Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 24 February 2023

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Week commencing 20 February 2023.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return 




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The Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov 454 in the Durban entrance channel, 17 February 2023. Picture by Durban Reporter
Admiral Gorshkov entering the port of Durban, 17 February 2023. Picture by Durban Reporter
Admiral Gorshkov on her berth at Durban’s N Shed, on the T-Jetty. Picture by Durban Reporter


Pictures by Durban Reporter


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SA Government to invest large scale in ports and rail

Durban Container Terminal Piers 1 (nearest) and 2.  Transnet to invest in the ports and rail networks, according to Treasury  Picture Transnet 


If South Africa is to have a reliable, cost-effective and safe freight system, port and rail infrastructure will require large-scale investment. That was the message and warning from National Treasury.

The warning was sounded in the 2023 Budget Review report annexed in the Budget Speech Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana presented to Parliament at the Cape Town City Hall on Wednesday.

The report provided a status report of the country’s largely financially besieged State-Owned Enterprise (SOEs).

Addressing maintenance backlog

The document quotes Treasury as saying that following historical underinvestment, Transnet now plans to increase capital investment spending over the next five years to address a maintenance backlog and increase the capacity of existing infrastructure.

Transnet reported a profit of R5 billion for the 2021/22 financial year, after a loss of R8.7 billion the year before.

“This improvement was largely the result of higher revenue as the economy recovered, and a reduction in recognised third-party claims related to litigation or customer claims,””said the Treasury. “Capital investment declined by 16.8% to R13.2 billion in 2021/22 due to lack of funding.”

Private sector investment

According to Treasury, some progress has been made to enable private-sector participation and access to the rail network.

It said this is part of a broader shift away from a divisional and modal service offering, to a more strategic collaborative approach.

According to Treasury, it will enable Transnet to participate in integrated commodity value chains, and work with the private sector to grow the investment portfolio in a financially sustainable manner, while unlocking new revenue streams.

Johannesburg-Durban container corridor

“In January 2023, it [Transnet] issued a request for quotations for private-sector participation in its container corridor between Johannesburg and Durban,” Treasury said.

Concerns remain regarding Transnet’s ability to service the current demand for cargo transportation on the freight system and keep pace with tonnage growth, Treasury added.

The Adjustments Appropriation Act (2022) provided an additional R2.9 billion to Transnet to restore infrastructure damage caused during the April 2022 floods in KwaZulu-Natal, and this work is underway.

During 2023/24, Treasury says it will assess Transnet’s freight corridors and associated port operations to identify interventions that should be implemented to improve operations and ensure that freight infrastructure is used optimally.

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WHARF TALK: large gearless bulk carrier – W-ACE

Gearless bulk carrier W-ACE about to come alongside in Cape Town harbour.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The arrival off of the port of Cape Town of a large gearless bulk carrier can only mean one of two things. If she remains off port limits (OPL), then she is either stopping off to take on stores and fresh victuals, and possibly taking the opportunity of conducting a crew change, or she is hanging around whilst awaiting orders from her owners, or charterers.

If she enters port, then it will not be for cargo work, as Cape Town has no infrastructure to handle gearless bulk carriers. Her entrance can also mean only one of two things. She either has a requirement to take on bunkers, whilst uplifting stores, and carrying out a crew change, or she is in need of shoreside engineering intervention and assistance. The part of the port that she is taken to normally identifies what requirement it is that has caused her to call in.

On 19th February at 16h00 in the afternoon, the Post Panamax Gearless Bulk Carrier W-ACE (IMO 9484687) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, initially from a short 10 hour stop off at the Port Elizabeth anchorage in Algoa Bay. She remained out in the anchorage for less than two days, and at 10h00 in the morning, on the 21st February, she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and going alongside the Landing Wall. This was an indication that her call was for shoreside engineering intervention and assistance.

W-Ace, Cape Town 21 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2011 by Taizhou Catic Shipbuilding at Taizhou Jiangsu in China, ‘W-Ace’ is 229 metres in length and has a deadweight of 93,015 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 6S60MC-C7 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 18,436 bhp (13,560 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Anqing-Daihatsu 6DK-20 generators providing 770 kW each, and a single AGCO Sisu 634 DSBIG emergency generator providing 140 kW. She has a single Saacke Qingdao CMB_VS_1.8+1.3/7 auxiliary composite exhaust gas boiler. She is gearless, and has seven holds, with a cargo carrying capacity of 110,330 m3.

W-Ace, Cape Town 21 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of four sisterships, ‘W-Ace’ is nominally owned by a ‘brass door plate company’ called Laibrook Shipholding Incorporated, of Monrovia in Liberia. Her real owners, operators, and managers are W Marine Incorporated, of Athens in Greece, as witnessed by the company houseflag adorning her funnel.

As a large post Panamax bulk carrier, it would be more likely that the port of Richards Bay would have been her more normal port of call in South Africa. A quick look at her schedule of voyages over the last two years has seen her calling into Southern African ports on no less than three separate occasions, with one call being unusual, insofar it is not something that most folk would think happens.

W-Ace, Cape Town 21 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The one unusual arrival was at Richards Bay in late 2021, where ‘W-Ace’ arrived with a cargo of coal, which she had loaded at the Queensland ports of Abbott Point and Gladstone, in Australia. Most folk believe that Richards Bay is merely an export port for coal, and not an import port. On this voyage, she was under charter by Swissmarine, and her sub-charterer was ArcelorMittal.

ArcelorMittal are a large, multinational steel making corporation, with operations worldwide. Their South African subsidiary, ArcelorMittal South Africa, was originally Iscor Ltd., the South African parastatal steel company, founded in 1928. The company operates steelworks in Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging and Newcastle, with Coke works at each site, plus one at Pretoria.

It is possible that the imported Australian coal was special coking, or metallurgical, coal, as whilst South Africa produces significant quantities of thermal coal, it has a very limited domestic supply of high-quality coking (metallurgical) coal, and currently imports all of its hard coking coal requirements.

W-Ace, Cape Town 21 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After discharging her Australian coal at Richards Bay, ‘W-Ace’ immediately loaded the more usual South African thermal coal, for discharge at Tuticorin, in India. Again, Swissmarine was her charterer, but this time the sub-charterer was Jera Global Markets Pte. Ltd. Her sub-charterer is also based in Singapore, and specialises in bulk coal shipments.

Her last visit to Southern African waters, in early 2022, had her calling in at two ports on the same voyage, namely Durban, and Maputo in Mozambique, where between the two ports she loaded a full cargo of chrome ore, bound for Xingang in China. Again, she operated on behalf of Swissmarine, and her sub-charterer on this occasion was Cargill. Another Singapore based company, Cargill specialise in bulk shipments of ferrous metals from this office. The headquarters of Cargil are in Geneva, in Switzerland, and are mainly involved in dry bulk agriproduct shipments, such as soya beans, wheat and rice etc.

For those interested in the background to the main charterer on these voyages, Swissmarine is also based in Singapore. It was established in 2001 as a freight operator, specialising in dry bulk shipping services to steel mill operators, power station operators, and mining houses. As such, the three sub-charterers on each voyage fulfilled one each of Swissmarine’s client specialities.

W-Ace, Cape Town 21 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Whilst her arrival off Cape Town was after a short stay at the Port Elizabeth anchorage, the voyage of ‘W-Ace’ actually began at the port of Gangavaram, in India. Located at 17°37’ North 083°14’ East, and only 5 nautical miles south of the large port of Visakhapatnam, in the province of Andhra Pradesh, the port was only inaugurated in 2009. It has nine berths, with the deepest berth offering a depth of 21 metres, and can handle vessels up to Capesize. It is the main import port for iron ore that is bound for the nearby Vizag steelworks.

The length of her stay in Cape Town, and the underlying reason for her visit are as yet unknown. That she arrived in ballast indicates a possible return to Richards Bay once her Cape Town call requirement is resolved, for a cargo of coal or another metal ore. Or she may pop up the coast to Saldanha Bay for a load of iron ore or manganese ore. Or possibly none of the above.

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Added 24 February 2023


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Putting a stop to poaching at the head of Durban Bay

Port of Durban’s Heritage site. Picture by Steve McCurrach

Durban Harbour authorities have closed in a what they refer to as an ‘illegal poaching ring’ opeating in the mangrove swamp area of the Port of Durban’s Bayhead Heritage site.

This is an area at the Bayhead where, on the fringes of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest and busiest container terminal and close to Durban’s ship repair precinct, is an area set aside for the last remnants of Durban Bay’s once extensive mangrove swamps.

The heritage site includes a section of open grassland dotted with coastal bush, in which a considerable number of bird species are able to thrive in this haven within a big and busy port.

The heritage site is not easily conducive to attracting large numbers of nature-loving visitors, with the notorious Bayhead and Langeberg Roads the only access by road. Hence what goes on within the area, and in the swampland is not easilly accessible or visible visible.

One of the hidden ‘camps’ within the mangrove swamp at Durban Bay’s Heritage site. Picture courtesy: TNPA

It was in this isolated ‘island’ within what is the port’s busiest section that Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) recently closed in on a suspected illegal poaching ring tucked away virtually out of sight among the mangroves. Here they found evidence of the use of gilnetting and other poaching activities.

The raid was conducted in collaboration with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).

The operation required the use of a helicopter flight over the site where evidence of gillnetting and bait harvesting was observed. This illegal and harmful process has resulted in the near extinction of certain species of fish and an imbalanced coastal ecosystem at the Durban coast as poachers catch young fish in the estuarine before they mature and make it to the ocean.

The Bayhead Natural Heritage Site, with its intertidal mudflats and mangrove forest, form part of a critically important estuarine habitat within the Port of Durban – a TNPA controlled zone where fishing and bait collection is prohibited.

Another ‘camp’ used by poachers operating in the Port of Durban mangrove swamps. Picture: courtesy TNPA

The team consisting of TNPA’s security and environmental departments as well as DEFF conducted lengthy inspections of the mangrove’s swamps during the low tide, removed sets of gillnets and dismantled the remains of three informal camps.

Several mud prawn pumps, fishing tackle, fishing rods, damaged rowing boats and fishing kayaks were also found and removed.

Mpumi Dweba–Kwetana, Durban’s Port Manager said the confiscated materials have been handed over to the SA Police Services (SAPS) for further processing.

She commended the work that TNPA, DEFF and SAPS have done over the past week, saying that the team has worked tirelessly to put a stop to poaching activities that threaten the marine life within the port.

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Added 24 February 2023


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SAECS Service Update: MOL Presence phased out, Santa Catarina comes in

Santa Catarina – In.     Picture Terry Hutson


In a South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS) advisory, it has been announced by Saecs mmber Ocean Africa Express (ONE) that the container ship MOL PRESENCE, is phasing out and will be replaced by the Maersk/Hamburg Sud vessel SANTA CATARINA.

The vessel phase-out will become effective when MOL Presence reaches the port of Bremerhaven during voyage 230N, ETA 26 March after discharging her import cargo.

The replacement vessel, SANTA CATARINA, v.231S will phase into the service in Rotterdam ETA on 21 March 2023 and cover onward voyages.

Algeciras imports will discharge in Rotterdam and connect to the M/V Santa Catarina v.231S.

Schedules are as follows:

MOL Presence 230N:

Tue 21/03 Rotterdam
Fri 24/03 London Gateway
Sun 26/03 Bremerhaven

Santa Catarina

Tue 21-22/03 Rotterdam
Fri 24/03 London Gateway
Sun 26-27/03 Bremerhaven
Sun 02-03/04 Algeciras APM
Mon 03/04 Algeciras TTIA
Tue 18-20/04 Ngqura

MOL Presence – Out.     Picture: Shipspotting / Manuel Hernandez Lafuente
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Cyclone Freddy Update Thursday 23 February 2023

Cyclone Freddy’s likely path. World Metorlogical Organization

Having moved across Madagascar and weakening as it went, Tropical Cyclone has emerged into the Mozambique Channel on Thursday morning and was situated about 50 n.miles east of Europa Island while tracking westward at around 12 knots.

The storm landed on Madagascar over the small town of Mananjary, a town that was severely damaged in last year’s Cyclone Batsirai, which killed over 130 people. This time the town’s people were more lucky and only five deaths have been reported so far.

A wind speed of around 130 km/h (80 mph) was recorded as the storm came ashore.

Nevertheless, nearly 17,000 people are reported to be affected by the latest storm’s its passing, with about 4,500 homes damaged or destroyed.

As the storm moved inland towards higher ground it rapidly lost strength, but deposited less rain than was expected. Having emerged back over water in the channel, Cyclone Freddy is regaining strength ahead of making landfall near Vilanculos in central Mozambique in the early hours of Friday morning when it will again become a severe tropical storm.

MeteoFrance warns that very rough seas of between 6 and 9 metre swells will occur near the landing area during Thursday night and Friday morning, and there may be a surge that reaches between half a metre and one metre also near the landing zone.

Although the cyclone will lose strength once again as it moves overland towards the Zimbabwe border, with the northeastern part of South Africa included, a large amount of rain is still possible across a region that has already received more than its fair share of storm water and flooding in recent weeks.

Although the storm deposited less rain over Madagascar than was expected and was described as a ‘dry storm’ in comparison with previous cyclones, the SA Weather service has issued a warning to those in low-lying areas of the South African northeastern provinces to take extra care, including the evacuation of people in high-risk areas.

MeteoFrance is also warning of intense rainfall over the Mozambican, Zimbabwean and northeastern South Africa regions, with between 50 and 100mm in 24 hours.

As at 23h00 on the morning of Thursday 23 February the storm was located near 22.1S 41.1E.

Indian Ocean cyclones as at 06h00 23 February 2023.   Map: JTWC

sources: JTWC, MeteoFrance,, World Metorlogical Organization 

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Cyclone Enala 14S to miss Mascarene Islands

Expected path of Cyclone Enala 14S. Path Map: Mauritius Met Service

Accoridng to several meteorlogical sites the newest Indian Ocean tropical cyclone, 14S named ENALA, is tracking south-eastwards in central mid Indian Ocean and should have little effect on any of the Mascarene Islands, including Rodrigues and Mauritius and Reunion.

As at 09h00 on Thursday 23 February Enala 14S was situated near 17.8S 71.7E, about 610 n.miles south of Diego Garcia, and was tracking south-southwestward at 11 knots.

Maximum sustained wind speeds were at 55 knots, gusting to 70 knots.

Maximum significant wave height was listed as 19 feet (5.8 metres).

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Added 23-24 February 2023


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Cyclone Freddy Update & local SA weather warning

Map: Joint Typhoon Warning Center (Pearl Harbour)

The situation with Tropical Cyclone Freddy (11S) as at 15h00 on Wednesday 2023, was that the storm was completing its crossing of Madagascar and was in position near 22.4S 43.6E approximately 189 nautical miles east of Europa island, and was tracking west-southward at 16 knots.

At least one person was killed as the storm moved inland, packing winds of around 130 kilometres per hour, officials said.

Wind speed has since dropped considerably as the storm moved further in over high lying land but was expected to intensify as cyclone Freddy reached the open water of the Mozambique Channel. The cyclone is then likely to reach the Mozambique coast around Friday morning having reached full cyclone conditions before again losing intensity as it moves in overland across central Mozambique and the northern parts of South Africa. Landfall is expected to be near Vilanculos on Friday morning.

New cyclone forming 14S

Another tropical cyclone numbered 14S is located approximately 436 n.miles south-southeast of Diego Garcia in position near 14.5S 74.0E and is tracking west-southweatward at 10 knots. Maximum wave height was recorded at 12 feet.

SA Weather Service Warning

The SA Weather Service has issued a warning of the possibility of heavy rainfall, which may result in widespread significant flooding in Limpopo and Mpumalanga. Both provinces are still recovering from recent heavy rains and flooding.

Later this week, very heavy rainfall in the order of 200 to 400 mm is possible in Vhembe and Mopani in Limpopo, and to a slightly lesser extent, Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga, reports SA Weather Services (SAWS).

“This, after significant flooding occurred over the Lowveld and escarpment areas (such as the Kruger National Park) the last few weeks, may be catastrophic and cause prolonged and severe impacts.

“Although not as much rain is expected over other places in the north-eastern parts, residents of Capricorn (Limpopo), as well as residents of Umkhanyakude, Zululand and Amajuba (KwaZulu-Natal), are urged to be extra vigilant as the situation may be exacerbated by the recent flooding events in these places,” SAWS said on Wednesday.

In addition to heavy rains, strong winds caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy are also expected in the north-eastern parts from Friday evening, with average speeds of about 45 km/h.

Cyclone Freddy made landfall along the eastern coastline of Madagascar, just north of Mananjary, around 19h30 SAST on Tuesday early evening.

“The relatively compact storm was a low-end category 2 tropical cyclone just before making landfall, with winds of 150 km/h and gusts up to 180km/h. Freddy weakened significantly due to the rugged terrain it encountered and was downgraded to an overland depression during the evening.

“The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) designated Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) located at La Reunion, forecasts that Freddy will continue in a west-south-westerly direction over the next few days, regaining its strength this evening as it moves into the Mozambique Channel,” SAWS said.

Freddy may yet again reach near-tropical cyclone status by Thursday evening while heading to southern Mozambique, making landfall just north of Vilanculos on Friday morning.

It is expected that Cyclone Freddy will affect the north-eastern parts of South Africa from early Saturday until Monday (25 to 27 February 2023) especially the Lowveld and escarpment areas of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as the weather system will be semi-stationary along the north-eastern border for a few days.

“The public is urged and encouraged to regularly follow weather forecasts on television and radio. Updated information in this regard will regularly be available at as well as via the SA Weather Service Twitter account @SAWeatherService.”

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WHARF TALK: MR2 products tanker PIS PRECIOUS

The Indonesian MR2 products tanker PIS Precious on the taker berth in Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

With the continuous flow of product tankers into South Africa, the casual observer has now become used to seeing regular callers from those shipowners who specialise in operating tankers. This includes State and Government owned shipping companies from nations as diverse as China, Russia, India, Kuwait, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Occasionally a new caller arrives from a State owned operator that, of which the casual observer would not identify as it such.

On 18th February, at 21h00 in the late evening, the MR2 products tanker PIS PRECIOUS (IMO 9689158) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Al Ruwais in the Abu Dhabi Emirate of the UAE, and went to anchor to await her berth. Her wait was only for a 24 hour period and at 22h00 on 19th February, she left the anchorage and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding to the Tanker Basin in the Duncan Dock to begin her parcel discharge.

Built in 2013 by SPP Shipbuilding at Sacheon in South Korea, ‘PIS Precious’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 50,258 tons. She is powered by a single Doosan MAN-B&W 6S50ME-B9 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 9,844 bhp (7,240 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

PIS Precious, Cape Town 20 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6N21AL generators providing 900 kW each, and a single Cummins 6CTA-8.3-D(M) emergency generator providing 150 kW. She has a single Miura exhaust gas boiler, and a single Jiangyin Sandie oil fired boiler.

She has 12 cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 53,510 m3, and can carry 6 grades of products at any one time. She has 12 cargo pumps, each capable of loading, or discharging, at a rate of 600 m3/hour.

She is owned by the Indonesian state owned energy and shipping company PT Pertamina International Shipping (Persero), of Djakarta, and she is operated by Pertamina International Shipping Pte. Ltd. (PIS), of Singapore. She is managed by Synergy Maritime Pvt Ltd., of Chennai in India. For linguistic fans of the Indonesian language, the company name PT Pertamina is an abbreviation of Perusahaan Pertambangan Minyak dan Gas Bumi Negara.

PIS Precious, Cape Town 20 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As with many other shipowners who use the same nomenclature principles, the use of PIS as part of her name is merely the acronym initials of her owners. She was purchased by her current owners in May 2022 for a price of US$22.9 million (ZAR418.05 million). PIS have stated that they plan to invest US$3 billion (ZAR54.77 billion) by 2027, in order to both rejuvenate and expand their current fleet.

PT Pertamina International Shipping, of Djakarta, operates one of the largest fleets in South East Asia, with a fleet of 439 vessels under their control. Whilst they operate a fleet of tankers, both coastal and foreign going, PIS are also heavily engaged in port operations and coastal shipping activities across Indonesia. Hence their fleet is made up mostly of harbour service vessels such as tugs and pilot launches, plus coastal vessels such as small tankers and bunker barges.

PIS Precious, Cape Town 20 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

From the many official statistics available online, most maritime readers know that the South Korean shipbuilding industry is the largest, and most vibrant, in the world, leading both China and Japan in the league table stakes. However, despite this success, there have been some spectacular failures within the shipbuilding industry.

One such failure was SPP Shipbuilding, the builder of ‘PIS Precious’. With a short history of just 17 years, and having delivered over 300 tankers, they ran into financial troubles during the shipping downturn. Despite their MR2 product tanker design being extremely successful, and much in demand, by early 2017 their order book was empty, and in March of that year the yard was forced into receivership, and was closed.

PIS Precious, Cape Town 20 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In 6th May 2021, whilst en route on a voyage from Slavyanka, in the Russian Far East, to Singapore, ‘PIS Precious’ reported a man overboard whilst transiting through Indonesian waters. She carried out an unsuccessful search for the missing crewmember, and in the morning of the 7th May she continued her voyage to Singapore.

The Indonesian Navy continued the search and amazingly, after being in the water for over 8 hours, the 22 year old Russian crewman was found, and rescued. He was suffering from mild hypothermia, but after receiving treatment onboard the Indonesian warship, he recovered and was safely returned to ‘PIS Precious’, to continue his onboard duties.

PIS Precious, Cape Town 20 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As with many tankers arriving at a South African port, they are very often carrying fuel product parcels for multiple port destinations around the Southern African coast. By the late afternoon of 21st February, after almost 48 hours alongside, ‘PIS Precious’ had completed her Cape parcel discharge, and she sailed from Cape Town at 17h00 in the afternoon, bound for Walvis Bay in Namibia, where she is expected to complete her discharge.

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Tanzania approval for controversial Uganda pipeline

Port of Tanga, Tanzania   Picture TPA

According to reports, the Tanzanian government on Tuesday this week gave its approval for the construction of a US$3.5 billion crude oil pipeline from Uganda to the coast in Tanzania.

The pipeline had become a contentious matter with concerns raised about human rights and the environment, the latter linked to recent increased pressure on the use of fossil fuels.

The 1,443-kilometre (900-mile) pipeline will transport crude from oilfields being developed in the Lake Albert area in northwestern Uganda to a Tanzanian port on the Indian Ocean.

Some reports have suggested the Tanzanian port will be Tanga near the Kenya border.

Uganda has already issued a license for the pipeline in that country, signifying its acceptance of the project, operated by the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).

“This construction approval marks another step forward to EACOP as it allows commencement of the main construction activities in Tanzania, upon completion of the ongoing land access process,” said EACOP Tanzania general manager Wendy Brown.

The pipeline will be jointly developed by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and France’s TotalEnergies, in tandem with the state-owned Uganda National Oil Company.  Source: The Chanzo

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IN CONVERSATION: Cyclones in southern Africa: five essential reads

Scene outside Buzi in Mozambique following Cyclone Idai in 2019. Picture by Miguel Carreiro

Tropical cyclone Freddy was, on 21 February 2023, bearing down on Mauritius and Madagascar. Mauritius grounded flights and, news agency Reuters reported, emergency teams in four regions of Madagascar were braced for “heavy rains, floods and landslides”.

A day earlier the Mauritius Meteorological Services issued a Class 3 cyclone warning, saying estimated gusts in the centre of Cyclone Freddy could reach around 280 kilometres an hour.

Both island nations are located in the Indian Ocean and are no strangers to tropical cyclones. But, as the global climate shifts, such storms will become ever more common, endangering millions of people in Madagascar, Mauritius and other countries in the southern African region like Mozambique and Malawi.

In Conversation Africa has published a number of articles explaining the science of tropical cyclones and the role climate change is playing in their increasing frequency and force. Here are five essential reads.

Our mission is to share knowledge and inform decisions.

Warming oceans

Tropical cyclones are huge. They can span more than 1,000km in diameter and they draw their energy from the ocean heat – ocean surface temperatures of at least 26⁰C are required for tropical cyclones to form. Over the past 30 years, as the world’s oceans have become warmer, the locations of where tropical cyclones form and intensify have been shifting.

Climate scientists Micheal Pillay and Jennifer Fitchett unpacked these shifts.

Read more: Tropical cyclones in the South West Indian Ocean: new insights


The most damaging tropical cyclones of the past few years were tropical cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit Mozambique especially hard in March and April of 2019. Idai alone killed more than 1,500 people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. In an article first published in 2019 soon after the devastation and updated in 2022 as more powerful storms battered Mozambique, Professor Fitchett explained why tropical cyclones from the Indian Ocean were becoming ever more powerful.

Read more: Why the Indian Ocean is spawning strong and deadly tropical cyclones

Countries must pull together

In the wake of tropical storms Idai and Kenneth, researcher Chris Changwe Nshimbi argued that the Southern African Development Community had once again proved that it wasn’t ready to deal with environmental disasters as a collective. He traced the reasons for these shortcomings and suggested ways forward – more critical than ever as tropical storms and other climate-related crises hammer southern Africa.

Read more: Southern African countries won’t manage disasters unless they work together

More to come

Nshimbi is right: there is far more to come. Professor Fitchett – who has dedicated much of her research to the phenomenon – explained what drives extreme weather events.

Read more: Southern Africa must brace itself for more tropical cyclones in future

The bigger picture

Tropical cyclones are only one part of the African continent’s climate crisis. Meteorologist Victor Ongoma explained what climate change experts were predicting for the continent and how different regions would be affected.

Read more: Insights for African countries from the latest climate change projections

Natasha Joseph, Commissioning Editor, The Conversation

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

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TechnipFMC contacted by TotalEnergies EP Angola for Girassol Life Extension project

Girassol location in Block 17.   Image TechnipFMC

TechnipFMC has been awarded a significant(*) contract to supply flexible pipe and associated hardware for the first subsea life extension project by TotalEnergies EP Angola and its Block 17 Partners in West Africa.

The contract covers the engineering, procurement, and supply of flowlines and connectors for the Girassol Life Extension project (GIRLIFEX), offshore Angola.

The flexible pipes will extend the life of the Girassol field by bypassing the rigid pipe bundles installed before production began in 2001.

“Awards like GIRLIFEX are a result of the trust we have built up with our long-term clients and partners by continually delivering for them,” said Jonathan Landes, President, Subsea at TechnipFMC.

“We are delighted that TotalEnergies EP Angola is showing continued confidence in our technologies and integration capabilities.”

(*) For TechnipFMC, a “significant” contract is between $75 million and $250 million. This award was included in inbound orders in the fourth quarter of 2022.


Girassol FPSO  TechnipFMC

The $2.8bn Girassol project is situated about 210km north-northwest of Luanda, Angola. The project is connected to a floating production, storage, and offloading unit (FPSO) operating in 1,350 metres of water.

TotalEnergies partners are Equinor (22.16%), ExxonMobil (19%), BP Exploration Angola (15.84%) and Sonangol P&P (5%).

The reserves of Girassol are reported to be 630 million barrels of 32° API crude oil with an average production of approx 240,000 bpd.

The FPSO unit on site was built in 1999 at the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) shipyard in South Korea and can store up to 2 million barrels of crude oil and a support process capacity of 200,000 bpd. The FPSO has a length of 300 metres and a widt of 59.5m and a deadweight of 343,000 tons.

The producton unit has 12 cargo tanks.

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Added 23 February 2023


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Kumba delivers but Transnet restraints hold it back

The ore stockpile is managed by four stacker reclaimers operating in eight lanes.  Picture: Kumba

Ore railed to the Saldanha Bay port decreased in 2022 by 9% to 35.9 Mt (2021: 39.3 Mt), further reducing already low levels of finished stock at the port and significantly impacting shipping throughput. As a result, export sales decreased by 9% to 36.6 Mt (2021: 40.2 Mt), said Anglo American mining house Kumba in its 2022 annual financial statement.

Compounding the rail delivery problems saw finished stock increasing to 7.8 Mt, limiting space for further production due to the high build-up of stock at Kumba’s mines, while low levels of finished stock at Saldanha port contributed to a 9% decrease in sales volumes to 36.6 Mt.

Closing finished iron ore stock increased to 7.8 Mt (31 December 2021: 6.1 Mt), with 7.0 Mt of the stock located at the mines due to rail constraints, the report stated.

According to Kumba, rail capacity was predominantly impacted by derailments and a weather-related event in the first quarter resulting in increased speed restrictions, while low availability of train wagon sets led to increased turnaround times.

Industrial strike action, equipment breakdown and locust outbreaks further contributed to rail performance reducing to 80.3% of contracted tonnage.

The report said that progress has been made on several fronts with the main focus remaining on reducing speed restrictions and improving maintenance turnaround times.

Kumba and industry peers forming part of the iron ore user’s forum are working with Transnet to provide joint oversight on rail performance against planned volumes.

Additionally, a national steering committee including the Minerals Council, industry CEOs and the Transnet board and senior management is providing rail performance oversight across all rail corridors in South Africa.

According to Kumba, there is a strong demand for South African mining products in the world. For the mining sector, including Kumba, the industry’s ability to continue contributing significantly to the fiscus, sustained employment, and delivering far-reaching socio-economic benefits are inextricably linked to Transnet improving its operational performance.

Tom Selmer is a German registered ore carrier loading ore at the Saldanha Iron Ore terminal. The ship is capable of carrying 172 000 tonnes of ore destined for China. The loading process takes about 36 hours to complete  Picture Kumba

Recognising the integrated nature of the mining industry as part of the logistics system, the Transnet Board and Minerals Council Office Bearers announced on 19 December 2022 that they have agreed to establish joint collaborative structures and work together to ensure that all possible actions are taken to stabilise, recover and improve the throughput of South Africa’s rail and ports systems to enable inclusive growth and maximise the movement of commodities in the national interest.

Kumba says it is actively involved in this collaboration and is focusing on the improvement of the performance of the Iron Ore Export Channel.

With Kumba’s traditional markets outside of China, in particular Europe, in the midst of an economic downturn, the share of markets
outside of China decreased to 50% (2021: 57%). Other markets such as the EU/MENA/Americas region were broadly flat 33% (2021: 34%) while the Japan/South Korea/Taiwan region decreased to 16% (2021: 23%).

Kumba chief executive officer, Mpumi Zikalala, said 2022 had been an incredibly tough year but that Kumba had delivered a solid performance.

“Logistical constraints have proven challenging and it is an imperative that we work together with Transnet to improve this not only for Kumba but for the industry,” she said. “Our focus remains on increasing the resilience and stability of our operations and building momentum for the next phase of value delivery.”  source- Kumba Iron Ore Ltd 2022 annual report

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Added 22 February 2023


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WHARF TALK: seismic support vessel MAINPORT PINE

The seismic support vessel MAINPORT PINE which arrived in Cape Town, from Kakinada in India. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Not so very long ago there was a great outcry about the arrival of a seismic survey vessel off the South African south Coast. Despite her survey getting underway, a court decision, that defied both precedent and logic, caused the survey to be terminated early. Not long afterwards, a second seismic survey vessel conducted a full survey off the west coast, which hardly raised a stifled cry from the environmentalists. Such is the lack of a concerted national approach by South African environmental activists.

Currently, without a single hand being seemingly raised in objection, there are no less than two seismic surveys taking place off the coast of Namibia, one of which is being conducted by one of the enormous Ramform seismic vessels. Most people do not realise that with every seismic survey vessel, there is at least one, if not two, chase and guard vessels, whose job it is to keep other marine traffic away from the oncoming seismic vessel. This is due to the inability of the seismic vessel to alter course due to the mass of streamers she herself is towing behind her.

The chase and guard vessels are often jack of all trades. In the early days they were usually redundant, and converted, small fishing trawlers. Not any more though, as the modern ones are designed for exactly that escorting function. They are expected to guard the seismic vessel, chase any other vessel out of the way, tow any disabled vessel out of harms way, carry extensive spares for the seismic vessel, transfer stores and fuel, plus conduct crew changes.

Mainport Pine, Cape Town, 15 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On 15th February at 10h00 in the morning, the seismic support vessel MAINPORT PINE (IMO 9659335) arrived off Cape Town, from Kakinada in India, entering Cape Town harbour and proceeding into the Duncan Dock, where she went directly to the Repair Quay. It is assumed that she is transiting from one support contract to another, and her call into the Cape is to give her some engineering maintenance support, before she departs once more to shepherd another seismic survey vessel.

Built in 2014 by the Shin Yang Piasau Slipway at Miri, in Malaysia, located on the Sarawak coast of Borneo, ‘Mainport Pine’ is 55 metres in length and has a deadweight of 1,250 tons. She is powered by two Cummins QSK60-MT2 16 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 2,230 bhp (1,641 kW) each, driving two Berg BCP620 controllable pitch propellers for a service speed of 11.5 knots.

Mainport Pine, Cape Town, 15 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Cummins KTA19D(M) generators providing 350 kW each, and a single Cummins 6CTA8.3D(M) emergency generator providing 150 kW. For added manoeuvrability she has a STT 170 FP transverse bow thruster providing 260 kW, and a STT 170 ZSV azimuth bow thruster providing 370 kW. She also has two independent rudders, all of which gives her a Dynamic Positioning classification of DP1, using a Kongsberg C DP System.

As part of her support function for seismic survey vessels, ‘Mainport Pine’ carries a spare reel of seismic streamer cable, holding a capacity of 6,000 metres. She also carries a fuel reel, holding a capacity of 200 metres of Harwall fuel hose, which enables her to conduct refueling at sea operations. Interestingly, she carried three Yokohama fenders on arrival, which indicates that she may also have been providing support to another vessel, other than a Seismic survey vessel.

Her aft working deck covers an area of 220 m2, and she has a container carrying capacity of 5 TEU, all of which are able to be connected into reefer plugs. She has a 3 ton knuckleboom crane to enable her to transfer stores and equipment. She has underdeck cargo tanks, which includes one of 830 m3 capacity for fuel, one of 160 m3 capacity for potable water, and one of 100 m3 capacity for Urea. She also has stores refrigeration and chiller space with an area of 80 m2.

Mainport Pine, Cape Town, 15 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of two sisterships, she was designed by the Wärtsilä Ship Design office, of Singapore, and was built for a sum of US$16 million (ZAR289.15 million). She operates with a crew of ten, and has additional accommodation for a further 40 persons. For her emergency towage and rescue operations, ‘Mainport Pine’ has a 60 ton towing hook, and a bollard pull of 53 tons.

Owned by Irish Mainport Holdings, of Cork in Ireland, ‘Mainport Pine’ is operated by the Mainport Group, also of Cork, and managed by Mainport Seismic Support Ltd., also of Cork. The Mainport Group also operated an office in South Africa, Mainport Africa Shipping (Pty) Ltd., based in the Berea suburb of Durban, and which was sold to a BEE consortium in 2013.

On completion, she entered into a seven year contract to support seismic survey vessels of the large, UK based, Western Geco fleet. She has also given support to seismic survey vessels of the French Compagnie Générale de Géophysique (CGG) fleet, and to those of the Norway based Dolphin Geophysical fleet. Her work has taken her to Norway, Eastern Canada, Qatar, and India.

Mainport Pine, Cape Town, 15 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Prior to sailing to India to undertake her last support operation, ‘Mainport Pine’ completed a major overhaul of both of her main engines. This was carried out as part of a scheduled maintenance programme of critical power systems whilst the vessel was docked in Sunderland, in the UK. The work carried out included the removal of fuel injectors, turbochargers, cylinder heads, powerpack assemblies and camshafts. The engine was rebuilt utilising service exchange components, new bearings, seals and gaskets. She sailed for India on the conclusion of a successful series of extensive sea trials, which consisted of incremental load testing, and alarm shut downs.

Her support operations in India, prior to her sailing to Cape Town, were based out of Kakinada harbour, located at 16°58’ North 082°15’ East. Kakinada is the main operating base for all maritime support services for the oil and gas rich Krishna Godavari Basin, off the Amalapuram Coast, of the eastern Indian province of Andhra Pradesh.

Mainport Pine, Cape Town, 15 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On completion of her current maintenance programme in Cape Town, it is yet unknown as to where she will be deployed next, in support of another seismic survey vessel. It is not unknown for oil and gas industry support vessels, arriving in Cape Town from the East, to be en route for Brazil. It is known that there are a minimum of six known seismic surveys that have already received operational approval, issued by the Brazilian authorities, for 2023.

That said, she may even be being lined up for support work in Southern Africa. Namibia is certainly in the middle of a major programme of increasing their survey data in the Orange River Basin area, and seismic surveys in the offshore regions of Angola continue unabated. Of course, to the consternation of the local environmentalists, there are still a number of seismic surveys outstanding for both the East, and West, coasts of South Africa. Any one of these upcoming surveys will require the services of a seismic support, chase, and guard vessel.

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Added 22 February 2023


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Cyclone Freddy Update – cyclone makes landfall in Madagascar

Screen grab: Meteo France

UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) reported on Tuesday that Intense Tropical Cyclone Freddy is projected to make landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar — likely between Mahanoro and Manakara — on Tuesday 21 February, after passing north of Mauritius and La Reunion on 20 February.

It said Cyclone Freddy is expected to bring devastating winds and a very dangerous sea state near the impact zone in Madagascar.

Cyclone Freddy is then projected to emerge in the Mozambican Channel and re-strengthen before landing in Mozambique and potentially reaching Zimbabwe.

Operational readiness activities are underway, led by the respective Governments.

Situation overview

Intense Tropical Cyclone Freddy passed about 140 km north-west of Mauritius on 20 February, bringing strong winds and dangerous sea conditions, according to Meteo France. The cyclone was expected to pass by La Reunion in the night of 20 February, with resultant strong winds and dangerous seas.

The cyclone continues to move west-south-west and is expected to make landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar, probably between Mahanoro and Manakara, on 21 February evening, likely at an intense stage. It is expected to cause locally devastating winds and a very dangerous sea state near the impact zone in Madagascar. It is currently powerful and compact, generating extreme winds near its centre but having a limited zone of influence, with few effects felt beyond 200 km from the centre.

In Madagascar, the regions of Atsinanana, Vatovavy and Fitovinany are under yellow alert (threat), while Analanjirofo, Atsimo Atsinanana, Alaotra, Analamanga, Itasy, Vakinankaratra, Amoron’i mania, Matsiatra Ambony, Ihorombe, Menabe, Beroroha, Ankazoabo, Sakaraha, Morombe and Toliara regions are under a green alert (warning), according to Meteo Madagascar.

Areas near the projected landfall of Cyclone Freddy are still struggling to recover from the impacts of cyclones Batsirai and Emnati in 2022, which made landfall in near Mananjary city on 5 February and in Manakara town on 23 February 2022, respectively, and destroyed homes, infrastructure and crops, with 874,000 people still facing severe food insecurity in the Grand Sud-Est.

This will be the first cyclone, and the second tropical weather system, to hit Madagascar in the 2022-2023 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season. Tropical Storm Cheneso made landfall on 19 January 2023 and affected 90,870 people, including 33 people who died in 18 regions, according to Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC).

Mozambique & Zimbabwe

After crossing Madagascar, cyclone Freddy could emerge in the Mozambican Channel and strengthen again before making landfall in Mozambique and potentially moving on to impact Zimbabwe, after decreasing in strength.

Over 3.3 million people in Madagascar (2.3 million), Mozambique (527,000) and Zimbabwe (531,000) could be impacted by wind speeds of 120km/hr during cyclone Freddy’s passage across the three countries, according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Automated Disaster Analysis and Mapping (ADAM). source: UNOCHA

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US Coast Guard Marine Safety Alert: Pilot access – Gateway handhold arrangements

USCG Safety Alert

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Incorrect terminations can lead to marine casualties

On 9 February the US Coast Guard issued Safety Alert 04-22-CH1 from Washington, DC.

This Safety Alert addresses the importance of verifying the correct arrangement of handholds in embarkation gate arrangements aboard merchant vessels.

It is understood that the Coast Guard is currently investigating a casualty involving a fall from a pilot ladder where the handholds in the gate arrangement aboard the vessel terminated without being rigidly secured to the vessel’s structure. This termination left a gap in the handholds at the transition point at the head of the pilot ladder, where an embarking person might reach to pull themselves onto the vessel.

The Coast Guard observed that the abrupt termination of the handholds above the vessel structure appeared to be a modification that was completed to accommodate the length of the pilot ladder spreader during deployment and retrieval of the pilot ladder. The modification made it possible to retrieve the pilot ladder without having to lift the spreader up and over the vessel’s railings.

SOLAS 2020 (Consolidated) is clarified by IMO Resolution A.1045 (27), as amended by Resolution A.1108 (29), to indicate that each handhold in a gateway arrangement should be rigidly secured to the ship’s structure at or near its base.

US Coast Guard recommendation

In its Safety Alert 04-22-CH1 of 9 February the Coast Guard strongly recommends that flag state administrations, classification societies, port state control inspectors, and shipboard personnel:

* Ensure familiarity with applicable requirements pertaining to handholds in gateway embarkation arrangements aboard merchant vessels.
* Visually examine handholds in gateway embarkation arrangements for gaps, specifically at the lower terminations.
* Initiate rectification and issue outstanding conditions to meet regulatory intent for any non-conformities discovered.

ISO standard

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) recently published a series of standards aimed at improving pilot ladder safety. These standards supplement existing IMO recommendations and requirements for pilot ladders. Vessel owners and operators, shipboard personnel, and system designers are highly encouraged to review and comply with these standards.

The ISO documents are:

* ISO 799-1:2019 Ships and marine technology — Pilot ladders — Part 1: Design and specification.

* ISO 799-2: 2021 Ships and marine technology — Pilot ladders — Part 2: Maintenance, use, survey, and inspection.

* ISO 799-3:2022 Ships and marine technology — Pilot ladders — Part 3: Attachments and associated equipment

The USCG document informs that Safety Alert 04-22-CH1is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirements.

The document has been developed by the Coast Guard Sector New York Investigations Division, and distributed by the Office of Investigations and Analysis.

Any questions

Coast Guard invite any questions on this topic. They should be sent to:

Coast Guard draws attention to other related available information here:

1.International Maritime Organization (IMO) Resolution A. 1045(27) and Resolution A. 1108 (29) titled, “Pilot Transfer Arrangements”. The links for these documents are A 1045 27 ( and A 1108 29 (


and  HERE

2.USCG Safety Alert 14-18 titled, Don’t Forget about Gangways and Ladders! Pilot Dies in Gangway Accident, posted on the DCO site SEE HERE


Advice by IMO and the International Maritime Pilots’ Association (IMPA) with a Required Boarding Arrangements for Pilot poster is available on the IMPA website HERE

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Added 22 February 2023


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A.P.Moller-Maersk and Mawani to develop Saudi Arabia’s largest logistics park at Jeddah Islamic Port

Spread over 225,000 sq metres, the Integrated Logistics Park will provide Maersk’s customers extensive infrastructure for warehousing & distribution, cold storage, e-commerce and serve as a hub for transshipments, petrochemical consolidation, air freight and LCL (less than container load) cargo. -SPA & Maersk

A.P. Moller – Maersk and Saudi Ports Authority ‘Mawani’ have broken ground for Saudi Arabia’s largest Integrated Logistics Park at Jeddah Islamic Port on the Red Sea.

The greenfield project spread over an area of 225,000 sq metres will be the first of its kind at the Jeddah Islamic Port offering an array of solutions with an aim to connect and simplify the supply chains of Maersk’s customers in the Kingdom. The US$ 346 million investment project will not only create bespoke logistics solutions but also focus heavily on decarbonising logistics with the use of renewable energy to power the entire facility.

The project is expected to create more than 2,500 direct and indirect jobs in Saudi Arabia.

The bonded and non-bonded warehousing & distribution (W&D) facility will cover more than 70% of the total area of the Integrated Logistics Park while the remaining part will act as a hub for transhipment, air freight and LCL cargo.

The W&D part will have several different sections to accommodate general warehousing (food & beverages, furniture, automobiles, chemicals, textile & apparel and machinery, appliances & electronics) and cold chain storage (fruits & vegetables, protein and confectionary & consumables).

To cater to the rapid penetration of eCommerce in Saudi Arabia, the facility will also have a dedicated eCommerce fulfilment centre. The Integrated Logistics Park will be able to handle annual volumes of close to 200,000 TEUs across different products.

Green energy

The Integrated Logistics Park will be 100% powered with solar energy generated from rooftop solar panels spread over 65,000m2. In addition, the trucks used for transportation at the Park will be fully electric vehicles.


The design of the facility utilises higher storage density, mechanized pallet-in-out solutions, a product-to-man pick-n-pack strategy and optimized flows, improving productivity by approximately 50% and effectively bringing down emissions. There will be a provision for additional space for E-com, value-added service (“VAS”) and Omni Channel Fulfilment across all storage types.

Maersk intends deploying a state-of-the-art warehouse management system that implements modern technologies and digital solutions for efficient inventory management, track & trace at the unit level and offers rich dashboards for higher visibility and deeper insights. These systems will help improve efficiencies and build a competitive edge for Maersk’s customers.

Jeddah Islamic Port

Jeddah Islamic Port is a Saudi Arabian port, located in Jeddah on the Red Sea, at the middle of an international shipping route between the east and west via the Suez Canal. It is the second-largest and second-busiest port in the Arab world (after the Port of Jebel Ali in Dubai, UAE ). The city of Jeddah is the second-largest city in Saudi Arabia (after the capital Riyadh ), and is Saudi Arabia’s commercial capital.

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Added 22 February 2023


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South African Port Statistics for the Calendar Year 2022


South African and Namibian ports

Statistics for the calendar year 2022, courtesy TNPA, once again make for interesting and thoughtful reading, reflecting how each port has coped with yet another difficult year just past.

A year ago we reflected that South Africa’s economy, based of these imports and exports, appeared to be in the doldrums. In 2022 there has been some progress hindered though by industrial action and nature’s untimely disruptions.

The collective ports had their lowest volumes in five years! Take a look. The figures as always speak for themselves.

This generally poor result may be ascribed to the problems on rail leading to dismal deliveries of ore and coal to the two ports of Saldanha and Richards Bay, as the mining houses have already proclaimed.

Containers didn’t fare so well either, showing no growth particularly at the ports of Durban and Ngqura. Despite the well-publicised problems involving ship delays and ships bypassing the port, Cape Town coped reasonably well, volume wise.

One area that did perform strongly is that of motor vehicles with all three ‘car ports’ exceeding previous year volumes. Attention ought to be given to what the motor industry in South Africa is getting right, for other sectors to follow.

Our tables below show the figures achieved at all ports including rolling five year comparisons 2018 – 2022 for total volumes and for containers, and two years of comparison for ship calls and tonnages.

Statistics for the two previous years, 2020 and 2021, can be found 2020 HERE


2021 HERE

with the latter reflecting the five year period 2017-2021.

As with our regular monthly statistics, container figures include a calculation made for container weights, based on an average of 13.5 tonnes per TEU. Africa PORTS & SHIPS is unique in presenting these figures this way, which provides results that make for easier comparison with other worldwide ports. See the tables for details.

Details of volumes by individual port are set out below.

Figures for the respective ports during the calendar years 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018:


 PORT 2022 mt  2021 mt  2020 mt  2019 mt  2018 mt 
Richards Bay 81.034 84.879&nbsp 95.190 98.699 103.550
Durban 79.497 79.258 73.904 81.211 83.161
Saldanha Bay 59.155 66.070 67.307 71.555 63.424
Cape Town 18.226 17.270 15.634 15.754 15.966
Port Elizabeth 12.948 12.061 11.364 13.065 13.096
Ngqura 14.333 15.955 11.981 12.846 11.703
Mossel Bay 0.907 0.964 1.085 1.527 1.744
East London 1.956nbsp; 1.650nbsp; 1.438 1.925 2.078nbsp;
 Total all ports 262.057mt 278.107mt 277.945mt 296.582mt 294.290mt


CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs)
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by TNPA

PORT  2022 TEUs 2021 TEUs 2020 TEUs 2019 TEUs 2018 TEUs
Durban 2,574,931 2,737,288 2,595,402 2,843,928 2,956,670
Cape Town 856,177 823,263 768,731 861,865 898,147
Port Elizabeth 135,518 129,886 112,215nbsp 164,864nbsp 184,208
Ngqura 619,614 739,857 559,195 744,660 774,899
East London 53,761 39,716 31,962 56,473 59,787
Richards Bay 4,509 3,490 8,113 10,206 6,510
Total all ports 4,244,510 TEUs 4,473,506 TEUs 4,075,618 TEUs 4,682,000 TEUs 4,883,329 TEUs


MOTOR VEHICLES HANDLED (measured by Units/tons)

PORT  2022 units 2021 units 2020 units 2019 units 2018 units
Durban 592,655 482,823 322,402 521,280 487,162
Port Elizabeth 145,868 118,311 114,729 156,051 109,799
East London 91,536 46,854 59,598 96,591 103,576
Cape Town 77 39 30 70 70
Richards Bay 0 17 9 36 64
Total All Ports 830,136 648,004 496,768 774,028 700,671

SHIP CALLS IN 2021 & 2020

 PORT 2022-vessels 2022gt  2021-vessels 2021 gt 
Durban 2854 103,513,538 2,720 99,939,201
Cape Town 1733 39,865,129 1,703 38,520,306
Richards Bay 1,438 58,643,322 1,726 62,010,535
Port Elizabeth 842 22,378,446 796 21,943,101
Saldanha Bay 570 38,447,697 637 44,404,470
Ngqura 647 26,632,006 627 29,726,981
East London 276 9,820,119 215 6,514,068
Mossel Bay 417 2,412,812 230 1,465,806
Total ship calls 8,777 301,713,069 8,368 304,524,468

– source TNPA, with adjustments made by Ports & Ships to include container tonnages

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WHARF TALK: mystery Chinese oceanographic research ship – XIANG YANG HONG 01

On 16th February the Chinese Oceanographic Research vessel XIANG YANG HONG 01 (IMO 9779692) arrived in Cape Town harbour. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The question being asked is if there is a bit of geopolitics taking place in South African waters at the moment. Not only have the Russian and Chinese Navy turned up, welcomed with open arms by the ANC government, but a Chinese state owned research vessel, with a reputation for nefarious surveys, and a long way from home, has also turned up at the same time.

On 16th February at 08h00 in the morning, the Chinese Oceanographic Research vessel XIANG YANG HONG 01 (IMO 9779692) arrived off Cape Town, from seemingly out of nowhere, having arrived from the east of Cape Agulhas with little advanced notice, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and going alongside the Eastern Mole. Despite the sudden appearance, such an arrival is generally about taking on bunkers, stores and a possible crew change.

Built in 2016 by Wuchang Shipbuilding at Wuhan in China, ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ is 100 metres in length and has a deadweight of 1,615 tons. She is diesel-electric powered, and has three Wärtsilä 8L26 8 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 3,834 bhp (2,820 kW) each, giving her a total power output of 11,502 bhp (8,460 kW).

Xiang Yang Hong 01, Cape Town 16 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Engine output is delivered via electric motors to two Azimuth propulsion thrusters, giving her a service speed of 12.3 knots. For added manoeuvrability she has two transverse bow thrusters. Her combination of thrusters gives her a Dynamic Positioning classification of DP1.

Owned by The Chinese State Oceanic Administration, ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ is operated by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), and she is managed by the First Institute of Oceanography (FIO), of Qingdao in China. The FIO is State owned, controlled by the MNR. The name ‘Xiang Yang Hong’, followed by a number, is given to all Chinese State oceanographic research vessels, and means ‘Facing the Red Sun’.

She is one of two sisterships, designed by the 701 Research Institute of the China State Shipbuilding Group (CSSG), and she is classed by the Chinese authorities as a Type 614 Marine Hydrological Weather Ship which, according to FIO, is used as a mobile marine laboratory, and test platform, for fundamental marine scientific research, and for advanced new technology research and development.

Xiang Yang Hong 01, Cape Town 16 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has an operating crew of 32 persons, and can carry a scientific complement of up to 48 persons. She has an endurance of 15,000 nautical miles, over a period of 60 days. Her current voyage began on 7th January when she sailed from Qingdao for an area of the South Indian Ocean below Madagascar, and covering the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge. This fracture zone covers a rough area from between latitude 33° to 40° South, and longitude 45° to 56° East. This area is known to be rich in Polymetallic Sulphides, producing highly valuable metals.

This area of the South Indian Ocean is an area of great importance to China, as it sees it as an untapped area where natural resources can be mined in the future. Despite environmental protests regarding subsea mining, it is of great strategic importance to China. China does not only view places like Africa, in which to seek out mineral resources. The seafloor holds great importance to that drive, and it is considered as a primary focus, with easier pickings.

So much so that the Chinese Premier, Xi Jinping, singled out the importance of these deep-sea resources in a May 2016 speech at the Chinese National Convention on Scientific and Technological Innovation, saying “The deep sea contains earthly treasures that aren’t remotely understood or developed. But if we want to obtain these treasures, then we must master key technologies for entering the deep sea, surveying the deep sea, and developing the deep sea.”

Xiang Yang Hong 01, Cape Town 16 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Thankfully, no nation can simply go mining in abyssal international waters. It is controlled by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the subsequent 1994 Agreement, relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The ISA is the organisation through which State signatories to UNCLOS organise, and control, all mineral and resource related activities in the ocean, and solely for the benefit of mankind as a whole. In doing so, the ISA has the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from any deep seafloor related activities.

In 2011, the Chinese quasi-government China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) contracted with the ISA to conduct research on the ‘Black Smokers’ in the Southwest Indian Ocean Ridge, covering an area of 3,000 nautical miles. The contract would run from 2011 to 2026, and was based solely on the black smokers output of Polymetallic Sulphides, and their content of precious metals.

Prior to the commencement of its programme of activities under the contract, COMRA was required to submit to the ISA Secretary-General a contingency plan, which responds effectively to any incidents arising from its activities in the exploration area. The research could not solely be focused on mining potential, but also had to be on environmental biodiversity protection.

Xiang Yang Hong 01, Cape Town 16 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The aspects of the contract which upsets environmentalists is that it allows for ‘preliminary estimation of resources, development of relevant equipment and technologies for exploration, and development of methods for Polymetallic Sulphides collection, lift, and utilisation’.

It is from this area that ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ departed from, and proceeded to Cape Town. Her stay in Cape Town was short, and indicated that it was merely to carry out bunkering, taking on fresh stores, and possibly rotating crew and scientists. After just eight hours alongside, she sailed at 16h00 in the afternoon, bound for a position off the Agulhas Bank, outside the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, but within the South African EEZ, southwest of Danger Point.

Such a change of sea area, required disciplines, and environmental criteria, from an Indian Ocean Fracture Zone, to a South Atlantic Ocean continental shelf, might not look too strange a change to make for an Oceanographic Research vessel. That is, until you realise some of the history of ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’, its fleetmates within the ‘Xiang Yang Hong’ fleet, and the military requirements of the Chinese Navy (PLAN).

In 2019, the Indian Government was concerned that ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’,and three other ‘Xiang Yang Hong’ vessels had conducted no less than 7 surveys, in the same year, on the subsea NinetyEast Ridge, located just south of the Indian controlled Andaman and Nicobar Islands. One of the vessels had been chased out of Indian waters by an Indian Navy warship.

Xiang Yang Hong 01, Cape Town 16 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The authorities reported that they had monitored ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ on no less than three separate occasions in 2019, operating off the islands. She, and her sistership ‘Xiang Yang Hong 03’ appeared to be working together, as they were both sailing racecourse tracks, which overlapped each other, with each vessel starting at the point where the other vessel had just completed a pattern.

In total, it was estimated that they had surveyed an area of almost 150,000 nm2 using very narrow tracks. This indicated that ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ was using a sonar array normally used for seabed mapping. A defence analyst stated that the Chinese were paying particular interest to surveying the whole of the NinetyEast Ridge, which is an underwater mountain range that cuts down through the Eastern Indian Ocean from north to south. The range is particularly relevant for submarine operations. If Chinese submarines are going to increase their activity in the Indian Ocean, these maps may aid submarine survivability, according to the analyst.

The analyst stated that the ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’, and other Chinese oceanographic vessels may not have an overtly military mission, but the data gathered will likely be of particular interest to the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), as ocean survey data is useful to both military and civilian interests, adding that some of the survey activities, nearer to Indonesia, as well as to the Andaman and Nicobar islands, could relate to finding the US Navy’s reputed ‘fish hook’ sensor networks.  These are designed to track Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean.

Then in 2020, ‘Xiang Hang Yong 01’ was spotted conducting a survey in an area between Australia and Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean. An Australian Defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Xiang Yang Hong 01 was undoubtedly mapping waters regularly used by Australian Navy submarines that use those waters when heading to, and from, the strategically important South China Sea, where the Chinese Navy is very active.

China is keen to know as much as it can about these waters, about the submarine routes, and it would also be wanting to test and monitor the Australian response to the presence of a high-tech Chinese survey vessel that is loitering off its coast, the official stated. It was also noted that ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ had also spent a considerable amount of time in waters not far from an Australian Navy Communications Station, located just north of the town of Exmouth in Western Australia.

Xiang Yang Hong 01, Cape Town 16 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Later in 2020, the Government of the South Pacific nation of Palau, requested that ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ leave their EEZ, as she was found operating in their waters without the express permission of the Palau Government. The Palau Government pointed out that the vessel’s activity was in violation of Article 246 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Article 246 of UNCLOS provides that any vessel conducting marine scientific research, conducted within an EEZ, or on a continental shelf, shall only be conducted with the consent of the coastal State in whose waters she is operating. Palau was also concerned that ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ was also, allegedly, discovered to be operating dangerously close to the country’s newly-installed submarine cable infrastructure.

Going back to the current leg of the cruise of ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ along the Agulhas Bank, raises a question as to what she is doing there, and if permission has been given. Whilst there is nothing to suggest otherwise, the Agulhas Bank, together with the gyres, eddies, upwelling, and thermoclines produced by the warm Agulhas Current colliding with the cold Benguela Current, creates a positively perfect underwater haven for Submarines transiting around South Africa.

Mapping these waters, adds to the PLAN being able to send their own Submarines around the Cape undetected, or being able to detect potentially hostile submarines, such as those of the US Navy or the Royal Navy, if ever they pass this way whilst submerged. Operating out of sight, and therefore out of mind, well beyond the 12 nautical mile territorial limit, but well within the South African EEZ, allows ‘Xiang Yang Hong 01’ to do just that, if that is indeed her orders.

Of course, she may simply be transiting across the Agulhas Bank herself, and bound elsewhere to conduct innocent oceanographic research in other areas of the South Atlantic Ocean. In 2018, she spent some time conducting research in the South Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Interestingly, this is an area that that the ISA does not yet issue contracts for, to allow for research on potential mining of Polymetallic Sulphide deposits, Nodules, or Crusts.

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Cyclone Freddy poses danger for Madagascar and Mozambique

Projected path of Cyclone Freddy

Warnings have been issued of the approaching cyclone named Freddy (11S) out in the Indian Ocean and heading for central Madagascar.

According to Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) the recently formed tropical cyclone Freddy has the potential to reach Mozambique in the coming days, even as that country is still dealing with the recent floods in its southern region.

The cyclone, currently over the Indian Ocean, is moving at a speed of 27 km per hour toward Madagascar, said Acacio Tembe, a meteorologist from the INAM, while speaking to the press at the National Emergency Operations Center in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

“Looking at its movement, there is a great indication that this cyclone could reach the coast of our country. At the moment we are mapping the areas that could be affected,” said Tembe, adding that the phenomenon could be felt around 24 February 2023.

Ahead of the cyclone reaching Mozambique it will have to cross the island of Madagascar and will bring further devastation to that country.

On Monday 20 February Cyclone Freddy was located in position near 19.2S 56.0E, approximately 74 nautical miles north-northwest of Port Louis, Mauritius and tracking southwestward at 18 knots.

Maximum wave height was 13.5 metres (44ft) with sustained wind speeds recorded of 120 knots, gusting to 145 knots.

Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Freddy. source: Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, 20 February 2023

Maputo region

Further south in the Maputo region of Mozambique the country is drying out after flooding across low-lying land, a result of excessively heavy rains that were also felt in South Africa. Late last week the Southern Regional Water Administration called for an immediate evacuation of populations from risk areas in the south of Mozambique, warning of the increase in discharges of water from dams in Maputo and Gaza in the coming days.

According to Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Risk Management and Reduction, the heavy rains that fell in the south of the country in recent weeks caused nine deaths and impacted almost 40,000 people.

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AP Moller-Maersk to divest its St Petersburg & Novorossiysk logistics sites

AP Moller – Maersk divests its remaining Russian units.  Picture Maersk

A.P. Moller – Maersk has disposed of its logistics sites in St. Petersburg and Novorossiysk to IG Finance Development Limited. This is a consequence of the company’s decision made in March 2022 to discontinue activities in Russia.

In a statement APM said that the remaining 50 employees at the two sites were being offered employment as part of the new setup.

The inland depot in Novorossiysk is a facility of 28,750 m2 with a capacity of 1,500 containers (TEU) and specializes in handling commercial cargo such as grains from railway wagons to sea containers. The chilled and frozen warehouse in St. Petersburg is a 23,500 m2 established in 2020.

The transaction has obtained the needed regulatory approvals in the EU and Russia, and upon acquiring the facilities IG Finance Development Limited has made an agreement with Arosa, a large food importer in Russia, to operate the sites in St. Petersburg and Novorossiysk.

The divestment became effectoive on `17 February 2023.

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From First Rating to a Chief Marine Engineer

Angeline Bekisile Ngiba is a chief engineer at the Marine Service department with responsibility for the Port of Durban fleet of tugs.

In achieving this goal she has become the first General Purpose Rating (GPR) to advance to chief engineer in TNPA service.

Angeline Ngiba

She joined Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) with the first group of women in Berthing Services in 2007 and was later awarded a TNPA bursary to further her studies.

She is now a Chief Engineer Port Operations <1500kw (closed license), transitioning from being a GPR, after having passed her oral exam on the first attempt.

Upon completion of her studies, she enrolled in a 12-month training workshop that she managed to complete in a record nine months – demonstrating her resilience and hunger for success. Ngiba then worked to get her logbook training signed so she could obtain the appropriate authorization to operate as a chief engineer.

Born and raised in KwaMaphumulo – located in the iLembe District of KwaZulu Natal, 45-year-old Ngiba said she believes in finishing everything she starts, thus setting an example for those who come after her.

“Being the firstborn of five children meant that after finishing school, I needed to find work to help my siblings. I had to make it,” she explains.

“Working for an organization like TNPA, where employees are afforded opportunities to grow within the company and attaining the bursary meant that the organisation believed in my dream and gave me a stepping stone to reach it. Having to alternate between my commitments as an employee and studying was not easy but with a good working environment, I was able to balance both,” she said.

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Lady ‘R’ returns to Russia – Update 16 February 2023

Lady ‘R’ Picture: Shipspotting

Report by Jay Gates

With the arrival of the Russian Navy flotilla in Cape Town and Durban, the domestic and international furore that it has stoked, one tends to forget that the ANC affection for the Russians in the context of the Ukraine War, reached another level of fever pitch only back as recently as 7th December 2022.

Just over two months ago, a furtive Russian freighter, sailing between Douala and Dar es Salaam, or so she reported, and going by the name of ‘Lady R’, and feigning injury, whilst also failing to display her AIS information, as per the requirements of international law, slipped into Simonstown under cover of darkness, with the full acquiescence of both the Minister of Defence of the ANC government, and the head of the South African Navy. She was in distress, we were told, but she began two nights of dodgy cargo work, with what looked suspiciously like ammunition pallets and other armaments.

Only after she had departed, on 9th December, did she switch back on her AIS and display Istanbul as her intended destination. Like everything about this vessel, and those who dealt with her, this destination was also a lie. It took days for the Minister to give a mealy mouthed excuse that she was only delivering ammunition that has been ordered way back in 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Only passenger ship sailings were affected by the Pandemic, and all commercial sailings by container vessels, and other cargo ships, carried on as usual. The pandemic did not close factories, and did not stop goods being exported, either in South Africa or anywhere else, such as Russia. So, a claim that it took three years for a small ammunition order to arrive, because of the pandemic, was simply not credible.

Lady R with her hatches open for handling acrgo, at the South African Naval Base of Simon’s Town, December 2022. Picture: SA People News

After departing Simonstown for Istanbul, and no longer Dar es Salaam, the ‘Lady R’ next stopped off at another port not on her itinerary, namely Beira in Mozambique. From there she carried on north, not to Istanbul as advertised, but now calling into Port Sudan, in the Red Sea. After leaving Sudan, she went through the Suez Canal and approached the Bosphorus for her intended call after Simonstown. Except that she didn’t call in to Istanbul.

She actually, as expected, passed through Istanbul, as this was a ruse based on her real destination, as it always was planned to be, the Russian port of Novorossiysk in the Black Sea. She arrived there on 16th February, at 09h00 in the morning, the day before her Russian Navy friends arrived in both Cape Town and Durban.

For those wondering, Novorossiysk, located at 44°43’ North 037°45’ East, has been the destination of ‘Lady R’ for the last three known voyages she has undertaken, i.e. those since the illegal invasion of Ukraine began. The location of Novorossiysk, on the Black Sea coast of Southern Russia, lies just to the east of Crimea, and places her as the closest port to both occupied Crimea, and to the illegally occupied oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, in the Ukraine.

Secretive cargo handling at the Simon’s Town Naval Base during the hours of darkness, December 2022. Militarniya Ukraine

Any cargo, military or otherwise, destined for the Crimea, or Eastern Ukraine, can be transported directly to all these locations both by rail and road, using the Kerch Bridge, or the road network to Luhansk and Donetsk. That her cargo, both now and on her last two voyages might be military is borne out by the sanctions placed directly on both her, and on her owners.

You have to go back to 8th May 2022, just after the invasion of Ukraine began. The US Department of the Treasury, and their Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Executive Order (EO) 14024. Within EO 14024 is Section 1(a)(i), which relates to “Blocking property with respect to specified harmful foreign activities of the Government of the Russian Federation”. This section imposes economic sanctions on any party that is determined to be operating in such sectors of the Russian Economy.

Lady R makes her departure from Simon’s Town Naval Base, December 2022. Picture Supplied

The US State Department identified not only the ‘Lady R’, but also her owners, Transmorflot LLC, as operating on behalf of the Russian Military Complex, and known to be transporting weapons on behalf of the Russian Government. As such, both ‘Lady R’ and her owners were placed on a sanctions list for aiding and abetting the illegal military operation in the Ukraine. The listing was very targeted, and did not include all Russian shipping companies, but rather only those seven known companies, and their fleets, that were known to be contracted to the Russian Government for armaments shipments.

It is well documented by Western Intelligence Authorities that Novorossiysk is being used as a transit port for Russian armament shipments, that are moved to Crimea and the Ukrainian Donbass region, in order to prosecute the Russian war effort. The Montreaux Convention does not allow the Turkish authorities to prevent the passage of vessels carrying armaments for belligerent states within the Black Sea. As such, the ‘Lady R’ using Istanbul as a port of call was simply a smoke screen to hide her real destination.

The previous voyages of ‘Lady R’ included calls at Novorossiysk on June 10th to 13th, September 17th, and September 30th to October 3rd. In early November, on her last voyage, ‘Lady R’ first called into Lomé in Togo, where she offloaded three MI-35 Hind attack helicopters for the Togolese Military. She then called at Douala in the Cameroon, before heading to Dar es Salaam.

When it became apparent that ‘Lady R’ was, in fact, heading to Simonstown, and not Dar es Salaam, the US State Department warned the ANC government about the fact that ‘Lady R’ was sanctions listed. However this warning was, as we all know, ignored, and deliberately so.
One can only hope that she is not carrying South African ammunition, or armaments, that will be used by Russian in the Ukrainian conflict, which may result in the death of innocent women and children. Such an outcome, if proven, would be a stain on South Africa’s integrity as a non-aligned nation, and on her moral reputation.

However, with the history of ‘Lady R’, the current arrival of Russian Warships displaying the ‘V’ and ‘Z’ logos of what the Ukrainian people consider to be occupying armies of death and destruction, and the reports of both Chinese and Iranian Air Force pilots receiving advanced flight training in South Africa, it would appear that the moral compass of the ANC may already have lost its way.

Readers wanting some background of the Simonstown call can find it in the 13th December 2022 edition of Africa Ports & Ships GO HERE

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TNPA Harbour Masters to attend inaugural African Harbour Masters Committee Seminar in Morocco

South African harbour masters will be well represented at the inaugural seminar for African Harbour Masters, to be held in Tangier, Morocco from 2-3 March 2023.

Five delegates from the TNPA Harbour Master department will be attending the 1st African Harbour Masters Committee Seminar, which is the African chapter of the International Harbour Master Association (IHMA).

Those attending from South Africa will include Harbour Masters and Deputy Harbour Masters from the ports of Nelson Mandela Bay (2) , Cape Town (1), Saldanha (1) and Head office (1).

The African Harbour Masters’ Committee (AHMC) was formally established on 25 January, 2021.

The aim is to bring together harbour masters from the African continent and collaborate to share ideas and provide guidance, support, and direction on the management of all aspects of maritime port operations.

AHMC is an African Chapter of the International Harbour Master Association (IHMA), the only other chapter at this stage being the European Chapter

Capt. Thulani Dubeko, Ngqura Port Harbour Master

The Theme of the upcoming seminar is “The Crucial Role of Human Factors for a Best Future for African Ports.”

The discussions spanning two days will focus on technical presentations, panel discussions as well as technical and educational site visits to some of the critical sites in Tangier.

“The inaugural meeting of African Harbour Masters looks to build the corner-stone for the Harbour Masters in the continent to work together, share ideas and learn from one and another,” said Capt. Mohamed Maghazi, President of the AHMC.

“It presents an opportunity for the ports to develop working relationships as they play a much bigger role in intra-continental trade,” he said.

Capt Naresh Sewnath, Senior Manager VTS & Pilotage

As the inaugural seminar, the Committee envision the seminar to set the tone on various aspects of their field such as exchange programmes for Harbour Masters, training, new technologies and further enhancement of safe navigation of vessels.

Key topics to be covered are:


VTS-PMIS & AtoN: Latest aids to navigation equipment & systems

Dangerous Cargo

Sustainability and performance:

Training and skills development:

Two of the TNPA delegates will facilitate some of the planned seminar sessions. Capt. Thulani Dubeko, Ngqura Harbour Master will lead a session on dangerous cargo whilst Capt. Naresh Sewnath – Senior Manager: Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) and Pilotage will facilitate a VTS session.

Capt. Dubeko forms part of the organising committee as the Vice President of the African Harbour Masters Committee, elected in 2022.

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WHARF TALK: Russian naval auxiliary tanker – KAMA

The Russian fleet auxiliary Kama entering the port at Cape Town on Friday 17 February. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something rusty. Yes, that is not quite as the traditional marriage saying goes, but 3 out of 4 ain’t bad! The continuing saga, now receiving massive international press coverage, of the ANC government coveting the Russian Navy in South African waters, whilst other assets of that same navy illegally fires Kalibr cruise missiles across neighbouring countries airspace (Moldova), to slam into Ukrainian non-military and civilian targets, receives another reminder as the tanker accompanying the frigate Admiral Gorshkov finally arrives in town.

On 17th February at 10h00 in the morning, and as expected, the small Russian naval auxiliary fleet tanker KAMA (IMO 8025915) arrived off Cape Town, and immediately entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding as her frigate consort did, into the Duncan Dock and going alongside the Eastern Mole. Once more, low key seemed to be the order of the day, and nothing to attract attention of the wrong kind, press wise, seemed to be the preferred outcome. As with Admiral Gorshkov, there were no naval bands playing on the quayside, and no lines of naval officers, or flag waving civil dignitaries, waiting to greet the arriving vessel.

Kama, Cape Town 17 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite common knowledge of her arrival in Cape Town, ‘Kama’ seemingly deliberately switched her AIS on and off over a period of days, whilst approaching Cape Town, i.e. including whilst in South African waters. One could argue that at least she did switch it on at some point, which was something that Admiral Gorshkov has not done at any point that she has been in South African waters, or anywhere else for that matter. It is the complete opposite of every visit to South Africa by the USS Herschel Woody Williams (ESB-4), whose AIS was functioning all the way from West Africa as she made her way through South African waters.

Built in 1982, a good 41 years ago, by the Rauma-Repola shipyard at Rauma in Finland, ‘Kama’ is 116 metres in length and has a deadweight of 5,863 tons. She is powered by one B&W-Bryansk 5DKRN50/110-2 5 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 3,500 bhp (2,610 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 13.2 knots.

Kama, Cape Town 17 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three SKL 8NVD26A-2 generators providing 298 kW each, and a Dagdizel 6CH12/14 emergency generator providing 50 kW. She has eight cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 6,242 m3, plus a single dry cargo tank with a capacity of 203m3. Her cargo lifting equipment is limited to two midships derricks of 1.2 tons lifting capacity.

She is known as a Kaliningradneft Class of tanker, so called after the first named of the class to be built, and of which a total of 25 were built between 1978 and 1983, under Project REF-675. The whole class was originally built as support tankers for the Soviet Union distant water trawler fleets, rather than as pure naval auxiliaries, and ‘Kama’ is one of only two of her class to be serving in the Russian Navy.

Kama, Cape Town 17 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was launched as ‘Kallavere’, and transferred to the Russian Navy in 1982 with a name change to ‘Argun’, being renamed as ‘Kama’ in 2002. She was originally assigned to the Pacific Fleet, before transfer to the Northern Fleet. She is home based in Murmansk, and is known as a Medium Sea Tanker within the Russian Navy. Her current name ‘Kama’ is that of a major tributary river, that drains into the Volga River.

She operates with a crew of 32, and has an endurance of 5,000 nautical miles over 50 days. She has Russian Ice3 classification, which is assigned to non-Arctic class vessels for operations in first year Baltic ice of 0.4 metre thickness. She regularly accompanies Northern Fleet surface assets on deployments to both the Eastern Mediterranean, for operations to Syria, and also to the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy patrols. She also accompanied Admiral Gorshkov when she undertook her maiden circumnavigation back in 2019.

Admiral Gorshkov and Kama being escorted through the North Sea by HMS Portland (closest to camera)

She departed Murmansk for this cruise to South Africa on 2nd January. Both ‘Kama’ and ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ were tracked through the Norwegian EEZ by the Norwegian Coast Guard vessel ‘KV Bergen W341’, and then whilst transiting the UK waters through the North Sea and the English Channel, she was escorted by ‘HMS Portland F79’. When they both crossed into French waters, escort duties were carried out by ‘FS Bretagne D655’, and before both vessels headed out into the North Atlantic, final shadowing was carried out by ‘NRP Bartolomeu Dias F333’ of the Portuguese Navy.

Whilst out in the mid-Atlantic, ‘Kama’ responded to a distress call from a French yacht which was on a solo crewed transatlantic cruise. The yacht had developed a steering gear failure in bad weather, and was taking on water. The sole yachtsman, Lucas Monteaux, and his dog, were transferred to ‘Kama’ with the idea that he would be dropped off at the nearest port. This turned out to be Cape Town. The majority of the transit of the Atlantic Ocean was carried out with no AIS data being displayed by ‘Kama’.

Kama – accommodation and evidence of rust, Cape Town 17 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As she has been a Naval Auxiliary for the majority of her career, ‘Kama’ is not subject to Port State Inspections. However, for a few months in 1982 she was a civilian vessel, and received a single Port State Inspection in that period. Astonishingly, it took place in Cape Town, in August 2002. The inspection took place under the auspices of the Indian Ocean MoU. No findings were recorded, and that was to be her one, and her only, Port State Inspection.

It is quite obvious when viewing ‘Kama’ that she is incapable of conducting underway fuel transfers. She does not carry any replenishment at sea (RAS) rigs, of the kind that you would expect to see on any modern fleet auxiliary oiler. Her midships derricks are only capable of lifting 1.2 tons, and thus are designed for holding up fuel hoses only. The carriage of two Russian style Yokohama fenders in their cages on deck, and the rust streaked hull amidships testifies to that.

Kama, Cape Town 17 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her after deck carries two fuel hose reels, one port side, and one starboard side, which gives her the ability to conduct over stern refueling operations. She also has a smaller reel amidships, possibly for potable water transfer. For both alongside, and over stern, refueling to be conducted safely, both vessels have to be virtually stopped in the water. For a so-called modern frigate, boasted to be to one of the best in the world, to have an out of date oiler accompany her, with no ability to conduct underway RAS operations at speed is quite shocking. A lack of small RAS capable auxiliaries, such as the RFA Rover class provided to the Royal Navy, is probably symptomatic of the current state of the Russian Navy.

For their star warship to be accompanied, on such an important world occasion as this, by an old auxiliary that has been poorly looked after, is also striking. One only has to look closely at ‘Kama’ to understand the thrust of that statement. Her foremast, and midships derrick posts are badly rust streaked. Her hull, on both sides, is badly rust streaked, and her accommodation block is badly rust streaked from top to bottom. The optics of this are not great.

Kama, Cape Town 17 February 2023. Further evidence of rust. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

It is obvious the crew have used their time approaching Cape Town to try and paint over (no pun intended) the whole of the vessel. Her decks, from bow to stern, are uniformly painted in an obviously freshly applied coat of green paint. The buff paint, for the masts, was obviously not loaded, or they ran out of time, because they are in shocking condition. It is patently clear that they have tried to paint the entire accommodation block. However, again they either ran out of time, ran out of white paint, or did not have long enough paint roller poles to reach those parts of the accommodation block that are hard to reach, on both the bridge front, and on both the port and starboard sides. It has given her a dirty two-tone appearance.

After only being at sea for six weeks, and looking as she does, it is patently obvious that ‘Kama’ sailed from Murmansk looking as she did. That such an important flag waving exercise by the Russian Navy, is conducted with a vessel arriving in such a poor looking condition is a further indication of the state, and the condition, of the Russian Navy.

Kama, Cape Town 17 February. Enuf said!  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After a few days alongside in Cape Town, ‘Kama’ will be sailing directly to Richards Bay to meet up with her consort, and those assets of the South African and Chinese Navies who are already there, and who are waiting to get Exercise Mosi II underway.

Something Old refers to ‘Kama’, Something New refers to ‘Admiral Gorshkov’, Something Borrowed refers to the fact that ‘Kama’ was never designed as a proper naval auxiliary, and Something Rusty refers to… well I leave that to the reader, but it is something that would make a proud Naval Man Blue. In the context of modern naval pairings, and with the optics of such an important show of force to the world, the marriage of modern ‘Admiral Gorshkov’ to old timer ‘Kama’ leaves a lot to be desired.

Kama sailed from Cape Town on Sunday afternoon, bound presumably for the KZN coast and the Exercise Mosi II now taking place. Her AIS states the destination as Unknown but at least it’s on!

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Wharf Talk: SA Port Statistics for January 2023

Port of East London   Picture: Transnet

Port statistics for the month of January 2023, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

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

Motor vehicles are measured in vehicle units as well as included in tonnage on the basis of 1 tonne per unit.

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

For comparison with the equivalent month of the previous year, January 2022 CLICK HERE

Port Statistics continue below…..

Figures for the respective ports during January 2023 are:

Total cargo handled by tonnes during January 2023, including containers by weight

PORT January 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.026
Durban 5.923
Saldanha Bay 5.603
Cape Town 1.473
Port Elizabeth 1.026
Ngqura 0.529
Mossel Bay 0.129
East London 0.120
Total all ports 20.829 million tonnes

CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during January 2023
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT January 2023 TEUs
Durban 204,822
Cape Town 65,938
Port Elizabeth 4,335
Ngqura 23,240
East London 2,833
Richards Bay 104
Total all ports 301,272 TEU

MOTOR VEHICLES RO-RO TRAFFIC (measured by Units- CEUs) during January 2023

PORT January 2023 CEUs
Durban 63,256
Cape Town 6
Port Elizabeth 15,240
East London 6,939
Richards Bay 184
Total all ports 85,625

SHIP CALLS for January 2023

PORT January 2023 vessels gross tons
Durban 243 9,255,478
Cape Town 145 4,224,355
Richards Bay 132 4,917,295
Port Elizabeth 74 2,167,728
Saldanha Bay 45 3,198,383
Ngqura 62 2,456,729
East London 25 743,092
Mossel Bay 33 547,210
Total ship calls 759 27,510,270
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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Transnet Pipelines & Vopak to bid together for the Richards Bay LNG Terminal

South Dunes Precinct, Port of Richards Bay   Picture: Transnet

Transnet Pipelines issue a statement on Friday 17 February saying that it as selected Vopak Terminal Durban (Pty) Ltd as its preferred partner to jointly bid for the Transnet National Ports Authority S56 Request for Proposal to appoint a Terminal Operator for the LNG
Terminal in the Port of Richards Bay.

The statement said this marks an important milestone in Transnet Pipelines’ long term growth plans and its energy transition drive from oil to gas.

The two parties are currently concluding the Joint Development Agreement.

Transnet’s Request for Proposals called for the design, development, construction, financing, operation, maintenance, and eventual transfer of an LNG Terminal in the Port of Richards Bay.

Previously, Transnet said the TNPA had been “inundated with numerous requests from various interested parties, seeking opportunities to invest in the development of an LNG Terminal at the Port of Richards Bay to meet anticipated industrial gas demand and the IPP sector in the KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng provinces.

“This has also been premised on the reducing gas availability for the existing customers in the region, with confirmation by Sasol that it will cease gas provision from 2026.”

The LNG Terminal is to be developed in the South Dunes Precinct, which is between the Richards Bay Coal Terminal and the sea on the south side of the harbour entrance.

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Added 20 February 2023


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Ocean Network Express (ONE) Unveils New Israel Shuttle Service (ILX)

ONE’s new ILX shuttle service

Ocean Network Express (ONE) has introduced a new weekly Israel shuttle service connecting Israel to the hub of Damietta, Egypt.

The service is known as the Israel Express (ILX).

This new shuttle service was created in response to the growing demand for both import and export cargo from Israel, ONE says.

“It will provide customers with better transit time between Israel and Egypt. Through this connection, customers can enjoy transportation access from Israel and Egypt to other global locations across ONE’s network.”

The first sailing for Israel Express (ILX) will launch from 29 March with the following rotation:

Damietta (Wed/Thu) – Haifa (Sat/Sun) – Ashdod (Tue/Wed) – Damietta (Wed), providing a 7 day round voyage to provide a weekly service.

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Added 20 February 2023


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Cape Town Container Terminal says it is dealing with the adverse weather

The Cape Town Container Terminal with two box ships on berth   Picture: Transnet

Transnet said on Friday it is continuing to implement ‘mitigation measures’ to deal with the impact of adverse weather conditions on its operations at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT).

The terminal has been impacted by weather challenges. Transnet says that since November 2022 CTCT has had to deal with 584.76 hours of windspeeds ranging from 80 to 120 kilometres (km) per hour.

“This has had an impact on vessels on the quay and those waiting at anchorage. Productivity has also been impacted although the terminal continues to assist vessel operations and landside where feasible despite windy conditions. In line with the terminal’s safety operating procedure (SOP), the terminal cannot operate beyond wind speeds of 80km per hour to ensure the safety of the employees and equipment.”

The terminal is currently at the peak of deciduous fruit exports and has serviced 79 vessels, loading 94,204 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) destined for various locations across the globe.

“We will continue doing our best in keeping the terminal operational and serving our customers, despite the consistent weather disruptions,” said Andiswa Dlanga, TPT in the Managing Executive Western Cape.

“We have put measures in place to boost productivity and reduce berthing delays through maintaining maximum manning levels of seven gangs.”

She added that there was close monitoring and wind recovery, noting that equipment availability and reducing the duration of downtime would determine the success of mitigations that the team were employing.

“We are also exploring options to optimise productivity even in windy seasons,” Dlanga said.

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Added 20 February 2023


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Perenco secures FID for Gabon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility

Picture: Perenco

Independent oil and gas company, Perenco, announced on Friday that it has taken a final investment decision (FID) for a 700,000-ton Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Gabon, signaling new opportunities for fuel security in Africa

The LNG facility is based at the Cape Lopez terminal and not only represents a critical step forward towards achieving fuel security in West Africa but serves to enhance Perenco’s expansion into the African natural gas landscape.

This serves to position the company at the forefront of the continent’s energy transformation.

$1 Billion construction can kick off

With FID secured, construction of the large-scale LNG facility can officially kick off. For its part, the project represents a significant development for Gabon, with an initial investment of $1 billion and a development timeline of up to three years.

Production is likely to commence in 2026, with the facility producing 700,000 tons of LNG per year as well as 20,000 tons of butane annually. With the project, Perenco will position the country as a self-sufficient nation in terms of butane supply as well as a major exporter of natural gas through LNG.

With an extensive track record of delivering successful oil and gas projects in Gabon – as well as across the African energy landscape – the FID consolidates Perenco’s commitment to monetizing African gas.

Having started producing oil in Gabon in 1992 with the acquisition of mature fields off Port-Gentil, 26 years on, the company has increased production from 8,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 100,000 bpd. The company now operates both on- and offshore licenses in addition to two floating offshore storage and offloading (FPSO) units.

Producing and supplying gas

As such, the company has been producing and supply gas, critical for power generation industrialization and economic growth, to the country for over ten years, a trend which is only set to continue with the company’s upcoming LNG facility.

“The drive by Perenco in Gabon as well as across other resource-rich countries in Africa solidifies the company’s commitment to ushering in a new era of economic prosperity across the continent on the back of oil and gas,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).

Ayuk said the AEC is excited to see the company hit another milestone with the securing of FID for an LNG facility in Gabon. “We consider this a critical step forward towards achieving energy security and fuel independence in Africa,” he added.


This is another milestone for Perenco in its operations in Africa. Under a broader gas expansion agenda in Africa, Perenco developed and is now operating the Hilli Episeyo Floating LNG facility in Cameroon – the first of its kind worldwide.

Pereco acquired Glencore’s entire upstream interests in North Africa, with the company now holding full operatorship of PetroChad Mangara – the operator of the Mangara, Badila and Krim oilfields in Chad.

It now operates both the Emeraude and Likouala fields as well as the Yombo field with a FPSO unit and the PNGF South Fields in the Republic of Congo and represents the only operating company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 11 fields producing approximately 25,000 bpd.

All of these milestones have not only positioned the company as a major player in the Africa oil and gas sector.

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Added 20 February 2023


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Cargo ship Antoineta sinks off Gabon coast

Picture: Fleetmon

A small general cargo ship reportedly named ANTOINETA (MMSI 613571606), no known IMO number, has capsized and is considered to have sunk in the sea near the port of Libreville, Gabon in West Africa.

The incident is reported to have happened on Thursday 16 February 2023 during the morning in Latitude 0.380954 and Longitude 9.381816.

The crew are reported to be safe but the cause of the ship capsizing is not yet generally known.

Antoineta was carrying a cargo at the time and had arrived in Gabon waters from the port of Lomé in Togo.

The ship has a length of 49 metres, a width of 4m and is flagged in Cameroon.

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Added 20 February 2023


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Three navies in port & conflated exercises

The Russian Navy frigate Admiral Gorshkov (474) arriving off the port of Durban. Picture by Clinton Wyness

The Russian Navy frigate ADMIRAL GORSHKOV (454) entered port at Durban at 09h30 on Friday 17 February 2023 to berth at N Shed, the former passenger terminal on the T-Jetty. The frigate is in South Africa to participate in this year’s Mosi II naval exercise being held off the KZN coast and at the port of Richards Bay.

The exercise coincides with this year’s Armed Forces Day, a fairly recent innovation by the cash-strapped South African National Defence Force (SANDF) which is held annually at different centres around the country to showcase the supposed capabilities of the armed forces. We say ‘supposed’ due to the general lack of finance from which an other capable military can perform.

Armed Forces Day more like 10 days) culminates with the anniversary of the sinking of the troopship ss Mendi off the Isle of Wight on 21 February 1917. Over 600 predominantly black South African soldiers perished in the cold seas that day after the Mendi was struck by another ship.

As Baroness Lola Young has written, in South Africa the SS Mendi evokes a mixture of grief and pride. Yet in Britain, she wrote, few are familiar with the ship or the fate of those who sailed in it.

Armed Forces Day

Due to heavy rains along the KZN coast which has caused Naval Island in Richards Bay harbour to be swamped, the planned public demonstration this weekend involving anti-piracy measures has been called off. Further events remain on the agenda for the remaining days, with ship visits up to and including Sunday 20th.

The ships open to the public are the SA Navy ships SAS Mendi (F148), SAS King Sekhukhune I (P1571), SAS Protea (AS324), and SAS Tekwane (P1554).

Late in January a spokesperson for the Minister of Defence said the SANDF was concened with the media “conflating” Armed Forces Day with the maritime exercise Mosi II, which it was said are two distinct and different activities whose “only apparent similarities are the coincidence of geography and timing”.

Instead of accusing the public and media, perhaps the SANDF and other political organisers should not have ‘conflated’ the two separate events by staging them together at the same time and in the same place.

Had this not been done the political fallout and adverse publicity that has extended beyond South Africa’s borders, might have been slightly less condemning.

As from this Monday the various ships of the three navies will al be together in Richards Bay and on ‘display’ to the general public. Is that not a natural suggestion that the two events are connected?

The Russian Navy replenishment tanker Kama arriving in Cape Town on Friday 17 February 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Chinese and Russian Navy participants

On Monday three Chinese Navy ships are expected to arrive in Richards Bay for the controversial exercise. These are the guided missile destroyer HUAINAN (CNS 123), commissioned in 2021, the guided-missile frigate RIZHAO (598), commissioned in January 2018, and the impressive type 903A Fuchi-class replenishment supply ship KEKEXILIHU (968), all arriving from the Gulf of Aden.

Meanwhile the Russian frigate arrived in Durban on Friday 17th where it was met by and escorted into port by the SA Navy Inshore Multipurpose Vessel (MMIPV), SAS KING SEKHUKHUNE I, which is normally based in Durban but which returned from Richards Bay to her Durban naval base to meet and escort the frigate into port.

Also on Friday a second Russian ‘naval’ vessel, the replenishment tanker KAMA arrived in Cape Town from the South Atlantic. The tanker will be joining the naval exercise on the KZN coast in the new week.

Africa Ports & Ships features details of the tanker in today’s edition (Monday).

Full details of the frigate Admiral Gorshkov featured on 14 February and can be FOUND HERE

Details of the replenishment ship Kama will be available here this coming week.

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Added 18 February 2023


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

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