Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 2 September 2023

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MSC Yashi B. Picture: Trevor Jones

One of the larger container ships to call in South Africa, MSC YASHI (IMO 9778090), enters port at Durban on 18 July this year, en route to the Durban Container Terminal.

The 11,000-TEU ship has a deadweight of 134,007 tons and a length of 330 metres and width of 48.34 metres – not quite the biggest to call at the port but among the big ones. MSC Yashi was built in 2018 at the Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines, known as HHIC Phil.

The ship’s nominal owner is listed SPDBFL One Hundred Twentythree and is managed by Seaspan with MSC being the long-term charterer of the vessel. MSC is currently operating the ship on the South Africa – Northern Europe service.

Picture by Trevor Jones


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TNPA reaches out to Port Elizabeth NSRI with donation of equipment

At the handover of sea rescue equipment the NSIR receives the much-needed assistance from TNPA to help save lives at sea. From left is the Deputy Harbour Master for the Port of Port Elizabeth, Captain Vuyani Ntsimango; NSRI Regional Operations Manager, Ian Gray; Nelson Mandela Bay Ports Manager, Pamela Yoyo and Harbour Master for the Port of Port Elizabeth, Captain Brynn Adamson.

A collaboration between the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) will result in an improvement in emergency rescue services and water safety education, thanks to the donation of much-need equipment made by TNPA’s Nelson Mandela Bay Ports (Port Elizabeth and Port Ngqura) to the NSRI.

The donated equipment includes a generator, office equipment, crew saver life jackets, emergency lights, handheld Very High Frequency (VHF) radios and cleaning materials.

“The collaboration represents what makes a difference to the people we serve,” said the NSRI Regional Operations Manager, Ian Gray, at a handover ceremony of the equipment.
<p?> “Saving lives is part of our ethos and we are grateful to the ports for their continued support,” Gray said.

TNPA and the NSRI have a long-standing relationship premised on a common objective of ensuring waterside safety in and outside of the port limits.

“One of the strongly felt moral obligations amongst seafarers is the wellbeing and rescue of persons in peril at sea,” said Pamela Yoyo, TNPA Port Manager for Nelson Mandela Bay Ports.

“As Nelson Mandela Bay Ports, we remain committed to this noble duty, and we view corporate social investment as an effective vehicle to support organisations aligned to this obligation.”

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Added 31 August 2023


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WHARF TALK: MR2 product tanker TORM ASLAUG

The MR2 products tanker Torm Aslaug departs from Cape Town on 17 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

In terms of easy recognition by the casual maritime observer, there are probably two traditional shipping companies in the world today whose vessels are immediately recognisable as to whom they belong to. This is because they do not follow traditional colour schemes for hull and accommodation block. Interestingly, both of these great shipping companies are Danish, and both of them operate Product Tankers, with one of them specialising in only Product Tankers.

In answering the maritime pub quiz question as to the identity as to who they both are, one is an easy starter for 10 points, as the sky blue hull and buff coloured accommodation makes quick recognition of one of their vessels an easy task. It is of course, Maersk Line, owners of the soon to disappear Safmarine trade name. What most folk don’t know is that the Maersk blue hulls are trademarked.

When Maersk applied to protect the colour, which is officially known as ‘Pantone Maersk Blue’, the company documented that the colour had been used on their vessels since 1886, and they put forward, as part of their evidence, a market survey which showed that a whopping 88% of the relevant Danish public associated the colour in question with the Maersk brand.

Torm Aslaug. Cape Town, 16 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The Danish Patent and Trademark Office found that the light blue colour had acquired distinctiveness through use within ‘sea freight transport’, and that the colour therefore could be registered as a trademark. In 2019 Maersk duly obtained a Danish trademark registration for the colour ‘Pantone Maersk Blue’ for use with ‘sea freight transport’. It is a, so-called, colour trademark, which means that the colour enjoys protection under the Danish Trademark Act.

As for the other Danish company whose corporate colours are also uniquely distinctive, one of their vessels recently arrived on the Southern African coast, on a seemingly planned four discharge port itinerary. Such a long, and complex, itinerary is rapidly becoming the norm nowadays. To gain the maritime pub quiz points regarding the colours of this second Danish shipping company, the answer is black hull and burnt orange accommodation block.

Torm Aslaug. Cape Town, 16 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Back on 12th August, at midday, the MR2 product tanker TORM ASLAUG (IMO 9465978) arrived at Walvis Bay, in Namibia, from Sikka in India, and entered the desert port, spending just over 36 hours on the first discharge leg of a long voyage around the Southern African coast. The next day, 13th August at 18h00 in the early evening, she was ready to sail, and departed Walvis Bay, bound for Cape Town, where she arrived on 16th August 16h00 in the afternoon.

As with the turnaround of container vessels, Cape Town also has an unenviable reputation of taking its time to fully discharge an MR2 product tanker. So when the turnaround time in Cape Town harbour is a short one, measured in less than the fingers of one hand, then it is a certainty that the vessel in question is on a multiple port discharge itinerary, and still has a port, or two, still to go. After less than three days alongside, ‘Torm Aslaug’ was once more ready to sail, and at 09h00 on the morning of 19th August she departed for Port Elizabeth, and her third port.

Torm Aslaug. Cape Town, 16 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Now it gets confusing. She duly arrived at the Algoa Bay anchorage on 20th August, at 23h00 in the late evening and, according to her AIS, duly went to anchor. According to her AIS she remained at anchor for almost two days, and at 19h00 in the evening of 22nd August, she raised her anchor, and departed from the Algoa Bay anchorage.

Except that her AIS appeared to show that she did not enter Port Elizabeth harbour, or even the nearby Ngqura harbour. Instead she set sail for Durban, where she arrived off the Bluff at 08h00 in the morning of 24th August, and duly made her way to the Umhlanga anchorage, which is where she remains, as of early on 30th August. As for the accuracy of her movements between arriving at the Algoa Bay anchorage, and at the Umhlanga anchorage, one only has AIS to go on.

Torm Aslaug. Cape Town, 16 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2010 by Guangzhou Shipyard International, at Guangzhou in China, ‘Torm Aslaug’ is the standard MR2 length of 183 metres, and has a deadweight of 49,999 tons. She is powered by a single Dalian MAN-B&W six cylinder two stroke main engine producing 11,533 bhp (8,466 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN 6L23/30H generators providing 910 kW each, and a single Sisu Agco 645 DSBAG emergency generator providing 200 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Qingdao Mission OC exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Qingdao Mission OL oil fired boiler. With 12 cargo tanks, and a cargo carrying capacity of 51,472 m3, ‘Torm Aslaug’ has twelve cargo tank pumps, each capable of loading, or discharging, at a rate of 550 m3/hour.

Torm Aslaug. Cape Town, 16 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of nine sisterships built as a class for her owners, and with two other near sisterships, ‘Torm Aslaug’ is nominally owned by Oaktree Capital Management, of Los Angeles in the USA, who are a distressed asset investment company. They have placed her with Tianjin Yuanhang-IV Leasing, with Torm AS, of Hellerup in Denmark, as operators, and whose houseflag she displays on her funnel, and on her hull, and her managers are Torm (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., of Singapore.

Torm AS were founded back in 1889 by Ditlev Torm as A/S Dampskibsselskabet Torm. Almost 120 years later, in 2008, during the worldwide credit crash and economic crisis, Torm AS had what is euphemistically called a ‘near death experience’. It resulted in the banks stepping in, and the company having to undergo a complex restructuring process over a five year period.

Torm Aslaug. Cape Town, 17 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ in Africa Ports & Ships

In March 2013, the Banks forced Torm AS to sell off five of their MR fleet, as an exercised outcome obtained as part of the restructuring process in 2008. The five tankers were all sisterships, and included ‘Torn Aslaug’. The quintet were purchased by Oaktree Capital Management for a block price of US$135 million (ZAR2.5 billion), and with ‘Torm Aslaug’ being valued at US$26.1 million (ZAR482.9 million).

Oaktree Capital Management kept the management of the vessels with Torm AS, who reached a profit sharing agreement with Oaktree Capital Management, based on the performance of ‘Torm Aslaug’ in the market. Torm AS have now recovered from the traumas of 2008, and currently operate a pure fleet of product tankers only, and which includes 27 LR class tankers, and 58 MR class tankers. They are considered as one of the leading product tanker owners, and operators, in the world.

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Added 31August 2023


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In Conversation: Landlocked Ethiopia wants better sea access: a port deal with neighbours could benefit the region

Doraleh Container Termina l at the Port of Djibouti, the port that currently handles about 97% of Ethiopia’s traffic.  Picture: Port of Djibouti

Namhla Matshanda,  University of the Western Cape

Ethiopia’s access to the coast has occupied the minds of the country’s rulers since time immemorial. This is because being landlocked undermines Ethiopia’s ability to grow its economy, develop its military (navy force) and exert influence across the Horn of Africa.

We see this preoccupation in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 1952, Eritrea – a coastal country – was controversially federated into Ethiopia. Failure to maintain this annexation led to Eritrean independence in 1993 and Ethiopia became a landlocked country once again. This was a major blow for the new administration that had taken over political power in 1991. For the new government this translated into some limitations on their economic and political goals for the country.

As a scholar of African politics, I have researched Ethiopia and its relations with its neighbours, including its civil wars, political reforms, national identity, state building and border tensions.

There is no doubt that Ethiopia’s lack of direct access to the sea has constrained its ability to cater for its large population and hindered economic growth and development. Politically, being landlocked limits Ethiopia’s geostrategic options in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

Ethiopia has several options for peaceful access to the sea. All of them could have a positive economic impact not only in Ethiopia but across the region. The options include further engagement with Eritrea, Djibouti and Somaliland on equitable terms for the use of their ports.

The Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSSET) corridor with Kenya – which is still in its early phases – could also be a game-changer in the region if built to completion.

Economic motivations

Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. It also has a large population, estimated at around 126 million and projected to grow at about 2.7% a year. This indicates a big market and many needs to be met.

Economic development became central to fiscal and economic planning and projections in the period between 2000 and 2012. But lack of direct coastal access became a notable obstacle to Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve middle-income status via export-oriented industrialisation.

At one time Eritrea’s Assab port handled 70% of Ethiopia’s trade.

At present Ethiopia’s imports and exports mainly pass via the port of Djibouti. Reliance on Djibouti has proved costly and unsustainable, however, leading Addis to search for alternatives.

Political considerations

Coastal access would give Ethiopia more political clout to help it achieve its ambition of dominating the Horn of Africa.

Peaceful access to the coast would depend on its relationships with its neighbours. Some have been strained, others harmonious.

Since 1991, Ethiopia has been on a path of regional domination, aided by its economic dominance in the region and in Africa. This was interrupted by its war with Eritrea between 1998 and 2000, which remained unresolved until 2018. The conflict limited but did not end Ethiopia’s political ambitions in the region, as seen in the country’s foreign policy since the early 1990s. Addis has appeared willing to get its own way in the region by whatever means.

Ethiopia continues to host the African Union and has been an active and dominant member of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional organisation. Since 2018, the country’s foreign policy has taken a conciliatory tone. We see this in the rapprochement with Eritrea following a peace deal that restored relations between the two states after two decades of conflict. This suggests a shift from a rigid security-focused foreign policy to a more pragmatic approach to issues that include diplomacy, climate change, migration, terrorism and access to the sea.

Because of its history and geopolitical position, Ethiopia has the potential to be a force for either stability or instability in the region. Finding a peaceful way to improve coastal access would make it a force for stability.

Agreement would benefit all countries

If Ethiopia opted for a forceful approach this would add fuel to a fire. Countries in the region, including Ethiopia, are currently battling various internal conflicts, with real potential to spill over.

Despite the fact of being landlocked, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has sought to revive the country’s navy, suggesting grand ambitions for the country’s armed forces.

There is no way forceful access to the coast would be a feasible option for Ethiopia.

The country is already engaged in negotiations with Djibouti and Kenya for more equitable terms for the use of their coasts. Peaceful and mutually beneficial agreements with any of the neighbouring countries will have positive outcomes for all. Ethiopia would still emerge stronger, and would continue on its economic growth path.The Conversation

Namhla Matshanda, Senior Lecturer, Political Studies, University of the Western Cape

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

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Transnet Board – Our view on the latest changes

Picture: Futuregrowth

by: Lindani Vezi
Futuregrowth Asset Management

On 15 June we [Futuregrowth] published a note highlighting some of our observations and concerns regarding the lack of timely appointments to the Transnet State-Owned Company (SOC).

Since the date of that note some changes to the board have been made by the shareholder representative.

Following months of operating with an under-capacitated board, on 11 July 2023 the Minister in the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), Mr Pravin Gordhan announced the appointment of nine independent non-executive directors to the Transnet SOC Limited Board.

Two of the pre-existing non-executive directors were retained, while four previous directors’ terms were not extended. There were no changes to the executive directors.

The table below encapsulates the recent appointments:

Independent, non-executive directors Retained board members Terms not extended
Mr Andile Sangqu (new board chairperson) Ms Portia Derby (Group CE) Ms Ursula Fikelepi
Ms Lebogang Letsoalo Ms Nonkululeko Dlamini (Group CFO) Ms Mpho Letlape
Mr Martin Debel Dr Popo Molefe Ms Dimakatso Matshoga
Mr Dipak Patel Dr Sydney Mufamadi Mr Aluwani Ramabulana
Mr Busisa Jiya
Ms Mosadiwamaratlwe Pearl Zambane
Ms Boitumelo Sedupane
Ms Refilwe Buthelezi
MrEklia Monage (declined)

In our view, the new appointments result in a board that is better capacitated. The new appointments include seasoned directors who have served in both the private and public sectors, and who possess some of the qualifications, experience and skills that were previously lacking.

New board sub-committees

The board has established board sub-committees to assist with the functions of the board. The sub-committees adhere to the respective sub-committee mandates.

A concern about the audit committee

We believe that the newly constituted sub-committees have largely addressed the skills shortage concerns we outlined previously, although we have some residual questions about the composition of the audit committee – which does not have a chartered accountant (CA) appointed to it.

The King IV Report on Corporate Governance[ King IV Report on Corporate Governance 2016, paragraph 55] recommends that “the members of the audit committee should, as a whole, have the necessary financial literacy, skills and experience to execute their duties effectively”. Considering this, and based on our experience with other public and private entities, members of the audit committee typically include chartered accountants who are members of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Lack of qualified CA

Despite the new appointments to the Transnet Audit Committee, we remain concerned about its lack of any qualified CA(SA)s. Although the newly appointed Chairperson, Mr Andile Sangqu, is a qualified CA(SA), the King IV Report on Corporate Governance recommends that “the chair should not be a member of the audit committee”[ King IV Report on Corporate Governance 2016, paragraph 36(a)] and he has not been appointed as a member of the audit committee.

Minister Gordhan seems to have mitigated this through the appointment of Ms Zolisa Zwakala as an independent advisor to the Transnet Audit Committee. Ms Zwakala is a qualified CA(SA) and a Certified Internal Auditor, and per her CV, has extensive experience across the private and public sectors.

While the appointment of Ms Zwakala may provide the necessary financial skills and experience, and in that way support and strengthen the audit committee, we note that, as an advisor, Ms Zwakala does not have the fiduciary obligations that she would have to assume had she been appointed as a director to Transnet.

Furthermore, it is not clear what would happen once her advisory contract terminates, which could leave the audit committee without the necessary skills and experience once again.

We believe it would have been preferable for the Minister to appoint more directors with the requisite financial qualifications and experience to the audit committee, with fiduciary responsibilities to Transnet’s stakeholders in the execution of their duties.

Much still rests on the shoulders of the new board and the DPE

Notwithstanding this, we look forward to watching the newly constituted Transnet board and the management team moving swiftly to address the significant operational challenges that Transnet faces. Furthermore, we hope that the Department of Public Enterprise’s SOC Governance Assurance and Performance programme will proactively and diligently review governance at Transnet and the other SOCs – and take the necessary action where needed.

First published on

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Eco Atlantic moving ahead with two-well campaign offshore Orange River mouth

Africa Ports & Ships

Eco Oil & Gas Ltd (Eco Atlantic), the oil and gas exploration company focused on the offshore Atlantic Margins, in its quarterly results for the period ended 30 June 2023, has reiterated that Block 3B/4B where it has interests, contains an estimated 4 billion barrels of oil equivalent.

The JV partners in the venture are moving ahead with plans to conduct a two-well campaign on the Block, “in conjunction with progressing the collaborative farm out process, up to 55% gross working interest, with various potential parties.”

In the adjacent Block 2B, where Eco says it continues to believe the block contains considerable hydrocarbon resources, it looks forward to providing further updates as the exploration and commercial activity on the block continues.

The two blocks are in the Orange River Basin area of the Northern Cape, offshore the river mouth.

Eco Oil also has interests on the Namibian side of the border where there has been significant drilling success in the area.

The Company says it is continuing to assess farm out opportunities with its four licences in the region as it considers options for progressing exploration and commercial activity on its acreage.

“Our Q1 results serve as an important opportunity to remind investors of the strategic work which is happening across all areas of the portfolio,” said Gil Holzman, President and CEO of Eco Atlantic.

“Recently announced deals in both South Africa and Guyana are examples of the team’s efforts to position the portfolio to continue creating high-impact catalysts for investors. I am excited for the future and look forward to progressing our work programmes across our entire Atlantic Margin portfolio.”

The Company’s unaudited financial results and Management’s discussion and analysis for the period are available here.

Picture Eco Atlantic

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Rail services between South Africa and Maputo to be expanded for chrome & ferrochrome

Additional trains for Maputo line to carry chrome and ferrochrome.  Picture: TFR

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and Caminhos De Ferros De Moçambique (CFM) have decided to expand the seamless operation of trains between the two countries to include the export of chrome and ferrochrome.

As from 1 September three additional trains a day will operate from South Africa to the port at Maputo/Matola.

In a statement TFR said this improvement has been made available despite various recent disruptions on the line, including the closure of the line due to security disruptions and recent derailments.

The first phase of run-through trains to Terminal de Carvão da Matola (TCM) has yielded a 23% increase in magnetite volumes.

TFR believes this more efficient rail service will continue to improve the train cycle time by approximately 23% and grow the annual volume of rail by approximately 230,000 tons.

The successes achieved on this route, it said, are an example of the intrinsic value of meaningful collaboration between the two national railway operators.

It gives credence to what can be achieved when railway operations are not stifled by disruptions due to incessant cable theft and the shortage of locomotives, as experienced on other major routes to the East Coast supporting the vast Mpumalanga and Limpopo minerals deposits.

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Added 29 August 2023


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WHARF TALK: multi-purpose heavylift vessel ATLANTIC

Atlantic. Cape Town, 23 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

It is a strange thing that yet another analogy of the famous London Bus allegory about human life, where you wait around for an age for a London Bus, and then two will turn up together, is made yet again in the world of the casual maritime observer.

In this case, it is that you hardly ever see a Dutch, medium sized, multi-purpose, heavylifter call in, and then two arrive within days of each other, at the same port, and both appear to be operating in the same market, and which is supposedly carrying cargo that is linked to the offshore oil and gas industry, one in South Africa and the other not.

On 23rd August, at 16h00 in the afternoon, the multi-purpose heavylift vessel ATLANTIC (IMO 9573634) arrived off Cape Town, from Jebel Ali in the UAE. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside at the Landing Wall. As always, such a vessel being given such a berth at Cape Town is a sure sign that she is merely in for some local shoreside engineering assistance, and possibly also in need of a top up of stores, fresh produce and bunkers.

Atlantic. Cape Town, 23 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2011 with her hull being constructed by the Partner Shipyard Sp.z.o.o, at Szczecin in Poland, and then towed around to Holland where she was completed and outfitted by Hartman Marine Shipbuilding BV, at Urk. With a length of 105 metres, and a deadweight of 3,394 tons, ‘Atlantic’ is powered by a single Wärtsilä 8L32 eight cylinder four stroke main engine producing 4,891 bhp (3,680 kW), driving a Wärtsilä Lips controllable pitch propeller for a maximum service speed of 18 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Scania DI-13 generators providing 348 kW each, and a single Sisu Agco 74 emergency generator providing 96 kW. For added manoeuvrability ‘Atlantic’ has a HRP 3001 TT bow transverse thruster providing 300 kW, and a HRP 3001 TT stern transverse thruster providing 30 kW.

As a heavylifter, and multi-purpose project freight carrier, ‘Atlantic’ has a single, continuous cargo hold with a capacity of 4,395 m3. She has a deck load strength of 15 tons/m2, and her open deck area covers a continuous 74 metres by 16 metres. She has pontoon hatch covers, which are moved by a travelling deck gantry crane, and her holds are serviced by two offset Liebherr WLL cranes, each with a lifting capacity of 120 tons, which can lift 240 tons when used in tandem. She has a container carrying capacity of 222 TEU, with deck plugs for just 4 reefers.

Atlantic and her two offset cranes. Cape Town, 23 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of four sisterships, the design of ‘Atlantic’ is a Trader 18, and the design won the Dutch Ship of the Year in 2007. One of her sisterships and fleetmates, ‘Pacific Dawn’, passed through Cape Town in February 2022 and was covered in the Africa Ports & Ships edition of 25th February 2022.

With accommodation provided for a crew of up to 11 persons, ‘Atlantic ‘ is owned by Hartman Beheer BV, of Urk in Holland, and is both operated and managed by Global Seatrade BV, also of Urk, and whose company name is emblazoned on the front of the accommodation block, and whose tulip houseflag adorns her funnel.

On arrival, her deck cargo included three small hoppers, chambers, or tanks, plus a single Damen Shoalbuster workboat, named ‘Skuld’, and with the logo of James Fisher Subtech (JFS) on her funnel. JFS is a UK based company, headquartered in Lowestoft in Suffolk, and who specialise in the oil and gas industry support, offshore wind farm support, marine civil engineering projects, and maritime salvage support.

Atlantic and Skuld. Cape Town, 23 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The parent company, James Fisher & Sons, were founded in 1847 and are better known as operating the fleet that carries irradiated, power station, nuclear fuel between the UK and Japan. The Subtech arm of JFS are based in Briardene in Durban, where they operate a small fleet of support vessels. Within the African continent, JFS maintain sub-offices in Maputo (Mozambique), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Port Louis (Mauritius) , and Lagos (Nigeria).

One of the more notable marine operations that Subtech performed was in January 2022, when they were contracted to conduct a wreck reduction operation on the stranded Japanese Tuna longline fishing vessel, ‘Fukuseki Maru’, which stranded on the infamous Skeleton Coast of Namibia. She had run aground in March 2018, south of the Ugab River, whilst en route to Walvis Bay, from Angola. She lay less than one mile offshore, but despite the efforts of the salvage tug ‘S.A. Amandla’, she remained firmly aground. Subtech reduced her into three major hull pieces, using explosives, to allow the sea to finish her off.

The unfortunate fishing vessel, Fukuseki Maru aground. Salvage team being lowered on board, March 2018. Picture: SA_NAM News

It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone about the ongoing tragedy of refugees escaping warzones, and strife, in both the Middle East, and Africa, playing out in Greek waters. Back in February 2016 ‘Atlantic’ was chartered to carry the German lifeboat ‘Minden’ from Bremerhaven to Lesbos in Greece, at the request of the Greek Sea Rescue Service.

The lifeboat was needed to join in the rescue work of desperate refugees trying to cross to Greece, from Turkey, in unsuitable rubber boats. The lifeboat operation, with a crew of eight, was carried out over a period of nine months, until she was released by two smaller lifeboats, which were constructed in Germany, and financed by a private donor.

In December 2018, ‘Atlantic’ was approaching the port of Aberdeen, in Scotland, when the Aberdeen Marine Pilot suffered a seriously injured leg whilst boarding her from the pilot launch. The RNLI lifeboat “Bon Accord” was launched to medically evacuate the pilot, who was safely landed in Aberdeen, and transferred to a local hospital to receive further treatment.

Atlantic. Cape Town, 23 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As expected, the stay of ‘Atlantic’ in Cape Town was short, and after just ten hours she was ready to sail. At 02h00 in the early morning of 24th August, she departed Cape Town, and set course for her next destination, which was the little known port of Punta Quilla, located at 50°07’ South 068°25’ West, in the Santa Cruz province of Patagonia, in Argentina.

There is no industrial activity in Punta Quilla, only that of ranching and fishing, and the port reflects this background. There is a single jetty, with no quayside infrastructure, that offers one outer berth of 158 metres in length, and a depth of 10.6 metres, and an inner berth only suitable for small vessels, such as offshore support vessels. It is this connection to the oil and gas industry that gives a clue to why ‘Atlantic’ may be headed to such an isolated spot.

In June 2023, offshore construction work began on the development of a new natural gas field named ‘Fénix’. The field would have a single, unmanned, satellite platform, which would be tied back to the existing Vega-Pléyade platform with a subsea pipeline. The Fénix platform is part of the Cuenca Austral concession, and lies in 70 metres depth of water, 33 nautical miles offshore from Patagonia. A total of three wells are to be drilled over the next two years, and production of 10 million m3/day of natural gas is expected to be produced by the field.

The port of Punta Quilla is being used to support the Fénix development work, and currently the offshore construction vessel ‘Normand Commander’ is preparing for the pipeline, by laying giant concrete support sleepers on the seabed, and using Punta Quilla as the support, and storage base, base for the operation.

Atlantic. Cape Town, 23 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

When completed, the subsea pipeline will be 19 nautical miles in length, and the three wells of the Fénix platform will join the other three existing platforms, and their eight wells, to produce a total production of 25 million m3/day of natural gas, all of which is destined solely for the Argentinian domestic market.

The Cuenca Austral concession is the southernmost gas field in Argentina, and is being developed at a total cost of US$706 million (ZAR13.12 billion), with Punta Quilla being reinvigorated as the support base where all subsea construction materials will be loaded.

The isolation of this Patagonian port is borne out by the fact that it lies 2,500 km south of Buenos Aires, which is almost twice the distance between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and the nearest commercial airport to link the two locations is at Rio Gallegos, which lies 250 km to the south, and an almost four hour flight away.

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Added 30 August 2023


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Angola’s Southern Moçâmedes Corridor moves 600,000 tons in 2023 H1

Angola’s Moçâmedes Railway expects to handle 200,000 tonnes f freight this year. Picture: Angop

Africa Ports & Ships

Angola’s Southern Corridor, which includes the Moçâmedes Railway, handled about 600,000 tons of cargo transported to or from the Port of Namibe during the first six months of 2023.

The southern corridor crosses the provinces of Namibe, Huíla and Cuando Cubango in Angola’s south, terminating at the port of Namibe.

Port authorities at Namibe anticipate handling approximately one million tonnes of cargo for the full year.

Data revealed by Angola’s Minister of Transport, Ricardo de Abreu, indicated the Moçâmedes Railway as having handled 100,000 tonnes of the total.

Acknowledging that these are relatively small volumes, the minister pointed out that international logistics chains are facing various challenges and that Angola’s economy is not excluded from the effects of “these global difficulties”.

Abreu was attending the opening ceremony of the ‘Journey of Revitalization of the Transportation and Export Process of iron miners and ornamental stones from the southern region of Angola’.

He said the data available made it clear that it required the effort of all involved in industry to increase the pace of production in order to achieve the set objectives.

Minister Abreu called for an even greater effort of those involved in rail transport, since, he said, in the first half of the year they had reached only 50 percent of the annual target of 200,000 tonnes.

The minster reminded listeners that it is intended that later this year a tender will be issued for the concession for the management and operation of the Southern Corridor.

Whoever wins the concession will also be responsible for the extension of the railway to the borders of Namibia and Zambia.

Angolan railway map, the Moçâmedes Railway in the south

The Southern Corridor, he said is experiencing growth in the export of ornamental stone (granite), while the mineral sector is increasing pressure of the transport services and existing infrastructure.

“The Jamba mine, which produces iron ore, and the Cuxi (Cuchi) mine, which produces gunza (pig) iron, are good examples,” the minister said.

The biggest challenge is to identify the needs according to the expected levels of production so that the transport sector can adapt to the real demand for minerals and ornamental stones produced and to be transported.

It was necessary, therefore that those on the financial side, both public and private, fully understood the financial implications and the involvement of public entities.

“We are gathered here to work on creating a space for dialogue between all stakeholders, coordinated, integrated and inclusive, Because only in this way will we be able to truly guarantee the existence of adequate services both in port and rail areas, so that production is disposed of in a timely manner, in an efficient and profitable way for the operators who produce and transport it,” he said.

During his time in the province of Namibe, the minister visited the respective zones of the Integrated Development Project of the Bay of Moçâmedes, also railway infrastructure and the CFM, Saco-Mar Mining Terminal, the CFM workshop in Saco-Mar and the multipurpose terminal. source: ANGOP

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O Corredor Sul de Moçâmedes de Angola movimenta 600.000 toneladas em 1º semestre de 2023

Ferro gusa sendo transportado do Cuando Cubango para o porto do Namibe  foto Angop

Africa Ports & Ships

O Corredor Sul de Angola, que inclui o Caminho de Ferro de Moçâmedes, movimentou cerca de 600 mil toneladas de carga transportadas de ou para o Porto do Namibe durante os primeiros seis meses de 2023.

O corredor sul atravessa as províncias do Namibe, Huíla e Cuando Cubango, no sul de Angola, terminando no porto do Namibe.

As autoridades portuárias do Namibe prevêem movimentar aproximadamente um milhão de toneladas de carga durante todo o ano.

Dados revelados pelo ministro dos Transportes de Angola, Ricardo de Abreu, indicam que o Caminho de Ferro de Moçâmedes movimentou 100 mil toneladas do total.

Reconhecendo que se trata de volumes relativamente pequenos, o ministro destacou que as cadeias logísticas internacionais enfrentam vários desafios e que a economia de Angola não está excluída dos efeitos “destas dificuldades globais”.

Abreu esteve presente na cerimónia de abertura da ‘Jornada de Revitalização do Processo de Transporte e Exportação de mineiros de ferro e pedras ornamentais da região sul de Angola’.

Disse que os dados disponíveis deixam claro que é necessário o esforço de todos os intervenientes na indústria para aumentar o ritmo de produção para atingir os objectivos definidos.

O ministro Abreu apelou a um esforço ainda maior dos intervenientes no transporte ferroviário, uma vez que, disse, no primeiro semestre do ano atingiram apenas 50 por cento da meta anual de 200 mil toneladas.

O ministro lembrou aos ouvintes que se pretende que ainda este ano seja lançado o concurso para a concessão de gestão e exploração do Corredor Sul.

Quem ganhar a concessão será também responsável pela extensão da ferrovia até às fronteiras da Namíbia e da Zâmbia.

O Corredor Sul, disse, regista um crescimento na exportação de pedras ornamentais (granito), enquanto o sector mineral está a aumentar a pressão dos serviços de transporte e das infra-estruturas existentes.

“A mina da Jamba, que produz minério de ferro, e a mina do Cuxi, que produz ferro gunza, são bons exemplos”, disse o ministro.

O maior desafio é identificar as necessidades de acordo com os níveis de produção esperados para que o sector dos transportes se possa adaptar à real procura de minerais e pedras ornamentais produzidos e a transportar.

Era necessário, portanto, que os intervenientes financeiros, tanto públicos como privados, compreendessem plenamente as implicações financeiras e o envolvimento das entidades públicas.

“Estamos aqui reunidos para trabalhar na criação de um espaço de diálogo entre todos os intervenientes, coordenado, integrado e inclusivo, porque só assim conseguiremos garantir verdadeiramente a existência de serviços adequados tanto na área portuária como ferroviária, para que a produção é escoado em tempo hábil, de forma eficiente e rentável para os operadores que o produzem e transportam”, afirmou.

Durante a sua estadia na província do Namibe, o ministro visitou as respectivas zonas do Projecto de Desenvolvimento Integrado da Baía de Moçâmedes, também infra-estruturas ferroviárias e os CFM, Terminal Mineiro do Saco-Mar, a oficina dos CFM no Saco-Mar e o terminal multiusos . fonte: ANGOP

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SAECS/SRX update – vessel Mehuin to omit Port of Cape Town

The troubled Cape Town Container Terminal    Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

In a service update regarding the South Africa – Europe container service, the container ship MEHUIN on voyage 233S/233N will omit her Cape Town call.

According to the update issued by ONE (Ocean Network Express), the omission is necessary to maintain vessel schedules.

The omission is a result on ongoing operational delays in South African ports, says ONE, naming Cape Town specifically.

“Please be advised, due to ongoing operational delays in South African ports, namely Cape Town and to maintain schedule integrity, the M/V Mehuin v.233S/233N will omit Cape Town.

Cape Town imports will be discharged in Durban and transferred to the M/V Santa Teresa v.233S, which is ETA Cape Town on 14 September 2023.

The cargo originally planned for the M/V Mehuin v.233N in Cape Town will be transferred to the M/V Santa Teresa v.233N, ETD 16 September.

Unfortunately, says ONE, this has had a knock-on effect on the Santa Teresa 233N as well, whereby these bookings will be rolled over to the Santa Cruz v.233N.

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P&O Britannia cruise ship collides with second ship during storm

P&O cruise ship Britannia, in Barcelona 2016. Picture: Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships

The P&O cruise ship BRITANNIA collided with with a cargo ship during a storm on Sunday morning in Mallorca, Spain.

According to reports the cruise ship broke away from her moorings in the harbour as a result of fierce winds. Passengers described the ship as simply floating away.

Several passengers received minor injuries which were treated on board ship.

The ship’s master said there was no major structural damage to the ship although some lifeboats received slight damage as a result of the collision with the other vessel.

As is common in today’s world, passengers recorded the incident on their cell phones or cameras.

Ironically, the local fire department was conducting an emergency drill almost alongside the cruise ship as the Britannia broke away.

The wind was accompanied by heavy rain, making visibility difficult.

Passengers said the ship’s bridge kept them informed on what was happening and there was no panic.

The incident lasted for about two hours.

P&O Cruises spokesperson said they were “aware of an incident involving Britannia on Sunday morning” and were “working to assess the situation”.

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Port of Richards Bay to upgrade Bayvue Railyard

Aerial view of Richards Bay dry bulk and multipurpose terminals with Bayvue in background.  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority is to improve efficiencies at the Richards Bay port railyard known as Bayvue.

TNPA said at the weekend that the Bayvue Railyard Infrastructure Upgrade project will address and improve efficiencies and performance at the railyard.

In particular, the project will address the rail yard design challenges and reduce the chances of derailments.

The project is scheduled to be completed in March 2025 and its successful implementation will result in an improved rail turnaround time, ensure compliance with the Rail Safety Regulator (RSR) requirements, reduce closure of defective rail lines and increase the port’s ability to handle forecasted volume demands.

“The Bayvue railyard upgrade demonstrates TNPA’s commitment to dealing with issues currently faced by the port in the rail space,” said Dennis Mqadi, TNPA Port Manager at the Port of Richards Bay.

He said the Port Authority is working around the clock to identify interventions to tackle port inefficiencies and support customer demands.

Due to the steady increase in rail volumes over the past decade, heavier locomotives were required to pull longer train lengths. The demand has increased the load on the rail infrastructure to 22 tons per axle, as opposed to the initial design of 18 tons per axle.

The upgrade project will increase the load-bearing capacity of the railway infrastructure to meet the demand of 22 tons axleloads. It will also improve the condition of the infrastructure and reduce delays caused by unplanned maintenance due to the rail infrastructure defects.

The scope of the upgrade project includes the replacement of the sleepers, rail clips, rail turnouts, ballasts and ballast screening. The recent delivery of sleepers and rail supplies (rail turnouts and rail clips) is evidence of the pending upgrade project.

Installation is scheduled for December 2023.

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WHARF TALK: Neo Panamax container vessel SANTA ISABEL

The Neo Panamax container vessel SANTA ISABEL arriving in port at Cape Town. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There was a time when there was only one container cartel operating on the lucrative route between South Africa and Northern Europe. The service was known, and is still known as the Southern Africa Europe Container Service, or better known by its acronym, as almost all container services seem to be, SAECS.

SAECS started out as far back as 1977, now in its 46th year of continuous operations. When it started, it was with eight container vessels, all newly built for the service, and operated by four great shipping companies that are sadly now all a part of maritime history, swallowed up by other operators, or simply having closed up, and slipped away into oblivion.

A great maritime pub quiz question would be to name all eight vessels that started SAECS, and also give the name of the owning companies. They were City of Durban (Ellermans), Table Bay (OCL), Ortelius (CMB), Transvaal (DAL) and the four ‘Big Whites’ of SA Waterberg, SA Sederberg, SA Winterberg and SA Helderberg (Safmarine). All of these original SAECS operating companies had long and great histories.

Today, the South Africa to Northern Europe route is run in a loose competition between just three juggernaut companies, namely MSC, ONE and Maersk. It is Maersk who are the sole operator of SAECS, with MSC running their Northwest Continent to South Africa (NWC-SA) service, and ONE running with their South Africa Rainbow Express (SRX) service.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite the loose competition on the route, all three companies operate a pretty much identical port rotation, which has remained almost unchanged for the last 46 years. For the SAECS and SRX service it is Rotterdam (Holland)- London (UK)- Bremerhaven (Germany)- Algeciras (Spain)- Ngqura- Durban-Cape Town- Tangier Med (Morocco)- Rotterdam.

The services are weekly, with SAECS operating with nine vessels, and ONE operating with nine vessels. What gets confusing for the casual maritime observer is that some Maersk vessels seemingly operate on the SRX service, and some ONE vessels seemingly operate on the SAECS service. Except that it seems that code sharing also takes place, and some vessels appear on both schedules. So the arrival of a Maersk owned vessel, or a ONE owned vessel, could mean that she is running on either the SAECS schedule, or the SRX schedule, or possibly both.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On 24th August, at 18h00 in the evening, the Neo Panamax container vessel SANTA ISABEL (IMO 9444728) arrived off Cape Town, from Durban, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Ben Schoeman dock, going alongside berth 601 at the Cape Town Container Terminal, to begin loading for her northbound voyage back to Europe.

Built in 2011 by Daewoo Shipbuilding at Geoje in South Korea, ‘Santa Isabel’ is 300 metres in length and has a deadweight of 93,603 tons. The second of ten sisterships, she is powered by a single Doosan Wärtsilä 8RTFlex96C eight cylinder two stroke main engine, producing 62,215 bhp (45,760 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 22 knots.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes four STX MAN-B&W 9L32/40 generators providing 4,685 kW each, and an emergency generator providing 500 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission XS-2V exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg CHB-5000 oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability ‘Santa Isabel’ has a bow transverse thruster providing 2,300 kW, and a stern transverse thruster providing 1,700 kW.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In 2012 ‘Santa Isabel’ was refitted with a Becker Twisted Fin (BTF). The BTF improves vessel performance, in combination with the propeller, and the aft body of the vessel’s hull, and results in a 4% improvement in fuel consumption. The retrofit of the BTF was given to all ten of the ‘Santa’ Class.

A Daewoo DSME 8700 design, ‘Santa Isabel’ has a container carrying capacity of 7,114 TEU, and can provide plugs for an impressive 1,365 reefers. Her large reefer capacity meant that, when built, the Santa Class of container vessel were actually the largest reefer vessels on the planet, although this is no longer the case.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

When built, ‘Santa Isabel’ was owned by the great German shipping company, Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft A/S & Co KG, of Hamburg in Germany, and better known to the casual maritime observer simply as Hamburg Süd. The traditional red hull, with a red topped white funnel, made Hamburg Süd vessels stand out from the rest.

On completion, she was christened in Singapore in February 2011, and immediately began operating on the Hamburg Süd New Good Hope Express service, which linked Southeast Asia with South Africa, and the east coast of South America. As has happened to a lot of other great container shipping companies, Hamburg Süd was swallowed up in 2017 by the insatiable growth of the great Danish shipping group, AP Moller-Maersk A/S of Copenhagen.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Now owned, operated and managed by Maersk Line AS of Copenhagen, ‘Santa Isabel’, as with all Hamburg Süd vessels, is about to lose her famous red hull and identity, as her parent company have announced that 2023 is the year that all vessels in the group are to be switched into the recognizable Maersk blue hull. So enjoy her as she is, because very soon you will not see her in her famous colours, and potentially, with a new name reflecting the Maersk brand.

Hamburg Süd, was founded in 1871, to provide cargo and export services from Hamburg to South America. Her South American lineage means that all of the company vessels had names that reflect the Spanish language of South America. For the nomenclature fan, ‘Santa Isabel’ is named after a Hamburg Süd training ship of the 1950s, one of a group of vessels of that era also known within the company as the Santa Class.

Santa Isabel. Cape Town, 24 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The ‘Santa Isabel’ (IMO 5312264) training vessel was built in 1952 by the Howaldtswerke (HDW) shipyard in Hamburg and had a deadweight of 12,135 tons. She was sold out of the Hamburg Süd fleet in 1968, and went through various owners until 1979, when she caught fire whilst laid up in the Greek port of Piraeus. In 1980 she was under tow from Piraeus, to the port of Tripoli in Lebanon, when she went aground and was wrecked. Rather then remove her, she became integrated into the new breakwater built at the port.

In her 12 year career, she has received 31 Port State Inspections, and despite previously being deployed on the Hamburg Süd New Good Hope Express service from 2011, and then running continuously on the South Africa SAECS rotation since 2019, ‘Santa Isabel’ has only ever been inspected twice in South African ports in all that time.

The original Santa Isabel training ship of 1952. Picture”Shipspotting

The first inspection took place in Cape Town in March 2019, and the second one took place in Port Elizabeth in July 2019, presumably when first introduced on the SAECS route. Both inspections were under the auspices of both the Abuja MoU, and the Indian Ocean MoU, and both inspections resulted in not a single deficiency being recorded against the vessel. There have been no further inspections in any South African port.

Once loading of her containers for the northbound voyage is complete, ‘Santa Isabel’ should have sailed on schedule on 28th August. She is shown as conducting a schedule of both the Maersk SAECS rotation, and also on the ONE SRX rotation, which does indicate that code sharing is taking place on the route. On departure from Cape Town she is bound for the North African port of Tangier-Med in Morocco.

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Banjul port expansion and Sanyang Deep Seaport development approved

Africa Ports & Ships

The Gambia government in West Africa has given approval to increasing the handling capacity of the country’s only seaport and to decongest terminals.

To that end Gambia has cleared the way for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) concession for the expansion of the Port of Banjul and the development of a deep seaport at Sanyang village, in the West Coast Region along the country’s southern coastline.

The PPP concessionaires are Albayrak and Negmar Consortium of Turkey with The Gambia Port Authority (GPA) serving as both a guarantor and shareholder in the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

Maritime Transport Business Services (MTBS) of Netherlands was the Transaction Adviser who assisted the Government in the bidding process through the PPP Technical Evaluation Committee.

Albayrak and Negmar Consortium are to be appointed as the Lead Arranger of the SPV Joint Venture (JV) with responsibility for the construction of the facilities.

The other two Preferred Bidders, Red Sea Gateway Terminals of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Yilport of Turkey, will hold equity in the SPV, to leverage on their respective competencies and investment opportunities.

The PPP arrangement is expected to address the need for sustainable management and operations of The Gambia’s port facilities.

Given the climate risks associated with sea-level rise, perennial dredging will be required due to increased sedimentation in Banjul and the limited capacity for expansion and congestion in the capital City.

The construction of the Deep Seaport in Sanyang and the expansion of the Banjul Port are to run concurrently and be concluded within 24 months. Once the identified lead PPP concessionaire commits to the award instruments, work will begin in earnest.

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ONE overtakes Evergreen into sixth position

Evergreen Ace, easily recognised as an Evergreen ship by the bright green hull, first of the A-class of 23,682-TEU capacity ships to enter service. Picture: Evergreen

Africa Ports & Ships

“Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the biggest one of all?”

The answer to that little misquote of the jealous queen in ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ is not of any importance other than bragging rights among the container shipping giants, yet it’s one we all like to play and consider.

So, in that context we report that, according to statistics by the analyst specialist Alphaliner, Ocean Network Express (ONE) (whose schedule updates are frequently used here in Africa Ports & Ships), has now taken the role of sixth largest container line, displacing Evergreen in the process.

That is in the race for top rankings and is based on container carrying capacity.

In a rider to this, Alphaliner states the position may not remain so for Ocean Network Express, as Evergreen has a lengthy orderbook in excess of half its fleet, whereas ONE’s order book is a ‘mere’ 27.9 per cent of current capacity.

Evergreen, in a departure from earlier practice, has an impressive orderbook for ultra large container ships with something like 11 of the 13 A class vessels having been delivered, each A class being capable of 23,682 TEU as per design. Numerous other ships of differing class and capacity remain on order.

MSC has by far the biggest fleet, after a buying and building spree that shows little sign of slowing. Maersk, which for more than 25 years was the largest of the container lines, remains in second position but is under threat from French shipping group CMA CGM, which is also expanding its fleet with large container ships.

The LNG-fueled CMA CGM Jacques Saade at Rotterdam. Picture: CMA CGM

Next comes the Chinese COSCO line, followed by Hapag-Lloyd. After that is Ocean Network Express in its new position, then Evergreen Marine Corporation, and Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM).

In 9th position we have Yang Ming Marine Transport and in 10th is the Israeli line, Zim

Watch developments involving Hapag-Lloyd and HMM, where the German carrier has made a bid to acquire HMM, although there is some kickback in South Korea in an effort to keep HMM a Korean-owned company. If the bid becomes successful, then Hapag-Lloyd will move up the list.

Another thing to watch is how each container carrier handles the expected surplus of ships during the downturn in demand for container shipping. MSC and Maersk are already sending for scrap older tonnage, yet MSC has been on a buying expedition for almost every secondhand tonnage that was available – mostly smaller capacity ships.

So there’s the current status of the world’s top container lines. In a few months it may be different, and maybe you disagree on account of which company is top in terms of service or some other factor, it all depends on what you consider to be the more important, and that’s as it should be!

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Ghana’s Transaid road safety project: London to Paris sponsored Cycle Challenge

Ghana’s Transaid road safety project: London to Paris sponsored Cycle Challenge  Pictures Transaid

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The British Deputy High Commissioner to Ghana, Keith McMahon, has visited Transaid’s professional driver training programme in Tema, Greater Accra, to see how the charity is working to improve road safety in the country, which has seen an increase in road crash fatalities during the last decade. This was reported by the charity in week ending 26 August. The World Health Organisation estimates that around 7,000 people lost their lives on the road in Ghana in 2016.

During the visit the diplomat observed practical refresher training with a group of eleven heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver trainers, who have collectively trained almost 1,000 professional drivers to new or improved standards within the last twelve months.

High road freight use

Transaid’s work in Ghana forms part of a three-and-a-half-year project which began in 2021, funded by Puma Energy Foundation, to raise training standards and expand training capacity for HGV drivers – in a country where almost 95% of freight is transported by road.

Commenting on the reason for his visit, McMahon said: “The High Commission provides technical and financial assistance to the African Continental Free Trade Area, and part of increasing trade and investment is improving road transport corridors – which in turn requires highly skilled drivers.

“With HGV traffic on Ghana’s roads set to increase, ensuring access to improved standards of driver training is paramount. Transaid’s ‘train the trainer’ model is helping the country to develop and retain these skills locally, and it was fantastic to meet the team behind it.”

Thelma Ayisi, a Project Manager at Transaid, added: “It was an honour to introduce the British Deputy High Commissioner to our project, and highlight how we are working to ensure consistency of training standards, with the aim of saving lives.

“Our next priority is to focus on securing buy-in from more private sector fleets, by highlighting the advantages of employing drivers who have followed a specific HGV driver training curriculum. These are important steps to improve access to future jobs and help to drive economic growth in Ghana.”

Building local skills

Transaid’s approach is to build local skills to ensure sustainable and lasting change, which it has been able to demonstrate in this project by advancing several Ghanaian driver trainers with additional training to the level of master trainer, thereby enabling them to train other driver trainers as demand dictates.

The initial three-and-a-half-year project in Ghana is set to run until July 2024 by which time the charity expects to have helped deliver professional driver training to over 1,500 HGV drivers.


London to Paris, 2017 sponsored Cycle Challenge

London to Paris sponsored Cycle Challenge

As forty riders prepare to take on Transaid’s Silver Jubilee London to Paris cycle challenge from 21 to 25 September the charity announced in July that uTrack Software is the headline sponsor of the event.

uTrack was founded in 2010 on a mission to improve public transport by providing an industry leading software platform. This in turn powers a range of facilities for operations, customer service, planning and scheduling, engineering, managers and drivers, changing the experience for passengers, parents, schools, local authorities, and airports across Europe, and North America.

The teams at uTrack are based in Dublin and Birmingham, and its technology helps clients carry over two billion passengers annually on their services across school buses, urban city buses, rail, and intercity coaches.

The challenge will see riders travel 187-miles over three days in the saddle, starting at London’s Greenwich Observatory and finishing at the Eiffel Tower, in the French capital.

Funds raised will be used to support Transaid’s life-saving work in sub-Saharan Africa, where they are focused on improving road safety and access to healthcare for rural communities.

Although all spaces on this challenge have now been filled, Transaid still has some sponsorship packages available, for more information please contact Anna Giavedoni at

For more information on the work of Transaid, which celebrates its quarter century this year, readers are invited to see here.

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In Malawi truck drivers are taught about human risks of trafficking

Maxwell Matewere (left), a crime prevention expert with the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is accompanied by two officials as he investigates human trafficking allegations in Malawi. Picture UNODC

Africa Ports & Ships

Truck drivers in southern Africa who have been recruited to traffic or smuggle people illegally are learning about the risks involved thanks to the UN drugs and crime agency, UNODC.

“I used to transport sugar from Malawi,” said an anonymous driver, who was arrested for migrant trafficking. “In 2016, I had to wait for several days at a border crossing in Tanzania for customs checks. I was approached by a man who offered me a lot of money to transport goats.”

His story is not unique.

Malawi is located at the crossroads of several significant flows of people fleeing conflict, instability, and poverty in Central Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Such movements provide lucrative opportunities for smugglers and traffickers and for Malawi’s 5,000 registered international truck drivers.

The driver who shared his story said he was paid in advance, and the man who offered him the deal took photos of both him and his truck. The driver proceeded to spend some of the money and send more to his wife.

“On the day I was due to leave, the man told me the ‘goats’ were actually 30 illegal migrants from Ethiopia,” he said. “They looked very sick, tired, and malnourished. He said I had to take them to a location in Malawi that’s close to a large refugee camp.”

Smuggler threats

When the driver tried to protest, the smuggler demanded his money back and threatened to take the truck and share photos of him with the authorities.

“This is how it all started, and soon it became my main business,” he said. “The man would pay me a lot of money and escort me in a small car, so he could bribe corrupt police and immigration officers along the way.”

According to the driver, he was initially not aware that what he was doing was illegal.

Then, in 2019, he was arrested in Mozambique while transporting 72 migrants from Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“Now I’m sick, unemployed, and divorced,” the driver said.

Trafficking risks

Truck drivers based in Malawi are now learning about the risks of transporting migrants and trafficking victims, thanks to a programme supported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The courses, which began in February, are already proving to be a success.

Feckson Chimodzi, a truck driver who transports farming products from countries in Southern Africa into Malawi and also participated in the course, said drivers who work with smugglers and traffickers often do it “out of necessity” to supplement their low salaries.

“Our employers need to improve our working conditions and give us comprehensive training about the dangers of getting involved in these crimes,” Mr. Chimodzi said.

Strict penalties

Criminals who smuggle or traffic humans within countries or across borders use all possible routes and modes of transportation to transfer people for profit and exploitation.

If apprehended by authorities, the truck drivers are usually arrested and imprisoned, explained Maxwell Matewere, a UNODC National Project Officer on trafficking in persons.

“There’s a lack of understanding of human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the region, and payment for illegally transporting people is much larger than the regular truck driver’s salary,” said Mr. Matewere, who conducts the training.

“Most drivers know what they’re doing is illegal, but are told that when they cross borders, corrupt officials will let them pass,” he said. “So, they take the money and the risk.”

Vehicle confiscations and arrests

Following a series of vehicle confiscations and arrests in neighbouring countries, the Professional Drivers Association of Malawi asked UNODC to train its members on the dangers of transporting smuggled migrants and victims of trafficking.

A total of four courses for around 400 drivers have been conducted, with further sessions scheduled in October. The participants are informed about the penalties they face if caught, including the loss of both their truck and employment, a criminal record, and potential imprisonment of up to 14 years in a foreign country.

Positive impact, new allies

Since the start of the UNODC courses, the Professional Drivers Association has reported a reduction in the number of arrests of Malawian drivers on charges of migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

Many drivers who attended the training are proving to be “very useful allies” in the prevention and detection of cases of migrant smuggling and human trafficking, said Mr. Matewere said.

“We explain that migrant smuggling and human trafficking are serious organized criminal activities punishable by laws in Malawi and the countries the drivers transit, such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique,” he said.

“Furthermore, the drivers are told that these crimes are linked to exploitation, abuse, and violence and can even result in death, and we tell them about the connections to other illicit activities such as drugs and firearms smuggling,” he added.

New group of law enforcement officers

Last year, Malawi’s Ministry for Homeland Security appointed a new group of law enforcement officers to counter the increasing cases of migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

“We’ve established contact between the truck drivers we trained and this specialised unit, so they now know who to inform when they’ve been approached by criminals to carry people in their vehicles,” Mr. Matewere said.

Since May, seven attempts of human trafficking and migrant smuggling have been stopped by authorities at border crossings due to information from truck drivers. A recent case involved 40 Malawians, including children, who were being taken in three trucks to South Africa and intercepted on the border with Zambia.

The awareness-raising courses are organized through UNODC’s human trafficking and migrant smuggling section, with the cooperation of Malawi’s Ministry of Homeland Security and financial support from the Government of Sweden.

Find out more about how UNODC is tackling human trafficking and migrant smuggling here. source: UN News

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Added 29 August 2023


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TFR Outcomes-Based security teams make important crime busts

Coal train headed by multiple class 19E locomotives along the North Corridor, destination the port at Richards Bay  Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) said on Friday that in a breakthrough on the TFR North Corridor (the export coal line), one of its recently appointed Outcomes-Based Security (OBS) service providers has arrested suspects believed to be behind the recent spate of sabotage that has damaged TFR essential infrastructure and impacted on rail operations.

The group of five suspected saboteurs were caught in the early hours of Friday 25 August 2023, near Argent, close to the Eskom Kendal Power Station outside Ogies.

In the past 24 hours TFR experienced three separate crime attacks in this area, resulting in train disruptions and significant losses to essential rail infrastructure.

TFR embarked on this new strategy of OBS solutions from 1 August 2023 see here, that enables security service providers the operational flexibility to deploy innovative, intelligence-led methodologies and cutting-edge technology in support of modern crime countermeasures.

OBS is a significant departure from the conventional, defensive and reactive security approach that is traditionally offered in South Africa and is seen as the best chance for TFR to disrupt the scourge of criminality, vandalism and sabotage that is the single biggest threat to rail operations throughout the country.

The Ogies arrest came after three weeks of intensive intelligence efforts in the area, including aerial surveillance, ground reconnaissance teams and tactical operations targeting high-value suspect groupings. Close co-operation between security service providers safeguarding TFR’s north and central corridors played a key role in this arrest.

The security team works in close cooperation with the SAPS Directorate Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) as well as other Government agencies. More arrests are expected over the next few days.

Cape Corridor

In the Cape Corridor, the OBS service provider arrested 91 suspects, and recovered almost 70% of Overhead Track Equipment. There are currently 32 criminal cases in the legal system.

According to the service provider, syndicates involved in the theft and vandalism of TFR critical infrastructure are heavily armed and unafraid to open fire on response teams.

To date the service provider efforts has recorded a 90% decrease of criminal incidents in the Northern Cape, 85% in the Eastern Cape and 60% decrease of incidents in the Western Cape.

Central Corridor

In the Central Corridor, the OBS service provider arrested 17 suspects linked to theft, vandalism and damage to TFR infra-structure. Most of the arrests came in the past 10 days.

The service provider used ground tactical support, drones and the latest state of the art technology to track down the perpetrators.

North East Corridor

In the North East Corridor, the OBS service provider has made 23 arrests to date, through the deployment of a Critical Infrastructure Unit (CIU) and a Chopper and Technical Team.

The CIU works with various stakeholders including the SAPS division Rapid Rail Policing Unit (RRPU) as well as Community Policing Forums (CPF).

Additionally, a clamp-down on disruptive operations targeting scrap yards to check for compliance with the support of the RRPU and Provincial SAPS has also been rolled out. Four scrap dealers were issued with warnings for non-compliance.

Intelligence gathered since the OBS roll-out points to a significant correlation between rail crime attacks and corrupt commercial interests that profit from the flow of revenues throughout TFR’s operational environment.

When rail infrastructure is vandalised, stolen or sabotaged it needs to be repaired immediately to enable trains to run and the money spent effecting these repairs creates an incentive for illicit forces that have established their criminal enterprise within TFR’s environment.

This is part of the complex crime challenge that TFR faces, and the OBS initiative is to wrestle control back from subversive criminal forces.

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Added 28 August 2023


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WHARF TALK:multi-purpose heavylift carrier TIDE NAVIGATOR

The multi-purpose heavylift carrier Tide Navigator which arrived off Cape Town on 20 August, to take bunkers and stores. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Most casual observers might normally associate Damen Shipyards worldwide with the building of tugs and workboats, and with a healthy dose of security and naval vessels, especially from the local Damen Shipyard in Cape Town, who have constructed every type of vessel named above, and where a number of them are currently lying in their fitting out basin in Cape Town harbour, including security vessels, and an inshore patrol vessel for the South African Navy.

What many folk are possibly not aware of is that Damen are also active in building some major vessels, such as offshore support vessels, dredgers, naval frigates, and oceanographic research vessels, one of which is currently lying in Cape Town undergoing a major refit. More surprising to some is that Damen also build large, tankers, container vessels, and multi-purpose, geared, ocean going cargo vessels, the latter of which occasionally turn up at Southern African ports.

On 20th August, at 10h00 in the morning, the multi-purpose heavylift carrier TIDE NAVIGATOR (IMO 9526083) arrived off Cape Town, from Mossel Bay, which is a destination not mentioned often in connection with commercial callers on the South African coast. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and went alongside the Eastern Mole, which for a vessel of this type can only mean that she was in transit, and in for stores and bunkers only.

Tide Navigator. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2011 with her hull completed by ATVT Sudnobudivonyi Zavod Zaliv shipyard, in Kerch, which is located on the Crimean peninsula in Ukraine. Those following the current illegal occupation of the Crimea, will know of Ukrainian attacks on the Kerch Bridge, linking Russia with Crimea. She was then towed to a Damen shipyard in Holland, where ‘Tide Navigator’ was completed and outfitted by BV Damen Scheepswerft at Bergum, ironically for a Russian charter.

She is powered by a single MaK 9M25C nine cylinder four stroke main engine producing 4,038 bhp (2,970 kW), driving a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 13 knots. Her auxiliary machinery includes two Scania DI12 generators providing 280 kW each, and a single Sisu 620 SRG emergency generator providing 96 kW. For added manoeuvrability she has a Berg bow transverse thruster providing 300 kW.

Tide Navigator. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

With accommodation provided for a crew of 11 persons, ‘Tide Navigator’ has two box shaped holds, served by two Liebherr 40 ton cranes which, when used in tandem, can lift 80 tons. Her hatch covers are of the pontoon type, and are lifted by a travelling deck gantry. Her cargo carrying capacity is 10,510 m3, and she has a container carrying capacity of 366 TEU, with the provision of 20 reefer plugs.

Her design is a very popular one from Damen, and was the largest multi-purpose vessel that they built, with ‘Tide Navigator’ being one of two sisterships operated by her owner, FWN Tide BV, of Heerenveen in Holland. She is operated by Forestwave Navigation BV, also of Heerenveen, and managed by Schulte & Bruns Nederland BV, of Groningen in Holland.

Tide Navigator. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In August 2016, ‘Tide Navigator’ ran aground when departing from the port of Vilanova I la Geltrú, located at 41°13’ North 001°43’ East, in the province of Catalonia in Spain. Despite the port regulations requiring the use of a tug for movements, based on the size of ‘Tide Navigator’, the Captain elected not to use a tug, which was accepted by the Harbour Pilot, and the tug remained adjacent to the vessel, but on standby, and not connected to ‘Tide Navigator’.

Due to the small size of the crew, a total of 10 persons, there was no helmsman, and only the Captain and the Pilot were on the bridge for the departure, with the Captain acting also as lookout, and conducting all steering, engine, and bow thruster controls by himself. On coming away from the berth he failed to line ‘Tide Navigator’ up with the exit channel, and she ran aground, just inside the breakwater.

Tide Navigator. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She remained aground for over three hours, whilst the Captain tried to free, and refloat, ‘Tide Navigator’, by finally using the harbour tug initially provided for his departure. Damage included a breach of the hull at the forepeak. This damage was temporarily repaired in the harbour, and the insurers allowed her to sail, but only directly to a drydock.

In another unusual docking incident occurred, in September 2020, when ‘Tide Navigator’ was coming alongside her berth at the port of Sorel-Tracy, located on the St. Lawrence River in the Canadian province of Quebec, located at 46°02’ North 073° 08’ West. As she approached the quay a mooring rope got fouled up with her propeller, and disabled her. Tugs placed her alongside her berth, and once divers had removed the offending rope, ‘Tide Navigator’ was able to sail two days later to her next destination.

Tide Navigator & tug Usiba. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The arrival of ‘Tide Navigator’ from Mossel Bay is considered quite a rare occurrence. Other than a regular stream of product tankers calling at the offshore SBM off the port, there is very little commercial traffic that uses the harbour, other than oil and gas traffic supporting the offshore rigs, and local fishing vessels.

Mossel Bay, located at 34°11’ South 022°08’ East, is the smallest of the eight commercial ports operated by TNPA around the South African coast. Only suitable for small commercial cargo vessels, the quayside limits are 130 metres in length, 6.5 metres draft, and as there is no port infrastructure, the arriving vessel should be geared.

In the 1980s, Unicorn Lines had a regular fortnightly calling at Mossel Bay, on their regular run between Durban and Cape Town, utilising the Ro-Ro vessel ‘Mkuze’ (IMO 7370129). She carried both rolling stock cargo, and palletised paper, sugar and other general cargo for the town. The vessel herself was built in 1974 by Geibi Zosen Kogyo at Kure in Japan. She was 98 metres in length with a deadweight of 4,095 tons, and powered by a single Ito Tekkosho main engine. I was fortunate to have served on her in that time.

Mkuze, Durban 1979. Picture: Unicorn Shipping

She joined the Unicorn Lines fleet in 1979, initially to export locally made BMW vehicles to Iran. Sadly, the fall of the Shah of Iran prevented the service from ever getting underway, and she was used on the South African coast until 1987, at which point she left the fleet. She was eventually scrapped at Aliaga, in Turkey, in December 2002.

Mkuze, Durban 1979. Picture by Jay Gates

Early explorers used the bay as a watering place, and a place to leave mail for homeward bound vessels to collect. It was the great Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias, who first landed there in 1488. He named it Aguada São Blas, or watering place of St. Blaize, and the current lighthouse sits atop Cape St. Blaize, just to the south of the town of Mossel Bay.

Bartolomeu Dias was followed in 1497 by the equally famous Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, who set up a Padrão at Aguada São Blas. A Padrão is a stone pillar, left by Portuguese maritime explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries, to record significant landfalls and thereby establish primacy and possession. They were often placed on promontories and capes or at the mouths of major rivers. The Mossel Bay Padrão has disappeared, and never been rediscovered.

Tide Navigator. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The area was first charted in 1595 by the Commander, and Navigator, of the Dutch East Asia Company (VOC), Cornelis de Houtman. Mossel Bay was formally named in 1601 by another VOC Commander and Navigator, Paulus van Caerden, due to the large amounts of mussels that he found in the bay.

The stay of ‘Tide Navigator’ in Mossel Bay was a full five days, where she had arrived on 14th August at 08h00 in the morning, from Takoradi in Ghana, and she sailed for Cape Town on 19th August, also at 08h00 in the morning, where she arrived the next day.

Tide Navigator. Cape Town, 20 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her passage from Takoradi to Mossel Bay would have taken ‘Tide Navigator’ across the Gulf of Guinea. This is the current world piracy hotspot, and her low freeboard would have made her a lucrative target for any pirate. To counter this risk, she had a ring of barbed razor wire encircling the rails on her cargo decks, the rolls of which were clearly visible when she came alongside in Cape Town.

Her stay in Cape Town was shorter by far, and after just seven hours alongside, her uplift of fresh produce, stores, and bunkers was complete. On 20th August, at 17h00 in the afternoon, ‘Tide Navigator’ sailed from Cape Town, bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

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Added 28 August 2023


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INTERCARGO warns on liquefaction

Pictures: Intercargo

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Cargo liquefaction still remains the greatest contributor to loss of life associated with bulk carrier losses while grounding remains the main cause of ship losses, according to the recently published Bulk Carrier Casualty Report 2013-2022 from INTERCARGO.

The greatest contributor to deaths in dry bulk sector

The document was submitted to the IMO in May, ahead of the ninth session of its Sub-Committee on Implementation of IMO Instruments (III9), which took place at the IMO from 31 July to 4 August and has a key role in casualty analysis and issuing lessons learned from marine incidents.

The Casualty Report provides ten-year information on bulk carrier casualty statistics, looking at trends in casualties in terms of both loss of life and loss of ships, drilling down into the size and age of vessels as well as Flag State performance.

While the report shows a clear trend of improved safety and declining ship losses at a time of fleet growth, it also shows that major incidents involving loss of life are still occurring and the industry must examine why they are still happening – there is no room for complacency.

INTERCARGO Operations Manager Xianyong (Joe) Zhou, said that as the voice of global dry bulk shipping, INTERCARGO is determined to help lead the response to these events.

“While the Report highlights that improvements are being made in safety, there is still clearly more to do to make shipping safer. We must continue to learn how we can best protect the lives of seafarers as well as the vessels and their cargo from damage and loss,” he said.

The report highlights that between 2013 and 2022, 26 bulk carriers of more than 10,000 deadweight tonnes (dwt) were reported lost, with the tragic loss of 104 seafarers’ lives.

Statistics for 2022 alone show the loss of two bulk carriers, one due to a collision and the other from losing power and sinking in rough seas, with a loss of twelve seafarers from these incidents.

The rolling report also highlights that four of the five bulk carrier casualties, which led to the loss of seventy lives, occurred as a result of cargo liquefaction; four were loaded with nickel ore and one with bauxite.

In terms of ship losses, grounding was the most common reported cause between 2013 and 2022, accounting for twelve bulk carriers lost (46.2%), with various other causes including problems with machinery and equipment.

Learning lessons from incidents and casualties and the sharing of experience have proven to be effective in raising safety awareness and, in addition to the submission of the INTERCARGO Bulk Carrier Casualty Report to IMO every year since 1996, the association has made its voice heard on a number of safety issues at IMO through papers and interventions.

The Report

The INTERCARGO Bulk Carrier Casualty Report can be accessed free of charge HERE

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Added 28 August 2023


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Grindrod posts positive half-year results

Grindrod’s deck cargo vessel, or landing craft Zambezi, in Durban harbour awaiting branding. Picture: Grindrod

Africa Ports & Ships

Durban-based Grindrod Limited announced its interim financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2023.

Core headline earnings of R563 million were reported, a growth of 26% on the prior period, while its dividend was doubled to 34.4 cents a share. This was supported by continued strong demand for Grindrod’s logistics solutions through its cargo terminals, infrastructure footprint, and complementary logistics service offerings.

Port and Terminals

Maputo port reported an increase of 30% on prior period volumes. Two mobile harbour cranes at a cost of R392 million were delivered and commissioned during the period, adding to the port’s berth handling capacity in anticipation of an expected increase in demand for the export allocation.

Overall, Grindrod’s drybulk terminals in Mozambique performed well. Volumes were up 17% on the prior period as the demand for the export terminal footprint persisted. The first phase of the Matola drybulk export terminal upgrade is progressing well with debt raising to fund the project underway and a bankable feasibility study well advanced. Detailed design work on major plant components has also commenced.


The eSwatini multimodal corridor operation, which provides customers in the Mpumalanga area with an alternative route to Maputo and Matola export terminals, performed well. Three hundred and fifty-seven trains moved through the corridor during the first half of the year, 90% up from the prior period.

The northern Mozambique operations delivered good results with headline earnings up 15% on the prior period. Grindrod has invested R207 million into the Northern Mozambique and East Africa business in line with its growth ambitions in these geographic areas.

Landing craft Zambezi. Picture by Nizaam Gallie / MarineTraffic

Pemba port

The construction of the Pemba port warehouse has been completed and will enable a new route-to-market for a graphite customer.

A landing craft vessel, the Zambezi (IMO 9808948), was purchased to facilitate a regular marine freight service between the various commercial ports on the East Africa seaboard and specifically aimed at servicing project cargo logistics.

Project cargo handling equipment for the crude oil pipeline logistics solution in Uganda has also been deployed.

Capital expenditure in the container landside businesses amounted to R106 million. This includes handling equipment as well as further expansion at the container facility in Johannesburg to meet growing market demand and offer customers a full suite of container handling services.

Integration of Grindrod’s and Maersk’s South African container businesses, following the merger transaction implemented at the start of the year, is progressing well and the operations are ramping up in line with expectations.

Grindrod’s ships agency and clearing and forwarding headline earnings were strong, up 149% on the prior period due to new customer contracts and increased number of port calls.


Grindrod is collaborating with Transnet Freight Rail, Mozambique Port and Railways (CFM), Zambia Railways, eSwatini Rail and National Railway of Zimbabwe on the ongoing initiatives to move cargo on trains running seamlessly between the various jurisdictions.

Grindrod’s rail leasing business in Sierra Leone continues to deliver, having exceeded the 10 million tonne-mark since its inception in February 2021.

The rail leasing business was recently awarded a contract for operating a manganese rail siding in the Northern Cape. Grindrod is focusing on systematic increase of its rolling stock capacity over the coming years in response to the anticipated demand increase and to reduce logistics costs for customers.


According to Grindrod, it’s purpose is to make a positive difference in Africa’s trade with the world, touching the lives of the communities in which it operates.

“We have ambitious plans to promote trade in sub-Saharan Africa and are eager to strengthen our relationships and collaborate with key stakeholders to benefit the continent. Rail will play a pivotal role in achieving these plans,” said Xolani Mbambo, CEO of Grindrod Limited. – source: Grindrod

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Added 28 August 2023


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DP World announces H1 results


DP World banner, appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS Maritime News

Africa Ports & Ships

DP World, which has published its six month financial report for the first half of 2023, reports a positive outlook for global trade and says it is focused on delivering integrated supply chain solutions to cargo owners to drive sustainable returns.

Like-for-like growth was driven mainly from strong performances of Imperial Logistics in Africa and Drydocks World in UAE.

Nevertheless, the short term outlook remains uncertain due to geopolitics, inflationary environment, higher interest rates and currency fluctuations.

Chairman & CEO DP World, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem

“We are pleased to share a resilient set of results for the first half of 2023, with our adjusted EBITDA enhancing by 7.0% to surpass $2.6 billion,” said DP World Group Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem.

“Despite facing a softer container market and weakened freight rates amid challenging economic conditions, our focus on high-margin cargo, end-to-end bespoke supply chain solutions and cost optimization has been crucial in securing these results,” he added.

Bin Sulayem said this strategy has not only been effective during these challenging times but also lays the foundation for DP World’s sustainable long-term growth and returns.

He said DP World, through its robust approach, was attracting more cargo owners to its platform.

“Strategic investments in high-growth sectors enable us to provide value-added solutions, and we remain committed to continuously enhancing our logistics platform. This includes addressing supply chain inefficiencies and enhancing connectivity in crucial trade lanes to serve cargo owners better.”

DP World is continuing to make substantial progress towards its 2050 net zero carbon target. The recent investment in renewable energy through the I-REC programme has significantly cut DP World UAE business carbon emissions by 47%. “We are confident of achieving our goal to cut CO2 emissions by 700k tonnes which accounts for approximately 22% of our total emission within the next five years.”

Bin Sulayem said that in summary, DP World’s balance sheet remains robust, and the group continues to generate high levels of cash flow, which provides them the flexibility to invest in the growth of their existing portfolio and new investment opportunities when they arise.

“While the near-term trade outlook may be uncertain due to macroeconomic and geopolitical factors, the solid financial performance of the first six months positions us well to deliver a steady set of full-year results. We remain optimistic about the medium to long-term prospects of the industry and DP World’s capacity to consistently generate sustainable returns.”

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Added 27 August 2023


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Cornelder de Moçambique, Beira port puts down new container markers

Beira Container Terminal   Picture: Cornelder

Africa Ports & Ships

As Cornelder de Moçambique approaches 25 years of managing the Mozambique Port of Beira (October), the container terminal has set new markers, by handling a record 31,767 TEUs during the month of July 2023.

This surpasses the previous highest monthly turnover of 29,446 TEUs, set in March 2021 .

Comparing month on month the terminal increased its volumes this July by 22% as compared with the same period of 2022.

Cornelder ascribes this improvement in volumes to several factors, including the arrival of a fifth shipping line to include Beira port in its scheduling.

The Dutch concession holder says credit should also go to the strong investment it has made in recent months with machinery, programmes and human resources and the improvement of a whole process that Cornelder has been implementing to better serve its users.

“The new record is specifically due to the increase in the handling of local products, such as sesame, soybeans and tobacco, as well as the growth in the transit of products such as tobacco, ferrochrome, granite, petalite/lithium, soybeans, copper and cobalt,” said Cornelder on its social media platform.

General Cargo Terminal

Beira’s General Cargo Terminal recorded a drop in tonnage volumes in July, with the port handling 198,934 tons of general cargo during the month.

The main products handled for local purposes were rice, fertilisers, and equipment, while cargo in transit to neighbouring countries included rice, fertilizers, chromium ore and wheat.

Cornelder de Moçambique has quite rightly pointed out that Beira Container terminal “stands out in the region” in the ranking by the World Bank covering global container ports, where Beira achieved the best results among the Southern Africa region.

Out of all the ports within the sub-Saharan region, the container ports to have been ranked higher than Beira, which was placed in 223rd position out of 348 globally, were Conakry 189, Dakar 196, Matadi 197, Mogadiscio 221, Beira 223, then followed by Tema 225, Freetown 226, Toamasina 227, Takoradi 245, Maputo 248. Then came the rest.

Beira Port General Cargo Terminal.  Cornelder


Whilst laudable in a localised way, all of these African ports, other than Tanger-Med and Port Said in North Africa and Djibouti and Berbera in the Horn of Africa, registered very low down the list and are nothing really to be excited about.

Questions could also be asked over the method the World Bank uses of ranking all ports together as well as geographically, regardless of volumes and number of ships handled, i.e. size of port. To compare ports handling less than 50,000 TEU monthly with others in excess of 100,000 and those with in excess of 200,000 a month is useful but fails to present a true and fair picture.

The rankings shown above are from the latest (2022) figures presented by the World Bank.

Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM)

Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM), a private consortium operating the Container and General Cargo Terminals in the Port of Beira, was formed through a partnership between the Mozambican public company Porto e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) and Cornelder Group.

Other than handling imports and exports for the central regions of Mozambque, the Port of Beira facilitates cargo moving to and from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, and Eastern DRC.

Container Terminal

Beira’s multi-purpose container terminal has a 645-metre long quay with a depth alongside of 12 metres. The terminal operates with four ship-to-shore gantry cranes, of which two have the capacity to carry 65 tons. The container terminal has a storage capacity for 10,000 TEUs and an annual throughput capacity of 300,000 TEUs.

General Cargo Terminal

The general cargo terminal has a total quay length of 670 metres (four berths) with a depth alongside of 9.5 metres. There are five covered warehouses with a total capacity of 15,000 m² and 12,000 m² of open paved space for storage of ferro-chrome, granite, steel, and other bulk cargoes.

The general cargo terminal is served by rail connections to each of the warehouses.

Grain Terminal

The port also has the Beira Grain Terminal, which is not part of the Cornelder concession area and is managed by another operator. The terminal enables the effective loading and discharge of bulk grain (mainly wheat and maize) at a said productivity rate of between 4,000 and 5,000 tonnes a day.

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Xeneta Update: Latest data is ‘a wake-up call’ for shippers, as Xeneta argues now is the time to negotiate long-term rates

Africa Ports & Ships

Xeneta real-time container freight rates update week 34

Xeneta believes long-term ocean freight rates may have started bottoming out after around a year of persistent, often dramatic monthly falls. The Oslo-based benchmarking and market analytics company says the latest General Rates Increases (GRIs) from carriers appear to have held “relatively firm”, pushing spot rates up above long-term rates on key corridors. As such, long-term prices may now follow suit and rally, meaning “now is the time” for cost conscious shippers to assess strategies and negotiate new contracts.

Smart money

Looking at the key Far East to North Europe trade lane, Xeneta’s real-time data shows that even through spot rates have fallen by around USD 100 per FEU since early August’s GRIs, they are still around a third higher than prices in early July. This is in contrast to GRI moves earlier this year, which largely failed to influence a market hamstrung by weak demand and rampant over capacity.

“This is a definite, eye-catching change,” comments Xeneta analyst Emily Stausbøll, “and shippers should view this as a bit of a wake-up call.”

Stausbøll says that cargo owners have become accustomed to falling rates and have therefore shifted volumes to the spot market, often delaying any moves to sign new long-term contracts. This is a “smart play” she says when spot prices are below contracted rates and seemingly locked into a downward trajectory.

History lessons

However, Stausbøll warns, market dynamics appear to be changing:

“Spot rates on this major trade lane now command a premium of around 20% over contracted rates, and this corridor is not an exception,” she notes, adding: “When spot rates start rising there’s usually a small lag and then long-term rates emulate them. If we look back to late 2019, the last time spot rates fell below long-term rates, GRIs in November helped push spot rates up and on 1 January 2020 long-term rates climbed by USD 250 per FEU. That’s not to say the exact same thing will happen now, but it’s certainly a lesson shippers need to bear in mind.”

Emily Stausbøll, Market Analyst, in Africa Ports & Ships

Xeneta analyst Emily Stausbøll

Real-time shift

According to Xeneta’s data, a noteworthy development is already underway. Looking at average rates for long-term contracts signed within the past three months prices are still falling, standing at USD 1,400 per FEU between the Far East and North Europe on 21 August.

However, the data covering contracts signed within the last month show a slight increase, of 30 USD per FEU. This is the first increase since April.

“This implies that contracted rates have bottomed out and, when we look at the spot rate development, could now be on the way up,” Stausbøll comments. “So, if you’re a savvy shipper looking to lock in volumes ahead of peak season at the best prices, why not negotiate new contracts now when the rates are low? It may just pay to ‘strike when the iron is hot’.”

Securing value

In an illustration of the value available today, Xeneta’s data reveals that just a year ago contracted rates per FEU on this route stood at a “staggering” USD 9,100. By comparison, current rates of USD 1,400 per FEU are “hugely advantageous” to lock in.

“It’s unrealistic for shippers to think rates will keep falling,” Stausbøll concludes, “especially when carriers are blanking sailings and working largely ‘as one’ to try and address the subdued levels of their all-important long-term rates. It’s too early to say if this is the watershed moment when the market turns, but it definitely represents a significant shift. It’ll be fascinating to keep watching the data and see how the market develops.”

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Added 27 August 2023


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Mercy Ship’s Global Mercy arrives in Freetown, Sierra Leone

Global Mercy during sea trials. Picture: Stena RoRo

Africa Ports & Ships

With the Mercy Ship AFRICA MERCY in the port of Durban undergoing a major refit at the Dormac shipyard, attention is focused on the latest addition to the fleet, the new build GLOBAL MERCY which entered service fairly recently at Dakar in Senegal.

Having completed her schedule in that port, Global Mercy has now moved to Freetown in Sierra Leone, where she was welcomed earlier this month.

The arrival in Freetown has been carefully aligned with the country’s current strategic healthcare plan.

The hospital ship arrived in the port following an invitation from Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio. Mercy Ships and the medical and support crew on board are no strangers to the port, this being the sixth instance of the collaboration between Mercy Ships and the government of Sierra Leone.

For the next ten months, Mercy Ships’ newest state-of-the-art hospital ship will partner with the Ministry of Health to provide free specialized surgeries to Sierra Leoneans and targeted training for healthcare professionals until June 2024.

In welcoming the hospital ship, President Bio said they shared common objectives. “This collaboration with Mercy Ships reflects our vision of a resilient healthcare system in Sierra Leone,” he said.

CEO of Mercy Ships, Gert van de Weerdhof, said it was very exciting to mark the beginning of Mercy Ships’ sixth field service in Sierra Leone.

“We’ve had a long-standing partnership, beginning with our first field service here in 1992 on the hospital ship, the Anastasis. Since then, we returned from 2001 to 2004, and again in 2011. Now, in 2023, hope and healing will come anew as some 2,350 safe, free surgeries will be performed on board the Global Mercy.”

The life-changing surgeries delivered will include tumour removal, cleft lip and palate correction, cataract removal, orthopaedics and reconstructive plastics.

Mercy Ships will provide education and training across the surgical ecosystem for more than 200 local healthcare professionals who will add capacity long after the ship leaves.

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Added 27 August 2023


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TFR update: All three lines at Hercules outside Pretoria reopened

for illustrative purposes only.   Picture: PRASA

Africa Ports & Ships

In an update on repairs to the Hercules railway line near Pretoria, Transnet Freight Rail together with the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) have confirmed that all three lines at Hercules are now safe for the movement of trains.

The Mabopane to Pretoria and De Wildt to Hercules services returned to normal scheduling.

The damaged points along the line were replaced and safety tests have been concluded. Platform 2 and 3 lines have been handed back to train operations for the safe operation of passenger trains. The repair and full resumption of the services come as a huge relief to commuters whose travel times were prolonged due to a single line operating.

The affected railway is used by passenger services.

The problem had occurred when several empty TFR wagons derailed on the line in the early hours of Thursday, 16 August 2023. This resulted in only line one being in operation for passenger trains.

There was no impact on freight customers as this is a PRASA Network. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.

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Added 27 August 2023


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SAECS service rotation update

MOL Presence. Picture Manuel Hernandez Lafuente / Shipspotting

Africa Ports & Ships

In a service update advice from Ocean Network Express (ONE), the following rotation change is advised for the South Africa-Europe Container Service.

The vessel MOL PRESENCE on voyage 233N/233S will perform a change of rotation advancing her London Gateway call prior to the Rotterdam call.

ONE advises this is to minimise vessel delay on the service.

MOL Presence v.233N/233S:

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Added 27 August 2023



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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container Stack Dates are also available.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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

PORT June 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.747
Durban 8.160
Saldanha Bay 4.445
Cape Town 1.183
Port Elizabeth 1.358
Ngqura 1.636
Mossel Bay 0.119
East London 0.136
Total all ports 24.784 million tonnes
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