Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 9 September 2023

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Week commencing 4 September 2023.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.    Pages viewed in the previous week Sunday to Saturday: 51,583

FIRST VIEW:   Durban Container Terminals Piers 1 & 2


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FIRST VIEW:  Durban Container Terminals Piers 1 & 2

Durban Container Terminals Pier 1 & 2

With a good part of Monday’s edition taken up with Transnet’s annual financial report, which includes future plans for several of the ports and the other divisions, we include this ‘doctored’ photograph of Durban harbour revealing what the container terminal will look like if and when Pier 1 is extended towards Salisbury Island (section at left with single ship on berth).  

This proposition is not covered by the latest Transnet report – it seems the urgency is to develop the Point docks for greater container handling, with an extension of the present berths further into the bay and the provision of deep water berths to accommodate the biggest of container ships.

What will this do to traffic along the scenic Esplanade, which skirts the bay for several kilometres and is perhaps Durban’s most iconic roadway? The planners suggest they have a plan to successfully limit traffic to the Esplanade’s current volumes and instead make use of increased rail transport.  We’ve heard such theories before.  We’ll see!

Coming back to our photograph, the stumbling block for the Salisbury Island/Pier 1 project has been the presence of the navy at the island – Salisbury Island being one of two South African naval bases. For its part the Navy is on record as saying it is prepared to relocate to the port of Richards Bay, providing someone other than itself pays for the move.

Possibly as a result of this impasse there is no mention of Pier 1 in Transnet’s current report.  If and when Pier 1 does re-emerge, it will probably be with another ‘partnership’ along the lines of Pier 2, where Philippines-based ICTSI is now engaged with Transnet over diligence matters before becoming TPT’s partner in managing DCT Pier 2. That’s expected to come into place by the end of the current financial year at latest.   Picture: TNPA


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Lest we forget: Merchant Navy Day

Windsor Castle, MN War Memorial. Picture: Paul Ridgway

Reported by Paul Ridgway

In advance of Sunday, 3 September, Merchant Navy Day, the Seafarers Charity promoted its annual campaign to honour and remember the sacrifices of the often forgotten and invisible, but very hard-working, seafarers of the Merchant Navy.

The charity’s Fly the Red Ensign on Merchant Navy Day campaign was started in 2015 to address ‘sea blindness’ that appeared to afflict a huge proportion of the British population, with widespread public ignorance about the UK’s ongoing dependence on merchant seafarers who are responsible for shipping over 95% of the UK’s trade. Flag-hoisting ceremonies were held up and down the country on the weekend 2 /3 September.

Merchant Navy Day 2023 was the first commemorated under the anticipated new Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets – King Charles III. This hereditary title is assumed to pass to the His Majesty as the title has been hereditary since it was instituted by Her Late Majesty’s grandfather, King George V. Services of commemoration were nation-wide.

Merchant Navy Medal

On 3 September the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced the recipients of the 2023 Merchant Navy Medal.

These are: Dr Alan Stephen Bury, for services to maritime education; Captain Philip Mark Peter Cave for services to seafarer welfare; Allan Dickson, for services to Merchant Navy careers and Captain John Lloyd, CEO of the Nautical Institute for services to maritime education.

The medal also goes to Chief Petty Officer Martin Etwell, for services to the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, to Donnacha O’Driscoll, for services to seafarer welfare and cruise sector pandemic recovery.

Captain William John Pearn is to receive the medal for services to marine pilotage and safety; Captain Ewan Rattray, for services to the safety of marine pilots; to Raymond Strachan, for services to life-saving actions, to Katy Womersley, for contributions to seafarers’ training and sector diversity and to Captain Charles Woodward for promoting the Merchant Navy and commemorating the sacrifice of seafarers.


Two days before the MN Day commemorations I passed by the Merchant Navy War Memorial on Tower Hill EC3, opposite Trinity House and the former Port of London Authority HQ and backed by the huge London maritime community that still resides in that SE quarter of the Square Mile, the City of London.

Warwick Castle. MN War Memorial. Picture: Paul Ridgway

Two memorial panels caught my eye, those recording the loss of life in sinkings of Union Castle Lines Warwick Castle and Windsor Castle on 14 November 1942 and 23 March 1943 respectively.

Warwick Castle was torpedoed on passage from Gibraltar to Home and of the 462 souls on board 96 died. The survivors were rescued by Allied warships and landed at Greenock.

Windsor Castle was part of a fast convoy from Home to the Mediterranean bound for Algiers and the ship was hit by an aerial torpedo off Cape Ténèz, Algeria, approximately 110nm west of Algiers. One crew member was killed and the remaining 289 members of the crew and 2,699 service personnel on board were rescued by several ships and landed at Algiers.

In all Union-Castle Line (later with Clan Line to form the British & Commonwealth Shipping Company) lost twelve ships in the Second World War.

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Added 9 September 2023


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Mystery over APM Terminals reported sale of majority share in Luanda container terminal

Luanda’s Sogester Container Terminal where senior partner APM Terminals is reported to have withdrawn. Picture: Sogester

Africa Ports & Ships

Mystery appears around reports that APM Terminals has sold its interest in the Sogester Container Terminal (Sociedade Gestora de Terminais, S.A.) at the port of Luanda.

If correct this is with four years still to go under the 20 years plus 5 concession awarded in 2007 to the joint venture partnership between the Danish group (51%) and Angola’s Gestao de Fundos (49%).

The news, which appears to have been broken by Denmark’s Børsen news service, says the divestment took place in the fourth quarter of 2022. This was less than one year since the Sogester terminal made a major investment of two new giant Liebherr mobile harbour cranes (MHC 800 series), the largest terminal cranes available in the region and capable of reaching across 23 rows of containers.

No other terminal in Angolan ports was then capable of reaching across more than 15 or 16 rows. The terminal also invested in automatic gate software to facilitate the ease of truck arrivals and to reduce queues.

Previous investments in 2021 consisted of terminal trailers and tractors, Ram twin lift spreaders, and empty handling equipment with a total investment value of US$ 25 million.

Together with these improvements the Sogester Container Terminal was regarded as one of APM Terminals most highly profitable port companies in Africa.

The Børsen report, calling it a “discrete exit” said APM Terminals had declined an interview on the matter or to explain the reason for the sudden departure.

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Added 7 September 2023


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WHARF TALK:  Split bridge superstructure, Part 2 of MSC BIANCA

During 2004 and 2005 Durban became a regular port of call for a variety of US Navy pre-positioning ships, operating with the prefix USNS. Such a one was this split bridge superstructure and engine room, accommodation section USNS Altair (T-AKR 291) which called on 23 February 2005, sailing the following day, as seen here. USNS Altair, built in 1973, is currently in reserve as part of Military Sealift Command’s Ready Reserve Force. She was built in Germany as a high-speed container ship for Sea-Land Service and converted in 1982/84. Picture: Terry Hutson

Part 1 yesterday featured the container ship MSC Bianca, with its split bridge superstructure. In Part 2 today Mr Gates draws attention to ships with similar split superstructure from days gone by.

Story by Jay Gates

One of the great, but sadly long gone, British shipping companies was T&J Harrison Line, of Liverpool, who ran a regular service similar to the MSC service from ports of the Northwest European continent, down to all ports in South Africa. Cargoes carried were, as all were in those days, general cargo of all shapes and sizes, but included heavylift cargoes, such as power station generators, mining equipment and railway locomotives.

In the late 1950s, T&J Harrison Lines built a quartet of specialised heavylift general cargo carriers for services to South Africa. All T&J Harrison vessels were named after professions, and the quartet were given the names of ‘Adventurer’, ‘Custodian’, ‘Inventor’, and ‘Tactician’. All four were designed with the split bridge superstructure, and three-quarters aft engine room blocks, to allow a big central deck served by a massive Stülcken heavy lift derrick.

T&J Harrison Lines’ Adventurer (1960-1985), seen sailing from Durban in 1976. Picture: Trevor Jones

Similarly, the German Hansa Line, of Bremen, who specialised in heavy lift cargoes, also introduced more than one class of heavylift carrier that had similar designs to those of T&J Harrisons, except that their vessels often sported a pair of heavylift Stülcken derricks.

All Hansa Line vessels had names ending in the word ‘Fels’, which translate as Rock, or Cliff. These unmistakeable derricks were all produced by the Stülcken-Werft shipyard, located in Hamburg, and founded in 1846 by Heinrich Stülcken. Stülcken were absorbed by Blohm & Voss in 1966.

Hansa Line’s Lichtenfels (1954-1972). Picture: Shipspotting

Yet, most folk forget that until the 1960s, every tanker design was that of the split bridge superstructure and aft engine room block. Even back in the 50s and 60s, South Africa depended on imported fuel products, and these all arrived in the familiar tankers of the BP, Shell, Esso, Caltex or Mobil fleets.

Shell tankers were all named after the names of Seashells, BP named all of their vessels with the ‘British’ prefix, similarly to Esso, Mobil, or Caltex, who prefixed their vessels with the name of their own company.

British Tenacity (1939) of BP Tankers at Cape Town. Picture: Tyne-Built Ships

One of the greatest designs of tankers was the American T2. Built in vast numbers during the Second World War, and afterwards these magnificent vessels were absorbed into all of the major oil company fleets, serving them until more modern tankers emerged in the 1960s.

South African ports saw hundreds of T2 tankers, especially when the Suez Canal was closed, and they all routed around the Cape. The tankers that replaced the T2 were also of similar split designs, and it was only in the 1970s that the design of tanker that the casual maritime observer recognises today was introduced into service.

Esso Hartford (1942-1970) of Standard Oil Company at Cape Town. Picture: Auke Visser

Even Bulk Carriers were occasionally designed with the split bridge and engine room. One such bulk carrier that arrived in Cape Town was the ‘Kurikka’, which had a commercial life spanning the period 1899 when she was built, to 1953 when she was scrapped, a full 54 years.

Bulk carrier Kurikka (1899-1953) at Cape Town. Kurikan Laiva OY Vasa, Sweden

The same year, 1953, saw the introduction of ‘Willem Barendtz’, a Dutch whaling factory vessel, which continued in service, but as a fish factory vessel, until being scrapped in 2001, a lifespan of 48 years. From the 1930s to the 1960s, the large whaling factory vessels were all built with the split design, to allow for the flensing working deck.

The well-known Willem Barendtz (1953-2001). Picture: Flickr

So for more than a century, the split design for all types of vessels had been utilised to get the best operating platform for their area of operations, and the modern use of this design for the large container vessels is nothing new. However, from a modern safety perspective, the huge length of these new behemoth container vessels means that to have the bridge superstructure mounted forward makes eminent sense, giving watchkeepers a better working environment.

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Added 7 September 2023


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Making Africa a renewable energy superpower:  UN S-G speaks

UN Secretary General António Guterres addresses leaders at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. Picture: UN

Edited by Paul Ridgway

In the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressing the African Climate Summit in Nairobi on 5 September, the flame of injustice is, he said: “scorching hopes and possibilities” across Africa as the world grapples with the climate crisis, with the continent suffering some of the worst impacts of global warming.

In his speech he noted that despite: “extreme heat, ferocious floods, and tens of thousands dead from devastating droughts”, the continent was responsible for less than four per cent of emissions. He added: “The blow inflicted on development is all around with growing hunger and displacement.”

Amid the climate chaos he said it was still possible to avoid the worst, but only with a quantum leap in climate action. He said far greater climate ambition was needed from all countries led by the largest emitters, in line with his Climate Solidarity Pact and Acceleration Agenda.

He called on the G20 advanced economies meeting at Summit in Delhi on 9 / 10 September to take responsibility and commit to reaching net zero emissions as close as possible to 2040.

African energy

Secondly, he called for climate justice to reach goals on renewable and affordable energy, particularly in Africa. This means making use of the agreed loss and damage fund, universal early warning systems, and a course correction in the global financial system.

World leader in renewable energy

The S-G pointed out that Africa is rich in untapped renewable energy with the potential to become a world leader in renewables and what he called green growth. It is clear that Africa has nearly a third of the world’s mineral reserves for solar power, electric vehicles and battery storage.

The S-G went on to say that: “To truly benefit all Africans, the production and trade of these critical minerals must be sustainable, transparent and just across every link of the supply chain.”

African success stories

António Guterres pointed to the Greater Horn region where over 85 per cent of electricity comes from renewables. Mozambique gets nearly all its energy from green and sustainable resources.

Wind and solar projects are already helping power Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and South Sudan.

Potential African miracle

Furthermore, Mr Guterres in his address called for a collective effort to create a true African Renewable Energy Alliance. He commented: “Renewable energy could be the African miracle but we must make it happen. We must all work together for Africa to become a renewable energy superpower.”

He told the conference of African leaders and stakeholders hosted by Kenya and the African Union Commission that he was convinced the continent can be at the heart of a renewable future. He indicated that now was the time for all nations “to stand as one in defence of our only home. Let’s deliver the climate justice that Africans, the world, and the planet we share, demand and deserve.”

Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi after his speech, the Secretary-General said it was time to end the injustices that are holding the continent back. He pledged to work closely with African leaders and organizations such as the African Union, to accelerate progress.

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Added 7 September 2023


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Port of Beira to implement new reefer management system

Reefer boxes at port of Beira

Africa Ports & Ships

The Port of Beira, which is managed and operated by Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM), intends implementing a new and modern reefer management system called Reefer Runner.

This is to be installed at the port’s container terminal as from October, in order, says CdM, to improve the process of handling reefer containers.

A total of 300 reefer plugs will be installed at the port container terminal.

Luís Rodriguez, head of the container terminal, said that Cornelder is looking to optimise its resources as much as possible, with the aim not only of reducing costs, but above all of meeting the immediate needs of customers.

To this end, said Rodriguez, the reliable, fast and fully documented handling of reefers is important.

“With the Reefer Runner system, we can monitor the fridges remotely. This is crucial as the number of fridges grows steadily,” he emphasised.

He said that by enabling automated 24/7 monitoring of all individual refrigerated containers, Reefer Runner protects all refrigerated cargo, transmits vital data and triggers alarms when necessary.

This technology facilitates more efficient reefer management, significantly improving the process of importing and exporting reefer cargo at the terminal and minimising complaints, he added.

Included in the installation of the Reefer Runner system, are two bonded warehouses, an International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) storage area and a state-of-the-art Navis N4 computerized management system.

The recent expansion includes increased container storage space and a new five-lane access road.

Meanwhile, it is reported that the first two refrigerated containers of citrus fruit from Zimbabwe were shipped from Beira earlier this year in May. They were destined for the Middle East and for the Far East respectively, presumably in the nature of test shipments from Zimbabwe via Beira.

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Added 7 September 2023


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Trans Kalahari Corridor Secretariat opens new offices in Windhoek

Section of the Trans Kalahari Corridor, this in Namibia

Africa Ports & Ships

The Namibian-inspired Trans Kalahari Corridor, linking the port of Walvis Bay to South and southern Africa via the road between Namibia and South Africa via Botswana, has received a boost with the opening of Trans Kalahari Corridor (TKC) offices in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia.

The corridor is a tripartite transboundary corridor management institution established in 2003 with a political and economic vision to pursue or contribute towards deeper regional integration programmes of SADC, SACU and indeed NEPAD.

The 1900km corridor has a paved highway from the port at Walvis Bay, through landlocked Botswana to reach the South African province of Gauteng, which then connects to various sections of southern and South Africa.

The corridor also includes a railway from the Walvis Bay port as far as Gobabis in Namibia, and from Johannesburg as far as Lobatse in Botswana. Plans to connect the railway through Botswana have been under discussion since 2010 but has remained so far an unfeasible project.

Namibia’s transport minister John Mutorwa said at the inauguration of the new Windhoek secretariat offices that the corridor remains extremely significant for the growth of the region and the transport of goods and people.

Export coal

The feasibility of a rail connection connecting Lobatse with Gobabis and Walvis Bay centred around the transport of export coal from the Botswanan mines in the east of that country, where it borders with South Africa.

Botswana coal has however continued to be exported through South African ports and to a limited extent, though Maputo in Mozambique.

At the inauguration, South Africa’s transport minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga, acknowledged it is in the collective interests and that of the wider region and even the continent that the collaboration around the corridor succeeds, if only to address similar challenges in the region, she said.

“The transport sector, particularly the TKC, must lead the charge in dismantling the bottlenecks to free movement of goods and people between our respective countries and the continent.”

Chikunga called it a partnership to be built on as a stepping stone for the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Botswana’s transport minister and chairman of the TKC, Eric Molale, was more concerned with human trafficking and gender-based violence which he said he hoped the corridor would not become associated with.

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Added 7 September 2023


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Govt issues Lady R executive summary report 

Lady R at the Simonstown Naval Base, working cargo by night

Africa Ports & Ships

The government has released the executive summary of the independent panel’s investigation into the December 2022 docking of the Lady R vessel at Simonstown.

The report doesn’t revel much more than was contained in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech of earlier this week – see that here.

The Presidency on Tuesday evening said that due to the classified nature of the evidence that informed the report, “government will not publicly engage further on the substance of the report”.

The vessel’s docking gave rise to public controversy, which the report debunks allegations that South Africa had loaded weapons onto the ship bound for Russia to assist in that country’s current conflict with Ukraine.

In the executive summary, the panel – led by Judge Phineas Mojapelo – explained that cargo was only offloaded from the vessel.

“The details of the equipment offloaded and its intended use were made known to the panel. In light of this classified information, the panel accepted the reasons provided for the decision to offload the equipment at night.

“This, as well as the nature and purpose of the equipment, are aspects which may need to be considered when the President decides what may be published.

“Despite some rumours that some equipment or arms were loaded on the Lady R, the panel found no evidence to substantiate those claims. Available evidence only confirmed the offloading and that there was nothing loaded,” the summary reads.

The executive summary is available for download here.

During his address to the nation on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted that the allegations had done damage to South Africa’s image.

“In recent months, statements from several quarters have used these allegations to call into question South Africa’s commitment to its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The allegations levelled against our country had a damaging effect on our currency, economy and our standing in the world. In fact, it tarnished our image as a country.

“When all matters are considered, none of the allegations made about the supply of weapons to Russia have been proven to be true, and none of the persons who made these allegations could provide any evidence to support the claims that had been levelled against our country,” he said. – source:

Editorial Comment:

The continued secretiveness behind the Russian ship’s visit and cargo handling by night is unlikely to diminish suspicions, and questions will surely remain. The one question we’d like to ask is why the ship had to load cargo at a naval base? Especially a base where where the public is in close overlooking proximity and able to watch any and all activity. The Durban naval base would have served that purpose much better, for that matter. If total secrecy was a requirement then a number of ‘anonymous’ looking containers being loaded from one of the state-run container ports would have provided much better cover.

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Added 7 September 2023


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Port of Beira attracts ONE as new shipping carrier

ONE’s Penang Bridge at the Beira Container Terminal. Picture: CdM

The Port of Beira has welcomed a new container carrier on a regular service to the Mozambican port.

The shipping line, Ocean Network Express (ONE), has entered into a space-sharing agreement with another line, Unifeeder, which means that under this agreement, ONE will also carry containers from the Unifeeder line to or from the port of Beira.

Ocean Network Express, the 6th largest container carrier with a fleet of more than 220 vessels, is represented in Mozambique by Manica Freight Services, as agent.

The new fortnightly service, which connects Beira to ONE’s Maputo – Mombasa – India – Middle East service, commenced with the arrival in port of the ONE’s K-Line vessel, PENANG EXPRESS.

The container ship docked at the Beira Container Terminal at 16h45 on 31 August 2023, and was welcomed at an official function by representatives of port and terminal operator, Cornelder de Moçambique (CdM).

The port will have been under the management of CdM for 25 years next month (October).

K-Line is one of three Japanese carriers that combine as Ocean Network Express (ONE). The other two are MOL and NYK. ONE is headquartered in Singapore.

Operations Director of CdM, Miguel de Jenga, said that the entry of the new shipping line will bring diversity of choice for importers and exporters in the Beira corridor.

“This will offer more alternatives for the Beira corridor, covering the centre of Mozambique and the hinterland countries,” he said.

de Jenga said the economic gains will be “competitiveness between the shipping lines”, which will be reflected in the costs for exporters and importers.

The Director of Manica Freight Services in Beira and agent for the ONE Line, Ahmad Ali Haffejee, said he was pleased that ONE – Ocean Network Express, which already worked with the Port of Maputo, would now also operate with the Port of Beira.

He said that initially, this shipping line will dock at the Port of Beira every fortnight and believes that it will handle a lot of cargo from this port.

“CdM is making major investments in the Port of Beira. This pleases us and benefits us all,” he said.

Ocean Network Express is now the sixth container shipping line to operate a regular service in the Port of Beira. The other shipping lines are MSC, PIL, MAERSK, CMA-CGM and Gold Star Line (GSL), the latter of which began operating at Beira on 28 April.

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Added 6 September 2023


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WHARF TALK: Neo-Panamax container vessel MSC BIANCA Part 1

The Neo-Panamax container vessel MSC Bianca in Cape Town harbour 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Despite the insatiable, and seemingly never ending, buying spree by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) of all, and any, second hand container vessel tonnage, they are still known for designing, building, introducing, and chartering some of the most modern container vessels in the world to represent their interests around the globe.

Despite some local views about the size of the South African container shipping business, it is not that lucrative a market. In that it does not merit any of the major container shipping operators from introducing the behemoth 20,000 plus TEU capacity container vessels that serve the various Far East, Europe and USA scheduled container routes. Instead, we get the vessels from the next level down.

The casual maritime observer will have noticed that the bigger the container vessels have become, so the standard design of the container vessels have changed. For many a year every type, class, or design, of container vessel had their accommodation and engine rooms located at least three-quarters aft, or completely aft. The new, big, class of container vessel now has a split, with accommodation located forward, and engine room located three-quarters aft.

On 24th August, at Midday, if AIS is to be believed, the Neo-Panamax container vessel MSC BIANCA (IMO 9770749) arrived off Cape Town, from Ngqura in the Eastern Cape. As she had sailed from Ngqura at 19h00 on 17th August, it does not take much to work out that a week for a transit from Algoa Bay to Table Bay is nonsensical, and hides the fact that delays in berthing at Cape Town are still a major problem for the operators.

MSC Bianca. Cape Town, 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Instead, a lot of the container vessels that arrive off Cape Town elect not to go to anchor in the Table Bay anchorage, but instead maintain seaway off port limits, and slow steam, or drift well offshore, whilst they await their turn to enter Cape Town harbour. This appears now to be the modus operandi for just about every MSC vessel arriving at Cape Town.

Arriving off Cape Town in the early hours of 19th August, ‘MSC Bianca’ then spent over four days idling out at sea off Cape Town. Finally, at Midday on the 24th August she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Ben Schoeman Dock, and going alongside berth 604 at the Cape Town Container terminal (CTCT) to begin her onload for her assigned voyage schedule.

MSC Bianca. Cape Town, 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2019 by the fabulously, thoroughly un-nautically, named Jinhai Intelligent Manufacturing shipyard at Zhoushan in China, ‘MSC Bianca’ is 329 metres in length and has a deadweight of 128,433 tons. She is powered by a single Doosan MAN-B&W 8G95ME-C eight cylinder two stroke main engine producing a whopping 74,745 bhp (54,960 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 22 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes no less than three MAN 9L32/40CD generators producing 4,500 kW each, and a further two MAN 6L32/40CD generators providing 3,000 kW each. Such a large amount of required domestic onboard power is down to the fact that of her container carrying capacity of 11,568 TEU, she has a reefer plug capacity for 700 units. She also has a single Kangrim EA4513 exhaust gas boiler, and a single Kangrim PA0601R20 oil fired boiler.

MSC Bianca. Cape Town, 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of two sisterships, ‘MSC Bianca’ belongs to that modern design of large container vessel, with a capacity of more than 10,000 TEU, where the accommodation superstructure is locate forward, and the engine room and exhausts are located three-quarters aft. She is nominally owned by FPG Shipholding Liberia 16 SA, operated by MSC of Geneva in Switzerland, and managed by MSC Shipmanagement Ltd., of Limassol in Cyprus.

She is operated on the MSC Northwest Continent to South Africa (NWC-SA) scheduled container service. The port rotation of this service is Rotterdam- London- Antwerp- Hamburg- Le Havre- Sines- Las Palmas- Ngqura- Durban- Cape Town- Las Palmas- Rotterdam. There is some interchangeability to the port rotation, which is mainly due to changes to the schedule on a case by case basis, almost always due to delays incurred in South Africa, notably Cape Town.

MSC Bianca. Cape Town, 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On this current scheduled service rotation, ‘MSC Bianca’ arrived in Durban at 01h00 on 8th August on her southbound terminal routing, and sailed again at 12h00 on 12th August, after a voyage turnaround call of just over four days. She then arrived at Ngqura at 21h00 on 13th August, and departed again at 19h00 on 17th August, bound for Cape Town.

Her arrival in Cape Town, after a four day period spent waiting for a berth to come available for her, was at 1200 on 24th August, a full week after sailing from Ngqura. Bearing in mind that MSC cut out the southbound call at Cape Town for the NWC-SA port rotation, due to incessant delays, and introduced the less than effective weekly ‘Shosholoza Express’ at the beginning of 2023. This feeder service was to allow the Cape Town cargo, which originated in Europe, to be offloaded at Ngqura, and brought up to Cape Town.

MSC Bianca. Cape Town, 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her time spent in Cape Town, simply to load her northbound boxes, was completed at 16h00 on 30th August, a full six days after arrival. So once more, a less than impressive turnaround achieved in Cape Town. Four days floating off the port, and six days alongside. As always, weather plays its part in Cape Town, but is not the sole reason, or excuse, for the poor productivity. On sailing, she set course for Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands, her first NWC call.

MSC Bianca. Cape Town, 30 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

It is back to the current design of the new large container vessels, with the split bridge superstructure, and engine room exhaust trunking. Despite what the casual maritime observer might think, this design is not new, and one only had to look back a few decades to see that virtually all types of vessel would have a similarly designed class of vessel, with some companies being quite partial to the split design.
Part 2 follows tomorrow…..

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Added 6 September 2023


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FIT Alliance launches ‘Declaration of the electronic Bill of Lading’

MSC Bianca in Cape Town port. MSC is a founder member of DCSA, one of the constituent groups in the FIT Alliance. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Africa Ports & Ships

BIMCO, DCSA, FIATA, ICC, and Swift (The FIT Alliance*) have launched the ‘Declaration of the electronic Bill of Lading’ as the parties believe the adoption of eBLs can help make international trade more efficient, reliable, sustainable, and secure.

The aim of the declaration, says the FIT Alliance, is to secure commitment from all stakeholders in international trade to collaborate on driving digitalisation, starting with eBLs, within their industries.

“Every year, ocean carriers issue around 45 million bills of lading, one of the most important trade documents in shipping. Currently, many international shipping documents are not standardised, and the majority are still paper based, requiring physical hand-off between participants,” says the FIT Alliance..

“The adoption of eBLs will enable the trade industry to benefit from faster transactions, cost savings (e.g. reduced administrative cost of cargo holding and document processing), and lowered fraud risks (through the use of digital authentication systems).”

A McKinsey study estimates that if eBL achieved 100% adoption in the container sector alone, it could unlock US$ 30-40 billion in global trade growth by reducing trade friction in the container trade alone. It could also help save 28,000 trees per year, equivalent to around 39 football fields of forest, and significantly reduce carbon emissions by eliminating paper.

A universal eBL will benefit all stakeholders involved in the global supply chain whether in bulk shipping or container shipping, adds the FIT Alliance.

“Achieving widespread adoption of a standards-based eBL will benefit not only the shipping industry, but also the global movement of goods, at a time when supply chain resilience is challenged. This declaration is a significant symbol of our joint dedication to shape the future of shipping. Transforming document exchange through a globally applicable eBL will accelerate trade digitalisation to the benefit customers, banks, customs, government authorities, providers of ocean shipping services and all other stakeholders,” the FIT Alliance says.

Commitment to digitalisation

The Alliance says that many of the technical and legal obstacles to universal eBL are already being addressed, and a clear commitment to digitalisation from everyone involved in international trade is a crucial next step. By signing the FIT Alliance eBL Declaration, all stakeholders can publicly signal their readiness for change and their commitment to collaborate to drive digitalisation within their industries.

* The FIT Alliance was formed in 2022 by BIMCO, the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (Swift). In forming the alliance, the groups have united behind the mission to standardise the digitalisation of international trade.


BIMCO points out that the industry is increasingly using electronic bills of lading (eBLs) as it recognises the benefits and opportunities that digital transformation brings. Many of the problems associated with using paper bills of lading can be avoided by using eBLs which:

* reduce the need to use letters of indemnity, which give rise to legal and commercial risks
* provide faster delivery through more efficient processing
* reduce emissions by eliminating the need to courier paper bills.

“Paper bills of lading are inefficient and slow down trade. They are vulnerable to fraud and human error. Their use results in unnecessary legal and commercial risks such as relying on letters of indemnity or getting lost in transit.”

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC)

Separately, MSC, the world’s largest container shipping line, and a founder member of DCSA, has welcomed the eBL Declaration by the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance.

In a statement MSC said the eBL Declaration represents another major milestone in the industry’s ongoing journey to further raise awareness and accelerate the adoption of a standards-based ‘universal’ eBL by all parties involved in international trade.

“MSC welcomes today’s (5 September 2023) electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) Declaration by the Future International Trade (FIT) Alliance. The declaration marks a commitment to accelerate eBL adoption across FIT Alliance member organizations, including all carriers, solution providers, regulators, banks and freight forwarders represented by its five founding members (BIMCO, DCSA, FIATA, ICC and SWIFT) and signatories across the industry at large.”

MSC described this clear commitment to digitalization by everyone involved in international trade as a momentous next step for the shipping community now that many of the technical and legal obstacles to universal eBL are being overcome.

“By signing this FIT Alliance eBL Declaration, all stakeholders in international trade can publicly signal their readiness for change and their commitment to collaborate to drive digitalization, starting with eBLs, within their industries,” said MSC.

Working together for a common goal

MSC says that with DCSA standards as a framework for digitalization, signatories to the FIT Alliance eBL Declaration have a clear path forward to eBL adoption and a future empowered by paperless trade for more efficient and sustainable shipping.

“A universal eBL would benefit all stakeholders involved in international trade, the logistics industry as a whole and the planet, and holds the potential to unlock around US$18 billion (bn) in gains for the trade ecosystem through faster document handling and reduced human error (among other improvements) plus $30-40bn in global trade growth, according to a recent McKinsey study.”

Further details about FIT may be found here.

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Added 6 September 2023


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Turkish company Tosyali Holding to export 1.8 million tonnes of iron from Namibe

Cuchi’s pig iron plant in southern Angola.  Picture: Angop

Africa Ports & Ships

Turkish company Tosyali Holding says it plans to export 1.8 million tonnes of iron from the port of Namibe in southern Angola.

Exports will commence from 2025, a spokesman said.

At least one shipment of pig iron has already departed along the Moçâmedes Railway to the Namibe port.

This was reported here

Angop reports that exports will be made to China, Portugal, Algeria and India.

Jamba’s steel project is situated in the Jamba municipality located 315 kilometres east of Lubango, in Huíla.

The Turkish company currently employs 500 persons at the site which could ramp up to 2,000 with further expansion by 2028.

Iron ore reserves at the site have been estimated to cover 90 years of extraction, according to Angolan sources. Mining last took place in the 1970s when Angola’s civil war broke out.

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Added 6 September 2023


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Surveillance of Russian vessels:   A new Defence Minister

Pictures: Ministry of Defence.  Crown Copyright 2023

Edited by Paul Ridgway

RN and RAF tracking

Royal Navy warships and RAF patrol aircraft tracked a series of Russian vessels in the waters close to the UK in a concerted monitoring operation. This was reported by the Ministry of Defence on 31 August.

HMSs Tyne, Portland and P8 Poseidon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth reported on the movements of the Russian Navy in the English Channel, North Sea and North Atlantic.

Plymouth-based Portland and the Poseidons worked together to monitor Russian vessels, including corvettes Boikiy (illustrated, pennant number 532) and Grad, cruiser Marshal Ustinov (illustrated, pennant number 055), the Udaloy-class destroyer Severomorsk and others.

With their collective array of powerful sensors for locating and tracking, the British submarine-hunting frigate and maritime patrol aircraft are a formidable duo for locating and monitoring operations, allowing for constant surveillance from the sea and air.

Having detected a ship or submarine, the aircraft can communicate the position, allowing a warship to intercept and track.

Royal Navy warships and aircraft routinely conduct training with the long-range RAF patrol aircraft, enabling a seamless transition to operations to protect the sea areas around the UK.

Lieutenant Sam Charleston, one of Portland’s bridge watchkeeping officers, commented: “It was rewarding to conduct operations protecting UK waters and interests. The team worked hard in rough weather and difficult conditions. This is my third time conducting this type of operation and I enjoyed seeing the wide-area search capability that the P-8 brings and working with the RAF aircrew.”

Commander Ed Moss-Ward, Portland’s CO added: “P8 aircraft operating with a Type 23 frigate with an embarked Merlin helicopter provides the UK with a world-leading anti-submarine warfare capability.”

Many of the Russian vessels were associated with the Russian Navy Day, which was held in St Petersburg on 30 July.

Portsmouth-based Tyne shadowed three Russian ships in separate tasks, including Merkury, a Steregushchiy-class corvette and research ship Akademik Nikolaj Strakhov, taking over duties from NATO warships.

Tyne’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Ryan Grieg, reflected: “The operations Tyne has executed over the last few weeks are a reflection of the hard work and dedication delivered by her ship’s company all year round. She has again demonstrated her alacrity and flexibility in proving herself as an efficient asset providing assurance and security in UK home waters.”

A new Defence Minister

On 1 September it was announced that The Rt Hon Grant Shapps has been appointed Secretary of State for Defence by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Of the appointment Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said: “I welcome our new Defence Secretary Grant Shapps. My message to him is that the nation is safe thanks to the extraordinary commitment of our servicemen and women, and our place within NATO, the world’s largest and strongest defensive alliance.

“This Coronation year has demonstrated how much the Armed Forces contribute to our nation, and we are ready to do more. I look forward to working with the Secretary of State to both learn and implement the lessons from Ukraine, and to continue our journey to become more lethal, faster at deploying, and to embrace technology at scale.”


The biography for Grant Shapps can be found here

Text per: Public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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No evidence of weapons loaded for export onto Lady R

The Russian freighter Lady R at the Simon’s Town Naval base Picture: SA People News

Africa Ports & Ships

An independent investigation into the docking of the Lady R vessel at the Simon’s Town Naval Base in the Western Cape has found no evidence to support allegations that South Africa supplied weapons to Russia during the current Ukraine-Russia conflict.

This was revealed by President Cyril Ramaphosa during an address to the nation on Sunday evening.

In May, the President appointed an independent panel led by Judge Phineas Mojapelo to investigate the allegations.

“From its investigation, the panel found no evidence that any cargo of weapons was loaded for export onto the ship Lady R. The panel found that there was no evidence to support the claim that the ship transported weapons from South Africa destined for Russia,” he said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

The President laid out what, according to the panel’s investigation, the purpose of the docking was.

“The panel established that the ship docked at Simonstown to deliver equipment that had been ordered for the South African National Defence Force in 2018 by Armscor, the country’s arms procurement company. In terms of the contract for the supply of the arms, neither Armscor nor the South African National Defence Force had any control over the means through which the supplier of the ordered equipment would transport them to South Africa.

“In its report, the panel outlined the circumstances that led to the docking of the vessel in Simonstown, as well as the type of goods supplied and the reasons why the goods were unloaded at the time they were offloaded,” he said.

The President lamented the damage the allegations have had on South Africa.

“In recent months, statements from several quarters have used these allegations to call into question South Africa’s commitment to its position on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The allegations levelled against our country had a damaging effect on our currency, economy and our standing in the world. In fact, it tarnished our image as a country.

“When all matters are considered, none of the allegations made about the supply of weapons to Russia have been proven to be true, and none of the persons who made these allegations could provide any evidence to support the claims that had been levelled against our country,” he said.

Investigation and recommendations

President Ramaphosa delved deeper into the report and shared that extensive evidence was collected.

“During the course of its work, the panel visited the Simonstown naval base and obtained evidence under oath from nearly 50 people in every relevant component of government. More than 100 documents were submitted to the panel for examination.

“A number of entities and persons that had publicly claimed to have information on this matter were invited to make submissions to the panel. Many of those invited either failed to do so or said they had no independent knowledge of the relevant facts,” he said.

The President added that beyond its findings, the panel made recommendations with “an implementation plan be developed to address these.

“The panel did not find any evidence of criminal conduct by any persons involved. However, the panel made findings and recommendations with respect to the functioning of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee.

“It also made recommendations about the improvement of communication between Ministers and government officials, including the adequacy of the relevant administrative processes,” President Ramaphosa said.

The full details of the report will not be made public due to its classified nature. However, an executive summary is expected be made available to the public. source:

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Added 5 September 2023


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WHARF TALK:chemical tanker YC AZALEA

The Japanese-built chemical tanker, YC Azalea arriving in Cape Town on a wet and gloomy 2 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

It is not often that a small, combined, fuel products and chemical tanker arrives in Cape Town, unless they are carrying vegetable oils for the local foodstuffs production industry. Tankers come in many shapes and sizes, and whilst the Medium Range (MR) and Long Range (LR) class product tankers are the norm around the South African coast, the arrival of a tanker of the small handysize class is definitely not the norm. Unless, of course, it is not arriving with a cargo to offload locally.

On an exceptionally wet, and dreary, 2nd September, at 14h00 in the afternoon, the chemical tanker YC AZALEA (IMO 9272682) arrived off Cape Town, from Kwinana in Western Australia, and immediately entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the outer berth of the Eastern Mole. This berth is not a tanker discharge berth, but rather the one most normally used for transiting vessels looking for an uplift of stores and bunkers, and not expected to be alongside for too long.

Built in 2004 by the Shin Kurushima shipyard at Akitsu in Japan, ‘YC Azalea’ is 148 metres in length and has a deadweight of 19,997 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsubishi Kobe Diesel 7UEC45LA seven cylinder two stroke main engine producing 8,471 bhp (6,230 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

YC Azalea. Cape Town, 2 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6N18AL-UV generators providing 500 kW each, and a single emergency generator providing 72 kW. She has a single Tortoise Auxiliary Vertical exhaust gas boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a single bow transverse thruster providing 515 kW.

Her cargo carrying capacity is 20,863 m3, and as is common on chemical tankers, she has a vast array of cargo tanks, with a total of 20 tanks available. She has twenty cargo pumps, one for each tank, and all with a pumping capacity of 330 m3/hour.

One of six sisterships, all originally built for the same Japanese owner, ‘YC Azalea’ was purchased by her current owner as recently as July 2023. Her owners, and operators, are Youngchang Enterprise Co. Ltd., of Busan in South Korea, with the ‘YC’ prefix in her name being an acronym of her owner. She is managed by Green Maritime Co. Ltd., also of Busan.

YC Azalea. Cape Town, 2 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

A look back at her operating history shows that she has spent the great majority of her working career operating within the confines of the Pacific Ocean. Back in August 2014, ‘YC Azalea’, under her previous name of ‘Pine Galaxy’ sailed from Long Beach in California, with a full mixed cargo of Propylene Tetramer, Canola Oil, and various grades of Neutral Oil. She was bound for Yeosu in South Korea.

On 13th August, when she was 700 nautical miles west of Cape Mendocino, the most westerly point of the State of California, she had a serious engine room fire, which caused a power blackout. The fire was as a result of her engineers failing to follow company procedures for the job that caused the fire. No fire alarm was sounded by the engineers, and no crew roll call took place, although this did not result in any member of the crew being overlooked.

When the crew was unable to control the fire manually, the decision was taken to flood the engine room with CO2. No formal training had been undertaken by the crew for this, and the Chief Engineer set off the CO2 system, but used the wrong Pilot bottles, and only one of the 43 CO2 bottles available discharged into the engine room.

YC Azalea. Cape Town, 2 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Sometime later, the Chief Engineer requested a party of two to enter the engine room to check if any fires were still burning. Although the fire party was equipped with breathing apparatus, they were not using a tag line, and were told to enter the engine room and ‘hold hands’ in order to stay together. Despite this instruction, they split up on entering the engine room.

When only one man emerged from the engine room, a second, and then a third, search party was sent in to find the missing crewman. He was eventually found unconscious in the engine room, and despite attempts to provide CPR for a three hour period, he sadly passed away. He was subsequently buried at sea.

As the vessel was without power, and the emergency generator had also failed, ‘YC Azalea’ was without any meaningful power whatsoever, other than that provided by batteries. Effectively adrift, a salvage tug, ‘Millennium Falcon’, was sent out from the port of Anacortes, in Washington State, to rendezvous with ‘YC Azalea’, but it would take over three days for the tug to reach them.

YC Azalea. Cape Town, 2 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) despatched an HC-130 Hercules aircraft to drop fully charged handheld satellite phones, and Marine VHF radios, to the vessel, and a Coast Guard cutter arrived to act as a standby vessel until the tug arrived. The tug arrived on 18th August and took ‘YC Azalea’ tow, with her destination being San Francisco. The USCG Cutter accompanied the pair back to San Francisco.

The tow eventually arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge, and the entrance to San Francisco Bay, on 27th August, where ‘YC Azalea’ was placed alongside Pier 80. She had gone without power for over a fortnight. After her cargo was discharged, she was taken to a nearby repair quay for her engine room to be overhauled and refitted. Throughout the ordeal, at no time was the hull, cargo tanks, or accommodation spaces in danger from the fire.

For the tug aficionado, ‘Millennium Falcon’ (IMO 9219575) was built in 2000 by Marco Shipbuilding in Seattle, Washington State, and is 32 metres in length with a gross registered tonnage of 363 tons. She is powered by two Caterpillar 3516B main engines providing 4,400 bhp, driving two Ulstein 1650H Z Drive propellers.

The tug Millennium Falcon, referred to above. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Caterpillar 3304BT generators, and for towing purposes she has a Burrard double drum towing winch, and capable of a bollard pull of 55 tons. She was owned by Harley Marine Services, of Seattle.

Back to the present day, and as expected, ‘YC Azalea’ was alongside for just twelve hours receiving the attention, and uplifts she desired, and at 0200 on 3rd September she sailed from Cape Town harbour, bound for Walvis Bay in Namibia, where she is due to arrive at 1600 in the afternoon of the 6th September.

Her cargo contents currently carried by ‘YC Azalea’ are unknown, but the port of Kwinana, her port of departure, which lies just south of Perth in Western Australia, is a constituent part of Fremantle Port. For chemical tankers there is a bulk liquid tank farm, and loading facility, in the port which specialises in the cargoes of Sulphuric Acid, Caustic Soda, Toluene, Ethanol, plus some hydrocarbons, and solvents.

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Added 5 September 2023


HMS Prince of Wales departs Portsmouth

Picture: UK Ministry of Defence

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Based on material kindly provided by MoD

Our image by Leading Photographer Edward Jones shows HMS Prince of Wales leaving Portsmouth on 1 September for her autumn deployment – her longest yet, advancing the limits of aircraft carrier operations with drones, fifth-generation stealth fighters, tilt-rotors and helicopters, it was reported.

The carrier steamed out on passage to the USA’s Eastern Seaboard to revolutionise the way the Royal Navy operates Carrier Strike Groups.

Before departing Home Waters for the States the ship’s company will conduct trials with UK-firm W Autonomous Systems to assess the feasibility of drones delivering supplies to Royal Navy vessels at sea – initially flying in up to 100kg of stores in company with a vessel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

F-35 B stealth aircraft BF-5 Flt 369 CDR Nathan Gray & BF-4 Flt 506 SqnLdr Andy Edgell Fly aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time on 25 Sept 2018.  HMS Prince of Wales will embark similar aircraft during the current deployment. Picture courtesy Lockheed Martin

Home before Christmas

It is expected that by the time Prince of Wales returns home shortly before Christmas, the warship will have operated advanced drone technologies, demonstrating the delivery of vital supplies without the need for helicopters.

Once in the USA, the ship will embark F-35B stealth fighters for the final phase of establishing the boundaries of the UK’s fifth-generation jets’ operating limits from the carrier.

In addition her ship’s company will have landed and launched F-35 Lightning stealth fighters in more ways, more quickly and in the harshest of sea conditions to increase the strike carrier’s firepower. Finally, it is understood that the carrier’s operations will have increased the range and conditions in which the US Marine Corps’ impressive MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft can operate.

In the word of Prince of Wales’s CO Captain Richard Hewitt: “We are all excited for the longest deployment of HMS Prince of Wales. Being the first to operate with this level of drones will be a huge achievement and keep us on the front foot as we prepare for the next major Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2025.”

Prince of Wales is one of the most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Her flight deck is 70 metres in width and 280 metres long. The carrier will have a crew complement, a minimum crew, of around 700, increasing to around 1,600 with aircraft onboard and can embark thirty-six F-35B and four Merlin Helicopters.

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Added 5 September 2023

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Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) Container Terminal 2 concession awarded to APM Terminals’ SCCT

Ships and Ship-to-Shore cranes at the existing SCCT terminal at East Port Said

Africa Ports & Ships

The concession to operate and manage Container Terminal No.2 in East Port Said has been awarded to the Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT).

This was announced by the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE).

APM Terminals is the majority shareholder and operator of SCCT.

The contract involves funding, design, development, management, operation, maintenance, and re-delivery of the Container Terminal No. 2 in accordance with the Build-Operate-Transfer principle.

The current terminal is operating with a berth length of 2,400m and a handling yard of 1.2 million sq. metres and is the main operator in Port Said East Port, with an annual throughput of 4 million TEU.

This is the second largest throughput of any container terminal in Africa and one of the largest in the Mediterranean. The largest is Tanger Med.

The expansion at Port Said will increase volumes by a further 2 million TEU to meet future customer demand.

The project will also employ the latest generation port equipment, including 12 ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, 30 rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) and 90 trucks, as well as supporting equipment and cutting edge advanced IT systems.

Once operational in 2025, the terminal will create over 1,000 new direct jobs in Port Said, in addition to indirect jobs and business opportunities created within the whole port ecosystem.

“This year we celebrated the achievements of East Port Said Port – which handles nearly 80 per cent of the total container transit trade in Egypt – by ranking 10th globally for container handling efficiency in 2022, according to a World Bank report,” said Waleid Gamal El-Dien, Chairman of SCZONE.

He said the new terminal will cover an area of 511,000 square metres with a berth length of 955 metres.

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Added 5 September 2023


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Seychelles to dredge sand for stockpile replenishment

The trailing suction dredger Cristóbal Colón, which performed the last sand dredging programme for the Seychelles. Picture: Jan de Nul

Africa Ports & Ships

Think of the lovely Seychelles and you’ll see pristine white beaches. Only it’s not necessarily the action of nature – some comes from the action of dredging equipment.

The island authorities have recently approved a class two environment impact assessment (EIA) that will permit sand to be dredged to maintain a depleted stockpile of 500 cubic metres.

“Now that all the administrative work has been carried out, we expect the dredger to be in the country in January to February next year,” said Glenny Savy, CEO of the Island Development Company (IDC).

According to Savy, the dredging will cost IDC about US$ 4-5 million, although the state-owned company will recoup the cost through the sale of sand.

The sand is stockpiled on the Ile du Port, a man-made island, and was last dredged by the Jan de Nul dredger, Cristóbal Colón in 2011.

Ile du Port has however since been given over to companies to develop a fishing port and the new stockpile will be located on another man-made island of Ile Aurore, which is off the north coast of Mahe, Seychelles’ main island.

The sand extraction will take place at two sites identified by the Ministry of Environment, one close to the island of Silhouette and the other in the west of Mahe.

Savy said the quality of sand to be extracted near Silhouette is of good quality and not like that found on the beaches, as it contains quartz and gravel, indicating there were once rivers in those areas in the past.

The 500 to 600 cubic metres of sand to be dredged and stockpiled will cater for consumers’ needs for the next 10 years. In future the authorities should look for a more permanent site for a stockpile, Savy suggested. source: Seychelles News Agency

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Added 5 September 2023


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TRADE NEWS: XXL monopile transport system lowers storage and handling costs

Monopiles in transit with Mammoet

New solution allows huge XXL monopiles to be stored and transported using existing support structures

Africa Ports & Ships

A interesting report is to hand from the Dutch heavy-lift and transport specialist firm of Mammoet, which is of general interest.

As offshore wind turbines grow, their foundations are increasing in size, making transport and storage more difficult. Mammoet’s new jacking and cradle system minimizes upgrades to grillage and sand bunds, helping to reduce costs.

Monopiles are colossal cylindrical steel foundations that….

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

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Added 5 September 2023


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Transnet issues financial year end Report: unmodified audit opinion

Port of Ngqura, with the Mendi administrative building (and TNPA headquarters) in foreground

Transnet SOC Ltd. (Transnet) performance for the year ended 31 March 2023 improved in certain areas, notwithstanding operational challenges, and the current economic climate.

The tough operating environment particularly hit Transnet’s rail business, with decreased locomotive availability and increased incidents of cable theft and infrastructure vandalism resulting in lower volumes railed.

Despite the headwinds, Transnet’s total revenue increased by 0,6% to R68,9 billion (2022: R68,5 billion). The marginal increase in revenue is attributable mainly to positive port and pipeline operational performance.

Automotive and break-bulk volumes soared by 21,0% and petroleum volumes increased by 1,0%, compared to the prior year. Rail volumes, however, decreased by 13,6% as a result of the aforementioned operational challenges.

Net operating expenses increased by 2,0%, a tolerable level given the high inflationary economic environment. This demonstrates Transnet’s financial resilience and commitment to various cost containment initiatives. However, the organisation recorded a decrease in EBITDA of 2,1% to R23,0 billion, with the net loss for the year at R5,7 billion.

Operational outlook

A turnaround strategy for the business is currently being developed which will be submitted to the Board, together with an implementation plan with key milestones, targets and deadlines. This will consist – amongst others – of business improvements, optimisation of operational performance and processes.

A key priority will be increasing locomotive availability to service in particular key export flows such as export coal and chrome. Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) is also pursuing collaboration with existing rail partners such as Caminhos De Ferros De Mocambique (CFM) to increase volume movements to neighbouring countries.

TFR began implementing outcomes-based security solutions on 1 August 2023, which is expected to result in improvements in incidents of cable theft moving forward.

Pier 2 Container Terminal at the port of Durban

DCT Pier 2 Partnership

Another key focus area is successfully bedding down the recently announced DCT Pier 2 partnership. Transnet is now at the due diligence phase and the operating teams have commenced engagements with the international terminal operator partner, International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).

The conclusion of the first LNG terminal section 56 transaction is expected to be announced by the end of the 2024 financial year. The Leasing Company project, plans for which were announced in the current reporting year, is an essential intervention for successful third-party access, and is expected to commence operations in the next financial year.

Going forward the organisation will focus on closing all strategic transactions and best utilise the Group’s asset base with due care in line with government’s objectives and Transnet’s corporate strategy.

Africa Ports & Ships: This is an unabridged copy of Transnet’s media statement. For additional detail and comment, see next story.

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Added 4 September 2023


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Transnet financial report 2023 in some detail

A section of the Durban Car terminal

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet last week published its financial results for the fiscal year 2022/2023, ended 31 March this year. A summary of the presentation by Transnet chief executive Portia Derby is available via a PDF document with a link at the end of this article.

Some of the highlights from this report are:

Transnet is operating off an overall asset base of R364 billion. The workforce across all divisions totals 50,364.

Of this workforce, 92.3% are Black employees, 47.1% represent women at executive level, and 2.2% are people with disabilities.

Looking at the network and fleet base, the company has 3,800 km of pipelines, and the railway (Transnet Freight Rail) operates with 1,854 locomotives across a rail network of 30,400km of Cape-gauge (3ft 6ins or 1067mm) track, including 2 long-distance heavy-haul lines.

Transnet operates 8 commercial ports, Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth (the latter two combine as Mandela Bay Ports), Mossel Bay, Cape Town, and Saldanha.

In terms of cargo handling there are 16 cargo terminals of which 13 are within the ports.

On the engineering and maintenance side of operations, Transnet has 132 maintenance depots, 11 engineering yards, 6 rail and port manufacturing and maintenance facilities.

Transnet has a R11.3 billion commercial and residential property portfolio.

Some operating constraints experienced that affected the rail division (TFR) included a 25% reduction of locomotive availability from 2021/2022 that has particularly affected coal exports.

In 2019/2020 TFR had 106 ‘longstanding'(i.e. out of commission) locomotives. By the end of 2022/2023 this list had grown to 325.

In addition there has been an increased cost in incidents resulting in less planned versus budgeted activities being executed – incident costs increased from R387 million in 2017/2018 to R1.1 billion in 2022/2023.

The unavailability of locomotives is linked to the declining revenue, with freight volumes declining by 6.6% over the period under review.

The reason for locomotive unavailability includes TFR’s inability to access spare parts (involving several OEMs) as well as a lack of IP and technical support from multiple OEMs).

Another factor has been the increase in derailments resulting in locomotive damage.


Security has become an increasing factor in operational disruptions and affecting key infrastructure. Cable theft increased from 120 km stolen in 2017/2018 to 1037km in 2022/2023 and involving 3,877 cable theft incidents. This impacts areas such as by-passes on the Export Coal Line (Richards Bay).

Pipeline theft has been another concerning factor although the number of incidents has continued to decline to 99 incidents during the year under review. During the second half of the year a new integrated security contract with law enforcement agencies came into force, resulting in approximately R1.3 billion in cost avoidance.


Transnet’s Phelophepa train passing along the KZN South Coast near Umkomaas. Picture: Charles Baker

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR)

Despite the declining impact of general freight rail in South Africa’s logistical setup, TFR has continued as the ‘senior’ partner among the Transnet group of companies, generating 43% of group revenue.

The report says opportunities within the division are:
* Focus of rail network rehabilitation to improve service delivery
* Improve rolling stock quality
* Deploy digital solutions for greater efficiencies and client responsiveness
* Address security-related incidents
* Optimise commercial returns through reviewing cost allocations
* Leverage private sector participation models to raise capital and enhance volumes and improve utilisation
* Align to rail reform requirements.


Transnet Engineering generates 10% of group revenue.

The division sees opportunities with increased demand for rolling stock from private or operator companies, and transforming away from a reliance on rail maintenance to rolling stock manufacturing and remanufacturing.

This will include port maintenance, the expansion of manufacturing and establishing a rolling stock leasing company.

National Ports Authority (TNPA)

TNPA generated 16% of Transnet revenue during the recent fiscal year ended 31 March 2023.

Across the port network there has been an improved performance against previous year results, with an above-average growth of 10.2%.

TNPA is embarking on several game-changing projects worth R14 billion over the next 3 to 5 years.

These are:
* LNG Project at Port of Richards Bay
* Widening and deepening of Port of Durban entrance channel and Point Container Terminal
* Container and Automotive terminal expansion at Port of Durban
* Deepening of berth at Port of East London
* Liquid Bulk and manganese terminals at Port of Ngqura, including conveyor belt for manganese
* Development of Culemborg logistics park (Cape Town)
* Ore expansion berth at Port of Saldanha

An aerial view of the Port of Cape Town. E is the Passenger Terminal in the Duncan Dock.

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT)

TPT generated 21% of group revenue.

Among the key insights, TPT revenue increased by 6% over the period and has recovered over the last few years to exceed pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels.

Improved performance within the bulk, container and automotive segments have been key to strong revenue growth with segments that grew 8.2%, 4.4% and 19.6% respectively.

In its endeavour to become a ‘world-class terminal operator’, TPT will be streamlining its operational processes, and making increased use of technology as a driver of operational performance.

This will include remote equipment operations to streamline processes and improve service delivery.

Long-term partnerships with OEMs when acquiring key operational equipment will include technical support over the life cycle and improve lead times for acquiring spare parts. There will also be a standardisation of components to simplify management and the promotion of local vendor development.

Transnet Pipelines

Pipelines generates 7% of group revenue.

Pipelines will be developing the coastal terminal at Durban for product accumulation to enable security of fuel supply for existing and new entrant customers.

Transnet Property

The division generated 3% of group revenue.

Looking ahead

As core to its ‘reinvention’ Transnet makes the following statements:

Iron Ore: Transnet intends stabilising and supporting growth in the iron ore sector to a capacity of 67 million tonnes per annum (mtpa).

Manganese: Migrate exports to Ngqura and introduce private sector capital and capabilities to grow manganese exports to 22 mtpa via Ngqura and Saldanha.

Coal: Bring in locos and invest in maintenance to restore South Africa’s export coal capability to 79 mtpa.

Chrome & Magnetite: Sustain SA’s chrome export lead, boost channels via Richards Bay and Maputo ports for 37 mtpa total, (21 mtpa Chrome, 16 mtpa Magnetite).

Liquid Fuel: Expand fuel import capability to facilitate new entrant access, while ensuring security of supply to the country.

Gas: Establish a robust Natural Gas Network infrastructure for a sustainable energy mix.

Fruit: Maintain integrity of the fruit export cold chain.

Grain: Standardise grain intermodal solutions to lower the cost of logistics and reinstate rail as a partner.

Containers: Reposition by leveraging private sector partnerships to rejuvenate the port terminal businesses, and fundamentally reform the non-viable container rail business.

Auto: Reposition the auto business through high-capacity automotive export corridor via Gqeberha.

Annual Report

There is much more to study in the latest Transnet annual report. Gone are the days when a comprehensive printed report was issued, with access to vastly greater detail. The modern reports are brief by comparison and containing mainly highlights of the year gone by and looking ahead. That’s the reality of the modern world, nevertheless there is a lot of useful information contained in the 2022/2023 annual report, which the reader can access via a PDF document at the Transnet website or more simply, by CLICKING HERE

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WHARF TALK: Handymax bulk carrier VOGE MIA

Preceded by the harbour tug Usiba, the Handymax bulk carrier Voge Mia begins her departure from Cape Town after discharging a cargo of wheat from northern Europe. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

One of the all-encompassing staple foods for everyday folk, in any economy, irrespective of it being first world or third world, is bread. To make bread you need another staple, and this is wheat. In the case of South Africa, over the recent past, the majority of the wheat that is not grown domestically, has been imported from Australia.

The country that has provided the second highest amount of wheat imports to South Africa will come as a surprise to most folk. It is none other than the small Baltic State of Lithuania. In 2021, the last year where full figures are available, South Africa imported a total of US$145 million (ZAR2.74 billion) worth of wheat from Australia, with Lithuania providing an amount of US$103 million (ZAR1.94 billion) worth of wheat. The total amount of wheat imported in 2021 totalled 1.7 million tons.

On 20th August, at 19h00 in the evening, the Handymax bulk carrier VOGE MIA (IMO 9464950) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Klaipeda in Lithuania, and went to anchor overnight for a 12 hour period. At 07h00, on 21st August she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside H berth to begin her discharge.

Voge Mia and Usiba. Cape Town, 29 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Normally, this berth in the Duncan Dock is where arriving bulk carriers are placed to begin an onload of Manganese ore, or similar. However, ‘Voge Mia’ was loaded down to her marks, and it was clear that she had arrived in order to discharge a cargo, and not to load one.

Whilst imported food and agricultural products, carried by bulk carriers, are generally berthed at the Fresh Produce Terminal (FPT) in the Duncan Dock, which stretches from A to C berths, it is not uncommon, or unknown, for bulk carriers arriving to discharge agricultural products to be assigned a berth further down the Duncan Dock, which is where ‘Voge Mia’ was placed.

Built in 2011 by the Hyundai Mipo shipyard at Ulsan in South Korea, ‘Voge Mia’ is 187 metres in length and has a deadweight of 36,866 tons, which places her in the Handymax bulk carrier category, which encompasses vessels between 35,000 dwt and 50,000 dwt. She is powered by a single HHI MAN-B&W 6S46MC-C six cylinder two stroke main engine producing 9,083 bhp (6,681 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Voge Mia. Cape Town, 29 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Himsen 5H17/28 generators providing 550 kW each, and a single Doosan AD136TIS emergency generator providing 151 kW. She has a single Kangrim MC3204P12 Composite exhaust gas boiler. Her cargo carrying capacity is 46,230 m3, and she has a total of five holds, serviced by four 30 ton cranes.

Owned by Avior GmbH, of Hamburg, ‘Voge Mia’ is operated by H. Vogemann Reederei Services GmbH, also of Hamburg, and founded as far back as 1886, and whose houseflag she proudly displays on her funnel, and she is managed by a joint venture company of three of Germany’s greatest bulk carrier fleet owners, namely AVG Bulk GmbH, also of Hamburg, where AVG is an acronym for three of Germany’s greatest bulk carrier fleet owners, namely Ahrenkiel, Vogemann, and Bolten.

A good indicator of both how depreciation takes its toll on any vessel, can be seen in the purchase price that ‘Voge Mia’ has attracted since her first transfer of ownership in 2014. In March 2014 she sold for US$22.5 million (ZAR424 million). Only four months later she was sold on yet again, but now for only US$18 million (ZAR339 million), which is a loss over three months of US$4.5 million (ZAR84.8 million), or a cool US$1.13 million (ZAR21.2 million) per month.

Voge Mia. Cape Town, 29 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was last sold, to her present owners, in September 2017 for US$10.7 million (ZAR201.64 million), which is a drop of US$11.8 million (ZAR222.37 million) in just over 42 months. This is the equivalent of a loss of US$280,592 (ZAR5.29 million) every single month. It is no wonder that some equate shipowning with standing under a cold shower whilst continually tearing up 100 dollar bills.

For the statistician out there, Lithuania exported a total of US$1.7 billion (ZAR32.04 billion) worth of wheat in 2021. This figure makes Lithuania the 12th largest exporter of wheat in the world. Wheat is also the third largest export product in the Lithuanian economy. In 2021 the country produced 2.8 million tons of both Winter Wheat, and Spring Wheat, for export.

Voge Mia and pilot boat Red Bishop. Cape Town, 29 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Their largest export market for wheat in 2021 was Nigeria, worth a hefty US$582 million (ZAR10.97 billion) in wheat sales to Africa’s largest economy. South Africa was Lithuania’s third largest wheat export market with sales of US$103 million (ZAR1.94 billion) in 2021, with South Africa being their third fastest growing wheat export market.

One has to remember that, only back in 1989, Lithuania was under the Russian yoke, and one of the Republics of the Soviet Union. In 1990, as with many other Soviet Republics, they gained their independence from the Soviet Union, and since then the Lithuanian economy has grown by more than 500%, making it the largest economy of the Baltic States.

Voge Mia. Cape Town, 29 August 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Currently, Lithuania is listed on the World Bank Group ‘Index of Ease of Doing Business’ in 11th place of 190 nations worldwide. Compare that to South Africa which lies in 84th place on the Index. The best performing African Nation is Rwanda, which lies in 38th place, and the closest Africa economy to South Africa on the Index being Kenya, which holds 56th place.

After a full eight days alongside discharging her cargo of wheat at H berth, ‘Voge Mia’ was ready to sail. At 09h00 in the morning of 29th August, she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Durban, where she duly arrived at Midday on 1st September. On arrival, she was sent to the Umhlanga anchorage to await her berth, and her next load, and where she still waits today.

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Durban Dry Dock rehabilitation: Pump Station commissioned

The hospital ship Africa Mercy in the Durban Dry Dock earlier this year. Picture: Ken Malcolm

Africa Ports & Ships

The Prince Edward Graving Dock pump house has been successfully commissioned as Transnet National Ports Authority, Port of Durban, continues the rehabilitation of facilities at one of the country’s oldest and largest dry docks.

The repairs to the pump house are set to increase the efficiencies and significantly improve docking and undocking turnaround time in order to attract more vessels into the facility.

The Pump House Station

Operating for over 60 years, the dry dock’s old pump house system was originally designed to empty out the dock in eight hours, while the establishment of the new modern and semi-automated pump house station will reduce the hours to four.

This increases the docks productivity considerably, allowing for more efficient servicing of vessels calling at the dock.

The pump house and its associated infrastructure such as penstock valves, gate valves, ball valves etc. have been able to keep the graving dock ‘dry’ for almost 93 years. Over the years the time taken to empty the dock had increased due to the age of the pumps, as a result, efficiency has been compromised.

The establishment of the dry dock pump house station form’s part Operation Phakisa which was put in place in 2014 to accelerate economic growth and fast track the implementation of solutions on critical development issues.

These include unemployment, poverty, and inequality, whilst also looking at an innovative and pioneering approach to translate detailed plans into concrete results through dedicated delivery and collaboration.

“The Port of Durban’s Bayhead precinct was the key focus area under Operation Phakisa with projects such as the rehabilitation of the inner and outer caissons, equipment upgrade for Workshop 24 and the upgrading of the fire system in the dry dock having been identified and completed,” said Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana, Port Manager at the Port of Durban.

“Our investment into our infrastructure will enable us to retain our current customer base and attract new business – creating thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Durban,” she added.

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TNPA issues RFP for East London port road widening

The West Bank and grain elevator at the Port of East London

Africa Ports & Ships

As Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) gears up to handle greater volumes of grain exports at the Port of East London, a Request for Proposal (RFP) has been issued to improve road access for trucks.

The RFP involves the rehabilitation and widening of the Port View Road on the West Bank side of the Port of East London to accommodate trucks carrying grain to the West Bank Foreshore,  Grain Elevator operations, and tanker berth vehicles.

The project entails the construction of the road and its associated services over a period of nine months.

The required works include the rehabilitation and widening of roadway from approximately 6 metres to 8.6 metres surfaced width along Port View Road, also the construction of a lane for truck staging which will include full depth excavation as well as pavement construction.

To ensure efficient traffic management with the port, the scope of works includes the establishment of alternative routes for truck operations to ease traffic during the construction period.

East London Port Manager, Sphiwe Mthembu, said that the project is instrumental in the Port’s growth strategy which seeks to sustain the current cargo volumes being transported through Port View Road.

RFP documents can be accessed from any of the following three websites:

National Treasury’s e-tender portal

Transnet website

CIDB website

The closing time for submission of tender offers is: 15:00 on 22 September 2023.

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MOL Group Launches 1st Warehouse Operation in Africa

MOL Logistics Nairobi warehouse

Africa Ports & Ships

Leading Japanese shipping company Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL) said on Friday that its group company, MOL Logistics Co, Ltd. (MLG), has commenced logistics operations at their warehouse in Nairobi, Kenya, as of July 2023.

The Kenya operation by MLG is the MOL Group’s first in Africa, the announcement said.

MLG’s Nairobi Warehouse is additionally licensed to handle food, medicines and liquor. It is conveniently located for international logistics, just a 15-minute drive to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya’s largest, and adjacent to Nairobi’s Standard Gauge Rail-connected Inland Container Depot.

The MOL Group’s presence in Kenya includes a local subsidiary, MOL Shipping (Kenya) Ltd., and MLG’s Nairobi Branch, which also offers ocean and air forwarding service to/from Africa.

In May 2023, MOL and General Cargo Service Limited , the logistics subsidiary in Kenya of Velogic, the logistics arm of the Mauritius-based conglomerate Rogers Group, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a strategic alliance. (Note 2),

The partnership jointly offers total logistics services including forwarding, customs clearance, warehouse management, and land transport in Kenya and neighboring countries.

The MOL Group says it will develop and expand new non-shipping businesses such as logistics services in emerging markets, including Africa, as stated in the BLUE ACTION 2035 management plan’s portfolio and regional strategies, and will continue to pursue other opportunities in Africa.

As of August 2023, MLG has 141 offices and business sites in 26 countries and 189 agent offices in 51 countries worldwide.

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Added 3 September 2023


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Shipping caught up in Gabon coup d’état

Africa Ports & Ships

Map of Gabon showing ports of oil terminals

A large number of ships have been caught in a state of limbo in the seas around the Central African country of Gabon, where the country’s military staged a coup last week following the declared re-election of President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

President Bongo, who was claiming to have achieved a 67% victory for a third term, was placed under house arrest as the military junta assumed political control with General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema having been ‘unanimously’ appointed president of a transitional leadership committee.

The Bongo family ruled Gabon since 1967, seven years after the country gained independence from France.

Reports say at least 30 ships were at anchor outside the ports – Owendo close to the capital city Libreville, and Port Gentil a little to the south plus the oil terminals of Gamba and Lucina.

However, by the weekend some ships were moving – a Hapag-Lloyd container ship Dallas Express was underway sailing from Owendo on the Saturday (2 September 2023), bound for Kribi in Cameroun.

Not only were Gabon’s ports affected by the takeover by the military, but other border posts were similarly closed. For several days no port operations were being noted.

The departure of the Dallas Express however suggests that the port at Owendo has reopened.

A second container ship, Maersk Valparaiso, remained moored outside the port, along with a number of other general cargo and bulk carrier vessels.

Gabon is an exporter of manganese ores, uranium, timber, timber products, and petroleum products. Gabon is Sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth largest oil producer.

Apart from the military taking over the political control of the country, Gabon appears to have remained peaceful.

Gabon has one of Africa’s smallest populations of just over 2 million people.

One by one, the former French colonies of Africa are falling to military takeovers, with seven countries falling this way in the past three years, Burkino Faso, Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia.

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Added 3 September 2023


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HMS Prince of Wales departs Portsmouth

Picture: UK Ministry of Defence

Edited by Paul Ridgway

based on material kindly provided by MoD

Our image by Leading Photographer Edward Jones shows HMS Prince of Wales leaving Portsmouth on 1 September for her autumn deployment – her longest yet, advancing the limits of aircraft carrier operations with drones, fifth-generation stealth fighters, tilt-rotors and helicopters, it was reported.

The carrier steamed out on passage to the USA’s Eastern Seaboard to revolutionise the way the Royal Navy operates Carrier Strike Groups.

Before departing Home Waters for the States the ship’s company will conduct trials with UK-firm W Autonomous Systems to assess the feasibility of drones delivering supplies to Royal Navy vessels at sea – initially flying in up to 100kg of stores in company with a vessel of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Home before Christmas

It is expected that by the time Prince of Wales returns home shortly before Christmas, the warship will have operated advanced drone technologies, demonstrating the delivery of vital supplies without the need for helicopters.

Once in the USA, the ship will embark F-35B stealth fighters for the final phase of establishing the boundaries of the UK’s fifth-generation jets’ operating limits from the carrier.

F-35 Lightning stealth fighters

In addition her ship’s company will have landed and launched F-35 Lightning stealth fighters in more ways, more quickly and in the harshest of sea conditions to increase the strike carrier’s firepower. Finally, it is understood that the carrier’s operations will have increased the range and conditions in which the US Marine Corps’ impressive MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft can operate.

In the word of Prince of Wales’s CO Captain Richard Hewitt: “We are all excited for the longest deployment of HMS Prince of Wales. Being the first to operate with this level of drones will be a huge achievement and keep us on the front foot as we prepare for the next major Carrier Strike Group deployment in 2025.”

Prince of Wales is one of the most powerful surface warships ever constructed in the UK. Her flight deck is 70 metres in width and 280 metres long. The carrier will have a crew complement, a minimum crew, of around 700, increasing to around 1,600 with aircraft onboard and can embark thirty-six F-35B and four Merlin Helicopters.

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Added 3 September 2023


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SA Navy back on show with a mini festival

SA Navy Namacurra harbour patrol craft, certain to be on display at the upcoming Navy Festival. Picture: Ian Shiffman

by: defenceWeb

“The Peoples’ Navy” will strut its stuff for South Africans again, albeit on a smaller scale than the Navy Festival staged at Naval Base (NB) Simon’s Town for many years.

A statement from SA Navy (SAN) NB Simon’s Town Public Relations has it the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is “all systems go for a mini navy festival” from 23 to 25 September – the first in five years.

The venue is Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront to tie in with the SAN Right of Entry to Simon’s Town, part of the City of Cape Town metro, and Heritage Day events, seemingly in accordance with what immediate past SAN Chief, Mosiwa Hlongwane, said when making public cancellation of the last Navy Festival in 2018.

He said in January 2018 the festival could be held every second year or moved to other ports. “The non-hosting of the Navy Festival is not indefinite and the SA Navy will continue exploring viable options to circumvent budgetary constraints,” he said in a statement.

The NB Simon’s Town statement has it “the SAN is eager to reconnect with its communities through the historically popular SAN Festival. The relaunch comes after a long pause with the last festival taking place in 2017. This year’s festival will take the form of a mini festival in collaboration with the V&A Waterfront with plans afoot to reinstitute a fully-fledged festival toward the end of 2024”.

This programme for the V&A event features a number of, as yet unspecified navy ships and a type 209 submarine open to the public as well as capability exhibits and displays. These include precision drill, officers’ sword drill, sea cadet precision drill and polished by performances the SAN band.

“Capetonians are advised to pack sunscreen, sun hats and join their navy for an action packed programme from 23-25 September,” the statement reads.

Written by defenceWeb and republished with permission. The original article can be found here.

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Added 3 September 2023


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Xeneta Update: Long-term ocean freight rates plunge by more than 60% in year of decline, but changing fortunes appear imminent

Container shipping

Africa Ports & Ships

Long-term ocean freight rates slid once again in August, marking the 12th consecutive month of declines for beleaguered carriers. According to the latest real-time data from the Xeneta Shipping Index (XSI®), contracted rates fell 7.8% in August, meaning prices have now dropped 62.7% since this time last year. The world’s busiest routes – exports from the Far East – have endured the most dramatic declines, with Xeneta’s regional sub-index showing a 75% year-on-year fall in the value of valid contracts.

On the spot

“It’s a torrid time for carriers in the contract market,” comments Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at Oslo-based Xeneta, “with continuing weak demand exacerbated by burgeoning overcapacity as more and more new ships come online. This is driving down the industry’s prized long-term rates, with falls across the board when we assess region by region. The boom period of just one year ago must now seem like a very distant memory.

“However,” continues Sand, “the industry needs to bear in mind developments in the spot market. Here carriers have managed to lift the rates on the major trades in the past couple of months. As we know, the long-term market follows spot market movements, albeit with a slight lag. Therefore, regardless of the big plunge here – which shippers should benefit from – the falling rates may not last. So, I don’t think shippers should be complacent; we could be approaching a market shift.”

Down time

If this is the case, it will be a welcome development for carriers. Sand points to month after month of falling rates since this time last year, with the smallest decline being 0.1% in December 2022, while May 2023 saw a collapse of 27.5%.

Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst

“And, once again,” he notes, “the data reveals that every major XSI® sub-index lost value in August.”

In Europe, the import sub-index fell 3.4% for the month and is now down 60.1% year-on-year. Exports fared slightly better, with a dip of 2.8% from July (down 52.4% since August 2022), despite a significant drop of 13.6% in contracted prices on the export trade from North Europe to China, which has now collapsed 85.4% year-on-year.

The US Import XSI® recorded this month’s largest fall, sinking by 14.9% to leave it 65.2% down year-on-year. The biggest monthly rates drops were seen out of China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea – to both US West and East coasts – with price falls ranging from 19.3% to 62.3%. The XSI® for US exports was this month’s most resilient figure, losing just 0.8% of its value.

Xeneta’s data continues to paint a bleak picture for Far East contracted export rates, with the sub-index registering a 14.2% monthly decline for August. The region’s import XSI® fared better, with a decline of 2%, now down 51.1% year-on-year.

Long-term perspectives

“It’s tough out there,” Sand says, “but carriers will take heart from the fact that spot rates have now moved up above contracted rates on the world’s leading trade corridors. As a result, we may finally see some upward pressure on long-term rates.

“Shippers who have been playing the spot market to save money will now be looking at shifting volumes to contracted agreements, which may offer better value. This could elevate prices. So, have we now reached the point where long-term rates have bottomed out? If so, it’s a good time for shippers to negotiate new contracts and lock in favorable rates.”

He concludes: “It’s too early to say if there’s a definite market ‘switch’, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on another run of consecutive monthly XSI® falls on the scale we’ve just experienced. I’d advise all stakeholders to keep watching the data for the next market moves.”

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Added 3 September 2023



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

PORT July 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.046
Durban 6.971
Saldanha Bay 6.439
Cape Town 1.328
Port Elizabeth 1.007
Ngqura 1.452
Mossel Bay 0.105
East London 0.303
Total all ports during July 23.651 million tonnes
Colour photographs and slides for sale of a variety of ships.
Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.P O BOX 809, CAPE TOWN, 8000, SOUTH AFRICA