Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 24 November 2023

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SH Diana. Durban Cruise Terminal, 17 November 2023. Picture by Trevor Jones

Making her maiden visit to Southern Africa is the small 12,255-gt expedition ship SH DIANA (IMO 9921740).

The ship, which entered service in April 2023 after building at the Helsinki Shipyards, and following a maiden summer season cruising in the northern waters, is now en route to her first Antarctic season once she departs from Cape Town later this month, with a planned call at lonely Tristan da Cunha before reaching Ushuaia at the lower tip of South America.

From there is a short sail into Antarctic waters.

SH Diana is the last of three similar ships built for Swan Hellenic (hence the SH prefix), the others being SH Minerva (2021) and SH Vega (2022).

On Thursday 16 and Friday 17 November the ship called at Richards Bay and Durban respectively. Our photograph shown here sees SH Diana on berth at the new and rather splendid Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban, which has already welcomed its first ship of the cruise season, Vasco da Gama.  On Wednesday 22nd November the terminal, which is managed by an associate company of MSC, will welcome the huge MSC Splendida which is to be homeported in Durban for the summer months.

Picture by Trevor Jones

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Transnet Recovery Plan Update for Friday 24 November 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Details of container ship movements at South Africa’s ports, as at 06h00 Friday 24 November 2023

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Added 24 November 2023


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Stefanutti Stocks chosen as preferred bidder for East London port deepening project

Aerial view of East London car terminal looking east towards the port entrance

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) on Wednesday announced Stefanutti Stocks (Pty) Ltd to be the preferred bidder for the Port of East London’s N-Berth Deepening and Strengthening project.

The selection of the South African company follows the conclusion of a Request for Proposals (RFP) process that TNPA embarked on in July 2023 for the concrete works package of the project, which received 12 bidders.

Standing Zanele Ntantala, E.L. Port Engineer and Cllr Princess Faku, Buffalo City Mayor. Seated Sphiwe Mthembu, E.L. Port Manager and Andrew Pirrie, Director at Stefanutti Stocks

N-berth is located on the West Quay of the port, which also comprises the R-berth and R-extension. It has a gravity-quay wall that was built in the early 19th century.

In 2005, R-berth and R-extension were refurbished, resulting in a combined berth length of 250 metres and depth of -10.5m (CD).

The concrete works package for N-berth will address the inconsistency in berth depth and length, to ensure that the three berths along the West Quay are each -10.5m (CD) in depth, with a total length of 550 metres.

This will allow the Port of East London to simultaneously berth two car carriers along the West Quay.

The project will increase the berth capacity of the automotive terminal of the Port of East London and allow for new-generation vessels to berth in the port.

“The award of this project is a significant milestone in the deepening and strengthening of N berth and is aligned with the port’s growth strategy of refurbishing and developing port infrastructure,” said East London port manager, Sphiwe Mthembu.

Overview of the East London Car Terminal project, with Mercedes Benz plant at lower left

He said a larger vessel intake will allow the port to better service the automotive sector with Mercedes Benz South Africa as one of its key clients. Mercedes Benz has a motor assembly plant overlooking the port where it manufactures the luxury vehicles for local and export sale.

“TNPA is intentional about continuously providing outstanding service and port infrastructure that is fit for purpose,” Mthembu said. “We are looking forward to working with Stefanutti Stocks.”

Stefanutti Stocks (Pty) Ltd is a multi-disciplinary construction group and a level 1 B-BBEE contributor with vast experience and strong capabilities in construction projects of small, medium and large scale. The company has geographic footprint across South Africa and other African countries including Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mauritius.

Among other projects Stefanutti Stocks conducted berth strengthening and deepening at Durban’s Maydon Wharf, a major project covering six berths which was not unlike the East London project.

The company will execute the concrete works package, which is package 1 of the project over a period of 12 months. The second package involves dredging works, which will be undertaken by TNPA’s Dredging Services.

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Added 23 November 2023


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WHARF TALK: expeditionary cruise ship – SH DIANA

Swan Hellenic’s latest expeditionary ship, SH Diana, arrived in Cape Town on 21 November, at the end of her African cruise and ahead of her departure for Tristan da Cunha and Antarctica. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
or as indicated
Story by Jay Gates

As the 2023-2024 cruise season gets properly underway, we can now expect to see a great diversity of passenger vessels, from traditional cruise vessels, to expeditionary cruise vessels, from family oriented vessels, to adults only vessels, and everything up to 5 star standard. Out of all of them, it is not just the first time caller that makes the casual maritime observer get all excited, but the first time caller that is on her maiden cruise year, and brand spanking new.

On 21st November, at 08h00 in the morning, the expeditionary cruise liner SH DIANA (IMO 9921740) arrived off Cape Town, from Mossel Bay, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and as befits a passenger vessel, she went alongside the Passenger Cruise Terminal, at E berth, for the duration of her stay in the Mother City.

SH Diana. Cape Town, 21 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her Cape Town call was not her first entry into Southern African waters, as she had started a short seven day cruise from Maputo, in Mozambique, back on 14th November. Her first call at a South African port was on 16th November at Richards Bay, from 07h00 to 23h00. She then sailed for Durban, arriving at 07h00 on the 17th November, and another full day, at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal, sailing at 22h00 that evening, departing KwaZulu-Natal for the Cape Province.

She arrived in Port Elizabeth at 07h00 on 19th November, which was after her only full day at sea on this particular cruise, and sailed at 17h00 that afternoon for Mossel Bay. Her call at Mossel Bay was quite a short one, from only 07h00 to 13h00 on 20th November, and from there she headed for Cape Town. She then rounded Cape Agulhas, her first major Cape crossing in what will hopefully be a long career of not only visiting South Africa, but of rounding the other major Capes of the world.

SH Diana. Cape Town, 21 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2023 by Helsinki Shipyard OY, of Helsinki in Finland, ‘SH Diana’ is 125 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 12,255 tons. She is a diesel electric vessel, with four Wärtsilä eight cylinder generators producing 6,169 bhp (4,600 kW), and providing power to two electric motors, driving two Wärtsilä fixed pitch propellers for a service speed of 14.5 knots.

Her four engines are located in two separate engine rooms, with two engines in each, and with the engines being Tier III, with selective catalytic reactors, which results in lower NOx emissions. For added manoeuvrability ‘SH Diana’ has two Becker Rudders, with two bow transverse thrusters providing 500 kW each, and a single stern transverse thruster providing 750 kW. For added passenger comfort she is fitted with two Mitsubishi oversized stabilisers.

SH Diana. Cape Town Cruise Terminal, 21 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

With an endurance of 40 days, to enable her to conduct expeditionary cruises in places that are well off the beaten track, such as to Antarctica, ‘SH Diana’ has a range of 8,000 nautical miles. As a vessel of over 120 metres in length, she carries the mandatory ‘Safe Return to Port’ classification.

To allow for polar voyages, she was built to the ice classification of Polar PC-6, which allows her to navigate in either Summer, or Autumn, medium first year ice, which may include old ice inclusions, up to an ice thickness of 1.2 metres. She is able to navigate through ice of 0.9 metres thickness at a constant speed of 6 knots.

SH Diana. Cape Town, 21 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’


One of three sisterships, known as the Vega Class, ‘SH Diana’ is slightly longer than her two consorts. She carries not only a pair of standard enclosed lifeboats, which are unusually painted in an almost all over white colour, and with only the entry doors, and the roofs, being painted in a high-visibility yellow colour. Unlike her two shorter consorts, the additional length of ‘SH Diana’ also allows her to carry two additional passenger tenders.

The tenders can each carry 48 passengers, and allow for a more comfortable ride ashore for the passengers, than that achieved on a Zodiac Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB), which is the normal mode of landing transport on expeditionary cruise vessels. For those who enjoy the thrill of going ashore on a remote beach by Zodiac, ‘SH Diana’ carries no less than 15 Zodiacs onboard. They can be launched, and recovered, from either a side port, or a Marina Deck at the stern.

SH Diana. Cape Town, 21 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The tenders are both 12 metres in length, and powered by a 660 bhp engine, and electric motors. The tenders are named ‘SH Castor’, and ‘SH Pollux’. For the nomenclature fan, and scholars of both Greek and Latin mythology, ‘Castor and Pollux’ are better known as the twins, or ‘Gemini’. Star gazers will know that the two major stars in the constellation Gemini, are named Castor and Pollux.

Furthermore, to add to the knowledge of the nomenclature fan, ‘SH’ is short for the name of her owners, Swan Hellenic, who as their name implies started back in the 1950s offering tours for a UK clientele to the Mediterranean region, especially Greece. As most scholars of Roman mythology know, ‘Diana’ was the Roman Goddess of the Moon, and Patroness of the Countryside and Nature, which is an appropriate, and very apt, name for an expeditionary cruise vessel.

SH Diana, Durban, 17 November 2023. Picture: Trevor Jones

Nominally owned by Swan Hellenic Cruises FZCO, of Dubai in the UAE, ‘SH Diana’ is operated by Swan Hellenic Ltd., of London, and managed by V Ships Leisure SAM, of Monaco. She carries a total of 192 passengers, with a crew of 141, and has nine decks, of which seven are for passenger use, and three set aside for her 96 cabins. On arrival in Cape Town, she was not full, and was carrying only 57 passengers.

The cabins onboard ‘SH Diana’ include Oceanview (no balcony) with a floor area of 20 m2, raising up to Balcony Suites with a 28 m2 floor area, Junior Suites which are 35 m2 in area and with larger balconies, Standard Suites which are 44 m2 in size with large balconies, and the largest Premium Suites which are 47 m3 in area and with extra large balconies.

SH Diana, Durban, 17 November 2023. Picture: Trevor Jones

The onboard passenger facilities include a restaurant, a grill, bar, observation lounge, club lounge, card room, library, and a wellness centre which includes a gymnasium, sauna, beauty salon, and two treatment rooms. There is a medical centre, and there is also an outdoor, heated, infinity pool, a bow viewing platform, and a stargazing deck that is capable of landing a helicopter in an emergency.

As an expedition cruising vessel, ‘SH Diana’ is unusually equipped with an onboard laboratory, which whilst extremely limited for scientific purposes, will allow passengers to be shown items of scientific interest, and the ability to gaze through microscopes at Antarctic microscopic wildlife, such as zooplankton, and other creatures of oceanic origin.

Her building was interrupted as a result of the Ukraine War. She was being built with Russian finance, as the original contract to build the vessel was that Swan Hellenic would charter ‘SH Diana’ from a Russian-controlled company. However, as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, the original buyer failed to take delivery of the ship, and Helsinki Shipyard OY exercised the right to sell the vessel by tender, which was provided for in the building contract.

SH Diana, Durban Cruise Terminal, 17 November 2023. Picture: Jumaine Kruger

The shipyard issued this legal statement. “The unfinished vessel is to be offered for sale, and will be sold ‘As Is’ and ‘Where Is’, without representation, warranty, or guarantee as to the quantity, quality, title, character, condition, size, or kind, or that the same is in the condition, or fit, to be used for the purpose for which intended, and no claim for any allowance, or deduction, upon such grounds will be considered after the bid opening, and conclusion, of the auction.”

The shipyard said the winner of the tender to purchase ‘SH Diana’ would be disclosed on 12 December 2022. On 13 December 2022, the day after the tender closed, Helsinki Shipyard OY announced that the successful bidder for the unfinished ‘SH Diana’ was none other than Swan Hellenic. Swan Hellenic had already purchased her fleetmate, ‘SH Vega’, earlier in 2022 for the same reasons, i.e. the Russian financiers being unable to pay for the vessel with foreign currency transferred through western banks.

Helsinki Shipyard OY, and Swan Hellenic, then entered into a new agreement for the completion of ‘SH Diana’, which was rescheduled for delivery in March 2023. This would allow her to be able to commence cultural expedition voyages of the Mediterranean from the beginning of April, followed by her cruise through Suez, and down the east coast of Africa to South Africa, and her arrival in Cape Town.

SH Diana, Durban Cruise Terminal, 17 November 2023. Picture: Trevor Jones

On the evening of 21st November, after just a 12 hour stay in the Mother City, ‘SH Diana’ was ready to sail on her maiden voyage to Antarctica. She sailed from Cape Town at 20h00, bound for Tristan da Cunha, for a one day stop. She was then sailing on to South Georgia, for a two day island cruise, and then further south to the Antarctic Peninsula, and a four day cruise around the South Shetland Islands, before ending the voyage on 11th December at the Argentinian port of Ushuaia, located on the island of Tierra del Fuego, at the tip of South America. The costs for Passengers on this cruise started out at US$15,276 (ZAR284,373).

She will then conduct a full Austral summer cruising programme in Antarctica. She is likely to be a regular annual visitor to South Africa, and Cape Town, as Antarctic cruising will be her normal Austral Summer activity. In 2024, ‘SH Diana’ is already scheduled to repeat her itinerary of a seven day cruise from Maputo to Cape Town, via Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay and Cape Town, between 6 and 13 November 2024. For those interested, the cost per passenger for this 2024 cruise starts at US$8,323 (ZAR154,936).

She is scheduled to sail from Cape Town on 13 November 2024, and ‘SH Diana’ will once more sail for Ushuaia, arriving there on 3 December, and the start of her second Antarctic cruising season. For anyone interested in this voyage from Cape Town to Ushuaia, the costs start at a cool US$20,203 (ZAR376,092).

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Added 23 November 2023


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Authorities cooperate to ease Lebombo border traffic congestion

BMA & SARS believe they have a plan to reduce time spent at border

Africa Ports & Ships

Authorities from the Border Management Authority (BMA) and the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) have agreed to pilot a system that will eliminate costly delays affecting truckers at the Lebombo border post with Mozambique.

The agreement was signed during a bilateral visit to the Republic of Mozambique earlier this month.

According to government, the collaboration agreement will “ensure efficient and coordinated interventions at ports of entry for easy and cost-effective facilitation of legitimate trade and travel while preventing illegal border crossing of goods and people.”

As reported earlier this week, the Lebombo border post has been experiencing increased cargo volumes and this and other factors has resulted in long queues and blockages on the N4 corridor, preventing smooth flow of trade through the Maputo port.

The other factors involve protests between truck drivers and a taxi association in Komatipoort which caused extra long queues for trucks during the recent weekend.

SARS and BMA say they will pilot a system to ‘co-locate’ in the canopies at the Lebombo border post to ease movement of trucks as part of the commitment made in the BMA implementation protocol.

South African side of the border at Lebombo

Truck drivers

Truck drivers will be processed without disembarking from their trucks. The drivers will be required to have all required customs documents and immigration passport ready before approaching the canopies.

After marking for arrival, the driver will then proceed straight to the exit canopy to ease flow in the bypass. This will be done with the exception of cases that require elevation to the police, agricultural services, port environmental or port health.

The marking for arrival and exit are both conducted by customs to facilitate imports and exports. The passport control is conducted by the Border Management Authority at the canopies and will no longer be in building 310 as it was conducted previously.

The aim of this process is to eliminate the time spent in the bypass where drivers were previously required to disembark from trucks and walk to building 310 for passport processing. It is also envisaged that through this process the turnaround time for trucks moving through the bypass will be reduced.

It was emphasised that this process will not negate the requirement by authorities to perform their functions for compliance and border law enforcement at ports.

“It is our main priority to ensure efficient trade facilitation and compliance for the development of the region. This process will contribute to efficient processing at the Lebombo border post,” said Dr Masiapato, BMA commissioner. source:

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Added 23 November 2023


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South African yacht stolen in Croatia is discovered in Natal, Brazil

Picture: BNN Network

Africa Ports & Ships

A yacht owned by a South African couple from Cape Town, which was stolen in mysterious circumstances from her moorings in Croatia, has been found at a yacht club in Natal, Brazil.

The yacht named Mischief, was used by the Cape Town couple and their friends as a holiday home in the Mediterranean, and offered out on charter at other times.

Four months ago on 15 July Mischief was reported as missing from her moorings. A tracking device on board had been dismantled and abandoned in a waterproof container.

The yacht’s disappearance was reported to authorities and a reward offered for information about its whereabouts.

This led to several reports of Mischief being seen in Greek harbours but none proved true. It was also reported at the time that the yacht was chartered by a couple using false passports. The couple hired a skipper but apparently made off with the yacht while the skipper was ashore having dinner.

Then came news that the yacht has been found in Brazil, thousands of miles away on the other side of the Atlantic.

Police and Interpol are continuing with their investigations.

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Added 23 November 2023


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Niger Air Cargo resumes weekly Europe-Niger flight using B747F

Niger Air Cargo resumes flights to Niger

Africa Ports & Ships

ECS Group’s Niger Air Cargo reinstated its weekly B747F service in October 2023, when it resumed the sole, direct full-freighter connection between Europe and Niger.

Despite existing difficult political circumstances, ECS envisages a swift return to previous year volumes and foresees a stable 2024.

More than 150 tonnes of cargo capacity per month are back in the air with Niger Air Cargo having resumed its weekly B747F flights from Liège (LGG), Belgium to Niger’s main cargo hub, Niamey International Airport (NIM). The recent disruption to air cargo when the military coup in Niger led to the temporary closure of its airports and airspace, has been alleviated.

Niger Air Cargo’s weekly B747F freighter services were reinstated in October 2023. The airline offers a unique and thus crucial cargo link not only to Niger’s domestic market, but also to neighbouring Nigeria and Mali.

It regularly transports agricultural products, raw materials, apparel, and healthcare products. Particularly during the pandemic, Niger Air Cargo’s leased B747 was instrumental in ensuring that medical and relief goods could be delivered to the country.

The airline also provided temporary cargo import solutions during the recent difficult circumstances.

“Given that Niger is a land-locked country, functioning air cargo plays a key role in keeping supply chains running,” says Adrien Thominet, Executive Chairman of ECS Group.

“Niger Air Cargo is still the sole provider of a full-freighter solution into Niger, and our dedicated ECS cargo team at Niamey Airport goes above and beyond to ensure that our customers – many of whom have been with us since 2011 – are reliably and professionally supported in their business processes.

“Demand to Niger is quickly recovering to previous year levels and looks equally promising as we head into the new year. Thanks go to our Niger Air Cargo team which continues to prove its resilience and flexibility in the face of unpredictable challenges.”

All enquiries and reservations are managed by Niger Air Cargo from Niamey International Airport.

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Added 23 November 2023


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President Ramaphosa to open and name Durban Cruise Terminal today

Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal seen from the bay. Picture: Bennie Janse van Rensburg

Africa Ports & Ships

President Cyril Ramaphosa will officially open the Durban Cruise Terminal later today and will deliver the keynote address, which includes the announcement of the terminal being named the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal.

The terminal, which has already seen use during the previous cruise season 2022/23 as well as with two cruise ships during November this year, is a result of cruise company MSC entering into a Public Private Partnership with Transnet to design and build the modernistic structure.

Cruise ships previously called at Durban’s N-Shed Cruise terminal, a converted cargo warehouse at the N berth on Durban’s T-Jetty. The new terminal is situated at Berth B, opposite the Point Waterfront.

The terminal can expect to be busy during the summer months with 83 ship calls booked for the Port of Durban. Not all will use the new terminal as on occasion more than one cruise ship will be in port on the same day.

That in fact is the case today (Wednesday 22 November 2023) when the Holland America ship Zuiderdam arrives from Maputo, followed by MSC Splendida which will homeport in Durban for the summer months.

MSC Splendida, which is arriving from Europe via the Indian Ocean islands, will have pride of place at the terminal and will participate in the festivities of officially opening the new cruise terminal.

The terminal opening will be attended by government and private sector partners, tourism partners, some media (unfortunately not this publication as we received no invitation or even a notification) and MSC cruises executives.

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Added 22 November 2023


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The MR2 oil & chemical products tanker Stena Imperial, which arrived in Cape Town on 11 November from Antwerp. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Once more, we arrive at a point in time where we can resurrect that age old adage of the story associated with London Buses. That is, that you wait around for one, seemingly forever, and without ever seeing one, and then all of a sudden two will turn up together. So it was with vessels of a world famous company that, for the casual maritime observer, you will wait around for a vessel of the great Stena Bulk fleet, seemingly forever, and then two will turn up together.

On 11th November, at 15h00 in the afternoon, the MR2 product tanker STENA IMPERIAL (IMO 9667485) arrived off Cape Town, from Antwerp in Belgium, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and going alongside at the Tanker Basin to begin her discharge. She was scheduled for a two port discharge along the South African coast, with Cape Town being the first stop.

The sight of any Stena vessel in Cape Town is extremely rare. With the first of two company vessels to arrive being ‘Stena Imperial’ in the space of just three days. She was followed on 14th November by the arrival of ‘Stena Promise’, and two Stena vessels sat together, alongside each other in a South African port, something that is unlikely to be repeated in the near future.

Stena Imperial. Cape Town, 11 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2015 by Guangzhou Shipyard International at Guangzhou in China, ‘Stena Imperial’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,750 tons. She is powered by a single Dalian MAN-B&W 6S50ME-B9.3 six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 9,804 bhp (7,211 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.5 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes four MAN 6L23/30H generators providing 1,050 kW each, and a single John Deere 6068HF275 emergency generator providing 187 kW. She has two Alfa Laval Aalborg OL oil fired boilers, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg OC exhaust gas boiler.

With a total of sixteen cargo tanks, and with no cargo tank being larger than 3,000 m3, ‘Stena Imperial’ has a total cargo carrying capacity of 46,807 m3. Her cargo tanks are coated with a Jotun Flexline coating, and she has sixteen cargo pumps, with each pump capable of pumping at a discharge rate of 375 m3/hour.

Nominally owned by Golden Stena Bulk IMOIIMAX III Ltd., ‘Stena Imperial’ is jointly owned in a 50/50 joint venture between Stena Bulk AS, of Hellerup in Denmark, and Golden Agri Resources (GAR) of Singapore, who are a division of the Sinarmas Group, of Jakarta in Indonesia, as displayed on the aft part of her hull.

Stena Imperial. Cape Town, 11 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her funnel and bow badge are those of the traditional blue, white and red Stena houseflag, with the ship sitting atop of lower curl of the ‘S’. She is operated by Stena Bulk AS, of Hellerup, and is managed by Northern Marine Management Ltd., of Glasgow in the UK.

One of a class of 13 sisterships, known as the IMOIIMAX class, as boldly displayed on her forward hull, ‘Stena Imperial’ does not carry the usual platitudes, splashed across her accommodation block front, exclaiming ‘Safety First’ and ‘No Smoking’ in a standard capital font. Instead she carries an effective company advertisement of ‘First Class Seaborne Solutions’ across her accommodation, written in an arty lower case font.

Her design is very much that of the favoured Eco variety. Her MAN-B&W main engine has high fuel efficiency, at part load operation, compared to earlier versions. The IMOIIMAX class is optimised to perform well, over a range of both loading conditions, and speeds. The low load optimization of her main engine includes an exhaust gas by-pass. With an engine auto-tuning system, the combustion process in each cylinder is continuously, and automatically, controlled for optimal engine performance in all operating conditions.

Stena Imperial. Cape Town, 11 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Normally, generators, and auxiliary engines, are fuel optimised for high load operation, rather than part load operation. Part load operations are becoming a higher percentage of normal operations, and the IMOIIMAX class auxiliary engines have been part load optimized, improving their overall performance, and reducing fuel consumption.

With ‘Stena Imperial’ having two oil fired boilers, it provides for both flexibility, and redundancy, which is of particular advantage when carrying heated cargoes. In many instances only part steam heating capacity is required. In such cases, both boilers can be run efficiently instead of having only one big boiler operating at non-preferable conditions.

She is also equipped with an exhaust gas multi-inlet composite boiler. This boiler not only recovers energy from the main engine exhaust gas, but also recovers the exhaust gas energy from two of the auxiliary generator engines. In addition, the boiler has an oil fired section providing for steam production, to suit the domestic steam demand of ‘Stena Imperial’, without the need to run the bigger oil fired boilers.

Stena Imperial. Cape Town, 11 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Overall, the IMOIIMAX class is equipped with a ship performance system for better, and more efficient, onboard control of the vessel’s systems, which results in energy savings, and a reduction of the environmental footprint of ‘Stena Imperial’.

With the recent terrorist hijack of the PCTC ‘Galaxy Leader’ off the coast of Yemen, by Houthi rebels, one is reminded that this is not a new phenomenon, albeit a military escalation far beyond that of the piracy issues experienced in this region, and by ‘Stena Imperial back in November 2018. At the time, she was sailing northbound, west of Yemen, whilst en route from Port Klang, in Malaysia, to Rotterdam, when two suspicious skiffs approached the vessel.

The onboard security team fired warning flares towards the skiffs, and the Master contacted a nearby Warship, that was on anti-Piracy patrol. Both skiffs ceased the approach, and passed by astern of ‘Stena Imperial’. However, one of the skiffs then altered course and, once more, made an approach towards ‘Stena Imperial’. Once again, hand flares were fired at the skiff, which again broke off its approach, and it moved off in the direction of another nearby vessel.

Stena Imperial. Cape Town, 11 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the casual maritime observer, who enjoys maritime history, and for the nomenclature fan, the names of vessels in the Stena fleet always begin with the word ‘Stena’. This is because the founder of the company was Sten A. Olssen, who gave his name to the company. Founded in 1939 in Sweden, and originally trading in metals, he purchased his first vessel in 1946. In 1962 Sten A. Olssen purchased his first ferry, which was the start of the development of the great Stena Line, and the largest ferry operating company in the world.

In 1982 Sten A. Olssen entered into the world of tankers, forming Stena Bulk, and together with his other subsidiary companies, including Stena Line and Stena Ro-Ro, whose smart looking vessels mainly ply the waters of Europe, the Stena AB Group has over 20,000 employees, with current sales being in excess of US$5.75 billion (ZAR105.41 billion). Operating with a fleet of over 75 owned, operated, and chartered vessels, the Stena AB Group has managed to make a profit every single year, without exception, since its formation in 1939.

Stena Imperial. Cape Town, 11 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Back in Cape Town, ‘Stena Imperial’ spent almost three days to complete her discharge in the port, and at midday on 14th November, she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Durban. She arrived off the Durban Bluff at 20h00 on the evening of 17th November, and immediately entered Durban harbour, proceeding to the Island View Oil Terminal, and going alongside her berth at Island View 8, in order to continue her discharge.

Her two stop itinerary on the South African coast was completed less than two days later. After just 40 hours alongside, she was ready to sail, and at 13h00 in the early afternoon of 19th November, ‘Stena Imperial’ sailed from Durban, bound for Fujairah in the UAE, where she would receive her next orders. Stena vessels are always smartly turned out, and pleasant to see, so it will be a nice turn for the casual maritime observer if another one arrives back soon.

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Added 22 November 2023


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Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo launches Tema Port Phase Two

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (in blue) and shareholders at the inauguration of Phase 2 of the Tema Port Expansion Project. Picture: MPS

Africa Ports & Ships

Dubbing it as a ‘New era in Ghana’s maritime history’, the second phase of the Tema Port Expansion Project was officially launched on 15 November by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Phase 2 involves the introduction of a fleet of 15 gantry cranes (12 RTGs and 3 STS) at the Meridian Port Services (MPS) container terminal in addition to significant civil works, aimed at reinforcing Tema Port’s role as a paramount hub for West Africa.

The recently opened terminal is operated by MPS, a joint venture between Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (30%), APM Terminals (35%) and Africa Global Logistics (35%).

Impressive plans ahead

The second phase of Tema Port Expansion Project encompasses the paving of an expansive 270,000 m2 area, expanding the terminal’s footprint from 100 hectares to 127 hectares. The phased delivery of the first section, comprising a 50,000 m2 area, is slated for July 2024, with the entire project anticipated to reach completion by September 2025.

MPS CEO, Mohamed Samara, said Phase 2 will usher in a new era of enhanced capacity at Tema Port. “We are setting in motion a transformation that will fundamentally alter Ghana’s standing in the maritime industry of West Africa,” he said.

Samara added that when the colossal undertaking is completed, Tema Port will stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the world’s best ports and will compete favourably with the largest ports on the African continent.

Igor Van den Essen, Regional Managing Director Africa and Europe at APM Terminals said that when they embarked on this journey with their partners, “we envisioned a unique facility that would offer customers a seamless cargo clearance experience with minimal bottlenecks. It is a pleasure to witness the steady realisation of this vision from 2002 to the present day.”

RTG gantry cranes recently arrived at Tema Port MPS-3 container terminal. Picture: MPS

Boosting cargo handling capacities

The acquisition of 15 of the latest state-of-the-art gantry cranes signifies a substantial boost to Tema Port’s cargo-handling capacity, aligning it with global trade demands. With a total of 12 quay cranes (STS) and 41 yard cranes (RTGs), Tema Port is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most efficient ports, and gaining respect from leading global shipping lines.

The expanded port has a 1.4 km quay with four deep berths, equipped with sophisticated container handling gantry cranes and Terminal Operating Systems. It can accommodate some of the world’s largest cargo ships, carrying up to 18,000 containers.

Plans have also been confirmed for a crucial road link from the motorway to the Tema Port, with construction set to commence in the first quarter of 2024.

Highlighting Ghana’s attractiveness to investors, Philippe Labonne, President of Africa Global Logistics, articulated AGL’s strategic vision for Africa, emphasising their commitment to creating job opportunities for the youth of Ghana.

MPS Terminal 3 is recognised as a vital transport infrastructure for the vision of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Tema Port Expansion Project’s Phase 2 is poised to generate substantial employment opportunities for the Ghanaian construction workforce, aligning with the nation’s goal of becoming a key economic hub in the sub-region.

YouTube video on Phase 2 of Tema Port Expansion Project…[03:46]

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Added 22 November 2023


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India’s RITES to supply Mozambique’s CFM with 10 locomotives

Picture: RITES

Africa Ports & Ships

India’s Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES) has been awarded the tender to provide CFM Mozambique with ten new diesel-electric Cape Gauge locomotives.

The tender for the locomotives is valued at USD 37,680,080.

RITES was unsuccessful for a further tender for 300 high-side rail wagons despite apparently having a favourable price.

Earlier this year senior Indian government officials visited Mozambique for discussions on a number of matters, which included how India could assist in providing improvements for the African country’s railway. India is also providing assistance with Mozambique’s North-South road.

The country has an extensive 3,131-kilometre lng railway network of which almost all is built to the Cape gauge of 1067mm or 3ft 6ins. However, the railways are not directly linked together, and instead independently connect the respective ports to inland destinations.

Three sections operate out of Maputo. One runs southwest to Eswatini (Swaziland), a second extends to the South African border at Ressano Garcia/Lebombo, near the South African town of Komatipoort.

A third, the Limpopo Railway runs to the Zimbabwe border where it connects with that country’s network.

From the port of Beira another independent connection is made with Zimbabwe. At Dondo not far from Beira the Sena Railway branches off to the Tete province and mining town of Moatize.

A third major and more recent railway section is that from the port of Nacala which runs in a westerly direction into Malawi with a further extension linking with Moatize within Mozambique.

There are a couple of shorter independent railways in southern-central Mozambique.

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Added 22 November 2023


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Monjasa acquires two tankers for bunkering services in West Africa

Monjasa Leader, prior to her acquisition by Monjasa. Picture: MarineTraffic

Africa Ports & Ships

Oil and shipping group Monjasa has acquired two additional tankers to enter service as floating storage tankers in service off West Africa.

Saying that it remains active in the market for second-hand tonnage, Monjasa revealed it has acquired the 68,589-dwt MONJASA LEADER (IMO 9346469) and the 13,051-dwt MONJASA REFINER (IMO 9400851) to perform duties as a floating storage vessel and bunkering operations respectively.

Both tankers were dry docked for renewal surveys, name change and subsequent hull blasting and painting matching the Monjasa fleet design.

Monjasa Leader replaces the 119.456-dwt SKS Dokka, which has served Monjasa on time charter for the past three years.

“The Monjasa Leader becomes our largest fleet member and represents our single most important tanker acquisition ever,” said Torben Maigaard Nielsen, Monjasa Group shipping director.

Nielsen said that given the limited opportunities of storing fuel products ashore, Monjasa’s floating storage solution is the backbone of its West Africa marine fuels operations.

“This allows for our supply tankers to frequently go alongside the vessel to load cargo. Providing maritime end-to-end logistics in West Africa is a challenging task, but we are confident that our two new vessels bring the efficiency and flexibility needed,” he said.

Since 2018 Monjasa as increased the number of owned vessels from five to 14 to ensure highly specialised operational standards, while at the same time lowering overall operating costs.

The group has also significantly extended its technical ship management capacity. This has been done through further development of the in-house company, Montec, which today comprises 20+ maritime specialists based in Dubai.

In a further development, Monjasa has finalised the selling process of the 13,781-dwt oil and chemical tanker, Monjasa Runner, which will be repositioned from West Africa to the Mediterranean Sea for continued operations with her new owners.

Overall, the Middle East & Africa accounts for 27% of Monjasa’s total volume of 6.4 million tonnes of bunkers supplied in 2022, while Monjasa’s fleet comprises some 30 tankers and barges deployed worldwide.

MT Monjasa Leader
Former name: Cabo San Antonio
Year built: 2008
Flag: Liberia
Type: Oil tanker
IMO: 9346469
Dwt: 68,589
LOA: 228m
Beam: 32.6m

MT Monjasa Refiner
Former name: Saturn
Year built: 2009
Flag: Liberia
Type: Oil & chemical tanker
IMO: 9400851
Dwt: 13,051
LOA: 128.6m
Beam: 20.4m

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Added 21 November 2023


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Traffic staging park for Maputo-bound trucks opens in Mozambique

The port of Maputo and the Katembe Bridge. A new truck stop en route to the port was opened this week

Africa Ports & Ships

Faced with increasing numbers of trucks arriving for the port at Maputo, Mozambique authorities this week officially opened the new Pessene Traffic Management Park in the district of Moamba, situated between the Lebombo/Ressano Garcia border crossings from South Africa, and the ports of Maputo and Matola.

The truck staging park is in response to the challenges of traffic congestion along the N4, as part of the Maputo Provincial Government’s initiative to bring greater sustainability, development and road safety to the Maputo Corridor.

The park provides temporary parking for up to 250 trucks and was built over a four month period at a cost of USD 4.35 million .

Among the facilities available at the park are bathrooms and rest room facilities, space for quick meals, a security induction service and port documentation processing services.

The staging park, where trucks will stop and await permission to move further towards Maputo and the port in an orderly fashion, is aimed at improving efficiency in the corridor and the time spent at the port.

The park is fully integrated with all the port’s digital systems, meaning that trucks can be dispatched to an updated schedule.

The inauguration of the park was performed on Monday by Mateus Magala, Mozambique’s Minister of Transport and Communications, who said the park will contribute economically to inhabitants of local communities. In its first phase the park has created 32 permanent jobs, allocated entirely to people from the area.

During the inauguration Magala announced that joint operations with the police are planned to reduce transit times at the Ressano Garcia Border.

On the South African side of the border, at the Lebombo crossing, severe road delays for trucks heading into Mozambique have occurred resulting in long queues of trucks parked along the N4 unable to move quickly through the border. See that report here

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Added 21 November 2023


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Parque de trânsito para caminhões com destino a Maputo abre em Moçambique

O porto de Maputo e a Ponte Katembe. Uma nova parada de caminhões a caminho do porto foi inaugurada esta semana

Africa Ports & Ships

Confrontadas com o aumento do número de camiões que chegam ao porto de Maputo, as autoridades moçambicanas inauguraram oficialmente esta semana o novo Parque de Gestão de Tráfego de Pessene, no distrito de Moamba, situado entre as passagens fronteiriças Lebombo/Ressano Garcia da África do Sul, e os portos de Maputo e Matola.

O parque de estacionamento de camiões surge como resposta aos desafios do congestionamento do tráfego ao longo da N4, no âmbito da iniciativa do Governo Provincial de Maputo para trazer maior sustentabilidade, desenvolvimento e segurança rodoviária ao Corredor de Maputo.

O parque oferece estacionamento temporário para até 250 caminhões e foi construído durante um período de quatro meses a um custo de 4,35 milhões de dólares.

Entre as instalações disponíveis no parque estão banheiros e salas de descanso, espaço para refeições rápidas, serviço de indução de segurança e serviços de processamento de documentação portuária.

O parque de estacionamento, onde os camiões irão parar e aguardar autorização para seguirem em direcção a Maputo e ao porto de forma ordenada, visa melhorar a eficiência do corredor e o tempo de permanência no porto.

O parque é totalmente integrado a todos os sistemas digitais do porto, o que significa que os caminhões podem ser despachados com horários atualizados.

A inauguração do parque foi realizada segunda-feira por Mateus Magala, ministro dos Transportes e Comunicações de Moçambique, que afirmou que o parque irá contribuir economicamente para os habitantes das comunidades locais. Na sua primeira fase, o parque criou 32 empregos permanentes, atribuídos inteiramente a pessoas da região.

Durante a inauguração, Magala anunciou que estão previstas operações conjuntas com a polícia para reduzir os tempos de trânsito na fronteira de Ressano Garcia.

No lado sul-africano da fronteira, na passagem do Lebombo, ocorreram graves atrasos nas estradas para os camiões que se dirigiam para Moçambique, resultando em longas filas de camiões estacionados ao longo da N4, incapazes de atravessar rapidamente a fronteira. Veja esse relatório aqui

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Adicionado em 21 de novembro de 2023


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Transnet says it is fully focused on dealing with port delays at Durban & Richards Bay

Pier 2 container terminal – new STS cranes on order for South Quay.

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet says it is implementing a number of urgent interventions to address the backlogs at the Port of Durban and to ease the congestion at Richards Bay in order to minimise the impact on the South African economy.

The statement is in response to media highlighting the delays occurring at the ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

In a lengthy statement Transnet said the following:

The delays are due various factors including adverse weather conditions and equipment availability.

The leadership of Transnet is fully focused on addressing these challenges.

“The problem of port congestion is a complex one and it is something that was due to happen at some point, as a result of many years of underinvestment in equipment and its maintenance,” said Transnet Board Chairperson, Andile Sangqu, at a media briefing in Johannesburg.

“We are working on a number of measures to turn the situation around. We need to caution that this is going to take some time as the lead times for some of the equipment is anything from 12 to 18 months,” Sangqu said.

“The team is working around the clock to procure this important equipment, to ensure our port facilities are in line with global best practice.”

Prioritising port operations

In the meantime, he said Transnet has prioritised the optimisation of port operations through improved planning and forecasting, leading to better anticipation of cargo volumes.

In Durban, an urgent intervention team has already put plans in place to address slow turnaround times affecting the docking and offloading of containers at the port.

At Pier 2, the plan is to ramp up the tempo from 2,500 – 4,000 containers a day over the next three months. Under normal conditions, the container handling tempo at Pier 2 is 3,300 containers a day. However, over the past four weeks, this has reduced to 2,500 due to inclement weather and equipment challenges. At Pier 1, the tempo will increase from 1,200 to 1,500 containers a day.


Initiatives on the cards to ensure that the recovery plan to clear the backlog succeeds include the acquisition of 16 rubber tyred gantry cranes for Pier 1 by the second half of 2025 and acquisition of four ship-to-shore cranes for South Quay for Pier 2 in FY2025/26.

Work is also underway to refurbish and maintain critical port equipment to improve asset utilisation at Pier 1 and Pier 2 and this will be completed by August 2024.

Pier 1 container terminal

While additional cranes and equipment are being sourced to make the port function more effectively, Transnet employees have been urged to put in extra efforts so that the backlog is broken.

“An internal task team of specialised disciplines recently concluded an exercise to eliminate waste and introduce rapid improvements in the system,” says Transnet Acting Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips.

“They collected performance data across all shifts, analysed each vessel and the workings of all cranes to note arising problems, identify limiting factors and quantify improvement levers. Management at our port terminals are working around the clock with industrial engineers from the task team to maximise berth performance.

Seven to fifteen weeks to clear backlog

“With all these initiatives in place, we expect it will take a maximum of seven weeks to clear the backlog at Pier 1 and 15 weeks for Pier 2.

Michelle Phillips, acting CEO Transnet Group

“This will make a significant difference to the flow of container traffic through the port.

“It is crucial that we stabilise our operations through these short-term interventions while we continue with the broad Recovery Plan to improve Transnet operations. The plan is exactly what is says it is: a plan to turnaround the business and ensure significant and sustainable improvements in all our operations, and in particular in rail and ports.”

CMS and new equipment

At Durban Port, these longer-term improvements include a new container management system to improve efficiencies and the acquisition of new equipment. New contracts will be in place by the end of the year for the service of ship to shore cranes, rubber tyred gantry cranes, straddle carriers, reach stackers and empty container handlers, and existing equipment is being refurbished or replaced.

“We appreciate the understanding shown by our customers and are in constant contact with shipping lines on releasing the congestion fee surcharge for import containers,” says Phillips.

Richards Bay trucking

When it comes to Richards Bay, Transnet and other stakeholders will be holding an emergency meeting on Tuesday [today 21 November] to find solutions to the ongoing problem of road congestion.

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has implemented a truck booking system as a mechanism to create order; however, the solution does not include trucks destined to back-of-port facilities. As a result, even when trucks have been booked, the tempo at which the trucks arrive at port gates sometimes far exceeds the pace at which trucks can be processed at the permit offices, as well as at the terminal.

Short and long-term solutions are required, and Transnet says it looks forward to developing these solutions, in partnership with other stakeholders, at its meeting on Tuesday. [statement issued by Transnet 2023-11-20] 

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Added 21 November 2023


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WHARF TALK: Antarctic Krill trawler – SAGA SEA

Antarctic krill trawler Saga Sea, having arrived in Cape Town from East London on 17 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockjrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Last year the Mayor of Cape Town declared that the city would be positioned as the ‘Gateway to Antarctica’, which is actually what the city has been since the discovery of parts of the great Southern continent, and which started with the arrival of Bouvet de Lozier off Cape Town on 24th February 1739, and his claim to have found the continent on 1st January, but which turned out to be the island that now bears his name.

In all likelihood, the Mayor’s people were really only considering the tourist potential of the arrival of hordes of big spending passengers on expeditionary passenger vessels, either heading to, or returning from, an eye wateringly expensive cruise in Antarctica. Added to this is the commercial importance to the city, created by the expeditionary supply vessels, and research vessels, all en route south every year, and who purchase most of their supplies in the city, and take on bunkers, prior to sailing south.

What is probably not considered in the Mayor’s ‘Gateway to Antarctica’, are the poor cousins of the Antarctic maritime world. Yet these poor cousins utilise the port of Cape Town far more than any of the fancy expedition passenger vessels, or the interesting research vessels. They spend the months of the off seasons in the port, undertaking annual refits, drydockings, and ploughing a vast amount of job sustaining money into the local economy. These are the Antarctic fishing vessels of the Antarctic Cod longliners, and the Antarctic Krill trawlers.

Saga Sea. Cape Town, 17 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On 17th November, at 18h00 in the late afternoon, the Antarctic Krill trawler SAGA SEA (IMO 7390416) arrived off Cape Town, from somewhere not associated with Antarctica, and that would be from East London. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan dock and went alongside the outer Eastern Mole berth. A sure sign that she was here only for bunkers, and last minute uplifts of stores and fresh produce.

She had arrived at East London, as her owners had, for the first time, directed all three of their Krill fishing fleet to that port to receive their annual refits. Arriving in East London on 28th September, at 13h00 in the afternoon, from Montevideo in Uruguay, where she had called at the conclusion of the Krill fishing season. She sailed from East London on 15th November, after a stay of almost 7 weeks, bound for Cape Town. Her 2 fleetmates remain in East London, and will possibly call in Cape Town for the same reason as ‘Saga Sea’, for an uplift of bunkers and stores.

Built as far back as 1974, which is now almost 50 years ago, or a full half century, which is testament to both her builders, and her owners, ‘Saga Sea’ was built by Mangone Shipyard at Houston, in the US State of Texas. She is 92 metres in length and has a deadweight of 877 tons. She is powered by a single Wärtsilä 12V32D twelve cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 6,410 bhp (4,780 kW), driving an Ulstein controllable pitch propeller for a speed of 12.5 knots.

Saga Sea. Cape Town, 17 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Caterpillar 3512 DITA generators providing 895 kW each, and a single Caterpillar 3406 TA emergency generator providing 242 kW. For both shipboard, and fish factory, requirements she has no less than four boilers, with two Clayton EGB3H1G composite boilers, a single Clayton EHO305 composite boiler, and a Seattle SDW-700MS composite boiler.

For added manoeuvrability, both for docking purposes, and for fishing operations, ‘Saga Sea’ has a Kongsberg TCNC 73/50-180 bow, retractable, azimuth thruster providing 883 kW. She has three fishing holds for her Krill catch, with a cargo volume of 3,858 m3, and a catch capacity of 2,438 tons.

She is owned, managed, and operated by Aker BioMarine Antarctica ASA, of Lysaker in Norway, whose houseflag she displays on her funnel. Aker BioMarine also maintain a logistics centre in Montevideo, Uruguay, which was the reason for her call there, prior to crossing the Atlantic for South Africa and her winter maintenance period. Not surprisingly, ‘Saga Sea’ has the second highest ice classification of ICE 1A, which allows her to operate in Antarctic polar waters with a first year ice thickness of up to 0.7 metres. She carries a crew of 59 persons.

Saga Sea. Cape Town, 17 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

To be able to both operate and fish in Antarctic waters, ‘Saga Sea’ is licensed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). She has been licensed since May 2006, and for every year since, with her current license due to expire on 30th November 2023. Her license allows ‘Saga Sea’ to fish only for Antarctic Krill (Euphausia Superba) in UN FAO oceanic Subareas 48.1 (South Shetland Islands), 48.2 (South Orkney Islands), 48.3 (South Georgia), and 48.4 (South Sandwich Islands).

To ensure that her fishing operations remain fully legal within the CCAMLR license parameters, ‘Saga Sea’ is fitted with a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which is a satellite-linked vessel monitoring system, approved under the Regulation of the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries, and relating to satellite based monitoring of the activities of all Norwegian fishing vessels.

The Norwegian Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC) is located at the Directorate of Fisheries, in Bergen, Norway. For the duration of her current voyage, ‘Saga Sea’ will be continuously monitored, both within, and outside, the CCAMLR licensing areas, with all required position, and fishing operational data, being submitted to the CCAMLR secretariat in real time.

Saga Sea. Cape Town, 17 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For her Krill fishing operations, ‘Saga Sea’ utilises a midwater beam trawl net. This net is 135 metres in length, with a net mouth opening of 20 metres by 20 metres. The net cod end is 27 metres long, with a cod end opening of 4 metres by 4 metres. In accordance with CCAMLR licensing requirements, the net is fitted with a marine mammal exclusion device, which is located in the first section of the net, and measures 22 metres by 22 metres.

Aker BioMarine have invested in an award winning trawling method, known as Eco Harvesting technology. The net cod end is connected directly back to the fish factory deck of ‘Saga Sea’, by means of a pipe, which maintained by continuous pumping back to the vessel, and ensures that there is no bycatch, or unusable Krill resulting from catch crush pressure within the cod end.

This method of catching Krill has been rewarded by Aker BioMarine being awarded coveted Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification in 2010. Aker Biomarine were the first Krill fishery to achieve this great distinction. In 2020, Aker Biomarine received their 3rd consecutive certification, with no conditions set from MSC for its sustainable Antarctic Krill fishery. MSC is the highest renowned sustainability certification available.

Saga Sea in Antarctica. Picture: ARK

Any product that carries the blue MSC label have demonstrated that they come from a fishery that meets the most stringent sustainability standards. Fisheries, and manufacturers, that are MSC certified are audited by independent, third-party evaluators, and MSC certification guarantees that the marine resources are harvested using sustainable methods, and that all products are traceable throughout the supply chain.

The Krill catch on ‘Saga Sea’ is then processed onboard into Krill Meal, and Krill Oil. The Krill Meal is almost all utilised as an animal feed product, or within the Aquaculture industry as a foodstuff. The Krill Oil is all for human consumption, mostly for use as a health supplement. Krill Oil, is readily available at all pharmacies, and contains a rich source of Omega-3 oil, which is beneficial to both heart, and brain, health.

The Antarctic Krill fishery is conducted in one of the harshest environments on earth, in terms of both high seas and extreme weather conditions. The fishery is conducted by only a dozen Krill Trawlers, who all belong to the Association of Responsible Krill harvesting companies (ARK), which was set up by Aker BioMarine in 2012. More than half of these trawlers utilise Cape Town as their over winter maintenance base, with four of them currently still in port, and with East London being able to welcome another three of them for the first time.

Saga Sea in Antarctica. Picture: Shipspotting

Compared to other fisheries around the world, where precautionary catch limits are set to 10% of the biomass, the total allowable catch of Antarctic Krill is set only to 1% of the biomass. Despite such a low total catch limit set, together all of the licensed trawlers within the whole Krill industry only catch around half of their allocated catch limits, or around 0.5% of the biomass within UN FAO Subarea 48, which is located only around the Antarctic Peninsula, the Orkney Islands and South Georgia, and nowhere else around the waters of the Antarctic continent.

After a short period alongside in Cape Town of just nine hours, ‘Saga Sea’ sailed from the ‘Gateway to Antarctica’, heading south to start her new Krill fishing season. She sailed at 0300 in the morning of 18th November, bound for Antarctic waters, and with her AIS showing her next destination being the South Orkney Islands. No doubt Aker BioMarine will have renewed her current CCAMLR fishing license, before it expires on the 30th November, and by the time she is ready to begin Krill fishing on 30th November around the South Orkney Islands.

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Added 21 November 2023


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Houthi rebels seize Israeli-owned ship in Red Sea

Galaxy Leader, the car carrier seized by Houthi militants in Red Seas. Picture: MarineTraffic

Africa Ports & Ships

A car carrier operated by Japan’s NYK Line has been seized by Yemen’s Houthi rebels who landed on the ship using a helicopter. The 25 members of the crew, made up of Ukrainian, Filipino, Mexican and Bulgarian nationalities, have been taken hostage but are understood to be otherwise unharmed.

The 48,710-gt GALAXY LEADER (IMO 9237307) was en route from Turkey to India when attacked near the coast of Hodeidah. Galaxy Leader, which is empty of cargo, is owned by Israeli shipping magnate Abraham ‘Rami’ Unger of Ray Shipping, whose company Ray Car Carriers Ltd is registered in the Isle of Man.

The company is owner of 65 car carriers and two VLCCs.

NYK, which has chartered the vessel, said on Monday (20 November) that it had organized a crisis management centre at its head office to gather information and manage this incident. “As the vessel’s charterer, we are prioritising the safety of the 25 crew members.”

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Monday condemned the vessel’s seizure.

Attack & Seizure

The helicopter with the Houthi militants on board arrived over the vessel at around 13h00 on Sunday, local time, before several occupants rappelled down to the deck, from where they took action to secure the ship.

The attack took place within days of a warning from the Houthi movement, which occupies more than half of Yemen, that they would be seizing an Israeli commercial ship and would set it on fire. “We will sink your ships,” the warning stated in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

The capture of the Galaxy Leader marks an escalation in the actions of the Iranian-backed Houthi movement, which until now has made missile attacks on passing naval ships or has attempted to capture commercial vessels using small boats.

On 20 October, the destroyer USS Carney shot down four cruise missiles and 15 drones that according to the Pentagon had been fired by the Houthis in the direction of Israel.

Then on Wednesday last week, 15 November, “while transiting the international waters of the Red Sea, the crew of the USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116) engaged a drone that originated from Yemen and was heading in the direction of the ship.

“The Hudner’s crew engaged and shot down the drone to ensure the safety of U.S. personnel. There were no U.S. casualties or any damage to the ship,” a Pentagon official said in a statement.

The following day, Thursday 16 November, the security group International Maritime Security Construct issued an advisory to all mariners in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb strait of an impending attack, without naming any ship or the Houthis.

The advisory warned ships to stay as far away from Yemeni waters as possible and recommended travelling the area at night whenever possible.

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Added 21 November 2023


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Great Lagos to make debut in Lagos port as largest CONRO vessel

Great Lagos, the second of six G5 class CONRO ships being introduced by Grimaldi. The ship is due to arrive in Lagos next week

Africa Ports & Ships

Grimaldi’s latest CONRO vessel (combination RoRo) named appropriately GREAT LAGOS (IMO 9935026), which entered service in April this year, will make her maiden visit to the port of Lagos on Monday next, 27 November.

Great Lagos will berth at the Port Terminal Multipurpose Limited (PTML) in Lagos as also the largest CONRO vessel to call in West Africa. The ship is deployed on Grimaldi’s Europe-West Africa service.

The 85,000 gross-ton Great Lagos, built at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co Ltd shipyard in Ulsan, South Korea, is the second in the latest G5 class of ship to be introduced, with a total of six planned for delivery before the end of 2024. The G5 class of CONRO has a length of 249 metres and width of 39m, and are capable of loading 4,700 linear metres of rolling stock freight, 2,500 motor vehicle CEUs, and 2,000 TEU of containers.

While their rolling freight is similar to the earlier G4 class of ship, the G5 can carry double the number of TEUs.

Among the technological improvements, the main engine and auxiliary diesel generators meet the NOx level requirements of the Tier III regulation, while the integrated propulsion system between rudder and propeller is designed to minimise vortex losses and, consequently, optimise propulsive efficiency and reduce fuel consumption.

Where this is possible, the ships of this class are capable of ‘cold ironing’ – the ability to take shore power in place of electricity power generated on board ship while in port.

In addition, the electrical consumption of on-board machinery (pumps, fans, etc) is reduced thanks to the installation of variable frequency drive devices. The application of low friction paints reduces hull resistance, thus increasing efficiency, and the ship is equipped with hybrid exhaust gas cleaning systems for the abatement of sulphur and particulate emissions.

According to Grimaldi, Great Lagos enables a reduction of CO2 emissions per tonne transported of up to 43% compared to their earlier CONRO multipurpose ships.

Great Antwerp, the first of six G5 class CONRO ships for Grimaldi Lines

“Our G5 class of ships represents an innovative, efficient response to the demand for increasingly high quality and, at the same time, environmentally friendly maritime services,” says Gian Luca Grimaldi, President of Grimaldi Group S.p.A.

“We have proven this in recent months with the deployment of the GREAT ANTWERP – the first unit of this series – and it will be even more evident with the arrival of the Great Lagos and the other four sister units currently under construction.”

PTML Managing Director, Ascanio Russo, said the arrival of Great Lagos at PTML will not be just a routine port call. “It is a testament to the terminal’s cutting-edge facilities and its readiness to handle the new generation of mega-vessels,” he said.

“Its arrival at the Lagos Port is a testament to the port’s capability to handle vessels of such magnitude, further positioning Nigeria as a key player in the global shipping industry.”

Russo said that to receive the Great Lagos, PTML has invested over USD 20 million to extend its Berth 11, equipping it with deeper berths, expanded storage areas, and has acquired state-of-the-art cargo handling equipment.

“This transformation positions PTML as one of the most advanced logistics terminals in West Africa, capable of handling a diverse range of cargo types including bulk, break-bulk, containerised and Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) cargoes.”

PTML is situated at the Tin Can Island Port complex in Lagos harbour, which boasts not only advanced technology and infrastructure, but has deep-water berths, extensive storage areas, and advanced cargo-handling equipment, all designed for streamlining the logistics process.

Russo described PTML as one of the most advanced logistics terminals in West Africa, capable of handling a diverse range of cargo types including bulk, break-bulk, containerised, and RORO cargoes.

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Added 21 November 2023


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Africa Mercy ship finds new refuge in East London port

Africa Mercy at her new temporary home in the port of East London.  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

The Mercy Ships hospital vessel AFRICA MERCY, which has spent the last eight months in Durban, has relocated to the port of East London to continue her minor maintenance programme in the less busy river port.

Africa Mercy sailed into Durban from Senegal on 4 March this year and proceeded to the Dormac Ship Repair yard at Durban’s Bayhead, later moving into the dry dock for underwater maintenance as required after the ship’s long service in West African ports.

The ship is expected to remain in East London for three months whilst conducting further minor maintenance, a crew change and recruitment of medical practitioners in preparation for its next medical field service in Madagascar.

The Mercy Ship was replaced in Senegal with Mercy Ships’ new hospital vessel, Global Mercy.

Mercy Ships International is a non-profit organisation (NPO) that stretches across the world to provide free healthcare services to people of all ages who are in desperate need of medical help.

The NPO has volunteers onboard the vessel who perform life-altering surgeries, offer spiritual upliftment and donations to those in need.

Africa Mercy arriving in Durban on 4 March 2023 direct from Dakar in Senegal. Picture by Trevor Jones

“Mercy Ships International is one of the biggest humanitarian organisations in the world, the work they do is critical in supporting the health sector globally,” said TNPA Port Manager for the Port of East London, Sphiwe Mthembu.

“It is an honour to be able to provide a temporary home for Africa Mercy. We do hope they visit our ports again and next time see our port-city community benefit from the outstanding work they do.”

Upon completion of the maintenance work at the Port of East London, Africa Mercy will sail to Madagascar to serve for 10 months. In preparation for her next voyage, the NPO is ramping up crew members to around 270 for the sail and is providing crew members with the necessary rest as they explore East London and the Eastern Cape province.

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Added 21 November 2023


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NATO’s Naval Alliance in action: Exercise Dynamic Mariner


Reported by Paul Ridgway

Italian Navy as NATO Response Force (Maritime) for 2024

Less than two weeks ago in the Mediterranean NATO Exercise Dynamic Mariner 23 was concluded.

Participants and observers alike reflected on the significance and success of this major maritime exercise. With its focus on joint maritime operations, interoperability, and crisis response, Exercise Dynamic Mariner played a pivotal role in strengthening international alliances and improving collective security.

The exercise was carried out between 23 October and 6 November and overlapped with the Italian-led Exercise Mare Aperto 23-2, which was closing as I wrote this on 17 November.

MARCOM lead, Italian host

Led by NATO Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), and hosted by Italy, Exercise Dynamic Mariner was vital training for the Italian Navy, as it prepares to take over the NATO Response Force Maritime element (NRF/M) from Türkiye in 2024.

To quote Commander MARCOM, Vice Admiral Mike Utley of the Royal Navy: “The NRF Maritime is part of NATO’s very high readiness force. It is immediately ready to respond to changing circumstances, and that can be anything from humanitarian disaster relief, right up to crisis and warfighting, so it has to be ready for all circumstances. The Italian Maritime Force has done a great job getting themselves ready.”

Thirty warships

A wide range of advanced naval assets took part in Exercise Dynamic Mariner. They included approximately thirty warships including Italian aircraft carrier ITS Cavour, submarines, helicopters, aircraft including AV-8B Harriers and F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, as well as more than 6,000 troops, staff officers and observers from fourteen Allied nations – Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Türkiye, the UK and the US.


Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) of which we have heard much down the years also took part in the exercise. Italian minehunter ITS Gaeta, Spanish minehunter ESPS Tambre and French minehunter FS Capricorn were joined by Italian ships ITS Chioggia and ITS Alghero for the duration of the exercise. All were operating under the Commander SNMCMG2 in ITS Stromboli.

While engaged in a wide range of mine warfare training activities, they actually discovered several historic items of unexploded ordnance – demonstrating the relevance of this training to the real world. In cooperation with local authorities, they took immediate action to render the area safe once more for all shipping.

Lead-through ops

The ships also completed lead-through operations – where a vessel leads a second safely through a simulated minefield – and a simulated boarding operation on a suspect merchant vessel.

Ex Dynamic Mariner: a dynamic approach

As the exercise name suggests, a dynamic approach to maritime security was central to its objectives. The scenarios and training all played a vital role in preparing participating nations for a diverse range of security threats, ranging from humanitarian disaster to terrorism, cyber-attacks and sabotage of undersea infrastructure – all of which require a multi-dimensional and adaptive response.

Exercise Dynamic Mariner 23 fostered collaboration, interoperability and crisis response excellence between Allies, playing a key role in maintaining peace and security on the high seas.

NATO’s forthcoming transition

On the 1 July 2024, the NATO Response Force will transition to the Allied Reaction Force (ARF), under NATO’s New Force Model.

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Added 20 November 2023


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Richards Bay closes its gates as  trucks queue outside

Trucks queueing along the N2 leading to the Richards Bay port turnoff outside Empangeni. Picture: Keith Betts

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

A notice issued by RCB Terminal at the port of Richards Bay late last week advised that Transnet was suspending all incoming cargo arriving by road freight.

“The road congestion in Richards Bay has reached uncontrollable levels, such that the safety of road users within the city (Richards Bay and surrounds) has been at risk for months since the increase in truck traffic volumes,” the notice reads.

This is in response to ongoing road traffic congestion outside the port of Richards Bay that has reached levels never before experienced by the KZN port.

The road congestion has built up in line with Transnet’s rail company TFR (Transnet Freight Rail) proving inadequate to the task of railing required amounts of minerals, mainly coal, to the port as it had in previous years.

In the most recent fiscal year 2022/23 TFR hauled 49.5 million tonnes of coal to the port, mostly to the Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCB), down from well over 60 million tonnes as targeted and much further below record high figures in the 70 million tonnes previously achieved.

In response to rail’s inability, mining companies took to sending coal to the port by road truck, resulting in the unprecedented numbers of road vehicles making their way from the inland mines to the port along road systems not designed for such volumes (and mass) of transport.

On arrival near the Richards Bay port the trucks are forced to stage in a queue stretching back through the town and along neighbouring roads for tens of kilometres, including along the N2 highway. Small staging areas where trucks might assemble have become quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.

The trucks are destined for the dry bulk section of the general port, and not for the adjacent Richards Bay Coal Terminal, which is geared for incoming rail deliveries and not from the road.

In response, Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) implemented a truck booking system as a mechanism to create order, but the sheer number of arriving trucks has made this impossible to manage, either at the port gates or in the terminal stockpiles which were never created for the volume of minerals arriving at the Richards Bay terminal.

Nor does the system account for back-of-port facilities. Similarly the permit offices have proven incapable of coping with the numbers generated by this crisis.

The result is the mammoth buildup of trucks along the roads leading towards the port.

Why has this crisis arisen? The answer is that it is a complex problem but in short, Transnet has allowed the rail infrastructure to degrade, corruption in the procurement system resulted in deliveries of new locomotives and spares being delayed or cancelled, and there being no immediate answer in sight from Transnet other than replacing its own top management, which in itself further delays solution making.

Richards Bay dry bulk and breakbulk terminals and berths

There’s even evidence or at least a suggestion that a measure of passing the buck within the Transnet organisation is further complicating any workable solution.

On top of this, the Municipality of Umhlathuze (primarily Richards Bay and Empangeni) has raised its own set of red flags.

Concerned with the safety of motorists within the municipality, including the drivers of the parked trucks, it too has no obvious solution. There are no suitable truck staging areas immediately available for what has become a logistical and traffic safety nightmare.

In addition, overtime budgets for municipal policing of the road traffic situation have been exceeded at a time when truck drivers are experiencing theft and harassment while parked on the roads. That’s in addition to their cries of having no access to water, to sanitation, or the procurement of food while spending several days parked and unable to move.

What are the answers? Everyone has a theory but which is workable. According to the Road Freight Association the answer is simple – hand over the rail and ports to the private sector to run.

“The time has come for Transnet and those bits of important infrastructure to be handed over to the public sector, in terms of allowing a process of concession and privatisation so that the private sector can run an efficient, sustainable and reliable logistic system through our ports and into our global market to insure remain viable,” says Gavin Kelly, RFA Chief Executive.

However appealing this may seem to the private sector there will be little enthusiasm in Pretoria and the ranks of the ruling government, though some form of compromise action may prove possible – as with the planned partnership in joint management of the Durban Container Terminal Pier 2.

But for as long as the ANC remains in power as the government, such a call is unlikely to be considered. In any case that would be a long-term answer, not short term as is needed at Richards Bay right now.

Nor will threatening to send exports to other ports help. The most obvious close port is Maputo/Matola but take a look at a similar problem being experienced on the roads at the border between South Africa and Mozambique. That isn’t for the first time, either, nor will it be the last!

There has been some encouraging improvements with the rail connection between South Africa and Mozambique, but the Mpumalanga railway from South Africa to Maputo was never designed to handle the huge volumes of output from the South African and Botswana mines.

Only Richards Bay and Saldanha have that capacity, and then only if it goes by heavy-haul rail. Saldanha can be ruled out as not geared for coal exports while its dedicated heavy-haul railway has its own challenges.

So the longer-term solution is to fix the Richards Bay rail even with its socio-economic issues, with rampant crime that was allowed to develop to the point where whole rail systems have become broken and will need a complete rebuilt, and with political arguments clouding any sensible decision-making.

Which leaves the port of Richards Bay and its surrounds strangled with thousands of heavy coal and mineral-laden trucks unable to gain entry to a port that last week issued an order to effectively shut the gates to what few trucks might otherwise have accessed the terminal.

According to TPT, “the terminal operator is left with no choice but to immediately freeze all vessel nominations for vessels that bring in cargo via road transport.”

Since when does a well-run port terminal close its gates to customers?

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Added 20 November 2023


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WHARF TALK: MR2 methanol-friendly product tanker – STENA PROMISE

The MR2 product tanker Stena Promise arrives in Cape Town. Picture by “Dockrat”

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There is currently a great furore, and hand wringing taking place, about climate change all over the globe, and what we need to do about it. In the background, and with little fanfare, the maritime industry is actually going about its business, with some of the world’s greatest, and most responsible, shipowners, actually making great strides in the right direction in this regard.

Unbeknownst to most casual maritime observers, companies around the globe are not only looking at, but they are building, vessels that are operated using a new clean fuel. This clean fuel is currently produced from natural gas, but it is also being developed to come from renewable biomass in the future. These responsible companies that are leading the way include Maersk, MOL, NYK, Marinvest, and Stena, with the fuel being Methanol.

On 14th November, at 08h00 in the morning, the MR2 product tanker STENA PROMISE (IMO 9923748) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Point Lisas in Trinidad & Tobago, and went to anchor for a 24 hour period. However, she was not waiting for a discharge berth, as at 08h00 on the morning of 15th November, she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the Landing Wall. This is always an indication that the caller is merely in transit, and calling in for either bunkers, or shoreside engineering support.

Stena Promise led into port at Cape Town by the tug Usiba. Umbilo in the background. 15 November 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

A fairly new vessel, ‘Stena Promise’ was built in 2022 by Guangzhou Shipyard International at Guangzhou in China. She is 186 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,990 tons. Whilst she may not look much different from every other MR2 tanker that calls into any other South African port, her shipbuilder advertises that she is part of a class of vessel, and the first type of vessel to have been built in any Chinese shipyard.

The clue to what the Guangzhou Shipyard are referring to is written in large letters on the forward end of her hull, and repeated on her deck cranes. The word, made up of a collection of letters, is IMOIIMEMAX. These letters are a boast for the owner, that they are world leaders in their class for emissions, but it is the use of the letters ME that sets her apart. This is because ‘Stena Promise’ is a dual fuel vessel that can, and does, use Methanol as a fuel.

With a notably bluff bow, ‘Stena Promise’ is powered by a main engine designed for Methanol use, as well as the standard marine gas oil and marine fuel oil, hence called dual fuel use. The main engine of ‘Stena Promise’ is a Dalian MAN-B&W 6G50ME-C-GI, LGI, LGIP six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 13,546 bhp (10,101 kW), and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Stena Promise and her “notably bluff bow|,” Cape Town, 15 November 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’ 

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN-B&W 6L23/30H generators providing 1,200 kW each, and a single Cummins 6CTA-8.3D(M) emergency generator providing 122 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg OC-TCI exhaust gas composite boiler, and two Alfa Lava Aalborg OL oil fired boilers. She has 16 cargo tanks, and a cargo carrying capacity of 46,867 m3, with 16 deepwell cargo pumps, each capable of pumping at a rate of 375 m3/hour.

Nominally owned by Proman Shipping Ltd., of Limassol in Cyprus, ‘Stena Promise’ is fully owned by Proman AG, of Wollerau in Switzerland, as proudly displayed on her funnel, and the fact that her hull is green, and not the usual Stena black. She is operated by Stena Proman, which is a 50/50 Joint Venture between Stena Bulk, of Gothenburg in Sweden, and Proman, as per her logo on the aft part of her hull. She is managed by Northern Marine Management, of Glasgow in the UK, and which is a Stena AB subsidiary for management of the non-Swedish flagged vessels within the Stena fleet.

Stena Promise. Cape Town, 15 November 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

Proman AG are the world’s second largest producer of Methanol, and are a global leader in Natural Gas derived products. They operate Methanol Plants around the world, including one at Point Lisas, which was the port from which ‘Stena Promise’ sailed for Cape Town. Using a liquid fuel derived from Natural Gas reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 80%.

One of six sisterships, of which only four of the class are in service, known as the IMOIIMEMAX series, and with the final two being delivered in 2024, ‘Stena Promise’ is only one of just over 100 vessels, as per March 2023, currently in service, or on order, around the world, and which will offer a truly low carbon option for the shipowner.

The class has already displayed an unprecedented low Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) value. When operating on Methanol, ‘Stena Promise’ is already running a full 11% below the IMO 2025 Phase 3 emissions reductions requirements. It is planned that she will use around 12,000 tons of Methanol per annum.

Stena Promise. Cape Town, 15 November 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

For the casual maritime observer who is unaware of Methanol as a fuel, there are many advantages as to why new fuels, such as Methanol, can be used as a marine fuel. Its use reduces the vessel’s carbon footprint, and it is already available in large quantities in most ports around the world. In addition, it is a liquid fuel, which means that it is easy to store onboard. Another advantage is that it is biodegradable, which limits environmental damage in the event of a spill.

Methanol burns at low temperatures, and does not release soot. As indicated by Stena Bulk, compared with regular marine fuel, Methanol offers a more than 95% reduction in Sulphur Oxide (SOx) and particulate matter, and a 60% reduction in Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). The reduction of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from the vessel’s operations, is by up to 15% on a tank-to-wake basis.

Stena Promise. Cape Town, 15 November 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

In the short term, the fuel can therefore have a major impact on emissions of Nitrogen Oxide and other pollutants. In the slightly longer term, it will be produced in quantity as a climate neutral, synthetic fuel, such as Bio-Methanol and E-Methanol. These new fuels would reduce Carbon emissions by up to 95%, and Nitrogen Oxide emissions by up to 80%, and furthermore eliminate emissions of Sulphur Oxide, and particles, altogether compared to conventional marine fuels.

Furthermore, it is already available at over 100 ports worldwide, including at all major bunkering hubs. A little known fact is that the Methanol Institute Database of Methanol Ports, which lists those ports that are confirmed as providing Methanol storage, and Methanol Supply, lists Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Richards Bay as having these facilities available, and all being provided by private companies, both on, and off, the port estates.

Stena Promise and Usiba. Cape Town, 15 November 2023. Picture by ‘ Dockrat’

That being said, of further interest is that only last month, October 2023, TNPA issued a Request for Information (RFI), inviting companies to build storage infrastructure and develop terminal facilities, which included for the import, and export, of Methanol in South African ports. The RFI will be used to obtain information about the products, services and capabilities of potential developers of such a project.

The proposal covers the ports of Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, East London, Mossel Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha Bay. Why Richards Bay was not listed is a mystery, but it may simply be a typographical error. As always, there is a ‘BUT’ with anything that any Government SOE issues. The RFI is also supportive of the National Development Plan 2030, which advocates for increased investment in an energy sector that is economically inclusive. And we all know what that means!

It is not known if the call of ‘Stena Promise’ was in order to uplift normal bunkers, or Methanol, or even if she required some engineering support, but her stay was a short one. After just nine hours alongside the Landing Wall, she was ready to sail. At 17h00 on the afternoon of 15th November, ‘Stena Promise’ sailed from Cape Town, bound for Lianyungang in China.

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Added 20 November 2023


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Protests close Lebombo border crossing for heavy trucks into Mozambique

SABC YouTube video news update of the Richards Bay congestion (short)  followed with the situation at the weekend at the Lebombo border crossing [10:20]

Africa Ports & Ships

Trucking troubles flared up on Thursday last week (16 November) when irate heavy-haul truck drivers once again blockaded the N4 highway near the Lebombo border crossing into Mozambique.

By Thursday night the queue of trucks wanting to cross the border were queued along the N4 leading to the border crossing for some 37 kilometres, leaving authorities to advise other motorists to find an alternate route across the order.

The Malelane Community Policing Forum went further by urging motorists to avoid the area at all costs.

On Friday with the number of trucks lengthening further along the side of the N4 highway, light traffic was able to proceed though motorists were advised to drive cautiously while passing the long queue.

A spokesperson for the Community Policing Forum said the Marloth and Tenbosch routes remained open to light traffic.

The truckers have levelled complaints against the Lebombo Border Post management and the system being used to process truckers as they arrive to cross into Mozambique.

Truckers said that there was not a problem coming towards South Africa from Maputo and they were able to pass through the Mozambique border crossing at Ressano Garcia with little hassle.

The truckers emphasised they did not want the taxi association involved with patrolling the N4. The latter took it upon themselves to undertake patrols after disruptions earlier this year when trucks were stopped and torched. A spokesman for the truckers did not elaborate further on their reasons for not wanting the taxi association involved.

It was also reported that several vehicles belonging to the Lebombo Taxi Association had been set alight, though this could not be independently confirmed.

The immediate impact on the port at Maputo is not clear.

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Added 20 November 2023


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Beira port docks another of its longest container ships

MSC Floriana VI which is the latest ‘large’ container ship to call at the Port of Beira

Africa Ports & Ships

The Mozambique Port of Beira has handled an increasing number of larger and higher TEU capacity ships in recent months – a sign that cargo volumes and general demand on the Mozambique and East African coast is gradually increasing.

One of the the largest containerships to call at Beira was MSC FLORIANA VI (IMO 9168831) when she docked at the port recently.

The 258-metre long ship with a width of 40 metres is some distance from the feeder-type container vessels previously associated with Mozambique’s second busiest container port. This is made possible by ongoing dredging undertaken by the Mozambican dredging company to improve the condition of the river port, which has a reputation for shifting sandbanks that have long hindered the growth of the port.

Now, with additional shipping lines introducing services to include calls at Beira*, and with greater attention being given to improving road and rail access between the port and the Zimbabwe border, even larger ships are expected to become regular callers.

In fact as more lines introduce extra direct services into Mozambique these ship size records will probably continue to be broken until the point where we all start taking less or no notice.

The 5,364-teu Post Panamax MSC Floriana VI is deployed on MSCs Asia East Africa service.

Her call follows several other similar-size MSC ships, the 266-metre long MSC Houston (IMO 9463281) which called at Beira on 12 June, and the 255-metre Wide Juliet (IMO 9698264) which was in Beira also in June.

The port and terminal at Beira is operated and managed by Dutch terminal operator Cornelder de Moçambique, which has increased its investment in the port to accommodate significant growth in the movement of containerized cargo and other cargo.

Other than the acquisition of additional cargo handling equipment, the expansion of storage areas, and introduction of new technologies and systems to optimise operations, the port has already undergone dredging to deepen the access channel, the turning basin and alongside the berths to facilitate the larger vessels.

* See related story here

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Added 20 November 2023


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IMO and West and Central Africa: Exploring technical cooperation opportunities

IMO and West and Central Africa: Exploring technical cooperation opportunities

Edited by Paul Ridgway

At the end of the week just gone IMO reported that West and Central African countries attended a Knowledge Partnership workshop to explore possible opportunities and mechanisms for partnership and development cooperation with other IMO Member States and potential donors.

Bringing together officials

The West and Central Africa (Anglophone) Knowledge Partnership workshop on maritime technical cooperation activities in Accra held from 13 to 17 November brought together officials from transport ministries responsible for maritime affairs, and finance ministries responsible for official development assistance.

As part of its long-term strategy on mobilising resources for technical cooperation activities, IMO supports and enables innovative partnerships between Member States, the UN system and multilateral development banks, in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To learn more readers are invited to see here.

Funding support

The workshop afforded participants an opportunity to network and improve their understanding of each other’s needs, priorities and best practices, along with mechanisms for accessing and delivering funding support.

This gathering follows the first virtual Knowledge Partnership workshop for West and Central Africa (Anglophone) held in April 2022. Since 2018, Knowledge Partnership workshops have taken place in Asia, the Caribbean, and the Pacific regions.

Broad representation

States that took part in the Knowledge Partnership workshop were: Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, São Tomé and Principé, and Sierra Leone.

Also present were representatives from the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the Embassy of Denmark in Ghana.

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Added 20 November 2023


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Fuel spill in Beira port

Port of Beira. Picture: Cornelder de Mocambique

Africa Ports & Ships

Approximately 90,000 litres of fuel has been spilled reportedly by the distribution company Lake Oil as th fuel was being transshipped to the company’s reservoir at the Mozambique port of Beira.

The incident was confirmed by the National Agency for Environmental Quality Control.

The spill occurred as the fuel was pumped ashore from a tanker alongside the Beira berth.

News company Notícias reports that a team of investigators has been appointed to look into the spill and how it happened.

The news report states however that at first sight it appeared as if human error was responsible.

The company involved has declined to comment.

According to Portuguese-language MZNews, this is the second case of a fuel spillage at the Port of Beira this year. In January 18,000 litres of diesel as spilled into a drainage ditch in Munhava-Matope. Human error was responsible for that spill.

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Belgium’s DEME wins dredging contracts in Ivory Coast, Benin and Congo

DEME’s aptly named trailing suction hopper (TSHD) dredger, Congo River

Africa Ports & Ships

Belgian dredging specialist DEME has won several dredging contracts on the African continent amounting to a sizeable value. DEME has been active in Africa for more than half a century.

Grand-Lahou, Ivory Coast

The contract in Grand-Lahou in Ivory Coast will see DEME carrying out dredging and coastal protection works to stabilise the sand barrier between the Tagba Lagoon and the ocean.

The shoreline of Grand-Lahou is highly vulnerable to coastal erosion, flooding and increased rainfall and the fishing village is exposed to the dangers of rising sea levels.

Deploying a cutter suction dredger and hopper dredger, the Grand-Lahou coastal protection works will start in the second quarter of 2024 and will take approximately one year to complete.

Cotonou, Benin

DEME will also execute dredging works in Benin, involving the maintenance dredging of the access channel, turning circle and inner basin to the Port of Cotonou. The Cotonou contract is due to commence during the current 4th quarter of 2023.

Pointe Noire, Congo

The contract at Pointe Noire, the Congo’s main port, will involved the deployment of a hopper dredger for dredging works during the construction of a fishing port.

DEME specialises in the fields of dredging, land reclamation, marine infrastructure, offshore energy and environmental remediation. The company has been in existence for more than 145 years and currently employs about 5,000 highly skilled personnel.

DEME large fleet of technologically advanced vessels and auxiliary equipment is easily recognisable with its bright green livery.

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Severe floods in the Horn of Africa

Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery

Edited by Paul Ridgway

After being impacted by a severe drought, the Horn of Africa is now being hit by devastating floods. At this time of year, the region is often affected by heavy rains which lead to flooding, causing extensive damage to the local infrastructure, homes, agriculture and livelihoods.

This year, the El Niño meteorological phenomenon is intensifying the rainy season in the region, particularly affecting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. More than one hundred casualties have been reported and at least 700,000 people displaced*.

Garissa, Kenya

On 11 November one of the Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites acquired this image (above) of the flooded areas near Garissa in Kenya.

The Global Flood Monitoring (GFM) of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service is a fully automated system which uses Copernicus Sentinels data to monitor floods worldwide in near real time, providing flood monitoring maps within eight hours of satellite image acquisition at a spatial resolution of 20m at global level.


As mentioned before Copernicus is the Earth Observation component of the European Union’s space programme, looking at the planet and its environment for the benefit of Europe’s citizens.

Space Week

On 14 November the Copernicus office reported that EU Space Week 2023 concluded with significant developments for stakeholders in the space sector.

The event, held in Sevilla and streamed online, saw over 1200 participants engage in meaningful discussions on the diverse developments in the EU Space Programme.

Key sessions facilitated dialogue on real-world uses and future prospects in areas such as road infrastructure and agricultural sustainability.

Furthermore, the introduction of four Copernicus Thematic Hubs—focusing on health, coastal regions, energy, and the Arctic—marks a pivotal move towards better accessibility and application of space-based data, paving the way for their use in decision-making across Europe.

The event also underscored the increasing importance of space entrepreneurship and the strategic relevance of security and defence in space, emphasising the EU’s commitment to nurturing innovation and protecting its strategic interests in this area.

* For more on this tragedy readers are invited to see here.

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South Africa, UAE are Africa, Middle East sustainability leaders

Global warming. Picture: Unsplash

Africa Ports & Ships

New report says both regions are committed to environment despite being ‘late comers’

According to a new report that compares government and business sustainability policies, investment and actions, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are doing the most to combat climate change in the Middle East and Africa.

The Middle East and Africa Environmental Sustainability Scorecard, released Thursday, is a detailed examination of country performance in environmental sustainability outcomes, government policies, and corporate practices in the two regions.

The report concludes that the 17 countries covered “are relative ‘late comers’ to global sustainable development but at the same time represent regions that are rapidly stepping-up their sustainability strategies, programs and investments.”

The report was commissioned by Agility, a global supply chain services company based in Kuwait. It was compiled by Horizon Group, a Geneva-based firm that specialises in research and analysis for governments, international organisations, and leading businesses worldwide.

The scorecard uses 48 performance and progress indicators to compare countries. The indicators include data, regulatory frameworks, policy assessments, incentives and corporate practices across six pillar areas: green investment and technology; sustainable infrastructure and transport; governance and reporting; energy transition; environmental ecosystems; and circularity.

To capture corporate practices and progress, Horizon surveyed 647 business executives in the 17 countries.

One through 17, here’s how the countries rank: South Africa, UAE, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Morocco, Qatar, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Cote d’Ivoire, Oman, Mozambique.

Key Findings

* Business isn’t paying attention to COP. Eighty-two percent of African businesses and 49% of Middle East businesses are not aware of the UN-led COP process that nations are using to push and measure efforts to tackle climate change. Few companies use COP to set their sustainability targets.

* Climate change is hurting businesses. Ninety-seven percent of companies say their business has been affected by climate change, and 49% say climate change has caused “severe damage” or has a “significant and growing” impact on them.

* Governments are leading as businesses play catch up. When it comes to climate action, governments are outpacing the private sector in both the Middle East and Africa.

* Business spending on sustainability is expected to increase. Over the next 12 months, 73% of African businesses and 62% of Middle East businesses expect more than 5% of their capital expenditure business to go to achieving environmental targets.

* No one size fits all. Different countries have different sustainability priorities based on income, economic strengths, energy dependency, and other factors. High-income, energy-producing Gulf countries generally invest more in sustainable infrastructure and ecosystems. African economies perform best in energy conservation and consumption.

* Green investment is expensive. High- and middle-income countries are investing the most: Qatar, UAE, Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

* Africa is focused on green transport. Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and South Africa are tops in energy conservation and non-fossil fuels for transport. Hydrocarbon-dependent Gulf countries are focused more on green buildings.

* For Gulf countries, the transition to cleaner energy is complicated by energy-intensive national priorities such as their desire to boost manufacturing and their need for desalinated water. In general though, across both the Middle East and Africa, more companies are investing in greening their fleets compared to greener premises.

* Waste management, consumption are tied to wealth. High-income countries are doing more to manage waste sustainably. Poorer ones do more to constrain consumption. Overall, Egypt, South Africa, Bahrain and UAE perform best in “circularity” – cutting waste, lowering consumption, and encouraging recycling and sustainable production.

Agility was recently named the No. 3 Middle East “Sustainability Leader” for Transport & Logistics by Forbes Middle East. Vice Chairman Tarek Sultan said the company’s strategy and investment decisions are increasingly shaped by the urgency of the climate fight.

“As a supply chain operator and investor in the Middle East and Africa, we want to know what governments and businesses are prioritising, and where they’re putting resources in the climate change battle,” Sultan said.

“We want to know who we can partner with in green infrastructure and transport, alternative fuels, and supply chain services that reduce environmental impact without sacrificing performance.”

Horizon, which compiled the scorecard report for Agility, said its intent was to look |”beyond the selective characteristics of the Middle East being fossil fuel-dependent with high greenhouse gas emissions per capita, and African countries being low emitters of greenhouse gases but taking relatively little action on the environment.”

The scorecard report comes on the eve of COP28, the UN-led global climate change conference convening from 30 November to 12 December in Dubai. Its findings amplify those of a World Economic Forum (WEF) report, issued in October, on decarbonisation and energy transition in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The WEF report concluded that “MENA countries trail behind comparable regions in terms of their sustainability progress. While local governments have pledged in the past 24 months to bring 60% of MENA’s emissions under the net zero ambition, businesses overall have yet to follow suit and bridge the gap with comparable global markets –12% have set up a net zero target and 6% have established a roadmap to reach net zero.”

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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 during October 2023 21.725 million tonnes

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