Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 6 April 2023

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Queen Mary at the the O/P berth near the old N-Shed passenger terminal, in Durban. Picture by Trevor Jones
Queen Mary 2, Durban 2009. Picture by Trevor Jones
This lovely aerial view of Queen Mary 2 on the T-Jetty O/P berth, with MSC Sinfonia occupiying what was her usual beth at N-Shed, and a Hoegh Autoliner car carrier making her way to one of the car terminal berths (R shed). Picture is by Brian Spurr

The Cunard liner/cruise ship Queen Mary 2 is due in Durban early Monday morning, 3 April, at the start of her cruise along the South African coast, with calls scheduled also at Port Elizabeth and Cape Town later in the week.  The above photographs are from an earlier visit to Durban.  It is understood that Queen Mary 2 will be gracing the new Durban Cruise Terminal where she will make for a fairly tight fit. Update: the ship berthed at O/P berths on the T-Jetty.

Pictures by Trevor Jones & Brian Spurr


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Cape Town’s Robinson dry dock back in business


Cape Town’s Robinson dry dock has been returned to service

Transnet National Ports Authority said on Wednesday that the overhaul of the Robinson dry dock at the Port of Cape Town has been completed and is now a step away from becoming a modern ship repair facility.

The bold statement follows the overhaul of the dock’s dewatering infrastructure that should yield operational efficiency improvements for the ship repair industry.

In June 2022, the Port of Cape Town undertook the extensive process of replacing the dry dock’s dewatering system, which was necessary to mitigate safety risks, improve operational efficiencies and ensure compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act).

The engineering works required a complete shutdown of the facility, and with the project now completed, the dry dock reopened at the end of March 2023, with the first vessel already in the dock for repair work.

Improved operational efficiency benefits include increased system reliability, reduced unplanned downtime and maintenance costs, as well as enhanced life span of the pumphouse dewatering system.

“The upgrade of the Robertson Dry Dock dewatering infrastructure is one of the projects TNPA
is pursuing to modernise its ship repair facilities,” said Rajesh Dana, Port Manager at the Port of Cape Town.

Dana said the Port of Cape Town is committed to ensuring that its facilities are of international standard.

The port has two dry docks, the smaller Robinson Dry Dock within the V&A harbour, and the much larger Sturrock Dry Dock in the Duncan Dock.

The Robinson Dry Dock is the oldest dry dock in the country and the oldest operating cobblestone dry dock in the world, and is used largely for commercial purposes.

The Port of Cape Town has a legacy that traces back for centuries of providing a safe haven for shipping where necessary repairs can be carried out and vessels replenished.

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WHARF TALK: Neo Panamax container vessel – MSC VITA

MSC Vita sailing from the port of Cape Town on 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The logistical problems faced by the major container vessel operators continues, with the number of boxboats sitting out in the Table Bay anchorage swinging at the pick, and awaiting a berth in Cape Town harbour, now having grown to ten vessels, and occasionally more.

Some of the arrivals are not bothering to go to anchor, but seem to prefer drifting well offshore, or as some are now doing, slow steaming up and down the coast off the Cape Peninsula. The majority of the arrivals are having to endure a wait of a minimum of three days for a berth, sometimes very much longer, as previously reported.

On 25th March, at 06h00 in the morning, the Neo Panamax container vessel MSC VITA (IMO 9702089) arrived off Cape Town, from Durban, and with no berth to go to decided not to enter the Table Bay anchorage, but to rather drift well offshore. She maintained this position for four and a half days, finally entering Cape Town harbour on 29th March at 22h00 in the late evening, and going to the Cape Town Container Terminal in the Ben Schoeman Dock to begin her onload.

MSC Vita, Cape Town 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2015 by Dalian Shipbuilding Industries at Dalian in China, ‘MSC Vita’ is 300 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 110,800 tons. She is powered by a MAN-B&W 9S90ME-C10.2 9 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing a colossal 64,664 bhp (47,430 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 22 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery is quite extensive, with two MAN-B&W 9L32/40 generators providing 4,345 kW each, two MAN-B&W 8L32/40 generators providing 3,860 kW, and a single Scania DI16 075M emergency generator providing 550 kW. Her large power requirements are based on the fact that she has a container carrying capacity of 8,819 TEU, for which a big reefer container capacity is offered, with no less than 1,462 reefer plugs being provided.

MSC Vita, Cape Town 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has no less than three Alfa Laval Aalborg XS-2V exhaust gas boilers, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission OS-TCI oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a Wuhan Kawasaki KT-300B3 bow transverse thruster producing 3,000 kW. She is clearly fitted with a retrofit exhaust gas scrubber unit, which does nothing to enhance her profile.

The problem with retrofitting scrubber units on container vessels is where to place the unit, in a way that does not compromise the container carrying capacity of the vessel itself. Most large container vessels have very narrow, but high, accommodation blocks, which maximizes the deck area for container carriage. This means that to place a scrubber unit abaft the accommodation block will almost certainly mean a loss of container carrying capacity.

MSC Vita, Cape Town 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This leaves the naval architect, and the shipowner, to decide if the scrubber goes on the port side, or the starboard side of the vessel to be retrofitted. In the case of ‘MSC Vita’, as with all of her sisterships, the decision was to place it on the starboard side of the accommodation block. This gives her a very unbalanced, and ungainly, look.

One of eight sisterships, ‘MSC Vita’ is nominally owned by Chosen Partner Investments Ltd., of St.Helier in the Channel Island of Jersey. She is operated by the Mediterranean Shipping Company SA, of Geneva in Switzerland, and she is managed by MSC Ship Management Ltd., of Limassol in Cyprus.

Operating on the weekly MSC Northwest Continent to South Africa (NWC-SA) service, ‘MSC Vita’ is joined on the service by two of her sisterships. The port rotation of the NWC-SA service is Rotterdam- London- Antwerp- Hamburg- Le Havre- Oporto- Las Palmas- Ngqura- Durban- Cape Town- Las Palmas- Rotterdam.

MSC Vita, Cape Town 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Industry watchers will recall that MSC dropped the southbound call at Cape Town on the NWC-SA service, due to the interminable delays that it was adding to the rotation schedule, and that all Cape import containers would now be offloaded at Ngqura, the first South African port of arrival. In order to ensure that Cape importers received their goods in good time, the decision was taken to introduce a new service purely to get Cape imports to their destination with the minimum of additional delay.

That MSC service is called ‘The Shosholoza Feeder Service’, a 7 day express service between Ngqura and Cape Town only. It hasn’t gone well. Three rotations of this service have been completed thus far, and the 7 day service has so far yielded Ngqura-Cape Town-Ngqura completed rotations of 14 days, 13 days, and 19 days.

MSC Vita, Cape Town 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The dedicated vessel ‘MSC Anusha III’ is currently in Cape Town harbour, on her fourth rotation, and is currently on day 20 of the 7 day rotation, and has still to return to Ngqura. Transnet have her scheduled to be back in Cape Town on 14th April, in ten days hence. Lord knows what the Cape importers think of the current situation, whose failure to succeed is centred squarely on a myriad of problems in Cape Town.

To show that Cape Town is not alone in providing poor service to container vessel operators, you only have to look at the current times that ‘MSC Vita’ has logged alongside at every port on her NWC-SA port rotation. The statistics are very telling, and very depressing. They are, Rotterdam (22 hours), London (10 hours), Antwerp (25 hours), Hamburg (20 hours), Le Havre (27 hours), Oporto (13 hours) Las Palmas (26 hours), Ngqura (49 hours), Durban (106 hours), Cape Town (90 hours). It does take much to see where the problem lies in turnaround times.

MSC Vita, Cape Town 2 April 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In June 2021, ‘MSC Vita’ suffered an onboard fire, whilst alongside discharging in Rotterdam, on her NWC-SA service. The fire was quickly extinguished, and did not cause any major damage, injuries or pollution. The fire did not delay her on the service, and she was able to sail for Antwerp later the same day.

The current 90 hour turnaround time for ‘MSC Vita’ in Cape Town ended at 16h00, on the afternoon of 2nd April, and she immediately set sail from Cape Town, bound for Las Palmas and the first stop on her next NWC-SA service rotation.

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AVIATION: IATA’s Focus on Africa

Senator, acquired by Marsk Air Cargo

Edited by Paul Ridgway


On 3 April from Geneva the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that it was launching Focus Africa to strengthen aviation’s contribution to Africa’s economic and social development and improve connectivity, safety and reliability for passengers and shippers. This initiative will, it is understood, align private and public stakeholders to deliver measurable progress in six areas.

In the words of Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General: “Africa accounts for 18% of the global population, but just 2.1% of air transport activities (combined cargo and passenger). Closing that gap, so that Africa can benefit from the connectivity, jobs and growth that aviation enables, is what Focus Africa is all about.”

Infrastructure constraints, high costs, lack of connectivity, regulatory impediments, slow adoption of global standards and skills shortages affect the customer experience and are all contributory factors to African airlines’ viability and sustainability.

Cumulative losses

The continent’s carriers suffered cumulative losses of $3.5 billion for 2020-2022. Moreover, IATA estimates further losses of $213 million in 2023.

Delivering on Africa’s Opportunities

Sustainably connecting the African continent internally and to global markets with air transport is critical for bringing people together and creating economic and social development opportunities. It will also support the realization of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) for Africa of lifting 50 million people out of poverty by 2030. In particular, trade and tourism rely on aviation and have immense unrealized potential to create jobs, alleviate poverty, and generate prosperity across the continent.

Africa’s solid foundation

Africa has a solid foundation to support the case for improving aviation’s contribution to its development. Pre-Covid aviation supported 7.7 million jobs and $63 billion in economic activity in Africa. Projections are for demand to triple over the next two decades.

Yvonne Makolo, CEO of RwandAir and first female Chair of the IATA Board of Governors (2023-2024), said Africa stands out as the region with the greatest potential and opportunity for aviation. “The Focus Africa initiative renews IATA’s commitment to supporting aviation on the continent,” she said. “As the incoming Chair of the IATA Board of Governors, and the first from Africa since 1993, I look forward to ensuring that this initiative gets off to a great start and delivers benefits that are measurable.”

King Shaka International Airport at Durban, one of Africa’s more recent new airports   ACSA

Six Critical Areas

Walsh added: “The limiting factors on Africa’s aviation sector are fixable. The potential for growth is clear. And the economic boost that a more successful African aviation sector will deliver has been witnessed in many economies already. With Focus Africa, stakeholders are uniting to deliver on six critical focus areas that will make a positive difference. We will measure success and will need to hold each other accountable for the results.”

The six focus areas are:

* Safety: Improve operational safety through a data driven, collaborative program to reduce safety incidents and accidents, in the air and on the ground.

* Infrastructure: Facilitate the growth of efficient, secure, and cost-effective aviation infrastructure to improve customer experience and operational efficiency.

* Connectivity: Promote the liberalisation of intra-African market access through the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

* Finance and Distribution: Accelerate the implementation of secure, effective and cost-efficient financial services and adoption of modern retailing standards.

* Sustainability: Assist Africa’s air transport industry to achieve the Net Zero by 2050 emissions targets agreed to by industry and the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) member states.

* Future Skills: Promote aviation-related career paths and ensure a steady supply of diverse and suitably skilled talent to meet the industry’s future needs.

The Power of Partnerships

Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, concluded by saying: “Partnerships will differentiate the outcome of Focus Africa from previous efforts to stimulate Africa’s development with air transport. By partnering, stakeholders will effectively pool their resources, research, expertise, time and funding to support the common goals of the six work areas.”

Focus Africa launch in June

It was reported that the partners will be announced and join forces in Addis Ababa on 20-21 June to officially launch the Focus Africa initiative with more details for each task area.

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Airfreight: New Maersk Air Cargo US-China air link

Maersk Air Cargo introduces new air freight services linking the US and China

Edited by Paul Ridgway

In an effort to meet its customers’ end-to-end logistics needs, A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) introduces two new air freight services with regular flights linking the Unites States with China.

Maersk´s new customer-backed air corridor is expected to plug a connectivity gap between the world’s two largest markets for ocean customers, with solutions for time sensitive and high value cargo via new air services.

Maersk will commence with two weekly flights between South Carolina’s Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) and Shenyang Taoxian International Airport (SHE) and with two weekly flights between Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) and Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport (HGH). Both services will be increased to three weekly flights from May 2023.

Chicago air freight gateway

Maersk recently opened a new Chicago air freight gateway facility to add more supply chain integration opportunities for customers using Chicago O’Hare International and Rockford International.

It is understood that the operation will be achieved with three newly acquired Boeing 767-300 freighters that have recently been added to the fleet of Maersk Air Cargo, the inhouse cargo airline of Maersk, and will be operated by Miami-headquartered cargo airline, Amerijet International.

Inaugural flight

On 20 March Maersk celebrated the inaugural flight of the logistics company´s new air freight service with three weekly scheduled flights between Billund (BLL) and Hangzhou (HGH) operated by Maersk Air Cargo.

Maersk also recently launched a new air freight service with regular flights between Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina (GSP) and Incheon, Republic of Korea (ICN) operated by Miami-headquartered cargo airline Amerijet International.

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DP World Southampton sets record of over 9300 container moves on one ship

ONE Trust at Southampton, where the operator handled over 9,300 containers involving this one ship.  ONE

DP World’s team at Southampton has broken its all-time move count record after handling more than 9,000 containers on a ship which visited the logistics hub last week.

The Ocean Network Express vessel ONE TRUST docked at Southampton after sailing from Pusan in South Korea. Some 9,315 containers were exchanged, including 5,824 discharges, 3,473 loads and 18 re-stows, taking 86 hours to complete. This call broke by 13% the previous terminal record of 8,213 moves set by the MOL Truth two years ago.

Steve McCrindle, DP World’s Port Operations Director at Southampton, said they were committed to consolidating Southampton’s position as the most productive port in the UK, turning vessels around faster than any of its competitors.

“Our performance on ONE Trust was made possible by our new ten crane operating model, which enables us to concentrate more cranes on a vessel while continuing to service other customers at the same time, thereby boosting our productivity.

“After the disruption of recent years, shipping lines and cargo owners are looking for capacity, reliability and growth opportunities. We are providing it, enabling customers to move goods smoothly and efficiently in and out of the UK and across their supply chains.”

DP World – whose global network of ports and terminals enable goods to move seamlessly and securely around the world – runs the UK’s most advanced logistics hubs at London Gateway and Southampton: two deep water ports, each with three container berths, with access to freight rail terminals and a rapidly expanding logistics park on the doorstep of the UK capital. Between them they moved a record volume of cargo (3,850,000 TEU) in 2022.

Over the last 10 years, DP World has invested £2 billion in the UK. Over the next 10 years, it has earmarked a further £1 billion of investment, including to further increase the productivity and capacity of its two UK logistics hubs. Construction is currently underway at London Gateway on a new £350 million fourth berth, which will lift capacity by a third when it opens in 2024.

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Transnet Engineering seeks partner to establish rolling stock leasing company

TFR locomotives    TFR

In the face of mounting challenges with the provision and availability of locomotives and wagons, Transnet is seeking a partner for its engineering division (Transnet Engineering or TE) to establish a leasing company to lease rolling stock including locomotives and wagons to the market.

Transnet says that the establishment of a leasing company is aligned with the policy directive for rail reform, and aims to create a more enabling environment by lowering barriers to entry for new Train Operating Companies (TOCs).

The TOCs will be utilising available slots on the network in line with the regime for third party access.

According to Transnet, leasing is an effective and sustainable global trend among global rail and port operators, and aims to grow and diversify TE’s revenue sources, while driving demand for its core business of manufacturing, re-manufacturing, maintenance, and engineering services.

“To this end, TE has approached the market to submit responses to its Request for Proposals, issued on 4 April 2023, and closing on 30 June 2023.”

The scope of the partnership includes the following:

• Acquisition of capital assets.
• Developing rolling stock and port equipment leasing capabilities in South Africa.
• Leasing rolling stock assets in South Africa and to markets outside of South Africa.
• Development of business opportunities.
• Ensuring that the capital assets are well maintained and available for leasing to customers.

The RFP is published on the National Treasury’s e-tender portal

and on the Transnet website.

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Durban’s notorious Bayhead Road gets relief with the opening of a bypass road

Relief ahead for Bayhead Road congestion

The recently constructed Bayhead Bypass Road, described as critical to enable seamless flow of road traffic to the Port of Durban and to alleviate truck congestion to the Durban Container Terminals, was opened this week, TNPA has announced.

The bypass road is a response by the Port of Durban to manage the diversion of heavy motor vehicles, following flood damage to Bayhead Road in April 2022.

The 1.6km bypass road, which will significantly reduce traffic in the direction of the port on Bayhead Road, stretches from the Shell Service Station on Bayhead Road to the turning circle on the Ambrose Park Access Road that joins the Langeberg Road intersection with Bayhead Road.

“The construction and use of the bypass road forms an integral part of TNPA’s efforts to decongest the Port of Durban whilst realising a seamless flow of traffic on its associated road networks and maintaining fluidity in the maritime logistics value chain,” said Port Manager Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana.

She said this will ultimately assist the port in responding to industry demands through the provision of fit-for-purpose infrastructure.

The bypass road is a uni-directional single carriageway consisting of two lanes towards the Island View Complex and the Durban Container Terminals. The roadway consists of four canal crossings and two level crossings with fencing and street lighting.

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TNPA relaunches Integrated Port Management System across all eight ports

Container ship at Durban Container Terminal Pier 2, North Quay  Picture Transnet

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has relaunched the Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) at its eight commercial ports as part of its digital transformation strategy aimed at creating a smart port system by 2028.

The initial launch of the IPMS was suspended owing to concerns over security controls and to minimise the risk of any future cyber attack. This was after IPMS went live on 26 July 2015 at the Port of Durban.

The system is designed to offer state of the art vessel management technology and is globally recognised as a system that facilitates efficient vessel monitoring through the automation of traditionally managed operations.

The system provides near-real-time access to operational information which results in ease of decision-making and improved port performance.

Announcing the relaunch yesterday (Tuesday 4 April) TNPA said it is striving to regain its competitive edge in a dynamic industry and IPMS will aid the transition into the freight logistics digital era.

“We are excited as TNPA’s journey with IPMS continues. The IPMS relaunch charters in new territory. Future enhancements are on the cards for implementation once the system has stabilised and full usage of the system modules has been obtained by all the users,” said Chief Harbour Master, Captain Rufus Lekala.

He explained that IPMS enables vessel agents to capture vessel arrival notifications and receive approval notifications online. The system also ensures accurate vessel information is made available on request. “Industry role players will now have access to make online marine service requests and have a full view of the slot system to prevent overbooking of slots.”

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Mozambique wants border rail barriers with Zimbabwe and Malawi removed

The rail bridge across the Umbeluzi River on the line to Goba and Eswatini, where border restrictions have already been removed   cfm

It is well-known that bureaucracy can be a stumbling block across Africa, and no less so than on respective border crossings. Hence the long delays and queues on many road and rail crossings (to say nothing of police road blocks within countries).

Having the experience of lifting such restrictions on the rail crossing between South Africa and Mozambique (Komatipoort/Ressano Garcia border) and with Eswatini at Goba, Mozambique now wants to take the message further and seeks to remove physical barriers with two other rail neighbours, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

That was the message from Mozambique’s Deputy Transport Minister Amilton Alissone, who said the removal of the physical barriers are necessary in order to reduce transit time in the country’s rail corridors with its neighbours.

Mozambique shares two rail crossings with Zimbabwe – one on the railway line between the port of Maputo and the other from the port at Beira.

The country also shares border crossings with Malawi on the line from the ports of Nacala and Nacala-a-Velha.

The deputy minister made these remarks in the Malawi city of Lilongwe, following a tripartite meeting between Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia over the development of the Nacala Corridor.

Lifting of restrictions

The lifting of restrictions with South Africa and Eswatini were made on 1 July and 8 August respectively last year.

This has enabled freight trains operated by the Mozambican rail company CFM and South Africa’s Transnet Freight Rail to cross the border at Ressano Garcia without onerous restrictions or the need to exchange locomotives. The Maputo Corridor now handles 21 trains carrying chrome and ferro-chrome a week, an improvement to the 15 trains weekly prior to the lifting of border restrictions.

Similarly, the border stop at Goba between Maputo and Eswatini has been removed allowing trains operated by CFM and Eswatini Railways to complete the full journey in each direction.

The Goba line currently handles two coal trains a day, which both rail companies hope to double shortly, increasing the tonnage of coal delivered to the port at Maputo/Matola from 3,600 to 7,200 tonnes daily. Source: AIM

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A.P.Moller Capital to acquire South Africa’s Vector Logistics

Vector Logistics

A.P. Moller Capital has signed a binding agreement with RCL (Rainbow Chicken Ltd) Foods for the purchase of Vector Logistics by A.P. Moller Capital.

According to A.P.Moller Capital, Vector Logistics is South Africa’s leading frozen logistics operator, providing multi-temperature warehousing and distribution, supply chain intelligence, and sales and merchandising solutions.

The purchase by A.P. Moller Capital provides Vector Logistics with an opportunity to accelerate its mission of “Going Beyond” in supply chain expertise and logistics services, including expanding further afield to meet growing demand in Africa, reads the announcement.

Joe Nielsen, Partner at A.P. Moller Capital described Vector Logistics as highly respected with a long track record in South Africa. “We are excited to contribute to its transformative vision for both the industry and the region,” he said.

“Vector Logistics’ reliable operations enable maintenance of the cold chain for food products, which increases shelf life and reduces food waste. We see a growth opportunity for Vector Logistics, and we believe that our experience and our network will help to drive this growth.”

For Vector Logistics’ Managing Director, Chris Creed, having the backing of A.P. Moller Capital provides significant potential for greater impact.

“Given our vision of transforming the logistics industry, A.P. Moller Capital would be able to help us move up the supply chain maturity curve, particularly from a technological perspective, to support growth, and to support a strong Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda to ensure a sustainable future for our business and its people,” he said.

Paul Cruickshank, Chief Executive Officer of RCL Foods said they believe this is an important and positive step forward for Vector Logistics, which has grown significantly in the 18 years it has been part of RCL FOODS.

“We believe that A.P. Moller Capital is the ideal custodian to support Vector Logistics’ success because of its extensive operational and investment track record in Africa and the infrastructure sector and the strong alignment between the parties’ respective ways of working, business values and transformational focus.

“In addition, this is an important step for RCL FOODS in our journey to reshape the portfolio,” Cruickshank said.

A.P. Moller Capital as given a commitment to maintaining business as usual and minimizing any disruption to management, staff, customer, and supplier relationships. “Vector Logistics will continue to service its current customers on the basis of its existing contractual agreements,” it said.

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WHARF TALK: semi-submersible heavy lift vessel – RED ZED II

The semi-submersible heavy lift vessel Red Zed II arrives in the port of Cape Town, 30 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

It is not often that semi-submersible heavy lift transport vessels are to be seen in South African waters. It is doubtful that more than one a year is spotted by the keen maritime observer. So it is a rare thing that there have now been two of them arriving in a South African port, over a three month period, and both of them carrying the same cargo. Both were en route back to China and, unsurprisingly, both the specialised vessel and specialised cargo are Chinese owned.

On 30th March, at 15h00 in the afternoon, the large semi-submersible and heavy lift vessel RED ZED II (IMO 9633989) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, after a voyage from the Dos Bocas anchorage, off Veracruz in Mexico, and went to anchor for a short period of three hours. At 18h00, that evening, she entered Cape Town harbour, entering the Duncan Dock and going alongside the Eastern Mole, which for such a vessel was a clear sign that all she was alongside for was for an uplift of bunkers, and fresh stores.

Red Zed II, Cape Town 30 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2015 by the CIMC Raffles Offshore shipyard at Yantai in China, ‘Red Zed II’ is 217 metres in length and has a deadweight of 52,039 tons. She is powered by a single DMD MAN-B&W 7S46MC-C8.2 7 cylinder 4 stroke main engine producing 13,137 bhp (9,660 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 11 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes four generators producing 1,650 kW each, and a single Saacke CMB-HF-2.0+1.3/7 composite boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has two stern azimuth thrusters producing 1,200 kW each, and two bow transverse thrusters producing 1,200 kW each. This gives ‘Red Zed II’ a dynamic positioning classification of DP2, which is something very much required in her line of work.

As a semi-submersible vessel ‘Red Zed II’ has no less than 74 ballast tanks to control her rate of submersion. She is able to submerge to a depth of 13 metres, and has two pumps capable of pumping ballast at 2,000 m3/hour each. For refloating operations she has four air compressors capable of pumping air at a rate of 26,000 m3/hour.

Red Zed II, Cape Town 30 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The dimensions of her aft submersible cargo deck are 177 metres in length and 43 metres in width. Her deck loading limits are 25 tons/m2. She has accommodation for up to 50 persons. On this voyage her deck load was a jack-up, offshore, drilling rig.

Owned by Jiahua Shipping HK Co. Ltd., of Hong Kong, ‘Red Zed II’ is operated by COSCO Shipping Heavy Transport, of Guangzhou in China, and managed by ZPMC-Red Box Energy Services BV, of Rotterdam in Holland. With offices maintained in both Houston and Rotterdam, her operators are firmly linked to the oil and gas industry of the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea, and the movement of oil and gas assets around the world.

She is one of two sisterships, and for the nomenclature addicts, her name is clearly a play on the names of the two joint venture partners, with the obvious Red linking to Red Box, and Zed linking to ZPMC.

Red Zed II, Cape Town 30 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The managing company, ZPMC-Red Box Energy Services BV, are a joint venture created in 2014 between Zhenhua Port Machinery Company (ZPMC), of Shanghai, and Red Box of Rotterdam. ZPMC are probably better known as the company that makes many of the world’s Container Port overhead gantry cranes, normally delivered in their own fleet of converted heavylift carriers, all carrying the name of the parent company, Zhenhua, followed by a number.

In September 2021, in an interesting turn of events, the parent company of ZPMC, Zhenhua Heavy Industries, petitioned the Court of First Response, in the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to wind up the company due to a debt it was owed by ZPMC-Red Box Energy Services. The petition failed, and the court ruled in favour of ZPMC-Red Box Energy Services.

The heavylift deck cargo carried by ‘Red Zed II’ was a single, jack-up, offshore drilling rig. The rig is ‘COSL Confidence’, owned by China Oilfield Services Ltd. (COSL), of Beijing. She is a Baker Marine Pacific 375 design, and was built in 2009 by the Sembcorp Shipyard in Singapore. She can operate in water depths of up to 114 metres, and can drill down to depths of 9,144 metres.

Red Zed II, Cape Town 30 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the past few years ‘COSL Confidence’ has been on contract to the Mexican State owned oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), and until recently had been operating in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico, off Ciudad del Carmen, located on the Yucatán Peninsula in Campeche State. Her long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town, on the back of ‘Red Zed II’, began as far back as St. Valentines Day on 14th February.

After just 18 hours alongside taking on bunkers and stores, ‘Red Zed II’ was ready to recommence her voyage and, at 12h00 on 31st March, she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Shenzhen in China, where she was scheduled to arrive on 28th April.

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Eskom could obtain electricity from a Karpowership after all, via Maputo

Karpowerships are no strangers to Mozambique. Nacala in northern Mozambique has been drawing electrical power from one anchored in its vast bay for a number of years.   Karpowership

According to Mozambican reports, South Africa’s Eskom is in talks with EDM, its Mozambican counterpart, for purchasing electrical energy from a 415 Megawatt Karpowership floating power station that will be moored in Maputo Bay.

It can be recalled that Eskom’s efforts to acquire additional electricity from three Karpowerships moored in the ports of Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha fell apart after environmental permission was denied.

However, South African environmental objections to the use of the Turkish Karpowerships won’t apply if one or more of these vessels was anchored in a neighbouring port – especially one such as Maputo which is close to the South African border.

The report says the Karpowership will burn low-sulphur oil. Had the three vessels been able to make use of the three South African ports they would have burned LNG gas.

An EDM source said discussions with Eskom, as one of the potential offtakers, were ongoing and an offer has been submitted for their internal review.

The original Karpowership tender with Eskom was for 1,220 megawatts of electrical power to South Africa. The deal came under intense scrutiny and objections by the environmental lobby and over allegations of corruption including claims of an exorbitant value having been agreed for a period of 20 years.

It is well-known that Eskom is desperately short of between 4,000 and 6,000 MW of electricity, which results in ongoing loadshedding in which South Africa is subjected to rotating blackouts of up to 10 or more hours a day.

The current demand in South Africa is for approximately 25,000 MW. South Africa has indicated it wishes to purchase 1,000 MW of electricity from its neighbouring states, many of whom draw their energy from Eskom in the first place. Mozambique has an installed capacity of 2,400 MW and could reach 2,800 MW once the Temane power plant in Inhambane province comes into service.

Mozambique is planning to build a second dam on the Zambezi River, 60km downstream from Cahora Bassa, which with hydro-electric power could increase the country’s generating power to 4,300 MW. Ironically, these plans remain stalled, because Eskom hasn’t signed purchase agreements with Mozambique. source: AIM

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PIANC Cape Town 2024: Future Ready Waterborne Transport – Unlocking Africa

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The South African chapter of the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC SA) is pleased to announce that it will be hosting the 35th PIANC World Congress from 29 April – 03 May 2024, in Cape Town.

The congress will include presentation of technical papers in research and development within the waterborne transportation environment.

Pre-congress workshops

Technical Workshops will be held two days before the congress where technical experts will present selected topics within the waterborne transportation fields.

Delegates’ tours

Technical Tours for delegates will involve visits to ports and a variety of coastal sites, and there will be Social Tours for delegates to visit tourist attractions in Cape Town.


The theme of the Conference is: Future Ready Waterborne Transport – Unlocking Africa.

The theme aims to address the works necessary in creating a sustainable maritime sector.

The congress will also offer delegates an opportunity to experience Cape Town, the Mother City, a city between two oceans and the mountain, with a national park and Natural Wonder of the World at its heart. It is the oldest city in South Africa and has a cultural heritage spanning more than 350 years.

A warm welcome

On behalf of the organising committee Basil Ngcobo First Delegate: PIANC SA and Magenthran Ruthenavelu Conference Chair have extended a warm invitation to participate in this forthcoming 35th PIANC World Congress 2024.


Abstract Submission Opens – 20 April 2023
Abstracts Submissions Close – 20 July 2023


Congress Secretariat
Tel: +27 21 836 8315


PIANC is the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure, established in 1885. Its high-ranking technical reports on the design, development, and maintenance of ports, waterways, marinas and coastal areas are renowned and provide the global waterborne transport community with expert guidance, recommendations, and technical advice.

As a non-political and non-profit organization PIANC unites international experts for advanced technical, economic, and environmental developments. Moreover, its mission is to keep the international community connected and to support Young Professionals and Emerging Countries.

With the PIANC Commissions and Working Groups, as well as numerous global Congresses, the organization keeps expanding its network to be abreast of industry developments, education, and technology.

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DP World’s Berbera Port operations expand with new edible oil terminal

Port of Berbera   DPW

In what is claimed will be a game changer in the Horn of Africa, port operator DP World has expanded operations with a new edible oil terminal at Berbera port, which it says will reduce logistics costs for a key commodity while creating vital local jobs.

“Our development of the edible oil terminal is a game changer for the region and is another example of how we are reducing the cost to trade by finding solutions that meet the needs of our customers,” says Suhail Albanna, CEO and Managing Director of DP World Middle East and Africa.

The terminal will have a positive impact on local communities in terms of job creation and easier access to goods, he said.

“As part of the Berbera port and economic zone ecosystem, this facility is the type of integrated port infrastructure that attracts international investors such as EGI looking to get closer to their customers.”

A long-term lease has already been agreed for the facility, situated near the port of Berbera in Somaliland.

Berbera Container Terminal   DPW

The edible oil terminal will be the latest addition to Berbera’s growing trade ecosystem, following the recent opening of the Berbera Economic Zone (BEZ), 15 km from the port along the Berbera to Wajaale road (Berbera Corridor) that connects to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

DP World plan is to transform Berbera, which sits alongside one of the world’s busiest sea routes, into an integrated maritime, logistics and industrial trade hub to serve the Horn of Africa, a region with a population of more than 140 million people.

The terminal will initially have a storage capacity of 18,000 tonnes, which will be expanded as demand grows. It will be able to service vessels with a draught of up to 16 metres, allowing Berbera Port to handle bulk imports of edible oil for the first time. The ability to import oil in bulk and package it locally will make edible oil more affordable for people in the region and create jobs locally.

The initial phase of the terminal is already fully leased on a long-term basis to Mzahim Investment LLC, a subsidiary of Essa Al Ghurair Investments (EGI) of the United Arab Emirates. Mzahim Investment will also develop a local packaging plant in Berbera to supply existing customers in Somaliland and the wider Horn of Africa, which could employ up to 100 people.

Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair, Chairman of Essa Al Ghurair Investments, said that as a UAE-based family business, they have traded with the region for nearly 40 years.

“Having a facility in Berbera will continue to strengthen our business ties with the region. The presence of DP World played a significant role towards encouraging businesses like ours to invest in the region,” he said.

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Bolloré Africa Logistics rebranded as Africa Global Logistics (AGL)

There’s a new name to watch on the African continent, a name we will no doubt become quickly familiar with. The name is Africa Global Logistics (AGL).

This is not a start-up, but the rebranding of another well-known name across many lands – Bolloré Africa Logistics which Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) acquired last year.

It was inevitable that the new MSC subsidiary would be renamed. Africa Global Logistics it has become.

MSC is the world’s largest container carrier. The new subsidiary must also be one of if not the largest international logistics providers on the continent.

MSC said in a statement announcing the fact of its rebranding that this is a reinforcing of its “continuous investment in Africa”.

AGL is not confined to Africa although much of its business in logistics and ports is here, in addition to the vast MSC shipping activities.

With more than 21,000 employees working in 49 countries, AGL is a reference multimodal logistics operator and is now part of the Cargo Division of MSC Group.

AGL has more than 250 logistics and maritime agencies, 22 port and rail concessions, 66 dry ports and 2 river terminals. Most of those are in Africa.

“AGL will continue to operate as an independent entity with the full support of family-owned MSC Group’s strength and scale,” said MSC in its statement.

“MSC will count on AGL as a preferred logistics partner, in addition to MSC’s existing MEDLOG inland transportation and logistics business.

AGL has a thriving logistics footprint in Africa, from warehousing and cold storage to other logistics solutions. AGL will also support MSC and all other shipping lines with productive maritime container terminals, as well as efficient multipurpose terminals and rail operations.

AGL said in its statement that with centuries-old know-how on the continent, it will continue to provide its local and international customers with a competitive integrated logistics network.

“As a leading multimodal logistics operator (port, logistics, maritime and rail) in Africa, AGL will improve the productivity of the terminals we operate for the benefit of all shipping companies. AGL will develop multimodal logistics solutions to meet the expectations of its customers.”

MSC said it is excited about the AGL brand reveal and will continue to invest in all its cargo businesses that operate in Africa, while supporting the sustainable growth and development of the continent.

“As a global supply chain leader, MSC understands the critical role that logistics plays in enabling trade, and in growing economies. MSC and AGL remain committed to participating in driving the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as well as connecting Africa with the rest of the world.”

Phillipe Labonne, AGL President said they were pleased to begin this journey within the MSC family.

“This new brand reinforces our ambition to be a trusted logistics partner for our customers in Africa and around the world,” he said.

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Bolloré Africa Logistics devient Africa Global Logistics (AGL)

Il y a un nouveau nom à surveiller sur le continent africain, un nom avec lequel nous allons sans doute nous familiariser rapidement. Le nom est Africa Global Logistics (AGL).

Il ne s’agit pas d’une start-up, mais du changement de marque d’un autre nom bien connu dans de nombreux pays – Bolloré Africa Logistics, que Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) a acquis l’année dernière.

Il était inévitable que la nouvelle filiale MSC soit renommée. Africa Global Logistics c’est devenu.

MSC est le plus grand transporteur de conteneurs au monde. La nouvelle filiale doit également être l’un des plus grands prestataires logistiques internationaux du continent, sinon le plus important.

MSC a déclaré dans un communiqué annonçant le fait de son changement de marque qu’il s’agit d’un renforcement de son “investissement continu en Afrique”.

AGL ne se limite pas à l’Afrique, bien qu’une grande partie de son activité logistique et portuaire s’y trouve, en plus des vastes activités maritimes de MSC.

Avec plus de 21 000 collaborateurs travaillant dans 49 pays, AGL est un opérateur logistique multimodal de référence et fait désormais partie de la Division Cargo du Groupe MSC.

AGL compte plus de 250 agences logistiques et maritimes, 22 concessions portuaires et ferroviaires, 66 ports secs et 2 terminaux fluviaux. La plupart d’entre eux se trouvent en Afrique.

“AGL continuera à fonctionner en tant qu’entité indépendante avec le soutien total de la force et de l’échelle du groupe familial MSC”, a déclaré MSC dans son communiqué.

“MSC comptera sur AGL en tant que partenaire logistique privilégié, en plus de l’activité de transport et de logistique intérieure MEDLOG existante de MSC.

AGL a une empreinte logistique florissante en Afrique, de l’entreposage et du stockage frigorifique à d’autres solutions logistiques. AGL soutiendra également MSC et toutes les autres compagnies maritimes avec des terminaux à conteneurs maritimes productifs, ainsi que des terminaux polyvalents et des opérations ferroviaires efficaces.

AGL a déclaré dans son communiqué qu’avec un savoir-faire séculaire sur le continent, elle continuera à fournir à ses clients locaux et internationaux un réseau logistique intégré compétitif.

“En tant qu’opérateur logistique multimodal (portuaire, logistique, maritime et ferroviaire) de premier plan en Afrique, AGL améliorera la productivité des terminaux que nous opérons au profit de toutes les compagnies maritimes. AGL développera des solutions logistiques multimodales pour répondre aux attentes de ses clients .”

MSC s’est dit ravi de la révélation de la marque AGL et continuera d’investir dans toutes ses activités de fret qui opèrent en Afrique, tout en soutenant la croissance et le développement durables du continent.

“En tant que leader mondial de la chaîne d’approvisionnement, MSC comprend le rôle essentiel que joue la logistique dans la facilitation du commerce et dans la croissance des économies. MSC et AGL restent déterminés à participer au succès de la zone de libre-échange continentale africaine (AfCFTA), ainsi qu’à reliant l’Afrique au reste du monde.

Phillipe Labonne, président d’AGL, s’est dit ravi de commencer ce voyage au sein de la famille MSC.
<p. “Cette nouvelle marque renforce notre ambition d’être un partenaire logistique de confiance pour nos clients en Afrique et dans le monde”, a-t-il déclaré.

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WHARF TALK: Islamic Republic of Iran Navy 86th Flotilla

Dena and Makran (441), Cape Town 31 March 2023 Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Never a true word is spoken in jest with “You are the company that you keep.” It is a well-known saying, which warns you that the people that you choose to associate with, and their actions, will influence how other people think about you, and how they will choose to deal with you going forward. If you associate yourself with thugs and pariah states, you risk being considered to be a thug yourself, and risk becoming a pariah state to boot. And so it is with the current ANC Government, who seem to consider those risks to be a worthwhile endeavour.

It was only back in February, which is not that long ago, and on the first anniversary of the ‘three day special military operation’ in Ukraine, conducted by a thug nation, with no consideration for international law, state sovereignty, and national self-determination, we saw the arrival of a small two ship flotilla of Russian warships arriving in South African ports. The lead warship, Admiral Gorshkov, was gleefully displaying the ‘V’ and ‘Z’ motifs of a barbaric, invading army, in the harbour of a self-proclaimed ‘neutral’ country.

The warship was embraced warmly by the ANC government apparatchiks, and the senior officers of the South African Navy. They were joined by more warships of a third nation, one that is threatening to invade another country, land grabbing on a grand scale in the South China Sea, denying agreed democracy to the populace of Hong Kong, and suppressing elements of its own people. Both nations are showing an affinity for each other that goes against common decency, and in light of events in Ukraine, one questions why the ANC would want to invite them in at such a time of international tension. Surely, things could not get any worse? Wrong!

The Iranian corvette Dena arriving in Cape Town, 31 March 2023, from a tv image

Late on the 30th March, there was a lot of blue light activity spotted going on around G berth, in the Duncan Dock of Cape Town harbour. On 31st March, in the early afternoon, the reason for this became apparent, when two warships of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRIN), arrived, unannounced, with no warning, and like the Russians before them, no doubt hoping to sneak in with little local press intrusion. The warships were the Islamic Republic of Iran Ship (IRINS) ‘Makran’, pennant number 441, and the IRINS ‘Dena’, pennant number 75. The ‘IRINS Makran’ is best described as a Forward Operating Base and Support vessel, and the ‘IRINS Dena’ is best described as a Corvette, or a Light Frigate.

They are operating under the name of ‘The 86th Flotilla’, which has the ironic operating title of ‘The Peace and Friendship Flotilla’, and are on a round the world voyage, to try and show they are a true ‘blue water’ navy, able to operate anywhere on earth, as an independent fighting force. The journey started back in September when the two vessels sailed from Iran, bound for Jakarta, in Indonesia.

Dena, Cape Town Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On 28th September, when they were abeam Mumbai, in India, one of the crew of ‘IRINS Makran’ suffered a cardiac arrest, and medical assistance was sought from the Indian authorities. An ALH Dhruv Mk.3 Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter of the Indian Navy was despatched from the Indian Naval Air Station, INS Shikra, located in South Mumbai. The Iranian Navy crewman was airlifted to the impressive Indian Navy Hospital, INHS Asvini, also located in South Mumbai, and which houses a specialist cardiac surgical and critical care unit. Once the crewman was undergoing treatment, the ‘IRINS Makran’ continued on her voyage to Jakarta, in company with ‘IRINS Dena’.

On 5th November, one week before the G20 Summit, which was hosted in Bali, by Indonesia, both vessels arrived at the Indonesian Naval Base, at Tanjung Priok, in North Jakarta. Over the next five days they held a Search and Rescue exercise with units of the Indonesian Navy. On 10th November, both IRIN vessels sailed for a Trans Pacific voyage, and an expected passage through the Panama Canal. It was the first time in the history of the IRIN that any of their warships had entered the Pacific Ocean. It was unclear where the next port visit would take place, with Venezuela and Cuba topping the list.

The Iranian Navy corvette Dena alongside support ship Makran, Cape Town 31 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As it happened, both vessels crossed the South Pacific, heading away from Panama, and they went around Cape Horn, achieving another first when they arrived off Rio de Janeiro, the first time that an IRIN vessel had called at a South American port. On 27th February, both vessels entered the Arsenal de Marinha de Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ), which is the Brazilian Naval Base at Guanabara Bay. The visit was originally scheduled for 23rd January, but President Lula da Silva of Brazil was about to leave for a visit to Washington DC to meet President Joe Biden, and such a visit was deemed to be too sensitive at the time, so it was delayed until he had left the USA.

From Brazil, the two IRIN warships were expected to head north, either to Venezuela or Cuba, or even to the Panama Canal, as originally stated by the Commander of the Iranian Navy. On 4th March, both vessels departed from Rio de Janeiro, and lo and behold, on 31st March they both fetched up off Cape Town.

An indigenous design of warship, ‘IRINS Dena’ is one of a planned 7 units known as the Moudge, or Mowj, class of Light Frigate, or Corvette. Four of the class have entered service so far, although the second of the class, ‘IRINS Damavand’ struck a breakwater at speed, causing the hull to rupture, and she became partially submerged. She is still under repair. The next, or fifth vessel of the class, ‘IRINS Talayieh’, rolled over whilst in a partially flooded builder’s drydock, and is also being repaired.

Another angle showing the two Iranian ships. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built by the Shahid Darvishi Industries shipyard at Bandar Abbas in Iran, ‘IRINS Dena’ was laid down in 2012, launched in 2015, and commissioned in June 2021. The shipyard is a division of the Marine Industries Organisation (MIO), which is a subordinate organisation of the Iranian Defence Ministry.

At 95 metres in length, ‘IRINS Dena’ has a displacement of 1,500 tons. She is powered by two 10,000 bhp (7,500 kW) diesel engines, capable of achieving a maximum sea speed of 30 knots. Her auxiliary machinery includes four generators providing 550 kW each. She has a crew of 140, and her commanding officer is reported to be Junior Captain Omid Moghani.

Her armament is made up of mostly unlicensed weapons that have been reverse engineered, and copied, from other sources. The main armament of ‘IRINS Dena’ is a Fajr-27 76mm gun, which is an unlicensed copy of the Oto-Melara 76mm gun, as found on the Valour Class of frigate in the South African Navy. She has an aft mounted Fath-40 40mm anti-aircraft gun, which an unlicensed copy of the Bofors L/70 gun. Her lighter armament includes two 20mmm Oerlikon cannons, and two 12.7mm heavy machine guns.

The Iranian Navy corvette Dena alongside support ship Makran, Cape Town 31 March 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is also armed with four Mehrab Surface to Air Missiles (SAM), which are reverse engineered copies of the American RIM-66 SAM. She also has four Noor Surface to Surface Missiles (SSM), which are reverse engineered copies of the Chinese C-802 anti-shipping SSM. She also has two triple launchers for 324mm torpedoes, and two, eight tube, chaff launchers for decoy defense. Her helideck is capable of operating the Bell-212 helicopter.

The ‘IRINS Makran’ is quite an interesting vessel and, for a warship, very unique. She started life as the Aframax tanker ‘Al Buhaira’ (IMO 9486910), whose owners were based in Dubai. She was built in 2010 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries at Yokosuka in Japan. With a length of 230 metres, she had a deadweight of 105,319 tons. In 2013 she was renamed ‘Beta’, with new owners based in Fujairah. She had a very patchy career as ‘Beta’, with the ITF getting involved in crew welfare issues on at least one occasion. Then in 2019 her AIS was switched off, and she was spotted under tow from Fujairah by a tug of the Iranian Navy, and headed for Iran.

Over the next two years she was converted at the Shahid Bahovar shipyard, and at the Iran Shipbuilding and Offshore Industries AGH drydock complex at Bandar Abbas. She reappeared in 2021 as the ‘IRINS Makran’, allocated to the Southern Fleet of the IRIN, with a length of 228 metres and a displacement of 121,000 tons.

She has a maximum sea speed of 14.5 knots, driven by a fixed pitch propeller, and has an endurance of 100 days. She has retained many of her cargo tanks, used previously as a merchant tanker, and has a carrying capacity of 80,000 m3 of fuel oil, and 20,000 m3 of potable water. This allows her to act as a fleet auxiliary oiler, although she has no replenishment at sea equipment fitted.

In November 2016 two Iranian Navy ships, the small frigate Alvand and support ship Bushehr, arrived in Durban. Here Alvand (71) enters port under the background of the Bluff. Picture by Trevor Jones

She has a large forward helideck fitted, with dimensions of 75m by 42m, with one landing spot, and capable of parking between 5 to 7 helicopters at any one time. Her helicopter mix includes Bell 212, Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, and Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion. She carried a single Bell 212 on deck on arrival in Cape Town. There is no hangar provision. She is also able to launch any number of Shahed reconnaissance, or kamikaze, drones.

Her midships crane can be used for alongside refuelling purposes, and is track mounted, to allow it move laterally across the deck. This allows her to pick up the four Zolfaqar fast combat speedboats that she can carry on deck, or the two mini-submarines she can also carry. Of interest is that the speedboats are generally operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN), which is a separate force to the IRIN, under a different command, and whose role is not to protect Iran, but to protect the dictatorial religious leadership of Iran.

Her fixed armament is light, with up to six 20mm anti-aircraft cannons, and two 12.7mm heavy machine guns. She is also capable of carrying two deck loaded 40 foot shipping containers, said to be loaded with anti-ship SSM. There is also accommodation for up to 150 Special Forces to be carried, if required. Her commanding officer is reported to be Captain Ali Asghar Mazloumi.

The IRIN is considered by other Navies to be a professional force, despite being involved in seizing tankers and crews for political ends. However, the IRGCN is seen as something else. It is the IRGCN which is accused of laying mines in the Persian Gulf, of planting limpet mines on anchored tankers, using swarm terror tactics on vessels transiting the Strait of Hormuz. It is not known if any IRGCN members are being carried on ‘IRINS Makran’.

Iranian frigate Alvand alongside at Durban, 21 November 2023. Picture by Trevor Jones

Last year ‘IRINS Makran’, accompanied by the Moudge light frigate ‘IRINS Sahand’ pennant number 74, and under the title of ‘The 75th Flotilla’, undertook a mammoth nonstop voyage from Bandar Abbas, via the Cape of Good Hope, to St. Petersburg in Russia. She did not call into any South African port, nor any other port en route. She was sent to represent Iran in the 325th Russian Navy Day celebration. It was the first time ever that any vessel of the IRIN had entered the Atlantic Ocean. However, the IRIN had hoped to reach that first milestone a few years earlier.

In 2014, the IRIN sent ‘The 30th Flotilla’ south to round the Cape, to enter the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. They were expected to call into Durban en route, but they never arrived. Shortly after leaving Dar es Salaam, one of the vessels developed serious mechanical problems, and the flotilla had to turn around and limp back home to Bandar Abbas.

The IRIN is forced to go the long way round to reach the Atlantic, and St. Petersburg, as they are unable to go via the Suez Canal, as all Iranian warships have been banned from using the canal by the President El-Sisi of Egypt.

In 2016, the Commander of IRIN stated that ‘IRINS Bushehr’ pennant number 422’, a fleet support vessel, and ‘IRINS Alvand’, pennant number 71, a frigate, would proceed around the Cape, known as ‘The 44th Flotilla’, and enter the Atlantic Ocean, and head to the shores of the United States, to show that they could operate in the same way that the US 6th Fleet does in the Persian Gulf.

Iranian ships Alvand (71) and Bushehr at Durban, 21 November 2016

Shortly after entering the Mozambique Channel, ‘IRINS Bushehr’ reportedly struck a partially submerged object, though to be a floating container. The collision resulted in her hull being breached, and a drydock was urgently needed. On 15th November 2016, both ‘IRINS Bushehr’ and ‘IRINS Alvand’ entered Durban Harbour. It was the first visit to any South African port since 1979, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown.

Both vessels headed into the Maydon Channel, with ‘IRIN Alvand’ going to Bayhead, and ‘IRIN Bushehr’ going into the Dormac Floating Drydock, in order to receive her hull repairs. Things did not go well for ‘IRIN Bushehr’. There was a problem with transferring money to affect the repairs, and she languished in Durban harbour for several months. The extended stay, without financial support, meant that food rations ran out on the vessel, and the crew were reduced, at one point, to have to beg the authorities for food.

It is not known how long the current ‘86th Peace and Friendship Flotilla’ will stay in Cape Town, nor if they will visit Durban, or any other South African port, as they continue on their epic round the world cruise, presumably on the last leg back to Iran. The crew were seen leaving the vessel, en masse, later that day, but as it was late, and they were not spotted in the adjacent V&A, the conjecture was that they had been invited to a local mosque to celebrate Ramadan.

As with the Russian two ship flotilla, it is not known how an Iranian two ship flotilla can exert any kind of force projection on their travels, which was the aim of the Commander of the IRIN. He even boasted that, as well as having a current Command for the Indian Ocean, that the IRIN would set up additional Commands in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Where these so-called commands would be based, and using which IRIN vessels, is unknown. It is considered by defence analysts to be nothing more than bluster, to divert attention away from the domestic woes that Iran is currently experiencing with a restless populace.

Iranian support ship Bushehr, Durban T-Jetty, 16 November 2016. Picture by Trevor Jones

It all begs the question, as to what the ANC government can possibly get out of pushing out an invitation to yet another pariah state to come and visit South Africa. Trade, yes, but at what price internationally. There is a very good reason why Iran is a pariah state. The continuing attempts at destabilisation of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, using the Sunni-Shia schism as their weapon. The attempt at production of a nuclear weapon, the oppression of its people, especially women, the terror tactics it carries out to international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, and the arrest of foreign nationals, on trumped up charges, for political leverage.

There is not one value that aligns with the ANC in this relationship, and the price of this visit may not bode well for relations with other nations. Is it because that Iran is now firmly in bed with Russia, in providing weapons, such as Shahed drones, to rain destruction down on the civilian population of Ukraine, that the ANC is happy to welcome them in? We already know that South Africa was, or is, training pilots of the Iran Air Force. A friend of Russia, is a friend of mine? What is obvious here is that there is also no neutrality display in this optic.

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Missing tanker Monjasa Reformer found, but 6 crew taken away hostage

The pirated Danish tanker Monjasa Reformer. Picture: French Navy

The Danish products tanker MONJASA REFORMER, which was boarded by armed pirates off the coast of Port Doula more than a week ago, and which subsequently went missing without any news of the 16 crew members on the ship, has been found.

A French naval ship, FS Premier Maître L’Her, located the missing ship by means of an aerial drone, which showed the pirated vessel on a course for the coast of Nigeria.

Also seen by the drone was a smaller vessel, believed to belong to the pirates, alongside the Monjasa Reformer, which seemed to indicate the vessel had been taken by the pirates for use as a possible mother ship.

A subsequent reconnaissance by an aircraft however, showed the smaller vessel to have departed from the scene of the tanker.

Next a message was received from the tanker, saying that the pirates had departed, taking six members of the crew with them. Monjasa Reformer by this stage was about 90 nautical miles south of Bonny.

Steps were then taken by the French naval ship to effect a rescue operation towards the tanker.

A doctor and nurse have boarded the tanker to provide any necessary treatment for the remaining crew.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian naval ship, NS Gongola also arrived to provide any necessary assistance and support and to escort the tanker to the port of Lomé

After a lengthy lull in pirate activity in the Gulf of Guinea, a warning has now gone out from the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) to all mariners in the region to be extra vigilant and to exercise extreme caution while transiting the area.

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ONE on expansion programme with 28.7% stake in Seaspan Corp

ONE Stork, ONE’s first 14,000-TEU newbuild in 2018    ONE

Singapore-based Ocean Network Express (ONE) – the pink ship operator – has embarked on an expansion programme with the acquisition of a 28.7% stake in the Seaspan Corp.

Seaspan is the world’s largest non-operating container ship owner.

The acquisition has become possible by way of ONE and its partners forming Poseidon Acquisition Corp, having acquired all of the outstanding common stock of Atlas not previously owned by Poseidon.

Atlas is the parent company of Seaspan Corp. The deal cost US$ 10.9 billion.

Poseidon is an entity formed by affiliates of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, affiliates of the Washington Family, David Sokol, Chairman of the Board of Atlas, and Ocean Network Express Pte Ltd (‘ONE’).

Seapsan set about transforming the composition of its fleet and expanding its capacity in 2018. Having focused on vessels of under 10,000 TEU capacity, half of the fleet in 2023 averages around 13,000 TEU capacity.

The number of ships within the fleet grew from 89 in 2017 to 189 currently, including vessels on order.

ONE is the largest charterer with about 25% of the fleet, while MSC, Cosco, Zim and Yang Ming each have around 10%, leaving 80% of the Seaspan fleet under charter with those five.

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The Magnetism of Antarctica: The Ross Expedition 1839-1843

By John Knight

Published by Whittles Publishing
Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland KW6 6EG
ISBN 978 1 84995 501 0
Pages c.256. Softback. Price £18.99

For more years than I care to remember I have been absorbed by polar business in one form or another. In another life I had the privilege of working for Captain Tom Woodfield at Trinity House. He had served in RRSs Shackleton and John Biscoe and commanded RRS Bransfield. He was a polar medallist and wrote Polar Mariner Beyond the Limits in Antarctica, published by Whittles and still available.

The first thorough account

The Magnetism of Antarctica: The Ross Expedition 1839-1843 is said to be first thorough account of this expedition. Never before or since has the Antarctic pack ice been breached by two wooden sail-powered warships without the aid of charts or any prior knowledge of what they were about to encounter.

This under-documented expedition was a pivotal moment in the annals of polar exploration and was the starting point, in historical terms, of revealing the great unknown continent of Antarctica. It was the first time in nearly 70 years since Captain James Cook had circumnavigated Antarctica, that a Royal Naval voyage of discovery had ventured so far South. They set a new ‘furthest south’ record in the process beating the one set up by James Weddell in a whaling ship in 1823.

James Clark Ross and Francis Crozier

The expedition set sail from Greenwich in 1839. It consisted of two wooden sailing ships commanded by Captain James Clark Ross and Commander Francis Crozier. The ships were manned exclusively by Royal Naval personnel and each ship had a complement of 64. Their primary task was of a scientific nature to study the Earth’s magnetic field and build up a set of results that could provide a greater understanding of the effects of magnetism on compasses and their use in global navigation. This voyage had a set of targets and all were accomplished. In the process a vast amount of scientific information was collected.

Erebus and Terror

This voyage included port calls at Madeira, St. Helena, Cape Town, Kerguelen Island, New Zealand, Australia and the Falkland Islands. The pinnacle was the discovery of the Ross Sea, the Ross Ice Shelf and the mighty volcanoes of Erebus and Terror named after the two ships.

Ships’ companies experienced the dangers of navigation in ice-strewn waters and narrowly escaping being crushed by icebergs. Illness was kept at bay although several lives were lost due to accidents.

It would be another sixty years before the scenes of these greatest discoveries were visited again and then the Golden Age of Discovery was ushered in with the expeditions of Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen.

The book is well illustrated and laid out in three parts. Part 1 – The Expedition. In the Beginning; Targets and instructions; James Clark Ross and Francis Crozier; Setting sail to Madeira and the Atlantic Islands; Cape Town and beyond; Next stop – Hobart, Tasmania; First taste of the ice; Amazing discoveries and wonders to behold; Turning North; South again to the Great Ice Barrier; Impending Disaster; Wild cattle hunt and a third winter away; Return to the Antarctic.

Part 2 – The sailors’ stories.

Part 3 – The ships and their sailors. Muster list for HMS Erebus; Muster list for HMS Terror. Postscript. To these are added the acknowledgements, arrival and departure dates at ports of call and a bibliography.

Whittles Publishing has an established polar list that includes: Scott’s Forgotten Surgeon Dr Reginald Koettlitz, Polar Explorer, by Aubrey A Jones, and My Arctic Summer by Agnieszka Latocha.

Reviewed by Paul Ridgway

London Correspondent
Africa Ports & Ships

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IN CONVERSATION: Torrents of Antarctic meltwater are slowing the currents that drive our vital ocean ‘overturning’ – and threaten its collapse

Thwaits Gkacier, Antarctica. Picture: NASA

Matthew England, UNSW Sydney; Adele Morrison, Australian National University; Andy Hogg, Australian National University; Qian Li, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Steve Rintoul, CSIRO

Off the coast of Antarctica, trillions of tonnes of cold salty water sink to great depths. As the water sinks, it drives the deepest flows of the “overturning” circulation – a network of strong currents spanning the world’s oceans. The overturning circulation carries heat, carbon, oxygen and nutrients around the globe, and fundamentally influences climate, sea level and the productivity of marine ecosystems.

But there are worrying signs these currents are slowing down. They may even collapse. If this happens, it would deprive the deep ocean of oxygen, limit the return of nutrients back to the sea surface, and potentially cause further melt back of ice as water near the ice shelves warms in response. There would be major global ramifications for ocean ecosystems, climate, and sea-level rise.

Schematic showing the pathways of flow in the upper, deep and bottom layers of the ocean.

Our new research, published today in the journal Nature, uses new ocean model projections to look at changes in the deep ocean out to the year 2050. Our projections show a slowing of the Antarctic overturning circulation and deep ocean warming over the next few decades. Physical measurements confirm these changes are already well underway.

Climate change is to blame. As Antarctica melts, more freshwater flows into the oceans. This disrupts the sinking of cold, salty, oxygen-rich water to the bottom of the ocean. From there this water normally spreads northwards to ventilate the far reaches of the deep Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. But that could all come to an end soon. In our lifetimes.

Why does this matter?

As part of this overturning, about 250 trillion tonnes of icy cold Antarctic surface water sinks to the ocean abyss each year. The sinking near Antarctica is balanced by upwelling at other latitudes. The resulting overturning circulation carries oxygen to the deep ocean and eventually returns nutrients to the sea surface, where they are available to support marine life.

If the Antarctic overturning slows down, nutrient-rich seawater will build up on the seafloor, five kilometres below the surface. These nutrients will be lost to marine ecosystems at or near the surface, damaging fisheries.

Changes in the overturning circulation could also mean more heat gets to the ice, particularly around West Antarctica, the area with the greatest rate of ice mass loss over the past few decades. This would accelerate global sea-level rise.

An overturning slowdown would also reduce the ocean’s ability to take up carbon dioxide, leaving more greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. And more greenhouse gases means more warming, making matters worse.

Meltwater-induced weakening of the Antarctic overturning circulation could also shift tropical rainfall bands around a thousand kilometres to the north.

Put simply, a slowing or collapse of the overturning circulation would change our climate and marine environment in profound and potentially irreversible ways.

Signs of worrying change

The remote reaches of the oceans that surround Antarctica are some of the toughest regions to plan and undertake field campaigns. Voyages are long, weather can be brutal, and sea ice limits access for much of the year.

This means there are few measurements to track how the Antarctic margin is changing. But where sufficient data exist, we can see clear signs of increased transport of warm waters toward Antarctica, which in turn causes ice melt at key locations.

Indeed, the signs of melting around the edges of Antarctica are very clear, with increasingly large volumes of freshwater flowing into the ocean and making nearby waters less salty and therefore less dense. And that’s all that’s needed to slow the overturning circulation. Denser water sinks, lighter water does not.

Antarctic ice mass loss over the last few decades based on satellite data, showing that between 2002 and 2020, Antarctica shed an average of ~150 billion metric tonnes of ice per year, adding meltwater to the ocean and raising sea-levels (Source: NASA).

How did we find this out?

Apart from sparse measurements, incomplete models have limited our understanding of ocean circulation around Antarctica.

For example, the latest set of global coupled model projections analysed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change exhibit biases in the region. This limits the ability of these models in projecting the future fate of the Antarctic overturning circulation.

To explore future changes, we took a high resolution global ocean model that realistically represents the formation and sinking of dense water near Antarctica.

We ran three different experiments, one where conditions remained unchanged from the 1990s; a second forced by projected changes in temperature and wind; and a third run also including projected changes in meltwater from Antarctica and Greenland.

In this way we could separate the effects of changes in winds and warming, from changes due to ice melt.

The findings were striking. The model projects the overturning circulation around Antarctica will slow by more than 40% over the next three decades, driven almost entirely by pulses of meltwater.

Abyssal ocean warming driven by Antarctic overturning slowdown, Credit: Matthew England and Qian Li

Over the same period, our modelling also predicts a 20% weakening of the famous North Atlantic overturning circulation which keeps Europe’s climate mild. Both changes would dramatically reduce the renewal and overturning of the ocean interior.

We’ve long known the North Atlantic overturning currents are vulnerable, with observations suggesting a slowdown is already well underway, and projections of a tipping point coming soon. Our results suggest Antarctica looks poised to match its northern hemisphere counterpart – and then some.

What next?

Much of the abyssal ocean has warmed in recent decades, with the most rapid trends detected near Antarctica, in a pattern very similar to our model simulations.

Our projections extend out only to 2050. Beyond 2050, in the absence of strong emissions reductions, the climate will continue to warm and the ice sheets will continue to melt. If so, we anticipate the Southern Ocean overturning will continue to slow to the end of the century and beyond.

The projected slowdown of Antarctic overturning is a direct response to input of freshwater from melting ice. Meltwater flows are directly linked to how much the planet warms, which in turn depends on the greenhouse gases we emit.

Our study shows continuing ice melt will not only raise sea-levels, but also change the massive overturning circulation currents which can drive further ice melt and hence more sea level rise, and damage climate and ecosystems worldwide. It’s yet another reason to address the climate crisis – and fast.The Conversation

Matthew England, Scientia Professor and Deputy Director of the ARC Australian Centre for Excellence in Antarctic Science (ACEAS), UNSW Sydney; Adele Morrison, Research Fellow, Australian National University; Andy Hogg, Professor, Australian National University; Qian Li, , Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Steve Rintoul, CSIRO Fellow, CSIRO

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

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Africa expects action – and funding – for climate justice

With top scientists warning that Africa is paying an intolerable price for the impacts of climate change, it’s time for the rich world to honour its pledges on climate finance and investment

By Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations and Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) came with all the usual warnings of the calamities that will befall us if we do not stop global warming now.

But this is hardly news in Africa, where people are already living with some of the worst effects of climate change – a problem they did not cause and are powerless to stop.

It is the rich world’s accumulated greenhouse gas emissions that are inflicting devastating droughts or torrential floods across vast swathes of the continent. It is here where hunger is on the rise and decades of economic and social progress have been thrown into reverse.

Worse, African countries are having to borrow more, and get deeper into debt, to recover after climate disasters. How is this fair?

Too little, too late

The IPCC report puts climate justice into sharp focus. It says: “
Prioritizing equity, climate justice, social justice, inclusion and just transition processes can enable adaptation and ambitious mitigation actions and climate-resilient development.

But, as yet, we have no mechanism to bring about climate justice. The COP27 climate conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, last year agreed to set up a ‘loss and damage fund’ to compensate poor countries for the harm caused by climate change.

So far that fund is empty. The expectation is that it will attract some pledges by the time the next U.N. climate summit convenes in the UAE later this year, but we are not holding our breath.

International finance for reducing emissions and adapting to climate risks in the developing world has repeatedly fallen far short of the $100 billion annual target set by donors, including the United States, Japan and European Union, 14 years ago. The trickle of money that arrives is tied up in red tape.

That is why vulnerable countries are having to borrow to pay for the increasing costs of climate catastrophes.

Last year’s heavy monsoon rains caused more than $30 billion of damage and financial losses in Pakistan, nearly 9 per cent of the country’s GDP. When a country is small, climate losses can exceed its entire economic output. In Dominica, for example, storm damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017 cost the country more than twice its annual GDP.

African countries face seeing their GDP growth rate fall by up to 64% by the end of the century, even if the world succeeds in limiting global heating to 1.5C. The economic cost of climate disasters in developing countries is projected to reach as much as $580 billion a year by 2030.

In 2021, more than 30 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters. In Africa, 52 million people – 4 per cent of the population – have suffered either drought or floods over the past two years, according to the latest State and Trends in Adaptation in Africa 2022 report.

A drought in the Horn of Africa, now in its fourth year, is worse than the conditions that led to famine in 2011. Close to 23 million people are currently highly food insecure in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

How does the world expect countries to protect vulnerable populations if the international funds promised are not there?

Investing for a more resilient future

Africa does not want aid or emergency relief funds. It wants to invest in a climate-resilient future. It needs funding to rebuild roads, bridges and buildings so they can withstand frequent flooding and storms. It needs to invest in R&D to develop new crop strains that can withstand prolonged droughts. It needs to give farmers access to climate data services, and much else besides.

Climate adaptation needs to be built in so that communities not only build back after a natural disaster, but also build back better.

The key is to be able to do this quickly and at scale, because right now the world’s poorest and most climate-vulnerable nations are at risk of falling into a destructive debt and climate-disaster trap.

Africa has a plan on how to do this – the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program is an Africa-owned and Africa-led initiative developed by the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in close collaboration with the African Union. It serves as the implementation of the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) to mobilize $25 billion to implement, scale and accelerate climate adaptation across Africa. Since 2021, AAAP has mainstreamed climate adaptation in over $5.2 billion of investments in 19 countries.

Restoring Trust

Africa put its faith in the Paris Agreement on climate change but has been shortchanged. It is time for industrialized countries to make good on their broken promises and fully fund the need for climate adaptation and mitigation in developing countries.

Doing so will not only restore the fractured trust between climate-vulnerable regions and the rich world; it will also be the surest way to achieve climate justice and build a more stable global order.

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Transnet gas pipeline accident in Durban



The Transnet gas pipeline in Springfield Park, Durban, which is near the Bisasar Road Landfill site, was damaged by a tractor loader backhoe (TLB) on the afternoon of Thursday, 30 March 2023.

It appears the TLB accidentally struck the pipeline, while engaged in cleaning up illegal dumping at the site.

Due to a fire on the adjacent landfill site, the Transnet Pipelines (TPL) team could not access the pipeline to establish the full extent of the damage and as a safety precaution the pipeline was isolated and gas flow through the pipeline was stopped.

The fire was brought under control late that night and the repairs to the pipeline were able to commence on Friday morning, 31 March.

According to Transnet Pipelines all downstream users of the gas were notified and TPL was undertaking the necessary repairs.

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―  Nelson Mandela 


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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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