Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 8 October 2023

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INVITATION TO TENDER: Dock Pontoon – Pontoon Lifter

Dock Lifter SSR-1

Morska Stocznia Remontowa “Gryfia” S.A., Szczecin, Poland
announces a written invitation to tender for the sale of Set of units:
(Dock-pontoon PN – SSR –1, Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3, Pontoon Lifter SSR-1)

Dock Pontoon SSR-1
Dock Pontoon SSR-3

The subject matter of the tender procedure is the ownership right to the Set of units (Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-1, Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3, Pontoon Lifter SSR-1).

Submission of Tenders  to:

Technical description:

Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-1 – Built in 1966

– total length is 91,40 m
– external width 19,40 m
– internal width 17,00 m
– total height 9,30 m
– pontoon height 2,00 m
– load capacity 1460 tons

Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3 built in 1967

– total length is 91.40 m
– external width 19.40 m
– internal width 16.00 m
– total height 9.20 m
– pontoon height 2.60 m
– load capacity 1460 tons

Pontoon Lifter SSR-1 built in 1966

– total length is 74.00 m
– external width 27.00 m
– internal width 21.00 m
– height of the pontoon 11.00 m
– carrying capacity 1700 tons


Set of units – USD 1,100,000 (in words USD: one million one hundred thousand 00/100) net + applicable VAT.

which consists of:

Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-1 300 000 USD net + applicable VAT
Dock-pontoon PN-SSR-3 – 380 000 USD net + applicable VAT
Pontoon Lifter SSR-1       – 420 000 USD net + applicable VAT


USD 55,000.00 (in words USD: fifty-five thousand 00/100)


Submission of Tenders  to:

1. The tender will take place on 27.10.2023 at the registered office of Morska Stocznia Remontowa “Gryfia” S.A. in Szczecin, ul. Brdowska 12, 71-700 Szczecin, Poland.
2. The rules concerning the tender procedure and the qualification procedure of the tenderers, and the formal requirements concerning the tender are regulated by the “Tender Rules” available on the website of the Morska Stocznia Remontowa “Gryfia” S.A.:

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Added 3 October 2023



CMA AGM Valparaiso arriving in Durban, 21 September 2023. Picture: Keith Betts

The French container ship CMA CGM VALPARAISO (IMO 9294185) arrived in Durban on 21 September from ports in India and the Middle East Gulf region.

The 2006-built vessel, with a length of 222 metres and beam of 30m, has a deadweight of 39,333 tons and is flagged in Malta.

After 7 days and 6 hours at the Durban terminal, she departed for Port Elizabeth on 28 September, where she was at the anchorage in Algoa Bay at the time of reporting. She is due in port on 2 October.

Compare these times with her immediate previous calls.

CMA CGM Valparaiso arrived in Jebel Ali in the UAE on 31 August, departing on 2 September after a stay of just 1 day and 1 hour. Her next port of call was Mundra in India, arriving there on 5 September and departing the same day after a stay of 13 hours and 35 minutes.

From Mundra she sailed to Nhava Sheva also in India, arriving on 7 September at 14h46 and departing the following day after a call lasting 10 hours 39 minutes.

While we do not know the volume of containers worked at each port, the times are nevertheless revealing.

The container ship’s capacity is just 2,824 TEU so it is unlikely that her cargo movements could be considered excessive.

This picture is by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships


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Transnet Freight Rail CE Sizakele Mzimela resigns

Class 18E locomotives on train near Umlaas Road in KZN. Picture: Charles Baker

Africa Ports & Ships

The chief executive of Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the largest division under the Transnet umbrella, has resigned following mounting pressure from business and industry.

Chief Executive Sizakele Mzimela’s resignation will see her leave TFR at the end of October 2023.

Both the Mining Council and two of the largest business and industry chambers, the Durban Chamber of Business & Industry and its Pietermaritzburg & District equivalent, as well as organised labour, have been vocal in demanding her dismissal.

TFR, which handles about 45% of all Transnet business, has registered massive losses under Mzimela’s watch, with freight hauled by TFR trains decreasing each year in alarming fashion. In the last financial year TFR hauled 149.5 million tonnes, down from 172.7mt in the 2022 financial year and 181.1mt a year before that.

Coal exports hauled to the Richards Bay coal port dropped to record lows of below or around 50mt during her tenure at the rail freight company, during which a gross shortage of locomotives was reported and sabotage and vandalism further disrupted operations.

Russell Baatjies, acting chief executive of TFR. Picture: Northern Cape Govt

Mzimela, with no prior experience in rail transport, had been with Transnet since April 2020. Before that she had a career in aviation, including in executive positions at SAA and SA Express.

Transnet has appointed Russell Baatjies as acting TFR CE with effect from 1 November 2023, while a recruitment process for a permanent CE is underway.

Until recently, Baatjies was the Managing Executive for the Cape Corridor.

He has previously held the role of General Manager for the Iron Ore and Manganese (IOM) Business Unit at TFR, a position he held since 2017.

Under his leadership, the IOM team’s achievements include the implementation of the world’s longest production train, and the highest manganese volumes transported at 15.5 million tons.

Other previous senior roles he has held at Transnet include Regional Executive as well as Local Business Manager at Transnet Engineering.

Mr Baatjies holds a Bachelor of Science (Rail Operations) from the University of Glasgow Caledonian, and a B.Tech from Cape University of Technology.

See related report Rudderless Transnet as top executives depart

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Added 5 October 2023


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Port of East London commences its first manganese exports

Port of East London, now officially handling the export of manganese ore

Africa Ports & Ships

The Port of East London this week began loading its first cargo of export manganese ore into the holds of a bulk carrier, BBG LEADER (IMO 9704843).

The bulker entered port on Tuesday 3 October to begin loading 30,000 tonnes of ore that was railed to the port from the mines in the Northern Cape.

A total of 16 trains carrying the manganese ore have called at the port since July in making up this first shipment.

Transnet plans to export 150,000 tons of manganese from East London in the current financial year ending 31 March 2024.

One limitation facing the port is that exporting manganese requires a skip-to-ship type operation using ship’s gear, as the port lacks suitable loading apparatus for the commodity. Transnet talks of increasing this volume, currently requiring the export of 25,000 tons per month to achieve the targeted 150,000 tons, to 500,000 metric tons per year as from April 2024.

The use of East London port for the export of manganese is just one part of a wider plan to increase exports through the Eastern Cape ports. Port Elizabeth is currently the ‘official’ port for the export of the commodity. The manganese terminal at Port Elizabeth is however, to be transferred to the neighbouring port of Ngqura which will have increased capacity to handle up to 16 million tons annually.

A significant volume of manganese is also exported via the port at Saldanha, while smaller volumes are handled at the KZN port of Richards Bay and to a lesser extent, Durban.

The Namibian port at Lüderitz also handles relatively small volumes of manganese either railed or trucked in from the Northern Cape.

Manganese, which is used for the manufacture of certain steel products, and more recently in the manufacture of batteries, is found in combination when mining for iron. South Africa possesses roughly 75 per cent of the world’s known manganese reserves, which is exported to China (50 per cent) India, Japan, Ukraine and South Korea.

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Added 5 October 2023


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WHARF TALK: Linea Ignazio Messina &C. SpA   Part 1

Ignazio Messina’s Con-Ro vessel, Jolly Diamante (IMO IMO: 9578957), in Durban harbour, December 2012. The 46,635-dwt ship has since been sold to an American buyer and renamed Liberty Power. Picture by Trevor Jones

Story by Jay Gates

There was a time when South African ports were full of vessels from some of the greatest shipping companies in the world, and I do mean some of the greatest. Every developed nation was represented including companies too numerous to mention. From within Europe they came from the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, France, Belgium, Portugal and Italy. There were the great Japanese shipping companies, and those from the USA.

The periodic closure of the Suez Canal meant that South African ports also got to see those other company vessels that specialised in the scheduled runs from Europe to the Middle East, India, and the Far East. By virtue of their trade patterns these company vessels would actually have never called into any South African port had the Suez Canal remained open for business.

And yet, despite the fact that the vast majority of these companies have simply disappeared, gone under, withdrawn from shipping, been bought out, or amalgamated with others, there are still one or two of them who have still managed to weather the economic storms of the shipping world, and are still trading to South Africa to this day.

Jolly Bianco, Durban November 2005. Picture by Terry Hutson

Despite this happy fact to a depressing truth, most casual maritime observers cannot have noticed that some of these companies that have managed to cling on to their precious identities are still falling by the wayside in our time. As more and more of the Container Juggernauts look around to rid themselves of competition, these great historic companies, now considered minnows in the maritime world, are all one by one being subsumed into these Juggernauts.

Once purchased, a modicum of time is given over to allow them to work in tandem with their new parent company. However, sooner or later, their identity is stripped away, and they are forced to take on the persona of the new boss, with both funnel colour changes and renaming. For the locals, do you remember Safmarine and Unicorn Lines? Here today, gone tomorrow. There is still one of these greats sailing on a frequent scheduled service to South Africa, and Durban in particular, but mark my words, they are likely to have gone within 12 months.

Jolly Bianco, Durban November 2005. Picture by Terry Hutson

Linea Ignazio Messina &C. SpA, the great Italian Con-Ro operator, have been operating in that guise since 1921, but their history actually goes back much further than that. Way back in the late 19th Century, Guiseppe Messina set up a shipping company in Sicily, to move Sicilian wine from the small port of Ripoto, near Catania, across to the Italian mainland.

The development of the business was such that he moved it across to the Italian port of Genoa in 1921, and then handed the business, known as ‘Guiseppe Messina Tabuso’, over to his son, Ignazio Messina, who began his development of the company, trading initially to the Mediterranean ports of North Africa. In 1929 the company was renamed ‘Ignazio Messina SaS’.

Jolly Rosso, Durban October 2006. Picture by Terry Hutson

Further development of the company, including the award of the Italian Mail contract to the Italian colonies of North and East Africa, were cut short by the Second World War, where the whole fleet of Ignazio Messina was lost. Post 1945, Ignazio Messina began his fleet rebuilding programme, and reopened his old routes. By 1950, the route to East Africa had been extended all the way to South Africa, where the company continues to operate to the current day.

In 1974 the company took on their current identity when the company was renamed ‘Linea Ignazio Messina &C. SpA’. Although Ignazio Messina passed away in 1982, his sons took over the reins of the company, and in the post container years, they built up a specialised fleet not of container vessels but combined Roll-on/Roll-Off/Container vessels, known by their acronym as Con-Ro vessels. They became a frequent sight in Durban.

Jolly Verde, Durban February 2010. Picture by Terry Hutson

Towards the end of the 20th century, Linea Ignazio Messina &C. SpA operated with four large Con-Ro vessels, all purchased second hand, and named ‘Jolly Bianco’, ‘Jolly Marrone’, ‘Jolly Rosso’, and ‘Jolly Verde’. The naming tradition of all the company vessels was that they had a prefix of ‘Jolly’, which means ‘Joker’ in Italian, followed by a colour in Italian, such as Bianco (White), Marrone (Brown), Rosso (Red), Verde (Green).

Jolly Verde taking bunkers, Durban December 2006. Picture by Terry Hutson

Although rarely seen beyond Durban, which was the terminus port for the Italy to East and South Africa service, they did occasional turn up as far west as Cape Town. In March 1999, ‘Jolly Bianco’ (IMO 7931765) made one of her infrequent visits to the port. Built in 1982 by Navantia Carenas Shipyard at Puerto Real in Spain, she was 200 metres in length and had a deadweight of 27,267 tons. She was powered by a single Sulzer 7RND90M seven cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 23,452 bhp (17,249 kW), for a service speed of 19 knots.

Jolly Marrone. Picture: Ignazio Messina

For her Ro-Ro requirements ‘Jolly Bianco’ had 2,850 lane metres, and for her container requirements she had a carrying capacity of 1,600 TEU, including 150 reefer plugs. She was purchased in 1989 by Ignazio Messina &C. SpA, and operated for them until 2014, when she was sent for scrap on the beaches of India. She was purchased by a scrap dealer at Alang for US$6.17 million (ZAR119.21 million), and was beached there on 16th May 2014.

Another class of second hand Con-Ro vessels were ‘Jolly Corallo’ (Coral) and ‘Jolly Zaffiro’ (Sapphire). Company naming policy was now extending to precious stones, metals and substances. Whilst not immediately recognizable to the casual maritime observer, they were both stalwarts of the original South Africa Europe Container Service (SAECS), as they were launched as the Swedish ‘Kolsnaren’ (Jolly Zaffiro) in 1978, and ‘Elgaren’ (Jolly Corallo) in 1979. Both were regular callers to South African ports throughout the 1980s on the SAECS service.

Jolly Indaco. Picture: Ignazio Messina

They were purchased by Ignazio Messina &C. SpA in 1999, and renamed, but it took a while for them both to return to their original South African calling grounds. They were reintroduced onto the Italy to East and South Africa service in 2011, with ‘Jolly Zaffiro’ appearing back in Durban on 13th May 2011, and ‘Jolly Corallo’ arriving in Durban on 23rd June 2011. They provided 4,356 lane metres for Ro-Ro traffic, and a container carrying capacity of 1,735 TEU. Both operated for the company until 2014 when they were both sent for scrap for a block price of US$18 million (ZAR347.67 million) for both.

Jolly Zaffiro. Picture: Ignazio Messina

Back in 2002, during her time with Ignazio Messina &C. SpA, ‘Jolly Zaffiro’ was operating on a West African service, and ran aground just outside the port of Tema in Ghana, and local tugs were brought in to get her out of her predicament. Apparently, so the story goes, the local Witchdoctors, of the Sakumo Shrine in Tema, were very unhappy at this turn of events. They claimed that they were responsible for the grounding, and that they could refloat her. The Witchdoctors demanded assorted drinks, a live cow, and a quantity of money. All of this was for the pacification of the gods, naturally!

Although ignored by the salvage teams, ships agents, and onboard crew, the Witchdoctors were provided with their needs, in order to keep the peace, and the refloating ritual was performed. This included pouring libations around the vessel, exactly at midday. Despite the efforts of the tugs, ‘Jolly Zaffiro’ came free, no doubt thanks to the combined efforts of the Sakumo Shrine Witchdoctors. No mention was made of what happened to the cow, nor the money. Africa!

Jolly Rubino. Durban September 1993. Picture by Trevor Jones

Probably one of the most famous, or would that be infamous, vessels of the company was ‘Jolly Rubino’. On 11th September 2002, ‘Jolly Rubino’ had just sailed from Durban, for her return voyage to Genoa, when a serious engine room fire broke out. The fire could not be contained, and she was abandoned when 5 nautical miles south of the St. Lucia River estuary. She ran aground the next day, on the 12th September, just over 1 nautical mile northeast of the St. Lucia lighthouse, some 300 metres offshore. She broke up, and her visible remains lie there today.

Jolly Rubino, abandoned and burned out along Zululand coast, near Cape St Lucia Lighthouse September 2002 Picture: Dormac

The last class of Con-Ro vessel built for the company are known as the ‘Precious Class’ and were built in two stages, with the ‘Jolly Diamante’ (Diamond), ‘Jolly Perla’ (Pearl), ‘Jolly Cristallo’ (Crystal), and ‘Jolly Quarzo’ (Quartz), all built between 2011 and 2012. They were followed by an improved quartet between 2014 and 2015, named ‘Jolly Vanadio’ (Vanadium), ‘Jolly Palladio’ (Palladium), ‘Jolly Cobalto’ (Cobalt), and ‘Jolly Titanio’ (Titanium). They are the largest class of Con-Ro vessels in the world. A full article on ‘Jolly Titanio’ appeared in the Africa Ports & Ships edition of 14th March 2023.
End of Part 1

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Added 5 October 2023


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Unifeeder invests in four new methanol powered ships

Model of the methanol-capable container feeder for Elbdeich Reederei and Unifeeder Group. Picture: Unifeeder

Africa Ports & Ships

The Danish-based Unifeeder Group has signed a long-term time-charter agreement for two new methanol-capable container feeder ships, along with an option for an additional two similar vessels.

German-based ship owning group Elbdeich Reederei will build and manage the 1,250 TEU vessels which will be delivered in 2026.

Unifeeder, a division of DP World, operates shipping and logistics services worldwide including to Europe, Asia, the Wider India Subcontinent, Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.

However, the Group plans to deploy the new vessels on its European network, where the new vessels will give a significant contribution to lower the emissions of the network.

Chicken and egg theory

Alongside its parent company, DP World, Unifeeder has been working with partners across the industry to find solutions to the challenge of renewable-methanol supply, which needs off-take commitments to build production at the scale that the industry needs to replace conventional fossil fuels.

In parallel to the delivery of the methanol capable vessels, Unifeeder says it will continue to improve the fuel efficiency of the entire fleet deployed and increase the use of biofuels on the conventional vessels in the fleet.

“This is another significant step towards the green transformation of our fleet and our operations,” said Jesper Kristensen, Group CEO of Unifeeder Group.

“These new vessels can be deployed across our current and future networks, offering a flexible, greener solution to our customers.

“As the number of methanol-capable vessels increases in both our operations and those of our customers, my hope is that this drives an increase in innovation and production amongst methanol producers. This will then complete a virtuous circle and ensure we can operate more and more methanol capable vessels with the right colour of methanol fuels in our networks.”

Kristensen said that ultimately, the greenest fuel is the fuel that is not burned. “We strive to offer our customers solutions that support their own sustainability journeys and whilst these new vessels are part of the answer, efficient routing, securing high levels of vessel utilisation and dedicated capacity management across all of our offerings have major roles to play as well.”

The investment in these new ships will support Unifeeder Group’s ambitious decarbonisation plan. Putting its targets well above that of the industry average, Unifeeder has committed to a 25 per cent reduction of emissions by 2030, carbon neutrality by 2040 and net zero emissions by 2050.

It aims to achieve this by emphasising fuel-efficient practices, regular maintenance and refitting processes of the existing fleet and fostering a culture of learning and collaboration, sharing best practices across markets to drive effective carbon reduction strategies.

Robert Frese, Managing Director at Elbdeich Reederei, said the methanol-capable vessels are part of a suite of solutions being deployed to reduce carbon emissions in their sector. Elbdeich Reederei is happy to contribute with this project to a greener future in shipping, he said.

“We really look forward to operating these modern state-of-the-art container feeder vessels in our partnership with Unifeeder and hope other market participants will follow this example.”

The newbuilding project is the latest step in a series of efforts that have been undertaken between Unifeeder and Elbdeich Reederei to reduce emissions within the jointly-operated Unifeeder fleet.

This includes the first test of Synthetic Natural Gas as a fuel on a commercial vessel, the continuous use of biofuels and various vessel modifications made to reduce the fuel consumption of existing tonnage.

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Added 5 October 2023


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In Conversation: Nigeria’s new blue economy ministry could harness marine resources – moving the focus away from oil

Lekki, Nigeria’s newest deepwater port adjacent to Lagos

Isa Olalekan Elegbede, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg

Nigeria’s President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced a new ministerial portfolio in August: Marine and Blue Economy. This was welcome news as it renewed hope for economic development outside the oil sector. We asked marine sustainability and blue economy expert Isa Olalekan Elegbede to explain how the ministry could benefit Nigeria.

Why has Nigeria established a new ministry for the blue economy?

The blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources for economic growth. It integrates environmental, social, economic and institutional objectives into the use of marine resources. It includes a wide range of sectors and resources related to oceans, seas, coasts and waterways.

The ocean economy supports 90% of global trade and provides millions of jobs. It includes shipping, tourism and offshore energy valued at US$24 trillion.

Marine fisheries and reefs, sea grass and mangroves are worth US$6.9 trillion; trade and transport US$5.2 trillion; and coastline productivity and carbon absorption US$12.1 trillion.

Nigeria’s establishment of a Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy is a strategic move. I believe the ministry will tap the country’s rich marine resources as an element of the national economic framework.

Nigeria’s coastline stretches for 420 nautical miles and covers an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles. Its maritime interests span the Gulf of Guinea, covering roughly 574,800 square nautical miles with a 2,874 nautical mile coastline.

Marine resources can be exploited to create jobs and transform Nigeria into a leader in sustainable marine activities. It will help diversify the country’s oil-based economy as well. Norway is an example of how this has been done successfully.

What four areas should the ministry focus on?

Nigeria hopes to generate over US$1.5 trillion annually from exploiting its marine resources. To achieve this, the ministry should do the following:

  • Create an inclusive committee for effective collaboration among stakeholders and partners. The committee should include scientists, NGOs, youth and traditional communities. Indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and the relevant federal government agencies should not be left out. The committee should advance beyond the scope of the Expanded Committee on Sustainable Blue Economy in Nigeria inaugurated by the former president Muhammadu Buhari.
  • Integrate sustainability into policies and strategies. Policies should prioritise sustainable marine resource use. Strategies should focus on sustainable and ethical harvesting, trading, extraction and tourism. Blue economy personnel, unemployed youths and women should be trained. Improved programmes would foster sustainable practices and raise the sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product.
  • Sustain investment in ports, transport systems and storage facilities. The same should apply to research and technology. Aquaculture, offshore energy and marine biotechnology should be advanced to increase efficiency and sustainability. Additionally, remote coastal communities should have access to resilient and blue renewable energy sources and systems to enhance protection of coastal and ocean resources.
  • Check mismanagement. To ensure a sustainable future for all, the government should protect coastal and marine ecosystems. Mismanagement could destabilise the delicate balance of these ecosystems. This is crucial, considering the intricate relationship between the blue economy and marine habitats. Neglect puts fish resources at risk and endangers vital sectors like maritime transport, energy and fishing. Cooperation and commitment to stewardship are therefore imperative to maintaining the health and productivity of the oceans.

What benefits will Nigerians feel if these steps are taken?

Oil is a key revenue source for the country. But it has led to major environmental problems. Harnessing the blue economy could be a game changer for Nigeria.

First, it could create jobs and generate income from fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, shipping and renewable energy.

Second, a blue economy could mitigate environmental damage as it enables the restoration of marine ecosystems. Unlike oil, fisheries are renewable. Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta has experienced severe environmental harm. A shift to greener energy supplies could make a massive difference.

Third, it creates the opportunity to grow the tourism sector. Seychelles and Mauritius are examples of countries that earn foreign exchange from marine exports and tourism.

Fourth, it could help attract investment to Nigeria’s marine infrastructure, fisheries and technology.

Fifth, it could help decrease regional and social inequalities in coastal communities.

Finally, investment in the blue economy could encourage marine biology, oceanography and marine technology research. This could, in turn, lead to global innovations.

Despite competition from more experienced countries in the marine industry, the blue economy offers Nigeria significant potential. Strategic planning, global partnerships and investment can make it a reality.The Conversation

Isa Olalekan Elegbede, Lecturer, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg

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

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Added 5 October 2023


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Third bunker supplier in Algoa Bay has tanker detained

The bunker tanker Amber II. Picture: MarineTraffic / MG Klingsick

Africa Ports & Ships

A third bunker supplier operating in Algoa Bay has had their bunker tanker detained by SARS.

The tanker AMBER II was reported as having been prevented from trading in the bay. It is not immediately clear whether this is for the same reason involving five other bunker vessels operated by TFG Marine and Minerva Bunkering.

They were detained, it is understood, on the basis that marine fuel was being imported into Algoa Bay and traded directly with ships requiring bunker supplies, without the product undergoing registration and taxing.

As a result of the detentions the supply of VLSFO and MGO in Algoa Bay and the ports of Port Elizabeth and Ngqura, were shut down.

However, HFSO was reportedly available at each marine station.

Last week we reported that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) had confirmed that five bunker tankers operating in Algoa Bay outside the ports of Ngqura and Port Elizabeth, had been detained. Each of the five vessels were involved in the local bunker fuel supply chain, SARS said.

SARS said it has been engaging with the fuel industry since 2016 to encourage compliance with the legislation concerning the importation, the trading in and other operational activities of vessels engaged in the supply of fuel.

At the same time it has also been conducting investigations around compliance in fuel bunkering.

The detention of the five vessels operating out in Algoa Bay is part of this on-going investigation, SARS said, adding that the tankers were detained in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 91 of 1964.

SARS added that no decision to seize the vessels had been taken. It said SARS has no interest in “jeopardising economic growth nor of contributing to the problem of unemployment, poverty and inequality”.

You can seen last week’s report here.

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Added 5 October 2023


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South Africa has trade balance of R13.3 billion for August 2023

The reefer vessel Italia Stream departing from Durban in July with a cargo of citrus, one of the commodities that helped drive the country’s positive export flows. Picture by Trevor Jones

In the latest statistics issued by SARS, South Africa recorded a preliminary trade balance surplus of R13.3 billion in August 2023.

This surplus is attributable to exports of R181.3 billion and imports of R168.0 billion, inclusive of trade with Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia (BELN).

The year-to-date (1 January to 31 August 2023) preliminary trade balance surplus of R32.0 billion is a deterioration from the R160.5 billion trade balance surplus for the comparable period in 2022.

On a year-on-year basis, export flows for August 2023 were 4.6% higher at R181.3 billion compared to R173.3 billion recorded in August 2022, whilst import flows were 0.1% lower having decreased from R168.2 billion in August 2022 to R168.0 billion in the current period.

On a month-to-month basis, exports increased by R7.8 billion (4.5%) from R173.4 billion to R181.3 billion between July and August 2023, whereas imports increased by R10.0 billion (6.3%) from R158.0 billion to R168.0 billion over the same period.

Export flows increased in August, driven by Citrus Fruit, Chromium Ores & Concentrates, Iron Ores, Coal, Ferro-alloys, and products of Machinery & Electronic. Value of imports increased on the back of substantial increases in importation of Fertilisers, Original Equipment Components, and Passenger Vehicles.

Top 5 countries SA exported to:

China (11.7%)
Germany (8.4%)
United States (6.7%)
Mozambique (5.8%)
Japan (5.0%)

Top 5 countries SA imported from:

China (19.1%)
Germany (9.6%)
India (9.4%)
United States (8.7%)
Thailand (3.6%)

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WHARF TALK: Bangladeshi MR1 products tanker BANGLAR AGRADOOT

The MR1 products tanker Banglar Agradoot at the Cape Town tanker basin, 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

It is a fast changing maritime world where flags of convenience are at the forefront of vessel registry, as shipowners seek the best haven for their fleets, in regard to taxation, working practices, and oversight, or lack of it. The stalwarts of Panama and Liberia, now being joined by the Marshall Islands and, to a lesser extent, by those of Singapore and Hong Kong.

Then there are the ‘other’ flags of convenience that, quite frankly, should be banned due to them simply becoming the home of ‘shadow’ fleets, sanctions busters, and governments who could not give the proverbial to vessel safety, crew wellbeing, or the legalities of international law. South African ports have seen, even welcomed, a few of these vessels in recent years, and nearly all of them involved with a BRICS member of note, and all operating in dodgy trades that circumvent international sanctions.

That said, there are still a number of nations with traditional flags, and whom domestic shipowners still prefer to flag them under their home countries jurisdiction, such as Holland, Denmark, and Japan. In recent years, unlike the South African flag, which amounts to a token number of deepsea vessels, there are some other nations who are actively trying to grow their own fleets and become a respected partner in the modern maritime world.

On 24th September, at 11h00 in the morning, the MR1 products tanker BANGLAR AGRADOOT (IMO 9793868) arrived off Durban, from Port Klang in Malaysia, and went to anchor at the Umhlanga anchorage for a short period of nine hours, before proceeding into Durban harbour at 20h00 in the evening, proceeding down the Bluff Channel, and going alongside her berth at Island View 2, to begin her offload.

Banglar Agradoot, Cape Town 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat

After three days, she was ready to sail, and at 22h00 in the late evening of 26th September, ‘Banglar Agradoot’ became the latest product tanker to have a multi-port itinerary, as she departed from Durban harbour, bound for Cape Town. Arriving at the Table Bay anchorage on 30th September, at 22h00 in the late evening, she remained in the anchorage overnight, and at 08h00 in the morning of 1st October, she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the inner berth at the Tanker Basin to begin discharging.

Built in 2019 by Jiangsu New Yangzi Shipbuilding at Jingjiang in China, ‘Banglar Agradoot’ is 185 metres in length and has a deadweight of 38,919 tons. She is powered by a single Hudong MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C8.2 six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 13,357 bhp (9,960 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6EY22LW generators providing 910 kW each. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission exhaust has boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission oil fired boiler. Her design gives her a pronounced bluff bow.

Banglar Agradoot, Cape Town 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has 12 cargo tanks, and a cargo carrying capacity of 44,316 m3. She has twelve cargo pumps, one per tank, all of which are capable of pumping at 500 m3/hour. She is able to pump 7 tanks simultaneously, and ‘Banglar Agradoot’ has a loading rate of 3,500 m3/hour, and an unloading rate of 3,300 m3/hour.

This discharge rate, means that, from fully loaded, she can theoretically be fully discharged in less than 14 hours. Even with just one pump running at a time, and discharging just one tank at a time, she can be fully discharged in just over three and a half days. Sadly, not the kind of efficiency likely to be seen in any Transnet operated port.

She is the second of three sisterships, and she is owned, operated, and managed by the State owned Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC), of Dhaka in Bangladesh, and with her funnel displaying the BSC houseflag and colours. For a modern tanker, she has extensive accommodation, and can provide for a crew of up to 33, plus additional cabins provided for the owner, and for a Pilot.

Banglar Agradoot, Cape Town 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As a state owned vessel she flies the Bangladesh flag, and her port of registry is Chattogram, known formerly as Chittagong prior to 2018, and known as that to those of a certain memory vintage. As seems the norm with state owned vessels, there is a big domestic political push, back in Bangladesh, for imported fuel products, destined for Bangladesh, to be carried on Bangladeshi flagged vessels.

The Mercantile Marine Office, backed by the Ministry of Power, Energy, and Mineral Resources, had asked the state-run Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation to import fuel oil by Bangladeshi flag carrier oceangoing vessels, citing a legal obligation that stipulates transportation by a state-owned enterprise.

An anonymous spokesperson for the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation, showed some common sense, and a degree of pragmatism, when he pointed out that there are only the three oceangoing product tankers, owned by the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation. Together, they could not carry the annual requirements of Bangladesh, even if they were made available to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation on a year round basis, and it was the fuel suppliers who determined which vessels would be used to import the fuel into the country.

Banglar Agradoot, Cape Town 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

A director of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association added that if Bangladesh could import all fuel consignments by Bangladeshi flag carrier vessels, then government money would remain within the country, which would be positive for the nation’s economy. However, he said that officials should think in terms of service orientation, and discard their bureaucratic attitudes. Which is an effective way of telling government bureaucrats to stop being stupid!

In August 2021, ‘Banglar Agradoot’ was detained in the German port of Bremen, after a Port State Inspection found no fewer than 28 deficiencies during an initial inspection under the auspices of the Paris MoU. Of these deficiencies, ten were determined as serious enough to warrant detention. They covered areas of Certification, Fire Safety, ISM, Lifeboats, Crew Facilities, and Electrical Equipment. The detention lasted for four days.

Banglar Agradoot, Cape Town 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is another example of a vessel that has called into Russian ports to load products, since the start of the Ukraine War. She has recently called twice into the Russian Baltic port of Ust-Luga to load fuel products, including her previous voyage to the current one on the South African coast. Her voyage took her to Singapore, and a discharge at the Jurong Island oil terminal. She then moved across to Port Klang, to load for South Africa.

In March 2022, shortly after the Ukraine War started, and sanctions began in earnest against the Russian economy, ‘Banglar Agradoot’ sailed from Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave in the Baltic Sea, bound for discharge in Rotterdam. However, she bypassed Rotterdam, and her AIS showed she was now bound for Gibraltar. However, she also bypassed Gibraltar, with her AIS changing to a new destination, now Port Said in Egypt. She bypassed Port Said, and sailed through the Suez Canal, bound for India, which at the time accounted for 80% of Russian diesel exports.

Banglar Agradoot, Cape Town 1 October 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The home port of ‘Banglar Agradoot’ is Chattogram, which is the second largest city in Bangladesh, after the capital city of Dhaka. It is the primary port of Bangladesh. When known as Chittagong, during the Second World War, it formed part of the province of Bengal, in British India. A little known war fact about Chittagong is that it played home base to the only independent South African Naval force that operated in the Far East Campaign.

In January 1944, the 49th (South African) Motor Launch (ML) Flotilla arrived at Chittagong, after a marathon transoceanic voyage across the Indian Ocean from the Simonstown Naval Base. The 49th ML Flotilla consisted of eight, heavily armed, Fairmile B motor launches, all of which were built in South Africa, and who were part of the Arakan Forces that operated in Burma, harassing and attacking Japanese forces.

The 49th ML Flotilla was commanded by a SANDF Officer, and crewed entirely by South African naval personnel, operating under a Royal Navy command structure. No other South African military units were involved in the Burma Campaign, and the epic story of the 49th ML Flotilla was written about in an article in the Africa Ports & Ships edition of 24th January 2021.

See that article here

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In Conversation: South Africa has one of the strongest navies in Africa: its strengths and weaknesses

Ships of the SA Navy at sea

André Wessels, University of the Free State

The deaths of three members of the South African Navy (SA Navy) on 20 September 2023, when a freak wave swept them off the deck of the submarine SAS Manthatisi, has put the spotlight on the organisation and its work. André Wessels is a military historian; his latest book is A Century of South African Naval History: The South African Navy and its Predecessors 1922-2022. The Conversation Africa asked him for insights.

How big is South Africa’s navy? How does it compare?

The South African Navy has always been one of the strongest naval forces in sub-Saharan Africa.

Egypt has the strongest navy in Africa, and Algeria is the second strongest as it has been steadily building up its naval forces. The Moroccan navy is also strong, as is the Nigerian navy, which has acquired a large number of naval vessels, mostly patrol ships and smaller patrol craft.

Thanks to its submarine capabilities, the SA Navy can be regarded as one of the strongest on the continent. However, with its present ten “major” warships, the SA Navy is not in the same league as, for example, Brazil (about 100 ships), Russia (550), India (250) and China (600).

According to sources that are in the public domain, the SA Navy at the moment has three submarines, four frigates, one multi-mission inshore patrol vessel (with another to be commissioned in the near future, and a third under construction), one survey ship (with a new one under construction), one combat support ship, and a number of smaller craft (most of them in reserve). In terms of its number of warships, this is the smallest that the navy has been since the mid-1950s.

Severe financial restrictions have put its capabilities under strain. For example, it has had to curtail anti-piracy patrols (“Operation Copper”) in the Mozambique Channel due to the unavailability of ships.

SAS Queen Modjadji, off Durban. Picture: Steve McCurrach

Can it protect the country’s territorial waters?

Submarines provide South Africa with a crucial deterrent potential. And the navy can also do patrol work with its surface vessels (if they are able to go to sea). But it has a limited anti-submarine warfare capability, and is not able to project much power across long distances.

The government needs to gradually increase defence spending from the present less than 1% of GDP to at least 1.8%, which is what countries globally on average spend on defence. That will enable the navy to increase training opportunities, send more ships out to sea, and perhaps even acquire much-needed larger offshore patrol vessels.

South Africa is a maritime state, given that all its borders are on the ocean bar its northern one. The country needs a small but well-equipped navy that can defend it, underpin its diplomatic efforts, and assist other state departments in various ways.

SAS Drakensberg. Picture: SA Navy

What’s its role?

Geographically South Africa is a large peninsula on the strategic Cape sea route. Some 90% of its trade flows through its harbours. The navy must assist in ensuring the integrity of the country as an independent state, by patrolling its territorial waters and acting as a deterrent against foreign military aggression and maritime crime. Its core business is “to fight at sea”, with its official mission “to win at sea”. Its vision is

to be unchallenged at sea.

The navy can also play a role in humanitarian relief operations, search-and-rescue operations and peace support operations.

In the course of its history, the SA Navy has performed these and many other tasks. For example, in 1993 it facilitated the sending of a mobile hospital and relief supplies to Bosnia-Herzegovina, by Gift of the Givers, the disaster response NGO. The navy has also helped provide food and medical aid to countries ravaged by conflict or drought, for example when the combat support ship SAS Drakensberg took supplies to Bangladesh in 1991. The navy has also rescued the crew members of many yachts that have been caught in storms or were in need of other assistance off the South African coast and elsewhere, for example during the 2014 Cape-to-Rio Transatlantic Yacht Race.

The navy is also responsible for hydrographic survey work along the South African coast. It maps the ocean floor so that reliable charts can be drawn up, making it safe for merchant and other ships to sail along the coast and visit ports.

In addition, the navy has an important diplomatic role in sending warships (“grey diplomats”) on flag-showing visits to other countries.

But under financial constraints, the navy has been hard-pressed to fulfil its obligations. For example, it has for several years not been able to take part in flag-showing visits to other countries because of the unavailability of ships. In general, less time has also been spent at sea.

SAS Jan van Riebeeck. Durban, 1975. Picture: Trevor Jones

What is the history of the SA Navy?

The navy can trace its history back to 1 April 1922, when the SA Naval Service was established. This became the Seaward Defence Force in 1939 when the Second World War broke out, and the SA Naval Forces in 1942. It played a small but important role in the Allied war effort against Nazi Germany, patrolling the South African coastal waters. It also sent warships to the Mediterranean and Far Eastern war zones.

On 1 January 1951, the Naval Forces were renamed the SA Navy. In accordance with the Simon’s Town Agreement (1955), the navy acquired the Simon’s Town Naval Base from Britain (1957), and was strengthened by the acquisition of a number of destroyers, frigates, patrol boats and minesweepers, and later also a replenishment ship (1967) and three submarines (1970-1971).

But by then, the ruling National Party’s apartheid policy had led to South Africa’s growing international isolation. The United Nations’ mandatory arms embargo against the country (1977) had obvious detrimental consequences for the then South African Defence Force (SADF), and in particular the navy. For example, it did not receive the submarines and frigates that it had ordered from France.

In the meantime, the navy assisted the other arms of the defence force, in particular the SA Army’s Special Forces, during the Namibian war of independence, which spilled over into Angola. The navy’s submarines and strike craft, as well as other ships, assisted the South African Special Forces in operations “behind enemy lines”.

The end of this conflict in 1989, and of the freedom struggle in South Africa in 1994, led to a new dawn. On the eve of the 1994 elections the SADF was renamed the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

In due course the navy was transformed into a navy of and for all the people of South Africa. All cultural groups, as well as an increasing number of women, would henceforth be represented in the navy.The Conversation

André Wessels, Senior Professor (Emeritus) and Research Fellow, Department of History, University of the Free State

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

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Uncharted Waters: AI’s Impact on Maritime & Shipping – Dryad Global

By: Dryad Global

Out now: Navigating the Future: Opportunities of A.I. Based Solutions. Watch the full seminar from Dryad Global and Norton Rose Fulbright at London International Shipping Week.

In today’s complex global landscape, industry stalwarts are in dire need of smart tools to sift through overwhelming data, seeking clarity and direction.

This seminar filmed during London International Shipping Week 2023 delves into the fascinating realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the opportunities it presents for the maritime and shipping industry.

Featured video [1:21:37]

Hear from industry leading voices including Phil Roche from Norton Rose Fulbright, Richard Doherty, CIRM’s Executive Director, Marco Camporeale of Inmarsat Maritime and Dr Rory Hopcraft from Plymouth University, moderated by Dryad Global’s CEO Corey Ranslem.

As our world continues to grow in complexity, it becomes increasingly critical for industry players to efficiently filter through a sea of information and extract meaningful, actionable insights. The transformative potential of AI technology offers a lifeline for this challenge, opening up vast opportunities for enhancing operational efficiency and strategic decision-making.
source: Dryad Global

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Richards Bay port unaffected by NCT wood chip fire

Burning wood chip pile  and conveyor belts at Richards Bay

Africa Ports & Ships

The fire that broke out in an adjacent wood chip stockpile on Saturday 28 September 2023 and remains smoldering at present, has not disrupted port operations at Richards Bay.

That’s the word from Captain Dennis Mqadi, port manager at the Zululand port.

Mqadi confirmed that the fire had commenced at the NCT wood chip stockpiles and conveyor belts. Firefighters from uMhlathuze Municipality, and others from the port and neighbouring factory plants, attended the fire and eventually agreed to allow it to burn itself out, which they said would take days.

To ensure minimal disruptions to port operations, the port has advised all cargo owners who use trucks for cargo transportation to utilise the truck booking system.

The port and neighbouring towns have experienced large numbers of road trucks arriving for the port in recent months and now with some roads closed on account of the fire, matters could become worse unless the port’s truck booking system is made use of.

“Employees and port users remain the ports biggest priority and they have been encouraged to remain compliant to instructions or safety protocols issued by TNPA as well as local authorities,” said Capt Mqadi.

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Hapag-Lloyd welcomes Berlin Express, largest ship under German flag

Berlin Express loaded for her naming ceremony

Africa Ports & Ships

Hapag-Lloyd this week officially welcomed into its fleet the BERLIN EXPRESS (IMO 9540118), the first ship of its new Hamburg Express class.

At an event attended by some 300 guests from business and politics, Elke Büdenbender, Germany’s First Lady, performed the ceremonial christening of the 23,600-TEU ship at the Container Terminal Burchardkai (Athabaskakai) in the Port of Hamburg.

Among the guests were Peter Tschentscher, the First Mayor of Hamburg, and Daniel Günther, the Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein.

The Hamburg Express class will mark the beginning of a new era for Hapag-Lloyd and its fleet. In total, a dozen ultra-large container ships will be put into service by 2025.

Berlin Express on her sea trials

Together, these vessels will make an important contribution to Hapag-Lloyd’s efforts to operate its entire fleet in a climate-neutral manner by 2045. That will be thanks to their dual-fuel technology, whic will enable them to be able to operate using non-fossil fuels, such as bio-methane and e-methane, thereby generating much less CO2 emissions.

For the time being, liquefied natural gas (LNG) will be used, which will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 25 per cent and soot emissions by 95 per cent. In addition, advanced components – such as an optimised hull and a highly efficient propeller – will help the vessels to reduce fuel consumption and thereby greenhouse gas emissions.

“With the new Hamburg Express class, Hapag-Lloyd is at a turning point,” says Hapag-Lloyd’s CEO, Habben Jansen.

“The highly efficient ships will allow us to reduce our emissions immediately and to a very significant degree. At the same time, they are an important building block in our strategy to gradually push ahead with decarbonisation.”

Jansen said all the vessels in this class will sail under the German flag and thereby make an important contribution to strengthening Germany as a shipping hub.

The Berlin Express was built at the Hanwha Ocean shipyard in South Korea. With a length of almost 400 metres and a capacity of 23,600 TEU, she is the largest cargo ship ever to sail under German flag.

The container ships in the Hamburg Express class will exclusively operate on the cargo-intensive Far East route between Asia and Europe. Berlin Express will operate regularly on the FE3 service, which sails between Ningbo and Hamburg, via Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Hong Kong, Singapore and Rotterdam.

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AGL commences operations at Malindi’s Zanzibar Multipurpose Terminal

Malindi port. Zanzibar Multipurpose Terminal accepts first ship since AGL became involved

Africa Ports & Ships

Africa Global Logistics (AGL), a division of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), has commenced operations at its Zanzibar Multipurpose Terminal (ZMT) in the Zanzibar port of Malindi, which it also now operates.

The terminal welcomed its first commercial vessel, UAFL ATHENS to the terminal with a cargo of over 300 containers.

Under the terms of the partnership signed on 18 May 2023, ZMT, following a tendering process conducted by the Zanzibar authorities, will provide cargo handling and maritime services at the country’s main port infrastructure.

AGL has undertaken to implement an investment program for the modernization and development of the Port of Malindi. The company is planning to build an inland container depot outside the port, considered to be essential for relieving congestion at this port hub.

This agreement will provide the country with a modern infrastructure capable of handling imports and exports in line with international standards of quality, safety and security.

Aerial view of the Port of Malindi on the island of Zanzibar

ZMT has taken onboard the 400 employees of Zanzibar Port Corporation, who were already operating the Port of Malindi. The company has undertaken training and awareness-raising on quality and safety standards to ensure the full development of its employees.

ZMT intends developing a modern infrastructure capable of ensuring the smooth flow of the country’s imports and exports, in line with international standards.

According to Nahaat Mahfoud, Managing Director of Zanzibar Ports Corporation (ZPC), the new partnership reinforces ZPC’s objective of being a major logistics hub in the region. “Together with AGL, we will work to ensure that this ambition contributes to the economic and social development of our country,” he said.

The new port operated by AGL, the first of its kind in East Africa for the company, is part of its development drive to extend its services across Africa and consolidate its position in the continent.

AGL says it’s investments and expansion come with the conviction that it will contribute significantly to connecting Africa to itself and to the rest of the world. The Port of Malindi,it says, will become a benchmark port in East Africa.

MSC’s Africa Global Logistics operates with a mostly African network of 250 logistics and maritime agencies, 22 port and rail concessions, 66 dry ports and 2 river terminals

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WHARF TALK:multi-purpose carrier BBC NAPLES

The multi-purpose carrier BBC Naples, which arrived in Cape Town on 30 September from Ehoala (Fort Dauphin aka Tolagnaro) in southern Madagascar. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Multi-Purpose carriers, equipped with a variety of medium to heavylift deck cranes available, are always good to see arriving in any port. Usually, they have an interesting variety of deck project freight in full view, but occasionally, they actually arrive as any other general cargo vessel, with the contents of their cargo holds containing nothing more than a normal amount of general freight. Notwithstanding the fact that the freight being carried requires a strong deck loading, in order to be able to carry it.

On 30th September, at 08h00 in the morning, the multi-purpose carrier BBC NAPLES (IMO 9484223) arrived off Cape Town, from Ehoala in Madagascar, and entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside at D berth to begin her discharge.

It is unusual to see a general cargo vessel lying at D berth, as it is normally occupied by a reefer vessel loading Cape Fruit and Citrus. In fact, for the first time in quite a while, all berths at the Fresh produce Terminal, from D berth, and leading back through C berth, B berth, and even A berth, were all occupied by general cargo vessels, and bulk carriers, with the only reefer being held out in the anchorage to await her berth to become available.

BBC Naples at D berth, Port of Cape Town, 30 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2010 by Heshun Shipyard at Qingdao in China, ‘BBC Naples’ is 132 metres in length and has a deadweight of 9,823 tons. She is powered by a single MaK 8M32C eight cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 5,217 bhp (3,840 kW), driving a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Scania D1126M generators providing 324 kW each, and a single AGCO SISU 49-CTAG-4V emergency generator providing 94 kW. She has a single CHM ETF3-42 Economiser exhaust gas boiler, and a CHO 25-HO-04 oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a Wärtsilä FT125M bow transverse thruster.

She has a continuous deck for outsize project freight, and two holds with a cargo carrying capacity of 12,822 m3. For heavylift project freight, the lower hold tank top of ‘BBC Naples’ has a deck strength of 15 tons/m2. She has a container carrying capacity of 474 TEU, and a provision of 20 reefer plugs on the upper deck.

For her cargo carrying operation, ‘BBC Naples’ is fitted with two Liebherr electro-hydraulic cranes, both offset to the port side, which can lift 60 tons each, or 120 tons when used in tandem. The offset positioning of the cranes allows for the whole length of the upper deck to be used for outsized project freight. She also has a deck gantry crane, that is used to move, and stack, the hold covers during cargo operations.

BBC Naples at D berth, Port of Cape Town, 30 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is capable of operating almost anywhere in the world, due to the fact that ‘BBC Naples’ has an ice classification of ICE 1A, which means she is able to navigate in Baltic Sea waters with a first year ice thickness of 0.8 metres, and in Polar waters with a first year ice thickness of between 0.3 metres and 0.7 metres.

One of a class of twelve sisterships, of which five operate with a BBC prefix, ‘BBC Naples’ is owned by Dutch Verena Shipping GmbH of Haren (Ems) in Germany, where the company name is that of the original name of ‘BBC Naples’ when she first entered service. She is operated by Held Shipping GmbH, also of Haren (Ems), and whose houseflag she displays on her funnel, and is managed by Held Bereederungs GmbH, also of Haren (Ems).

Her voyage across, from Ehoala in Madagascar to Cape Town, took just under six days to complete, over a distance of 1,670 nautical miles, and at an average speed of 11.6 knots. In Cape Town, she did not discharge any project freight, as might be expected of a multi-purpose vessel with a BBC prefix, but she was discharging Steel Bars, loaded originally at Haikou in China. On completion of her discharge in Cape Town, which is still ongoing as this is being written, ‘BBC Naples’ is indicating that she will be sailing for Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, once she sails from Cape Town.

BBC Naples at D berth, Port of Cape Town, 30 September 2023, discharging steel bars. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

In 2018, ‘BBC Naples’ became the first vessel to call at the new port being built to service the Dangote Oil refinery, located in the Lekki Free Trade Zone, close to Lagos, in Nigeria. She arrived at the newly constructed Lekki Jetty, to discharge essential project freight, and material, being used in the then ongoing construction of the new Dangote Oil Refinery. The refinery had a projected capacity of 650,000 barrels per day, and was to produce petroleum, diesel, jet fuel, and polypropylene, all produced in the world’s largest single train facility.

In April 2021, ‘BBC Naples’ made newspaper headlines all over the maritime world. She was on a voyage from Rotterdam to China, when she developed engine problems during a period of bad weather in the Indian Ocean. This necessitated her diverting into the nearest port to seek shoreside engineering assistance. She headed to the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka.

On arrival in the port, the Authorities discovered that she was carrying undeclared dangerous goods in five of her onboard containers. The dangerous goods was not just any old dangerous goods, but Class 7 Radioactive Dangerous Goods. The five containers all contained quantities of Uranium Hexafluoride, which is a fuel used in Nuclear Power Stations, and all bound for an unspecified port in China.

Almost anywhere on earth it is illegal to import undeclared radioactive dangerous goods, and especially so in Sri Lanka, where the law is quite specific. For the legal eagles out there, it is as follows;

BBC Naples at D berth, Port of Cape Town, 30 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

Sri Lanka’s Atomic Energy Act No. 40, of 2014, requires the declaration of all radioactive materials. Section 50, sub-section 1, of the Act states that notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, no approval, authority, or permission, shall be granted for the export from, or import into, Sri Lanka of any controlled item, without the prior written approval of the Council. Under Section (2)(a), an approval shall be obtained on application made to the Council for the same, in such form, and on the payment of such fee, as determined by the Council. Any person who imports into, or exports from, Sri Lanka any controlled item in contravention of the provisions of subsection (1) shall commit an offence, and on conviction after summary trial before a Magistrate, be liable, in addition to any other penalty that may be imposed for committing an offence under any other law, to a fine not exceeding 500,000 rupees, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Following instructions given by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Hambantota Port Authorities immediately ordered ‘BBC Naples‘ to leave port, and she was ordered to go to anchor six miles offshore, where shoreside engineering assistance would come out to them. The Vessel Agent admitted that the non-declaration was a mistake, although the Sri Lanka authorities intended to prosecute them. The onboard maintenance issue on ‘BBC Naples’ was resolved the next day, and she continued on her voyage to China.

BBC Naples at D berth, Port of Cape Town, 30 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The use of Hambantota port, rather than Colombo, by the ‘BBC Naples’, was considered suspicious by the Sri Lankan political opposition, as the Radioactive Cargo was destined for Chinese Power Stations, and China was effectively in charge of Hambantota Port, as a Chinese State owned company, China Merchants Port Holding Company (CMPort), ran the facility.

Sri Lanka’s main opposition leader alleged that the Sri Lanka Navy had been prohibited from carrying out inspections onboard by port officials. The port of Hambantota has been central to the controversy around China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and so-called ‘debt-trap’ diplomacy by the Chinese Government.

In 2017, the government of Sri Lanka said that it was unable to service the large US$1.4 billion (ZAR26.45 billion) Chinese loan package that had paid for the construction of Hambantota port. The outcome of this was that they were forced by the Chinese Government to sell a controlling stake in the Port to CMPort, of a lease term to the Chinese, for 99 years.

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Strike at Richards Bay Coal Terminal continues

Richards Bay Coal Terminal

Africa Ports & Ships

The ongoing strike at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT) is set to continue after union members rejected the latest wage offer made by terminal management.

Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), a breakaway faction of the COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), has rejected management’s latest wage offer and intend continuing their strike, the union said.

AMCU lowered its demands to a one-year 7% basic salary increase plus a housing allowance, according to the union’s regional secretary, Bheki Sithole.

RBCT is offering a 6% annual increase for three years, which the union has rejected.

The strike which commenced in mid September, is not affecting operations, according to Mr Sithole.

RBCT has however been affected by Transnet Freight Rail’s inability to deliver all the coal that the inland mines have available for export.

From a peak of 81 million tons in 2017 (not all to RBCT) exports have sunk to averaging 50mt in recent years, a result of Transnet Freight Rail’s inability to rail sufficient volumes to the harbour terminal.

RBCT is unable to handle coal hauled in by road as it is geared for rail delivery.

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Mozambique’s ‘secret debt’ cancelled, awarded over US$ 500 million by London court

Some of the Ematum fleet of trawlers built to incur Mozambique’s ‘secret debt’

Africa Ports & Ships

by Joseph Hanlon

Mozambique today (Monday 2 October) announced a negotiated deal with the major Swiss Bank UBS. The bank took over Credit Suisse after CS collapsed under a series of corruption scandals including the Mozambique ‘secret debt’ [involving tuna trawlers and patrol boats]. This ends only part of the case about the secret [Ematum] debt in the commercial count in London.

Economy and Finance Minister Max Tonela and Deputy Attorney General Angelo Matusse told a press conference today that the negotiation in London resolves a large part of the Credit Suisse loan. They refused to give details, but we estimate that more than $500 million of the secret debt has been cancelled, which is a major victory for Mozambique.

The $2 billion secret debt was borrowed by three companies owned by the government, including the security services SISE. Initially in 2013 and 2014 $622 million was borrowed by Proindicus, $535 mn by MAM, and $800 mn by Ematum. Of the Proindicus loan, $118 mn was lent by the Russian bank VTB and the rest by Credit Suisse, which in turn syndicated some of the loans (that is, sold the loans) to investment funds.

In case of dispute, these loans are all adjudicated in the London Commercial Court, and in 2009 legal cases were brought by Mozambique, by Privinvest, and by lenders. Privinvest is the company which received all the money, allegedly for projects in Mozambique, and which is accused of bribery and over-invoicing. What is common in such proceedings in London is that the courts rule on points of law, and then the parties often negotiate a deal in secret.

One of the Ocean Eagle fast patrol boats also acquired under the Ematum ‘secret debts’ scandal. Picture HI Sutton

With accrued interest payments and penalties, the Proindicus loan is now probably around $900 million. The trial is due to start today in London, but UBS and Mozambique have removed most of the Proindicus loan from the case and announced a deal this morning. VTB and BCP (Banco Comercial Português) are not part of the deal and are continuing with the court case.

The exact deal remains secret because of the syndicated loans, but all banks and funds except BCP have accepted what is called a “haircut”. The Mozambican government has agreed to pay a small part of the syndicated loans and the banks and funds accepted a substantial loss. Thus I estimate that more than $500 mn in debt has been cancelled. Cancelling more than half the Proindicus debt seems a good deal for Mozambique.

The press conference was told that Mozambique’s legal costs so far are $80 million and will continue to rise as the trial resumes. In London Privinvest has appealed a ruling which said that as President, Filipe Nyusi cannot be called as a witness. But it seems likely that as the court case proceeds and the evidence is laid out, other deals will be done.

Republished with permission from “Mozambique News Reports and Clippings”

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Ghana acquires multipurpose environment protection vessel 

Esther Afua Ocloo was commissioned at Ghana’s Sekondi Naval Base

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The Ghana Maritime Authority has increased its efforts at protecting the marine environment, especially from oil spills, with the acquisition of a new multi-purpose vessel.

Presidential ceremony

In mid-September mv Esther Afua Ocloo was commissioned at the Sekondi Naval Base by HE President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Christened Esther Afua Ocloo, after the Ghanaian industrialist who pioneered canned foods under the brand name Nkulenu, the vessel is fitted with an advanced oil spill recovery system made up of Desmi DBD 16 combination skimmer, HARBO oil spill boom, an oil spray dispersant system capable of handling Tier 1 and 2 spills in the harbour and offshore.

It has two aerial drones for wide area surveillance to identify activities and spills in the country’s waters.

Transport Minister, Mr Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, praised the Ghana Maritime Authority for the steps taken towards protecting Ghana’s marine environment from oil spills which have grave adverse effects on marine life.

He said the acquisition and unveiling of the oil spill response vessel Esther Afua Ocloo marked a significant milestone in the country’s maritime sector.

This, he said, was because it provided a vital platform to help the Authority carry out its mandate of creating a vibrant, safe and secured maritime ecosystem for economic growth and development.

Esther Afua Ocloo, built in Singapore by renowned ship builders, Penguin Shipyard Asia Pte Ltd., has an overall length of 40.00 metres, a moulded breadth of 7.60 metres, a moulded depth of 3.65 metres with a draught of 1.89 metres. It is fitted with three Cummins KTA36-m2 engines and three Caterpillar SR4 Alternator 86eKW generators.

Given the rapid expansion of ports and offshore activities in Ghana it has become imperative for the Ghana Maritime Authority to expand its oil spill response recovery strategy to meet the growing demand.

The Authority says it has a long-term plan to increase the number of vessels and amount of equipment, and to train and equip staff to respond to Tier 1 and 2 oil spills. At the same time it will be putting in place the necessary measures to detect spills within Ghana’s maritime jurisdiction, and engage stakeholders for the purposes of creating awareness and preparedness.

President Akufo-Addo, US Ambassador Virginia Palmer and other dignitaries at the commissioning of the ships. Picture: US Embassy, Accra, Ghana

US donation

The President of Ghana also commissioned two boundary class vessels donated by the United States – the Ghana Navy Ship (GNS) Aflao and GNS Half Assini – for the Ghana Navy at the same ceremony.

The president said the country was determined to protect its territorial integrity by equipping the Navy to perform its functions.

He decried criminal activities on Ghana’s waters, noting that: “This is a significant achievement considering that the country experienced several attacks on ships, including the kidnapping of nine crew members from a Ghanaian vessel in 2021.”

World Maritime Day

In common with the world-wide maritime community Ghana celebrated World Maritime Day on 28 September to recognize arguably the most important industry on which humanity depends.

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TRADE NEWS: Port of Kapellskär has Sweden’s first suction mooring

Automooring at Sweden’s port of Kapellskär as vessel Finnsirius comes alongside

Africa Ports & Ships

Sweden’s Port of Kapellskär has welcomed the new Finnlines vessel FINNSIRIUS with brand new technology. The port now offers automooring using vacuum pads, as well as next generation onshore power connections. This makes mooring more efficient and improves the sustainability.

Mid-September was the premier of Sweden’s first automooring of a vessel using vacuum technology. The brand new Finnlines vessel, Finnsirius, which operates on the Kapellskär – Långnäs – Naantali route, now docks using vacuum pads. The pads can dock and undock the vessel in less than 30 and 15 seconds, respectively.

“Together with Finnlines, we have planned and updated Port of Kapellskär with brand new technology before the brand new Finnlines vessel arrived. Automooring using…

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

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Rudderless Transnet as top executives depart

Three car carriers at the Durban port car terminal. Picture is by Chris Hoare /

Africa Ports & Ships

by Terry Hutson

Late last week the unthinkable happened. In response to, or perhaps because of mounting fierce criticism of Transnet management, the top two executives at Transnet Group headquarters resigned (or were they pushed?) from their posts as Group chief executive and Group chief financial officer.

This was ahead of Friday when the Transnet Board was required to issue a report on the performance of the executives, assessing the Board’s opinion on their suitability for the posts.

According to Transnet, CFO Nonkululeko Dlamini had already resigned – the announcement says she had worked her 30 days notice of leaving in order to depart from Transnet on Friday, 29 September 2023.

Portia Derby, Group chief executive, will be leaving at the end of October after serving her 30 days of notice during which she will hand over to her stand-in successor, Michelle Phillips.

Michelle Phillips, acting chief executive, Transnet SOC Ltd

Phillips, the chief executive officer of Transnet Pipelines, becomes acting chief executive until a permanent CE is appointed.

Hlengiwe Makhathini, Head Of Corporate Finance at Transnet SOC Ltd, has been appointed acting Chief Financial Officer.

Michelle Phillips in her acting capacity has the advantage of having hands-on experience in the management and operation of two of Transnet’s divisions – Transnet Port Terminals where she commenced her career with Transnet and eventually headed up the port terminal division, as well as her current position of CEO of Transnet Pipelines.

This is significant, because when Derby was deployed into her top position at Transnet, she possessed no practical experience in the operation of this giant transport and logistics company.

She is described by Wiki South Africa as a South African entrepreneur and a co-founder member and chief executive officer of Ubu Investments Holdings Pty Limited. Her appointment as group chief executive of Transnet SOC came on 31 January 2020.

In view of the severe criticism that arose from Transnet’s client base, the question that automatically arises is whether she resigned of her own accord, or was asked to do so.

The criticism initially came from the mining sector in December 2022 when the Mining Council demanded her recall and replacement. This was followed in September by similar demands from the Durban Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Pietermaritzburg & Midlands Chamber of Business, as well as the Association of South African Chambers (ASAC), and from organised labour.

In a way this is important, for it has a bearing on her eventual replacement by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan. The minister now has two important decisions to make, a new CEO for Transnet and another CEO for another big state-owned company, Eskom. Both are left rudderless.

The position at Eskom remains unfilled at present.

With regards to Transnet, will Minister Gordhan and the Board be looking also at another top executive within Transnet, Transnet Freight Rail CEO Sizakele Mzimela, also identified by the industry bodies for TFR gross inefficiencies and woes.

TFR, which Mzimela heads, is Transnet’s largest division responsible for moving most of the country’s iron ore, manganese and coal to the ports for export, and which has been losing billions of rand in revenue. TFR, which accounts for 45% of Transnet revenue, is widely regarded as unreliable and the principal cause of Transnet’s financial troubles.

Traffic moved by TFR in the year ended 31 March 2023 amounted to 149.5 million tons, down from 172.7 mt a year previously. In 2021 traffic handled was 181.1 mt – a steady downward progression. It looks worse – in the year ended 31 March 2015 TFR hauled 226 million tons of freight. It’s remained a steady erosion.

In 2017 TFR hauled 81 mt of coal to the port at Richards Bay. In 2022 this was down to below 50 mt and is not expected to rise above that this current year. That in short is the situation with TFR, without even looking at the losses in container and other general freight haulage.

These problems will not go away with the departure of these top executives. They lie deep within the company, which is why industry demands for resignations included other senior managers within the overall organisation. In other words a full and proper clean out!

The minister’s response calls for an examination of the suitability of managers across the various divisions. Worrying but necessary times for those involved.

Who the minister finds to lead Transnet SOC Ltd is now the next important challenge. It must surely be someone with the requisite experience and a solid background in transport and logistics. Certainly not someone simply deployed in from another sector because he or she appears to have the right experience allied to certain political leanings.

Whether government will see this as expedient for Transnet to correct its course and return to efficiency and profitability remains to be seen. Those in in the mining, the industrial, the commercial, the agricultural and other sectors will await developments with baited breath, hoping for a wise decision.

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WHARF TALK: MR1 class product tanker ESSIEN

The MR2 products tanker Essien on her berth at the Cape Town tanker basin. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There is an MR2 product tanker currently running on a long term coastal charter around the South African coast, on behalf of one of the Oil Majors, delivering fuel products to all Southern African ports.

It had what appeared to be a name linking it to either an island of the Scottish Outer Hebrides, or was referring to a robust, hand woven, tweed textile, favoured by landed gentry for their outdoor garb. As it transpired, neither of those suppositions was correct. And now, a fleetmate with an equally unusual name has arrived on the coast. Is there a link?

On 22nd September, at 08h00 in the morning, the smaller MR1 class product tanker ESSIEN (IMO 9617454) arrived off Cape Town, from Lomé in Togo, and entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock and went alongside the outer berth of the Tanker Basin to begin her discharge.

Built in 2013 by the Jinling Shipyard at Nanjing in China, ‘Essien’ is 187 metres in length and has a deadweight of 42,190 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 5S50MC-C8 five cylinder two stroke main engine producing 11,130 bhp (8,300 kW), and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN-B&W generators, and an Alfa Laval Aalborg composite auxiliary boiler. She has twelve cargo tanks, all of which are epoxy coated, and has a cargo carrying capacity of 47,862 m3. She is able to carry three segregations at any one time.

She is one of two sisterships, both owned by the same company, with each of the sistership building costs of US$37 million (ZAR700.15 million) each. When purchased by her current owners, both sisterships were purchased for a block price of US$40 million (ZAR756.92 million) for both.

She is nominally owned by the Minsheng Qihan (Tianjin) Shipping Leasing Co. Ltd. of Tianjin in China, which by the very name identifies the company as a financial company. Her commercial owners are Stamford Shipping Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, and she is operated by Synergy Denmark AS of Copenhagen, with management of ‘Essien’ carried out by Stamford Shipmanagement Pte. Ltd., of Singapore.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her voyage originally started from Antwerp in Belgium, and ‘Essien’ had spent 20 days at the Lomé Anchorage before proceeding south on her current voyage to South Africa. A look at the Lomé Anchorage will show the casual maritime observer that this anchorage is akin to a smaller, African, version of the larger Fujairah Anchorage in the UAE.

It is an anchorage where tankers are sent by their owners to either wait for delivery orders, or loading orders. There are currently over 50 such tankers sitting at anchor off Lomé, within the very narrow stretch of territorial waters that Togo possesses, and seemingly awaiting orders. The Lomé Anchorage is geographically nicely placed, halfway between Europe and South Africa, to allow a broad reach for the shipowner, once the final destination has been determined.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her original owners, and her port of registry, and flag, were another of those few countries that do not actually possess a coastline, or have access to the oceans, rather like Luxembourg and Switzerland. Except that, in this case, the country in question did have a coastline until 1993, when it was lost to a United Nations resolution. The country in question is Ethiopia, which has to give up her access to the Red Sea to the province of Eritrea, which then declared their independence.

She was built for, and owned, by the state owned Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise, of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, with her port of registry shown as Addis Ababa. When delivered in 2013, it was the first time that the Ethiopian company had operated tankers since 2004. Nearly all of Ethiopia’s fuel supplies are sourced from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait, and discharged in Djibouti. However, they were not a great success.

The Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise then decided to get rid of the two sisterships in a novel way. They had hoped to swap them both for a single 65,000 ton Ultramax bulk carrier. But any deal they may have been close to failed. So the company then decided to utilise both vessels as static Floating Storage Offshore (FSO) tankers at Djibouti.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

They would both be moored at Djibouti, and be used to store Ethiopia’s domestic fuel requirements, and discharging the nation’s ongoing needs into the railway network that linked Djibouti with Addis Ababa, as and when needed. That venture also failed to materialize, and both vessels were then sold on to the current owners. One was renamed ‘Cech’, and the other was renamed ‘Essien’. Those two names should start to give a clue to what lies behind their owners visions, likes, and what they might be fanatics about.

The company name is a further clue, as is the corporate colours of her funnel and houseflag. The answer lies in Soccer. For those Soccer fans out there, I use the term Soccer, rather than Football, so as not to confuse our American cousins out there who think the word ‘Football’ refers to a severely corrupted American form of Rugby Football. Similarly to our Aussie cousins who have a different view of what a game of Footie entails, to any South African concept.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Stamford Bridge is the home of the Chelsea Football Club, in London. Stamford Shipping corporate colours, royal blue, are those of Chelsea Football Club. Michael Essien was a stalwart of Chelsea Football Club between 2005 and 2012. He was an international Central Midfielder who represented Ghana. Sadly, A knee injury meant that he could not be selected to play for Ghana in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and he missed the whole tournament.

When Michael Essien signed for Chelsea, for a fee of GB£24.4 million (ZAR 563.16 million), he was not only the most expensive African football signing in history, but he was also the most expensive player ever to have become a Chelsea signing. He made 168 appearances for Chelsea in his career at the club, scoring 17 goals, and was awarded 59 caps for representing Ghana.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her sistership, ‘Cech’, as most Soccer aficionados know, was named after the great Petr Čech, the Chelsea goalkeeper who made 333 appearances for the club between 2004 and 2015, and was awarded 124 caps for representing the Czech Republic.

For those wondering about the other company vessel on the South African coast, sounding like a Scottish Island, or tweed cloth, she is ‘Harris’, named after former Chelsea captain Ron Harris, and who appeared in Africa Ports & Ships, as recently as in the edition of 21st July 2023.

Essien. Cape Town, 27 September 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In Cape Town, ‘Essien’ had completed her discharge on 27th September, and at midday the same day she sailed from Cape Town. As is becoming ever more common, she was obviously on a multiple discharge port itinerary, as her AIS was set for East London, with an arrival there of 01h00 on 30th September. However, a full 24 hours after her published ETA, she was still steaming slowly towards East London. However, there was a good reason for the delayed ETA.

Presumably she was informed that another regular coastal tanker on the South African distribution network, ‘Hector N’, was still alongside discharging on the only tanker berth in the port. Thus, she was to slow steam towards East London, and then hold off the port until such time that the tanker berth became available for ‘Essien’, which would only be on the sailing of ‘Hector N’, at a time still unknown.

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Devastating fire at Richards Bay NCT Woodchip mill

YouTube video of eNCA news coverage of the fire on Sunday 1 October

A devastating fire that started around midday on Saturday 30 September is still burning on the NCT Wood Chip mill at the edge of the Richards Bay port.

The fire is thought to have possibly started along one of the conveyor belts leading from the mill to the chip stack, which is in the open. Wood chips are fed by conveyor to the ship’s side when a wood chip carrier has berthed at the finger jetty.

The temperature at Richards Bay on Saturday was reported to have reached 39 degrees with a strong wind blowing, adding to the complications facing the firefighters.

Residents in the adjacent Arboretum Extension were advised to take precautions and keep windows and doors closed as huge amounts of smoke was being generated by the fire.

On Saturday night as the fire was pushed by a strong wind in the direction of the houses, crossing a road and penetrating a greenbelt, dozens of citizens of Richards Bay arrived in support the residents by helping extinguish embers that landed on the properties and roofs of houses.

On Sunday it was reported that firefighters may have to allow the fire to burn itself out, which will take a number of days, possibly as long as a week.

Firefighters meanwhile trained their hoses not only on the burning stockpile, but also on neighbouring stockpiles in an effort of preventing them catching fire.

According to Councillor Henning de Wet of the uMhlathuze Metro (Richards Bay/Empangeni etc) NCT was planning to use fixed wing aircraft and helicopters to waterbomb the burning stockpile during Monday, in an effort at controlling the embers.

He described the fire as an enormous loss to one of the largest woodchip exporters and employers.

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Decarbonising shipping: UNCTAD calls for bold global action: Part 3

UNCTAD Review of Maritime Transport 2023

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Further study of UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2023 launched one day ahead of World Maritime Day, 28 September, reveals the organisation’s urge for swift action and system-wide collaboration to decarbonise maritime transport amid growing carbon emissions and regulatory uncertainty.

As has been reported widely before, the shipping industry accounts for over 80% of the world’s trade volume and nearly 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with emissions escalating by 20% in just a decade (see Figure 1).

Shipping emissions are rising instead of falling. Carbon dioxide emissions by main vessel types, tons, 2012-2023

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan said: “Maritime transport needs to decarbonise as soon as possible, while ensuring economic growth. Balancing environmental sustainability, regulatory compliance and economic demands is vital for a prosperous, equitable and resilient future for maritime transport.”

Rebeca Grynspan, UNCTAD secretary-general

A push for cleaner fuels; COP 28* ahead

UNCTAD, ahead of the UN climate conference (COP28) in November, advocates for a shift towards cleaner fuels in shipping, emphasising the need for an environmentally effective, procedurally fair, socially just, technologically inclusive and globally equitable transition strategy. The organisation underscores the importance of system-wide collaboration, swift regulatory interventions, and robust investments in green technologies and fleets.

While the transition to cleaner fuels is in its early stages, with nearly 99% of the global fleet still reliant on conventional fuels, the UNCTAD report cites promising developments, including 21% of vessels on order designed for alternative fuels.

Decarbonisation costs mount

However, the transition comes with substantial costs. UNCTAD reports that an additional $8 billion to $28 billion will be required annually to decarbonize ships by 2050, and even more substantial investments, ranging from $28 billion to $90 billion annually, will be needed to develop infrastructure for 100% carbon-neutral fuels by 2050.

Full decarbonisation could elevate annual fuel expenses by 70% to 100%, potentially affecting small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) that heavily rely on maritime transport.

To ensure an equitable transition, UNCTAD calls for a universal regulatory framework applicable to all ships, irrespective of their registration flags, ownership or operational areas, thereby avoiding a two-speed decarbonization process and maintaining a level playing field.

Shamika N Sirimanne, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, said: “Economic incentives, such as levies or contributions paid in relation to shipping emissions may incentivise action, can promote the competitiveness of alternative fuels and narrow the cost gap with conventional heavy fuels.”

Shifting global trade

The Review of Maritime Transport analyses the shifting global trade patterns and the impact of events like the war in Ukraine (see Figure 2), highlighting the resilience of the shipping industry while acknowledging the challenges of balancing supply and demand.

The war in Ukraine has increased shipping distances. Average distance travelled, nautical miles, 1999-2024

Driven by disruptions from the war in Ukraine, oil cargo distances reached an all-time high in 2022, and shipments of grain in 2023 have travelled further than in any year on record, as grain importing countries have been forced to seek alternative exporters such as the US and Brazil, which require long-haul shipping.

Global shipping industry remains resilient

Oil and gas trade volumes showed robust growth in 2022, while tanker freight rates saw a strong revival driven by geopolitical events. Dry bulk rates experienced volatility due to shifting demand, port congestion, geopolitical tensions and weather disruptions.

In conclusion, UNCTAD’s call for a just and equitable transition to a low- and zero-carbon future in global shipping serves as a call for system-wide commitment and regulatory action to combat the escalating environmental challenges faced by the maritime sector.

* COP28 To be held from 30 November to 12 December in UAE

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Kenya President Ruto confirms Mombasa port will not be privatised

Port of Mombasa, not for sale, but maybe terminal concessioning?

Africa Ports & Ships

Kenya’s President William Ruto has confirmed that the Port of Mombasa is not up for privatisation.

His statement refutes claims in the media, mainly expressed by opposition party leaders and others, including Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir, that the government is intending bringing in outside groups to manage and operate the port.

The claims arose around the time when a controversy arose in neighbouring Tanzania over that government’s intention of bringing in a private foreign company – DP World – to take over the management and operation of the country’s ports including Dar es Salaam.

DP World has also been mentioned in the context of Mombasa and Lamu ports.


Kenya’s President Ruto told the United Democratic Alliance’s (UDA’) National Delegates Convention being held last week in Bomas, that instead the state is seeking to expand the capacity of the port to better serve the nation as well as its neighbouring landlocked countries.

The port at Mombasa serves not only as Kenya’s main port of entry, but also the entrepôt, or transshipment centre, of inland countries such as Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Ruto said that Mombasa is best positioned to serve these countries, while boosting Kenya’s revenue stream.

No privatization

“As we promised during the 2022 General Election campaigns, the Port of Mombasa will not be privatized,” President Ruto said.

“What we are looking at is expansion so that we serve countries like Uganda, Burundi, and South Sudan.”

However, he gave hint to outside involvement by adding, “We will do this by involving the private sector so that we can increase the efficiency.”

His statement suggests that some form of concessioning, or partnering, with an outside terminal operator, is likely.

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Transnet’s private sector participation partnership with Mondi

Loading timber onto STJ timber wagons at Sevenoaks in KZN

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and Mondi South Africa, the multinational pulp, paper and packaging company, issued a joint statement late Friday confirming that a private sector participation (PSP) partnership ‘ pilot’ project was in existence between the two companies.

The partnership between Mondi, which is headquartered in Durban, and TFR requires Transnet Freight Rail to transport timber grown at Mondi’s or other inland plantations by rail to Mondi’s Richards Bay mill.

The pilot project seeks to explore sustainable rail solutions to address current TFR operational challenges.

While still exploratory by nature, the project and its outcomes and next steps are yet to be determined, the two companies stated.

It added that recent viewpoints and comments placed by a Mondi employee on social media about the project are “regrettable” and do not represent Mondi’s view.

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Egypt – Chair of the NATO Military Committee visits: Operation Sea Guardian

Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, Royal Netherlands Navy, visited Egypt on the invitation of General Mohamed Zaki, C-in-C of the Egyptian armed forces. Picture: NATO media service

Edited by Paul Ridgway

From 23 to 25 September the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, Royal Netherlands Navy, visited Egypt on the invitation of General Mohamed Zaki, Commander-in-Chief of the Egyptian armed forces, Minister of Defence and Military Production.

In Cairo, Admiral Bauer met senior political and military figures and delivered a lecture at the Nasser Higher Military Academy.

Long cooperation

Building on almost three decades of cooperation through the Mediterranean Dialogue, the visit provided an important opportunity to consider in depth the military cooperation between NATO and Egypt.

The visit began in Nasr City, Cairo, at the Memorial of the Unknown Soldier. Admiral Bauer paid a tribute to the men and women in uniform who put service before self to contribute to the peace and prosperity of their nation.

Admiral Bauer was then welcomed by General Mohamed Zaki as well as the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Osama Askar, with whom he discussed future opportunities to deepen NATO and Egypt’s military cooperation.

Egypt has been engaging with NATO through the Mediterranean Dialogue since 1995. Cooperation efforts have since then focused on areas of mutual interest, including maritime and cyber security.

Information sharing

Together with Counter IED (Improvised Explosive Devices), demining projects and cyber security, information sharing is expected to be bolstered in the new Individually Tailored Partnership Plan (ITPP) for Egypt that is currently under development. Egypt’s expertise in the security developments in the Middle East and North Africa has proven key to foster Allies’ comprehensive understanding of the region.

Another example of Egypt’s key expertise is that of anti-radicalisation and counter terrorism efforts. Admiral Bauer discussed this during his meeting with senior Ministry of Defence officials. The meeting also covered Egypt’s border security challenges and the impact of climate change on the country.

Discussing the volatile security situation in the Sahel and North Africa more broadly, Admiral Bauer noted how terrorism threatens the security of populations, forces and territory. “We need to continue to counter, deter, defend and respond to threats and challenges posed by terrorist groups,” he commented.

As part of the official visit, Admiral Bauer was briefed at the Counter-Terrorism Centre for the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD). This centre is tasked to combat terrorism, organised crime and unorganised immigration.

In January 2011, Egypt’s Cairo International Centre for Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding joined NATO’s Partnership Training and Education Centre network – the first such affiliation by a Mediterranean Dialogue state.

Operation Sea Guardian and extensive cooperation

While the Chair of the Military Committee conducted his visit in Cairo, units from NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) conducted a port visit in Alexandria. The OSG flagship HS Navarinon (Greece), ITS Margottini (Italy), ROS Regina Maria (Romania) conducted an exercise with the Egyptian Navy, the goal being to improve interoperability and share best practices with each service.

A boarding team from the Georgian Coast Guard was embarked in Navarinon. This is understood to be the first time Georgia has served with NATO MARCOM on operations as a recognised Operational Partner.

In addition, the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operational Training Centre was visiting Alexandria at the same time to conduct a maritime security workshop, for discussion and exchange of ideas. Earlier this year, Egypt hosted a field study of the NATO Defence College as well as a NATO military delegation.

Operation Sea Guardian is NATO’s maritime security operation in the Mediterranean and is presently conducting three maritime security tasks: maritime security capacity building, support to maritime situational awareness and maritime counter-terrorism.

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Mozambique’s proposed Macuse port back in the news

The proposed new deep-water port at Macuse in Mozambique’s Zambézia province is back in the news, with reports coming out of Mozambique that the would-be developer, Thai Mozambique Logística TML), already has US$500 million available to kick-start work on the port of Macuse in mid 2024.

The announcement was made in Quelimane earlier in September during a ceremony to launch the Chitima-Macuse Rail-Port Project.

Macuse and rail planned connection

The project calls for the construction of a deep-water port at Macuse and a rail logistics corridor connecting Macuse in Namacurra, in Zambézia province, to Chitima in Tete province, near the site of the Tete and Chitima coalfields.

The announcement was made by the shareholders of Thai Mozambique Logística who say they have already raised US$ 500 million to start construction.

The first phase of the proposed new port will occupy 2.4 km2 on the Macuse side and 2.9 km2 on the Supinho side.

Apart from coal, the port is expected to handle timber exports, with ships of up to 60,000 tons able to load at the new port.

Forty percent of the concession’s shareholders are Mozambican entities, including 20% from the Zambézia region.

The port at Macuse is one of several touted in recent years for Mozambique, with statements of ‘confirmed’ cargo to be hauled by rail to the coast. So far none of them have commenced construction to join the likes of Maputo, Quelimane, Beira, Nacala and Pemba.

In 2017 it was reported that the 520 km long railway from Macuse was to be extended by a further 120 kilometres to coalfields at Chitima. This was to encourage the mines at Chitima to rail coal to the Macuse port rather than than the much longer route to Nacala or to Beira.

In July the following year it was reported the proposed project had reached its final stage with a launch date set for 2019 and completion of the port and railway planned for 2022. The port would consist of a floating coal terminal off the coast at Macuse, which is a little to the north of Quelimane.

According to the newsletter, China-Lusophone Brief (CLBrief), Thai Mozambique Logistica (TML) is a subsidiary of the Ital-Thai Development of Thailand, and is being financed exclusively by Chinese capital through Beijing-based China Export & Credit Insurance Corporation (Sinosure), and banks targeting Africa.

The political risk of the investment is covered by the World Bank, via the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Contractors who signed the the construction contract are Mota Engil Mozambique and China National Complete Engineering Corporation, a subsidiary of the China Machinery Engineering Corporation. This contract was signed back in June 2017.

This ambitious project has been on the cards since 2013 when TML won the the concession but has been subject to various delays ever since.

sources: O Pais, Notícias, Joseph Hanlon News Reports, CLBrief

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Added 2 October 2023


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Air freight of dangerous goods: IATA webinar

Reported by Paul Ridgway

The International Air Transport Association (IATA ) advises that Ben Firkins, Head of Cargo Safety and Dangerous Goods at IATA, Roman Orlik, Assistant Director DGR Solutions, and Zehni Chaneva, Product Manger OSS Certifications are presenting this webinar:

Dangerous Goods Transported by Air – Market Outlook & Key Changes

Date: Tuesday, 10th October 2023; Time: 14h00 CET

To learn more or register readers are invited to see here

Across the world, the dangerous goods transportation market continues to evolve and transport volumes have continued to increase.

The aviation industry keeps a watchful eye on emerging trends and behaviors and makes periodic improvements in shipping guidelines, whilst maintaining a strong focus on aviation safety.

Imminent changes

This webinar will help provide an understanding of what is to change from 1 January 2024.

All registrants will receive the video recording and slides after the broadcast.

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Added 2 October 2023


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Xeneta Update: A turning point for the ocean freight industry? Data reveals first rise in long-term ocean freight rates in a year

container shipping

Africa Ports & Ships

After a full year of seemingly freefalling ocean freight rates, the latest market data from Oslo’s Xeneta suggests the industry may finally have reached a turning point.

According to the Xeneta Shipping Index (XSI®), which tracks real-time rates developments on a month-to-month basis, September saw an increase of 0.2% in valid, global long-term contracted rates. This follows on from 12 consecutive months of falls, which have wiped 62.2% off market prices since August 2022.

Capacity management pays off

“It’s too early to say if this is a fundamental, lasting shift,” comments Peter Sand, Chief Analyst, Xeneta. “But, despite the very small scale of the gain, it’s a significant development after such a prolonged period of decline.

Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst

The reasons behind that are complex, but a campaign of coordinated capacity management by carriers – restricting capacity on the largest trades – allied to some limited improvement in the demand picture have clearly had an impact.

“In recent weeks and months, we’ve already seen spot rates move above long-term rates on key corridors, suggesting that long-term rates would eventually follow suit and start climbing. It’s still very difficult to predict this dynamic market, especially given the rampant overcapacity, but – if carriers can continue their united, proactive capacity management – this first increase probably won’t be the last. Shippers with the flexibility to negotiate new long-term contracts now should bear that in mind.”

Cautious optimism

Sand points out that evidence of a coming change has been gathering. May’s monthly collapse of 27.5% in the global XSI® was followed by falls of 9.4% and 9.5% in June and July, decreasing to 7.8% in August. At the same time spot rates on the main Transpacific corridor have more than doubled this quarter, largely due to the aforementioned, strict capacity management.

“However,” states Sand, “the good news for carriers will be tempered by the fact that rates are still very low. In fact, the global XSI® is down 16.5% quarter-on-quarter and this will be reflected in the industry’s results for the period, especially with regard to those carriers most exposed to the long-term market. So, yes, there is cause for cautious optimism here, but I’d hardly say the industry is ‘out of the woods’ just yet.”

This point is illustrated by the XSI®‘s regional breakdown of market developments, with as many sub-indices in the red as the black.

High volume focus

In Europe, the sub-index for European imports showed a 1.8% increase from August (59.3% down year-on-year), with the export figure heading in the opposite direction and falling 2.2% for the month, reaching its lowest level since October 2021. The disparity can probably be explained, notes Sand, by the carrier strategy of focusing on high-volume fronthaul import routes, protecting these key rates by shifting capacity onto lower volume trades.

“It’s an effective tactic when trying to enhance profitability,” he remarks.

The index for Far East exports, the world’s biggest trade and therefore critical when calculating the global XSI®, put an end to 13 consecutive months of falls with a monthly gain of 1.4%. However, as with Europe – and for much the same reason – the backhaul (import) sub-index recorded a comparable loss, falling 1.5%. This benchmark is now at its lowest level since January 2021.

Timing, timing, timing

In the US both the import and export benchmarks fell, the former by 2.3% and the latter by 0.9%. These have now seen respective year-on-year declines of 65.6% and 11.9%. However, despite the on-going long-term falls Sand emphasizes that spot rates have responded to both carriers removing capacity and a pick-up in demand, with the latest available data showing that volumes from the Far East to the US West Coast rose above 900 000 TEU for the first time this year in July. However, this level is still 8.5% down year-on-year.

“Given the current developments there’s a strong imperative for all parties entering contract negotiations to keep a close eye on real-time data,” Sand concludes. “Timing is everything when securing the best deals in a market on the move. If decisions are delayed and rates growth gathers momentum there’ll be a clear price to pay over the duration of these new contracts.”

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Added 2 October 2023


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Portia Derby steps down as Transnet Group Chief Executive





Africa Ports & Ships

Statement by Transnet SOC

The following statement has been issued on Friday p.m. by Transnet SOC Ltd

Transnet SOC Ltd. (Transnet) wishes to announce that Portia Derby will be stepping down from her role as the Group Chief Executive (GCE) and as Executive Director on the Board of Directors, with effect from 31 October 2023.

The company’s Group Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director on the Board, Nonkululeko Dlamini, has also submitted her resignation. She leaves the company today after serving a month’s notice.

Ms Derby joined Transnet on 1 February 2020 and has steered the company through an extremely challenging period, following on the setting aside of the 1064 locomotive contract which has created a significant binding constraint for Transnet that remains to this day.

Furthermore, the period of the current executives’ tenure was impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, immediately thereafter the looting, the hacking of the ICT system, the floods in KwaZulu-Natal and the strike towards the end of 2022, all of which have adversely impacted Transnet.

The floods in particular required a significant capital outflow to return to service the critical Container Corridor between Johannesburg and Durban.

Ms Derby has been responsible for driving the introduction of restorative governance measures and stabilising the company following the years of State Capture.

During her tenure she worked with the team in Transnet to introduce a private partner for Transnet Port Terminals into the container terminal space, the first of its kind, including working with key stakeholders in introducing reforms, aligned with Government policy, which aim to turn the organisation around, restructure the rail sector particularly, and enable the growth of the freight logistics system.

“On behalf of the Board, I want to take this opportunity to convey to Portia and Nonkululeko our best wishes and to express our gratitude for their dedication, selflessness and hard work in serving the company during this critical time in its history”, Board Chairperson Andile Sangqu said.

Michelle Phillips, the Chief Executive of Transnet Pipelines (TPL) will be the Acting GCE from 1 November 2023, until a permanent GCE is appointed. Hlengiwe Makhathini will act as Group CFO while a permanent replacement is sought.

Ms Derby will be available until the end of the calendar year to support the acting GCE and the Board as part of the handover process.

Issued on behalf of the Board of Directors.

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Added 29 September 2023



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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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

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

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Total cargo handled by tonnes during 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
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