at the Port of Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape is planning to complete Phase 2 of a programme aimed at removing asbestos materials identified in certain harbour buildings.

The programme will be completed by the end of May and follows Phase 1 which in 2017 targeted the port’s Long Shed and the Lean-to-Roof canopy.

Phase 2, which commenced on 1 June 2022 and is intended to be complete by 31 May 2023, targets the Electrical Workshop, Messroom, Ablution Facilities, Offices and Biblia.

The programme is in compliance with the OHSA (Act 85 of 1993) and Asbestos Abatement Regulations of 2020.

Mess and ablution facilities at the port. Picture: TNPA

The overall programme is not only aimed at the removal and replacement of asbestos roof sheeting and rainwater goods but also the replacement of old wooden window and door frames with aluminium type frames, repainting surfaces, and the construction of
pavement around buildings.

Port Manager, Dineo Mazibuko, said management is confident that the elimination of health and safety risks posed by the existing asbestos materials from the port will significantly contribute to safe and asbestos-incident free environment.

He added that the Project Management team has also been tasked with ensuring that the removed asbestos waste is disposed at sites specifically designed for this purpose in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act, 1989 and the National Environment Management: Waste Act, 2008.

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Air cargo 2022 at near pre-pandemic levels: IATA’s Somalia accord

Edited by Paul Ridgway

From Geneva on 6 February the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that 2022 full-year demand for air cargo took a significant step back from 2021 levels but was close to 2019 performance.

It was reported that global full-year demand in 2022, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres (CTKs), was down 8.0% compared to 2021 (-8.2% for international operations). Compared to 2019, it was down 1.6% (both global and international).

With regard to capacity in 2022, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres (ACTKs), was 3.0% above 2021 (+4.5% for international operations). Compared to 2019 (pre-COVID) levels, capacity declined by 8.2% (-9.0% for international operations).

December saw a softening in performance: global demand was 15.3% below 2021 levels (-15.8% for international operations). Monthly cargo demand tracked below 2021 levels from March 2022. Global capacity was 2.2% below 2021 levels ( 0.5% for international operations). This was the tenth consecutive monthly contraction compared to 2021 performance.

2022 ended with mixed signals. Global new export orders, a leading indicator of cargo demand, have stayed at the same level since October. For major economies, new export orders are shrinking except in Germany, the US, and Japan, where they grew.

It was found that global goods trade decreased by 1.5% in November, down from a 3.4% increase in October.

As for the Consumer Price Index for G7 countries, this indicated inflation tracking at 6.8% for December. The 0.6 percentage point drop compared to November (7.4%) was the largest over the course of year. Inflation in producer (input) prices reduced to 12.7% in October, its lowest level so far in 2022.

To quote Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General: ‘In the face of significant political and economic uncertainties, air cargo performance declined compared to the extraordinary levels of 2021. That brought air cargo demand to1.6% below 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels. The continuing measures by key governments to fight inflation by cooling economies are expected to result in a further decline in cargo volumes in 2023 to -5.6% compared to 2019. It will, however, take time for these measures to bite into cargo rates. So, the good news for air cargo is that average yields and total revenue for 2023 should remain well above what they were pre-pandemic. That should provide some respite in what is likely to be a challenging trading environment in the year ahead.’

Ethiopian Airways Air Cargo 


The 2022 Air Cargo Market Analysis as a pdf can be inspected here:—december-2022/ IATA (International Air Transport Association) represents some 300 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic.

Total cargo traffic market share by region of carriers in terms of CTK is: Asia-Pacific 32.4%, Europe 21.9%, North America 28.0%, Middle East 13.0%, Latin America 2.7%, and Africa 2.0%.

On Africa

African airlines reported a decrease in demand of 1.4% for global and international demand in 2022 compared to 2021 and an increase in capacity of 0.3% (-0.2% for international operations).

Compared to 2019 (pre-Covid levels), demand was 8.3% above (+9.4% for international operations) and capacity was down 15.3% (-14.2% for international operations). In December, airlines in the region posted a 10.0% decrease in demand for both global and international operations compared to 2021. Capacity grew 1.3% (+0.2% for international operations) during the same period.

. . . . . . . o . . . . . . .


It was also announced on 6 February that IATA and the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia agreed to deepen and formalize cooperation with the aim of strengthening the economic and social benefits of aviation in Somalia. This was reported from Nairobi. Under an agreement signed by Kamil Alawadhi, IATA’s Regional Vice President, Africa and the Middle East, and HE Fardowsa Osman Egal, the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation, Federal Republic of Somalia, a new framework was established that will also see an expansion of IATA’s activities in the country.

It is understood that the agreement provides the framework to support IATA’s mission for aviation in Africa: the creation of a safe, efficient, sustainable, and economical air transport sector that generates growth, creates jobs, and facilitates international trade and tourism as well as playing an essential role in supporting the UN SDGs through generating connectivity between nations.

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Tanzania’s Port of Mtwara eyes increased container traffic

The Port of Mtwara and the then uncompleted second berth… Picture TPA

The port of Mtwara in southern Tanzania expects to see an increase in container transshipment traffic following infrastructure improvements at the port

The Port of Mtwara is close to the Mozambique border and opposite Tanzania’s offshore gasfield.

The infrastructure upgrade at the port included a second berth of 300 metres length and a depth alongside of 13 metres for ships of up to 65,000-dwt. The first berth measures 385 metres with a depth alongside of 9.8 metres and a limit on ships of up to 45,000dwt.

The first berth has three cargo yards with a total area of 38,000m2 including a container storage capacity of 4,350 TEUs.

Acting Port Manager, James Ng’wandu, the Tanzanian Ports Authority (TPA) has engaged in talks with French container shipping company, CMA CGM, which he says has expressed interest in including Mtwara in its port calls on the East African coast.

Ng’wandu is pretty positive about the outcome, saying he expects to see large container ships using the port to transfer or transship cargo for other destinations. He said the use of the port has increased since the upgrade programme.

He said the TPA will extend the permissible dwell time at the port with an empty container now allowed to stay at the port for 21 days as opposed to the previous 15 days allowed.

Containers with cargo can stay to a maximum of 14 days instead of seven, he said.

These are parts of several incentives that TPA is providing in order to increase the use of the Mtwara port. For example, wharfage charges have been reduced from 1% to 0.5% of CFA value.

Another incentive is that customers using the port receive a 30% reduction on stevedoring and shore handling charges.

The Port of Mtwara also provides a 24/7 service with the use of Harbour View electrical system, e-billing and payment system.

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Agility Report: Key African countries gain ground in 50-country Emerging Markets rankings

African Union regions

Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania move up amid improving Sub-Saharan competitiveness

Several key African economies improved their performance in an annual ranking that compares the domestic and international logistics, business conditions, and digital readiness of the world’s 50 leading emerging markets.

Kenya, Ghana and Tanzania improved their position from 2022 in the 14th annual Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index, which ranks emerging markets countries by factors that make them attractive to logistics providers, freight forwarders, air and ocean carriers, distributors and investors.

At No. 24, South Africa was the highest-ranking Sub-Saharan economy, ahead of Kenya (25), Ghana (29), Nigeria (34), Tanzania (37), Uganda (43), Ethiopia (45); Mozambique (46); and Angola (48).

Among countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria had the best domestic logistics, 11th among the 50 countries. South Africa’s international logistics network performed best on the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa’s best business fundamentals were in Ghana. Kenya, which has taken steps to nurture digital startups, was Africa’s most digitally ready economy.

“Digital readiness starts with mobile phone and internet access. It’s relatively cheap compared with the cost of massive port, airport, road and infrastructure projects,” said Tarek Sultan, Agility Vice Chairman and CEO. “It’s a way for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate growth and competitiveness.”

The Index includes a separate survey of 750 global supply chain industry professionals. In the survey, logistics executives were extremely upbeat about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA). They identified the biggest benefits as: job creation, especially for women; reduced red tape for trade; lower costs of doing business; and a move to production of higher-value products in Africa.

China and India, the world’s two largest countries, held their spots at No. 1 and 2 in the overall rankings. UAE, Malaysia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Thailand, Mexico and Vietnam rounded out the top 10. Turkey, No. 10 in 2022, dropped to 11th.

Arabian Gulf countries – UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman — again offered the best business conditions. Malaysia, with the 4th best environment for business, was the only non-Gulf country in the top 5.

China and India were tops for domestic and international logistics. India jumped four spots to No. 1 in digital readiness, followed by UAE, China, Malaysia and Qatar.

Farther down, there was more volatility in the rankings than in any prior year of the Index. Conflict, sanctions, political tumult, economic missteps and continued COVID fallout damaged the competitiveness of Ukraine, Iran, Russia, Colombia, Paraguay and others. Among countries leaping forward in certain categories: Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Sri Lanka and Ghana.

2023 Index Highlights


Net-Zero Commitment – 53% of logistics executives say their companies have committed to net-zero emissions, and another 6.1% say their businesses have achieved net-zero.

Climate Change – Half say climate change is a concern their businesses must plan for, while another 18% say it is already affecting them.

Emerging Markets – 55% say they will be more aggressive in emerging markets expansion and investing or leave their existing plans untouched despite fears of recession.

Digital Forwarding – Respondents say the biggest advantage is improved tracking and visibility; the biggest disadvantage is error/exception management, respondents say.

Ukraine – 97% indicate that their businesses have been hurt by higher costs or other supply chain challenges as a result of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

China – There is an even split between companies planning to reduce their reliance on Chinese sourcing and those planning to expand in China. But only 11% of respondents say their company’s manufacturing footprint is the same as before COVID.

Gulf Economies – Innovation, technology and good conditions for small businesses are seen as the most important factors in lessening Gulf countries’ reliance on oil and gas.


In the Middle East and North Africa, overall rankings were: UAE (3); Saudi Arabia (6); Qatar (7); Turkey (11); Oman (12); Bahrain (14); Kuwait (15); Jordan (16); Morocco (20); Egypt (21); Tunisia (32); Lebanon (33); Iran (36); Algeria (41); Libya (50).

Overall Index rankings in Asia: China (1); India (2); Malaysia (4); Indonesia (5); Thailand (8); Vietnam (10); Philippines (18); Kazakhstan (22); Pakistan (26); Sri Lanka (30); Bangladesh (35); Cambodia (38); Myanmar (49).

Rankings for Latin America: Mexico (9); Chile (13); Brazil (19); Uruguay (23); Peru (27); Colombia (28); Argentina (31); Ecuador (39); Paraguay (40); Bolivia (44); Venezuela (47).

In Europe: Russia (17); Ukraine (42).

Transport Intelligence (Ti), a leading analysis and research firm for the logistics industry, has compiled the Index since it was launched in 2009.

John Manners-Bell, Chief Executive of Ti, said: “It is not possible to overstate the challenges faced by emerging markets countries in the past couple of years. Geopolitical tensions have combined with financial uncertainty and the lingering effects of the pandemic to create an ever more complex business and investment environment. The role that the Agility Emerging Market Logistics Index plays in providing insight into this volatile, uncertain environment landscape is more critical than ever.”

2023 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index:

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WHARF TALK: first reefer of the season – CROWN SAPPHIRE

‘Our’ first reefer of the deciduous season out of the Cape Town port was Crown Sapphire, in port simply to drop off empty containers, but a welcome sight nonetheless. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

THE time of the year is fast approaching where the Cape soft fruit industry will be gearing up for harvesting, and exporting, of the fruits of their labour (no pun intended) around the world. In anticipation of the build-up of the crop, the need for reefer containers becomes paramount.

It is not unknown for a reefer vessel to arrive in a South African port and not load any fruit, but rather drop off a good number of empty reefer containers, to allow local exporters to begin preparations of the containers for the forthcoming fruit.

On 6th February, at 18h00 in the early evening, the reefer CROWN SAPPHIRE (IMO 9159115) arrived off the Table Bay anchorage, from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, although her current voyage began in Saint Petersburg in Russia back in late December. She went to anchor for the night, finally entering Cape Town harbour at 11h00 on 7th February, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside at A berth, which is an unusual place for a reefer to tie up, as this is usually, but not always, reserved for container vessel working at the FPT.

Crown Sapphire, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her passage into Cape Town harbour had a moment of drama for the casual observer. Normal activity for any vessel entering the harbour is for one tug to take up station ahead with tow line attached, and one to take up station astern, also with tow line attached. This happens as the vessel passes the harbour outer breakwater. Under normal circumstance, both tugs just gently run slightly ahead, and astern, of the inbound vessel. That is what normally happens as a vessel enters port, but not today.

Just as ‘Crown Sapphire’ approached the inner breakwater into the Duncan Dock, it appeared that, for the Harbour Pilot, she was getting a lot closer to the breakwater on her starboard side than was comfortable, as all of a sudden both tugs started a clear pull to port at the same time, bringing ‘Crown Sapphire’ back into the centre of the channel. As they say, ‘a miss is as good as a mile’.

Crown Sapphire, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 1997 by Iwagi Zosen Shipbuilding at Kamijima in Japan, ‘Crown Sapphire’ is 152 metres in length and has a deadweight of 10,334 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsubishi 6UEC60LSII 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 16,204 bhp (11,920 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 21 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Yanmar 6N260L-EN generators providing 1,324 kW each, two Yanmar M200L-EN generators providing 480 kW each, and a single Deutz F6L920 emergency generator providing 88 kW. She has a single Miura exhaust gas boiler, and a single Miura upright oil fired auxiliary boiler.

Crown Sapphire, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat

She has four holds, with a refrigerated space volume of 15,684 m3, which provides an area of 6,231 m2, or 547,546 ft2. Her container carrying capacity is 268 TEU, with deck plugs provided for 70 reefers. Her holds are served by four cranes, two of which have a lifting capacity of 35 tons for container work, and two smaller cranes with a lifting capacity of 8 tons for pallet work.

One of six sisterships, ‘Crown Sapphire’ is nominally owned by Zetland Advisor Incorporated, and operated by Cool Carriers AB, of Stockholm in Sweden. She is managed by Öst-West-Handel und Schiffahrt GmbH, of Bremen in Germany, whose houseflag she displays on her funnel.

Crown Sapphire, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In her long career, ‘Crown Sapphire’ has undergone no less than 80 Port State Inspections, with the last one taking place on 28th January, in Dar es Salaam, under the auspices of the Indian Ocean MoU. There were no findings on this inspection. Only one of the 80 inspections she has undertaken has resulted in a detention order.

The detention occurred back in February 2013, at Mersin in Turkey, when she was detained for one day, as a result of four deficiencies, with one of the deficiencies being considered sufficiently serious to merit a detention. This was based on a failure of onboard firefighting equipment. The inspection took place under the auspices of the Mediterranean MoU.

Crown Sapphire, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her stay in Cape Town was, for a reefer, relatively short, and her placing at A berth, the container berth at the FPT, started to make sense. It would appear that her call into Cape Town was a quick drop off of empty reefer containers, of which she carried a full deck load on arrival. At 20h00 in the evening of 7th February, after a call of just nine hours alongside, ‘Crown Sapphire’ sailed from Cape Town, bound for San Antonio Este, in Argentina.

The port of San Antonio Este is located in the southern Patagonian province of Rio Negro, and is located at 40°48’ South 064°52’ West. The port is made up of a single jetty with four berths, two of which are for loading of export fruit. The nearby Alto Valle region is the main producing area of Apples and Pears in Argentina.

Crown Sapphire, Cape Town, 6 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The Port has a total of 18 Cold Stores, providing an area capacity of 4,800 m2 for fruit reception prior to loading. There is also a further storage area of 25,000 m2 provided, which includes warehousing for the preparation and storage of reefer containers and fruit pallets. The Port Authority of San Antonio Este advertises a loading rate of 550 pallets, per gang, per 8 hour working shift. It would be interesting to know how that figure compares to the loading rate offered in the three South African fruit loading ports of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.

Back in March 2014, ‘Crown Sapphire’, then under the command of Captain Gurmit Wig, was on a voyage from San Antonio Este, to Wilmington in Delaware, USA, when the US Coast Guard requested her assistance to go to the rescue of a 33 foot yacht named ‘Bull’, with two crew aboard, who had sent out a distress call that they were taking on water in rough seas some 100 miles southwest of Bermuda.

Crown Sapphire approaching the stricken yacht, Bull.  March 2014

The yacht has been on a voyage from Florida to Bermuda, when her EPIRB was activated. The signal was picked up by the US Coast Guard, who also dispatched a C-130 Hercules SAR aircraft to the scene. Both sailors on the yacht were safely rescued by ‘Crown Sapphire’ which came alongside the yacht, despite 6 metre swells, and placed a cargo net down to the yacht, which allowed the two sailors to scramble up to the deck of ‘Crown Sapphire’. Both were uninjured in their ordeal, and they were both safely landed in Wilmington.

The rescue, and the circumstances of its successful completion in treacherous weather conditions, resulted in Captain Wig being the recipient of the US Coast Guard AMVER Assisted Rescue at Sea Award, which was presented at the Lloyds List Global Awards ceremony, held in London, on 30th September 2014.

Crown Sapphire alongside the yacht Bull, March 2014

The US Coast Guard (USCG) operates what is known as the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System, or AMVER for short. It is a worldwide system, where vessels voluntarily send in their voyage plans to the USCG AMVER Centre in New York. The voyage plans contain relevant information about the vessel itself, and includes all course projections for the voyage. This enables the USCG to plot the position of all participating vessels, and allows for any nearby vessels to be quickly identified, and selected, to proceed to the scene of any maritime incident.

Today, over 22,000 vessels are voluntary participants in the AMVER system. An average of over 4,000 vessels are plotted each day by the USCG, and the AMVER Centre receives more than 14,000 messages relating to AMVER every single day. The system has saved almost 3,000 lives since 2000. When I sailed on S.A. Agulhas back in the 1980s, she was a participant in AMVER.

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MSC temporarily suspends rail service between Beira and Zimbabwe

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) says in an advisory that due to the “unreliability and irregularity of the rail service between Beira in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the Through Bill of Landing (TBL) rail service to/from Bulawayo, Harare and Mutare to/from Beira will be temporarily suspended with immediate effect.”

Meanwhile, to enable customers to continue place bookings with limited disruption to cargo flow to/from Zimbabwe, MSC says it has available its road solution.

“MSC regrets any inconvenience caused and will communicate again in due course when updated information is available,” the advisory says.

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CMA CGM adds new intermodal service to Cabinda Feeder through Pointe Noire

Cabinda Intermodal

French container line CMA CGM has added a new service to the existing Cabinda Feeder Service.

This, it says, will provide additional solutions to cargo imports/exports to Cabinda in Angola.

The new service for cargo bound for Cabinda will be via Pointe Noire in the Republic of Congo.

“In complement to the current Cabinda Feeder service with a frequency of one departure every 11 days ex Pointe Noire, Congo, CMA CGM is proud to announce that we are offering a new solution for cargo bound for Cabinda via Pointe Noire with a very short transit time of 1 day.”

Thew new service became effective from February 2023.

This land transportation offering for cargo import from worldwide origins to Cabinda in Angola, using the gateway of Pointe Noire, is available on on CMA CGM Africa Lines core services ASAF, EURAF Lines and MIDAS.

Transit time to Cabinda from Shanghai in 38 days, Lisbon in 16 days, Antwerp in 21 days, Gebze in 37 days, Nhava Sheva in 22 days and Montreal in 40 days.

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Added 9 February 2023


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Transnet Port Terminal on the way back, says its steady recovery is continuing

Maydon Wharf, where TPT has several terminals. Picture is by Chris Hoare /

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) reports that it continues to see a steady improvement in operations supporting the mining industry, and following the floods and industrial action which adversely impacted operations last year.

The improvement is starting to reach, and in some instances exceed, the pre-COVID numbers of the financial year that ended in 2018, which was the best-performing year, the port terminal operator claims.

TPT operates with 16 port and 3 inland terminals and is the largest terminal operator in South Africa. As its name suggests, Transnet Port Terminals is a division within Transnet SOC Ltd.

TPT has handled 257% more coal and 20% more manganese this financial year compared to the 2017/18 financial year. On a Year-on-Year basis, coal has grown by 160% and manganese by 4% (The financial year ends on 31 March 2023).

In addition, efficiencies in the handling rates for all bulk sector commodity segments, namely iron ore, manganese, chrome, magnetite and coal have improved, says TPT.

The resilience shown to date ushers in a new era for TPT to continue meeting customers’ needs, TPT states.

According to General Manager of Commercial and Planning at TPT, Michelle van Buren Schele, the TPT business has identified its key bulk commodity segments which include manganese, iron ore, magnetite, chrome, and coal.

“This is where we are focused on increasing volumes and efficiencies, with the intention to make our customers competitive,”van Buren Schele said.

She added that global demand required maximum use of existing capacity, a much–needed opportunity in a struggling regional economy.

Nevertheless, TPT acknowledges that there is still room for improvement and says it is working and collaborating with its customers and other stakeholders to improve its service offering.

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Added 9 February 2023


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mv Onda: Crew seize ship after Senegal shirks obligations

The general cargo ship Onda, which has been seized by its crew of 4 with the aid of the ITF. Picture: ITF

Edited by Paul Ridgway

ITF acts

Four seafarers, with assistance from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), have seized a cargo ship off the port of Dakar in Senegal after months without pay and mounting danger to their lives. This was reported by ITF from London on 6 February.

The four crew of the general cargo MV Onda (IMO 8912467) had been battling to have the engine of their vessel repaired. Port authorities have ignored their requests for help for more than a year.

Acting on behalf of the four crew, the ITF went to a Senegalese court to have the 2,650-dwt ship legally seized, as its continuing position near a busy shipping lane left crew and others vulnerable to collision at night, with no engine to power the vessel’s lights.

US$84,000+ owed in wages

It is understood that the vessel remains seized until the owners pay the more than US$84,000 owed in wages to the beleaguered crew. Seizing the vessel means the ship cannot be used by its owner until the debts are settled.

The ITF is also claiming costs from the owners as they left the ship at anchor for lengthy periods without providing adequate provisions for the crew, as a shipowner is obliged to under the Maritime Labour Convention and most seafarer contracts. The ITF has stepped in on several occasions to ensure the seafarers did not starve.

New owner

In its statement the ITF confirmed that Mr Nguetsop Pierre Robinson, of Cameroon, has presented himself to the crew as the new owner of the ship.

Crew were forced to endure months without a working engine and basic supplies of food. Pictured: a seafarer cooks his dinner by burning timber atop the rusty vessel, 2022. Picture: ITF

He has attempted to trick the crew into putting the vessel back into operation in exchange for empty promises that they will be paid at some point in the future. The crew have been advised that they stand very little chance of recovering what they are owned if they accept this kind of deal.

In late January, the lawyers of the owner made a new approach, upping their offer to get Onda under way. In trying to cut a deal with the Master of the vessel to get the vessel moving, they offered him a paltry US $33,000. Well short of the $55,000 in wages the captain is owed. With his consent, the ITF says it rejected this insulting offer on behalf of the captain.

Senegal violates international law

However, the crew find themselves in limbo because they cannot leave the ship to go home while the dispute continues and port authorities have refused help despite clear obligations under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006) which Senegal has ratified.

Authorities in Senegal refused to allow the ship into Dakar, claiming the port was too busy, and have persistently ignored requests from the ITF to intercede on behalf of the seafarers. In taking that approach, they are effectively violating the terms of the MLC which gives them a clear responsibility to protect seafarer welfare when neither owner nor flag State steps in. In this case, the owners allowed registration of the ship to lapse some time ago, meaning there is no flag State.

Video footage from French journalist Hugo Clement of TV Station France 5, who visited the ship in the last few weeks, shows it in an unsafe state of repair with dangerous control systems and unusable lifeboats. As the ITF reported last year, the ship is in a busy anchorage and has intermittently been left without lights at night putting the crew, and the crews of any ship that might collide with Onda, in peril.

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Added 9 February 2023


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Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov to call at Cape Town on Sunday   UPDATED WITH PROBABLE CORRECTION

The Russian Navy frigate, ADMIRAL GORSHKOV (454 but shown here with her old pennant number) is expected to call at the port of Cape Town.  Picture: Wikimedia Commons

UPDATE ** – Sometimes we are left to puzzle over the information we receive from our various sources, grateful as we are to be receiving these nevertheless. The information about the Russian Navy ships calling at Cape Town comes from the current Port of Cape Town Barchart and is/was presumed to be accurate.  

We have since noticed that the Durban port Barchart is now also showing the Russian frigate to be arriving in Durban on the same date – Sunday 12 February, for a three day visit and leaving (to take part in the naval exercise from the 17th) on 15 February.  As the two ports are over 800 miles apart, the ship/s obviously cannot be in both places at once, nor does it seem likely that the Russian vessels would spend a couple of days at Cape Town and then have to travel at high speed in order to reach the KZN coast by the start of the Mosi II exercise.

We are therefore assuming (fully aware of such attending risks) that the ships will in effect be calling at Durban and not Cape Town.

end of update./

The Russian Navy frigate, ADMIRAL GORSHKOV (454) is expected to call at the port of Cape Town on arrival off the southern coast of South Africa this coming Sunday (12 February). SEE ABOVE

The frigate, accompanied by the replenishment tanker KAMA, will be taking part in the joint naval exercises Mosi II with the Chinese and South African navies off the KZN coast later this month.

This coincides with South Africa’s annual Defence Forces Day which is held every February around the anniversary of the sinking off the English coast of the troopship ss Mendi in 2017, while carrying a large contingent of South African soldiers on board most of whom died in the sinking.

The naval ships of the three countries will engage in Exercise Mosi II and will base themselves from the port of Richards Bay.

The Chinese ships are thought to be a destroyer, a frigate and a supply vessel that were recently deployed on patrol in the Gulf of Aden.

Admiral Gorshkov firing a test Tsirkon hypersonic missile on 25 January in the North Atlantic. Picture: Russian Defence Ministry

The Russian frigate departed from Russia on 4 January and has engaged in exercises off the Norwegian coast and in the North Atlantic, which included a test firing of one of its Tsirkon hypersonic missiles on 25 January.

According to the captain of Admiral Gorshkov, Captain 1st Rank Igor Krokhmal, “Today a shipborne combat training exercise was held to practice delivering a missile strike against an enemy surface target. The Tsirkon hypersonic weapon was employed to a distance of over 900 km.”

It is understood that another test firing of this new weapon, capable of hypersonic speed and long range distances, will be performed during Mosi II.

Admiral Gorshkov was built at the Severnaya Verf Shipyard on Gutuevsky Island in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

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Added 8 February 2023


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WHARF TALK:  ocean going towing tug – ALP GUARD

The large ocean-going towing tug ALP Guard entering the port at Cape Town following a controversial tow involving the Brazilian aircraft carrier Sao Paulo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Whenever a large oceangoing towage vessel arrives in port, she is either popping for bunkers, and stores, whilst conducting a ‘run of the mill’ ocean tow of an oil and gas industry asset from one place to another, or heading off somewhere to collect a tow for similar reasons. In most cases, the tow recently relinquished is not newsworthy, and doesn’t make the local news. Every now and again, the tug’s last job creates an international outcry, albeit hyped up.

On 6th February at 09h00 in the morning, the large ocean towing vessel ALP GUARD (IMO 9398539) arrived off Cape Town, seemingly at the end of a voyage from Curacao in the Caribbean Sea, and entered Cape Town harbour, entering the Duncan Dock and going alongside the Repair Quay, which is a sign that more than just a call for bunkers and stores is the reason for her arrival.

ALP Guard in Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The question to be asked was where has ‘Alp Guard’ been for the last three months, as her AIS shows that she sailed from Caracas Bay, in Curacao, way back on 19th November 2022, some 80 days ago, and she has not cited any intermediate port calls in that period.

Built in 2009 by Mützenfeldtwerft Nord shipyard at Cuxhaven in Germany, ‘Alp Guard’ is 74 metres in length and has a deadweight of 3,545 tons. As expected for a large anchor handling and towage vessel, she is powered by no less than four MaK 9M32C 9 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 6,120 bhp (4,500 kW) each, driving two nozzled controllable pitch propellers for an emergency intervention speed of 16.7 knots, and a service speed of 11.8 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Caterpillar 3412 generators providing 500 kW each, and a Scania C9 emergency generator providing 226 kW. She has a single AWE 600 V23 exhaust gas boiler, and a single DWE 800 H46 oil fired boiler.

ALP Guard in Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

For added manoeuvrability ‘Alp Guard’ has two transverse bow thrusters providing 1,200 kW each, and a single transverse stern thruster providing 400 kW. Her thrusters, combined with her controllable pitch propellers, and two high performance Becker rudders, gives her a Dynamic Positioning classification of DP2.

Her impressive combined power of 24,480 bhp (18,000 kW) enables her to offer an equally impressive bollard pull of 285 tons. She has a large aft working deck providing an area of 355 m2, which allows for anchor handling. She is well equipped for ocean towage, and salvage work, as her towing winch set up includes two drums holding 1,600m x 83mm towing wire each, and a single towing winch holding 1,200 m x 83 mm of towing wire. She also has a spare storage reel holding 1,600 m x 76mm of towing wire.

ALP Guard in Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Nominally owned by Alp Guard BV of Rotterdam in Holland, ‘Alp Guard’ is both operated and managed by Alp Maritime Services BV, also of Rotterdam. She was built for Harms Bergung Transport and Heavylift GmbH of Hamburg, and originally named ‘Uranus’.

She is one of two sisterships, and both were sold to Alp Maritime Services BV in 2015. Her sistership, ‘Alp Centre’, is also currently in the Cape Town area, having completed a recent refit period at the Dormac facility in the Ben Schoeman Dock, followed by sea trials, and she is now out an anchor, and sitting in the Table Bay anchorage.

Designed by MAN Ferrostaal AG, of Essen in Germany, and Hitzler Werft, of Lauenberg in Germany, ‘Alp Guard’ has standard accommodation for a crew of 11 persons, mainly in single cabins, plus additional accommodation for 35 persons, plus a 2 bed hospital.

Grounded super containership Ever Given with tugs ALP Guard and ALP Guardian, Suez Canal, March 2021

Being one of the world’s most powerful ocean towing, as well as salvage vessels, has landed ‘Alp Guard’ with some very famous jobs. Few in the maritime industry can forget the global economic mayhem that was caused when, on 23rd March 2021, the fully laden container vessel ‘Ever Given’ ran aground in the Suez Canal. With a length of 400 metres, and a deadweight of 199,629 tons, and a fully laden container capacity of 20,124 TEU, ‘Ever Given’ was not going to be moved by any harbour tug that the Suez Canal authority could provide.

The famous Dutch international salvors, Smit, were called in and contracted ‘Alp Guard’ to assist with the removal of ‘Ever Given’. After six days, and the removal of 30,000 m2 of sand around the ‘Ever Given’, the important stern position was given to ‘Alp Guard’, and on 29th March 2021, success was achieved when, along with no fewer than 11 Suez Canal authority tugs, and one other powerful tug on her bow, ‘Ever Given’ was refloated, stern first, and ‘Alp Guard’ moved her slowly out of the way to allow the reopening of the Suez Canal.

In February 2022, ‘Alp Guard’ was called upon to go to the rescue of the pure car and truck carrier ‘Felicity Ace’, of Mitsui OSK Lines, which had caught fire, and was burning fiercely, out in the North Atlantic Ocean, when on a voyage from Germany, to the USA, with a cargo of 3,965 vehicles. Smit were once more called in to salvage the vessel, and ‘Alp Guard’ was once more called in to assist the towing of the stricken vessel.

Whilst the vessel was stabilised, the fire was extinguished, and a tow was established, ‘Felicity Ace’ sadly could not be saved, and sank on 1st March, off the Azores. Amongst her cargo, she went down with no less than 1,944 Audis, 1,117 Porsches, 561 VWs, 189 Bentleys and 85 Lamborghinis, collectively valued at US$401 million (ZAR7.09 billion).

Felicity Ace on fire in Atlantic, February 2022

However, her most famous, or infamous, towing contract was the one she had just relinquished. In August last year, sistership ‘Alp Centre’ was contracted to tow the derelict Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier ‘São Paulo A12’ from Rio de Janeiro to a Scrapyard at Aliaga in Turkey.

However, on arrival at the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, the Turkish Authorities refused to allow her entry to Turkish waters, due to the reported true amount of asbestos, paint, chemicals and other contaminants reported to be still on the vessel. It meant that ‘Sao Paulo’ had to be returned to Brazil.

However, on arrival, the Brazilian authorities now banned their own former warship from entering Rio de Janeiro, and ‘Alp Centre’ was ordered to take ‘São Paulo’ to the port of Suape, in the northern Brazilian province of Pernambuco. On arrival off Suape, she was again refused permission to enter the port, and held offshore. Shortly afterwards, ‘Alp Centre’ was released and made her way across to Cape Town, where she currently sits out at anchor.

In November, ‘Alp Guard’ was contracted to take over the tow of ‘São Paulo’ and keep her offshore. Then, on 19th January 2023, a decision was taken by the Brazilian authorities that shook the environmental world, and ‘Alp Guard’ was ordered by the Brazilian Navy to take ‘São Paulo’ out to a position just at the edge of the Brazilian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), around 200 nautical miles offshore, and in 5,000 metres depth of water, and wait there.

Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier São Paulo scuttled off Brazil coast, February 2023. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Rob Schleiffer 

On 26th January ‘Alp Guard’ relinquished her infamous tow, and she made her way to Cape Town. On 3th February, as no other country would take her, including Brazil itself, the Brazilian Navy deliberately scuttled ‘São Paulo’ and she sank, taking all her asbestos, toxins, and other hazardous waste, with her into the deep.

The Turkish authorities, and the major international environmental organisations, all criticised the decision to scuttle her, as it showed Brazilian indifference to oceanic pollution, and was a clear attempt to evade the responsibility of having of her disposed of properly. The Brazilian Navy said that the hull of ‘Sao Paulo’ already had three holes in it, and her sinking would have been inevitable, therefore this was the best option for her.

Despite all of this commercial activity by not only ‘Alp Guard’, and ‘Alp Centre’, but by all other ocean towing units of Alp Maritime Services , it was reported back in August 2022 that her parent company, Altera Infrastructure LP, had filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition, in the Texas Southern Bankruptcy Court, in Houston, for US Chapter 11 relief, and administration of all the Altera controlled companies, including Alp Guard BV.

Despite all this going on around her, ‘Alp Guard’ is now safely lying in Cape Town, along with her sister, and receiving the necessary maintenance interventions that she requires, plus taking on all the necessary spares, stores and bunkers she needs to move on to her next contract.

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Added 8 February 2023


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MSC enhances West Africa feeder service with call at Conakry

MSC’s West Africa Feeer Service now includes a call at Conakry

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is enhancing its West Africa feeder service to improve connectivity with its main economic partners, it said in an announcement.

With immediate effect the MSC Gulf of Guinea feeder service will call at Conakry in Guinea.

According to MSC, the service upgrade will have a significant advantage for cargo from Asia destinated to Guinea.

“Cargo now be directly shipped from Lomé on our Guinea Feeder instead of being shipped to Europe and then to Guinea,” MSC said.

The shipping company added that the combination of the existing Africa Express and the Gulf of Guinea Feeder solution will provide a fast and reliable offering to ship cargo from Asia to Guinea.

The new rotation is: Lomé – Freetown – Conakry – Monrovia – Takoradi – Lomé

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Added 8 February 2023


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South African citrus exports to Russia increase

Specialised reefer vessel Ceres Two sailing from Durban in August 2022 with deck cargo of reefer containers. Picture by Trevor Jones

The weekly missive from the pen of Justin Chadwick, Chief Executive Officer for the Citrus Growers Association (CGA), is always of interest and often relates to shipping and port information.

This week’s letter regarding the 2022 Season Review: Russia is of special interest because of the ongoing conflict in eastern Europe and the expected effect this is having on exports to that region, Russia in particular.

Justin Chadwick, CGA’S ceo

As Chadwick observes, the humanitarian impact and loss of life aside, the situation has been watched with concern from a southern Africa citrus growing perspective. You see, South Africa ordinarily exported between 8% and 10% of its annual crops to Russia.

However, Chadwick writes, the CGA representative in Russia, Mikhail Fateev, was of the opinion that the invasion of Ukraine would have little impact of southern Africa citrus exports to Russia – and so it has proved.

As it turned out, the total volume of citrus exports to Russia last year exceeded the previous three years’ volumes.

But, as Chadwick points out, “exporters to Russia will tell you that exporting to the country was very difficult.”

This related initially to sanctions impacting on trade flows and the cost of shipping to Russia which increased considerably, “resulting in poor returns to the grower from that market.”

As it turned out, most exports were subsequently shipped using specialised reefer vessels, with a vessel loading out of Durban every week and in most cases topping up at Port Elizabeth and Cape Town before heading north. source: CGA

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Added 8 February 2023


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TRADE NEWS: Mammoet & P&O Logistics transport prefab luxury villas to Red Sea resort

Picture: Mammoet and P&O Logistics

P&O Maritime Logistics, a leading provider of critical logistics and marine solutions, will use its versatile Multi Carrying Vessel (MCV) fleet to transport off-site manufactured pre-finished volumetric hotel villas to the Sheybarah Island Resort on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast.

P&O Maritime Logistics has signed a new contract with global heavy lifting and transport specialist Mammoet to transport the unique hotel villas, all the way from Hamriyah to the Sheybarah Island Resort.

The two companies are supporting Red Sea Global in its ambitious project, which champions regenerative tourism and sustainable development in the Kingdom.

The Sheybarah Island Resort is a cornerstone project and part of the Saudi 2030 vision and will consist of a total of 73 uniquely shaped and prefabricated villas, some of which will hover above the island’s diverse ecosystem.

Picture: Mammoet and P&O Logistics

The stainless-steel orbs were conceptualised by Oppenheim Architecture, based in Miami and designed by Killa Design, the same designers of Dubai’s Museum of the Future, promising a unique experience for guests when the resort opens. With mangroves, beaches and coral reefs, the resort will utilise the latest sustainable and eco-friendly technologies to preserve and enhance the local environment.

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

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Added 8 February 2023


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US Coast Guard & international partners investigating Antarctic marine casualties

Quark Expeditions cruise ship World Explorer   Picture Quark Expeditions

Edited by Paul Ridgway

On 2 February from Washington DC the US Coast Guard Activities Europe, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and international flag administrations reported that they are investigating marine casualties involving the death or injury of US citizens on foreign-flagged passenger vessels in Antarctic waters between 15 November and 1 December 2022.

These investigations include:

* Two US citizens died when an inflatable boat from the Portuguese-flagged passenger vessel, World Explorer, capsized with six passengers aboard near Elephant Island, Antarctica. Portugal is the lead investigative state, and the US Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation as a substantially interested state with NTSB support.

* A US citizen was injured when an inflatable boat from the Norwegian-flagged passenger vessel, Viking Polaris, sustained a keel-bladder failure near Damoy Point, Antarctica. Norway is the lead investigative state, and the US Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation as a substantially interested state with NTSB support.

* One US citizen died, and four others were injured when Viking Polaris was struck by a large wave in the Drake Passage while transiting to Ushuaia, Argentina. Norway is the lead investigative state, and the US Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation as a substantially interested state with NTSB support.

* A US citizen aboard the Netherlands-flagged passenger vessel Plancius died from an injury sustained aboard the vessel. The US Coast Guard is conducting a marine casualty investigation in coordination with officials from the Netherlands and the Falkland Islands.

Captain Gretchen Bailey, US Coast Guard Activities Europe commanding officer commented: “Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of those impacted by these tragedies.

“The safety of US passengers aboard ships throughout the globe is a priority for the US Coast Guard. We are proud to work alongside the NTSB and our international partners to investigate these incidents and make meaningful safety improvements for worldwide passenger vessel operations, especially in unique high-risk environments like the Antarctic.”

US is a substantially interested state

The United States will participate and assist in the World Explorer and Viking Polaris investigations as a substantially interested state in accordance with IMO protocols and Coast Guard policy. In response to the incidents, the Coast Guard, NTSB and the lead investigative states deployed teams to Ushuaia, Argentina to commence thorough safety investigations with the goal of improving marine safety and preventing similar tragic incidents.

If readers have any information about these incidents they are requested to contact

Similarly, readers are invited to contact US Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs at for any questions relating to the incidents or investigations.

To read the reports in Africa Ports & Ships involving the Viking Polaris and World Explorer incidents, CLICK HERE

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Added 8 February 2023


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Maritime Single Window SWiFT Project: Angola port moves ahead

all pictures: IMO


Edited by Paul Ridgway

The International Mariime Organization (IMO) continues to drive accelerated digitalization to strengthen facilitation of international maritime traffic. At the request of Angola, IMO fielded a mission to Lobito from 23 to 27 January to assess progress made in the implementation of the IMO-Singapore Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) Project.

The Angolan port is piloting the development of a Maritime Single Window (MSW) system to allow electronic submission, through a single online portal, of all information required by various Government agencies when a ship calls at the port.

The Port of Lobito Maritime Single Window is currently in its early stages of development. Prototypes are being developed. The Angolan team will then provide feedback so that improvements can be made as the MSW is developed and built. IMO has recruited an additional consultant to support ongoing work in the Port of Lobito. This news was reported by the excellent IMO news service on 3 February.

This mission was an opportunity to identify any matters that need to be addressed to ensure the SWiFT project is successfully completed and handed over to Lobito Port as planned in July this year. The system will be ready for use following a programme of training for Angolan personnel and will serve as a template for more ports in Africa in future, it is understood.

High level ministerial meetings were held in the Angolan capital, Luanda, including the National Trade Facilitation Committee which comprises the Angolan Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Transport, Industry and Commerce, and the National Maritime Agency (Agência Marítima Nacional (AMN)). The objective was to ascertain progress of the pilot project whilst supporting Angola in its efforts to ratify the FAL Convention*.

Lobito. Picture: IMO

Ports of Lobito and Luanda

The IMO team visited the Port of Lobito and the Port of Luanda in order to better understand work on the ground. Whilst there, the IMO team and Ms Rosa Sobrinho, CEO of AMN, met and briefed Mr Ricardo Viegas D’Abreu, the Honourable Minister of Transport of Angola, on the outcome of the mission.

IMO informed the Minister that it will discuss with Singapore the need to link the SWiFT project to the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA**) to assist in the efficient handling of all aspects of cargo and customs in the port.

Those already involved in the Lobito Port pilot project, in particular the CEO of the Maritime Administration, reaffirmed their strong commitment to fast-track the project to ensure its completion on time as well as its suitability for the specific needs of the Port of Lobito.

AMN, the agency of the Ministry of Transport, which is responsible for the port of Lobito, has now confirmed it will be directly involved in the implementation of the SWiFT project. IMO and AMN discussed training requirements, as well as a proposed trip by Angolan port personnel to Singapore to see the Maritime Single Window there in operation. Singapore will conduct further training on the operations of the SWiFT Project in the Port of Lobito before hand-over in July.

Port of Lobito, Angola. Picture: IMO

A generic and secure MSW

The SWiFT project was established to support medium-size ports to meet the requirements of the FAL Convention and facilitate interconnectivity between ports worldwide through the development of a generic and secure IMO-Maritime Single Window.

More information about the SWiFT project published in 2021 can be FOUND HERE

The initiative is one of IMO’s strategic partnerships with donors to support the mandatory requirements of the FAL Convention which will enter into force on 1 January 2024. This requires public authorities to establish a Maritime Single Window with provisions of electronic information exchange such that all information is submitted once and reused to the maximum extent possible.

Readers wishing to learn more about the Mandatory Maritime Single Window: One year to go, a symposium held recently at IMO HQ are invited to SEE HERE

This demonstrated how Member States can make progress towards implementation of mandatory MSWs before the January 2024 deadline.

* Facilitation (FAL) – enhancing the free flow of trade by ship

** ASYCUDA – Official Website

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Added 7 February 2023


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WHARF TALK: Kuwaiti MR2 products tanker – BUBYAN

The Kuwaiti products tanker Bubyan that called at Cape Town recently. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Often, one reports on the arrival of a vessel onto the South African coast, and that may be making its first visit to a South African local port. In most cases, it is possible to be able to report that the vessel in question is one of a set of sisterships. What is almost never possible is to be able to say, without contradiction, that the visitor is the last of the group of sisterships to visit, and that her visit means that all of her contemporaries have made a call at a South African port.

On 30th January, at 21h00 in the late evening, the MR2 class products tanker BUBYAN (IMO 9656034) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Durban, and went to anchor to await a berth within the Tanker Basin, in Cape Town harbour. On 2nd February, after almost three days out in the anchorage, her berth became available, and she entered the port at 15h00 in the mid afternoon, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and alongside the smaller tanker berth.

On this voyage, ‘Bubyan’ had arrived off Durban on 24th January, and had completed her initial products parcel discharge at Island View 8. After just over two days alongside at the Island View terminal, she was ready to sail and make the three day voyage down the coast, and around the Cape, departing Durban harbour on 27th January for Cape Town.

Bubyan, Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2014 by the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard at Ulsan in South Korea, ‘Bubyan’ is 186 metres in length and has a deadweight of 46,320 tons. She is powered by a single Wärtsilä 7RT-Flex50D 7 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 11,935 bhp (8,900 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 1,500 kW each, and an emergency generator providing 250 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg oil fired boiler, and a single Mitsubishi exhaust gas boiler.

Bubyan, Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has 12 cargo tanks, all coated with phenolic epoxy, and a cargo carrying capacity of 52,002 m3. She is able to carry 7 grades at any one time, and she has 12 cargo pumps, all capable of pumping at 600 m3/hour each. She is able to load, via a single manifold, a single product at a rate of 1,200 m3/hour. Her maximum loading capacity is 4,500 m3/hour via all of her manifolds.

She is both owned, and managed, by the Kuwait Oil Tanker Company (KOTC) SAK, of Kuwait, whose houseflag adorns her funnel, and whose company initials adorns her hull, and she is operated by the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, also of Kuwait. One of four sisterships, the design of which won the Royal Institute of Naval Architects (RINA) Ship of the Year Award in 2014, ‘Bubyan’ is the last of the four sisters to have visited South Africa in the last two years.

Bubyan, Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her sisters ‘Kaifan’, ‘Mutriba’, and ‘Burgan’ had all visited South Africa as early as 2021. All of her sisters were reported on in various editions of Africa Ports & Ships, with Kaifan on 18th August 2021, ‘Mutriba’ on 15th September 2021, and ‘Burgan’ on 11th November 2021.

Interestingly, all four sisters followed the same voyage plan of arriving from the Gulf region with a cargo of fuel products, and calling at more than one South African port on their coastal voyage, before arriving in Cape Town. All three of then, as with ‘Bubyan’, called into Durban, with two of the sisters also calling at Mossel Bay on the same coastal voyage.

Bubyan & Chemtrans Arctic, Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Although this is the first recent call into Cape Town, this is not the first visit to South Africa by ‘Bubyan’ in the past year, as she called into Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) back in July 2022, and again called into Durban back in October 2022.

Despite the downturn in acts of piracy in the Gulf of Oman, ‘Bubyan’ still shows signs of anti-piracy protection measures. She still has a number of dressed mannequins on permanent deck lookout duties, and she still has a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) on her bridge wing, covered with a tarpaulin, in the same manner as her sisters.

Bubyan, Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As with all Kuwait Oil Tanker Company vessels, she is named after a region, or element, of Kuwaiti territory. She is named after Bubyan, or Bubiyan, Island, which is the largest offshore island of Kuwait, and which forms part of the river delta of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, bordering Iraq. The island is quite large, measuring 863 km2 in area (333 square miles).

Bubiyan Island was the site of a major naval battle in the First Gulf War, in which military forces of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invaded Kuwait. In late January 1991, the Iraqi Navy attempted to escape from the Shatt-al-Arab waterway, and escape to Iran, in order to save themselves from Coalition forces. The Iraqi Navy convoy of 22 naval vessels was spotted as they passed Bubyan Island, heading out of the Shatt-al-Arab waterway.

Bubyan, Cape Town February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

A total of 21 engagements were carried out, over a period of 13 hours, by anti-shipping Coalition Air Forces, including the first by a Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet fighter bomber aircraft. The 21 engagements resulted in the sinking of 21 Iraqi Navy vessels, out of the original convoy of 22 vessels.

The majority of the sinkings were carried out in attacks by Royal Navy Lynx helicopters. They had engaged the convoy, attacking them with Sea Skua anti-ship missiles, and sank 14 of the Iraqi Navy vessels.

On completion of her discharge, ‘Bubyan’ was made ready to sail from Cape Town, and she departed at 11h00 on 6th February, with her destination set for Fujairah in the UAE.

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Brazil scuttles former aircraft carrier SÃO

Brazilian Navy aircraft carrier São Paulo A12.. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Rob Schleiffer

Brazil has taken the easy way out of a problem of what to do with its former navy aircraft carrier SÃO PAULO.

Faced with complications over its disposal on account of all the toxic material said to be onboard, which saw the ship, the former French aircraft carrier FS FOCH, being stranded at sea without a port of refuge.

The aircraft carrier, a sister to the French Navy’s CLEMENCEAU, was sold to Brazil in 2000 and renamed São Paulo with the pennant number A12.

The ship was sold to breakers in Turkey in 2021 and headed for that country last year, only to be halted near Gibraltar when environmentalist groups raised the issue of toxic matter used in building the ship in 1963. This included several hundred tons of asbestos and various chemicals – when Clemenceau was broken up it was found to have hundreds of tons of extremely toxic material on board.

As a result the Turkish government rescinded the ship’s import permission, forcing the vessel to be returned to Brazil.

With the Brazilian government also refusing to allow the vessel to return to a local harbour (including naval dockyards), the Brazilian Navy took the decision to scuttle the ship before it reached the Brazilian coast which has been carried out, leaving the ship to settle on the ocean floor almost 220 miles offshore.

This is despite a outcry from various environmental groups across the world.

The Brazilian Navy said it carried out a planned and controlled operation to sink a decommissioned aircraft carrier in order to resolve the matter and to avoid further logistical, operational, environmental and economic losses to the Brazilian state.

According to some reports the aircraft carrier had begun leaking water during the time it lay offshore, unable to return to any Brazilian port or anywhere else in other countries. The navy refused to allow the ship to enter a naval dockyard in order for repairs to be carried out and then the decision was taken to sink the vessel out in the Atlantic Ocean.

This decision was taken despite it violating at least three international environmental treaties.

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Container demand revival as China reopens and rates stabilize – Container xChange

February Global Market Forecaster by Container xChange

Container Data points to expectations of demand revival as China reopens and rates stabilize, says Container xChange in its February Global Market Forecaster.

As China reopens after three long years of Zero-covid policy, early Lunar New Year and COVID infections kept the overall market bearish, but the January month’s global container trading and leasing data from Container xChange, an online container logistics platform, indicates that the container traders and operators expect a demand rebound into the month of February.

Early indicators already show container operators expecting a demand bounce back—as the pickup charges from China to Europe Med for 40 ft High cube containers have increased by 9.7% from $513 in week 1 to $563 in week 5.

Graph: xChange Insights (a subscription-only real-time data tool for container logistics companies)

Similarly, average prices for 40 ft high cube containers increased from US$3662 in week 1 in China, and increased by 3.6% to $3794 in week 5. Though the increase is not significant, the fact that the downward trajectory has reversed is a good sign for many in the industry.

Graph: xChange Insights

As we progress into the new year, according to the latest Container xChange data, the container prices in China show signs of stabilization— though still elevated than 2020 peak shipping and demand boom.

Long term view of Average Container prices at key ports in China (40HC cargo worthy). Image: xChange Insights

Another key development is the increased availability of containers in China. The CAx readings stay elevated as compared to last three years across the ports of Shanghai, Ningbo, Tianjin and more. This indicates more inbound containers and few outbound containers which corroborates well with the current situation of factory closures in China and labour shortage there because of the infections.

The CAx (Container availability index) measures the ratio of inbound to outbound containers port-wise—and a reading above 0.5 suggest more inbound than outbound containers at the ports in China.

Shanghai CAx 2021-23

Usually, the rise in inbound containers at this time of the year is because of the seasonal repositioning of containers back to China to balance out after peak season.

“The strategy of repositioning containers back to Asia after the peak season gains strength from the clearance strategy in the US and in Europe,” says Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO, Container xChange.

“This effectively takes the capacity out of the market, and we see that this has been top priority this year for carriers. The situation further helps in stabilising the prices which has been the need of the hour for the current situation of supply chain globally.

“The rebound of trade in China, and hence the container trade rebound, will depend on the pace of the reopening in China, that is, how quickly do production volumes return to normal there. It is going to be interesting to see what happens when inventory stock levels in import countries have been rebalanced and there is a need to reorder.

“Effectively the question is whether importers are still wary of supply chain disruptions that will influence them to buy early or will they return to ‘just-in-time’ model. In any case, we do expect to see a demand uptick—also because recent GDP figures make a recession in Europe less likely.

“However, because demand really plummeted a lot, we will not see demand reviving to pre-covid levels or even the ‘during covid’ levels too quickly.” Roeloffs added.

China’s official manufacturing PMI came in at 50.1 for January, up from 47 in December.

To download this month’s monthly container logistics report ‘Where are all the containers’ SEE HERE

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IN CONVERSATION: Seychelles is becoming overwhelmed by marine plastic – we now know where it comes from

A green turtle on Aldabra entangled in abandoned fishing gear.  Rich Baxter, CC BY-NC-ND

Noam Vogt-Vincent, University of Oxford and April Burt, University of Oxford

More than 1,000km southwest of Mahé, the main inhabited island in Seychelles, lies a ring of coral islands called the Aldabra Atoll. The islands are a Unesco world heritage site and support a huge diversity of marine species including manta rays and tiger sharks. The atoll is also a breeding site for endangered green turtles.

Aldabra has long been protected from threats to its biodiversity by its remoteness. But now plastic debris is strewn across Aldabra’s coastlines, threatening nearby marine ecosystems. Research finds the likelihood of coral disease increases from 4% to 89% when coral are in contact with plastic.

The Seychelles Islands Foundation, who are responsible for managing Aldabra, conducted a plastic clean-up operation in partnership with Oxford University in 2019. Roughly 25 tonnes of plastic waste were removed from the islands.

A new study that we co-authored modelled the flow of plastic debris in the Indian Ocean between 1993 and 2019 and traced it to its source. We found that none of the plastic that washes up on Aldabra comes from the islands themselves.

An aerial shot of the Aldabra Atoll.

The Aldabra Atoll, part of the Seychelles’ Outer Islands.  Seychelles Islands Foundation, CC BY-NC-ND

Simulating plastic flow

Using data on plastic waste generation and fishing activity, we generated hundreds of billions of virtual plastic particles entering the Indian ocean. We then simulated their movement based on ocean currents, waves and winds.

Bottle caps and other low-buoyancy items sink fast and plastic loses buoyancy as it fragments or becomes covered in waterborne organisms. Items that remain buoyant for longer are transported further distances. To reach Aldabra from the eastern Indian Ocean, our model estimates that debris must be floating for at least six months.

We determined the likelihood that this debris would wash up on the coast by analysing the rate at which scientific “drifters” (instruments that record ocean currents) and GPS-tracked floating fishing devices become “beached”. Free-floating instruments such as these behave well as proxies for floating plastic. These observations indicate that around 3% of the debris that is within 10km of a coast beaches each day.

Four-year simulation of highly buoyant marine debris transport in the Indian Ocean.

Island under siege

Our model predicts that Indonesia is responsible for most of the plastic debris, including as flip-flops and plastic packaging, that beaches across Seychelles. Various other countries including India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines are also major sources.

A figure showing the sources of marine debris across the Indian Ocean.
Sources of marine debris for Seychelles and other remote islands in the western Indian Ocean (1993-2014).  Vogt-Vincent et al. (2023), CC BY-NC-ND

But Seychelles is also contaminated with plastic waste from other places.

Almost half of the plastic bottles found on Aldabra during the initial clean-up had been manufactured in China. But ocean currents do not flow directly between China and the western Indian Ocean. It is thus unlikely that a large number of bottles could float from China to Seychelles.

But Seychelles is close to a major shipping lane that connects southeast Asia to the Atlantic. If bottles were discarded from ships crossing the Indian Ocean then they would likely beach across Seychelles.

Research that we conducted in 2020 estimated that the fishing industry was responsible for 83% of the plastic waste on Aldabra. Most of the fishing gear abandoned by “purse seine” fisheries (a method of fishing that employs large nets to catch tuna) likely relates to regional fishing activity around Seychelles. But abandoned gear from longline fisheries may have drifted in from as far afield as western Australia.

Perhaps most importantly, our modelling also suggests that the rates at which plastic debris will beach in the Indian Ocean will follow strong seasonal cycles.

Winds tend to have a southerly (northward) component during the Indian Ocean’s summer monsoon season. But major debris sources such as Indonesia and India share similar, or more northerly, latitudes with Seychelles. During this period, debris from these sources tends to miss Seychelles and is transported further north.

By contrast, the winds reverse during the winter monsoons and transport debris directly towards Seychelles. We expect plastic debris accumulation to peak in Seychelles shortly after the winter monsoons (February to April). In the southernmost islands, almost all of the debris that beaches will do so at this point.

A map showing the direction of ocean currents in the Indian Ocean across different seasons.
Schematic of ocean currents in the Indian Ocean.   Vogt-Vincent et al. (2023), CC BY-NC-ND

Planning effective mitigation

Seychelles is not responsible for generating this waste but face mounting environmental and economic costs. For example, 500 tonnes of litter remained following the initial clean-up of Aldabra’s coasts, which may cost up to US$5 million (£4 million) to remove.

The United Nations last year agreed to establish a global plastic treaty that will tackle plastic pollution at its roots. But negotiations only began recently and it may be a long time before the treaty has any meaningful impact.

An aerial shot of a group of people removing litter from a beach.
A team from the Seychelles Islands Foundation removing litter from the coastline of Aldabra.  Seychelles islands Foundation, CC BY-NC-ND

Until then our modelling may help to establish other strategies to reduce the accumulation of plastic debris in Seychelles.

We identified fishing gear and shipping as being responsible for the majority of plastic pollution on Seychelles. Better enforcement of existing laws such as the 1983 ban on the disposal of plastic into the sea under the Marpol Convention should reduce the amount of plastic entering the Indian Ocean.

Predicting the peak of plastic accumulation in Seychelles will also maximise the effectiveness of beach clean-ups. Removing litter shortly after its arrival will minimise the time debris spends being broken down into unmanageable fragments.

Remote Indian Ocean islands are increasingly affected by plastic waste generated overseas. But by modelling the flow of plastic debris, we now have the chance to develop more effective strategies to reduce plastic accumulation and strengthen demands for stronger commitments under the global plastic treaty.

Noam Vogt-Vincent, DPhil Candidate in Earth Sciences, University of Oxford and April Burt, Research Associate, University of Oxford

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

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Good tidings for Durban Car Terminal as it exceeds financial year end targets

Durban Car Terminal exceeds January target by 24%     Picture: Transnet

An unprecedented volume of imported cars has seen the Durban Car Terminal break its record of volumes accounted for in a single month. In January the terminal billed 77,297 units, exceeding the budgeted volumes for the month by 24%. This also contributed to the terminal achieving its annual target two months before the end of the financial year.

Of course, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) can only respond to market demand and has no influence on the demand for imported cars or the export of locally manufacture items. It does however have to react to the demand by being in position to efficiently handle any sudden increases in volume.

TPT explained it has been collaborating with its customers and the industry at large as well as shipping lines, and has embarked on benchmarking exercises to ensure the success of integrated planning and alignment.

“A continued focus on key performance indicators has enabled the terminal to be in a position to handle demand,” said Earle Peters, Managing Executive Durban Terminals. He added that the monthly record was achieved without major safety incidents.

South African based Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have been affected by global parts shortages following the onset of COVID-19. This resulted in the backlog of imports, which have now contributed to increasing monthly volumes.

“The commitment of the colleagues handling these vehicles daily has been unwavering and consistent over the past two years, and it’s encouraging for management and Transnet at large,” said Peters.

The terminal’s previous monthly record stood at 72,684 units, handled in September last year.

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WHARF TALK: Green Dolphin 38 class bulker VOGE SOPHIE

Green Dolphin 38 class bulker Voge Sophie enters port at Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

In terms of South African exports, certain times of the year can make it pretty obvious what commodity is being exported. The best examples being the fruit reefer movements from Cape Town during grape, and soft fruit, harvest time during the summer and autumn months, and the same from Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth during the citrus export season, through the winter and spring months.

There are some import cargoes that are also time critical, and only appear at certain times of the year. The huge South African agricultural industry is one that operates according to season, and when the time comes to prepare for next year’s crop planting, one of the commodities that you need in great abundance is fertiliser. Late summer and autumn is the time when farmers are carrying out the harvest, and beginning to plough, and till the fields in readiness for the next crop. Fertiliser is a bulk product, and requires bulk carriers to import it into South Africa.

On 31st January at 10h00 in the morning, the handymax bulk carrier VOGE SOPHIE (IMO 9830123) arrived off Cape Town, from Cartagena, but not the Colombian port, rather the Spanish port in the Mediterranean. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and going alongside the FPT, at B berth, to begin her discharge.

Voge Sophie, Cape Town. 31 January 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2019 by Taizhou Kouan shipbuilding at Taizhou in China, ‘Voge Sophie’ is 180 metres in length and has a deadweight of 38,705 tons. She is powered by a single Yichang MAN-B&W 5S50ME-B9.3 5 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 8,294 bhp (6,100 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6EY18AL generators providing 700 kW each, and a single Cummins 6CT-8.3-D(M) emergency generator providing 120 kW. She has a single Saacke CMB-VS-1.5+0.77/6 composite auxiliary boiler. She has five holds, served by four Wuhan MacGregor Electro-Hydraulic cranes, each capable of lifting 30 tons, and she has a cargo carrying capacity of 50,500 m3.

Voge Sophie, Cape Town. 31 January 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is nominally owned by TK 1025 GmbH, of Hamburg in Germany. This company is described, by the German Companies House, not as a shipowner but, rather as a Finance, or Investment company. She is both operated and managed by Ahrenkiel Vogemann Bolten (AVB) Bulk GmbH, also of Hamburg. AVB are a collaborative venture between three German shipping companies, and ‘Voge Sophie’ flies the houseflag of the Vogemann partner on her funnel.

Voge Sophie, Cape Town. 31 January 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her layout, squat funnel, and bluff bow, identifies her as a Green Dolphin 38 class of Bulk Carrier. The Green Dolphin 38 bulk carrier is a collaboration of the Shanghai Ship Design and Research Institute (SDARI), and Det Norske Veritas (DNV).

It is based on the slightly smaller Green Dolphin 37 bulk carrier. The Green Dolphin 38 design was introduced in 2012, and is offered as a product by no less than 13 of the Chinese State owned shipyards. The popularity of this standard ship design is such that over 100 of the Green Dolphin 38 have been delivered to shipowners around the globe.

Voge Sophie, Cape Town. 31 January 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is very much an eco-ship, with the hull design providing improved overall performance at different loading conditions, speeds and sea states. Propulsion efficiency is increased through the fitting of a wake equalising duct, sited in front of a large-diameter, slow-rotating, propeller. A rudder transition bulb and rudder fins reduce the hub vortex and recover rotational losses.

Her Handymax size fulfills the four main objectives of a bulk carrier being Fuel Efficient, Robust and Reliable, Operationally Flexible, and able to meet both current, and future, Environmental Regulations set by the IMO.

Voge Sophie, Cape Town. 31 January 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her extremely bluff bow was designed to reduce wave making, and gives the hull very low resistance. The result is an impressively low fuel consumption of just 17.7 tons per day, at her service speed of 14 knots. If she steams at her economical speed of 10 knots, then the fuel consumption drops to an extremely respectable 6.4 tons per day.

The departure port of ‘Voge Sophie’, Cartagena, has a new basin known as the Escombreras Basin, which is the location of the port’s bulk terminals, one of which is known as the ‘Muelle de Fertilizantes’, which translates as ‘The Fertilizer Dock’. This dock has a 330 metre long quay set aside exclusively for fertiliser import and export.

Voge Sophie, Cape Town. 31 January 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Cartagena itself is a major centre of fertiliser production, and is where one of the less well known fertiliser types is manufactured. This fertiliser is Strontium Nitrate. No less than 10% of the world production of Strontium Nitrate fertiliser is manufactured in Cartagena, and the factory where it is produced was the first of its type in Europe.

After just two and a half days, and with one parcel of her cargo discharged at B berth, ‘Voge Sophie’ was ready to sail from Cape Town by 2nd February. She departed at 21h00 in the evening, bound for Durban, where she is scheduled to arrive at midday on 6th February.

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Transnet issues successful US$ 1 billion bond at a coupon of 8.25%


On 30 January 2023 Transnet SOC Ltd successfully issued a US$ 1 billion five-year bond at a coupon of 8.25%, in its first international bond issuance in over 10 years.

The bond issuance was 2.9 times oversubscribed.

According to Transnet this demonstrates investor confidence in the company, an appreciation of Transnet’s role in the economy as well as expectations that implemented strategies will improve operational performance and consequently ensure positive financial outcomes.

The bond is listed on the International Securities Market of the London Stock Exchange under Transnet’s Global Medium Term Note Programme.

The proceeds of the bond will go towards repayment of debt, capital investment as well as operational requirements as the company rolls out its strategy.

Based on the successful bond issuance S&P Ratings has confirmed the credit rating of this issuance at BB- with a negative outlook, as per its Bulletin report released on 1 February 2023.

This rating is in line with the current ratings of Transnet. S&P Ratings has also indicated that this issuance improves the liquidity of the company and reduces its refinancing risk.

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Durban port tug availability improves

The Durban tug Lotheni which has been returned to duty after a hull certification. Picture by Trevor Jones

There’s been an improvement in the availability of port tugs at the port of Durban, according to Transnet.

This follows our report in Africa Ports & Ships that the port was struggling with only two serviceable tugs available. See that report by CLICKING HERE

The port is supposed to maintain a fleet of eight tugs, with five on regular duty and immediately available and the others and their crews on call, but that has slipped in recent years with often only five or less tugs tugs available and in service.

Matters came to a head recently when only two tugs were available to handle the port’s marine traffic – Durban receives more ship calls than any other port in the country by far, including large container vessels requiring tugs with a higher bollard pull than many older tugs in the Transnet fleet.

In response to the criticisms Transnet says it has now significantly improved marine craft availability in the port “following the business continuity management plans to address the breakdowns on its tugs in the past week.”

The port authority at Durban said it has been working “to ensure minimal delays on operations and shipping movement as it brings tug availability back to normality. As of 1 February 2023, tug availability averages four tugs, one pilot boat and two launches.”

One of the port of Ngqura tugs, INDLAZI, has since arrived in Durban but had to undergo the required vessel examination before becoming operational.

Meanwhile, the Durban tug LOTHENI has completed her hull certification and is now operational – which Transnet says has enabled the port to adequately service vessels berthing at the port.

“As the Port of Durban leadership we express sincere gratitude to all port stakeholders and customers for their support in the last few days in relation to the issues of tug deployment,” said port manager said Mpumi Dweba–Kwetana.

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PIANC Mediterranean Days

Edited by Paul Ridgway

PIANC Mediterranean Days
25 and 26 October 2023

Ports of the Future
24 and 25 October 2023

News has been received from Brussels-based PIANC, the World Association for Waterborne Transport and Infrastructure of the two events listed above.

Abstracts and registration have been invited for the fifth in a series of the PIANC Mediterranean Days, which will take place on 25-26 October 2023 at Port de Sète, France.

The French Section of PIANC and CEREMA are jointly organising the PIANC Med Days, as well as the Ports of the Future meeting preceding the Med Days on 24-26 October 2023.

The main objectives of the PIANC Med Days are to enhance the development of a common technical culture in the area of the Mediterranean Sea in the field of coastal and port engineering.

This is to take into account the necessity of elaborating new strategies to face properly the new challenges of the global market, without neglecting environmental and social issues, in the light of sustainable development.

In addition historical heritage and marine and coastal ecosystems assume a very significant value for Mediterranean countries. In the organiser’s view a correct point of balance must be found with infrastructural needs.

A general increased awareness of common values and items of Mediterranean countries can play a positive role in an integrated strategic approach in the above mentioned field.

Deadline: The deadline for sending in abstracts is 15 March 2023.

Conference brochure

Other important dates, as well as more information on the conference can be found in the conference brochure as a pdf here

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TRADE NEWS: Total propulsion control makeover of Silja Europa

Cruise-ferry Silja Europa

Qtagg recently secured an order on a total upgrade of cruise ferry SILJA EUROPA’s propulsion control system, that will decrease the ship’s fuel consumption by 6% and CO2 emissions by 2096 tons yearly. The overhaul includes engine speed governors, fuel rack actuators, pitch control and voyage optimization with EcoPilot.

Silja Europa will get an upgrade to the propulsion control system and be equipped with EcoPilot which will give a 6% reduction in fuel consumption and emissions.

Silja Europa is Tallink’s largest cruise vessel with a gross tonnage of 59,912. Up until the summer of 2022 it operated on the Baltic Sea, between Helsinki (Finland) – Tallinn (Estonia). Since September 2022, it has been chartered out to the Netherlands and used to house migrants and refugees. The technical review made in preparation to bring Silja Europa into regular traffic again resulted in the decision to replace the complete existing propulsion control system with up-to-date technology, and to add EcoPilot for fuel-saving voyage optimization.

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

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UKHO: Withdrawal of Standard Nautical Charts and Thematic Charts Extended beyond 2026

Picture: courtesy www.//


Edited by Paul Ridgway

A statement from Peter Sparkes Chief Executive of the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO):

“In July last year (2022), we announced our intention to withdraw from the production of paper charts. Following consultations with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and national user groups, we set a target date of late 2026 to complete the process. This was subject to the development of digital solutions for those remaining users of ADMIRALTY Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts, ensuring that they have viable, official alternatives, as well as meeting the technical and regulatory steps required to achieve this.

“We also made a commitment to consult closely and more widely with our UK and international stakeholders on this proposal and to listen to their feedback, stating that ‘we would leave no one behind’. We have met this promise, engaging with many groups and organisations in recent months, including our distributors, defence customers, commercial and leisure users, international regulatory authorities, and colleagues in the global hydrographic community.

“These conversations have highlighted a number of important transnational and regulatory factors that need further consideration, and we are grateful to every organisation that has engaged in this process. It has become clear that more time is required to address the needs of those specific users who do not yet have viable alternatives to paper chart products, so we will continue to provide a paper chart service until at least 2030.

“As we further develop digital navigation solutions, our long-term intention to withdraw from paper chart production remains unchanged and we will continue to withdraw elements of our chart portfolio over the coming period, on a case-by-case basis. However, having listened to the feedback we have received and in light of the consequential impact of the international technical and regulatory steps required to develop digital alternatives, we will be extending the overall timetable for this process. Please be assured that the elements of our paper chart portfolio necessary to support safe navigation for our customers will be maintained throughout this transitional period as we increase our focus on digital navigation products and services.

“Listening and responding to our customers and partners is at the core of our approach and we are committed to ensuring no party is left behind in the digital transition. We will be working with our international colleagues and partners, including through the IMO and the IHO, to move forward at an appropriate pace together.”

UKHO’s guiding principle

“The UKHO’s guiding principle is the provision of trusted, official ADMIRALTY navigation solutions that support the safety of life at sea. It is clear that the future of navigation is digital, as shown by the rapidly declining demand for paper products. Digital solutions offer significant safety and operational advantages to mariners, including the potential for near real-time updates, which greatly improve the accuracy of navigation and ease of use. These benefits will be further enhanced as we bring forward the next generation of navigation solutions, underpinned by the S-100 data standards.

“We will continue to keep our stakeholders informed throughout this process and work with them every step of the way. More details will be made available as a revised course of action takes shape, as we continue to develop our next generation of digital ADMIRALTY services, further enhancing our already strong commitment to promoting safe, secure and thriving oceans.”

Watch this report on YouTube video [03:20] featuring Peter Sparkes

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Algeria to become the next member of BRICS?

Will North Africa’s Algeria become the sixth member of BRICS?

That has become a likely outcome amidst reports that a number of countries – Argentina, Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are all being touted as aspirant members of the ‘club’ which currently consists of Brazil (B), Russia (R), India (I), China (C) and South Africa (S).

Several other states have also expressed interest in joining.

The matter is likely to be discussed at the next gathering of the alliance to be held in Durban later in the year – South Africa having taken over the revolving chairmanship for the next 12 months and therefore playing host country during 2023.

BRICS is an association of developing countries (it could be argued that China is hardly a ‘developing’ state) and was identified loosely in 2001 and formed formally in 2006 as BRICs, with South Africa joining under invitation in 2010.

Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill who first coined the term in 2001, described what he saw as fast-growing economies that would collectively dominate the global economy by 2050. Whether that remains foreseeable in the coming future depends now on many factors.

Algeria submits its request

Algeria submitted its request to join the alliance last November, among requests from several other states. Last week Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov commented that Algeria is one of the leading candidates for joining BRICS.

Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune expressed the hope that his country could join the alliance as soon as in 2023.

“Formal requests to join have already been received from several states… Algeria is among these countries. At the recent meeting of the BRICS Five, held this year under the Chinese chairmanship, we agreed on the need to develop common approaches to such requests. As the first step, we will agree on the criteria, parameters and conditions for the admission of new members to our association. Algeria, due to all its merits, is among the leading contenders,” Lavrov said when interviewed by Russian broadcaster RT Arabic.

US pressure

Like a number of other non-aligned countries, Algeria is under pressure from the United States to impose sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. When questioned about this, Lavrov said Algeria would not obey instructions that directly contradict its national interest.

He said a group of US congressmen had called on US State Secretary Antony Blinken to “punish” Algeria for taking the stance of neutrality in regard to sanctions against Russia. Algeria, like many other countries, respects itself, its history and its interests, Lavrov said.

Algeria might be seen as a suitable representative of the MENA group of states (Middle East North Africa) in much the same way that South Africa is seen as representing Sub-Saharan states within the alliance.

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