Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 16 November 2023

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Week commencing 13 November 2023.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.   

FIRST VIEW:   Port of Cape Town


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 FIRST VIEW:  Port of Cape Town

Port of Cape Town under the spotlight and with no clearcut solution.   


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Agaléga, India’s semi-secret Indian Ocean naval base

Agaléga island in the Indian Ocean. Map: Australian National University CartGUS Services

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

India has been quietly turning an Indian Ocean tropical island into a strategic naval outpost.

The Indian Ocean island is one of two Agaléga islands that fall under the sovereignty of Mauritius. Without fanfare India has been building a naval base in order to better extend its influence over the western side of the ocean that bears its name.

It follows an approach by India made to the Seychelles some years back, which fell through leaving India exposed in the face of a growing Chinese presence in the region. China has established a naval base at the port of Djibouti in the Gulf of Aden (GoA) , giving it a meaningful influence over the Red Sea and Gulfs of Aden and Oman.

China also maintains constant naval patrols in the north-west Indian Ocean and GoA. This it says is to safeguard Chinese merchant shipping in a potentially dangerous region.

India meanwhile has developed strong relationships with Mauritius, which lies further to the south and straddling another of the major shipping lanes.

The Agaléga islands, in between these two regions, are sparsely populated, not visited by tourists or industry and leaving the 300 or so permanent inhabitants largely dependant on coconut farming and fishing.

Before the arrival of the Indian Navy the islands possessed a jetty for fishing boats and a small airfield more for emergency purposes than anything else. In 2021 the Indians arrived and began building a 3,000-metre runway and airfield capable of taking large military aircraft, including the Boeing P-8I surveillance and other anti-submarine warfare aircraft of the Indian Armed Forces.

The P-8I was developed from the twin-engined Boeing 737-800.

The military airfield on Agaléga developed by the Indian Armed Forces.  Google Earth

Roughly 50 Indian military personnel were initially stationed on the island, which is taking on the appearance of a permanent forward base with satellite evidence showing the construction of two jetties extending from the island.

India, which sees the Indian Ocean as its own backyard, has long had concerns with any Chinese incursion into the area. India placed considerable pressure on Sri Lanka when its close neighbour allowed China to firstly develop a new deepwater seaport facility at Hambantota, and then leased it to that country for 99 years.

One of the stipulations placed by India on Sri Lanka was that no Chinese naval vessel should be allowed to use the new port. When the Chinese surveillance vessel Yang Wang 5, docked in Hambantota in August 2022, alarm bells rang in both India and the U.S. and protests were made to Sri Lankan officials.

Sri Lanka lost control of the new port through indebtedness, with a Chinese company taking over the port in lieu of debt. Sri Lanka’s situation is not unique, other nations on the surrounds of the Indian Ocean and, for that matter, those facing the South Atlantic, face similar challenges arising from China’s Belt and Road Initiative which inevitably results in heavy debts owed to China.

India, no doubt, remains strongly conscious of this and the increasing likelihood of additional Chinese presence in both oceans. The South Atlantic may not be its concern, but the Indian Ocean certainly is.

Why should China be interested in developing additional naval presences on either side of sub-Saharan Africa? From where else can it so easily to project power and influence towards both Europe, the Middle East and the Americas!


Though the Indian presence on Agaléga in no way resembles that of the well-established U.S. military presence on Diego Garcia further east (the Chagos Archipelago, an area claimed by Mauritius, it should be remembered), it is early days and facilities at the Agaléga island may well develop further in the coming few years.

The two Agaléga islands in the Indian Ocean. Picture: Wikipedia

India’s Foreign Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, hinted at this when he addressed the Council on Foreign Relations, an American think tank. “From an Indian point of view, I would say it’s very reasonable for us to try and prepare for greater Chinese presence than we have seen before,” he mentioned.

Jaishankar added that concerns were not only confined to China. “If you look at maritime threats, piracy, smuggling or terrorism, if there is no authority, no monitoring, no force out there to actually enforce the rule of the law, it’s a problem,” he said.

The strategic position of the Agaléga base is important for this dual role. North Agaléga lies close to the main sea lane for ships using the Suez Canal/Red Sea route to the Far East.

India is understood to have commenced aerial patrols not only over the wider region but also over the Mozambique Channel, in company with naval patrols by elements of the Indian Navy.

Apart from France, India appears to be the only other country to have an interest in patrolling the channel between Africa and Madagascar. Due to a lack of available ships, the South African Navy has shown itself inadequate to this task.

North Agaléga Island is small, with a length of just 12 kilometres and width of 1.5 kilometres. The few people living there occupy a little village known as Vingt Cinq, which in French means Twenty Five. This is believed to refer to 25 lashes, the regular number suffered as punishment by the former slaves marooned on the island.

At present, there appears to be no intent by the Indians or Mauritius to relocate the original inhabitants, as took place with those on the Chagos Archipelago.

Until recently, Agaléga was virtually cut off from the world, with a rudimentary jetty for the occasional fishing vessel and a small grass airfield barely fit for small aircraft. Now two new jetties extend into the sea towards deep water, suggesting that soon larger naval ships will be able to call.

As the power dynamics evolve in the Indian Ocean, the isolated island that few had ever heard of is taking on an increasing importance.

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Added 16 November 2023


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WHARF TALK: Fast Sailing Heavylift vessel – AEGIR

The impressive heavylift vessel Aegir, which arrived in Cape Town on Tuesday 14 November, preceded by the tug Umbilo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

As always, some of the most specialised offshore construction and heavy lift crane vessels, turn up at Cape Town and for the casual maritime observer, they provide the kind of ‘Wow’ factor that normal vessels rarely do. The sheer size, scale, and complexity of their design simply takes the observer’s breath away. The oil and gas industry tends to do that with the kind of vessels that service their industry, and there really is nothing else that is comparable.

On 11th November, at 17h00 in the afternoon, the Fast Sailing Heavylift vessel AEGIR (IMO 9605396) arrived off the Sea Point anchorage, which is not coming back into seasonal summer use, and went to anchor over two and a half days, mainly to wait for an improvement in the weather window which would allow a vessel of such a size to safely enter harbour. She had arrived from a bunker stop at Singapore, and prior to this she had departed from Withnell Bay, in the northwest of Western Australia.

AEGIR. Cape Town 14 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Finally, at 08h00 in the morning of 14th November ‘Aegir’ entered Cape Town harbour and entered the Duncan Dock, going alongside the outer berth of the Eastern Mole. A vessel of this size, and so obviously in support of the oil and gas industry, would only be calling, at best, to uplift bunkers, stores, and fresh provisions, and possibly undertake a crew change, and at worst she would be in Cape Town to seek shorebased engineering support.

Built in 2013 by Daewoo Shipbuilding at Geoje in South Korea, ‘Aegir’ is 211 metres in length and has a deadweight of 50,568 tons. She is a diesel electric vessel and her propulsion comes from two stern azimuth thrusters, each producing 8,720 bhp (6,500 kW) to give her a transit speed of 12 knots, and a maximum speed of 15 knots, hence the use of the description ‘Fast Sailing’ in her published technical specifications.

The power for her azimuth thrusters, and for her onboard domestic, and operational, requirements comes from no less than six HHI Himsen 16H32/40V generators producing 8,000 kW each, giving her an onboard power availability of 48,000 kW. She has a single Caterpillar 3516B emergency generator providing 1,730 kW.

AEGIR. Cape Town 14 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Not unsurprisingly, she has the highest Dynamic Positioning classification of DP3, which is provided by an additional four retractable azimuth thrusters, providing 3,200 kW each, with three thrusters located aft, and one thruster located forward. For further manoeuvrability ‘Aegir’ also has a single bow transverse thruster, providing 2,500 kW.

Although originally built as a deepwater construction and pipelay vessel, ‘Aegir’ was converted in 2020 into a heavylift vessel. Her main crane is a Huisman revolving mast crane, which was upgraded from 4,000 tons lifting capacity, to being able to lift 5,000 tons during the conversion. The crane boom is a massive 125 metres in length.

The lifting capability of the crane is shown with a capable lift of 4,000 tons at an outreach of up to 40 metres, of 1,500 tons at an outreach of 78 metres, of 750 tons at an outreach of 92 metres, and a lift of 110 tons at a maximum outreach of 123 metres from the vessel. To put that into perspective, this length is greater than the distance of an Olympic 100 metre race.

AEGIR. Cape Town 14 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Additionally, her main crane boom has a secondary hoist position, which has a lifting capacity of 2,000 tons, and a further third auxiliary hoist position that has a lifting capacity of 1,000 tons. For minor lifts, and to facilitate deck cargo movements, she has two Dreggen knuckleboom cranes, with a lifting capacity of 40 tons.

She has accommodation for up to 305 persons, and to support her offshore operations she utilises two Work Class ROV units, both housed in hangars, with one on the port side, and one on the starboard side, and with both capable of operating down to a depth of 3,500 metres. For logistic, and offshore crew change requirements, she has a raised, forward, helideck capable of operating the largest helicopter used in the offshore industry, the Sikorsky S-92A.

She was designed by Ulstein to their SOC 5000 design, of which there are two others of this class. Her building cost was US$700 million (ZAR12.76 billion). She is nominally owned by Heerema Shipping 6 BV, of Leiden in Holland, and is both operated and managed by Heerema Marine Contractors SE, also of Leiden.

AEGIR. Cape Town 14 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Shortly after being commissioned in 2013, she won the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KNVR) Shipping Award, and in 2014 she was a major nominee for the ‘Support Vessel of the Year’ award, from the Offshore Support Journal.

Her arrival in Cape Town, from Australia, was on the completion of the removal of the Nganhurra Riser Turret Mooring (RTM) from the Woodside Energy operated Enfield oil field. The field was fully decommissioned in 2018, and is located 28 nautical miles offshore from Exmouth, on the northwest shelf of Western Australia. The Enfield oil field operated continuously between 2006 and 2018, in a water depth varying from 400 metres to 600 metres, and with eight subsea production wells tied back, via the RTM, to the FPSO Nganhurra.

The FPSO was decommissioned in 2018 and towed to Labuan, in Malaysia. Woodside Energy originally planned for the RTM to be towed inshore and sunk as a deep artificial reef, off the coast in a water depth of 150 metres. The RTM is 83 metres in length, and weighs 2,500 tons. The furore this caused from the environmentalists, and the Australian green lobby, was so fierce that the idea had to be abandoned.

AEGIR. Cape Town 14 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Instead, the decision was made to have the RTM removed in its entirety, and taken to the AMC dismantling yard, located just outside Perth. The contract for removal of the RTM went to Heerema, who allocated ‘Aegir’ to complete the removal. The Nganhurra FPSO was sold by Woodside Energy, and taken on by BP Exploration, for further use. She was towed to Angola for use in Block 31, as the FPSO for BP Angola in the offshore PAJ project, which is a 10 subsea well development in the Palas, Astrea, and Juno fields.

Woodside Energy also utilised ‘Aegir’ in 2020 when she was contracted to install the 1,650 ton Water Handling module to the Pluto Alpha platform, which is located in the Carnarvon Basin, in a water depth of 85 metres, off Western Australia. The Pluto field produces natural gas, and lies some 103 nautical miles northwest from Karratha.

AEGIR. Cape Town 14 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The Pluto Alpha platform is an automatic platform, known as a normally unmanned installation (NUI), and processes natural gas from five wells, which is pumped by pipeline to an onshore treatment plant, where it is liquefied, and 100% of the gas produced is shipped by LNG tanker to Japan, for use in power stations of the Tokyo Gas Company, and Kansai Electric Company.

Prior to this, in 2020, ‘Aegir’ completed two projects in Qatar. The first was the complete installation of the 1,000 ton jacket, and 3,000 ton topside module, of the North Field Bravo platform, operated by Qatargas. The North Field is the world’s largest, single, non-associated natural gas field, and straddles the territorial waters of both Qatar and Iran, and who both share the output of the field.

The second project in Qatar was in the Al Shaheen oil field, operated by the North Oil Company. The project required ‘Aegir’ to install three platform topside modules, and two connecting bridges, at the Gallaf 1 Bravo platform. 

The Nganhurra FPSO and riser turret mooring or RTM. Picture Upstream. See account above.

The Al Shaheen field lies 44 nautical miles north of Ras Laffan, and is Qatar’s largest oil field. It lies in a depth of 60 metres, and the field consists of 33 platforms, which are connected to over 300 production wells.

Other major work undertaken by ‘Aegir’ in the past few years includes a three year project between 2019 and 2022, where she installed more than 130 base foundations, and 2 offshore substations, for the massive Greater Changhua offshore windfarm in Taiwan. The windfarm has four separate field sites, and is capable of producing 2.4 GW of electricity.

In terms of clean, renewable, wind power, and just to put the output of the Greater Changhua windfarm into perspective, 2.4 GW of continuous power is enough power to provide electricity to almost the whole of the UK’s chemical industry for one hour, or to provide a continuous domestic electricity supply to around two million homes. Eskom take note.

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Added 16 November 2023


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IMO and African SAR

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Latest developments on search and rescue (SAR) procedures, techniques and equipment have been discussed at a workshop for representatives from five regional maritime rescue coordination centres (MRCCs) in Africa.

The event in Cape Town was underway at the time of writing, it opened on 13 November and was due to last four days. Here was a chance for the countries taking part – Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa – to hear about recent changes brought about by modernization of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and about new mobile satellite services.

SAR in W, S & E Africa

The regional approach to the provision of SAR services in western, southern and eastern parts of Africa was first proposed at IMO’s Conference on Search and Rescue and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, held in Florence, Italy in 2000.

MRCCs established

It recommended the establishment of five MRCCs along the African coastline to work with 26 sub-centres on the continent and nearby island States to provide search and rescue coverage in an area of the world that had hitherto lacked an effective search and rescue and GMDSS infrastructure. These MRCCS were subsequently established, with IMO support.

Senior-level officials responsible for SAR in the five regional MRCCs updated their counterparts on the status of implementation of SAR services within their respective regions. Further activities relating to sub-regional technical cooperation addressing specific needs will follow.

Director of the South African SAR, Mr Chueu Terrence Mabuela, opened the workshop. It follows the 30th meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)/IMO Joint Working Group on Harmonization of Aeronautical and Maritime SAR, also held in Cape Town, from 6 to 10 November.

Annual Joint group meetings

The Joint group meets annually to harmonize maritime and aeronautical SAR, including developing updates to the IAMSAR Manual which contains guidelines for a common approach to the organization and provision of search and rescue services.

To read more about IMO’s work on search and rescue readers are invited to see here.

Source: IMO news service.

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Added 16 November 2023


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The Future is Now: London Gateway receives automated stacking cranes for fourth berth

London Gateway’s news automated stacking cranes being discharged from the Biglift vessel

Africa Ports & Ships

As the London Gateway terminal in the Thames estuary works towards inaugurating its fourth berth in early 2024, it has taken delivery of four new automated stacking cranes (ASCs) as a further investment in important terminal infrastructure.

DP World’s £56 million investment coincides with London Gateway’s 10th anniversary.

The new ASCs arrived in advance of the completion of the all-electric fourth berth. Once in operation they will move containers from the port yard onto lorries waiting to take the containers to consumer markets across the UK.

The all-electric fourth berth will be unique as the first such in the world.

“The arrival of the ASCs marks an exciting moment for London Gateway and DP World in the UK, as we continue to develop our unique end-to-end offering, moving goods seamlessly from the factory floor to the customer door,” said Ahsan Agha, Vice President Port Operations at DP World London Gateway.

Agha said the pressure to manage costs, maintain reliability and improve speed has never been greater.

“DP World is building a unique array of assets and suite of capabilities to help our customers stay competitive in challenging markets. This £56 million investment is further proof that we believe in the UK and have the ambition and resources to boost growth, support businesses and create jobs.”

The ASCs were manufactured in Finland by Konecranes. DP World says their arrival is just the beginning. London Gateway is awaiting delivery of 14 additional cranes to service the new berth. That’s in addition to the eight all-electric straddle carriers costing £12 million that arrived earlier this year.

London Gateway opened in November 2013 and recently handled its 11 millionth TEU. The container port is claimed as the fastest growing and most technologically advanced in the UK.

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In Conversation: Fishing down the food web: Bye-bye big fish, hello jellyfish and don’t talk about conservation

Artisanal fishing off the East African coast

[part 4]

An alien civilisation coming across our solar system would name our planet Ocean, for most of Earth is under water. Being air-breathing and living on the bits that stick out, we mostly regard the vast liquid blue that surrounds us as a beautiful but often scary “other”. Billions of us, however, rely on it for food. This is Part Four of a series about the relationship between the creatures below the sea’s surface and the people in boats who catch them. Read Part One, Part Two and Part Three

Against our technology, fish don’t stand a chance. We are using huge nets; efficient engines that allow boats to stay on the catching grounds for years; supply ships to keep them there; sonar and satellite tracking to know exactly where fish hang out; cold storage ships to keep fish refrigerated for weeks; and tens of thousands of boats in unpoliced open oceans… it’s hunting on steroids.

At that scale we’re not operating within the rhythm and cycles of nature; we’re vacuuming the ocean so fast, we’re driving down to the base of the food chain, leaving no time for stocks to recover. Species by species, catch volumes have been declining since 1996. This cannot end well.

A person who has spent much of his life tracking this process is Dr Daniel Pauly, a professor of fisheries and marine biology at the University of British Columbia. His research has revealed huge flaws in the data that global bodies use to estimate the health of the world’s oceans and has set up the world’s most reliable tracker website to prove it. He was happy to share his findings with Daily Maverick.

Don Pinnock: You work with very large data sets covering an entire planet. What are your key findings concerning the state of fish?

Daniel Pauly: I’m one of the few fishery scientists working on a global scale. Most colleagues conceive fisheries as a local affair – that kind of boat targeting this kind of fish. To understand the state of fish you have to think globally, as we do for the weather system or the financial systems.

People say that fish have no borders but that’s ridiculous, they have borders of temperature, preferred prey, etcetera. It’s the deep-water fishing fleets that don’t have borders. Chinese, South Korean, Taiwanese, Spanish, French. They go wherever fish gather, they move; you can see the clusters of vessels on the Global Fishing Watch tracker. They are the global system and they’re targeting the global south.

Don: What are they catching?

Daniel: Basically everything. China is a major player in fisheries, and also a big importer of shark fins. Shark meat is also increasingly consumed, and Brazil, for example, is importing huge quantities of shark meat. The EU, Japan, the US are big fish importers and much of it is coming from Africa, Oceania and South America. But you can’t rely on official catch reporting. South Africa’s Department of Fisheries has more information than it sends to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) database. For instance, subsistence and sports fishing are not reported. It’s a big factor.

Around 400 people from various countries worked for 12 years to establish the corrected catch amounts, which are now on our website. We found that the world catches far more fish than what’s reported. So instead of 80–90 million tonnes a year, the world catch is in fact 130–140 million tonnes a year, which is a 50% under-reporting.

Don: You mentioned that another problem was subsidies.

Daniel: Big problem! The large fleets, including those from Asia and Europe, that fish in the Global South, receive enormous government subsidies. They couldn’t cover much of their operating costs without them. If you cannot make money or break even catching the fish that are produced naturally at a given place, then you shouldn’t fish in that place. Either there’s not enough fish for natural reasons, or you’ve depleted the local fish population through overfishing. Nature itself signals that fishing is not sustainable.  

With subsidies, you can ignore this and continue operating in overfished or unproductive waters, catching whatever small population remains. Your costs, including fuel and crew expenses, are covered. So essentially, you can continue to overfish without facing the consequences, which would be financial ruin otherwise. Eventually of course you will lose your shirt, but until then you’re stripping everything.

It’s like subsidising Apple to keep producing its original Apple II computer. It’s crazy. Subsidies are not favoured by the conservation community and are opposed by nearly everyone except industry lobbyists. Unfortunately, these lobbyists hold significant power for cultural and political reasons.

Don: So the fishing industry is digging far deeper into fish stocks than they should, preventing the possibility of recovery?

Daniel: Precisely. And it uses dangerous reasoning. There are fishery scientists whom I call Vogons – you know, the bad guys in the book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – who defend the industry at all costs and they predicate their argument on profitability alone. They say fisheries are doing fine. In many cases they are, but at what cost? Apart from subsidies, having wiped out the previously abundant large fish, they’re targeting the now profitable squid, crabs, octopus and lobsters that were the food of the big fish.

We’re fishing down the food web on a journey to the bottom. In 1998, I published a paper called Fishing Down Marine Food Webs, which is my most cited paper. It was published in Science and it caused a big stink globally. But it was never accepted by the Vogons, who say the profits of fishing companies are more important than their contribution to food security. In the past, for example in the 1950s, we went after fish that were abundant, including in South Africa and not after invertebrates.

Fishing down the food web happens globally, it’s an incredibly pervasive trend. The large fish have largely gone, just check the IUCN’s Red List for confirmation. Almost all the big fish in the world are on that Red List, including sharks. What’s not there are small species like herring, sardines, anchovies and the like. Actually we’re now replacing sardines with jellyfish in Namibia, right near the bottom of the food chain.

As a matter of priority, we have to rebuild fish populations embedded within functional food webs within “no-take” marine protected areas.

Don: In a recent podcast, you were talking about so-called “trash fish”. What is that?

Daniel: In aquaculture, we farm salmon and other carnivorous fish. These fish are not vegetarian, and so they have to be fed with fishmeal or other forms of proteins. There is more protein that goes into making salmon than the salmon contains. The aquaculture sector does not produce fish. It converts fish of lower price, into pricey fish.

Along the coasts of northwest Africa – specifically Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia – 14 factories popped up over the course of eight or nine years. All these factories produce one thing, fishmeal, which they will tell you is made from trash fish. But these fish are not trash, they are mainly sardine, the staple of local communities.

Don: So what are we looking at up ahead?

Daniel: We will have oceans without big animals, a trend that’s exacerbated by global warming, which is deadly for larger fish. The reason is that warm waters contain less oxygen, and fish require more oxygen when temperatures are high. These two factors put pressure on larger fish, because they have larger bodies but relatively smaller gills. They extract oxygen through their gills, whose supply cannot keep up with the demand of their growing body.

So, you have fisheries depleting the population of larger fish at temperatures making life difficult for big fish. That’s another global squeeze.

Don: Fifty years from now?

Daniel: If we don’t solve the problem of our global greenhouse gas emissions, we’ll lose most of our fisheries – but by then that will be the least of our concerns. The bigger issue would be the collapse of our food system, which is heavily reliant on agriculture.

In the grand scheme of things, fisheries are a relatively small part of the global food supply compared to staples like wheat and rice. If we haven’t made substantial progress in curbing emissions long before 50 years from now, we’ll face extreme heat waves that will not only kill all the fish but us as well. DM

This article first appeared on Daily Maverick and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

YouTube Video [6:59]

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Mozambique’s controversial tuna company Ematum to be liquidated

At the heart of the murky deals that financially crippled an African country is the Ematum fishing fleet

Africa Ports & Ships

Ematum, which was at the heart of Mozambique’s biggest ever financial scandal, is to be liquidated in 2024.

This was announced in Maputo including plans to liquidate three other companies as part of the country’s Reform of the State Business Sector. Ematum (Mozambican Tuna Company) was at the hub of the Hidden Debts case.

Behind these reports lies the murky details of Mozambique’s secret services who were said to be responsible for setting up Ematum to take back control of Mozambique’s offshore tuna fishing industry. This included the acquisition of a large number of patrol boats for this purpose.

The former director of the Mozambican secret services, Gregório Leão, who faced charges in the Hidden Debts case held in Maputo, told the court that the Mozambican Tuna Company was established for the purposes of gathering information on suspicious activities on the Mozambican coast.

“Ematum was for tuna fishing and also to provide us with information through intelligence work on what was happening at sea,” Leão said.

Among those who were arrested, was the son of Mozambique’s ex-president Armando Guebuza, who faced charges of blackmail, embezzlement and money laundering.

Readers with long memories may recall the details in Africa Ports & Ships of how the Mozambican security agency and others became involved in the setting up of the tuna fishing company and the acquisition of a fleet of tuna fishing vessels in addition to eight high-speed patrol vessels, including several Ocean Eagle craft.

Also involved were two other newly established state-owned companies, Proindicus and MAM, which between 2013 and 2014 took on US$D 2.2 billion in debt.

Mozambique’s then finance minister, Manuel Chang, approved state guarantees on loans obtained from the banks Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB but without obtaining parliament’s consent or knowledge.

Chang has since been extradited from South Africa to the United States to face charges on currency matters related to this case. Chang was passing through SA when arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport at the request of the Americans.

The contract for the vessels went to the shipping group Privinvest, a Lebanese company with shipyards in France, the UAE (Abu Dhabi), Greece, UK and Germany. Privinvest has denied any wrongdoing.

Eight of the patrol boats which remained unused on the wharfside for several years

US$ 500 million unaccounted for

A subsequent audit found that $500 million could not be accounted for.

The illegal deal all but crippled the Mozambican economy. The Government of Mozambique found itself to be the guarantor of the loans, meaning that, as a sovereign debt, the state would repay them if things went wrong.

In 2016, the government exchanged some of the debt into a conventional bond, issued by the state. It was then that Mozambique admitted the full scale of the borrowing, triggering an economic crisis in Mozambique.

Mozambique’s currency lost a third of its value, inflation surged and foreign donors pulled out.

Meanwhile, the craft numbering between 20 and 30 had arrived in Maputo, where they lay unused and seemingly unwanted on the wharfside for a number of years. Since then they have received little use although some if not all of the patrol boats have been taken into service.

At least one, believed to have been one of the Ocean Eagle craft, was badly damaged in the terrorist attack on Palma in Cabo Delgado province in 2021.

London Commercial Court

A report in Lusa this week stated that in the case underway in the London Commercial Court and involving the Credit Suisse bank and shipping company Privinvest, an agreement has been reached between the parties.

This says they have reached “a global solution to all present and future disputes between them relating to state-guaranteed financing transactions in Mozambique. The parties are satisfied that they have resolved this long-standing dispute arising from events that occurred a decade ago.”

The report says Credit Suisse, now owned by the UBS Bank, can stop participating in the trial, “as it had already concluded an agreement with the Mozambican government that resulted in the forgiveness of around $450 million (€422 million) to the African country.

“Credit Suisse would still be financially liable to Privinvest if it were proven that the shipping group had bribed the three former bank employees, Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh and Detelina Subeva, who are also no longer taking part in the trial.”

The Lusa report says Mozambique is demanding $3.1 billion to cover costs and other financial commitments, but Privinvest denies having committed any irregularities, claiming that the payments made to the people in question were investments, payments for services and contributions to political campaigns.

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WHARF TALK: SA Port Statistics for October 2023


By Africa Ports & Ships

Port statistics for the month of October 2023, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

The statistics here reflect port cargo throughputs, ships berthed and auto and container volumes handled together with bulk and dry bulk volumes.

Motor vehicles are measured in vehicle units as well as included in tonnage on the basis of 1 tonne per unit.

Containers are counted in TEUs, with each TEU representing 13.5 tonnes.

The Port of Port Elizabeth, one of two ports in the Nelson Mandela (Algoa) Bay


Figures for the respective ports during October 2023 are:

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

PORT October 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.539
Durban 5.981
Saldanha Bay 4.304
Cape Town 1.099
Port Elizabeth 1.261
Ngqura 1.164
Mossel Bay 0.112
East London 0.216
Total all ports 20.675 million tonnes

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

PORT October 2023 TEUs
Durban 183,537
Cape Town 53,920
Port Elizabeth 10,237
Ngqura 42,983
East London 4,708
Richards Bay 5
Total all ports 295,390 TEU

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

PORT October 2023 CEUs
Durban 37,659
Cape Town 2
Port Elizabeth 17,511
East London 10,855
Richards Bay 36
Total all ports 66,063 vehicles

SHIP CALLS for October 2023

PORT October 2023 vessels gross tons
Durban 215 7,125,663
Cape Town 108 2,745,528
Richards Bay 85 3,578,506
Port Elizabeth 53 1,744,007
Saldanha Bay 35 2,194,371
Ngqura 37 1,695,322
East London 23 839,854
Mossel Bay 18 173,434
Total ship calls 574 20,096,655
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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Added 15 November 2023


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WHARF TALK: floating university – WORLD ODYSSEY

The floating university cum passenger cruise ship, World Odyssey, enters port at Cape Town. 13 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The 2023-2024 Passenger Cruise Liner season opened up a fortnight ago, with great fanfare, when the first of the season arrivals, ‘Vasco da Gama’ arrived in Cape Town at 06h00 on 2nd November. She stayed alongside for over 60 hours, until 20h00 on 4th November, and then sailed for Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay and Durban. She is now en route for Ehoala in Madagascar.

Her arrival, despite being quite early in the season, was keenly expected, and then the next scheduled arrival was awaited, towards the end of the month. Except, that one turned up that wasn’t originally scheduled to be here at all. In any case, she is technically not a passenger vessel, at least not at this time of the year, despite having around 600 ‘passengers’ on board.

On 13th November, at 08h00 in the morning, the passenger liner WORLD ODYSSEY (IMO 9141807) arrived off Cape Town harbour, from Las Palmas, and surprisingly, and almost unheard of, for an arriving passenger liner, she was directed to wait out in the Table Bay anchorage. Her voyage from Las Palmas had covered a distance of 4,464 nautical miles, and had taken her 12 days at an average speed of 11.7 knots.

World Odyssey. Cape Town, 13 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite the head scratching of why Cape Town TNPA were not quite ready for the arrival of a passenger liner, the stay of ‘World Odyssey’ in the anchorage was a short one of just an hour, and at 10h00 she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, going alongside the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E Berth.

Built in 1998 by Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) at Kiel in Germany, at a cost of US$125 million (ZAR2.34 billion), ‘World Odyssey’ is 175 metres in length and has a deadweight of 3,460 tons. She is powered by two MaK 8M32 eight cylinder, four stroke, main engines producing 16,750 bhp (12,320 kW) driving two controllable pitch propellers for maximum service speed of 20 knots. For added manoeuvrability she has a bow transverse thruster providing 1,000 kW.

She was built for the German cruise company, Peter Deilmann Reederei, and named ‘Deutschland’, under the ownership of Schiffahrtsges MS Deutschland GmbH, of Hamburg. In 2015 she was sold to Absolute Nevada LLC , of Las Vegas in the US State of Nevada for US$21 million (ZAR392.92 million), for conversion into a floating university.

Her operators were to be the Institute for Shipboard Education, of Fort Collins in the US State of Colorado. The Institute for Shipboard Education runs the ‘Semester At Sea’ (SAS) programme, under the Academic Sponsorship of the Colorado State University. She is managed by Cruise Management International Incorporated, of Miami in the US State of Florida.

World Odyssey. Cape Town, 13 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Running an unusual ‘two identities’ annual cruise programme, ‘World Odyssey’ runs two floating university semesters every year, between September and April. She is then transferred to German cruise and travel company, Phoenix Reisen, and renamed ‘Deutschland’ for the remainder of the year, and conducts a normal itinerary of passenger cruises through the Northern Hemisphere summer cruise season.

So it was not technically correct to say her arrival in Cape Town was that of a passenger liner, as ‘World Odyssey’ is currently operating as a floating educational establishment. However, she was not even scheduled to be here at all. Her Fall 2023 Semester cruise, with a duration of 104 days, was originally scheduled to leave Amsterdam on 9th September, with a cruise through the Mediterranean, then down through Suez and the Red Sea, to Jordan, then Oman, India and through the Far East, ending in Tokyo, Japan, on 22nd December.

However, instead on 9th September ‘World Odyssey’ itinerary changed and she departed from Antwerp in Belgium, with calls at Malaga- Malta- Barcelona- Athens, but then reversed out of the Mediterranean Sea, heading back to Gibraltar, then to Las Palmas, and thence to Cape Town. She will remain in Cape Town until 18th November, when she will sail at 18h00, bound for Port Louis in Mauritius, and onwards to Penang (Malaysia)- Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), and finally Bangkok (Thailand), where she is due to arrive on the 22nd December.

World Odyssey. Cape Town, 13 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

However, her Spring 2024 Semester starts on 5th January, and she will retrace her steps from Bangkok, to Penang- Cochin (India)- Mombasa- Port Louis, and then arriving back in Cape Town at 08h00 on 4th March 2024, for another five day stay, and sailing on 9th March at 20h00 for Tema and Takoradi in Ghana, Tangier (Morocco)- Oporto (Portugal), ending at Bremerhaven in Germany on 20th April, where she will undergo a refit to get her ready to start her summer cruising season for Phoenix Reisen.

She has 10 decks, with 288 cabins located on five of those decks. For cruising as ‘Deutschland’ she carries a crew of 290, and 520 passengers. As ‘World Odyssey’ she operates with a crew of 150, and carries around 600 students, plus a lecturer faculty. Semester at Sea have a lecturer faculty numbering around 140 staff members, who man the vessel for the two annual semesters. The staff are multinational academics of all persuasions, although as academic sponsors, many of them are current lecturers at the Colorado State University.

Her onboard facilities include 9 lecture classrooms, a library, a Student Union, 2 dining halls, 3 snack bars, a grill and a wellness centre. Her IT requirements include wireless connectivity throughout the vessel, with an onboard intranet to enable full access of academic files and assignments. There is satellite internet connection, but this is not capable of handling the amount of traffic that a university campus requires, and its use remains limited.

MS Explorer. Cape Town.  Picture: Semester at Sea

Lectures and full time education continues 7 days a week when ‘World Odyssey’ is at sea, but in port this changes to onshore fieldwork, social activities, and tourism. The onboard curriculum includes a diverse range of subjects, which includes Tourism, Engineering, Earth Sciences, Marine Sciences, Social Sciences, Languages, Humanities, Health Studies, Global Studies, Art, Music, Drama, Media Studies, Business and Economics, History, Ecology and Sociology.

Out of study hours, mainly in the evenings, there are plenty of extra curriculum activities on offer throughout ‘World Odyssey’. These include sports, exercise, games, music groups, dance groups, theatre groups, and language groups. There are also self-help and support groups for spiritual and religious needs, LGBTQIA+ needs, Muslim students, Asian students, students of colour, coffee club, plus fraternity and sorority clubs. There are also organisational meetings for a Sea Council, a model UN, Environmental Club, and the International Student Association.

In 2000, 100 passengers and 9 crew died when an Air France Concorde crashed shortly after take-off from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The aircraft had been chartered to take the passengers to New York, where they were all to join ‘Deutschland’ for a 14 day cruise, ending at Manta in Ecuador. Sadly, the crash also brought an end to all Concorde services worldwide.

In May 2010, whilst alongside in the Norwegian port of Eidfjord, ‘Deutschland’ had an engine room fire, that necessitated the complete evacuation of 608 persons from the vessel. The cruise was cancelled, and she was towed back to the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg for repairs. The repairs took 30 days to complete, and cost her owners US$2.14 million (ZAR40.02 million), resulting in the cancellation of a further 3 cruises.

Universe. 1992. Picture: Wikipedia

In March 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, ‘World Odyssey’ was on her Spring Semester 2020 cruise in the Indian Ocean. She headed for the Seychelles, where she was refused entry into Victoria, and then headed to Mauritius. On arrival in Port Louis, she was permitted to take on bunkers, but not to land any of her students or crew. She was then instructed to sail directly for Cape Town, where she arrived on 12th March. After clearing the Cape Town Port Health Covid testing requirements, all of her students were required to disembark between 14th and 26th March, in order to be flown home.

She then sailed, with crew only to Las Palmas, where she entered quarantine for a month, and where some of her crew were repatriated. She then sailed to Caen in France, where she arrived on 7th May 2020, and where her remaining 54 crew were then quarantined, and confined onboard, and where the vessel remained for the duration of the first period of lockdown.

On her Semester at Sea cruises, ‘World Odyssey’ carries both undergraduate students, postgraduate students, gap year students, mature students, and adult learners. On 19th January this year, whilst 230 nautical miles off Mumbai in India, a 65 year old learner suffered an eye injury, with a retinal detachment, and required immediate evacuation to receive specialist treatment at an eye hospital.

Universe. Cape own 2001. Picture by Paul Liebherdt

As ‘World Odyssey’ was too far offshore to affect a helicopter evacuation, the Indian Coast Guard despatched their fast patrol boat ‘C439’, with an onboard medical team, to rendezvous with ‘World Odyssey’. The affected passenger was picked up and successfully transferred ashore into the care of surgeons at the Global Hospital in Mumbai for treatment.

Despite her use as a floating university, ‘World Odyssey’ was originally fitted out to mirror the 1920s Art-Deco style of the German liner ‘Columbus’ of the famous Norddeutscher Lloyd line. In her present guise, she is the 6th vessel to operate under the Semester at Sea banner, whose first foray into floating universities began back in 1963.

In 1971 Semester at Sea went into partnership with C.Y. Tung, and his Seawise Foundation operation. Sadly, C.Y. Tung lost his original floating university before it has even begun operating, namely his aptly named ‘Seawise University’, or more better known as the former Cunard liner ‘RMS Queen Elizabeth’. In her place C.Y. Tung procured the ‘SS Universe Campus’, which in 1975 was shortened to just ‘SS Universe’, flying his famous Orient Overseas Line plum blossom on her funnel. She made a number of visits to Cape Town, and remained in service with Semester at Sea until 1995.

Universe Explorer. Cape Town, 2001. Picture by Brian McMorrow

She was replaced in 1995 by ‘SS Universe Explorer’, who also made a number of calls at Cape Town, including an unexpected one in 2001 after the infamous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Towers in New York. At the time ‘SS Universe Explorer’ was about to enter the Indian Ocean on a Semester Cruise, heading for the Red Sea, and a transit of the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. Due to the perceived risks to the onboard students, especially the American students, the US State Department requested that ‘SS Universe Explorer’ be rerouted around the Cape, resulting in her unexpected call at Cape Town.

She served until 2004, when Semester at Sea introduced the modern ‘MS Explorer’. She too made a few calls into Cape Town, including one where she was berthed at Jetty No.2 in the V&A, and a perfect place for her student body to sample Cape Town. The last visit of ‘MS Explorer’ had her exiled into the Duncan Dock, under the idiotic rules of the day, still extant today unless you are Chinese, and she was berthed at D berth, invisible to all Capetonians. She served until 2015, and the introduction of ‘World Odyssey’.

Despite previous visits to Cape Town in November 2017, and in March 2018, and knowing that she is due to return to Cape Town in March 2024 on her Spring Semester 2024 cruise, the current published Semester at Sea programme for ‘World Odyssey’ also shows that her Spring Semester 2025 cruise will feature a further call at Cape Town, again around March 2025.

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Added 15 November 2023


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Beira fishing port losing vessels due to high fuel prices


Beira’s modernised fishing port

Africa Ports & Ships

High fuel prices have halved the number of fishing vessels making use of the Port of Beira fishing harbour.

In a report in the Portuguese-language newspaper, Notícias, the Director of the Beira Fishing Port, António Remédio, said that the port’s fishing terminal is operating at 50% of its installed capacity.

He indicated the Pier 1 in fishing port is capable of accommodating 16 vessels but only receives between five and ten a day.

Section of Beira’s fishing port

Two additional piers in the port are capable of handling up to 100 vessels, he said, but do not see anything like this number.

A number of fishing operators have departed Beira on account of the high fuel prices, he said.

“When fuel prices skyrocket, movement drops significantly,” Remédio said. Fuel supplies have been reduced by around 33% and water by 58%, also forcing fishing vessel operators to leave the scene.

The director said that one company, which he did not name, operates with a fleet of 30 vessels but this year was using only 19 boats. Others had stopped fishing entirely instead of filling their quotas until 15 November when the season ends.

He said one vessel owner has not operated at all this year.

The port has recorded a loss of 33% from local semi-industrial fishing and a loss of 60% from the handling of imported fish.

“Throughout this year we only received three vessels [from Namibia]. Around three thousand tons were unloaded at the Port of Beira, compared to eight thousand in the same period last year.” sources: Notícias, MZNews

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Added 15 November 2013


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CMA CGM reshuffles service between Asia and South & West Africa

CMA CGM Valparaiso. Durban. January 2022. Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

Calling it a revamp of its Asia West Africa & South Africa services, CMA CGM has advised updates for its WAX, WAX3, ASAF and SHAKA services.

These updates should be read in conjunction with those announced yesterday by Maersk and MSC – see our report lower down this week’s list of news.

CMA CGM says the revamp fits its services to terminal operational capacities while offering reliable schedules and efficient connections.

“With an enhanced fleet of 14,000 TEU nominal, our WAX service will now be dedicated to Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Our WAX3 service will keep on serving Togo and Nigeria. Cape Town will be served by SHAKA service in transshipment via Port Louis.”

The three tailored services dedicated to West Africa, WAX, WAX3, ASAF, will provide direct connections from North, Centre and South China to West Africa’s major markets of Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire & Cameroon.

“A better frequency and improved transit times to South Range on the ASAF service, and a unique and competitive solution to address the South Africa market via the SHAKA service.

Service rotations will be as follows:

WAX service

WAX will be offered in 91 days with 13 vessels of 14,000 TEU nominal.

Rotation: Xiamen – Qingdao – Gwangyang – Shanghai – Ningbo – Shekou – Nansha – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Tema – Lekki – Abidjan – Pointe Noire – Colombo – Singapore – Xiamen

WAX3 service

WAX3 will be offered in 70 days with 10 vessels of 4,500 TEU nominal.

Rotation: Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Lome – Apapa – Onne – Cotonou – Singapore

ASAF service

ASAF will be offered in 84 days with 12 vessels of 8,500 TEU nominal.

Rotation: Qingdao – Shanghai – Ningbo – Nansha – Tanjung Pelepas – Singapore – Pointe Noire – Kribi – Luanda – Walvis Bay – Singapore- Qingdao

SHAKA 2 service

SHAKA 2 will be offered in 63 days with 9 vessels of 9,300 TEU nominal.

Rotation: Shanghai – Ningbo – Shekou – Tanjung Pelepas – Port Louis – Durban – Port Louis – Tanjung Pelepas – Shanghai

Port Louis – Cape Town – Port Louis by feeder

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Added 15 November 2023


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Nigerian ports shut by strike action

Nigerian ports on strike

Africa Ports & Ships

Nigerian ports have been forced to close as a result of strike action called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

As a result ports and terminals including those in Apapa Port, Tin Can Island (both in Lagos), Lekki, Onne including West Africa Container Terminal), and other Nigerian ports, have ceased operations as from Tuesday 14 November until midnight on Tuesday.

The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) said the strike, in compliance with the nationwide action called by the NLC, is affecting all commercial activities within the ports.

Nigerian Ports Authority gates remain closed with a police presence observed at Apapa and Tin Can Island.

The strike action called by the NLC is believed to on account of claimed encroachments of the rights of workers plus the abduction and assault on the NLC president, Joe Ajaero and other union officials.

Also at issue is the claimed refusal of government to implement agreements, non-payment of backlog of salaries, pensions, discriminatory payment of salaries and non-compliance to national minimum wage.

A note to Africa Ports & Ships from West Africa Container Services (WACT), which is operated by APM Terminals, said their gates would remain temporarily closed.

Öur operations will resume as soon as the strike is over. Our online products and services will be available for booking, payments, track and trace as well as online help functions.”

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Added 14 November 2023


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Maersk delinks South Africa from FEW service over port congestion

Container surcharges and port omissions

Africa Ports & Ships

Congestion at South Africa’s container ports has resulted in the unthinkable – South Africa has been delinked from Maersk Line’s Asia – Africa FEW service and replaced with a feeder service from Port Louis in Mauritius.

In a sweeping set of changes to its FEW (Far East-West Africa) services, the port of Cape Town will no longer feature. Instead, ships of the affected FEW service will drop Cape Town cargo at Port Louis to be feedered to Cape Town on a new ‘Cape Town Express’ service.

Maersk says the updated FEW services will deliver better connectivity, more reliability and quicker transit times.

The changes take place from the first week of December.

Maersk and MSC, the two largest container carriers, which dominate the South African container business, recently announced they were adding a congestion surcharge to import and export containers, save those to and from East and West Africa.

The MSC congestion surcharge is rated at USD 210 per TEU for dry cargo, as from 3 December.

While not alleviating the ongoing delays at the ports, the two lines believe the surcharge measure will help absorb some of the additional expenses arising from the delays.

The port delays, which see container and other ships riding at anchor or drifting outside port (Durban has had over 70 ships outside on recent days), must be costing the respective shipping companies dearly. The only real surprise is that it has taken them so long to start responding with congestion surcharges and the diversion of ships away from the ports.

Referring to the Africa services, Maersk says “we are witnessing rapid growth in the African markets where not only is the higher consumption creating a more robust demand for goods, but it reflects resilience of African economy.”

Commencing from the first week of December, FEW2, FEW3, and FEW6 will have updated rotations. In addition to these, Cape Town Express, a new feeder service, will be introduced and be connected to the updated SAFARI service.

“The new and updated ocean services have been designed with customers’ requirements in mind: seamless and reliable connection between the Far East and West Africa while delivering more comprehensive coverage and shorter transit times,” said Maersk.

“South Africa, which is facing congestion, will get connected on a dedicated feeder service via Port Louis and be delinked from the FEW service in order to improve reliability and transit time.”

Maersk Line updates on Far East-Africa services are:

Updated FEW2 Service

Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Lome – Apapa – Onne – Cotonou – Singapore

The updated FEW2 service will provide seamless and fast connections to and from the Far East via Tanjung Pelepas to African ports, with a clear focus on the Nigerian market.

Updated FEW3 Service

Qingdao – Kwangyang – Shanghai – Ningbo – Shekou – Nansha – Singapore – Tanjung Pelepas – Tema – Lekki – Abidjan – Pointe Noire – Colombo – Singapore – Xiamen – Qingdao

The present FEW1 service will be discontinued. Coverage will be transferred to the FEW3 service, which will be upgraded to accommodate the former FEW1 requirements. The new and upgraded FEW3 service will connect all major ports in West Africa with all key ports in Asia.

Updated FEW6 Service

Qingdao – Shanghai – Ningbo – Nansha – Tanjung Pelepas – Singapore – Pointe Noire – Kribi – Luanda – Walvis Bay – Singapore – Qingdao

The updated FEW6 service will focus on the main South West African ports with a new call at Kribi. A significant change to this service will be the delinking of Cape Town coverage to enable quicker transit times of up to seven days between the South West African ports and Asian ports.

New Cape Town Express

Port Louis – Cape Town – Port Louis

With the removal of Cape Town from the FEW6, a brand-new service, the Cape Town Express, will be launched. The new service caters for consistent cargo movement between Port Louis and Cape Town. In Port Louis, there will be connectivity from and to Asia using the Safari service.

Updated SAFARI service

Shanghai – Ningbo – Shekou – Tanjung Pelepas – Port Louis – Durban – Port Louis – Tanjung Pelepas

The Safari service will add a Port Louis northbound coverage, providing a direct connection for the Cape Town exports, including reefers, to the Asian market using a combination of Cape Town Express and the Safari service.

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WHARF TALK: chemical tanker – GTM GERMANY

The chemical tanker GTM Germany which arrived in Cape Town on 3 November 2023, Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

It cannot be lost on any casual maritime observer that, due to the closure of three of the Oil Refineries in South Africa, there has been a virtual train of fuel Product Tankers arriving in Southern African ports over the past three years. Sometimes what the casual maritime observer might miss, is that not every arriving small tanker is likely to be a Products Tanker.

What one forgets about oil refineries is that there is always a petrochemical industry associated with it, and not everything that is produced from a refinery is necessarily a fuel product. The lack of chemical feedstock coming out of refineries means that a lot of base chemicals, that are used in the manufacture of other essential chemicals, have to be imported, but by Chemical Tankers, for the South African chemical industry to both thrive, and survive.

These Chemical Tankers have been specially designed and built to carry chemicals, in all of their forms, and are, often, quite different in size and outline to Product Tankers. That said, not every cargo arriving in a Chemical Tanker is going to be described as a chemical. This is because many of these arrivals are actually carrying vegetable oils, either for majority use in the manufacture of biodiesel, or as part of the production of foodstuffs.

On 3rd November, at 08h00 in the morning, the Chemical Tanker GTM GERMANY (IMO 9405320) arrived off Cape Town from Reunion Island, and immediately entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and going alongside the inner berth at the Tanker Basin. However, as she was riding high on arrival, it was not obvious that she had actually arrived to discharge anything at all, but rather was yet another vessel calling, in transit, to uplift bunkers, stores and fresh produce, whilst en route to somewhere else.

GTM Germany. Cape Town, 3 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2008 by Yildirim Shipyard at Istanbul in Turkey, ‘GTM Germany’ is 130 metres in length and has a deadweight of 11,796 tons, placing her in the Handy tanker size bracket. She is powered by a single MaK 9M32C nine cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 6,035 bhp (4,500 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 13 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6N18AL generators providing 550 kW each. She has two S-Man FV2000 exhaust gas boilers. For added manoeuvrability she has a bow transverse thruster providing 500 kW. Her ice classification is ICE 1C, which allows her to navigate in Baltic Sea first year ice thickness of 0.4 metres. Her design to operate in icy, or polar, waters is also indicated by the fact that for a small vessel, ‘GTM Germany’ has an enclosed bow to keep the docking, or anchor, party protected from adverse weather conditions.

She has 14 cargo tanks, which includes 2 deck cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 13,625 m3. All of the tanks of ‘GTM Germany’ are coated with marineline, and she has 14 Hamworthy deepwell cargo pumps, each being capable of pumping at 300 m3/hour. She is able to carry a full 16 segregations of cargo, with a different chemical product carried in each tank, and has a loading and discharge rate of 900 m3/hour.

GTM Germany. Cape Town, 3 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Nominally owned by GTM Germany BV, or Dordrecht in Holland, ‘GTM Germany’ is both owned and managed by South End Tanker Management BV, also of Dordrecht. She is chartered by Uni Tankers AS, of Middelfart in Denmark. An interesting anti-piracy measure taken on the vessel is that all porthole windows on the lower decks have external burglar bars fitted, and every aft entrance to the accommodation spaces is blocked by full height security grills.

Her voyage to Reunion began in Sete, a port located on the Mediterranean coast of France. There, it is thought that she loaded a cargo of Rapeseed Biodiesel. As well as being used as an essential component of biodiesel, Rapeseed is also the second largest source of protein meal in the world, used mainly as cattlefeed, as well as being the third largest source of vegetable oil in the world. Rapeseed Oil, when used as a food and cooking component, is also known, and sold, as Canola Oil.

It was the second of two identical voyages for ‘GTM Germany’ of carrying this cargo from Sète to Reunion. Sète is the location of the export terminal of Saipol SAS, who are France’s biggest exporter of Rapeseed. The port processes over 600,000 tons of Rapeseed per year, of which 300,000 tons is converted into Oilseed Cake, and 250,000 tons is converted into biodiesel and vegetable oil. For those who are unsure of what Rapeseed looks like, a drive through the farmlands of the Western Cape in Spring time will take you through hectare, upon hectare, of a blindingly yellow flowering crop. This is what Rapeseed looks like.

GTM Germany. Cape Town, 3 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’  Note the ship’s unusual deck cover on the bows

Her stopover in Cape Town was looking more like a bunker stop, as just nine hours later, she was ready to sail. At 17h00 on 3rd November, ‘GTM Germany’ sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS indicating that her next destination was to be Port of Spain, the capital city of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad and Tobago was also a destination of ‘GTM Germany’ as recently as June of this year. It is unknown what chemical product cargo she is expected to load once she arrives there.

Although Trinidad and Tobago is better known for the export of oil and gas, plus natural pitch, it is interesting to note that these are not her two most important export commodities. Instead, these fall to Ammonia, which is the number one export, and accounts for 20% of the national exports of Trinidad and Tobago. As a liquid product, it is ideally suited for shipping in a chemical tanker such as ‘GTM Germany’.

The product of Acyclic Alcohols, is the second highest export commodity, which accounts for 18% of exports of Trinidad and Tobago. This again is perfectly suited for shipping in a chemical tanker such as ‘GTM Germany’. In 2021, taken together, these two commodities were worth US$1.58 billion (ZAR29.63 billion) to the economy of Trinidad and Tobago.

Over the course of her career, she has also made many voyages to Canada, and up the Saint Laurence Seaway, to the Great Lakes region. On three occasions, the voyages of ‘GTM Germany’ did not go entirely to plan, with two separate mechanical breakdowns, and one voyage where she received a fine for speeding.

GTM Germany. Cape Town, 3 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In February 2019, ‘GTM Germany’ was disabled on Lake Saint-Pierre, whilst proceeding down the Saint Lawrence Seaway in Quebec. Her seawater intakes, used for engine cooling, became choked with ice in position 46°15’ North 072°42’ West, causing her main engine to overheat and fail. She anchored to overcome the blockage, and eventually she got underway, proceeding to Trois-Rivieres for engine repairs. At the time, ‘GTM Germany’ was on a voyage from Pointe aux Trembles, in Quebec, bound for New Haven, in the US State of Connecticut.

Later that year, in August 2019, ‘GTM Germany’ was fined a modest US$4,350 (ZAR81,554) by the Canadian Ministry of Transport. The fine was imposed for ‘GTM Germany’ being found guilty of non-compliance with a temporary, but mandatory, speed restriction on the Saint Laurence Seaway.

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, had stated that whilst compliance with the protection measures on the Seaway remained high, there were still a few exceptions, such as that of ‘GTM Germany’, which at the time was embarking on a transatlantic voyage from Montreal, en route to the port of Lavera, on the Mediterranean coast of France.

Finally, in August 2022, again when transiting through Lake Saint Pierre, and passing Yamachiche, ‘GTM Germany ‘ lost propulsion whilst on her voyage downriver, en route to Saint Rose, located on the Mississippi River, in the US State of Louisiana. She went to anchor, and her Engineers were able to locate the problem, and rectify it, allowing her to proceed on her voyage down the Saint Lawrence Seaway, and out into the North Atlantic Ocean, bound for the Gulf of Mexico.

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Added 14 November 2023


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IMO team in South Africa to conduct a mandatory audit under the IMO Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS)

IMO audit team in South Africa

Africa Ports & Ships

Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has officially welcomed the International Maritime Organisation audit team who are in the country to conduct a mandatory audit under the IMO’s Member State Audit Scheme (IMSAS).

Speaking at Monday’s opening meeting in Cape Town, the Minister described the gathering as a milestone as the country forges ahead with upholding international standards and compliance in maritime operations.

South Africa has been a member of the International Maritime Organisation since 1995.

Participation in the IMO, enables the country to contribute to the development of international maritime policies and standards, mainly related to maritime safety, pollution prevention and the welfare of seafarers.

South Africa also benefits from IMO initiatives that support capacity building, technical assistance and development in the maritime sector.

The IMO’s audit scheme has created a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and implemented. It also promotes a safe and secure environment and efficient and sustainable shipping.

During this audit, the minister said key areas will be scrutinised, ranging from ship safety and security to environmental protection measures.

“South Africa’s focus is on fostering compliance with the international maritime conventions and how it meets those obligations, ensuring that our practices align with global standards set by [the] IMO,” she said.


South Africa has since reviewed the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy, while some key pieces of legislation are under review and will soon be enacted.

Sindisiwe Chikunga, Transport Minister

These include the Merchant Shipping Act, the Marine Pollution Bill and the Oil Pollution Preparedness Response and Cooperation Bill.

According to Chikunga, the legislative process is critical to giving full effect to the convention by accelerating adoption, incorporation into national laws, and development of regulations to mainstream implementation and enforcement of IMO instruments in South African territorial waters.


The audit will begin with preparatory work by all entities with the mandate on maritime policy, legislation and operations.

“A pre-audit questionnaire and an exercise were completed to collect and verify documents and all that is left is for the auditors to satisfy themselves on the audit requirements and completeness of South Africa’s compliance to international rules and standards,” the minister said.

This will be followed by a preliminary audit outcome report, expected to be submitted at the end of the week-long undertaking.

The team will audit the Department of Transport and its implementing agency and the maritime administration, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).

They will also assess the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre supported by Telkom on radio communications, Transnet National Ports Authority, the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment, the South African Weather Services and the South African Navy Hydrography Office.

“Together, we can ensure that the outcomes of this audit catalyse positive change as we strive towards excellence,” she said.

The minister said in her view compliance is not merely a regulatory obligation.

“It is a commitment to the wellbeing of our oceans, the safety of our seafarers, and the sustainability of maritime trade, crucial to the export-driven economy of South Africa.

“By working together, we strengthen our capacity to address challenges and promote a culture of safety and continuous improvement.”

Feedback, she said, will assist in the regulatory process of the IMO to help make measurable improvements in the effectiveness of the international regulatory framework for shipping.

“I cannot over-emphasise the importance of this audit, a window of reflection of our work as a maritime nation, quality assurance and continuous standards improvement for safe and secure and environmentally sound South Africa’s plus or minus 3,000 kilometres of diverse coastline.”

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Rwanda’s new Port Rubavu set to open in December

The emerging new Lake Kivu port of Rubavu, on the northern side of the lake

Africa Ports & Ships

Rwanda in Central Africa may be landlocked in terms of the ocean but it retains something of a maritime background in the sense that transport on and across the lakes plays an important part in the country’s logistics, as it does with neighbouring DRC.

Rwanda itself is known for its many lakes within and along its border, the largest being Lake Kivu, with the eastern DRC on the opposte side.

Lake Kivu is connected with Lake Tanganyika to its south by the Ruzizi River. The lake is Africa’s 8th largest, measuring 42km from north to south and 50km at its widest.

Lake Kivu, with Rubavu situated between Gisenyi and Goma

Maximum depth is 475m (1,558ft) with a mean depth of 220m (722ft).

The port of Rubavu will not be found on too many maps of the country, not yet at least, but is situated on the northern end of the lake not far from the Rwandan town of Gisenyi, with the DRC city of Goma also nearby across the border of the two countries.

Once completed and opened next month the port is expected to attract tourism and cross-border trade. A provisional date for the official opening has been set for 30 November with the first vessel conducting business from 1 December 2023, but this may be delayed by a few days or weeks.

The port, built on two hectares, will be able to accommodate two vessels simultaneously, each vessel or ferry of 60 metres along the new quayside, which is supported by a small warehouse and other facilities. A slipway for use by lake ferries is planned.

It is not completely a ‘new’ port as a smaller harbour has been in existance but was unable to accommodate larger-type lake vessels that operate on the lake.

The port is divided in two sections, one for working cargo and the other for passengers with terminals for both. Passenger numbers of up to 1.4 million per annum can be handled.

The two-storey passenger terminal has a restaurant, main administration offices, a police station, restrooms, and security chackpoints.

The cargo terminal has parking and loading facilities for trucks, a warehouse for storage of goods, a petrol station and staff accommodation.

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In Conversation: Africa-US trade: AGOA deal expires in 2025 – an expert unpacks what it’s achieved in 23 years

AGOA states

David Luke
, London School of Economics and Political Science

African governments are seeking an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) beyond 2025. The law was enacted in 2000 to “encourage increased trade and investment between the United States and sub-Saharan Africa”. We asked David Luke, who specialises in African trade policy and trade negotiations, what benefits Agoa has brought for qualifying African countries and how it can be improved.

To what extent has the Agoa goal been achieved?

The duty- and quota-free access to the US market granted by Agoa has helped in boosting trade and investment between sub-Saharan Africa and the US. Many of the qualifying African countries have recorded specific successes in goods exported under Agoa to the US. These include textiles and apparel from Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Lesotho, Ghana and Madagascar. In Kenya, for instance, the apparel-dominated Agoa sales have grown from US$55 million in 2001 to US$603 million in 2022, accounting for 67.6% of the country’s total exports to the US.

South Africa has sub-Saharan Africa’s most diversified export list. The value of its automotive sales to the US has increased by 447.3% between 2001 and 2022 under Agoa. South Africa’s vehicle exports to the US increased by 1,643.6% in the first year of Agoa, from 853 units in 2000 to 14,873 units in 2001.

Other country specific successes include Ghana where non-oil products like plant roots, textiles and travel goods are accessing the US market under Agoa. Ghana’s exports to the US grew from US$206 million in 2000 to US$2.76 bilion in 2022, though only 26% of this trade was under Agoa.

The Agoa window has also lifted chocolate and basket-weaving materials from Mauritius; buckwheat, travel goods and musical instruments from Mali (suspended in 2022); Mozambique’s sugar, nuts and tobacco; and Togo’s wheat, legumes and fruit juices.

Perhaps Ethiopia, which was suspended from Agoa in January 2022, best exemplifies the impact of the trade window on Africa’s industrialisation.

According to the World Bank, Ethiopia has attracted the world’s attention with its ambitious industrialisation plans, particularly through its industrial parks. The industrial parks, which mainly produce textiles and garments, have thrived on the duty-free and quota-free access to the US market.

In less than a decade, Ethiopia’s industrial parks created 90,000 direct jobs, predominantly for women aged 18 to 25 years. Employment of this group is typically associated with a range of positive societal and economic spillovers.

Ethiopia’s exports to the US increased from US$29 million to US$525 million in 2020, 45.3% of it under Agoa. Textile and garment exports that up to 2014 accounted for just 10% of the trade grew steadily to 69% over the period.

The industrial parks attracted 66 foreign firms investing about US$740 million since 2014/15, with Agoa as the major driver of the sector’s investment and growth of its jobs and export earnings.

What’s been the impact of Agoa on Africa’s exports?

Between 2017 and 2020, the US became the third largest destination for Africa’s industrial products after the European Union and intra-African trade. Agoa is part of the reason for this. That means Agoa has stimulated significant value addition in the region, traditionally known for exporting unprocessed items.

The positive impact on value chains explains why African countries such as Kenya, Lesotho and Mauritius have put so much diplomatic capital, and on occasion lobbying funding, into articulating a continuing case for Agoa’s renewal.

The African countries have exploited the window to sell their manufactured goods to the US. This is the kind of trade that really matters for Africa’s goal of economic transformation through “manufacturing, industrialisation and value addition”.

By comparison, during the 2017-2020 period, 87% of Africa’s exports to China were fuels, ores and metals.

What kind of agreement are the US and Kenya negotiating?

The US and Kenya are not negotiating a bilateral free trade area agreement as is commonly misunderstood. What they are negotiating is a strategic trade and investment partnership which cannot be described as a free trade agreement as it does not include new market access arrangements.

The main goal of the partnership is to increase investment and to promote inclusive economic growth. It is meant to benefit workers, consumers and businesses (including small ones). Its other aim is to support African regional economic integration.

Given the prevailing global economic disparities, if African countries are to develop, they need trade concessions like Agoa, not bilateral reciprocal free trade agreements.

How can Agoa be made more beneficial to sub-Saharan Africa?

First, Agoa must be extended for at least 20 years. This will ensure predictability of the market access concession and boost confidence among investors of a sufficient time frame to recoup investments. Second, north African countries ought to be included in Agoa. This will extend Agoa to all African countries and support the trade integration of the continent through the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Thirdly, Agoa should stop punishing investors for mistakes of governments. It is unfortunate that countries that fail to meet the Agoa eligibility requirements, which include governance and human rights standards, are suspended from the scheme. This penalises private firms that invest and trade and the people who are dependent on these firms for jobs. But the US is not likely to change the eligibility requirements.The Conversation

David Luke, Professor in practice and strategic director at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, London School of Economics and Political Science

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

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Remembrance Day, London 12/11/23

Members of the Armed Forces joined the Royal Family, the Prime Minister, and thousands of veterans at the Cenotaph, Sunday, today for the National Service of Remembrance. Picture: Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2023

Reported by Paul Ridgway

Members of the Armed Forces joined the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and thousands of veterans at the Cenotaph on Sunday (12 November) for the National Service of Remembrance.

More than 800 Armed Forces personnel took part in the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in central London.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, who attended the service at the Cenotaph, said: “As the nation comes together to remember all those who died serving their country, we remember with gratitude the sacrifices of the entire Armed Forces community and thank all those in uniform who protect our country and its way of life.”

The Chief of the Defence Staff and the service chiefs of the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force laid a wreath on behalf of the Armed Forces.

Part of the Royal Navy contingent march down Whitehall. Picture: Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2023

Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin said in advance of the day: “At the Cenotaph, around the country and on operations overseas, members of the Armed Forces will pause to remember all those who have died in service of their country. The legacy of the fallen lives on in the dedication and duty of today’s Armed Forces.”

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery fired a minute gun from Horse Guards Parade at 11h00 to begin the Two Minute Silence. A bugler from The Royal Marines Band Service performed The Last Post.

Throughout the service, music was provided by The Massed Bands of the Household Division.

Following the service, trumpeters of the Royal Air Force sounded the Rouse before the massed bands performed the national anthem.

This year, Remembrance Sunday ends a year of anniversaries including the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice Agreement, the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic and the 20th anniversary of the start of British military operations in Iraq.

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Cargo owners to bear the brunt of Transnet terminal failures

Cape Town Container Terminal, operating at a reported slow rate of 10 containers an hour

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet and Maersk are reported to be jointly developing vacant land at Transnet Park, Cape Town, which will used to improve rail services and volume between the Belcon Precinct and the Port of Cape Town.

The planned Belcon facility, which will be operated by Maersk, will provide warehousing, cold storage, reefer capacity and container depots.

The news that Maersk will operate the facility will be welcomed as a tangible step towards private sector participation in the Cape Town port operations, although still far removed from the point of bringing private enterprise into the actual port operation.

Cape Town handling 10 container moves an hour – SAAFF

In the past week Mike Walwyn, Director of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) and Chairman of the Cape Town Port Liaison Forum, disclosed in an interview with John Maytham on Cape Talk radio, the shocking news that the Cape Town port was handling an average of just 10 container moves an hour.

Walwyn said an acceptable number of container moves per hour was 25.

There had been talk by Transnet of improving the ailing ports, he said, but no action is visible.

Labour issues and broken equipment

The problems faced at Cape Town are blamed on labour issues and lack of suitable or working equipment, familiar stories to those with long memories.

In Cape Town it is said there was an average of 15 rubber tyre gantries (RTGs) available for use at the container terminal between June to September this year. A year ago Transnet claimed to have an average of 19 RTGs at work on average, so the position has worsened considerably.

Why the troubled Cape Town Container Terminal was left out of the recent approach by Transnet for private sector involvement remains something of a mystery. Only Durban’s DCT 2 and Ngqura Container terminal were ‘placed on the market’.

Given the importance of the annual fruit exports via Cape Town, most of which are carried in reefer containers, only adds to the surprise.

No suitable interest was shown for a partnership in running the Ngqura Container Terminal, but Philippine company ICTSI was selected to partner with Transnet Port Terminals and manage and operate the Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2, with effect 1 April 2024.

Durban Container Terminal, Pier 2, facing a new dual management in 2024

Congestion surcharges

The two largest container ship operators, MSC and Maersk, who handle the large majority of container moves in South Africa’s ports, have independently announced a container surcharge that will be imposed on boxes arriving in South Africa as from 3 December 2023.

A number of the container shipping companies have taken to avoiding making calls at the Cape Town port, owing to the delays being experienced. This mainly affects southbound calls from Europe, with containers being taken on to Ngqura or Durban.

The containers are then transshipped via feeder vessels to Cape Town, or carried on company ships making the northbound return voyage to Europe.

These vessels are frequently delayed outside Cape Town waiting for a suitable berth, further exacerbating the delays faced by the cargo owners.

This situation is hardly helped though by lengthy delays occurring at Durban, which at times even exceed those of Cape Town. In recent weeks it has been normal for up to 20 or more container ships to be at anchor or drifting outside the port of Durban, alongside another 50 or 60 ships in the anchorage.

That’s on top of a further 30 plus ships within the port.

We need to be reminded that the World Bank has for several years running placed the South African container ports among the slowest in the world for moving ships into and out of the respective terminals. This evaluation is made purely on the time each vessel spends at a terminal working cargo.

In general, the South African container terminals operate at worse levels than so-called ‘third world’ ports. The real surprise is that it has taken this long for shipping companies to decide that their patience has been exhausted and surcharges will now apply.

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Challenge Prospect II, the MR2 tanker  that arrived in Cape Town on 6 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There are times when the casual maritime observer spots a vessel arriving in port, but his, or her, thoughts turn to something completely different, to thoughts about something from the past, of a memory of seeing a vessel from a time that is now long gone, and a time when ships really did look like ships, and the shipping companies of the day were considered immortal. All it takes to transport the observer back in time is a funnel, but specifically a funnel colour.

Back on 24th October, at 18h00 in the evening, the MR2 products tanker CHALLENGE PROSPECT II (IMO 9788605) arrived off Durban, and was sent to anchor. Her time in the anchorage was short, for just five hours later she entered Durban harbour just before midnight, and proceeded down the Bluff channel to the Island View oil terminal, where she went alongside IV8 to begin her discharge.

After a three and a half day period of discharging her fuel products at Island View, she was ready to depart, and at 10h00 in the morning of 28th October, ‘Challenge Prospect II’ sailed from Durban, bound for her second discharge port along the coast, Cape Town. After a three day passage around the Cape, she arrived off Cape Town at 11h00 in the morning of 31st October.

Challenge Prospect II, Cape Town 6 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was sent to the Table Bay anchorage to await her berth. Unlike at Durban, her wait was not for five hours, but for more than five days. In fact, it was for six days, to be exact. Finally, on 6th November at 08h00 in the morning, ‘Challenge Prospect II’ entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the inner berth at the Tanker Basin.

A relatively new vessel, ‘Challenge Prospect II’ was built in 2020 by Onomichi Dockyard at Hiroshima in Japan. She is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,995 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsui MAN-B&W 6S50ME-B9.5 six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 12,236 bhp (9,125 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 750 kW each. She has a single Alfa Laval Qingdao XW exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg Mission OM16 oil fired boiler. She has 12 cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 55,037 m3, and can carry six grades of fuel products at any one time. She is fitted with twelve cargo pumps, with each capable of pumping her cargo at a rate of 600 m3/hour.

She is one of two sisterships, built to a very popular design of MR2 product tanker produced from the Onomichi Dockyard. Nominally owned by Bluejay Maritime SA, ‘Challenge Prospect II’ was built to the order of the Itochu Corporation of Tokyo, and operated by NYK Bulkship (Asia) Pte. Ltd., of Singapore. She is managed by MMS Co. Ltd., of Tokyo.

Challenge Prospect II, Cape Town 6 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite her operating on behalf of the huge Japanese NYK Group, where the initials of the company stand for Nippon Yusen Kaisha, which translates into the Japan Mailship Steamship Company, her funnel is not that of any traditional NYK vessel, which is a black funnel, with a thick white band, within which are two red bands.

Instead, the funnel of ‘Challenge Prospect II’ is virtually identical, both in scale and, most importantly, colour to that of what was one of the greatest shipping companies of the 20th Century. It is specifically the shade of blue, together with the black top, whose colours match exactly those of the great Alfred Holt &Co., better known as the Blue Funnel Line of Liverpool.

Alfred Holt & Co. was founded in 1866 by the Liverpool Railway Engineer, Alfred Holt. As a railway engineer, he had great experience with working with compound steam engines, and it was his design of improved steam engines, that allowed vessels to sail from the United Kingdom, to China, with just one coaling stop required in Mauritius. Both his engine design, and then his improved hull design, were to sound the death knell of the great China clipper ships.

Blue Funnel Line’s Agamemnon, Cape Town. Picture: Pinterest

Although the company specialised in trade routes to the Far East, they were often seen in South African ports, both earlier in the 20th century, and especially during the closure of the Suez Canal. In fact, Alfred Holt & Co. were unfortunate to have two of their vessels caught in the Great Bitter Lake, during the 1967 Suez closure, and which stranded them there for eight years.

The one thing that made Blue Funnel vessels memorable was that most of their vessels were of a design that were unforgettable, and all with magnificently proportioned, upright, stovepipe funnels. One of the lesser known facts about Blue Funnel line was that for a short period, during the time of the Falklands War, and for a year thereafter, one of their vessels was chartered to maintain the St. Helena scheduled passenger and cargo service between the United Kingdom, St. Helena, and Cape Town.

At the time the original ‘St. Helena’ passenger vessel had been requisitioned by the British Government as a ‘Ship Taken Up From Trade’ (STUFT) vessel, and converted, to act as a Royal Navy Minesweeper Support Ship in the Falkland Islands. Her replacement was the absolutely beautiful Blue Funnel passenger cargo vessel ‘Centaur’. Built in 1964 by the great John Brown shipyard, on Clydeside in Scotland, she was originally built to operate the Alfred Holt & Co. service between Singapore and Australia.

Blue Funnel Line’s Centaur. P:icture: C-Gee

On 5th November 1982,’Centaur’ departed Cape Town for her first voyage to St. Helena and thence to Ascension, Cape Verde, Tenerife and Avonmouth, near Bristol in the UK. She maintained this 24 day round voyages until the end of the twelve month charter contract in November 1983. Her magnificent Blue Funnel had been repainted into the Green Funnel colours of the St. Helena Shipping Company for the duration of the charter.

Blue Funnel had hoped that St. Helena Shipping Company would take up the purchase option, but this never happened, and she was handed back to the Blue Funnel Line at the end of her charter, when the ‘RMS St. Helena’ returned to her duties, and returned to the mailship service on the 20th September 1983.

Jason. Blue Funnel Line. Durban. Picture: Chris Howell

On the 18th October 1983, ‘Centaur’ sailed from Avonmouth for the final time, bound for Cape Town, via Tenerife, Cape Verde, Ascension, St Helena, and on to Cape Town. On the conclusion of the mailship charter, she sailed from Cape Town, bound back to Singapore, via Durban, Mauritius, Fremantle, and to Singapore, where she soldiered on until the end of 1983, when she was laid up in December of that year.

She remained in lay up until May 1985, when she was sold to China’s Shanghai Haixing Shipping Co., who renamed her ‘Hai Long’, and placed her on the Hong Kong to Shanghai service. In 1986 she was renamed ‘Hai Dai’. She continued on this service until 1995, when she was decommissioned, and sent for scrapping at the Xinhui scrapyard, at Guangdong in China.

Challenge Prospect II, Cape Town 6 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the nomenclature aficionado, all Alfred Holt & Co. vessels were given names of characters from Greek Mythology. In Greek Mythology, ‘Centaur’ was a creature having the upper body of a man, and the lower body of a horse.

Back in Cape Town, and in the present day, ‘Challenge Prospect II’ completed her discharge after three and a half days alongside, and at 17h00 in the afternoon of 9th November, she sailed from Cape Town, bound back to Singapore for her next onload of fuel products.

Interestingly, in her short career, ‘Challenge Prospect II’ has so far received a total of nine Port State Inspections. These inspections have taken place around the world, undertaken with reputable maritime agencies, in places such as Australia, the USA, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Holland. In all cases, not one single deficiency, in any category, has been recorded against the vessel in all nine of her inspections. That is a truly great achievement, and is a true testament to the manner in which NYK conducts their shipping business.

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Climate change and ship exhaust scientifically challenged

Picture: The skies over the northeast Pacific Ocean streaked with clouds that form around the particles in ship exhaust. Picture: MODIS/NASA

Africa Ports & Ships

A new study published in Oxford Open Climate Change and featured in CBC,  has made the startling conclusion that far from being a culprit in global warming, ship exhaust emission may have had the opposite effect.

Led by US climate scientist James Hansen, whose 1988 congressional testimony on climate change helped sound the alarm of global warming, the report looks at the exhaust emitted by commercial and other shipping as the vessels move across the ocean.

The exhaust includes sulphur which can contribute to the formation of marine clouds through aerosols, also known as ship tracks, and these help radiate heat from the sun back into space.

As readers will be aware, in 2020 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) introduced strict regulations aimed at reducing the sulphur content of ships exhaust from 3.5 per cent C to a targeted 0.5 per cent by 2050.

Shipping companies across the word have responded well to these regulations by introducing ways and means of reducing the exhaust content into the atmosphere, but the result has been that more heat is being absorbed into the oceans, accelerating an energy imbalance, where more heat is being trapped than being released.

Hansen said the earth’s energy imbalance is much higher than it was ten years ago.

“That imbalance has now doubled,” he said. “That’s why global warming will accelerate. That’s why global melting will accelerate.”

There is the evidence of extreme warming taking place over recent months, he stated.

According to Hansen, the IMO regulations will have a long-term warming effect on the climate, pushing global temperatures 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels and potentially even 2 C — the threshold governments said they would try to stay within under the Paris Accord — even faster.

“The 1.5-degree limit is deader than a doornail,” said Hansen, whose 1988 congressional testimony on climate change helped sound the alarm of global warming. “And the two-degree limit can be rescued, only with the help of purposeful actions.”

Other climate scientists agree with Hansen saying that geo-engineering such as intentionally blocking the rays of the sun by means of increasing earth’s reflectivity, is one way of slowing down climate change.

Read the full CBC news report on which the above is based by CLICKING HERE

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Research into seafarer demographics

Picture: MCG

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The UK-based Maritime Charities Group (MCG) is commissioning new research on the size and demographic profile of the nation’s seafarer population.

Information about working and former seafarers is vital to the work of MCG members and their partner organisations. It helps them to understand the welfare needs, locations, challenges and changes facing seafarers and their families and informs all aspects of their work.

From grant-making to service provision, this data will enable the maritime charity sector to make more informed decisions from now to 2040. Interested research teams have been invited to submit a short outline proposal.

MCG’s programme

Announcing the launch of a call for proposals, MCG Chair, Dr Tim Slingsby commented: “This new study is a key element of MCG’s programme for the coming year. It will update our existing datasets, building on the work we first undertook in 2007 and then updated in 2015.

“These studies showed that despite the fall in the number of working and former seafarers, the demand for charitable services and support was not likely to decline.

“It is nearly ten years since we last looked at seafarer demographics and we need a more up-to-date picture, including the impact of the pandemic, to help us understand the potential demand for the next decade and beyond. We are now calling on research teams to respond to our call for proposals.”

The new MCG study will focus on the UK’s Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleet and their dependants and will include both working and former seafarers.

RN & RM study

A comparable study is being carried out with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines communities by MCG members Greenwich Hospital and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, in partnership with the RAF Benevolent Fund. Together these two pieces of work will provide the sector with the data it needs to plan future services.

Reflecting on the value of past research, MCG member Vikki Muir, Head of Charitable Giving at Trinity House, said: “As with any charity that wants to be as effective as possible with the resources to hand, Trinity House depends on a robust, up-to-date and detailed understanding of the needs of its sector.

“Site visits with beneficiaries provide an invaluable connection on the ground, but we also need high-level data to help make decisions about how we manage our giving in a sector that changes and demands adaptability. We look forward to the new MCG study and the insights it will yield.”

MCG member Deborah Layde, Chief Executive at The Seafarers’ Charity, added: “The Seafarers’ Charity is the largest independent grant funder of maritime welfare services around the UK, investing over £2m every year into the sector.

“We look forward to this essential research providing accurate demographic data which will inform our long-term strategic funding of more than seventy charities delivering a wide range of welfare services for seafarers and their families.”

And Sharon Coveney, Deputy Chief Executive of the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, the umbrella charity for the UK Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets and also an MCG member, reflected: “Without seafarers, the world grinds to a halt. That is why this new research project is so important.

“The maritime sector, like many, is still recovering from the devastation caused by the pandemic, the Russian/Ukrainian conflict and the P&O Ferries crisis. These results will help shape the future and ensure the industry meets seafarers’ demands to improve their lives.”

For more information about MCG and its members readers are invited to see here.

Although this topic is particular to UK seafarers’ welfare it is conceivable that other states’ maritime administrations may be interested in the research and findings.

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Vasco da Gama, a worthy name for a visiting cruise ship

With the early morning sun almost directly behind the arriving cruise ship, Nicko Cruises’ Vasco da Gama ead into Durban harbour for a two-day stopover on her world cruise. Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

The Nicko Cruises’ ship VASCO DA GAMA (IMO 8919245) inadvertently became the centre of attraction at South Africa’s ports as the 55,450-gross ton ship wound its way around the southern African coast making not only maiden calls but also, as we are reminded, she introduced the annual cruise season to another year of cruise ship calls.

With a reported 500 passengers on board, of whom the majority are said to come from Germany, the ship made calls at Walvis Bay and Lüderitz in Namibia, before going on to Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, and then Durban for an overnight, two day visit. As this report is prepared for publication the ship is due to sail on Sunday evening for Fort Dauphin (Port Ehoala) in Madagascar, then to Reunion followed by Port Louis in Mauritius.

Interestingly, from Port Louis she heads back to Madagascar with calls at Ile Ste Marie, Nosy Nato island, both on the east coast of the island, Diego Suarez on the northern tip, followed by three island calls in the Seychelles. She will then heads further east towards the Maldives, followed by India and the remainder of her 183-day world cruise.

The cruise began in Lisbon on 10 October and will finish there on 8 April 2024, having called at close to 190 ports in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, the South Pacific, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

There will be a total of 14 overnight stays of which Cape Town and Durban were two.

For readers curious about Vasco da Gama’s background, the vessel was possibly better known as Holland America’s Statendam, built in 1993 and in sold in 2015 to P&O Cruises as its Pacific Eden. Three years later she became the property of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), well known locally for their annual ship calls in South Africa and who gave the ship her current name.

In 2020 Covid-19 brought an end to CMV’s cruising ambitions when that group was forced into administration. Vasco da Gama was sold for just over USD 10 million to Mystic Invest and is currently operated by that company’s cruising division, Nicko Cruises, better known for their river cruising operation in Europe.

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Seventy-two thousand plus seafarers visit Nigerian ports annually

Mission to Seafarers Centre commissioned in Lagos

Africa Ports & Ships

Seafarers have been referred to as the unseen tourists when their ships call at foreign ports.

The swift turnaround at most container ports, preventing crew from going ashore, may dispute this otherwise factual observation, as well as more stringent ‘immigration’ protocols imposed at ports strictly observing International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) rules. Despite this, the commercial economic value of having seafarers calling at national ports is not something that can be ignored.

In West Africa, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has revealed that 4,000 ocean going vessels visit the nation’s seaports annually, bringing a minimum of 72,000 seafarers to the country’s ports in the 12-month period.

The managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko revealed these numbers while helping commission the Mission to Seafarers (MtS) centre in Lagos, the country’s chief port.

During his address Bello-Koko said it had become expedient that the NPA intensify collaborations with global institutions like the MtS to encourage Shore Leave and Crew Change and to reap the benefits for coastal tourism.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, NPA managing director

He said the development of the Seafarer Centre in Lagos was a testament to a commitment by the NPA and MtS towards advancing the fortunes of maritime trade and the unleashing of fresh opportunities for growth and prosperity inherent in Nigeria’s blue economy.

“With an estimated number of 4,000 foreign flagged ships visiting our shores annually, which implies 330 vessels or a minimum of 6,000 Seafarers)every month, it has become expedient that we intensify our collaborations with global institutions like the MTS to encourage Shore Leave and Crew Change and of course reap the concomitant benefits for coastal tourism and the projection of positive image and reputation for our dear nation.”

He said that they are already witnessing improvements of inland traffic to and from the ports.

“These, coupled with developments in intermodal transportation, as occasioned by our advancing rail system, are bound to encourage and stimulate immense opportunities in the maritime ecosystem,” Bello-Koko said.

It is important, he said, that as a coastal nation and the sub-region’s economic powerhouse, as well as being Africa’s most populous nation, compelled Nigeria to take advantage of every opportunity to deepen its port competitiveness and rating.

Seafarers are highly treasured assets in whom the Nigerian Ports Authority is well pleased, he said, adding that the intervention by the NPA was only one of many more to come in a not too distant future.

Bello-Koko assured MtS of the unwavering commitment of the authority to improving seafarers’ welfare in Nigeria.

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Added 13 November 2023


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IMO and transboundary oil spills: Strengthening cooperation in Africa

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Oil spills at sea do not respect boundaries. How to cooperate and tackle a potential spill with dispersants in a transboundary setting was the focus of an in-person subregional workshop held in Johannesburg from 31 October to 2 November.

Officials from Angola, Namibia and South Africa were updated on how to develop and implement policies on the use of dispersants. The workshop brought government personnel involved in oil pollution response and industry representatives together to foster discussions, and, ultimately, cooperation, between Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

Use of dispersants

Participants shared lessons learned and challenges in assessing national needs and priorities on the use of dispersants.

Discussions focused on strengthening regional cooperation between Angola, Namibia and South Africa to effectively respond to a pollution incident; how to support in-country efforts; and the development of regional strategies or policies on dispersant usage.

Picture: GIWACAF

Introduction to GI WACAF

The workshop was delivered under the framework of the GI WACAF Project*, which supports countries in the region to develop oil spill response plans. The event was delivered through IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ICTP), in collaboration with South Africa, through its Department of Transport.

Through GI WACAF, dispersant policies will be discussed as an important topic during the 10th Regional GI WACAF Conference, to be held in 2024.

*The Global Initiative for West, Central and Southern Africa: Governments and industries working together to enhance oil spill preparedness, response and cooperation. See also here:

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Added 13 November 2023


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TFR concludes Cape Corridor maintenance shutdown

Cape Corridor yard

Africa Ports & Ships

According to a note from Transnet Freight Rail (TFR), the annual rail maintenance shutdown affecting the East London – Bloemfontein rail section is due to end today (Monday 13 November 2023).

The maintenance shutdown commenced on Tuesday 7 November along the East London and Bloemfontein operational areas.

The shutdown provided an opportunity to focus on the maintenance of the rail network by replacing worn out infrastructure elements.

The pre-planned work was executed by Rail Network teams in the following sections of the network; East London – Springfontein (500km), Noupoort – Springfontein (144km), Kroonstad – Bloemfontein (196km), Bloemfontein – Springfontein (128km).

During the shutdown, the affected railway sections were not accessible to rail traffic.

According to TFR, the Cape Corridor planning team worked closely with the affected customers and various other stakeholders in ensuring that the shutdown programme was a success.

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Added 13 November 2023


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In Conversation: The bureaucratic nightmare: Unlicensed Kalk Bay fishers beached by fishing quotas

Kalk Bay fishing harbour. Picture:

Part 3

Swells curling in off the end of the pier are causing the colourful fishing boats to nudge the jetty, their hawsers dipping and tightening. With the swells comes the ozoney smell of tumbled seawater mixed with that of a kelp forest just off the breakwater. Beyond the picture-postcard harbour is the old fishing village of Kalk Bay, a jumble of quaint shops and houses wedged between the ocean and the sharply rising slopes of Trappieskop. 

Kobus Poggenpoel and Sedidc Ahmad, fourth-generation fishermen and no longer young, sit on the sea wall gazing at the colourful, high-prow boats.

‘They killed this harbour’

“We used to supply the whole of the Cape Flats with fish,” sighs Kobus, shaking his head, “but the government took away our licences, just like that. We have the equipment and generations of experience but no rights to fish. 

“They killed this harbour, the oldest small-boat fishing harbour in South Africa. It’s dead. It’s been like this for nearly 20 years, since Fisheries came up with new regulations, a new quota system. Our fishing boats, some that came from our grandparents or which we had made or bought, are just rotting in their moorings.

“Maybe you come here soon and see just rich people’s yachts and fancy restaurants. Where will we be? I don’t know.

Another well-known Kalk Bay fisher is Tony Trimmel, whose house is just up from the harbour. “I used to be able to see the boats from here in my lounge,” he says as we sit surrounded by pictures of boats and a bookshelf housing four generations of fishing information. “They built the school right in front of me. But I can still smell and hear the sea.”

Tony is engaging and hugely knowledgeable about fishing and the life of Kalk Bay. Both his mother and father, his grandparents and great grandparents were in fishing. His mother is a descendant from Filipinos who started the industry in South Africa, his father from the Portuguese lineage who embraced pelagic fishing generations ago.

When fishing was great off the Kalk Bay pier. Picture: Supplied

When fishing used to be good

“My father inherited his first boat from his grandfather and had another boat built which I eventually acquired. Fishing used to be good when there was an abundance of fish. Shoals would migrate into False Bay or Hout Bay on an annual basis; you could predict them to the day. Ancient patterns. Not many boats were targeting them.

“Our fishing boats weren’t motorised before about the 1930s and still very few in the 40s and even 60s. Before that they were row and sail boats. They were lighters towed behind sailing boats coming from England or the East but ended up here. 

“There weren’t many harbours in those days so they’d be used to ferry goods. Some were left behind and turned out to be excellent for fishing. The wooden boats we have now were made by shipbuilders in Cape Town or up the West Coast. Brilliant builders. Some are 70 or 80 years old and still fine.

Tony sips his tea and stares out the window at the classroom blocking his view. “It used to be different,” he says. “Back in the 60s and 70s there would be up to 50 boats in Kalk Bay – handline and crayfish boats, pelagic trawlers and pleasure boats. In the handlining sector we could catch any species. Some boats could catch crayfish, trawl as well as do traditional handline. That’s all gone.

“Some old guys today said they could see the fish stocks starting to decline even in the 50s and 60s, though there was enough to keep the small-scale fisheries growing. But you can only say you’re as good as you are if there are fish to be caught. People didn’t think to diversify. When fish started to get scarce and the new quota system came they would get hurt.

“There used to be so many fish right here. From the breakwater you could feed your family with a fishing rod. They would catch fish and they would catch fish and they would catch fish until they didn’t know what to do with them. Inside the harbour we would catch white stumpnose; masses would come. Always there. 

“But from around 2000 it was as if a light switch was switched off. The fish just disappeared. Was it the Navy, was it pollution, was it foreign fishing vessels? We don’t know why. Just gone.

“Then in the new democracy, fishing licences were allocated to ‘the citizens of the land’, not to coastal communities, who should have been the first recipients. 

“If you were living in Pretoria you could apply for a quota among 22 species. There’s no sea there, but you’re black-owned and have a piece of paper saying you’re a rights holder. You also have no boat. So you do a deal with a coastal boat owner. ‘Can I use your boat on my quota application?’ In struggle times coloureds and Indians were black, but now they don’t qualify as black owned.

“With your piece of paper you could then go to a big fishing company and say you can use my quota for a fee. For doing nothing. So the old monopoly companies aren’t losing out in the end, we are. 

“But it gets worse. Before, you as a boat owner would apply for a licence. But now members of my crew can also apply for a licence and put my boat on their application. They’re classed as small-scale fishers. And they get the licence and I don’t, so they own my right to fish. The boat is under their command. And they say to me if you want to go to sea you must come fetch us at home all over the Cape Flats – for free. 

“But as an owner you can’t keep up with maintenance. The engine breaks, you have to replace a gearbox, repair the woodwork. It’s not worth taking a boat out of the harbour. So you apply for a licence in another sector, maybe rock lobster or pelagic. And again you’re turned down. 

“The allocations are such a corrupt system. You have to tell your story to a quota board, but it’s no use because people with influence can buy quotas. People connected to politicians are the first recipients. You’re never going to be able to prove it, but everybody in the industry knows it. And the online licence application system is a nightmare and stacked against us.”

Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay Picture

The quota quagmire

The deeper I dig, the more entangled it gets. A big problem appears to be the toxic intersection of corruption and inefficiency in the history of state fisheries management.

The claims and counterclaims of malfeasance, corruption, insider trading, theft of poached abalone and bogus contracts stretching back over a decade is bewildering. Departmental officials came and went with confusing rapidity, trailing suspicions in their wake and administrative sections in turmoil. 

On its website, the natural resources advisory firm Feike notes that “the South African fisheries management branch remains in a state of perpetual turmoil with senior officials accusing each [other] of corruption and involvement in organised criminal activities involving corrupt tender allocations and benefitting from the trade in illicit abalone”. (Confiscated poached abalone is resold to fund Fisheries, so why end poaching?) The organisation Corruption Watch headed its report on the goings-on: Fisheries Department rots from the top. 

For help I turn to a man who laid the foundations of Fisheries policy but is now wholly disaffected by what it’s become: Advocate Shaheen Moolla. He was legal adviser to Minister Valli Moosa, when he was Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, and was later the chief director responsible for fisheries management and compliance. Moolla was part of a team, including Horst Kleinschmidt and Chippy Olver, who were brought in early in the 2000s to clean up the rot and lay down a workable fishing policy for the country.

First off, they hit the Hout Bay Fishing Industries (Pty) Ltd for corruption, taking 12 Fisheries officers to court for receiving bribes. They were accused of taking R50,000 per boat landing. The team’s core focus, however, was to lay down a reasonable quota system.

“I was essentially asked to run the 2005 fishing allocation process,” Moolla tells me as we drink coffee overlooking central Cape Town. “Quotas were issued annually, but who’s going to lend you millions to develop your operation on that? 

“We decided to go for medium-term allocations for four years across 22 commercial fishing sectors, starting in 2001. We eventually pushed it up to between eight and 15 in 2005. We tried to separate commercial and small scale, despite the fact that small scale is also commercial. You can’t class a Kalk Bay fishing boat with a huge deep-sea trawler.

“The 2005 allocations tested all that and they worked. The False Bay linefish guys were earning well; they had quota security. We divided the quotas into four sectors. A was commercial deep-sea; B was smaller offshore commercial; C was near-shore small-scale like the Hout Bay guys; and D was for marginals like mussel collection.

“We had brilliant Fisheries scientists and a good idea of fish stocks. Then Marthinus van Schalkwyk became minister and that’s when it all started to come apart, principally because he was politically unable to keep corrupt ANC cadres from the door of Fisheries and quotas. 

“In early 2005, an ANC parliamentary group responsible for Fisheries arranged a ‘study group’ meeting where Kleinschmidt and I were requested to brief them on the state of fisheries management. 

“Instead, it became a meeting about how many coloureds, Indians and whites we employed. They weren’t interested in the state of fisheries management, the socio-economic and biological consequences of the 2001 rights allocation process or the state of the deployment of the then recently procured Fisheries patrol vessels. 

“Instead the ANC politicians complained that we were racists as we had 0.18 too many Indians and 130 too many coloureds employed at the department. They said requiring Fisheries scientists to have an MSc was intended to exclude black scientists. They claimed it was racist to require Fisheries control officers on patrol vessels to have competency in swimming ‘because it’s known that blacks can’t swim’. 

“It was the last straw for me. I resigned the next day and Horst also left. 

“Van Schalkwyk was followed by the egregiously corrupt Tina Joemat-Petterssen and certain equally corrupt staff members. This precipitated the near-complete collapse of fisheries management. 

“That started with the 2013 fishing rights allocation process. It was principally an allocation that concerned small-scale fishermen and fishing rights in the traditional linefish, hake handline, oyster, mussels and abalone fishing sectors. 

“They botched those allocations to the point where communities like Kalk Bay were left decimated. I think only three Kalk Bay boats got a traditional linefishing right.”

Kalk Bay fishing boats. Flickr

When I asked the Department of Forestry, Fishing and the Environment (DFFE) whether this was true, they disagreed. “This is not the case. Out of 148 small-scale fishers who applied to be recognised and to be granted fishing rights in Kalk Bay under the small-scale fishing sector, only four applicants were unsuccessful.”

Moolla dismissed that reply. “DFFE deliberately confuses small-scale with small-scale commercial. The Kalk Bay guys with boats are small-scale commercial. Fisheries can’t seem to understand that our small-scale fisheries are traditional linefish, oyster and mussel harvesting, abalone, nearshore lobster. These are fisheries harvested by individual artisanal fishers. 

“What they consider ‘small-scale’ is a bizarre construct of co-operatives which have failed dismally from Port Nolloth to every coastal village of the Eastern Cape. Every right granted to a co-operative has either been squandered or sold to a commercial operator and these co-ops then just sit and wait for rents.

“They were allocating rights to every Tom, Dick and Harry who were associated to the ANC that had no history of fishing, like ANC councillors. The 28 gangster Ernie Lastag’s family got linefishing rights.

“These people weren’t fishermen. They didn’t have the ability to actually fish. They used their licence as a lottery ticket. But with small-scale fisheries you have to work the quota. It would be like giving some guy 10 acres of land and call him a farmer. It doesn’t work that way. You need equipment, you need knowledge.

“When a process allocates rights to people from every part of the country without a boat, without a history of fishing, without processing investment or marketing access and denies four generations of fishermen, well, then you must accept that you’ve got a problem. It’s an arbitrary, flawed process that has denied legitimate fishermen their right to fish.”

“In the beginning,” Horst Kleinschmidt told me some time back with a note of regret as we sat on his veranda overlooking False Bay, “I didn’t know what I was getting into. “You can’t run a socialist system inside a capitalist economy. It just doesn’t work.”

System collapse

“What we’re looking at,” Moolla says, “is a pretty significant collapse of fisheries management. In 2005 we had 22 functioning fisheries; we ought to have had 32 today but barely 13 are functioning. 

“There’s also bribery on quotas. It’s an open secret: nobody lands legal kingklip in Table Bay Harbour. There’s R100,000 cash bribe for everybody. There’s a strict bycatch limit on kingklip; it’s a percentage of your quota. So for example if you land 10 tonnes of hake today, you can only land 70 kilos of kingklip, but you have seven tonnes which is worth maybe four or five million. Against that, a R100,000 bribe is nothing. Everybody knows. And massive bycatches are hammering the resource.

“For small fishers, the online licence application system is deeply flawed, unintelligible actually. 

“You’re down-scored by what you fail to answer. I mean what’s a Kalk Bay fisher to enter when he’s asked to state his company’s dividends?

“The forms and process were never designed for an online application system. The system went live in late November 2022 and the forms were simply unusable. They were changed almost daily without anyone knowing about these changes. It prejudiced small-scale applicants, who didn’t have teams of professionals monitoring changes daily. The chaos caused so much harm and resulted in rights being lost.

“If you don’t get a licence you can appeal to the minister. But it takes so long to get your appeal heard that you go out of business waiting. Then maybe you’re turned down anyway. It’s gross inefficiency. You have people at Fisheries making decisions that know nothing about fishing. They’ve ruined what should have been a very successful fishery.

“It’s debilitating for these guys sitting on the breakwater at Kalk Bay asking, ‘Why have we been denied the right to fish? Is it because we’re coloured?’ 

“There’s a forlornness that’s depressing, because these guys are the mainstays of small commercial fishing. Their traditions go back to the 15th century. It’s the linefishing they mastered that gave birth to the I&Js, Lucitanias and Coronations.” 

Back in Kalk Bay, I’m talking to Tony Trimmel when his son Lorenzo arrives home for lunch. 

“Is he in fishing?” I ask.

“No, he’s in the baking industry. Fishing’s no longer a life for young people here. Anyway I’ve cut up my boat. I can’t afford the docking fees. It’s over. It’s all over…” 

This article first appeared on Daily Maverick and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Added 13 November 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 September 2023, including containers by weight

PORT September 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.246
Durban 7.382
Saldanha Bay 4.285
Cape Town 1.361
Port Elizabeth 1.413
Ngqura 0.726
Mossel Bay 0.109
East London 0.203
Total all ports during September 2023 21.725 million tonnes

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Thousands of items listed featuring famous passenger liners of the past to cruise ships of today, freighters, container vessels, tankers, bulkers, naval and research vessels.P O BOX 809, CAPE TOWN, 8000, SOUTH AFRICA