Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 20 May 2023

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Week commencing 15 May 2023.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return 



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Alexandria Bridge departs Durban, April 2023. Picture by Trevor Jones

As the port helicopter hovers ahead of the K-Line container ships ALEXANDRIA BRIDGE (IMO 9409039),  waiting to take off the harbour pilot, the boxship operating with Ocean Network Express (ONE) faces the open sea as she departs the port of Durban.

Alexandria Bridge is deployed on ONE’s service between China and South East Asia, South Africa and West Africa. The 51,314-dwt ship has a length of 261 metres and a beam of 32m and a container capacity of 4,228 TEU. She is managed by Fujujin Kisen of Imabari in Japan and was built in 2009 at Hyundai Heavy Industries yard in Ulsan, South Korea.

Picture: by Trevor Jones


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Latest World Bank container port rankings

Container Port Performance Index 2023

The 3rd edition of the Container Port Performance Index, developed by The World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence, has just been released.

This is a data-based comparable index that ranks 348 global container ports according to their efficiency. Performance is measured by the elapsed time between when a ship reaches a port to its departure from the berth having completed its cargo exchange.

The ranking is intended to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement for the benefit of key stakeholders in global trade, including government, shipping lines, port and terminal operators, shippers, logistics companies and consumers.

Sadly, South African container ports in particular fare extremely badly once again, but it is pleasing to note that two North African, or Mediterranean ports, Tanger Med and Port Said, have ranked in the top ten, with Tanger Med in 4th position and Port Said at number 10.

The report, issued by the World Bank yesterday (18 May), notes that operational conditions at global ports have improved significantly following the unprecedented levels of disruption triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. It says that globally, ports are continuing to clear backlogs, but additional scope for efficiency gains remain.

Further digitalization of port processes and modernization of port infrastructure would improve productivity, customer service and emissions reductions, the data suggest.

The ranking is not merely for interest sake but is intended to identify gaps and opportunities for improvement for the benefit of key stakeholders in global trade, including government, shipping lines, port and terminal operators, shippers, logistics companies and consumers.


Among the report highlights are China’s Yangshan port, which topped the ranking despite periods of heavy disruption caused by typhoons and various other factors in 2022.

Looking beyond Yangshan Port, Middle East and North Africa ports performed well again this year, with three ports from the region finishing in the top five: Port of Salalah in Oman ranked 2nd, Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi took 3rd, and Tanger Med ranked 4th.

Ports in Latin America showed improved performance over 2022 with the Colombian Port of Cartagena taking 5th place overall and Ecuador’s Port of Posorja ranking 19th.

In Southeast Asia, the Port of Tanjung Pelepas in Malaysia rose to 6th place this year, with Vietnam’s Cai Mep 12th and Singapore port 18th.

In 16th place, the Port of Algeciras in Spain is the highest ranked port in Europe.

Wilmington, North Carolina (44th) and the Port of Virginia (52nd) are the top ranked ports in North America.

Sub-Saharan Africa

The Port of Berbera, which ranked 144th, was the highest-ranking port in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many ports in the region continue to experience excessive vessel turnaround time, a persistent risk for supply chain disruption.

“Improving port efficiency is essential for unlocking Africa’s growth and development,” says Martin Humphreys, Lead Transport Economist at the World Bank. “Africa’s ports are vital gateways for trade and commerce, and efficient operation contributes to food security. Their efficient operation is a key determinant in whether Africa achieves its economic potential.”


South African container ports ranked among the lowest of the low.

Cape Town occupies position 344 (out of 348), Durban 341, and Ngqura 338. These are similar to their respective rankings in the previous report and must still seen as among the world’s worst performing ports.

The lowest 10 Sub-Saharan African ports are (out of 348): Cape Town (344), Durban (341), Ngqura (338), Luanda (337), Abidjan (333), Nouakchott (331), Cotonou (330), Mombasa (326), Kribi (324), Lomé (318).

The full index may be FOUND HERE

Once this is open, click on either the PDF or English Text file on left of page which will open the Index.

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Added 19 May 2023


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WHARF TALK: MR2 product tanker – NAVE SEXTANS

MR2 product tanker Nave Sextans at the tanker berth in Cape Town harbour. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

As the week progressed, examples of the smallest of the Product Tanker classes, the MR1, have been reported on, and also the largest of the Product Tanker classes, the LR2. So, it only seems right that the week should end with the ‘workhorse’ of the Product Tanker classes, the MR2, which makes up more than 80% of all arrivals of product tankers in South African ports.

It is their perfect design length of 183 metres, which means that every Southern African port can accommodate them, which is the whole raison d’etre for the existence of the MR2. They are designed to go anywhere, and they can be utilised for service on both coastal and oceanic trades, as they are also designed to carry a variety of fuel products at the same time.

All MR2 product tankers fall between 45,000 deadweight tons, and 55,000 deadweight tons, which means that in most loading, or discharge, ports with efficient terminal facilities, that they can be fully loaded, or fully discharged, in just one day. In South Africa’s case, their arrival is often based on a multiple port call, rather than a single call with a complete cargo for one port.

Back on 3rd May, at 0400 in the early morning, the MR2 product tanker NAVE SEXTANS (IMO 9697442) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Ar Ruwais in the UAE, and went to anchor for a short period of 16 hours. At 2000 on the evening of 3rd May she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and straight to the Tanker Basin to begin her fuel products discharge.

Nave Sextans, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2015 by Dae Sun Shipbuilding at Busan in South Korea, ‘Nave Sextans’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,999 tons. She is powered by a single HHI MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C.8 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 13,542 bhp (9,960 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 850 kW each, and a single emergency generator providing 300 kW. She has single Alfa Laval Aalborg CHO oil fired boiler, and a single Miura Economiser exhaust gas boiler. She has twelve cargo tanks with a cargo carrying capacity of 52,868 m3.

One of a series of eight sisterships, built to a popular design of MR2 tanker built by Dae Sun, ‘Nave Sextans’ is nominally owned by Skyros Shipping Corporation, and controlled by Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation, of Athens in Greece. She is operated by Navios Shipmanagement of Athens, and managed by Navios Tanker Management Incorporated, also of Athens. She proudly flies the Navios Group houseflag on her funnel.

Nave Sextans, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Greek owned vessels, especially tankers, are very frequent callers in South African ports, and Greek shipowners are some of the most dynamic and prolific in the world. Not all of that prominence is due to superior business methods. All Greek shipping companies have an advantage over other worldwide operators, in that they do not pay income tax, although a small levy on the vessel deadweight tonnage was recently introduced by the Greek government.

It is this tax-free status that makes Greek shipping so competitive in a very international business. Not surprisingly, the majority of Greek shipowners say that they would rather go out of business if the domestic shipowning rules were changed, and they had to pay income tax. There is no such thing as a level playing field within the EU shipping world.

Nave Sextans, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After just under two days alongside in Cape Town, ‘Nave Sextans’ was ready to sail, which indicated quite strongly that her current voyage was to be one of multiple calls at other Southern African ports. It has been a while since Cape Town has showed itself able to complete a 100% discharge of a fully loaded MR2 tanker in less than two days. She sailed at 1600 in the afternoon of 5th May, bound for Walvis Bay, in Namibia.

She duly arrived at Walvis Bay at 18h00 in the early evening on the 7th May, and continued her Southern African discharge. Almost three days later, at 14h00 in the afternoon of 10th May, she was finished with her discharge of fuel products for the Namibian client, and she sailed for her third port of call on the coast, namely East London.

She arrived off the Eastern Cape port at 20h00 on 15th May, where she was sent to the outer anchorage, as there was already another MR2 tanker alongside in East London, which only has a single berth for tankers to discharge. She remained at anchor for just over 36 hours, and at 08h00 in the morning of 17th May, ‘Nave Sextans’ entered the Buffalo River, and entered East London harbour to continue her discharge.

Nave Sextans, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

There is another of her company fleet mates also conducting fuel product discharges on the South African coast. She is the MR1 tanker ‘Hector N’, which is currently discharging in Cape Town, and has been a permanent fixture on the coast for over two years. She fulfills the role that Unicorn Lines tankers used to, which is loading in Durban, for discharge at all ports from Maputo on the East coast, through South Africa, to Walvis Bay on the West coast.

With winter approaching fast, and to give you an indication of how much fuel is required in the East London greater conurbation, there have been no less than five tankers calling to discharge products at East London in the last ten days. On 7th May, the MR2 tanker ‘Aegea’ completed her discharge in East London, and sailed for Port Elizabeth. As mentioned, her fleetmate ‘Hector N’ arrived from Durban to discharge on 10th May. As soon as she sailed, for Cape Town, the MR2 tanker ‘Diamond Express’ arrived from Durban to discharge.

Nave Sextans, Cape Town 4 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Two days later, on 17th May at 07h00, ‘Diamond Express’ sailed for Port Elizabeth, to be replaced immediately by the arrival of the MR2 tanker ‘Nave Sextans’ from Cape Town. With the sole tanker berth being occupied by, initially ‘Diamond Express’, and now by ‘Nave Sextans’, the arrival of the fourth tanker, the MR2 ‘Hansa Sealifter’, from Durban on 16th May, meant that she too had to go to the outer anchorage to await her turn to enter East London port.

After three port calls on this current voyage, the East London call is expected to be the last discharge port on the Southern African coast for ‘Nave Sextans’ on this current voyage. As yet, there is no indication of where her next loading port will be.

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Added 19 May 2023


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Maputo ban on N-4 trucks during rush hour

Picture: MMO

The Mozambican Government has placed a curfew on heavy trucks using sections of the N4 highway (Maputo – Komatipoort border with South Africa) during rush hour.

The heavy trucks, mostly carrying ore for export via the Maputo/Matola ports, have resulted in congestion resulting in blocked roads and traffic disruption, similar to what is occurring further south in South Africa outside the port of Richards Bay and at Durban.

Although the rail service from South Africa to Maputo is operating fairly smoothly, many mining houses continue to send ore for export via the road, which has been regarded as quicker and more efficient.

The ministerial decree announcing the curfew or ban on trucks at rush hour said the action is to prioritise road safety and reduce traffic on the section.

It is not clear if this applies to the entire length of the N4 within Mozambique or just the section surrounding the city and port.

The decree does however mention the ban as applying especially to the Tchumene and Malhampsene section, towards the outskirts of Maputo.

‘Rush hour’ is meant to be between 06h00 and 08h00 weekdays.

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Added 19 May 2023


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Maputo proíbe camiões N-4 na hora de ponta

Imagem: MMO

O Governo moçambicano impôs toque de recolher aos camiões pesados que circulam nos troços da autoestrada N4 (Maputo – fronteira de Komatipoort com a África do Sul) durante a hora de ponta.

Os camiões pesados, na sua maioria transportando minério para exportação através dos portos de Maputo/Matola, resultaram em congestionamento resultando em estradas bloqueadas e interrupção do tráfego, semelhante ao que está a ocorrer mais a sul na África do Sul fora do porto de Richards Bay e em Durban.

Embora o serviço ferroviário da África do Sul para Maputo esteja a funcionar razoavelmente bem, muitas empresas mineiras continuam a enviar minério para exportação através da estrada, que tem sido considerada mais rápida e eficiente.

A portaria ministerial que anuncia o toque de recolher ou proibição de caminhões no horário de pico diz que a ação visa priorizar a segurança viária e reduzir o tráfego no trecho.

Não está claro se isto se aplica a toda a extensão da N4 dentro de Moçambique ou apenas ao troço que envolve a cidade e o porto.

O decreto refere, no entanto, que a interdição se aplica especialmente ao troço de Tchumene e Malhampsene, nos arredores de Maputo.

‘Hora de ponta’ significa entre as 06h00 e as 08h00 durante a semana.

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Adicionado em 19 de maio de 2023


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Chinese fishing vessel Lu Peng Lai Yuan Yu No 8 missing in mid-Indian Ocean

An international search, co-ordinated by the Australian Safety Authority (AMSA), has undertaken a search for survivors of the Chinese fishing vessel named Lu Peng Lai Yuan Yu No 8 that capsized earlier on Tuesday (16 May) in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Reports from AMSA placed the fishing vessel, with a crew of 39 on board, as being 5,000 kilometres north-west of Perth.  This places the search area somewhere to the south of Diego Garcia.

Xinhua reports the crew as consisting of 17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five from the Philippines.

AMSA advised that it received a distress beacon signal in the early morning of 16 May and had despatched a search and rescue aircraft to look for the missing vessel in the area identified by the beacon signal. Based on subsequent drift modelling AMSAS has identified a 12,000 square kilometre zone in which to search for survivors.

A bulk carrier, Navios Taurus, reported late on Tuesday that it had sighted an overturned hull within the designated search area, but could see no survivors. Other ships have been requested to keep a lookout.

On Wednesday AMSA received assistance from the Australian Defence Force by way of an ADF P-8A Poseidon aircraft which has been tasked with assisting with the long-range search. The aircraft overnighted in the Maldives and continued searching on Thursday.

AMSA reported further that a number of merchant ships and other vessels have been assisting with the search and would continue to do so.

“Australia has been liaising with the Chinese Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), with three Chinese naval ships continuing the search in the area today,” AMSA said on Thursday.

Reports say the search area was experiencing severe weather conditions with winds reaching 120 km/h and waves as high as 7 metres. On Wednesday the weather began moderating with winds dropping to between 40 and 50 km/h and waves down to between 2 and 3 metres.

Cape Town connection

Lu Peng Lai Yuan Yu No 8 departed Cape Town on 5 May and was heading towards Busan in South Korea, according to AIS reports. AIS last located the vessel on 10 May to the southeast of La Reunion.

The vessel is based out of the Chinese province of Shandong and is operated by Penglai Jinglu Fishery Co, a large state-own company.

The North Pacific Fishing Commission identifies the vessel as being authorised to fish for neon flying squid and Pacific saury.

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Added 18-19 May 2023


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Black Sea grain deal for at least 60 more days:  Russia confirms participation

Joint inspection teams at work under the Black Sea Initiative. Picture: UNODC/Duncan Moore

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Speaking at the daily press briefing on Wednesday (17 May), António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, welcomed Russia’s decision to continue its involvement in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which has allowed the safe export of more than 30 million tonnes of grain and other foodstuffs from Ukraine, via its Black Sea ports, and also aims to ensure the flow of food and fertilizer from Russia, through a Memorandum of Understanding.

This Initiative (now known as the BSGI) began in July last year, and is run by a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), staffed with representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the United Nations, and Türkiye, with HQ in Istanbul.

Good news for the world

S-G Guterres said the continuation was “good news for the world” although outstanding issues remain to be resolved.

He continued: “But representatives of Russia, Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations will keep discussing them – I hope we will reach a comprehensive agreement to improve, expand and extend the Initiative – as I proposed in a recent letter to the Presidents of the three countries.”

Mr Guterres conveyed his appreciation to all the parties involved in the negotiations for continuing the deal, for proceeding “in a spirit of constructive engagement.”

He thanked President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish Government for their efforts, “working in permanent coordination with the United Nations” through the JCC.

He said that both the Initiative and the Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and Russia over fertilizer and foods, matter for global food security.

Continuing he said: “Ukrainian and Russian products feed the world” with vital supplies reaching some of the world’s most vulnerable thanks to the deal, “including 30,000 tons of wheat that just left Ukraine aboard a WFP-chartered ship to feed hungry people in Sudan.”

Always a beacon of hope

“They matter because we are still in the throes of a record-breaking cost-of-living crisis. Over the last year, markets have stabilized, volatility has been reduced and we have seen global food prices fall by 20 per cent.”

He said that the agreements mattered because the demonstrated that “even in the darkest hours, there is always a beacon of hope and an opportunity to find solutions that benefit everyone.”

The UN chief added that he hoped exports of food and fertilizer from both Ukraine and Russia, would reach global supply chains “safely and predictably”, as envisaged by all participants.

The UN is fully committed to support both agreements, he concluded.

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Added 18 May 2023


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Wharf Talk: SA Port Statistics for April 2023

The Iron Ore Terminal at the Port of Saldanha   Picture  TNPA

Port statistics for the month of April 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.

Port Statistics continue below

Figures for the respective ports during April 2023 

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

PORT April 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.128
Durban 4.849
Saldanha Bay 3.173
Cape Town 1.138
Port Elizabeth 0.747
Ngqura 1.780
Mossel Bay 0.057
East London 0.105
Total all ports 18.976 million tonnes

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

PORT April 2023 TEUs
Durban 175,336
Cape Town 57,809
Port Elizabeth 8,951
Ngqura 86,403
East London 2,387
Richards Bay
Total all ports 330,886 TEU

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

PORT April 2023 CEUs
Durban 43,776
Cape Town 3
Port Elizabeth 18,353
East London 9,939
Richards Bay
Total all ports 72,071

SHIP CALLS for April 2023

PORT April 2023 vessels gross tons
Durban 212 7,760,348
Cape Town 254 3,738,572
Richards Bay 104 4,116,785
Port Elizabeth 57 1,631,371
Saldanha Bay 52 2,944,664
Ngqura 54 2,03,051
East London 19 670,857
Mossel Bay 24 134,222
Total ship calls 776 23,099,870
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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Added 18 May 2023


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WHARF TALK: offshore security crew vessels – TMC FALCON & TMC OSPREY

TMC Osprey alongside in Cape own harbour, 15 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The vessels of the offshore oil and gas industry are always welcome arrivals in South African ports. The reason for their arrival always has them falling into two distinct categories. The first category covers those vessels that are in transit from one contract to another, and one that normally requires a long oceanic crossing of one sort or another. Most of these vessels are of the large and extremely complex type.

The second category are those offshore oil and gas industry vessels that are working mainly in the West Africa sector, and require maintenance, drydocking or heavy refits, and that cannot be received in any West African enclave. Most of these vessels are of the support variety, although not all, and most of medium size. Every now and again, a small size offshore vessel makes the journey from West Africa.

Even then, there is the odd type of vessel that you would not ordinarily identify as being an oil and gas industry vessel. In the oil and gas industry there are areas of the world that are considered risky at best, and downright dangerous at worst and, sadly, for the Nigeria region of Africa, such vessels are needed. I am, of course, referring to fast, armed security vessels.

That said, their rarity means that most marine websites that report on the movement of such vessels, cannot seem to agree on what to call them. In various guises, the latest callers to Cape Town have been referred to as platform supply vessels, offshore tugs, crew boats, and security vessels. In a broad sense, three of the four cover the description of what they do. However, Tug certainly isn’t one of them.

TMC Falcon & TMC Osprey, Cape Town 15 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’


On 15th May, at 17h00 in the late afternoon, not one, but two, offshore security crew vessels arrived off Cape Town, from Port Harcourt in Nigeria, and entered Cape Town harbour, both proceeding into the Duncan Dock and both going alongside the outer Eastern Mole. The identity of the two vessels was TMC FALCON (IMO 9869837) and TMC OSPREY (IMO 9880427). Generally, going alongside the outer Eastern Mole would indicate a logistical transient stop.

Both vessels had set off from Port Harcourt on 2nd May, some eight hours apart, on what would have been quite a voyage for such a type of vessel that is not generally designed, nor suited, for an oceanic passage of nigh on a fortnight. It must have been quite a journey to endure.

The older of the two vessels, ‘TMC Falcon’, was built in 2018, whilst the newer vessel, ‘TMC Osprey’, was built in 2019. Both of them were built by the Penguin Shipyard in Singapore, and have a length of 40 metres, with a deadweight of 131 tons.

They are powered by three Caterpillar C32 ASERT V12 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 1,450 bhp (1,080 kW) each, and giving a power output of 4,350 bhp (3,240 kW) to drive three fixed pitch propellers for a maximum sea speed of 28 knots.

TMC Osprey, Cape Town 15 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Their auxiliary machinery includes three Caterpillar 4.4 generators providing 93 kW each. For added manoeuvrability they have a single bow transverse thruster providing 75 kW. Despite their small size, they both have onboard water making plants that produce 3.4 tons of fresh water per day, and they are both are fitted with IMO certified sewage treatment plants.

They are owned, operated, and managed by Tamrose Ltd., of Port Harcourt in Nigeria, whose houseflag they display on the side, and front, of the accommodation. Officially called Aluminium Monohull Fast Multi-Role Security Vessels, they are of a design known as Flex-Fighters, and Tamrose Ltd. operate a total of six Flex-Fighters in their fleet.

As a result of the ever increasing Piracy that is occurring within the territorial waters of Nigeria, where most of the Gulf of Guinea pirates are considered to be operating from, Tamrose Ltd. provides escort protection vessel services to the tanker fleets of some of the world oil majors, when they are in Nigerian waters. They also provide offshore, in-field, security patrols of major offshore assets, as well as port and terminal security for a number of the onshore oil and gas port facilities.

TMC Osprey, Cape Town 15 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Both vessels are capable of providing limited supply operations to offshore assets, and have an aft working deck with an area of 93 m3, with a capacity of 60 tons, and a deck strength of 2 tons/m2. There are three reefer plugs provided. She also has an aft firefighting provision, with a FiFi0.5 classification, and a single fire monitor capable of pumping at 600 m3/hour.

If required to move crew, or workers, between offshore assets, or between the asset and shore, both are capable of being used for crew transfers and passenger work. They are both outfitted with a passenger lounge containing 30 economy class seats. There are also basic toilet, mess, and entertainment facilities provided for such short voyages.

TMC Falcon, Cape Town 15 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Both vessels operate with a crew of 8, and with accommodation provided in 4 cabins. When utilised on security operations, she has a further 5 cabins which are capable of accommodating up to 14 security personnel. In order to give the vessels a look of danger to any potential pirate approaching the vessels, they are both painted in all over battleship grey.

Her security outfit is quite extensive for a civilian oil and gas vessel, and includes having fitting for three machine guns, with two mounts aft, complete with ballistic shields, and one mount forward, also with ballistic shield fitted. No weapons were fitted on the mounts when she arrived in Cape Town.

TMC Osprey gun mounts, Cape Town 15 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has no fewer than nine closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) mounted all around the vessel, with three internally, and six externally mounted, and all monitored from the bridge. There are also Night Vision cameras fitted.

The bridge itself is built as a citadel, and it has all round ballistic protection. The ballistic protection includes all of the bridge windows, the bridge outside panels up to full deckhead (roof) height, and all of the bridge access doors. All of these surfaces are protected up to STANAG Level 1 classification.

There are six levels of STANAG protection, with Level 1 being the lowest. STANAG is the acronym for the NATO Standardisation Agreement, covering the standards for the protection levels for any occupants of both logistic, and light armored vehicles. The standards covers strikes from kinetic energy, artillery and improved explosive devices (IED).

Sentinel 35 Security Crew Vessel. Picture: Nautic Africa

STANAG Level 1 provides for kinetic protection from both 7.62mm, and 5.56mm, ball ammunition fired from a distance of 30 metres at velocities between 833 m/s, and 937 m/s. It also requires protection from hand grenades, fragmenting submunitions, and anti-personnel explosive devices that are detonated directly next to the vehicle (in this case the bridge of the vessel), and requires the vehicle to be protected from a 20mm artillery shell fired from a distance of 100 metres at a velocity of 520 m/s.

Interestingly, Tamrose Ltd. also has a locally built South African security vessel in their fleet. She is the ‘TMC Zion’, a 35 metre fast crew security vessel, built in 2017 by Nautic Africa at their Paarden Eiland shipyard in Cape Town. She is an example of their ‘Sentinel 35’ class of security vessel, a type of vessel that Nautic Africa specialises in building for clients all over Africa, and worldwide, for use in the oil and gas industry.

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Added 18 May 2023


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Plough bed levelling tug Mohoma is named and handed over to TNPA

Mohoma is welcomed in Durban by one of her bigger sister dredging vessels.   Picture: TNPA

Any mystery behind the delivery of the new plough or bed levelling tug Mohoma (IMO 9874260) was answered on Wednesday when the new vessel was handed over to Transnet Dredging Services and officially named.

It turns out the plough tug was built in Cape Town as a standard vessel by Damen Shipyards Cape Town as a replacement for the 50-year old Impisi.

Transnet said that in recent years Impisi has been confined to the Port of Durban due to her limited availability. Mohoma on the other hand will enable TNPA Dredging Services to plough at all the South African ports.

“Built by Damen Shipyards Cape Town, Mohoma is a multi-functional seagoing workboat for harbour and coastal services. It is a unit from the Shoalbuster series – built in steel to the Damen standard design. Damen Shipyards Cape Town has vast experience with low-cost maintenance vessels ensuring an optimal layout and maintainability of all installed high-quality components,” TNPA said.

The Plough tug Mohoma about to come alongside at A Berth in Durban harbour. Picture: TNPA

“We are honoured to deliver this state-of-the-art plough tug to TNPA,” said Safale Montsi, Director of Damen Shipyards Cape Town.

“This vessel has the capacity of a 45-ton bollard pull measure, 33 metres long and 9 metres wide, and can plough up to 25m depth. With a spacious working deck, this versatile workboat will serve as an asset for TNPA’s ports and dredging operations.”

Montsi said the vessel showcases the Damen Group’s design knowledge, the skill of its South African Shipbuilding team and its first-class local equipment manufacturers and co-makers.

There is no mention of the abandoned plough tug that was under construction in Port Elizabeth. To see our report of this in Wednesday’s edition of Africa Ports & Ships CLICK HERE

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Added 18 May 2023


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Nigerian Fleet Review this week honours Pres Buhari

NNS Lana, Nigerian Navy hydrographic survey vessel.  Picture Nigerian Navy

President Muhammadu Buhari, who steps down as president of Nigeria on 29 May, after two four-year terms in office, has received praise from naval quarters for the fact that during his eight years in office, the Nigerian navy benefited from 20 new naval vessels among other achievements.

According to Rear Adm. Saidu Garba, Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, the Nigerian Navy benefited from Offshore Patrol Vessels, Landing Ship Transport, Hydrographic Survey Vessels, Seaward Defence Boats, Helicopters, in addition to numerous Inshore Patrol Vessels and assault craft.

The admiral said that as a result of President Buhari’s contribution to the development of the Nigerian Navy, it was intended that the navy would give him a Presidential Fleet Review.

The Fleet Review is being held in Lagos commencing tomorrow, 19 May until Monday 22 May 2023 under the theme ‘Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity’.

“It involves the assemblage of ships and other maritime assets at a designated area for the purpose of demonstrating loyalty and allegiance to the state,” he said.

Nigerian Navy Landing Ship NNS Kada  Picture|: Nigerian Navy

“The review also provides an avenue for the president to assess the navy’s preparedness to meet statutory obligations in maritime security, safety and defence within a global collaborative approach,” Admiral Garba said.

The last Presidential Fleet Review was held in 2010 in honour of then President Goodluck Jonathan but also to mark the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.

The current Fleet review will involve 16 Nigerian Navy warships, 3 x AW109E NN helicopters and a mix of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) aircraft.

In addition naval ships from Spain, Brazil and Ghana are expected to participate.

“Other activities lined up include capability demonstration by NN Special Forces, defence/maritime expo exhibition, combined naval parade and exercises,” Adm Garba said. source: Maritime First Newspaper

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Tin Can Terminal receives largest container ship

Tin Can Terminal, Lagos.   Picture  NPA

The Tin Can Island Container Terminal Ltd (TICT) last week received what it says was the largest containership ever to berth at Lagos ports, MSC Maureen.

The 6,750-TEU container ship, which has a length of 300 metres and beam of 40m, arrived to a welcoming committee of senior ICT personnel, officers of Mediterranean Shipping Company which operates the vessel, and officials of Nigerian Ports Authority.

Andrew Lynch, Managing Director of MSC Nigeria Ltd said the successful berthing of the ship meant significant economic benefits for Nigeria.

Apart from the economies of scale that apply from the arrival of the ship, the potential exists for a boost to Nigeria’s export drive, he said.

Lynch said by introducing larger ships, it will lower costs and create other economies of scale for importers and exporters.

“Tin Can and Apapa ports remain very important for the Nigerian economy so if larger vessels come here, it will be a great benefit to everyone. We have seen that we can do it and this will make Lagos more competitive because the larger the vessel, the lower the freight rate becomes in terms of imports and exports.”

Edward Ancly, CEO of TICT was chuffed with the arrival of the vessel.

“It is a major change in our operation. It is the first time we would see a 300 metres length overall vessel coming into Lagos port, so it is going to give more capacity to the shipping lines and bring more business to Nigeria. I am very glad it happened here and in TICT,” he said.

MSC Maureen arrived in Tin Can Island, Lagos on Tuesday 9 May at 21h30, and departed three days later on Thursday 11 May at 14h40, bound for Abidjan.

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Transnet’s new Bed Leveller tug to be named in Durban today

The TNPA plough tug, IMPISI, (former pilot tug LL Varley) that performed bed levelling functions for many years. Picture: Ken Malcolm

Transnet’s much delayed new bed leveller plough tug is to be named later today at a ceremony in the port of Durban, opposite the home of Transnet Dredging Services.

The bed leveller plough tug will be named MOHOMA (IMO 9874260) and will join Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) dredging fleet based at Durban. Mohoma is the Sotho word for plough or hoe.

The vessel arrived in Durban on Friday 12 May at 19h30 after a 41 hour journey from Port Elizabeth, where the vessel was built.

Delayed construction

Construction of this vessel commenced in early 2018 to a certain amount of fanfare regarding the shipbuilder, the Black, woman-owned family company Tide Marine Shipyard (FTC Engineering (Pty) Ltd), possessor of a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) Level 1 status. The contract was awarded after a competitive tender process.

“Catering for larger commercial vessels in our ports requires a world-class dredging and marine fleet – and South African shipbuilders continue to demonstrate their expertise in producing vessels that can compete with the global industry,” said TNPA General Manager: Infrastructure and Port Planning, Hamilton Nxumalo at the 2018 keel-laying ceremony.

A year later a report in the EP Herald newspaper of 28 February 2019 described the vessel as almost completed, and said it would shortly be sent to Durban. However no reason for the subsequent delay was made public.

Almost two years later, in December 2020 reports circulated that TNPA was considering ways of refloating the R98 million stalled contract which floundered for reasons not made clear.

The stranded Port Elizabeth bed leveller plough tug strangely mirrored a similar case in Durban where the last of a series of Voith Schneider-propelled harbour tugs built for the TNPA by the then Southern African Shipyards (now Sandock Austral) has never been delivered, although close to completion.

In Port Elizabeth it was commented on that Tide Marine was nevertheless given further work by TNPA.

Dredging fleet

The new vessel joins Transnet’s modern dredging fleet that caters for the needs of South Africa and neighbouring ports as required. The bed leveller is used for smoothing out high spots within the harbours created by marine traffic in the high-volume berth areas.

This is regarded as critical in keeping the ports’ berths to their promulgated depths, said Carl Gabriel, Executive Manager for TNPA’s Dredging Services, speaking at the keel-laying function.

Tide Marine Shipyard relocated to Port Elizabeth from East London after securing a back-of-port lease from TNPA for premises in the Port of Port Elizabeth. The company was awarded the plough tug contract in October 2016 and initial work commenced in September 2017.

Naval architecture firm, Naval Africa, was appointed to provide technical expertise and quality assurance on the project to support the shipbuilder.

Following today’s naming of the long-delayed plough tug, we hope to have further details and a photograph of the new vessel. These will appear in tomorrow’s edition of Africa Ports & Ships

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WHARF TALK: LR2 Aframax product tanker SKS DEMINI

The LR2 Aframax product tanker SKS DEMINI on the tanker berths in Cape Town harbour. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

With the recent article on the smallest of the four types of product tanker, the MR1 arriving in South African waters, and as if to balance out the types of product tanker that arrive in South Africa, the largest of the four types, an LR2 product tanker arrived not one week later. The LR2 tanker falls in the deadweight tonnage bracket of between 80,000 and 160,000 tons, and upwards of this weight, a tanker enters the VLCC (Very Large Crude Carrier) class.

On 11th May, at 06h00 in the morning, the LR2 Aframax product tanker SKS DEMINI (IMO 9531636) arrived off Cape Town, from Yanbu in Saudi Arabia, and immediately entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock and went alongside the tanker berth at the inner Eastern Mole to begin her discharge. Due to her size, and capacity, her voyage to South African waters was expected to take in more than one discharge port capable of handling a product tanker of the size of an LR2 class.

SKS Demini, Cape Town 12 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2012 by Hyundai Heavy Industries at Samho in South Korea, ‘SKS Demini’ is 250 metres in length and has a deadweight of 119,456 tons. She is powered by a single HHI MAN-B&W 6S70ME-C 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 21,926 bhp (16,350 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three HHI Himsen 7H21/32 generators providing 1,440 kW each, and a single Cummins NTA855D(M) emergency generator providing 287 kW. She has a single Kangrim EA07031 exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission OL oil fired boiler.

SKS Demini, Cape Town 12 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has twelve cargo tanks, all coated with pure epoxy, and with a cargo carrying capacity of 131,819 m3. Capable of carrying six different products at any one time, ‘SKS Demini’ has twelve deepwell pumps each capable of discharging, or loading, at a rate of 1,500 m3/hour.

Owned by SKS OBO and Tankers AS, of Bergen in Norway, ‘SKS Demini’ is operated by Kristian Gerhard Jebsen (KGJ) Skipsrederi AS, also of Bergen, and she is managed by KGJ OBO and Tankers Fleet Management AS, of Bergen. Commercially, she operates within the SKS LR2 pool.

SKS Demini, Cape Town 12 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

SKS is an acronym for the three companies that got together to form a joint venture (JV) pool operation in 1991. The companies were the Russian Sovcomflot company (S), the Norwegian KGJ company (K), and the Chinese Sinochem company (S). In 1995, due to disagreements within the JV partners, both Sovcomflot and Sinochem left the venture. However, for some unknown reason, the KGJ element decided to retain the company initials of SKS.

Maritime historians will have made the connection of the surname of the company name, and wondered if it is related to the great Jebsen shipping family of Norway. It is, and the company was formed back in 1967 when Kristian Gerhard Jebsen, had a family dispute regarding the direction of the family shipping empire. He left and formed his own company, using his initials.

Windfield, Cape Town 2007. Picture: Africa Ports & Ships

He was also responsible for the formation of the great Gearbulk Shipping company in 1968. Gearbulk ships are still regular visitors to both Durban and Cape Town, and were mainly well known to the casual maritime observer by virtue of the four Gearbulk partners all operating large, open hatch, double gantry equipped, bulk carriers, that specialised in forest products.

Kristian Gerhard Jebsen was also a great philanthropist, and he formed two charitable foundation, one in Switzerland, and the other one in Norway. Both named after him, and with the Swiss foundation focusing on a mainly global programme of projects that uplift people, and brings relief to those less fortunate than ourselves.

Tern Arrow, Durban. A109 marine pilot helicopter. Picture: Peter van der Spek

The Norwegian foundation works almost solely within Norway, and focuses on medical research, and maritime research. The maritime element includes the KGJ Foundation financing two offshore sea rescue lifeboats for the wholly volunteer service of the Redningsselskapet (RS), better known as the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, and the equivalent of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) in South Africa, or the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the United Kingdom. Both of the RS lifeboats were named Kristian Gerhard Jebsen, and Kristian Gerhard Jebsen II.

RS lifeboat Kristian Gerhard Jebsen II (Redningsselskapet)

For the nomenclature enthusiast, ‘SKS Demini’ is one of a class of ten sisterships, all named after rivers beginning with the letter ‘D’, and known as the D-Class. The Demini River is a major tributary of the great Rio Negro River, which itself flows into the Amazon River basin, at the point where the great Amazonian city of Manaus is located, in Brazil.

The voyage from Yanbu to Cape Town by ‘SKS Demini’ was completed in 17 days, and covered a distance of 5,565 nautical miles, with an average speed of 12.5 knots over the entire voyage. It is not her first call to Southern Africa in this year, as her previous voyage was to complete a full discharge at Luanda, in Angola.

As expected, ‘SKS Demini’ was scheduled to complete a further discharge in another Southern Africa port. After more than four and a half days discharging her fuel products in Cape Town, ‘SKS Demini’ left her berth at midnight on 15th May, and she sailed from Cape Town with her AIS indicating that her next destination was Walvis Bay, in Namibia, with her ETA set for 09h00 in the morning of 18th May.

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Road, rail & port logistical challenges ahead as citrus exports rise

The weekly letter of the CEO of Citrus Growers Association (CGA), Justin Chadwick, always makes for an interesting read. often with pertinent points for the shipping sector, to which citrus growers are intricately twined.

In his current letter Mr Chadwick refers to a talk given recently to the 4th CGA’s Citrus Summit, entitled ‘Logistics – Road and Rail’ and presented by the CGA’s Mitchell Brooke – a half-hour video of the presentation can be seen below and is well worth a watch and listen.

To quote Justin Chadwick on the presentation:

“Efficient logistics is a key element to a successful 2023 citrus season, and an enabler to get to achieve the CGA’s vision of exporting 260 million cartons by 2032. Mitchell Brooke presented an excellent paper at the March CGA Citrus Summit – a video of the presentation can be found [below].

“Some key take-outs from the presentation:

* In the next 5 years’ export volume from the northern regions will increase from 82 to 110 million cartons. This volume will be shipped through Durban and Maputo ports – the number of trucks per week will increase from 2,150 to 2,900. This means an additional 750 trucks per week on already congested roads between the north and these ports.

* In the next 5 years Eastern Cape volumes will increase from 48 to 55 million cartons. The number of trucks per week will increase from 1,100 to 1,500 trucks – an increase of 400 per week. Fortunately, the distances travelled are less than the northern regions.

* Western and Northern Cape regions (shipping through Cape Town port (unless diverted)) will increase from 33 to 45 million cartons. The present 800 tucks per week will increase to 1 100 – an increase of 300 trucks per week.

* The commodity boom means that there is significant pressure on the road network. Coal and other trucks have become a nightmare on many routes – impacting on road safety, deterioration in road conditions and condition of trucks.

* The rail network has considerable challenges – not least of which is cable theft. This means less is transported by rail.”

Watch Mitchell Brooke’s presentation on the logistical challenges facing the citrus growers, packhouses, cold stores and ports. let alone the road networks involved. [29:36]

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Lekki Freeport Terminal prepares to become regional transshipment hub

Lekki Freeport Terminal with the first of its STS cranes installed. Picture Lekki Freeport

The establishment of the Lekki port near Lagos, Nigeria, as a regional hub, will become a reality within a few weeks when the first ship carrying transshipment cargo will berth at the Lekki Freeport Terminal to discharge her cargo.

According to Chief Commercial Officer of Lekki Freeport Terminal, Kehinde Olubi-Neye, approximately US$ 100 million has been invested in suitable port equipment aimed at the tracking of cargo movements and customs clearance at the port to facilitate transshipments.

This has been to ensure that the port has the technical capacity and state-of-the-art equipment to handle transshipment cargoes bound for landlocked countries in West Africa.

Olubi-Neye said that with the support of Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), they were preparing for the first transshipment cargo to arrive within the coming weeks.

The Lekki Freeport Terminal has discussed this with stakeholders including Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and were confident that the handling of transshipment cargoes, not just for the Nigerian hinterland but also for landlocked countries and other regional countries, will proceed smoothly and become a successful reality.

The volume of cargo entering the port is low at present, but vessels are already using the port and it is only a matter of time, he suggested.

“We are here to connect global maritime trade into Nigeria,” Olubi-Neye added, pointing out that the port of Lekki has the deepest draught of all the Nigerian ports.

Among the opportunities being explored is the possibility of moving containers discharged at Lekki Port by barge to Calabar, Warri, and Onitsha River Port among others to help increase the economy of those ports.

The recently appointed Chief Operating Officer Lekki Port, Laurence Smith, described the Lekki Port project as a watershed in the history of maritime in Nigeria, and urged stakeholders, including the media, to continue with their support by promoting it.

“This is the gateway to the maritime and beyond,” Smith said. “I have not seen any investment like this anywhere other than in Dubai. This port can generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for Nigeria and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

In a message read out on his behalf, Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of the NPA, sent his assurance that the NPA would do everything within it powers to grant necessary approvals and provide marine services to the new port.

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Combined Maritime Forces (CMF): UK Frigate on CTF 150 patrol seizes $6 million drug shipment

Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Lancaster, now serving with CTF150 in the north-west Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden.  Picture: Wikipedia Commons

A frigate of the Royal Navy seized $6 million worth of hashish from a fishing vessel transiting the Arabian Sea on 8 May.

HMS Lancaster (F229) was operating in support of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 when it discovered 3,000 kilograms of hashish on the smuggling vessel. The seizure occurred the same day the U.S. Coast Guard confiscated large quantities of methamphetamines and heroin from another fishing vessel while patrolling the Gulf of Oman under CTF 150.

“I am exceptionally proud of my team for their efforts,” said Cmdr Tom Johnson, Lancaster’s commanding officer. “This success is shared with our international partners in CTF 150 who provided essential support to the operation.”

Currently led by the United Kingdom, CTF 150 is one of four task forces that form Combined Maritime Forces, the largest multinational naval partnership in the world. Efforts by CTF 150 in the Middle East this year have resulted in drug seizures worth a combined estimated U.S. street value of more than $250 million.

CTF 150 conducts maritime security and counter-terrorism operations in the Gulf of Oman and Indian Ocean to disrupt criminal and terrorist organisations and their related illicit activities, including the movement of personnel, weapons, narcotics and charcoal.

These efforts help ensure legitimate commercial shipping transits the region free from non-state threats.

Combined Maritime Forces includes 38 nations and is headquartered in Bahrain with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet.

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A mission of mercy – hospital ships are transcending borders and saving lives

Global Mercy on her sea trials. Picture: Stena RoRo

Each year, Mercy Ships’ state-of-the-art hospital ships embark on a mission to provide life-changing surgeries across Africa. Here’s how the newest addition to their fleet will double their capabilities.

Story by Ndéla Faye
Published in Wärtsilä Insights

Around the globe, five billion people lack access to safe and affordable medical and surgical care. Since 1978, Mercy Ships, a philanthropic organisation, has been sailing the seas and providing world-class healthcare to people in developing countries, mainly in West Africa.

The latest addition to the Mercy Ships fleet, the Global Mercy, is a purpose-built hospital ship and the largest of its kind. It has six operating rooms, 200 patient beds, a laboratory, a CT-scanner, an x-ray machine, eye and dental clinics and a pharmacy.

Mercy Ships is an international charity that, in addition to surgeries and treatments, provides education and training to local healthcare providers in Africa. With the arrival of the Global Mercy, Mercy Ships’ capacity to provide free surgery and medical training has more than doubled.

Global Mercy and its older sister ship, the Africa Mercy [currently in Durban for a refit and maintenance], will allow the charity to perform more than 5,000 surgeries and 28,000 dental treatments each year while simultaneously allowing for the training of 2,800 medical professionals on board.

Built to serve

The Global Mercy set off on its first field service in Senegal at the beginning of 2023, and the plan is to continue the journey to Sierra Leone later in the autumn [northern hemisphere]. With each field service expected to last ten months, crew members have a lot of preparation to do for the upgrade period.

After the ship arrived in Europe from China in September 2021 the hospital infrastructure and systems, such as additional electrical systems and oxygen supply, had to be installed. When the work was completed, the various systems had to be tested to ensure they worked as planned. Once everything was done, the hospital had to be thoroughly cleaned to comply with international cleanliness standards.

“Our two eye surgery rooms are equipped with everything you’d expect to find in Western hospitals. The surgery techniques, however, are slightly different as they include more manual techniques. We also only use a disposable sterile supply of surgical instruments,” says Anneli Persson, Operating Room Ophthalmic Nurse and Team Leader on the Global Mercy.

The first patients arrived onboard in March 2023, and so far, more than 50 surgeries have already been done.

“The most important aspect from an engineering perspective is that we have to ensure the supply of stable and continuous power, water and ventilation to the hospital. We cannot afford interruptions as there are always lives at stake,” says Irik Mallie, Chief Engineer of Global Mercy.

Africa Mercy in Durban harbour. Picture by Terry Hutson

Technology to the rescue

Helping in these stable operations are four Wärtsilä 32 engines, which are double resilient mounted and built to comply with the DNV’s VIBR classification, allowing the Global Mercy to have smooth running capabilities for critical activities like surgeries to be able to happen, keeping patient comfort and safety in mind.

“The engine technology is of utmost importance on a ship like this, where life-changing surgeries are performed. The Wärtsilä engines are very smooth, quiet and create virtually no vibration,” Mallie explains.

Additionally, the low maintenance Wärtsilä 32 engines run on ultra-low sulphur fuel allowing for low-exhaust emissions while in port. What’s more, it can run on a wide range of currently available fuels and will be able to run on environment friendly fuels currently in development, making it future proof.

The ship has a low carbon footprint in port as the ship has equipment that can process all generated waste, including medical waste, paper, plastic, sewage sludge, oil sludge etc.

“As well as people, we at Mercy Ships care about the environment of the countries we serve,” Mallie says.

On a mission

Global Mercy can accommodate 950 people when docked, including the ship’s 600 staff members – most of whom are volunteers. The staff is diverse, representing over 60 nations and all walks of life. The crew includes mariners, physicians, nurses, IT professionals, communications experts, chefs, and electricians. Most volunteers sign up to be on board for a period ranging from a few weeks to several months – but there is no set time limit, and everyone does what they can.

Ahead of docking in a new country, the ship’s advance crew goes scouting for patients and the best candidates for surgery. The entire process is done in close cooperation with the host country and local healthcare clinics – and state-level agreements are always sought before docking into a new country.

“Some children have been forced to take time off their schooling to look after sick family members, for example, and after surgery on their loved one, they have been able to return to school. These kinds of stories are very rewarding and spur us on to continue our work,” Persson says.

“We want to be as effective as possible with the medical care we offer, and our entire mission is dependent on the host country’s cooperation in order to make the field service successful,” adds Mallie.

Many people who are operated on have suffered from painful, disfiguring and debilitating – and often-preventable diseases and conditions. Mercy Ships’ work makes an enduring impact on countless lives, thereby demonstrating that one organisation can make monumental change touching the lives of patients, their families, and the whole community.

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Global container capacity is increasing

by Bidvest International Logistics

How this will benefit what you export/import as a South African business

Despite some recent volatility, the container industry is getting much closer to a new equilibrium, with high-frequency metrics showing a significant degree of stabilisation.

Growth is being driven by an increase in container vessels, as carriers add significant capacity to their fleets after astronomical freight rates in 2021/2022 enabled shipping lines to register record profits during the pandemic. Furthermore, there are fewer cases of carriers blanking schedules as a way of curbing the decrease in freight rates.

Another growth factor is that global demolitions are at an all-time low, as carriers make notable use of record rates to boost profits. Data from shipping research portal Alphaliner shows vessel demolition sales have increased slower than anticipated in the first months of 2023, with only 28 container ships of 500 TEU and above sold for recycling since 1 January..

Global port congestion has also dropped off dramatically as the pandemic has receded.

Jacob van Rensburg

All these aspects combined quietly favour South Africa’s import and export sector, says Jacob Van Rensburg, head of research and development at the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF).

“More capacity means more space to increase volumes, boost trade and potentially access a broader market,” he says.

However, he does caution that the trade, transport, and logistics industry is often complex, especially for a country like South Africa, which is quite far removed from its trading partners and relies heavily on shipping connectivity. As much as space has increased, disruptions to connectivity such as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine are less than desirable.

For the most part though, there has yet to be a “marked inversion of the relationship between people and goods on a global level”, says Van Rensburg, who is also a consultant to Bidvest International Logistics (BIL*).

“Increases in capacity are good for exporters and importers because they drive the price of shipping goods down. With the recent additions of capacity, freight rates have once again been driven down to near pre-pandemic levels.”

At one point in the first quarter of 2023, freight rates were down 78% compared to the same period in 2022. They were also -83% below the peak in September 2021.

Another boon to imports and exports is that port congestion, rife amid the pandemic crisis, is starting to ease.

“From a South African perspective, a few things are essential to consider when dealing with global port congestions and cargo movement,” Van Rensburg says.

“South African supply chains are part of the greater global supply chain network and function within these bounds. Therefore, if there is a bottleneck at any major port hub globally, South Africa is likely to experience the ripple effects. Moreover, like any feeder network, South African ports and accompanying logistics networks must do their part to maintain the fluidity of the network.”

To this end, Saloshini Reddy, operations general manager for BIL in KwaZulu-Natal, says importers and exporters must stay up to date with container ETA (expected time of arrival) and if there are any delays on urgent cargo. In the event of these delays, the client can either airfreight the cargo or delay sale of an item.

Van Rensburg also points to South Africa’s high freight demand, which stands at some 500-billion tonne-kilometres.

“Our economic hubs are far away from our seaports which ship more than 80% of our merchandise trade. What this means is that we need a multi-modal approach with all nodes doing their part for the network’s success.”

A further consideration is the country’s rail freight problems. In some weeks this year, only 1,350 containers were shipped – a mere 20% of cargo compared to the average in the 2010s.

“We cannot emphasise the need for a functioning rail system enough, as South Africa’s freight demand is exceedingly high. In addition, the increasing rate of damage to road networks can be directly attributed to the lamentable performance of the rail system.”

He also recommends that importers and exporters be vigilant of shipping lines blanking sailings to manipulate capacity and artificially influence prices.

This is because when too much capacity is available, prices can decrease too much and become unsustainable for carriers. Carriers will then resort to removing capacity from the system.

“This approach could alter schedules and impact South African importers/exporters – especially concerning perishable goods and other time-sensitive cargoes. Ultimately, in trade, transport and logistics, three matters reign supreme in any service offering and accompanying strategy: reducing cost, reducing time and increasing service reliability. With too much capacity in the system, the possibility arises that all three of these factors are impacted.”

Management is therefore paramount, he says.

* BIL is one of South Africa’s largest logistics businesses, owned by services, trading and distribution powerhouse Bidvest, and provides an end-to-end supply-chain solution across a number of different industries. BIL offers international import and export services, using road, sea and air, including final mile distributing services.

The company has massive coverage throughout the country and access to worldwide forwarding network.

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WHARF TALK: tug & supply vessel (TSV) – OPAL & BOABARGE 38

The tug and supply vessel OPAL which arrived in Cape Town from Singapore, with a heavy tow of the Boabarge 38, seen just behind the tug. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Once more, the geographical location of Cape Town, on the crossroads of every major shipping route from the Far East to Europe and the Americas, has yielded another unusual visitor. It doesn’t happen often, but tugs and their charges, are frequent visitors to Cape Town for bunkers and stores. Tug enthusiasts drool at their arrival, and rightly so.

Generally, if the tug is towing a big unit, it tends to be left offshore whilst the tug enters port to fulfill her requirements. However, if the towed asset is of the right size, it is often the case that she accompanies the tug into port, and the casual maritime observer gets the rare chance to see both the towing unit, and the towed unit. Giving even more excitement for both the tug enthusiast, and the casual maritime observer.

On 10th May, at 13h00 in the early afternoon, the Tug and Supply Vessel (TSV) OPAL (IMO 9489479) arrived off Cape Town, from Singapore, despite for some unknown reason her AIS stating that she had arrived from Walhaven in the great Dutch port of Rotterdam.

She entered Cape Town harbour, and to add to the excitement of the arrival of a TSV, it became obvious that her voyage was one of that of a tow, as her charge was still connected behind her on a shortened towing bridle. Her charge was unusual, in that it was a Semi-Submersible Barge, named ‘Boabarge 38’.

Superstructure of Opal, Cape Town 15 May 2023 . Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Both tug and tow went, as expected, directly into the Duncan Dock, and straight to the Eastern Mole, which is the normal haunt of those vessels whose arrival are generally a transitory affair, and merely a port call for bunkers and stores.

Built in 2009 by Fujian Southeast Shipyard at Fuzhou in China, ‘Opal’ is one of the smaller TSVs, at only 59 metres in length and with a deadweight of 1,343 tons. She is powered by two Caterpillar 3516B-HD 16 cylinder 4 stroke main engines producing 2,074 bhp (1,920 kW) each, giving her a total power output of 5,150 bhp (3,788 kW). These drive two controllable pitch propellers, contained within Kort Nozzles, giving her a maximum speed of 13 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Volvo-Penta D16 generators providing 285 kW each. She also has a single emergency generator. For additional manoeuvrability ‘Opal’ has a bow transverse thruster providing 370 kW.

She has accommodation for up to 42 persons, and for her towing work ‘Opal’ has a modest bollard pull of 66 tons, aided by double, electro-hydraulic, drum winches each holding 1,000 metres of 56mm towing wire. She also has a single storage reel holding a further 1,000 metres of 56mm towing wire.

Boabarge 38, Cape Town 11 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For her supply work, ‘Opal’ has an aft working deck providing an area of 320 m2, and is capable of carrying a deck cargo of up to 500 tons, with a deck loading strength of 7.5 tons/m2. She has a number of underdeck cargo tanks, capable of carrying 540 m3 of fuel, 370 m3 of fresh water, 420 m3 of drilling mud, 400 m3 of drilling water, and 187 m3 of cement.

Nominally owned by Promas Shipping Ltd., of Valetta in Malta, ‘Opal is both operated and managed by the Polish Ship Salvage Co. Ltd., more correctly known as Polskie Ratownictwo Okrętowe Sp. Z.O.O., of Gdynia in Poland, and whose houseflag she displays on her funnel.

The company was founded in 1951, and given the task of clearing all Polish ports of Nazi German shipwrecks, and other detritus left behind at the end of the Second World War. Despite Poland no longer being a communist state, the Polish Ship Salvage Co. Ltd., is by its name a limited company, but with all 100% of its shares still held by the Polish State.

The vessel that the ‘Opal’ was towing from the Far East is the new semi-submersible barge ‘Boabarge 38’. Built in 2022, and entering service only in December 2022, she was built by Jiangsu Sainty Asset Management of Nanjing in China. She is 152 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 15,675 tons.

Her design allows her to be submerged to a depth of 21.5 metres above main deck height, and she can carry loads with an overall weight of up to 28,500 ton. Her main deck has a working area of 5,150 m2, and has a deck carrying strength of 35 tons/m2.

Boabarge 38, Cape Town 11 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

To achieve her semi-submersible condition for loading, ‘Boabarge 38’ has no less than 29 ballast tanks, serviced by two ballast pumps capable of pumping at a rate of 5,200 m3/hour. These pumps are provided by power by two onboard generators providing 248 kW each, backed up by a further generator providing 129 m3. There is also a work generator providing 30 kW.

The onboard power also provides for all of the winches needed for loading, unloading, and towing operates. To provide sufficient crew to manage the barge itself, as well as tend to any onboard cargo, there is accommodation on ‘Boabarge 38’ provided for 22 persons.

Unusually for a barge, ‘Boabarge 38’ has received an ice classification of YOUNG Ice1. This category covers freshly formed ice, not yet considered to be first year ice, and slightly harder and thicker than fresh ice, known as Young Ice, and at a thickness between 10cm and 30 cm.

Owned by Boa AS of Trondheim in Norway, ‘Boabarge 38’ is operated by Boa Barges AS, also of Trondheim, and managed by Boa Management AS, again of Trondheim. Boa AS are mainly involved with the offshore oil and gas industry, and their barge division is utilised to carry large, and often heavy, items around the world. These items include platforms, jackets, newbuild support vessels, and whole rigs.

Boabarge 38, Cape Town 10 May 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Whilst Boa AS maintain their head office in Norway, they also maintain a secondary office in Houston in Texas, which is the centre of the American oil and gas industry, and where all of those companies which operate in the Gulf of Mexico are located.

This might explain the destination that ‘Opal’ is already displaying on her AIS to be her next port of call, and whilst she still lies alongside in Cape Town. Her scheduled, or proposed, arrival date is over two months away on 27th July, and is given as Brownsville in Texas.

On her completion, ‘Boabarge 38’ was offered for charter within the geographical region between Shanghai and Singapore, to any client who required a semi-submersible heavylift cargo destined for either Africa or North America. This would indicate that it was always the intention of Boa Barges AS to relocate ‘Boabarge 38’ to the Gulf of Mexico all along, hence why Brownsville is the intended destination of ‘Opal’.

The choice of Brownsville is not unusual, as the port limits are connected to the Gulf of Mexico by a long ship canal, with plenty of land available for shore facilities, and includes both shipbuilding yards, and shipbreaking yards. There is one shipbuilding yard that specialises in offshore oil and gas vessels, and jack-up oil rig, construction, and there are no less than three ship recycling yards lying along the length of the Brownsville Ship Canal. Both types of yard might attract work that requires a semi-submersible barge to collect, or deliver, a heavy load.

USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) arriving at Brownsville. Picture: Wikipedia

The recycling yards at Brownsville are where many of the stricken warships from the United States Navy are sent for breaking up. These include every type of naval vessel, including aircraft carriers. No less than seven aircraft carriers have been sent to Brownsville for recycling in the last ten years.

USS John F Kennedy (CV-67). Picture: Wikipedia

For the naval enthusiast, the list of retired aircraft carriers that have been sent to Brownsville for recycling, since 2014, has included the USS Forrestal (CV-59), USS Saratoga (CV-60), USS Constellation (CV-64), USS Ranger (CV-61), USS Independence (CV-62), USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), and last to arrive USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67), in that order. The last two vessels were sold to the same recycling yard in Brownsville, by the US Navy, for the princely sum of one cent each!

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Latest Incat ferry, Kilimanjaro VIII, on its way to Tanzania

Kilimanjaro VIII during her sea trials off Hobart, Australia. Picture: Incat Crowther

The latest new passenger ferry for Azam Marine in Tanzania has been handed over and is on its way to East Africa, the 11th Incat Crowther designed vessel and eighth built by Australian boatbuilder, Richardson Devine Marine for the Tanzanian operator.

The 53-metre ferry, named KILIMANJARO VIII, is 8 metres longer than Kilimanjaro VII that was delivered in 2019.

This is the First Class section of the earlier ferry, Kilimanjaro VII. Picture: Incat Crowther

Capable of carrying 654 passengers at a cruising speed of 34 knots, the ferry will join the Azam fleet by operating between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam and other islands and ports.

The ferry features Azam’s streamlined boarding measure of five parallel segregated ramps per side that on other vessels in the fleet has demonstrated efficiency and safety while ensuring passenger classes and luggage trolleys remain separated during boarding.

The ferry will fly the Tanzanian flag and meets DNV class requirements. The vessel has a draught of just 1.5 metres, ideal for handling all the small ports and channels along its journey.

Kilimanjaro VIII is powered by two Cummins Q5K95-M engines each producing 2,983 kW at 1800 rpm. Propulsion consists of two Kongsberg KwMeWa 80-S4 waterjets. Onboard power systems are taken care of with two Cummins 6-CP 136DM/5 generators.

The ferry will operate with a crew of ten.

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Kenya plans major revamp of its railways

A Kenya Railways standard gauge railway container train at the Naivasha Inland Dry Port  Picture KR

It is being reported from Kenya that the government intends a major revamp of the East African country’s railways, including both standard and metre gauge versions.

The standard gauge railway, extending from the port at Mombasa to Naivasha, which is westwards of Nairobi. This railway is relatively new, having opened with passenger services from Mombasa to Nairobi in June 2017, and freight rail service in January 2018. A continuation from outside Nairobi to Naivasha opened in October 2019.

The much older colonial-era metre gauge railway extended from Mombasa all the way to the Uganda border, and from there the Ugandan version ran across Kenya’s landlocked neighbour to Kampala and subsequently with branches to several other parts of Uganda.

In Kenya sections of the metre gauge railway fell into disuse through a lack of maintenance. This included the section to Lake Victoria and the small port of Kisumu.

The intended continuation of the SGR from Naivasha to the Uganda border was brought to a halt due to financial constraints, forcing the Kenyan government to commence an upgrade of the neglected metre gauge railway.

Now comes news that approximately US$ 730 million will be spent of revamping the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR with new sidings and the acquisition of new locomotives and rolling stock.

This will be accomplished over a three year period between July 2023 and June 2026.

Of the total amount, $714.7 million will go toward the ‘Development of Standard Gauge Railway’ infrastructure and equipment increasing the total amount spent on the SGR to over $5.7 billion.

The remainder of the allocated money is for building new feeder lines and for the further rehabilitation of the metre gauge railway.

It appears that funding will be drawn from the Railway Development Fund which exists to raise a 2% levy on all goods imported into Kenya for local use. Considering that the levy was believed to be intended for repaying the Chinese debt over the construction of the SGR, it’s not clear where Kenya is obtaining the capital to complete the new works.

In addition the government has allocated $18.3 million to build a short 2.8 kilometre metre gauge spur linking the the Mombasa SGR terminus with Mombasa’s metre gauge terminus. Included in these funds is a railway bridge across the Makupa causeway which provides a link between the Kenyan mainland and Mombasa Island.

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CMA CGM enhances North Europe-Middle East-Red Sea-Indian Subcontinent EPIC service

CMA CGM EPIC service rotation

CMA CGM is enhancing its EPIC service between North Europe-Tanger-Middle East-Red Sea and Indian Subcontinent trades with improved port coverage.

Announcing this last week, CMA CGM it will reinforce its presence on the EPIC service through improved port coverage and vessel deployment by adding the French port of Dunkerque for increased connectivity to its global services.

This new deployment will commence with the vessel CMA CGM TITAN calling at Dunkerque from June 2023 onwards.

The EPIC service port rotation will then become:

Southampton- Rotterdam- Bremerhaven- Antwerp- Dunkerque- Le Havre- Algeciras- Jeddah- Jebel Ali- Abu Dhabi- Karachi- Nhava Sheva- Mundra- Jeddah- Malta- Tanger Med- Southampton

According to CMA CGM, the EPIC service offers the unique and fastest connection to and from the Middle East, Red Sea and the Indian Sub-continent on the North Europe trade.

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UNCTAD: The international economic agenda


Edited by Paul Ridgway

Last month (April) it was announced from Geneva that the United Nations Trade and Development Conference (UNCTAD) in its latest Trade and Development Report Update had warned that developing countries are facing years of difficulty as the global economy slows down amid heightened financial turbulence.

The UN trade body estimates that interest rates hikes will cost developing countries more than $800 billion in foregone income over the coming years. UNCTAD expects global growth in 2023 to drop to 2.1%, compared to the 2.2% projected in September 2022, assuming the financial fallout from higher interest rates is contained to the bank runs and bailouts of the first quarter.

On Africa

In 2023, Africa is projected to expand 2.5%, a drop from last year and at a pace insufficient to make a dent in poverty levels.

As in other developing regions, weaker external demand and tighter financial conditions have made growth prospects gloomier for the region. In the case of commodity exporters, the fading of the initial effects of the 2022 price boom will add to the equation.

Interest rates

Rising global interest rates have triggered significant capital outflows and have further constrained fiscal space, at a time when public finances were already severely affected by costly subsidy schemes aiming at contending the adverse effects of high food and energy prices.

Under these circumstances, the risk of stagflation is a key concern for many African economies. In approximately half of the countries, inflation remained double digits in early 2023. In many instances, these recent inflation spikes relate to the continuing depreciation of several African currencies in early 2023 – often following a loss in 2022 of 10–30% of their value vis-à-vis the dollar.

Public debt

Public debt, in many cases standing at levels not seen since the early 2000s, is another worry across the continent.


Out of the 38 African countries that are part of the Debt Sustainability Framework (DSF) of IMF and World Bank, eight entities are already ‘in debt distress’, while thirteen are considered ‘at high risk’ of distress.

Furthermore, many African economies are approaching a maturity wall as maturities on international bonds issued in the previous decade are expected to peak in 2024 and to remain elevated for the next decade, with most governments unable to tap international capital markets to roll over maturing debts.

Power outages

Country-specific challenges and idiosyncratic shocks in large African economies also contributed to the grimmer aggregate outlook of the region. In South Africa, persisting disruptions in electricity supply, including more intensive load-shedding will keep raising input costs for producers looking for costlier energy alternatives, and overall, greatly affect economic activity.

Shortage of cash

In Nigeria, a shortage of cash, triggered by the replacement of the highest denominations of the country’s currency, hobbled the economy, especially the informal sector. Meanwhile, the continuing decline of oil production, accompanied by large-scale oil theft, poses a main threat to strained finances in Africa’s most populous nation.

Shortage of currency

In Egypt, a foreign currency shortage has hit badly the import-dependent economy, forcing the Government to accept an agreement with the IMF for the fourth time in six years and to plan a vast privatization programme.

Tourism recovery

On the positive side, Africa’s tourism-dependent economies recovered altogether about two thirds of their pre-pandemic visitors in 2022, while this upward trend is expected to continue over the year.

Chinese regeneration

Also, the reopening of the Chinese economy is expected to boost demand for key commodities such as iron ore, platinum, copper and steel in early 2023, though such initial boost might not continue throughout the entire year since China’s commodity-intensive construction sector is unlikely to grow at a fast pace in the years ahead.

Risks remain

Overall, risks remain tilted to the downside. The rising domestic cost of living and a deteriorating security situation remain of a key concern in many parts of the continent.

More than 116 million African people are currently in acute food insecurity according to the latest projections of WFP and FAO.

For the report readers are invited to SEE HERE

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WHARF TALK: MR1 products tanker – MARVEL

The MR1 sized products tanker Marvel, which appears to have taken p services along the South African coast. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

As winter makes its appearance, the need for winter heat and warmth grows ever more a domestic requirement, especially at night, and once the sun has gone down. It also requires office spaces, warehouse and factory spaces to be heated, if utilised over a 24 hour period. Since the refineries of South Africa are incapable of providing the amount of fuel that is needed to keep its population warm, it comes in ever greater number from around the world.

What is seen most in South African ports is the ’18 wheel truck’ version of the product tanker world, namely the MR2 class of tanker. The MR2 probably makes up over 80% of all tanker arrivals in Southern Africa, mainly due to its design being specifically to be able to fit in to just about any port. Almost all ports have at least one tanker berth, and they nearly all are designed to take the 183 metre length of the MR2 tanker.

The other 19% of all tanker arrivals is taken up with the larger LR1, and occasional LR2, class of large tanker. What you don’t get to see often is the smallest class of product tanker, namely the MR1. The MR1 falls into the 35,000 to 45,000 deadweight tons weight limit. Some agencies give MR1 tankers a lower weight limit of 25,000 tons, although the general view is that any tanker below 35,000 tons is classed as a Handy tanker.

On 5th May, at 18h00 in the early evening, the MR1 product tanker MARVEL (IMO 9364930) arrived off the Table Bay anchorage, from Durban, and went to anchor overnight. The next morning, at 08h00 on 6th May, she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and straight for the inner berth at the Tanker Basin.

Tanker Marvel in Cape Town, 8 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Her current voyage had started at Fujairah, where she had loaded for the South African coast, and a two port discharge itinerary. She arrived off the Durban Bluff on 25th April, at midday, and was directed to go to anchor off Umhlanga, where she waited for over three days. Finally, at 22h00 in the late evening on 28th April, she made her way into Durban harbour, and proceeded to her berth at Island View 7 to commence her first, and major, discharge.

Just over three and a half days later, she was ready to sail and at midday on 2nd May, she proceeded outbound up the Bluff Channel, with her next destination set on her AIS given as Cape Town, where she arrived on 5th May.

Built in 2008 by Guangzhou International Shipyard at Guangzhou in China, ‘Marvel’ is 183 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 38,513 tons. She is powered by a single, locally made Dalian MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C 6 cylinder 2 stroke main engine producing 12,893 bhp (9,480 kW), and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Tanker Marvel in Cape Town, 8 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three locally made Zhenjiang MAN-B&W 6L23/30H generators providing 943 kW each, and a single AGCO Sisu 634-1 emergency generator providing 130 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg AQ-2 exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg AQ-18 oil fired boiler.

Unusually for a product tanker, for added manoeuvrability, she has a Brunvoll FU63 bow transverse thruster providing 950 kW. She has 10 cargo tanks, and a cargo carrying capacity of 37,963 m3. All of her cargo tanks are coated in pure epoxy, and she for loading and discharging she has ten cargo pumps capable of pumping at 540 m3.

She is nominally owned by Auriga Maritime Incorporated, but is both operated and managed by Roxana Shipping SA, of Athens in Greece, whose houseflag she displays on her funnel. The design of ‘Marvel’ is a popular one, and she is one of five sisterships in the Roxana Shipping fleet, and one of a class of twelve sisterships built, and known as the Ninae Class.

Tanker Marvel in Cape Town, 8 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

For the casual maritime observer, she will look very familiar, especially with the low height profile of her accommodation block, and the raised main deck. Another one of her sisterships, although not part of the Roxana Shipping fleet is ‘HECTOR N’, which has been operating a long term charter as a coastal shuttle tanker around the Southern African coast. She was reported on in Africa Ports & Ships back on 14th March 2021.

In many ways, the somewhat squat profile of her accommodation gives her a similar look to that of an old stalwart of the South African coast back in the 1980s, namely the coastal product tanker ‘Mobil Refiner’, which used to conduct the shuttle service to all Southern African ports from Maputo to Walvis Bay, in concert with Unicorn Lines product tanker ‘Buffalo’, and Cunard Lines product tanker ‘Lumiere’.

Tanker Marvel in Cape Town, 8 May 2023. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

I recall once back in 1981, at Island View in Durban, I spotted two female Deck Cadets on ‘Mobil Refiner’, which was berthed behind ‘Buffalo’ where I was perched, and they were the first female cadets I had ever seen. Female Deck Cadets are something that is very common nowadays, but back then some 42 years ago, it was quite a revelation at the time.

Tanker Marvel in Cape Town, 8 May 2023

This is not the first time this year that ‘Marvel’ has called into South African ports. In fact this is her third call in this year. Both previous calls, as with this one, started with her loading in Fujairah in the UAE, and both had her calling at Durban, first for a two day discharge in January, followed by another two day discharge in February.

Mobil Refiner. Picture by Martin Klingsick

Back in Cape Town, ‘Marvel’ had completed the second of her two port discharge on the South African coast, and at 23h00 in the late evening, on 12th May, after a three and a half day stay in Cape Town, she sailed from the port and headed back to where she had come from, Durban.

As she has just completed a discharge on this current voyage, it is thought that she returned to Durban as she had been chartered to load a cargo for distribution, presumably along the South African coast, just as her sistership ‘Hector N’ currently does.

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TNPA Roadshow reports: It’s Cape Town’s turn

Port of Cape Town, traditional ‘Tavern of the Seas’ Picture TNPA 

The latest public participation roadshow on port development plans was held in Cape Town on Friday 12 May during which Transnet National Ports Authority announced its immediate to long-term plans for the Port of Cape Town.

In the range of port development projects, the Culemborg back-of-port logistics park; the development of a Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal and the expansion of the Container Terminal, are key to the development of the Port of Cape Town over the short-term period 2022-2032, said the TNPA.

Port stakeholders including government officials, transport associations, industry bodies and customers

The Culemborg expansion project seeks to increase operational efficiencies by creating supporting back-of-port facilities such as warehousing, cold storage as well as stuffing and de-stuffing of containers.

The introduction of a new commodity to be handled at the port will be realised through the development of a Liquified Petroleum Gas terminal, for which TNPA has issued a Request for Proposals, closing on 28 July 2023. Africa Ports & Ships dated SEE HERE

During this period, TNPA priorities will include the execution of phase 2b of the Cape Town Container Terminal expansion – increasing its landside, rail and truck staging capacity to an enhanced terminal capacity from 1 million to 1.4 million TEUs.

The Elliot Basin will remain for fishing operations while the port investigates alternative additional capacity. Other important projects earmarked for port development include the optimisation of land use and upgrades to road and rail infrastructure, operationalisation of the liquid bulk berths, as well as the widening and deepening of the entrance channel from 15.9m depth to 18m depth.

The session enabled robust engagements on the Port Development Framework Plans with representatives from Provincial Government, City of Cape Town, port users, the trucking associations, cargo owners, terminal operators, and industry bodies in attendance.

The plans are available the Infrastructure Tab on the TNPA website:

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MSC enhances its Africa, Middle East, India service

New IAS service

MSC is continuing to enhance services between Africa, the Middle East and India, by way of the following update to its India Africa Service (IAS), a from May 2023.

India Africa Service (IAS)

The current India Africa Service (IAS) rotation will be updated with direct calls at Ngqura (Coega), Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali.

The new rotation of the service is as follows with weekly frequency:

Mundra – Nhava Sheva – Colombo – Abidjan – Lomé – Tema – Ngqura – Abu Dhabi – Jebel Ali – Mundra

The first vessel on this new rotation was reported to be MSC ESTHI voyage number IW316R, but this vessel appears to have bypassed Ngqura and is reported en route to Mundra.

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MSC updates South Africa to India service service

MSC South Africa – India service

MSC’s India to South Africa Service rotation has been improved by way of linking the ports of Durban, Jebel Ali and Abu Dhabi.

This refinement has created a direct connection between Durban and the Middle East.

The new rotation of the service will be as follows with weekly frequency:

Durban – Jebel Ali – Abu Dhabi – Ad Dammam – Bahrain – Mundra – Nhava Sheva – Hazira – Colombo – Port Louis – Durban

The first vessel on this new rotation is MSC ROBERTA V voyage number IA317R, which arrived in Durban at 10h46 on 10 May 2023 and sailed for Jebel Ali at 14h49 on 13 May.

MSC says that together with the India – Africa service, the new calls at these strategic ports will provide customers with improved connections and transit times between Africa, the Middle East Gulf and India and will particularly benefit customers with reefer cargo.

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New citrus cold store opens this week in Maputo/Matola

MCT Cold Store. Picture: FPT

A new cold storage facility is to open this week (16 May) in the Matola Cargo Terminal.

The Maputo Cold Store, involving the Matola Cargo Terminal (MCT) in partnership with South Africa’s FPT, will see the opening of the first cold storage in the MCT with an initial capacity of 1,500 pallets, to be upgraded in 2024 to 4,500 pallet capacity.

The new cold store will be available to cater for citrus exports this season from Mpumaplanga and Limpopo provinces that are not cold treatment protocol-driven.

The intention is to be able to handle citrus requiring a cold steri regime as from following season.

FPT will be providing planning and capacity allocation from the Durban FPT Terminal, with Matola Cargo Terminal handling the operational management under the management and supervision of Sean Gent and Flobela Trancoso.

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Always on schedule with rotor ship – a captain tells his story

General cargo RoRo ship SC Connector, with sails folded for travelling under a bridge. Picture: Madeira Maritime Media

In a recent Wharf Talk features in Africa Ports & Ships, the rotorship E-Ship 1 featured, along with references to other vessels of this type, including SC CONNECTOR. See that story Unexpected Durban caller HERE.

In an Industry Insight feature, DNV published the following personal report:

In 2021 two tiltable Norsepower rotor sails, certified by DNV, were retrofitted on board SC Connector, a Sea-Cargo Ro-Ro vessel operating in the North Sea. Captain Artur Sylwestrzak gives a compelling account of the ship before and after.

Featuring in this interview Capt. Artur Sylwestrzak, Captain SC Connector

Captain Artur Sylwestrzak graduated from the Maritime University in Gdynia, Poland. A passionate scuba diver and sailor, he has been sailing on tall ships since he was 12 years old. He later gained professional experience on board Zawisza Czarny, Fryderyk Chopin and Dar Młodzieży and participated in various regattas.

He started working at Sea-Cargo as a junior officer and has been captain of SC Connector since 2020.

DNV: What were your first impressions after the rotor sails were installed on SC Connector?

I had an idea what to expect, and I had personal sailing experience, including tall ships. I was captain of SC Connector before the rotor sails were installed and knew the ship. But I was surprised how much its behaviour changed. Before the rotor sails were retrofitted, I often had to wait in port for better weather. The rotor sails have improved the ship’s seakeeping behaviour very much – it is a completely different vessel now! The centre of gravity has been raised by one and a half metres, and the rotor sails dampen the roll motion so the ship hardly rolls at all, which the crew are very happy about.

Norsepower were really impressed by the force generated by the rotor sails.

DNV: How do the rotor sails affect the operation of the ship?

In adverse weather there is a constant list, sometimes as much as 12 degrees. We take the waves from the side, keep the fins out, and once I have the wind from the side, I am able to create an enormous force ahead. With sufficient wind, the ship can maintain its speed without needing help from the propeller. However, we need to keep the main engine running to create enough flow to the
rudder, otherwise we lose control of steering. Of course, the rules of the game have changed with rotor sails: we no longer sail the shortest route. I change my route every six to seven hours to adapt to the current conditions and the weather forecast.

Extending the route means I have to compensate by gaining extra speed from the rotor sails.

DNV: What are the operational limits for the rotor sails on your vessel?

The inherent limitation of the rotor sail is the dead angle in headwind of about plus/minus 20 degrees where the rotor sails don’t generate enough forward force but mainly lateral force. We have to set the course so that the wind comes from the side, between 70 and 110 degrees. Together with Norsepower, we had initially set relatively low maximum apparent wind speed and force limits.

SC Connector Picture: VesselFinder

After we collected some experience and they inspected the system, it was decided to increase the limits to be able to operate in adverse weather conditions. Even when we are not generating any forward force, we keep the rotors running to stabilize the vessel using the lateral forces. I normally stay in port at very high wind speeds, but when we run into unexpected adverse weather in
the middle of the North Sea, the raised limit allows me to keep the rotor sails running, travel faster and have better control.

DNV: How important is personal commitment for successful operation of rotor sails?

It is a huge benefit when the crew have an interest in this technology and are motivated to learn. I always try to create an environment that will motivate new people and make them curious. I invite them to get involved, saying “let’s play with
the system and see what we can learn in the process.” This approach is much more enjoyable to newcomers. We are also trying to further automate the system so it will require less human interaction.

DNV: Do rotor sails require specific crew training?

To draw the greatest benefit from the system, you need to provide training so the crew fully understand the physics behind it all, and how the ship responds. We have to make at least two passages on the open sea under suitable wind conditions to make a new captain understand how to operate it, and what to do in certain critical situations.

DNV: How do the rotor sails affect your timing?

The rotor sails are a key aspect for our timing. We operate on a fixed schedule. I can only influence the length of my route and the speed. In one instance I had to sail around some very bad weather. Although I extended my route by some 80 miles, I was able to arrive on time, with a very large portion of my propulsion energy coming from the wind.

source: DNV Industry Insights – Decarbonization

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Preparing for future emerging global health threats – IMO

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is participating in global efforts led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to better prepare for possible future disease pandemics. This was reported by the IMO media service on 10 May.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, WHO’s focus was mainly on preparedness planning according to types of pathogen. Building on lessons learned during Covid-19 and other recent health emergencies, the focus is now on groups of diseases according to their mode of transmission, for example respiratory, vector-borne or foodborne diseases.

IMO attended the first WHO meeting on Preparedness and Resilience for Emerging Threats (PRET) held at WHO headquarters in Geneva from 24 to 26 April this year. It is understood that the PRET initiative will initially focus on respiratory pathogens which are typically easily transmissible and pose a significant public health threat.

Bringing together partners

The meeting’s aim was to bring together partners to work on a unified approach towards respiratory pandemic preparedness. IMO promoted consideration of concerns specific to transport workers – and to seafarers in particular.

Cover image: WHO

Due to the significant impact on maritime shipping created by Covid-19-related travel restrictions around the world, IMO has urged Member States to designate seafarers as key workers, and to enable them to travel without regard to their nationality between the ships that constitute their workplace, and their countries of residence.

Alongside IMO, the meeting was attended by national, regional and global WHO staff representatives, along with other UN specialized agencies, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), as well as non-governmental organisations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

A call to action

PRET is a call to action to accelerate preparedness for pandemics and emerging threats globally.

Through collective commitment, WHO aims to see progress by December 2025 with:

* Updated preparedness plans that affirm priority actions.

* Increased connectivity among stakeholders in pandemic preparedness planning, through a cross-sectoral approach and UN interagency cooperation and coordination.

* Dedicated sustained investments, financing and monitoring of pandemic preparedness with a particular focus on addressing gaps identified during past pandemics and epidemics, including maritime transport issues.

Launch of new WHO guidance

There was also discussion ahead of the launch of Module 1 of new WHO guidance for stakeholders Planning for respiratory pandemic preparedness Version 1, which focuses on respiratory pathogens, including influenza, coronaviruses, and respiratory syncytial virus.

Readers are invited to learn more HERE about IMO’s work to support and protect seafarers during Covid-19.

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Ocean Stewardship Fund awards grants to South Africa & Madagsacar for sustainable fishing projects

The MSC’s* Ocean Stewardship Fund has awarded more than R17 million to 26 sustainable fishing projects, including South Africa and Madagascar.

Tagging sharks to monitor their survival rate, genetic testing to identify octopus species, and protecting vulnerable species and habitats are amongst the projects being funded in 2023 by the Ocean Stewardship Fund (OSF).

Now in its fourth year, the *Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) commits 5% of annual royalties from sales of its certified products into the OSF. In addition, third-party philanthropic donations now contribute, helping to scale the fund and support more projects. The OSF recently announced it was aiming to raise US$100 million in the next decade to accelerate progress in sustainable fishing globally.

Amid global concerns about the depletion of ocean biodiversity, this year’s grants have a special focus on research into mitigating bycatch – that is when fish and other species not targeted by fishers are caught in nets and other fishing gear. Funds have been given to projects in South Africa, Greenland, Madagascar, Ecuador, Papua New Guinea and Alaska.

Twenty-six grants totalling R17,500,000 (US$ 934,430) are awarded to fisheries, scientists, NGOs and students from 15 countries. Of these, 40% of the grants were awarded to fisheries in emerging economies, which are aiming to improve their sustainability practises.

Among the projects funded this year, are:

In South Africa, the OSF funds will improve fisher training and awareness to reduce impacts on Endangered Threatened and Protected (ETP) species, vulnerable habitats, and ensure effective monitoring om the South African longline hake fishery. Further,
research supported by an MSC Student Research Grant will investigate factors impacting the abundance and distribution of the deep-water Cape hake stock.

In Madagascar, the OSF will fund a research project utilising DNA analysis to confirm octopus species present in catch from Southwest Madagascar fishery and help improve octopus fishery management across Southwest Indian Ocean region.

Since the Ocean Stewardship Fund was established, it has issued over 100 grants totalling R92 million (approx US$4.9 million) to deliver lasting change. These have supported a wide range of projects which aim to improve the health of stocks, manage harvesting levels carefully and protect the marine environment.

“Climate Change and the increasing global ocean temperatures are already having a huge impact on our oceans,” said Fisokuhle Mbatha, PhD student at the University of Cape Town.

“My research will look at the distribution and abundance of Cape hake in response to environmental factors. This is important work as it will also promote the improvement of ecosystem-level management of the demersal trawl fishery, both MSC certified hake trawl fisheries in South Africa and Namibia.”

Rupert Howes, Chief Executive of the MSC, said these projects will generate new knowledge and insights that will help fisheries improve the way they fish the oceans by reducing bycatch and fishers’ interactions with vulnerable species and birds.

“We are delighted to see multi-sector collaborations applying for funding with fishers, NGOs and scientists submitting joint applications. Such partnerships are essential if we are to scale solutions and respond to the urgent challenges facing our oceans.”
Howes said the MSC particularly welcome applications that are able to use the Ocean Stewardship Fund to leverage other resources to deliver real and lasting change beyond the immediate project recipients. “The Ocean Stewardship Fund is helping to drive the innovation and progress needed, to harness the potential of our ocean.” he said.

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Added 15 May 2023



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