Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 13 January 2024

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Azamara Pursuit. Picture by Trevor Jones
Azamara Pursuit. Picture by Trevor Jones

The cruise ship AZAMARA PURSUIT (IMO 9210220), which is conducting a series of cruises along the Southern African coast, with calls at most of the ports, can be seen here making her scheduled departure from Durban on 29 December 2023.

Azamara Pursuit, originally named R Eight for Renaissance Cruises, and built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France in 2001, was later acquired by the Carnival Corp following the demise of her original owner. Having been transferred to several of Carnival’s divisions the ship has operated with the names Minerva II (briefly for Swan Hellenic), Royal Princess for Princess Cruises, and Adonia (P&O Cruises), plus a short spell with the then new and short-lived brand Fathom.

In 2018, following an extensive refit, the ship was transferred into the Azamara Club Cruises fleet and received her current name, along with two sister former R ships Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.

Azamara Pursuit has a gross tonnage of 30,277t, a length of 180 metres  and beam of 25m. The ship has 12 decks of which 9 are accessible by passengers. She is powered by 4 Wärtsilä 12V32 engines producing 13,500 kW (18,100-hp) to provide a speed of 18 knots. The ship has a passenger capacity of 777 and carries a crew of 380.

Pictures by Trevor Jones

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In Conversation: Houthi rebel Red Sea attacks and the threat of escalation and supply chain chaos are a major headache – and not just for the west

Show of strength: an image released by the UK ministry of defence, of the Royal Navy responding to the Houthi attack.
Owen Cooban/Ministry of Defence

Basil Germond, Lancaster University

US and UK warships have repelled a mass drone attack launched by Yemeni Houthis rebels in the Red Sea. The incident, which reportedly involved a barrage of 20 rockets, drones and cruise missiles, was the largest concerted attack to be launched by the Iran-backed rebels. The UK defence secretary, Grant Shapps, called the attacks “unacceptable” and said that the consequences for the Houthis will be “severe”.

The UN security council will consider a resolution proposed by the US that condemns the Houthi attacks and demands they cease immediately.

The US has assembled a multinational naval task force to respond to the threat to Red Sea shipping. But, so far, these efforts have had limited effects and – in an increasingly volatile Middle East – options are running out.

Operation Prosperity Guardian, as the task force is called, has not yet managed to deter Houthis nor to sufficiently limit the number of attacks to restore confidence in the Red Sea route within the shipping sector. The rebels have not hesitated to innovate and diversify their attack methods to continue putting pressure on trading nations. For instance, in addition to aerial drones and missiles they have recently used maritime drones.

Asymmetrical threat

The threat posed by the Houthis is a classic case of asymmetrical warfare. With limited means, they have enough leverage to disrupt the global economy. Freedom of navigation and the stability of global maritime supply chains are crucial for liberal economies that are highly dependent on the free flow of goods at sea.

This is in no way limited to western nations. The Red Sea accounts for about 15% of global sea traffic. Even landlocked countries and those located far away from the Red Sea depend on distant maritime supply chains for their imports and exports.


Strategic nightmare: Houthi rebels in Yemen can threaten the safety of shipping heading to or from the Suez canal, imperilling global supply chains

This is why Houthi attacks have a disproportionate impact. The rising insurance premiums and the costs of rerouting ships via the Cape of Good Hope will slowly but steadily trickle down to businesses and consumers all over the world. This shift might have enduring long-term impacts on the global economy.

To counter such an asymmetric threat, defending commercial shipping rather than preventing and deterring attacks is not proving efficient. The naval response, meanwhile, is costly for participating nations. Given the cost of surface-to-air missiles used by western navies to destroy much cheaper Houthi drones, the cost-benefit ratio is negative, although this does not account for the cost of a ship and its cargo.

But deterring Houthi attacks is equally arduous because politically motivated combatants are willing to engage in deadly combat and are not afraid of military or political escalation in the region.

No good option on the table

Recent efforts by the US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, have been directed at containing the war in Gaza and preventing it to spread to the whole region. But the patience of the US, the UK and others is running out, and there is a growing consensus around the need to strike Houthi positions on land.

The UK’s chancellor of the exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, acknowledged that these attacks “may have an impact”. He said the rebels have been warned “that there will be consequences and we will not just sit back and accept that because it’s so vital for global trade”. This is no exaggeration.

His remarks followed a pledge from Shapps, that the UK “won’t hesitate to take further action to deter threats to freedom of navigation in the Red Sea”.

Depending on their political mandate, the rules of engagement of navies operating in the Red Sea can be adapted, for instance, to include the targeting of hostile naval assets at sea or even ashore. But there is a big difference between shooting down incoming missiles or destroying small vessels that target civilian traffic at sea and striking Houthi positions on land. In the current geopolitical context, this is a decision to take with due consideration.

Indeed, airstrikes entail further risks of regional escalation, for instance, drawing other countries in the region, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, into the conflict. Houthis and their backers might even be content for the war in Gaza to further escalate. Elsewhere, Putin’s Russia will also benefit from any scenario in which western attention and resources would be drawn away from Ukraine.

Yet if the Houthi threat is not dealt with – and if commercial shipping must divert from the Red Sea for a prolonged period – then the cumulative impacts on the global economy will be detrimental to most nations, in the west and beyond.

Interestingly, instability in the Red Sea is neither in China’s interest nor in the interests of any other non-western large trading nations because their economies are strongly and undeniably dependent on the global maritime supply chain.

In Washington, London and other major capitals, finding the right balance between defence and coercion will be key to securing peace in the Middle East while protecting the global maritime supply chain. Time is running out for both.The Conversation

Basil Germond, Professor of International Security, Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University

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

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US and UK missile strikes could signal the ‘beginning of the endgame’ in the Red Sea crisis

But severe disruption will remain in ocean freight supply chains

Xeneta: Missile strikes by the US and UK against Houthi militia in Yemen has brought heightened tensions across the region with disruption to ocean freight shipping set to deteriorate further.

At approximately 2.30am (Sanaa/Red Sea time) today, Friday, the US and UK military carried out air strikes on targets in Yemen in response to Houthi militia attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea, which have totalled 27 since November 19.

Peter Sand, Chief Analyst at Xeneta – the leading ocean freight shipping rate benchmarking and intelligence platform, said: “We want to see safe, risk-free voyages through the area for vessels and the situation must calm down for that to happen.

Peter Sand

“There is never a straight line to a resolution and perhaps the missile strikes in Yemen by the US and UK is the beginning of the endgame in this crisis, but, short term, things will get worse before they get better for ocean freight supply chains.”

The attacks by Houthi militia have forced ocean freight container ships on critical trade routes through the Suez Canal from the Far East to the Mediterranean, North Europe and US East Coast to divert around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and miss port calls in an attempt to make up lost time.

The latest data from Xeneta shows ocean freight shipping rates from the Far East to the Mediterranean and North Europe are set to hit 200% increases since mid-December in the next seven days. Shippers are now using the Xeneta platform to evaluate these risks and take data-led decisions to protect their supply chains.

“Vessels are already avoiding the area due to the Houthi attacks and the US and UK missile strikes are unlikely to change that,” said Sand. “The longer this crisis goes on, the more disruption it will cause to ocean freight shipping across the globe and costs will continue to rise.

“This means goods being delayed, or not arriving at all, and rising prices for the end consumer.”

Iran, which has supported the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, has previously stated it would respond to any military intervention in the region by the US or its allies with military action of its own in the Strait of Hormuz.

Sand said tension in the Middle East is nothing new and there has always been a level of risk for ocean freight shipping. “You cannot rule anything out, but it is unlikely we will see escalations of this kind in the Strait of Hormuz.

“But we are looking at months rather than weeks or days before this crisis reaches any kind of resolution.”

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US and UK military launch attacks against Houthi bases

Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft used by the RAF against Houthi positions last night. Picture Airrecognition

Africa Ports & Ships

Following repeated attacks using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), anti-ship and ballistic missiles and a manned multiple boat attack on commercial and US and UK naval shipping in the lower Red Sea, a combined US and UK air and missile strike was carried out last night (Thursday 11 January 2024) against selected Houthi sites in Yemen.

Assets used by the British and American forces included warship and submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles and aircraft.

The UK Royal Air Force used four Typhoon aircraft launching Paveway guided bombs on two of the selected Houthi sites. According to UK military statements, the RAF bombed a site in north-west Yemen used by the Houthis to launch reconnaissance and attacks drones.

The second target was an airfield said to be used for launching cruise missiles against shipping in the Red Sea.

US aircraft and missiles stuck a reported 60 targets at 16 sites in Yemen, including “command-and-control nodes, munitions depots, launching systems, production facilities and air defence radar systems.”

The attacks came after several urgent warnings were made to the Houthi movement to desist from launching further attacks on legitimate shipping crossing the Red Sea, which has become a threat to the economies of numerous countries and forcing ships to divert the long way around the Cape of Good Hope.

President Joe Biden said that attempts had been made to seek diplomatic solutions. The US and its allies, he said, will not tolerate the ceaseless attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

Military and political analysts suggest last night’s attacks on Houthi positions will make no immediate difference and that Houthis will continue harassing shipping crossing the Red Sea.

As a result they expect further action to be taken by the allied coalition forces that have agreed to defend the rights of commercial shipping to use the strategically and economically important waterway.

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Vopak Terminal Durban and TPL consortium awarded LNG Terminal concession at Richards Bay port

South Dunes Precinct at the Port of Richards Bay where the new LNG terminal will emerge. The vast RBCT coal terminal can be seen at top.  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has appointed the Vopak Terminal Durban & Transnet Pipelines (TPL) Consortium Venture as the preferred bidder to develop and operate a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal at the Port of Richards Bay.

The terminal is set to change the economic dynamics of the port city, the KwaZulu Natal Province and introduce an alternative source of energy as South Africa battles an energy crisis and transitions towards decarbonization.

Following a procurement process through a Request for Proposals, TNPA has appointed the Vopak & TPL Consortium Venture to design, develop, construct, finance, operate, and maintain the LNG terminal in the South Dunes Precinct at the Port of Richards Bay for a period of 25 years.

The terminal is a partnership between the private sector and the public sector, with the private sector as the lead investor. TNPA will invest in the Common User Port Infrastructure, while the terminal operator will provide the terminal infrastructure.

“TNPA is excited about the prospects this project brings, especially that this gas infrastructure project will be the first of its kind in South Africa. This is a testament to our dedication to promoting economic activity, job creation, and sustainable energy solutions,” said Moshe Motlohi, TNPA Managing Executive for the Eastern Region ports.

He said this milestone brings TNPA closer to its strategic goal of assisting the country through this LNG import terminal and as a midstream LNG importation infrastructure for markets in the KwaZulu Natal hinterland.


Vopak is a Dutch private company, listed on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange, and is a major player in the Oil & Gas sector including LNG infrastructure development and operation.

The Vopak Terminal at Island View, Port of Durban. Picture: Vopak

Vopak has a network of 78 terminals including Gas, Industrial, Chemical, and Oil in 23 countries and has a strong footprint in supporting the global trade of Oil & Gas products and services.

Transnet Pipelines (TPL) is a South African public company established in 1965 and plays a critical role in the energy industry in the South African economy.

TPL is a custodian of the country’s strategic pipeline assets and is currently servicing two key industries fuel and gas by transporting petroleum and gas products over varying distances. TPL handles products including gas, crude oil, diesel, leaded & unleaded petrol and aviation fuels.

This project is in line with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s (DMRE’s) Strategic Plan for 2020-25, which focuses on the development of the gas market as an alternative source of energy to meet limited and depleting energy supply.

It also supports the country’s Integrated Resources Plan and its gas-to-power generation targets.

Project timelines will see the commercial operation during 2027, with the next step being the signing of the terminal operator agreement which is currently under negotiation.

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Removal of pollutants from grounded fishing vessel Elke M begins

Elke M on the rocks off Shark Point. Picture: SAMSA

Africa Ports & Ships

Operations to remove pollutants the fishing vessel ELKE M that ran aground near Cape St Francis this week commence.

Earlier, the standby tug UMKHUSELI arrived with support personnel, together with a helicopter to assist with the salvage.

Elke M ran onto the rocks of Shark Point, in the Cape St Francis area during low tide on late Saturday night 6 January 2024.

All 24 crew were safely evacuated and picked up by sea rescue craft and an assisting fellow fishing vessel. There were no injuries.

The position where the vessel ran ashore is approximately 1 mile from Port St Francis.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), which is coordinating the salvage effort, reported that deployment of equipment to the vessel to commence the process of removing the pollutants is a priority.

The initial focus is the removal of the 35 tonnes of diesel on board. Due to inclement weather in the area over the previous two days operations could only begin today (Wednesday 10 January).

SAMSA said it will continue monitoring the process and has also activated the Incident Management Structure (IMS) which includes owners, the insurers (P&I Club), municipality officials, the NSRI, salvors, environmental management organisations and other relevant parties.

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Houthis make largest overnight attack on naval and commercial ships in Red Sea

HMS Diamond, the Royal Navy’s third Daring class destroyer, currently on duty in the Red Sea.  Picture: MoD

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US and British naval ships shot down and destroyed a significant number of drones and missiles coming from Houthi-occupied Yemen in the direction of naval and commercial ships in the lower Red Sea area near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

The ships engaged in this activity were USS Laboon (DDG-58), USS Gravely (DDG-107), USS Mason (DDg-87) and HMS Diamond (D-34) of the Royal Navy. Also involved in the shooting down were F/A-18s (Hornets) from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)

Between the ships and US aircraft, 18 one-way unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), two anti-ship cruise missiles and one anti-ship ballistic missile were destroyed by the naval forces guarding the waterway.

According to US Centcom, there were no injuries or damage to any of the ships in the shipping lanes. It wasn’t clear if any particular ship was targeted. Central Command said this was the 26th such attack by the Houthis against shipping in the strategic waterway.

In a statement the UK Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said that overnight the largest attack involving aerial drones was repelled by HMS Diamond and US warships, with Diamond using Sea Viper missiles and guns to engage the incoming drones heading towards the Daring-class destroyer and commercial shipping in the area.

No injuries or damage to HMS Diamond and her crew were reported.

“The UK alongside allies have previously made clear that these illegal attacks are completely unacceptable and if continued, the Houthis will bear the consequences.

“We will take the action needed to protect innocent lives and the global economy,” Shapps said.

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Richards Bay conveyor belt returns to service

Port of Richards Bay, where one of three fire damaged conveyors has finally been returned to service.  Picture: TNPA

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One of the three conveyor belts damaged in the October 2021 fires has been returned to full operation at the Richards Bay Bulk Terminal.

According to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), this is the result of prioritising the handling of coal exports. TPT says it will lead to more over 400 coal trucks being taken off the road as the 2,2 kilometre – long conveyor belt has an output of more than three million tons per year.

Thulasizwe Dlamini, Managing Executive at the Richards Bay Terminals said the rebuild program had been rolling out over the past two years.

“I am very grateful that we did not default on the undertaking we made. The team has been steadfast in getting this infrastructure back on track,” he said.

“It is exciting that we are going to be able to service our customers efficiently again.”

Dlamini added that the terminal was working on returning the remaining two conveyor belts to operations in July this year.

The Richards Bay Bulk Terminal is located in one of South Africa’s two major bulk ports and handles over 20 varying commodities ranging from magnetite, chrome and coal to sulphur, alumina and vermiculite.

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Airfreight: Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services adds Casablanca

Ethiopian Airlines Cargo Boeing 777-200F.  Picture: Ethiopian Cargo

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Casablanca becomes Ethiopian Airlines 35th Freighter Destination in Africa

Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services has added Casablanca as the airline’s 35th destination in Africa.

Talking of the new service via LinkedIn, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr Mesfin Tasew said Ethiopian Airlines is excited to announce the launch of the freighter services to Casablanca, Morocco.

“The new service opens a new chapter as it is our maiden venture into the Maghreb region as part of our global freighter network.

“This addition increases our total African freighter destinations to 35 and boosts our commitment to delivering reliable and efficient services.

“As the largest cargo network operator in Africa and a key air cargo service provider globally, Ethiopian Airlines will continue expanding its services around the world by opening new routes to facilitate global trade and the flow of goods,” Tasew said.

Ethiopian Airline’s freighter services to Casablanca will be operated using the modern Boeing 777-200F cargo aircraft with payload capacity of more than 100 tons.

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DNV: Maritime decarbonization efforts propelled as orders for alternative-fueled vessels grow

DNV AFI report at 31 December 2023.  Picture” DNV

Africa Ports & Ships

The latest stats from DNV’s Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform found that a total of 298 ships with alternative fuel propulsion were ordered in 2023 – an 8% increase year on year. The year also saw methanol go mainstream, with a sharp increase in orders (138) putting it neck and neck with LNG (130). Additionally, 2023 marked a breakout year for ammonia, with 11 orders for vessels run on this fuel, and more in the pipeline.

Faced with increasing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including stricter targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in July 2023, the maritime sector is considering a range of decarbonization options. Through its AFI platform DNV registers the industry’s efforts related to newbuild vessels and retrofitting with 298 orders for vessels able to run on alternative fuels logged in 2023, and a total of 1281 ships overall.

“As we navigate towards a greener maritime future, the growing demand for alternative-fueled vessels speaks volumes,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO Maritime at DNV. “These orders send pivotal signals to fuel providers and other important partners on shipping’s decarbonization journey. While it is clear that the maritime fuel technology transition is already underway, we now need to ensure the fuels powering these engines become available.

“It is however crucial to emphasise that focusing solely on fuels may divert our focus from achieving significant impact in this decade. What is required are concrete measures that actively lower emissions. Energy efficiency initiatives can yield decarbonization outcomes both now and leading up to 2030.”

By a small margin, methanol proved the most popular alternative fuel choice in 2023 with 138 ships ordered (excluding methanol carriers), a steep increase compared to the 35 ordered to run on this fuel the year before. The dominating segment for this fuel was container ships (106), followed by bulk carriers (13) and car carriers (10).

The second alternative fuel of choice in 2023 was LNG with 130 vessels ordered, down from 222 in 2022. However, when looking at newbuilds alone LNG would be in the lead as a considerable proportion of methanol orders were for retrofits.

Last year also saw LNG finally break the 1000 vessel barrier (excluding LNG carriers), showing the fuel’s continued importance in the maritime energy transition. In 2023, the containers segment was the most active (48) for LNG, followed by car carriers (40), and tankers (30).

The year also saw the first orders for vessels due to run on ammonia (11) come through, whereas with just five orders, hydrogen was a less popular choice compared to the previous year (18).

“Investments in alternative- fueled vessels have been heavily driven by the container and car carrier newbuild boom over the last three years,” commented Martin Wold, Principal Consultant in DNV’s Maritime Advisory business.

“It remains to be seen if this trend continues into 2024.”

For DNV’s AFI platform as at end of December 2023 – DNV’s Alternate Fuel Insight   CLICK HERE

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NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian (OSG)

A team from the Turkish Maritime Special Operations Force under the control of Special Operations Command and Control Element (SOCCE) in Türkiye, embarked on the Turkish frigate TCG Gokova to execute a boarding on mv Bluefish during NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian SOF activation exercise. Picture: NATO MARCOM Public Affairs

Reported by Paul Ridgway

In December the Public Affairs Office at NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) reported a strategic display of capability and readiness known as Operation Sea Guardian (OSG).

This was conducted in the Eastern Mediterranean as a rigorous activation exercise demonstrating the deployment of a standby maritime special forces unit under the control of Special Operations Command and Control Element (SOCCE) in Türkiye.

Testing procedures

It is understood that the comprehensive live exercise meticulously tested and validated existing procedures, emphasizing the importance of a command and control structure

Ensuring legitimacy while boarding

In adherence to international maritime law, the Allied Maritime Command executed the Flag State Consent Request process through NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), ensuring legitimacy while conducting a lawful inspection of cargo on the high seas.

Following weeks of detailed planning, a highly skilled team from the Turkish Maritime Special Operations Force (SOF) under control of SOCCE in Türkiye, assigned to Operation Sea Guardian, embarked in the Turkish frigate TCG Gokova and boarded mv Bluefish. This fictitious scenario involved the vessel simulating it being suspected of engaging in illegal activities related to terrorism.

Operation Sea Guardian is a collaborative, year-round maritime security operation designed to maintain Maritime Situational Awareness, deter and counter-terrorism activity, and build capacity and interoperability among NATO Allies and partners. Picture: NATO MARCOM Public Affairs

Coordination with civilian shipping

The SOF team assumed control of the vessel, conducted a thorough inspection of documentation, searched the cargo, and secured identified terrorists on board. The NATO Shipping Centre was pivotal in coordinating with merchant shipping, providing invaluable support to execute the exercise in a near-real scenario.

Ability to take command of special forces

Highlighting the collaborative nature of this exercise, the Turkish Navy’s support was instrumental in its overall success. The multinational staff of SOCCE in Türkiye, tasked with conducting Maritime Special Operations in the Mediterranean Sea in support of HQ MARCOM within the mandate of Operation Sea Guardian, demonstrated its ability to take command of assigned Special Forces during operations.

Safeguard peace and stability in the Mediterranean

This advanced capability exemplifies the contributions NATO nations make to the alliance, particularly in Operation Sea Guardian’s mission to safeguard peace and stability in the Mediterranean Sea


Rear Admiral Stefan Pauly, Commander, Surface Forces NATO commented: “This exercise demonstrates NATO’s readiness and resolve to tackle the most challenging operations, effectively countering a broad spectrum of threats to the maritime domain.

“This advanced capability exemplifies the contributions NATO nations make to the alliance, particularly in Operation Sea Guardian’s mission to safeguard peace and stability in the Mediterranean Sea.”

A collaborative security operation

OSG is a collaborative, year-round maritime security operation designed to maintain Maritime Situational Awareness, deter and counter-terrorism activity, and build capacity and interoperability among NATO Allies and partners.

Based on material from NATO MARCOM Public Affairs.

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Attacks on shipping: UN Security Council briefed

USS Laboon DDG-58, while on patrol in lower Red Sea as part of Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG), intercepted and shot down a number of unmanned aerial drones originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen. The drones were inbound to the destroyer, which later responded to two tankers that were targets of further Houthi drones. Picture: US Navy / CENTCOM

Reported by Paul Ridgway

Following attacks on the MSC United and Maersk Hangzhou in late December senior UN officials told the Security Council on 3 January of the imperative to safeguard global supply chains and avoid exacerbating regional tensions.

Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations commented: “Continued Houthi threats to maritime navigation — coupled with the risk of further military escalation — could potentially impact millions in Yemen, the region and the world.

“Recalling that shipping companies Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have halted Red Sea operations, he detailed the effects on global supply chains — increased freight costs and lengthened delivery times.”

Also calling for the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew — seized by the Houthis on 19 November 2023 — he reiterated that such incidents originating from Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen must stop.

As speakers took the floor, many condemned Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea and called for the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

Statements from African Members

The following are highlighted:

Amar Bendjama (Algeria), noting the global importance of safe maritime navigation through the Red Sea, urged that recent developments there should be analysed within a broader regional context.

The region is currently navigating a challenging period of instability, and therefore it is necessary to abstain from escalating tensions to prevent the emergence of regional conflict with “out of control consequences”, he stressed.

He went on to state that the primary responsibility for maritime security rests with coastal States — best positioned to ensure the safety of crucial waterways — and underscored that any collective effort lacking the active involvement of such States is “likely to fall short of achieving the desired results”. He emphasised that the Red Sea is more than just a trade route — it is steeped in civilizations and communities with legitimate aspirations and hopes.

Domingos Estȇvão Fernandes (Mozambique) expressed grave concern over the escalating tensions in the Red Sea, warning that any decline in commercial shipping in the Red Sea will inevitably have adverse effects on both regional and worldwide trade.

Maritime security is indispensable for effective trade flows, he said, also stressing that any progress achieved so far towards a comprehensive ceasefire agreement in Yemen should not be overshadowed by the escalating violence in the Red Sea.

“As custodians of international peace and security, it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the ongoing peace efforts in Yemen are not jeopardized by these attacks,” Fernandes said.

Michael Imran Kanu (Sierra Leone) expressed concern that, despite the Council’s press statement issued on 1 December 2023, maritime attacks in the Red Sea have escalated — adversely affecting navigation and threatening the movement of essential commodities such as food and fuel.

Noting the United States’ initiative to establish a multinational task force to deter and counter Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, he said: “In this significant endeavour, we urge for due compliance with international law.”

He called on all concerned to take appropriate steps to ensure that attacks on vessels in the Red Sea do not lead to a breakdown in the Yemeni peace process. Also he expressed concern over possible regional escalation, and called on all regional actors to refrain from provocative acts.

Based on material made available by the UN Media Service, New York.

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Maersk reverses course, heads around the Cape

Maersk Hangzhou, which came under attack and an attempted boarding on 30 December 2023. Picture: Pascal Bredel / Marine Traffic

Africa Ports & Ships

Following a further attack on a Maersk ship transiting the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and Red Sea, Maersk has taken the decision to divert all Red Sea and Gulf of Aden transits via the Cape until further notice.

Maersk had been, with CMA CGM, the first shipping company to agree to re-route through the Red Sea following the formation of the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian comprising warships of several nations. Then followed the attack on 30 December on the Maersk Hangzhou by missile and by attempted boarding.

During this attack two US naval destroyers responded and destroyed three of the four Houthi speedboats, but not before a missile struck the container ship, which suffered some damage but fortunately with no injuries to the crew.

Maersk said in an announcement that following this incident on their vessel, “….we have made the decision to pause all transits through the Red Sea / Gulf of Aden until further notice. We appreciate your patience as we navigate this challenging situation.”

Maersk added that an investigation into the incident is ongoing and it will continue to pause all cargo movement through the area.

“In cases where it makes most sense for our customers, vessels will be rerouted and continue their journey around the Cape of Good Hope. You can find the latest diversion and contingency plans on

“This decision has been taken to assure the safety of our seafarers and your cargo on our vessels, which is our utmost priority.”

Situation reassessed

That was on 2 January. Since then Maersk has reassessed the situation and will continue to re-route ships around the cape of Good Hope “for the foreseeable future.”

“The situation is constantly evolving and remains highly volatile, and all available intelligence at hand confirms that the security risk continues to be at a significantly elevated level,” Maersk said.

“We have therefore decided that all Maersk vessels due to transit the Red Sea / Gulf of Aden will be diverted south around the Cape of Good Hope for the foreseeable future.

“We understand the potential impact this will have on your logistics operations, but please rest assured that all decisions have been carefully considered and ultimately prioritise the safety of our vessels, seafarers and your cargo.

“By suspending voyages through the Red Sea / Gulf of Aden, we hope to bring our customers more consistency and predictability despite the associated delays that come with the re-routing.”

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Transaid looks back on a silver year

Transaid’s road safety programmes have continued at pace in 2023, and its driver training programmes in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Mozambique have seen great success in terms of the numbers of trainers and drivers that have been trained to an improved standard. Picture: Transaid

Reported by Paul Ridgway

Road safety and access to healthcare across sub-Saharan Africa

Throughout 2023, Transaid’s silver jubilee year, the charity continued to transform lives through safe, available and sustainable transport. It has been a year to celebrate the unique partnerships that have been forged over the last quarter century.

Two core areas

Thanks to an incredible network of supporters and partners, Transaid has maintained its position as a recognised leader in two core areas of focus.

Transaid’s Patron HRH The Princess Royal

The charity has continued to work with local partners, civil society, international organisations, the private sector, governments and donors implementing sustainable and impactful programmes in road safety and access to healthcare across sub-Saharan Africa.

As Transaid concludes its twenty-fifth anniversary year it reflects on its successes of the last quarter century and looks forward to a new strategy commencing in 2024 for the charity.

New strategy

Significant plans are already in place to continue to grow the scale and impact of road safety and access to healthcare work and increase focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Transaid sends thanks to those who support Transaid and who have made the achievements of the last twenty-five years possible.

Successful Christmas Appeal

Shortly before the end of the year Transaid conveyed its thanks to the companies and individuals that supported the 2023 Christmas Appeal and made it the most successful exceeding the original fundraising target and raising over £42,000.

For more…
Read more about Transaid’s incredible 25th Anniversary year readers are invited to see here

The Transaid Silver Jubilee corporate film is available in the following YouTube video [05:44]:

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Fishing vessel Elke M aground near Cape St Francis, crew safe

Picture: SAMSA / FaceBook

Africa Ports & Ships

A crew of 24 fishermen have been rescued after their 29-metre vessel, Elke M (IMO  8616659), ran aground onto rocks at low tide off Shark Point, in the Cape St Francis area on Saturday 6 January 2024.

Following a call by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Emergency Operations Centre, the NSRI St Francis Bay duty crew were activated and launched their Rescue 21 craft to go to the scene.

Several NSRI swimmers proceeded overland to the scene.

Other services alerted included the SA Police Services and Relay ambulance service.

Meanwhile, a chokka (squid) fishing vessel, Nomvula, was standing off the grounded vessel ready to provide assistance but unable to close.

On board the stricken vessel, the skipper had his crew don their lifejackets and all managed to safely board liferafts which drifted in calm seas away from the shore.

The NSRI rescue craft which had arrived offshore the scene took on board 22 of the fishermen while the other two were rescued by the nearby assisting fishing vessel.

On Sunday the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMNSA) said it was monitoring the fishing vessel that ran aground. Divers had already gone on board to check the vessels structural integrity and to assess whether there has been any breach or flooding, SAMSA reported.

Picture: SAMSA / FaceBook

The organisation said a salvage vessel was en route and was expected at around 14h00 today (Sunday 7 January).

According to SAMSA, there are 35 thousand litres of diesel on board and the ship is fast aground in a rocky part of the coast a mile off Cape St Francis harbour.

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US and allies issue warning to Houthis over shipping in Red Sea

Galaxy Leader, the vehicle carrier highjacked by armed Houthis at the start of the Red Sea crisis. Picture: Vesseljoin

Africa Ports & Ships

A joint statement has been issued from the Briefing Room in the US White House on behalf of the governments of the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, concerning the situation in the Red Sea and the Houthi movement and Iran.

The full joint statement reads as follows:

Recognizing the broad consensus as expressed by 44 countries around the world on December 19, 2023, as well as the statement by the UN Security Council on December 1, 2023, condemning Houthi attacks against commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea, and in light of ongoing attacks, including a significant escalation over the past week targeting commercial vessels, with missiles, small boats, and attempted hijackings,

We hereby reiterate the following and warn the Houthis against further attacks:

Ongoing Houthi attacks in the Red Sea are illegal, unacceptable, and profoundly destabilizing. There is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels. Attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, using unmanned aerial vehicles, small boats, and missiles, including the first use of anti-ship ballistic missiles against such vessels, are a direct threat to the freedom of navigation that serves as the bedrock of global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways.

These attacks threaten innocent lives from all over the world and constitute a significant international problem that demands collective action. Nearly 15 per cent of global seaborne trade passes through the Red Sea, including 8 per cent of global grain trade, 12 per cent of seaborne-traded oil and 8 per cent of the world’s liquefied natural gas trade. International shipping companies continue to reroute their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, adding significant cost and weeks of delay to the delivery of goods, and ultimately jeopardizing the movement of critical food, fuel, and humanitarian assistance throughout the world.

Let our message now be clear: we call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews. The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways. We remain committed to the international rules-based order and are determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.

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WSC, ICS & BIMCO speak out about Red Sea crisis

USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class US destroyer involved in shooting down Houthi drones and missiles. US Navy picture

Africa Ports & Ships

In a joint statement from the World Shipping Council, the International Chamber of Shipping and BIMCO on the Red Sea attacks, the three organisations representing the majority of commercial world shipping, voiced thanks to the 12 nations that have jointly condemned the ongoing illegal attacks on ships in the Red Sea and unlawful detention of vessels and crews there. (See report above).

“As the governments of the United States, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have all stated, these attacks are unacceptable, illegal and directly threaten the freedom of navigation that is fundamental to global trade.

“On behalf of our members and their seafarers and customers throughout the world, the organisations thank these 12 nations for their strong commitment to defending rules-based international order and to holding malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.”

The three shipping associations called on all nations and international organisations to protect seafarers, international trade in the Red Sea, and to support the welfare of the global commons by bringing all pressure to bear on the aggressors “so that these intolerable attacks cease with immediate effect.”

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Transnet Recovery Diary 4 January 2024

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Africa Ports & Ships
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IMO S-G addresses UN

IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez addressing the United Nations. Picture: IMO

Reported by Paul Ridgway

Maintenance of international peace and security
United Nations Security Council, 9525th meeting

On 3 January Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary-General, IMO, issued the following statement to the UN Security Council:

Thank you, Mr. President, and distinguished members of the Security Council.

Firstly, let me start by reiterating my condemnation of the attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea area and reiterate the strong commitment of the International Maritime Organization to protect seafarers, ships and cargoes, which is the utmost importance to ensure the safety and security of global supply chains.

Attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea area are not acceptable.

Ships must be allowed to trade worldwide unhindered and in accordance with international law.

Since the beginning of November, a number of attacks have been launched against international vessels navigating in this vital shipping lane that records around 15% of international shipping trade.

The initial target were ships linked to Israel, but the information we have received in recent events seems that this doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.

The International Maritime Organization continues to closely monitor the situation and liaise with the industry representatives and navies.

A significant number of companies, around eighteen shipping companies have already decided to re-route their vessels around south Africa in order to reduce the attacks on vessels and of course the impact this has on seafarers in particular.

This represents an additional adds ten days to the journey and of course a negative impact on trade and an increase in freight rates.

On Monday 18 December, an Extraordinary Meeting of the members of the Djibouti Code of conduct (DCoC) was held to discuss how to deal with increasing threats against international shipping in the Red Sea Area. This meeting was attended by representatives from Signatory States of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and its Jeddah Amendment, international and regional naval forces, regional centres, and maritime industry stakeholders.

The meeting called for enhanced security measures, including coordination among signatory States, navies, and the industry, and continuous meetings/reviews and submission of recommendations to the International Maritime Organization and the United Nations Security Council.

The International Maritime Organization has an EU-funded regional programme for maritime security in the Red Sea area, and we use this as a major capacity-building project targeting the southern Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

And through this initiative, IMO, INTERPOL, UNODC, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), we continue to engage in coordinated actions to develop capacities and promote adequate security and safety standards for maritime, port and land-based law-enforcement authorities across Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the call for de-escalation to ensure safety of our seafarers, freedom of navigation and stability of supply chains.

The International Maritime Organization IMO will continue to monitor the situation in collaboration with our Member States, partners from the industry and navies.

I would like to express appreciation also for the work undertaken by DCoC Member States and encourage Member States to use it as a forum to ensure communication among all countries in the region.

Furthermore and as a practical exercise and following measures of safety of navigation I would like to encourage ships to continue sending an initial report when entering the Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) to the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operation Centre and other relevant centres in the region, as this covers the entire Red Sea and ships should send an initial report when clearing Suez or when crossing boundaries in the Indian Ocean.

Thank you for this opportunity, Mr. President.

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Added 4 January 2023


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Transnet Recovery Diary 3 January 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Plan 3 January 2024
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Cyclone Alvaro, First of the ‘season’- Madagascan waters

Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 imagery

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The first cyclone of 2024, named Alvaro, made landfall near Morombe in Madagascar on 1 January, bringing strong winds and heavy rain.

According to the latest forecasts (as at 2 January/14h31 GMT) from Meteo France, the storm is unlikely to pose a threat to other regions and is expected to gradually weaken.

This image (above), acquired by one of Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites on 1 January 2024, shows the cyclone when it was in the Mozambique Channel.


Copernicus is the Earth observation component of the European Union’s Space programme, looking at our planet and its environment to benefit all European citizens. It offers information services that draw from satellite Earth Observation and in-situ (non-space) data.

The European Commission manages the Programme. It is implemented in partnership with the Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), EU Agencies and Mercator Océan.

Vast amounts of global data from satellites and ground-based, airborne, and seaborne measurement systems provide information to help service providers, public authorities, and other international organisations improve European citizens’ quality of life and beyond. The information services provided are free and openly accessible to users.

Why is it called Copernicus you may ask?

By choosing Copernicus’s name homage is paid to a great European scientist and observer: Nicolaus Copernicus. Copernicus’ theory of the heliocentric universe made a pioneering contribution to modern science.

Copernicus (1473-1543) opened man to an infinite universe, previously limited by the rotation of the planets and the sun around the Earth, and created an understanding of a world without borders.

Humanity was able to benefit from his insight. This set in motion a spirit of discovery through scientific research, which allowed us to understand better the world in which we live.

Footnote to Cyclone Alvaro

The storm system developed overland in Mozambique, before crossing eastward over the Mozambique Channel north of Europa Island, then overland of Madagascar south of Antananarivo and has entered the Indian Ocean tracking south-eastward at 11 knots. At 03h00 on Wednesday 3 January the storm was centred approximately 262 nautical miles SSE of Madagascar’s Antananarivo. – Africa Ports & Ships

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S-G IMO’s New Year message

Arsenio Dominguez, IMO Secretary-General   P{icturee: IMO

Africa Ports & Ships

Reported by Paul Ridgway

Hello, my name is Arsenio Dominguez.

And it is this time of the year when we look back in reflection and excitement of the things that we have done, the things that we could have done, and the things that we are yet to do. Here at IMO, we have a great trajectory of successes. But of course, we can always do more.

I do not need to tell you how vital the shipping industry is for the world. And IMO has done much to support its member states, seafarers, the industry and everyone who lives on the planet.

For example, during the Covid pandemic, we supported hundreds of individual cases of seafarers, we have greatly reduced accidents on ships in comparison to the 1990s. With a global sulphur cap introduction in 2020, we greatly increase air quality, and now we have a trajectory for the decarbonisation of the industry.

With me as the tenth Secretary General, I welcome you to join us in an era of progression of the organization, one that leads by example and with higher values from inclusion, diversity, and transparency. I look forward to working with you for the years to come into a new and exciting era to make this maritime sector a much better one.

Thank you.

(Based on material courtesy IMO media service)

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Maersk Hangzhou container ship under attack off Yemen, further sailings paused

Maersk Hangzhou, came under attack and attempted boarding in Red Sea. Picture: VesselFinder

Africa Ports & Ships

Maersk’s return to making use of the Red Sea route between the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean didn’t take long to be halted, after the 14,000-TEU Maersk Hangzhou (IMO 9784300), deployed on the company’s AE12-service between Europe and Asia, came under attack on Saturday (30 December) while passing through the lower Red Sea opposite the Yemeni coast.

Reports say that a missile fired from Yemen struck the 178,257-dwt ship, causing slight damage. Shortly afterward four small boats approached the container ship and made as if to board, firing with small arms at the vessel in the process. Security personnel on board the boxship returned fire while an appeal for help was issued by crew on the ship.

Meanwhile, the US destroyer USS Gravely reported having shot down two further anti-ship missile fired from Yemen while helicopters off the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower flew to the aid of the Maersk Hangzhou. On arrival overhead the helicopters issued warnings to the occupants of the boats who instead opened fire at the hovering aircraft.

According to the navy, the helicopters then engaged the small boats, sinking three and killing their occupants while the fourth boat made its escape.

Response from Maersk

In response to this incident, coming so soon after Maersk announced its ships would return to using the more direct and shorter Gulf of Aden and Red Sea route, immediately said it was ‘pausing’ use of the Red Sea for a period of 48 hours.

Both Maersk and French line CMA CGM had agreed to continue using the Red Sea route after the creation of the US-led US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian naval force to ‘safeguard’ the passage past Houthi-controlled Yemen.

China’s COSCO has not confirmed either way but a significant number of Cosco ships are en route as if to make use of the Red Sea.

The Chinese Navy has a naval escort group of three ships in the Gulf of Aden that will probably accompany Chinese commercial ships through the hazardous section.

The US has at least three destroyers on patrol in the area in addition to the USS Dwight D Eisenhower carrier group, along with the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond and the French frigate FS Languedoc. Denmark has since announced it is sending a frigate to join the group, but several other nations including Spain have declined to do so.

As a side issue of this development, Danish trade unions have confirmed that Danish crew sailing through the Red Sea will receive double wages.

The majority of other container shipping lines are continuing, at this stage, in sending their vessels the longer route via the Cape of Good Hope. This list includes MSC, Hapag-Lloyd and ONE.

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Container ships at Durban anchorage begin thinning out

The container ship Fayston Farms, which entered port at Durban for DCT 2 berth 204 on Friday 29 December 2023. Picture by Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships

In a report issued by Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) on Saturday 30 December, the situation concerning ships at anchor outside Durban port waiting for a berth at DCT2 has improved dramatically.

The TPT report states that just five ships remain at anchor awaiting a berth at Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 (DCT 2).

That’s of a total of 30 ship’s outside port at 15h30 on Saturday, as observed via AIS.

TPT reports that weather conditions with wind gusts of up to 100 kilometres per hour and extreme swells have interrupted container operations across the Durban, Cape Town, Ngqura and Port Lizabeth container terminals over the past two weeks.

Despite this, DCT 2 has reduced its vessel backlog at anchor to a total of five, reports TPT.

“Since the beginning of December, employees have been scheduled to work through long weekends with one hundred per cent attendance to date and through the New Year across all the terminals. The full employee resourcing at the terminal and demonstrated employee commitment was a direct and major contributor to the current outcome.”

The terminal operator adds that there are original equipment manufacturers on site at each terminal supporting the teams around the clock. This follows recent confinement agreements that have reduced waiting times for critical spares of handling equipment across Transnet Port Terminals.

Western Cape

In the Western Cape, the Cape Town Multipurpose Terminal had experienced equipment challenges but has since resumed operations after additional spares for spreaders of the mobile harbour cranes were procured.

The region is currently in deciduous fruit season, with both Cape Town terminals exporting scores of fruits to global markets.

“To date, a total of eleven drivers of articulated vehicles, four diesel mechanics and ten millwrights have been appointed. Damaged plug points have been restored and the terminal will take receipt of a generator that will power up an additional 120 plugs already installed, bringing the total to 452 plugs.”

The seven rubber-tyred gantry cranes that the Cape Town Container Terminal recently took receipt of, are in the process of being commissioned and employees are undergoing training. The holidays have delayed the commissioning process with service providers observing Christmas Day and New Year, due to return in South Africa next week.

“All the terminal’s nine ship to shore cranes are currently operational with seven gangs and seven cranes operational at any given time.”

Eastern Cape

In the Eastern Cape, the Ngqura Container Terminal has lost 68 hours to strong winds over the last two weeks, resulting in six vessels outside at anchor.

However, the team has contingency plans in place for when operations fully resume. The Port Elizabeth Container Terminal also has one vessel at anchor, owing to strong winds.

The terminals have used a combination of equipment, human resources as well as planning to improve efficiencies and drive the recovery plan underway, says TPT.

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An appropriately atmospheric last view of South Africa’s most famous towing tug, ICONIC 09, the former SA Amandla / John Ross. Picture Unknown, forwarded via Jay Gates

Africa Ports & Ships

The former South African tug, SA AMANDLA (IMO 7385215), built in Durban as JOHN ROSS, and operated almost entirely in South African waters by South Africans, has ended her ‘career’ when she was steered onto the breaker’s beach in India on the day before Christmas, 2023.

The famous tug, 47-years old and once one of two of the world’s most powerful towing tugs, made her final journey from Cape Town under the name ICONIC 09. Picture: Unknown, forwarded via Jay Gates

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Welcome in Durban for 7,124-TEU ONE Reassurance on maiden voyage from China

ONE Reassurance before loading her first cargo. Picture: VesselFinder

Africa Ports & Ships

A fitting welcome was arranged by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) at the Port of Durban on Christmas Eve for the Ocean Network Express’s latest container ship, ONE REASSURANCE (IMO 9952696).

The new 7,124-TEU boxship, easily identified in ONE’s magenta colour scheme, sailed from Qingdao in China on 20 November, with maiden calls at Shanghai the following day, Ningbo on 23 November and Singapore on 1 December, before heading across the Indian Ocean for Durban.

The fuel-efficient vessel has docked at Durban Container Terminal’s Pier 1 berth 105 to work her first South African cargo. The ship is easily identifiable in her striking magenta corporate colour – nothing new to ONE vessels but so far seldom seen in a South African port.

Handing over of a plaque to commemorate ONE Reassurance’s maiden call at Durban. Picture: TNPA

The new ship’s sister vessel, ONE READINESS (IMO 9952684) was at Cape Town for seven days earlier in December en route to Rotterdam and later in 2024 the two sister ships will be replaced on the service by three new builds of similar specification but with even larger reefer intake, specifically designed for the Europe-South Africa trade.

ONE reassurance has a length of 272 metres and beam of 43m and a deadweight of 83,812 tons. She flies the flag of Hong Kong.

Ocean Network Express, though registered in Singapore, is owned by three Japanese shipping companies. In 2017 the Japanese shipping Lines Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and K Line, entered into a joint venture with the creation of a dedicated container line, in which ONE inherited the container shipping operations of its parent companies.

Today, ONE operates as the seventh largest container shipping company with services worldwide including to South African and African ports.

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Maersk and CMA CGM return to using Red Sea as Operation Prosperity Guardian sets up

USS Laboon (DDG-58 on patrol with Operation Prosperity Guardian in the Red Sea. Picture: US Navy (Centcom)

Africa Ports & Ships

Shipping carrier Maersk says it is ready to resume navigating its ships though the Red Sea after the establishment of the US-led multi-national task force, Operation Prosperity Guardian (OPG), set up to protect commercial ships passing between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

At least 10 nations are participating in the OPG

Another leading container line, CMA CGM will also send its ships under the protection of naval vessels that will escort the French and associated vessels through the danger zones.

More shipping companies can be expected to follow suit.

“With the OPG initiative in operation, we are preparing to allow for vessels to resume transit through the Red Sea both eastbound and westbound. We are currently working on plans for the first vessels to make the transit and for this to happen as soon as operationally possible,” Maersk said.

The decision by the two shipping companies means their vessels will avoid having to travel the longer route vis the Cape of Good Hope, a journey taking at least 10 days longer.

Cape of Good Hope

In the days following the attacks by Houthi drones and missiles on commercial shipping, most container and tanker companies opted to re-route via the Cape, while including heavy surcharges of between USD 500 and USD 700 on these longer voyages.

The US meanwhile went ahead with steps to set up a multinational task force to address the attacks on international shipping.

The Houthi movement in Yemen said it was targeting ships with Israeli connections, including the possibility of Israeli cargo on board, in protest against the invasion of the Gaza strip by Israeli armed forces.

While US, French and UK naval ships in the region of the southern Red Sea were successful in shooting down a number of the drones and missiles, a number did get through the defences and landed on container and tanker vessels, causing damage and starting fires.

In all instances the fires were extinguished and damage was slight, allowing the vessels to proceed to a safe port or to continue their voyage.

Latest missile attacks

Among the most recent attacks were missiles fired on 23 December at commercial vessels, the Norwegian products tanks Blaamanen and the Gabon-owned, Indian-flagged oil tanker Saibaba, the US Central Command (Centcom) reported. No strikes were reported but the USS destroyer USS Laboon (DDG-58) responded.

According to Centcom, these were the 14th and 15th attacks on commercial shipping by Houthi militants since 17 October 2023.

Earlier that day USS Laboon shot down four inborn drones “originating from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen”, Centcom reported.

YouTube video clip []

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Red Sea crisis: Spiralling cost in ocean freight shipping rates becomes a reality

Africa Ports & Ships


The crisis in the Red Sea region has sent the cost of ocean freight shipping spiralling as the market continues to react to vessels being forced to avoid the Suez Canal.

Analysts at Xeneta, the leading ocean and air freight rate benchmarking and intelligence platform, predicted rates could increase by 100% following Houthi militia missile attacks on merchant ships in the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait – a gateway to the Red Sea and Suez Canal.

That prediction is now becoming a reality.

“The massive spike is already here,” says Peter Sand, Xeneta Chief Analyst. “Ocean freight carriers are desperately trying to recoup the cost of sending vessels from the Far East to the Mediterranean, North Europe and US East Coast via the Cape of Good Hope rather than heading through the Suez Canal.

Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst

“As we saw during the Covid years when there were huge disruptions in supply chains, if there is still an urgent need to get shipments moving, then businesses will have to pay an awful lot more to do so.”

Data on the Xeneta platform indicates rates per FEU (40ft-equivalent shipping container) stood at USD 1,875 between the Far East and Mediterranean on 14 December – already an increase of 25% on the previous week.

However, shippers are being quoted upwards of USD 6,500 for high priority shipments on Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC) Diamond Tier service.

“This price is not the market average yet, but it is what businesses will have to pay for urgent shipments,” Sand added. “In the next 10 days or so, it may well become the market average.

“The Suez Canal is a critical artery for global trade so disruption caused by the missile attacks will not be solved quickly or easily and ocean freight shipping rates will continue to rise.”

Ocean freight liner companies have already introduced a series of surcharges in response to avoiding the Suez Canal. Yesterday, Thursday, A.P. Moller announced a Transit Disruption Surcharge (TDS), effective immediately, and an Emergency Contingency Surcharge (ECS) which will come into effect on 1 January pending negotiation.

On Wednesday, MSC announced a similar raft of surcharges.

Shippers will also face Peak Season Surcharges (PSS) of USD 2,000 per FEU for Mediterranean bound cargoes from the Far East, while North Europe and US East Coast will command USD 1,000 and USD 600 respectively.

“The spike in rates is already here as a result of the Suez Canal diversion, but with Chinese Lunar New Year also on the way and the traditional increases in demand that brings, the cost of ocean freight shipping could grow even more dramatically,” Sand said.

“Shippers should be aware that rates on all major trades could be impacted – even if they ordinarily would not transit the Suez Canal. Ocean freight carriers will announce all kinds of ‘recovery cost surcharges’ even for trades which are only indirectly impacted.”

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Added 24 December 2023


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Transnet Recovery Diary 22 December 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet recovery Diary 22 December 2023

Transnet Recovery Diary 22 December 2023

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TPT says it is reducing Durban backlog

Durban Container Terminal Pier 2  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), says the backlog at Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 is being reduced.

By late last week the number of vessels waiting for TPT Pier 2 was down to 9 ships, although by yesterday, Thursday 21 December the number was back up to 11 according to the latest Transnet Recovery Diary*.

These numbers will fluctuate according to the number of ships arriving, offset by those that complete working at the terminal and sail. Nevertheless this number is a marked improvement on the situation compared to when matters reached crisis point.

TPT credits a combination of initiatives including the additional new shift that saw the recruitment of 422 employees across Planning, Operations, Engineering and ICT.

TPT General Manager of People Management, Dumisani Khuzwayo, said the business previously operated with three shifts throughout a 24 hour period. However, to comply with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and ensure employee wellness to reduce absenteeism – the fourth shift was rolled out in phases.

“According to our plans, DCT Pier 2 would rollout in January 2024 however – current demand required immediate interventions and having four shifts will definitely create the value that the business require,” Khuzwayo said.

While previously, employees worked three eight-hour shifts in a 24-hour period – with four shifts in place, they now work twelve-hour shifts.

This new arrangement has also created shift alignment with other operating divisions in rail and marine infrastructure which has eliminated wasted time in the system during frequent shift change overs.

“In an exercise we undertook, we concluded that the total time lost between TPT and Transnet Freight Rail due to both driver change and tea breaks added up to three hours per day,” said Khuzwayo, adding that this was now a thing of the past with shift alignment.

Ironically, time wasted with shift changes has long been identified by industry, including TPT’s customers, as one of the areas of inefficiency.

The terminal implemented the four-shift system at the beginning of December, and along with original equipment manufacturer teams onsite supplying spares and conducting maintenance on critical equipment on an ongoing basis, TPT is confident on a recovery by the end of January.

Khuzwayo confirmed that DCT Pier 2 employees were scheduled to work throughout the long weekend.

* See Transnet Recovery Diary below

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Added 22 December 2023


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Farewell to IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Emeritus Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim. Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

During the meeting of the IMO Assembly held from 27 November to 6 December the body adopted a resolution commending outgoing IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim for his services.


The resolution on Appreciation of the Services to the Organization of Mr Kitack Lim commended his leadership and the many achievements of IMO during the past eight years, including the landmark adoption of the 2023 Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships.

Furthermore, the resolution noted, among other achievements, his tireless resolve to secure inter-agency collaboration for the development of appropriate responses to the humanitarian crisis impacting the well-being of seafarers caused first by the Covid-19 pandemic and then by geopolitical conflicts including the armed conflict in Ukraine.

Farewell to IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim. Picture: IMO

S-G Emeritus

In adopting the resolution, the IMO Assembly designated Mr Kitack Lim as Secretary-General Emeritus of the Organization with effect from 1 January 2024.

A farewell event at IMO HQ on 6 December saw the launch of the IMO history book, Safer shipping, cleaner seas – A celebration of 75 years of IMO, an initiative of Secretary-General Lim.

Portrait unveiled

To mark the conclusion of his tenure as IMO Secretary-General, a portrait of Kitack Lim was unveiled at a farewell event by HE Yoon Yeocheol, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to IMO. Painted by marine artist Robert Lloyd, it will be displayed at IMO HQ, alongside the portraits of other former IMO Secretaries-General.


Those who paid tribute to Secretary-General Lim at his farewell celebration included Katy Ware, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to IMO, as host country to IMO; Víctor Jiménez Fernández, Chair of the IMO Council Alternate Permanent Representative of Spain to IMO; and Captain Ian Finley, Permanent Representative of the Cook Islands to IMO and President of the Maritime Attachés and Representatives Club.

After cutting a cake to mark the evening’s celebrations, Mr. Lim thanked all the Member States and Secretariat, along with industry and seafarer bodies, for their ongoing support throughout his tenure.

The final remarks came from incoming Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez Velasco, who takes over the position of Secretary-General on 1 January 2024. Mr Dominguez acknowledged Mr Lim’s service would be a hard example to rival. The evening concluded with a pyrotechnic display on the IMO roof terrace.

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Added 22 December 2023


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Transnet Recovery Diary 21 December 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Plan 21 December 2023
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Added 21 December 2023


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Red Sea Crisis: Over 100 Ships Divert Round the Cape

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait, linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Picture: NASA

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

As the US-led Operation Prosperity Guardian coalition naval task force begins its mission of trying the secure the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait for the world’s commercial shipping, more than 100 ships have already commenced diverting round Africa.

As at 20 December almost all the major container carriers have confirmed their ships will or have already diverted round the Cape of Good Hope, a journey that can take up to a fortnight longer.

These container lines include CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, Maersk, MSC, Ocean Network Express (ONE), OOCL, and Yang Ming.

Additionally many tankers are also diverting – BP Tankers reported to be among them.

“For all future vessels planned to sail through the area, a case-by-case assessment will take place to determine whether adjustments need to be made – including diversions via the Cape of Good Hope and further contingency measures,” said Maersk in a statement.

“We will continue to provide all information to affected customers on a vessel-by-vessel basis as soon as possible.”

Maersk said it has faith that a solution enabling a return to using the Suez Canal and transiting through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden will be introduced in the near future, but at this time it remains difficult to determine exactly when this will be.

“As such, getting vessels moving via the Cape of Good Hope will ultimately be a faster and more predictable outcome for customers and their supply chains.”

French line CMA CGM said it was introducing measures to ensure the safety of its crews and vessels and that force majeure was in place. Most of its vessels were re-routing via the Cape of Good Hope and other container ships in the Red Sea area were advised to reach safe areas and pause their journeys.

Similar action has been taken by most of the other container lines and tanker fleets. MSC was the first to divert its fleet via the Cape.

Despite these diversions, another two vessels were attacked on Monday this week, the container ship MSC Clara, which clearly hadn’t diverted at that stage, and the Norwegian tanker Swan Atlantic.

The tanker, loaded with vegetable oils, was hit by a missile or drone which resulted in a fire that the crew were able to quickly extinguish. The Uni-Tanker is now en route to Reunion.

World Shipping Council

The World Shipping Council expressed appreciation to the member nations of the Operation Prosperity Guardian coalition which it said was protecting seafarers and defending the foundational principle of freedom of navigation.

“We are grateful that these nations have come together to protect seafarers and the vessels on which they serve, and we hope that the coalition will succeed in creating the necessary conditions for safe passage through the Red Sea,” the WSC said.

“The Council also calls upon the global community to continue to pursue every possible diplomatic effort in support of security in and safe navigation through this region that is vital to international trade.”

While the WSC has led the way in expressing appreciation to the coalition being formed, uncertainty continues as to the number of naval ships to take part in guarding the route past Houthi-held Yemen or what the rules of engagement will be in order to safeguard commercial vessels.

At this point it appears likely that naval assets will come from Combined Task Force 153 which is already operating in the Red Sea. Apart from the US, something like nine of the 39 member states have apparently ‘signed up’ to be part of Operation Prosperity Guardian.

The nine other nations are Bahrain, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Seychelles, Spain and the UK.

It’s still early days, but significant absentees from this list include nations that are ‘close’ to the region – Egypt, Saudi Arabia (which was recently at war with the Houthis), Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Djibouti (the coast of the latter lies directly across the Bab el-Mandeb strait from Yemen.

Egypt and its Suez Canal stand to lose the most from a prolonged period of ships diverting away.

While shipping lines will face increased fuel costs and time, they will recover these costs with increased rates, which is already happening.


For an idea of the consequences of ships having to divert away from one of the most important sea routes, accountable for 12 per cent of global trade and 30 per cent of container traffic, see the article below headed ‘Xeneta Update: Red Sea Crisis’

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Added 20 December 2023


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Grindrod sets new records at its terminal operations

Shiploader at work at Grindrod’s Matola terminal.. Picture: Grindrod

Africa Ports & Ships

Grindrod Limited continues to set new benchmarks in the freight and logistics industry, delivering exceptional results and exceeding expectations

South Africa’s Grindrod Limited, a freight and logistics company listed on the JSE, has announced a number of record-breaking volumes handled at its terminal operations.


In November 2023, Grindrod’s dry-bulk terminal in the Main Port of Maputo achieved a significant milestone by handling a record-breaking 416,220 tonnes of coal.

The team at Grindrod’s Terminal in Maputo port celebrate the record-breaking volumes handled in November 2023. Picture: Grindrod

This accomplishment highlights the efficiency and capability of Grindrod’s team in handling sized coal.

Year-to-date (one month to go), the terminal managed 3.7 million tonnes of coal, surpassing last year’s total volume of 3.2 million tonnes by 14%.


Grindrod’s Matola Terminal also achieved a benchmark in performance, handling 8.4 million tonnes of coal and magnetite (combined) year-to-date, breaking the 2021 record of 8.2 million tonnes handled and surpassing last year’s total volume of 8.1 million tonnes.

“We are thrilled to announce these milestones at our dry-bulk terminal in Maputo Port and our terminal in Matola,” says Pedro Poh-Quong, Grindrod’s General Operations Manager in Mozambique. “It is a testament to our exceptional team’s dedication and hard work.”

Inside the Grindrod Durban multipurpose terminal.  Picture: Grindrod

Port of Durban

Grindrod’s multipurpose terminal in the Port of Durban has also performed well, recording an impressive 259,370 tonnes of cargo handled in November 2023.

This represents an 85% increase compared to the average volumes handled in previous months, driven largely by the global demand for lithium.

Grindrod’s multipurpose terminal at Maydon Wharf handles a diverse range of products, including lithium, chrome, granite, and steel.

Kwazi Mabaso, CEO of Grindrod Terminals, emphasised the company’s readiness to ramp up operations at short notice. “This remarkable achievement demonstrates our preparedness to meet increasing demands,” Mabaso said.

“It is a result of our strong relationships with customers and stakeholders, as well as our unwavering commitment to operational excellence. I am exceptionally proud of the team’s dedication and commitment.”

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Africa Ports & Ships

Markets spike following Houthi missile attacks as concerns grow over impact on global supply chains

Consumers around the world will pay the price for the unfolding crisis in the Red Sea after missile attacks on merchant ships plunged supply chains into chaos.

Latest data from leading industry analysts Xeneta shows spot rates in the ocean freight shipping market spiked by 20% since Friday after major shipping liner companies announced they are avoiding the Red Sea amid the attacks by Houthi militia.

Peter Sand, Xeneta Chief Analyst, said: “The region is essentially in a war situation because it is too dangerous for many vessels to sail through the Red Sea and therefore also the Suez Canal, which is the major artery for world trade,” said Peter Sand, Xeneta Chief Analyst.

Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst

“Ships are now being re-routed via the Cape of Good Hope, but not only will this add up to 10 days sailing time, it will cost up to USD 1 million extra in fuel for every round trip between the Far East and North Europe.

“If we look at container shipping alone, Xeneta estimate the diversion via Africa will also require additional shipping capacity in the region of one million TEU (20ft equivalent shipping containers).

“There is capacity in the market, but it will come at a cost, and we could see ocean freight shipping rates increase by 100%. This is a cost that will ultimately be passed on to consumers who are buying the goods.”

On Monday (18 December), the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’, a coalition task force to combat the Houthi attacks and protect merchant ships sailing through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. This builds upon the existing Task Force 153 in the region to tackle piracy.

Sand added: “We are now seeing action from politicians, but we do not know how or when this coalition will be successful in opening safe passage for vessels through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.

“Everything is at stake here because free-flowing global trade effects almost every single human being on earth. The Suez Canal is absolutely critical with many billions of dollars in goods passing through every day from the Far East towards North Europe, Mediterranean and US East Coast.

“Ocean liner companies are taking decisive action in re-routing via the Cape of Good Hope but there are still many unknowns and the longer this disruption lasts the more expensive and painful it will be.

“Supply chains have still not fully recovered from the pandemic, with schedule reliability between Far East and North Europe standing at just 64%. This latest crisis could set that recovery back even further.

“For example, Maersk has stated it does not know when it will be safe to sail through the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and CMA CGM Group has issued a notice of Force Majeure, which perhaps suggests they do not believe this situation will be resolved in the immediate future.

“We may also see this impact current negotiations between shippers and ocean freight carriers for long term contracts lasting the duration of 2024. Shippers may feel a level of concern that long term rates could follow the spot market and increase dramatically as a result of this crisis.

“The industry will be looking at the Xeneta XSI® closely during 2024.”

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Added 20 December 2023


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Two Damen ASD Tugs for Ghana Ports

New Damen TSD tug, suitably decorated, handed over to Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority. Picture: GPHA

Africa Ports & Ships

In mid December Damen Shipyards handed over to Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority two ASD 2813 tugs for duty at the Ghana ports of Tema and Takoradi.

The twin tugs, named Capt. Edward A. A. Awuviri and Nestor Percy Galley after two former Director Generals, each have a 83-ton bollard pull ahead and up to 77 ton astern.

In view of the much larger vessels now calling in West Africa, and Tema and Takoradi more specifically, the new tugs will prove ideal for manoeuvring and supporting the range of visiting ships.

The vessels were built at Damen’s dedicated tug building facility Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam. In addition to the comprehensive standard specification, they have also been equipped with fire-fighting equipment and oil spill response capability.

Readers may recall the arrival in Cape Town of these twin tugs, en route from Vietnam to Ghana, as reported in Africa Ports & Ships’ of 31 October 2023- see here

Damen has a long and productive history of working with ports on Africa’s west coast together with its local partner Krane International Limited. Its relationship with GPHA goes back over twenty years and the group maintains a full-time service hub in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, to support its customers and the wider maritime community.

As part of the package for GPHA, Damen is also providing training at its Gorinchem headquarters for not only the vessels’ masters and crew, but also the shoreside technicians and engineers who will maintain the tugs.

left to right: Sandra Opoku (Director of Port), Peter Amo-Bediako (Director of Port), Hassan Sulemana Tampuli (Deputy Minister of Transport), Mrs Awuviri, Dean Adansi (CEO GHIB), GP. Capt. Edward A. A. Awuviri, Hamida Nuhu (Board Member), Michael Achagwe Luguje (Director General – GPHA), Isaac Osei (Board Chairman – GPHA), Sheikh Labaran Salifu Barry, Reverend Mawuli Tsikata.  Picture: GPHA

Michael Achagwe Luguje, Director General of GPHA, said that collaboration with Damen since the inception of GPHA has played an important role in GPHA’s success.

“The delivery of these two new tugboats signifies the solidification of a robust relationship between GPHA and Damen,” said Eline Holtes, Regional Services Manager Damen, “and we are confident that these additions will contribute significantly to the growth and success of Ghana’s maritime endeavours.”

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APM Tangier MedPort phase 2 expansion goes operational

APM Terminals Tangier MedPort 2nd phase now operational.  Picture APMT Tanger Med

Africa Ports & Ships

The expansion of the APM Terminals operated Tangier MedPort in Morocco, went operational in the last few days.

The expansion covers an additional 400-metre berth, 18 hectares of land, and seven additional container stacks. Electric equipment, shore power and auto-mooring will also contribute to APM Terminals Net Zero emissions ambition. Phase 3, due in 2025, will increase the total capacity by an additional one million TEU.

This latest expansion will help maintain the semi-automated APM Terminals MedPort Tangier terminals’ reputation as one of the most technologically advanced, efficient and safest container terminals in the world.

New equipment for Phase 2 included 14 electric automated rail mounted gantry cranes and 11 semi-automated hybrid shuttle carriers from Kalmar to support high productivity and further support reduced CO2 emissions.

26-Container Outreach

The four new remote-controlled, ship-to-shore (STS) cranes are among the largest in the world, with an 82-metre outreach. These dual STS cranes can handle cargo vessels of 26 containers in width (or up to 24,000 TEU container capacity).

“This will significantly increase the capacity and turnaround efficiency of terminal operations, enabling better service to customers and improving overall customer experience through more efficient operations,” says Keld Pedersen, Head of APM Terminals West Med Terminals.

The terminal has also installed an innovative auto-mooring system. Automated vacuum pads along the extended part of the quay improve safety and operational efficiency. This will reduce the time taken by vessels to moor and release, with idle times estimated to be reduced to around 15 minutes at both arrival and departure, saving a total of around one hour of idle time.

Auto-mooring to reduce port stays

The system will reduce time spent by tugs in port – reducing emissions – and reduce port stays. According to supplier Cavotec, this results in reduced direct emissions during ship berthing by more than 90% due to the reduced use of tugs and ship engines.

Once ships are moored, active hydraulics significantly reduce vessel motion, thereby positively impacting the terminals’ already exceptional crane moves per hour. APM Terminals MedPort Tangier regularly achieves productivity levels above 34 crane moves per hour on larger vessels. As a result of improved efficiency due to the auto-mooring system, average vessel call times are expected to be further reduced.

Top-4 in the world for efficiency

Tanger Med Port, where APM Terminals operates two container terminals, ranked fourth in the world’s most efficient ports index, published in June this year by the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That’s the same World Bank Report that listed South Africa’s container ports among the world’s ten worst from a total of 351 ports.

Tangier MedPort pic

Commenting on the terminals ongoing high performance, Pedersen stated: “This year, APM Terminals Tangier (TC1) was also acknowledged as one of the company’s best-performing terminals for the second time in three years. This was based on parameters such as safety, efficiency, customer satisfaction and cost. This investment was needed to ensure we can maintain this as volumes through Morocco increase.”

APM Terminals Tangier MedPort is located at a crossroads between Europe and Africa. Having become a key global player in a relatively short space of time, the Moroccan port and industrial complex has emerged as a strong option for multinationals looking for nearshoring operations.


“International investors are being drawn to Tanger Med’s reputation for efficiency and its links to industry, with more companies also producing in Morocco to serve European and African markets,” explains Pedersen.

Between the third quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2022, the deployed capacity of container ships in Morocco increased by 32.5%, mostly driven by the ongoing development of Tanger Med, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Review of Maritime Transport 2022. This outstrips gains made by Panama or Jamaica.

As the terminal prepares to kick off the third phase of expansion, which will cover an additional 17.5 Hectares and add another 400 metre of berth, Project Director, Lionel Expert was rightly proud that, “There was zero impact to customers during the expansion.” Phase 3 of the expansion will be fully operational by 2025.

Shore power to reduce emissions

Together with the port authority, the company is also carrying out the complex infrastructure upgrades to provide shore power. When ships use shore power, they connect to landside electricity for their power needs at berth – lights, pumps, communications, refrigeration – instead of running diesel-fuelled auxiliary on-board engines.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for vessels connected to shore power, under the right conditions, overall pollutant emissions can be reduced by using shore power by up to 98%.

APM Terminals has made an industry-leading global commitment to be fully net zero by 2040.

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Added 20 December 2023


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Naval forces gather off Strait of el-Mandeb as shipping lines pause operations

USS Dwight D Eisenhower strike group, now in the Gulf of Aden. Picture: USN

Africa Ports & Ships

In the latest developments in the lower Red Sea/Bab el-Mandeb Strait area, an announcement is expected from the United States of a increased dedicated naval presence to offset the risks posed by Houthi missiles and armed drones.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to outline an expanded force — Operation Propensity Guardian during his visit to Israel today (Monday).

The sudden escalation in the southern Red Sea has seen missile and drone attacks on a number of commercial and naval ships, including the seizure of the NYK Line car carrier Galaxy Leader on 19 November which remains at anchor near the port of Hodeidah.

The result of the attacks on the commercial ships is that a number of companies are either pausing their ship movements through the strait, or re-routing vessels around the Cape of Good Hope.

It appears the decision to pause ship movements was taken after discussion with the US naval authorities based in the region as the respective statements said the pause was until today (Monday 18 December), following which a further decision could be expected.

MSC however announced on Saturday 16 December that it was with immediate effect diverting its ships around the Cape, whereas Maersk, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM and OOCL are among those stating they would pause transition via the Red Sea until today.

“As such we have decided to instruct all CMA CGM containerships in the area that are scheduled to pass through the Red Sea to reach safe areas and pause their journey in safe waters with immediate effect until further notice,” the French company said.

In a terse statement, Hong Kong-based OOCL said: “Due to operational issues, OOCL will stop cargo acceptance to and from Israel with immediate effect until further notice.”

Maersk Tankers vessels were given the option to re-route via the Cape of Good Hope, according to sources. This was described as a precautionary move for charterers of cargo on Maersk tankers.

In the meantime the US Navy announced the US Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group was shifting from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, to reinforce existing assets already in the area.

HMS Diamond, the Royal Navy’s third Daring class, now on duty in lower Red Sea. Picture UK MoD

These assets include two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, USS Mason (DDG-87) and USS Carney (DDG-64), the Royal Navy type 45 destroyer, HMS Diamond (D34), and the French Navy frigate FS Languedoc (D-653), each of which has seen action intercepting and shooting down drones or missiles.

Despite the presence of these naval vessels, several commercial ships have been struck with fires breaking out on board. In each case the fires were quickly extinguished and no injuries and little damage reported.

USS Carney has been the most involved and has shot down over a dozen drones approaching either the destroyer or one or other of the commercial ships.

The Royal Navy’s HMS Diamond was in the thick of things almost on arrival in the area. “Overnight, HMS Diamond shot down a suspected attack drone which was targeting merchant shipping in the Red Sea. One Sea Viper missile was fired and successfully destroyed the target,” said Grant Shapps, the UK’s defence minister.

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Added 18 December 2023


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Missile attacks on ships in Red Sea mount, as more vessels divert

* see unfolding updates below

Africa Ports & Ships

Two container ships sailing near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Friday (15 December 2023) came under attack from Houthi militants on nearby Yemen, with missiles setting fires on board both vessels.

The Hapag-Lloyd vessel AL JASRAH (IMO 97332321) was struck by a missile fired from Yemen which caused a fire to break out on board the vessel. There are no reports of casualties at this stage.

According to British security firm Ambrey, the missile (or possibly a drone) struck the Al Jasrah on its port side, causing a container to fall overboard and starting a fire on deck.

It appears the crew were able to extinguish the blaze before it could spread.

Shortly afterwards the MSC PALATIUM III (9336165), sailing in the same area, was similarly hit by a missile from the Yemeni coast. US officials said two missiles had been fired at the Al Jasrah. One fell into the water short of any vessel while the second struck the MSC ship instead, resulting in a fire on that vessel’s deck.

After being struck by the missile, the MSC Palatium III turned about and has reversed its course south. The vessel departed from Durban and Maputo during November and from Mombasa on 9 December, bound for Jeddah in the Red Sea, where she was due on 17 December.

Ambrey reported that another MSC ship, the 328-metre MSC ALANYA (IMO 9785483) was warned by the Houthis that it will be targeted as the ship neared the strait, with the Houthis advising that all MSC vessels will become targets because the parent company “had cooperated with Israel.”

The Houthi spokesman claimed that the Hapag-Lloyd ship had not been a target and that the missiles fired were intended for the two MSC ships.

On Thursday 14 December two missiles were fired at a tanker carrying jet fuel but both missed their targets. Earlier in the week, as reported HERE in Africa Ports & Ships, a Norwegian tanker named STRINDA had been struck by a missile but without too much damage resulting.

** UPDATE: Saturday 16 December – Shipping lines Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have each independently advised they are pausing ship movements through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait until Monday 18 December.

***UPDATE:  Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) advises the following:

Red Sea – Rerouting Suez Traffic to Cape  16/12/2023

On 15 December 2023 the container ship MSC PALATIUM III was attacked at approximately 09.37 UTC while transiting the Red Sea under sub charter to Messina Line. All crew are safe with no reported injuries, meanwhile the vessel suffered limited fire damage and has been taken out of service.

Due to this incident and to protect the lives and safety of our seafarers, until the Red Sea passage is safe, MSC ships will not transit the Suez Canal Eastbound and Westbound. Already now, some services will be rerouted to go via the Cape of Good Hope instead.

This disruption will impact the sailing schedules by several days of vessels booked for Suez transit. We ask for your understanding under these serious circumstances.[end of message]


In what is thought to be unrelated to the Houthis in Yemen, the Malta-flagged, Bulgarian-managed bulk carrier RUEN (IMO 9754903) was boarded by what is assumed to be Somali pirates who have taken possession of the ship.

Managed by Navigation Maritime Bulgare, Ruen, which was sailing near the island of Socotra at the time, is manned by a crew of 18 from Angola, Bulgaria and Myanmar. When boarded, Ruen was en route from Singapore bound for Gemlik in Turkey. The ship is now thought to have diverted towards Somalia.

A Spanish frigate, VICTORIA, on EU anti-piracy patrols in the region, was heading on an interception course.

As attacks on shipping passing near the Bab el-Mandeb continue to escalate, more shipping is being re-routed away from the area. An increasing number of vessels operating between Europe and the Far East are instead going the longer route via the Cape of Good Hope.

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Added 15 December 2023


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Transnet’s Container Corridor lease process delayed

TFR container train.  Picture: TFR

Africa Ports & Ships

In a statement issued today (Thursday 14 December) Transnet has withdrawn its RFQ that called on private sector ‘partners’ to apply for leases to operate the highly important container rail corridor between the port of Durban and Gauteng.

The withdrawal of the request for quotations means a further delay in addressing the question of placing containers back on rail between the two centres.

The statement reads as follows:

Transnet update on Container Corridor Operating Lease process

Transnet SOC Ltd. (Transnet) is in the process of reorganising key elements of the country’s rail freight ecosystem to align with Government’s evolving transport policy.

The policy essentially aims to liberalise the rail sector by regulating rail infrastructure and providing private sector train operating companies with access to the freight rail network.

As part of this process, to translate the policy commitment to reality, Transnet recently announced the appointment of an Interim Infrastructure Manager, in preparation for the formalisation of a Transnet Rail Infrastructure Manager (TRIM) in 2024.

This separation between rail operation and infrastructure is in line the National Rail Policy and Economic Regulation of Transport Bill, which envisages structural reforms which facilitate private sector investment and a more efficient use of the rail system.

A key objective of the Bill, which aligns with Transnet’s growth and renewal strategy, is the formation of private sector partnerships.

Transnet is mandated to leverage investment from the private sector for both infrastructure and operations to strengthen these aspects of its business and remains committed to undertake focused transactions to ‘crowd-in’ private sector partners into sectors Transnet serves to unlock growth.

This process will have a direct impact on the planned Container Corridor Operating Lease, for which an RFQ was issued on 27 January 2023. It is therefore necessary for Transnet to review the Container Corridor private sector participation process and withdraw the RFQ, due to the material change in scope.

Transnet will assess the impact of the vertical separation of the network from rail operations in considering the optimal strategy for any future transaction with the private sector on the Container Corridor.

In a nutshell: Transnet is fully committed to increasing private sector partnerships on key rail corridors, but believes it is necessary to complete the process of bringing the freight rail ecosystem in line with national policy before taking any further steps to do so. [statement ends]

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Added 14 December 2023


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Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2024 to all


This is our final ‘daily’ news bulletin for the year, as we are taking a break until mid January. It’s not the end of our news gathering however, as important events and announcements will continue to be included in the news as they occur – just no daily bulletin. For those with subscriptions, you may even find the occasional special newsletter in your mailbox.

May we wish all of you a very happy time during this festive season and for those going on holiday a safe journey and refreshing break. Thank you for being a reader during 2023 and may we hope you will continue with us into 2024.

During 2023 our readership went ahead in leaps and bounds, exceeding all expectations. We hope this momentum will continue in the new year as we bring you pertinent news from the maritime and logistics sectors.

Africa Ports & Ships

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Added 14 December 2023


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Port Elizabeth bulk manganese terminal reopens after maintenance shutdown

Overview of the manganese bulk terminal at Port Elizabeth harbour.  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Following a 10-day annual maintenance shutdown, the Port Elizabeth Bulk Manganese Terminal in the port has reopened.

The annual shutdown,as the term implies, is a programme planned in agreement with customers to enable the servicing and any necessary repair or replacing of equipment like tipplers, stackers, reclaimers, ship-loaders, feeders and over ten kilometres of conveyor belt systems.

According to Transnet Port Terminals, it was important to ensure that the maintenance works was carried out on schedule and that the working environment was safe for employees.

“The plant has to operate at acceptable levels and sustain export activities and this is why we plan this shutdown thoroughly,” said Wandisa Vazi, TPT’s managing executive for the Eastern Cape Terminals.

Vazi commended the work of the engineering team as they executed all required tasks on time.

The manganese terminal has a stated capacity of between five and six million tons and additional ore is stockpiled not only at the harbour terminal but also at the Markman industrial area and at Swartkops.

Plans to relocate the terminal, which has been declared a health risk by outside bodies, have been delayed for a number of years, with the current estimation having extended to 2026.

The ore is transported to the Port Elizabeth port and the outside stockpiles by rail and road transport from the mines in the Northern Cape. South Africa possesses an estimated 70 per cent plus of the world’s highest-grade manganese, which product is increasing in worldwide demand.

The largest consumers of the commodity are China, India, Japan, Ukraine and South Korea.

South Africa and the region’s manganese is also exported through the ports of Richards Bay, Durban, East London and Maputo.

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Added 14 December 2023


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WHARF TALK: MR2 class product tanker – NORD OLYMPIA

The MR2 products tanker, Nord Olympia, which called at Cape Town during November. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The way things are going off Durban at the moment, with vessels piling up in the Umhlanga anchorage, and having indeterminate stays whilst waiting for a berth to become available, is causing untold disruption to not only the shipowner, but also to either the consignee, or the consignor, of the cargo. It is not a problem that is going away any time soon.

That local Transnet management even care is open for debate, despite the port managers seemingly convincing themselves that everything is hunky dory, and they are doing a great job. For the vessels themselves, they are forced to grin and bear it, and hope that a berth is going to become available soon, and they can finally enter Durban harbour to load, or discharge cargo.

Yet, despite the Durban vessels being hostages to fortune in the great stakes of Transnet Poker, there are some other vessels that choose to sit around in an anchorage, and wait to be told what to do next. The example on the South African coast is Mossel Bay, where in recent months product tankers have arrived, with no intention to discharge their product, but simply to wait it out until told where to go next. The decision to sail is made by the shipowner, not Transnet.

Way back on 31st October, at 19h00 in the early evening, the MR2 class product tanker NORD OLYMPIA (IMO 9747132) arrived off Mossel Bay, and went to anchor along with another half dozen product tankers that were already swinging in the Mossel Bay anchorage. She remained effectively idle for over three weeks, when on 22nd November, at 22h00 in the late evening, she raised her anchor and departed Mossel Bay, now bound for Cape Town.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She duly turned up off Cape Town, on 23rd November at midnight, but rather than enter Cape Town harbour, there was no berth ready for her, so she was directed to go to the Table Bay anchorage. Luckily, despite further delay, she was only required to spend just over half a day in the anchorage, and at 14h00 in the afternoon of 24th November, ‘Nord Olympia’ entered Cape Town harbour, proceeded into the Duncan Dock, to go alongside the outer Tanker Basin berth.

Built in 2018 by Onomichi Shipyard at Onomichi in Japan, ‘Nord Olympia’ is 183 metres in length and has a deadweight of 49,995 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsui MAN-B&W 6S50ME-B9 six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 12,236 bhp (9,125 kW) and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 13 knots.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 750 kW each, and a single emergency generator providing 160 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Qingdao XW exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Qingdao Mission OM16 oil fired boiler.

With a cargo carrying capacity of 55,036 m3, ‘Nord Olympia’ has twelve cargo tanks, all of which are epoxy coated, and she is fitted with twelve cargo pumps, with each being capable of pumping at a rate of 600 m3/hour. She is able to carry six grades of product at any one time.

Nominally owned by Triumph Shipping Ltd., ‘Nord Olympia’ is part of the fleet of Dampskibsselskabet Norden AS (Norden), of Hellerup in Denmark. She is operated by Norient Product Pool APS, also of Hellerup, and is managed by Norden Synergy Shipmanagement AS, also of Hellerup. The company was founded in 1871, and the first vessel of Norden was a steamship, which carried the unchanged funnel colours that ‘Nord Olympia’ sports to this day.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Norden are one of the more progressive shipowners, and instigated their own climate action plan to reduce emissions in their fleet as far back as 2007. In 2009 the company joined the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, and in 2019 completed their first voyage with one of their vessels operating on 100%, CO2 neutral, biofuel instead of normal marine fuels.

The United Nations Global Compact is a non-binding United Nations pact to get businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable, and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation, with an undertaking to align their strategies and operations with ten universal principles related to human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Back in Cape Town, ‘Nord Olympia’ had completed her discharge after just under five days, and at 07h00 in the morning of 29th November, she was ready to sail from Cape Town. She duly cleared the port, and in a puzzling move, she went straight back to the Table Bay anchorage, and remained there for the next twelve days, presumably to await further orders.

Then on 11th December at 05h00 in the morning, she raised her anchor, and in another puzzling move, ‘Nord Olympia’ made her way back into Cape Town harbour, and back into the Duncan Dock, going alongside the berth she had vacated almost a fortnight earlier. She didn’t stay very long, as just fifteen hours later, possibly after a bunker and stores uplift, she was ready to sail again. At 20h00 in the evening of 11th December, she sailed for the second time from Cape Town, but this time her AIS indicated that her destination was to be Fujairah in the UAE, for orders.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of a class of 12 tankers produced by the Onomichi shipyard, of which Norden operate two of the class, ‘Nord Olympia’ has been well looked after, as can be seen by her smart, outward, appearance in Cape Town. In her five year career she has received a total of 17 Port State Inspections around the world. In all that time, and through all those inspections, only a single finding has been recorded against her. This was a non-technical infringement falling under the category of ‘Working and Living Conditions’, and was related to onboard accident prevention.

Norden have a vested interest in their African operations, with two logistic hubs located in both Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, and in Libreville in Gabon. In 2022 they started up a marine scholarship programme, under their Norden and Orient Foundation, with the aim to support young maritime talent in both the Ivory Coast and Gabon.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. The tug is Usiba.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The programme provides a full scholarship to study at the Regional Academy of Marine Sciences and Technologies (ARSTM) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and was offered to an initial six cadets, covering both Navigation Cadets, and Engineering Cadets. As part of the programme at ARSTM, the students are required to work 12-months onboard a vessel before they can obtain their maritime degree, and watchkeeping license.

In October this year, after a year in the classroom, the first two cadets from the academy were selected to join a NORDEN vessel to begin their sea training. After training has been completed, and the cadets complete their graduation, the intent is to offer the Cadets employment in NORDEN, supporting their port operations in either the Ivory Coast, or in Gabon.

Nord Olympia. Cape Town, 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This summer, a ceremony marked the ending of the first year at ARSTM for the first six first Norden Cadets, two navigation, and four engineering, and which included a female engineering cadet. In November Norden chose their next six additional Cadets as the second batch to be enrolled in the scholarship programme at ARSTM. In 2024, the aim is to further provide six more Cadets with scholarships, making it a total of 18 Cadets offered maritime scholarships in less than three years.

Located in Abidjan, the ARSTM is a regional institution for maritime, port and industrial education, founded by the 15 French speaking nations of West and Central Africa. It covers a 33 hectare site, was inaugurated in 1987, and is a recognised diplomatic mission of the United Nations. The Academy covers two schools, namely the Centre of Maritime Education and Training (CEAM), and the Institute for the Strategic Management of Institutional Assets (ISMI).

Editor’s Note: It may be of interest that the above report is the 195th article for 2023 from the pen of Jay Gates, whose total word count for 2023 runs to more than 250,000 words. Appreciation also goes to Dockrat for providing almost 1,500 photographs during the year that provided the motivation for the Wharf Talk articles.

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IMO Assembly 33rd session

IMO Assembly and flags of member nations

Edited by Paul Ridgway

The IMO Assembly met for its 33rd session from 27 November to 6 December 2023. For the first time, plenary sessions of the Assembly were live- streamed.

IMO awards event

On the first day of the Assembly, 27 November, IMO hosted the annual IMO Awards Ceremony. Details can be found here

Strategic Plan

The Assembly adopted the Strategic Plan for the six-year period 2024 to 2029.

The eight strategic directions are:

• SD 1: Ensure implementation of IMO instruments supported by capacity development.
• SD 2: Integrate new, emerging and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework.
• SD 3: Respond to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.
• SD 4: Continue to engage in ocean governance.
• SD 5: Enhance global facilitation, supply chain resilience and security of international trade.
• SD 6: Address the human element.
• SD 7: Ensure the regulatory effectiveness of international shipping.
• SD 8: Ensure organizational effectiveness.

Budget and work programme

The Assembly adopted the Organization’s budget and work programme for 2024 and 2025.

Election of members of the IMO Council

A new 40-Member IMO Council for the 2024-2025 biennium was elected. Read more here:

The newly elected Council met on 7 December (for the Council’s 131st session) and re -elected its Chair: Mr Victor Jiménez. (Spain) and Vice-Chair: Mrs Amane Fethallah (Morocco).

Appointment of the Secretary-General

The Assembly approved the appointment of Mr Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco (Republic of Panama) as IMO Secretary-General, for an initial four-year term starting on 1 January 2024.

The Assembly adopted an Assembly Resolution on Appreciation of the Services to the Organization of Mr Kitack Lim.

Other resolutions

The Assembly adopted a number of resolutions on key aspects of the Organization’s work, including:

• Guidelines on places of refuge for ships in need of assistance.
• Recommendations emanating from the joint action group to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s transport workers and the global supply chain (JAG-TSC).
• Survey Guidelines under the Harmonized System of Survey and Certification, 2023.
• 2023 Non-exhaustive list of obligations under instruments relevant to the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code).
• Procedures for port State control, 2023.
• 2023 Guidelines on the implementation of the ISM Code by Administrations.
• The enhancement of multilingualism.
• On the impact of the Russian armed invasion of Ukraine on international shipping.
• Implementation of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.
• Urging Member States and all relevant stakeholders to promote actions to prevent illegal operations in the maritime sector by the ‘dark fleet’ or ‘shadow fleet’.
• Enhancing the framework of the fight against organized crime in the maritime sector.

IMO Assembly

The Assembly is open to all 175 IMO Member States and three Associate Members. It is also attended by observers from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The Assembly is the highest Governing Body of the Organization.

Assembly opening

The meeting was opened by the outgoing President, Antonio Manuel R Lagdameo, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations. The incoming President, HRH Prince Khalid Bin Bandar Bin Sultan Al-Saud, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom, addressed the Assembly.

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Maritime Security Incident Overview: M/V Strinda

Africa Ports & Ships

The M/V Strinda, a Norwegian-owned chemical tanker, became the latest target of regional hostilities in a maritime incident that highlights the escalating risks in strategic sea lanes

By: Dryad Global

Incident Overview: M/V Strinda

Date of Incident: December 11, 2023

Time of Incident: 2100 UTC

A Norwegian-owned chemical tanker, M/V Strinda, operated by Mowinckel Chemical Tankers AS was struck by a missile approximately 60 miles north of the Bab-el Mandeb Strait and 15 nautical miles west of Port Mokha, Yemen. This attack resulted in a fire on board, which has since been extinguished. The vessel is now heading to a safe port. There are no reported casualties. There are reports that the vessel was en route to Italy, however the Ashdod Port website had the vessel on their arrivals list.

The owners, Mowinckel Chemical Tankers stated in a press release that the vessel was heading to Italy and then had a contract to pick up cargo in the Port of Ashdod, however the owners did have an option to cancel the contract. Currently the Ashdod port website is down.

The USS Mason, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer along with a French military vessel, responded to the distress call. The missile was reportedly fired from Houthi-controlled territory in Yemen. The Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that the vessel was targeted as it was allegedly transporting oil to Israel. There were also reports of jets and explosions near the Houthi held area on shore near Al Hawban, however this activity has not been confirmed.

Context and Implications

This incident underscores the persistent threat to shipping in the southern Red Sea, particularly near the strategic Bab el-Mandab Strait. This narrow chokepoint, flanked by Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, is crucial for global shipping and trade, with approximately $1 trillion worth of trade passing through annually. Such attacks pose not only a regional geopolitical risk but a significant global economic threat. Late last week the Houthi’s expanded their threats to include all vessels transiting to and from Israeli ports.


All vessels operating in or transiting through the vicinity of the Bab el Mandab Strait are advised to exercise heightened caution. The Houthi’s are also attempting to contact ships via VHF Channel 16 and advising them to change course, which happened in this incident. It is crucial to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) along with allied Naval forces on VHF Channel 16. The situation in the region remains volatile, and adherence to recommended security protocols is essential for safe passage.

Recent Trends

This incident marks the second involvement of the USS Mason in similar events in the region within a two-week period, indicating an escalating pattern of missile attacks from Yemen. Source: Dryad Global. Original article may be found here 

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IMO and training seafarers for a decarbonised future

Deck Officer on deck of offshore vessel , wearing PPE personal protective equipment. He fills checklist. Paperwork at sea. Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

A new project is set to develop a training framework to equip seafarers with skills as shipping transitions to zero greenhouse gas emissions. This was reported by IMO in early December.

The project will work to prepare seafarers for zero or near-zero emissions ships, helping the global shipping industry to decarbonise and ensuring a just transition for seafarers. The aim is to equip seafarers with skills and provide guidance for trainers and the industry.

WMU and LR involvement

The World Maritime University (WMU), an IMO global research, education and training institute based in Malmö, Sweden, and Lloyd’s Register will develop two training packages: one for all seafarers, irrespective of their roles, and another for officers with higher-level responsibilities, as well as an instructor handbook for maritime training institutions.


The project will be co-funded by IMO through its technical cooperation funding, including the IMO GHG TC Trust Fund; and by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The project is a collaborative project with the Maritime Just Transition Task Force.

Seafarers are at the core of the shipping industry. This training is vital to ensure a successful transition to a new shipping landscape emanating from overall climate action and the implementation of the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships

To test in Asia

Once developed, the Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonisation will be first tested in Asia through a programme led by WMU, with support from the IMO-established Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Asia and other partners.

It is reported that the aim is to then make the packages available globally to all the established MTCCs and other appropriate organizations. The packages will also be available to IMO Member States, for potential use by maritime education and training (MET) institutes to develop their programmes, as appropriate.

A ‘train the trainer’ programme will also be developed to assist METs further. The timeline is to develop the training materials by mid-2025.


The Project was announced as the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) met in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December. IMO was at COP 28 and was involved in a number of events

The Maritime Just Transition Task Force was formed at COP 26 in 2021 by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the United Nations Global Compact, ILO and IMO..

Training need

The genesis of this initiative goes back to a project initiated by IMO in the Philippines in 2021 to improve the safety and energy efficiency of its domestic ferry fleet. The need to train seafarers was identified as one of the follow up actions. IMO developed a thematic project to assist the Maritime Education and Training (MET) Institutions in Asia, particularly in seafarer-supplying countries, to develop specific training on energy efficiency for seafarers. The aim would be to to assist all the MET Institutions around the globe.

The Maritime Just Transition Task Force has identified that up to 800,000 seafarers may require additional training by the mid-2030s to handle zero carbon fuels.

The IMO Secretariat invited the Maritime Just Transition Task Force to join in IMO’s project to develop a Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonization, recognizing the benefits of joining efforts.

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In Conversation: Somali pirates are back in action: but a full scale return isn’t likely. Here’s why

Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Royal Danish Defence College and Troels Burchall Henningsen, Royal Danish Defence College

An Iranian fishing vessel, Almeraj 1, was reportedly hijacked by Somali pirates in November 2023. According to media reports, the pirates demanded US$400,000 in ransom and threatened to use the Iranian ship for additional hijackings if the payment was not made.

Two days later, other Somali pirates hijacked a tanker, Central Park, off the Yemeni coast. The tanker sent a distress signal during the attack. Forces from a nearby American warship captured the pirates as they tried to flee in a small boat.

The two attacks have led the Somali government to call for greater international support to deter a resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa. Similar fears that Somali piracy was on the rebound surfaced after five previous attacks in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

We have been studying the rise and fall of Somali piracy, and have tracked the problem for years. We do not regard a major rise in Somali piracy as likely.

Addressing the threat

Following previous threats, local authorities, experts and organisations tracking piracy globally warned that Somali pirates retained the capacity to launch attacks. This is also the current assessment of the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre, which acts to suppress piracy and armed robbery at sea.

The concern is not surprising.

Somali piracy was a major threat to the region and the world economy at its height in 2011. That year alone, Somali pirates carried out 212 attacks. The World Bank estimated that these cost the world economy US$18 billion.

In a recent analysis, we concluded that a range of anti-piracy measures had put a stop to Somali piracy. The measures fall into four main categories:

  1. anti-piracy naval operations by the world’s most capable navies
  2. costly self-protection measures, including the use of armed guards, by most flag states and shipping owners
  3. a legal toolbox enabling pirate prosecution and imprisonment
  4. capacity-building and the ability to imprison pirates regionally and in Somalia.

Anti-piracy measures

These measures remain largely in place.

Measure 1: The size of anti-piracy naval operations may have shrunk but some international forces remain active. Nato – an intergovernmental military alliance between 29 European and two North American member states – terminated its anti-piracy mission in 2016. However, the European Union retains its mission, as does a US-led coalition. Together they seek to suppress piracy outside the territorial waters of Somalia and other coastal states in the region. In addition, independent deployers like China have warships on patrol.

Measure 2: Most commercial ships sailing through the Gulf of Aden, the Somali basin and the Indian Ocean follow many of the self-protection measures recommended by flag states and the main maritime industry organisations. While the number of ships carrying armed guards has dropped considerably, most commercial ships report to the maritime security centres, follow the recommended transit corridor protected by international naval forces and join group transits.

Measure 3: The legal toolbox and the post-trial transfer system making it possible to prosecute pirates and imprison them in Somalia remains in place. This makes jail the most likely destination for the five pirates recently apprehended by US forces following their hijacking of Central Park. Successful prosecution and imprisonment would signal to other pirates that piracy remains an unprofitable undertaking off the Somali coast.

Measure 4: International efforts continue to increase the capacity of Somalia and other regional states to patrol their national waters. The EU’s capacity building mission in Somalia, for instance, still supports Somalia’s maritime security sector. It seeks to strengthen the sector’s capacity to deter, capture and prosecute pirates. The successful operations undertaken by the Puntland Maritime Police Force – including securing the release of hostages – indicate that these efforts are paying off.

These anti-piracy measures continue to be implemented by a broad coalition of state and private actors. They include states from outside the region, regional nations, Somali authorities and the international shipping industry. As long as these actors continue to invest in maintaining these measures, Somali piracy will remain unprofitable.

High risks, few rewards

It remains to be seen if the ransom demand for the Iranian fishing vessel Almeraj 1 will succeed. However, pirates don’t appear to have made any money from any of the other five attacks launched in the 2017-2023 period. We haven’t been able to ascertain if any ransom was paid to secure the release of a Panama-flagged ship captured in August 2020. In the other four instances, the attacks either failed or didn’t result in ransom payments.

Even if the US$400,000 ransom demand succeeds, it doesn’t alter the overall conclusion that piracy off the Somali coast remains a high-risk undertaking with a low probability of success. This suggests that a major increase in Somali piracy is highly unlikely.

If it did happen, though, it would be easy for international naval forces and the shipping industry to reduce the prospects of success by stepping up naval patrols and reintroducing armed guards.The Conversation

Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Associate professor, Royal Danish Defence College and Troels Burchall Henningsen, Associate Professor, Royal Danish Defence College

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

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Indian Navy ship calls at Kenya’s Lamu port

INS Sumedha, Maldives.  Picture: Indian Navy

Africa Ports & Ships

The Indian Navy Saryu-class patrol ship INS SUMEDHA (P58) has made a maiden call at Kenya’s port of Lamu.

Arriving at the port on 9 December she became the first ever Indian naval ship to visit the still new port situated close to the Kenya/Somalia border.

INS Sumedha is on a long-range deployment to Africa.

During her visit personnel from the ship engaged with a number of interactions with their counterparts in the Kenya Navy, including deck visits and sporting engagements, a joint yoga session, a deck reception and various other planned activities.

The 2,000-ton, 105-metre long vessel is the third in the Saryu class of patrol ships, designed and built at the Goa Shipyard in India, specifically for fleet support missions, coastal and offshore patrols and general monitoring of sea lanes of importance to India.

Sumedha is part of the Indian navy’s Eastern Naval Command, based at Visakhapatnam.

The ship is armed with a 76mm gun, close-in weapon systems and CHAFF launchers and is powered by two KOEL/Pielstick diesel engines to provide a speed of 25 knots and a range of 6,000 nautical miles.

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Cape Town’s RTG cranes arrive in time for Christmas

RTGs (red) and STS cranes (blue and red/white stripes) at the Cape Town Container Terminal.  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

In a development aimed at boosting productivity at the Cape Town Container Terminal (CTCT), seven rubber tyre gantry cranes (RTGs) have arrived from America.

The pre-used RTGs were obtained from Los Angeles in the USA in a bid to improve container handling at the terminal, where a lack of working equipment has been cited as one of the reasons for the poor container handling at the port.

Western Cape Terminals Managing Executive, Andiswa Dlanga, said the acquisition of additional RTGs in the terminal will go a long way in offering a reliable service to Transnet’s customers, as well as a much-needed boost for the growth of the Western Cape and South Africa’s economy.

“As a business, we are committed to deliver on our promise to customers and industry, thus equipment availability and reliability are at the core of what we do. These additional machines will enable us to improve operational performance and turn around vessels on time.”

According to Transnet Port Terminals (TPT), which is the operator of CTCT, the new cranes will bring the number of RTGs operating at the terminal to 27 – a timely boost ahead of the peak of the deciduous season, which is the terminal’s busiest time.

“Out of the 20 RTGs, seven of them were recently fitted with new engines and three with generators. CTCT is currently completing maintenance repairs on two additional RTGs, which will bring the total number to 29,” TPT said in a statement.

Over the next few days, TPT’s engineering team will spend time commissioning the newly arrived RTGs to ensure readiness before they are officially handed over to operations. Concurrently, the operations team will roll out training to operators who will be working on the additional RTG machines.

“The acquisition of RTGs is a display of TPT’s commitment to the industry and stakeholders as more reliable equipment directly leads to improved productivity while also ensuring seamless vessel movement within the port,” the statement reads.

Customers of the terminal will hope this is indeed the case. Fingers have been pointed at a lack of motivation and productivity among the TPT personnel. The additional container handling equipment will be an opportunity for TPT to demonstrate this is not so.

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WHARF TALK: chemical tanker – STOLT ORCA

The laden chemical tanker Stolt Orca which arrived in Cape Town from Panama. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

South Africa gets to see a vast array of tankers calling, with the big VLCC crude oil tankers seen mostly off the SBM, south of Durban, with the crude oil destined for the local oil refineries. Every port around the coast gets a regular fix of arriving MR and LR product tankers, including the small handy sized bunker tankers.

More recently, the LPG and LNG gas tankers have started to be regular callers at both Saldanha Bay and Richards Bay, where gas tank facilities have been built. However, the rarest of the tanker classes that arrive are the Chemical tankers. A few call into Cape Town with mostly vegetable oils, but almost all are headed to Durban, where most of the heavy industry requirements are located, and that require specialised chemicals for their industrial processes.

The latest edition of Africa Ports & Ships on 12th December had an article that pointed to the fact that many of the shipowners have started to send their vessels around the Cape, rather than risk the transit up, or down, the Red Sea. Already Cape Town has had a Pure Car Carrier call that is one of those to have been diverted as a result of Houthi terrorist actions.

The article also focused on the fact that the drought, that is affecting the water levels of the Panama Canal, is also forcing shipowners to divert their vessels heading to the Far East to make the great trek via the Cape to get there, as the canal suffers under the building weather effects of the cyclic El Niño atmospheric phenomenon. So for the casual maritime observer it would be a case of trying to identify a caller that was nothing other than a Panama Canal diversion.

On 4th December, at 20h00 in the early evening, the laden chemical tanker STOLT ORCA (IMO 9597147) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage after a long transatlantic crossing from the Panama Canal anchorage at Balboa. She remained in the anchorage for just under three days, and at 15h00 in the afternoon of 8th December she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, but she was directed to where no tanker hardly ever goes.

Stolt Orca. Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In a highly unusual berthing arrangement, ‘Stolt Orca’ went not to a recognised tanker berth for discharging, or even to the Eastern Mole for a bunker stop. Instead, she was taken to the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E berth, and a clear sign that she was in transit, and most likely in port not just for bunkers, but also a possible complete crew change, hence the need for the immigration services in the Cruise Terminal.

Built in 2013 by Kitanihon Shipbuilding at Hachinohe in Japan, ‘Stolt Orca’ is 170 metres in length and has a deadweight of 33,559 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsubishi-Akasaka 6UEC50LSII six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 10,850 bhp (7,980 kW) to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14.7 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Yanmar 6EY22ALW generators producing 660 kW each, and a single emergency generator producing 109 kW. She has two Miura auxiliary vertical oil fired boilers. For added manoeuvrability ‘Stolt Orca’ has a bow transverse thruster providing 380 kW.

Stolt Orca. Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has 18 stainless steel cargo tanks, with a total cargo carrying capacity of 37,904 m3. She has a total of fourteen centrifugal cargo pumps capable of pumping at a rate of 330 m3/hour, and a further four centrifugal cargo pumps capable of pumping at a rate of 220 m3/hour.

One of three sisterships, ‘Stolt Orca’ is nominally owned by NST Orca Incorporated, and is operated by Stolt-Nielsen Ltd., of London, and managed by Stolt Tankers BV or Rotterdam, in Holland. She operates in the NYK Stolt Tankers SA (NYKST) fleet. She was built originally for Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), of Tokyo in Japan, and all three sisterships were purchased, from K Line, by Stolt-Nielsen in 2022, with ‘Stolt Orca’ entering Stolt service in July 2022.

The bloc price for all three sisterships was US$77.5 million (ZAR1.51 billion), or a unit price of US$25.85 million (ZAR501.08 million) per vessel. In just over a year, ‘Stolt Orca’ is maintaining her owner’s investment, as she has kept her value, with her commercial sale value today being quoted as US$26.5 million (ZAR513.68 million). However, should she be offered for simple scrapping and recycling, her sale value is greatly reduced to US$4.4 million (ZAR85.29 million).

Stolt Orca. Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Stolt Tankers are the world’s largest chemical and parcel tanker operator in the world, with a current fleet in excess of 160 tankers, which includes both deepsea tankers, as well as inland waterway tankers. The company was founded in New York City in 1959, by London trained ship broker Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, who had moved to the USA only the year before.

Jacob Stolt-Nielsen invented the modern chemical tanker, by designing a tanker vessel concept that maintained absolute separation integrity of all cargoes. This was achieved by the use of one deepwell submersion pump for every individual stainless steel tank, and with each tank having a separate manifold connection, thus giving each chemical parcel a level of purity, and integrity, of containment. The manifold on ‘Stolt Orca’ clearly has a connection for 18 tanks.

Stolt Orca. Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Stolt Tankers were one of the more progressive shipowners during the height of the scourge of the Somali pirates. The company spent in excess of US$1 million (ZAR19.38 million) every single month on those vessels required to transit the Gulf of Oman regions, with the embarkation of specialist armed security teams, and the fitting of other anti-piracy technology, and measures.

Stolt-Nielsen are also one of the progressive shipowner in regards to leading the maritime industry programme on carbon reduction, Stolt Tankers have an active policy where they intend to achieve a 50% carbon reduction in their fleet emissions by 2030, and have reached a point of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Stolt Orca. Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Stolt Tankers are also a proud supporter of environmental programmes around the world. Recently, with their NYK Line partner in the Stolt Tankers Joint Service (STJS) Pool, a donation of US$100,000 (ZAR1.94 million) was made to two non-profit charities that have extensive programmes managing reforestation, carbon absorption, and environment impact projects. The two environmental organisations were ‘One Tree Planted’, and ‘We Forest’, with the donation going to fund three projects that the charities were working on.

One of the projects supported by Stolt Tankers includes the ‘We Forest’ charity project that is focused on the reforestation of the Desa Forest, located in Northern Ethiopia. One other ‘We Forest’ funded project is on their Philippines Indigenous Bamboo and Native Tree Reforestation project, which will remove 500,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. The STJS Pool is also the first tanker pool to implement a Green Bunker Procurement Fund, with proceeds fully dedicated to carbon reduction, fuel efficiency, and environmental initiatives.

The arrival of ‘Stolt Orca’ in Cape Town, from the Atlantic anchorage of the Panama Canal is a good indication of her being a vessel of diversion. She had previously arrived in the port of La Brea, in the Caribbean state of Trinidad and Tobago, from Antwerp in Belgium, prior to sailing for Balboa, and the Panama Canal, and presumably a transpacific passage to the Far East.

Stolt Orca. Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

However, she was held in the Panama Canal anchorage for over seven and a half days. It would seem, or is likely, that the decision was taken by her owner, that her passage through the Panama Canal was either in doubt, or delayed, and the decision was taken to send her around the Cape, in order to reach the Far East.

Her surprise arrival in Cape Town, in a clearly laden condition, was clearly not for cargo discharge purposes based on her allocated berth at the Passenger Cruise Terminal. After less than one day alongside, her requirements had been met, and after 21 hours in the Mother City, ‘Stolt Orca’ sailed from Cape Town at midday on 8th December.

Her AIS indicated that her next destination was to be Singapore, a voyage of 5,727 nautical miles, on top of her voyage to Cape Town from Balboa of 5,256 nautical miles. Interestingly, a route via the Panama Canal would have been 11,674 nautical miles, which is an increase of 691 nautical miles, or two days, so Singapore is possibly not her ultimate destination in the Far East.

For the nomenclature fan, when ‘Stolt Orca’ joined the Stolt-Nielsen fleet, she received her name after an internal naming competition in the company. Her name came from competition winner Hugo von Aesch, a project manager with Stolt-Nielsen where, in his own words, he took his inspiration from ‘some of the marine life that we are privileged to share our oceans with.’ Most casual maritime observers are aware that Orca is the generic name for the Killer Whale.

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Red Sea Threats: Statement by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Picture: IMO

Reported by Paul Ridgway

On 12 December the IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim issued this statement:

“The recent reports of threats made to commercial shipping in the Red Sea are extremely alarming and unacceptable. Commercial shipping should never be a collateral victim of geopolitical conflicts. Any attack on commercial shipping is contrary to international maritime law, including laws which protect the freedom of navigation. Any action which might adversely affect shipping engaged in international trade must be avoided.

“Ships, cargoes and seafarers must be protected at all times. I invite Member States to work together to ensure unhindered and safe global navigation, everywhere, as a prerequisite for maintaining the world’s supply chains, and in line with the framework of the Djibouti Code of Conduct.”

Note: The Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden was adopted in 2009.

The Jeddah Amendment, adopted in 2017, extends the scope of the Code, calling on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organised crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing and other illegal activities at sea.

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Norwegian tanker Strinda struck by missile in Red Sea

Africa Ports & Ships

A Norwegian registered and operated oil and chemical products tanker, STRINDA (IMO 9330771), was hit by a missile launched from Yemen at about midnight local time on Tuesday morning (12 December).

The 19,959-dwt tanker, which is loaded with a cargo of vegetable oil and bio-fuels, was about 60 nautical miles north of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait when the missile, assumed to be an Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM), struck the vessel, resulting in a fire.

The crew of 22, all Indian nationals, managed to put out the blaze. There were no injuries. The tanker suffered some damage however.

Strinda is part of a fleet of tankers owned and operated by Bergen-based shipping firm, Mowinckel Rederi. The vessel was en route from Malaysia to Italy.

The attack is the latest in a series of missile and drone attacks on shipping passing the strait and all emanating from the Houthi-controlled section of Yemen.

The usual Houthi spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, did not immediately acknowledge the missile attack but later in the day confirmed the reports.

The US destroyer, USS Mason, responded to the tanker’s call for assistance and provided assistance.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which provides security alerts to ships, reported a fire on an unidentified vessel about 15 nautical miles (28km) off the Yemeni port of Mokha.

There is no apparent link between the tanker Strinda or its owners and Israel.

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Repairs to Angola’s research vessel Baía Farta will be completed by May

Baía Farta, which has arrived in Cape Town for necessary repairs.  Picture: Angop

Africa Ports & Ships

Repairs to the Angolan oceanographic scientific research vessel Baía Farta are expected to be completed by May when the ship can return to duty along the Angolan coast.

Baia Farta was built in 2018 by Damen Shipyards, and arrived in Cape Town on 6 December 2023 to undergo maintenance repairs to certain ‘non-conformities’. These had been detected and confirmed during the first sea test carried out off Angola in 2021.

Carmen dos Santos, Angola’s Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, recently visited Damen in the Netherlands where she said an agreement was signed with the shipyard concerning the anomalies.

In an interview with the news agency ANGOP, the minister said the vessel remained in a position to carry out scientific research, but “has a problem in the winches that cast the nets and watch over the fishing and oceanographic part, as well as the collection and studies of micro-plastics at sea.”

“I recently travelled to the Netherlands, where the shipowner or builder of the Baía Farta is located, to sign an agreement that sets the deadline for repairing the non-conformities and, consequently, the delivery of the ship to the Angolan Government, by May 2024,” she said.

The repairs will be carried out at Damen Cape Town Shipyard, where the vessel is currently moored.

The minister said that once Baía Farta returns to Angola, the fisheries sector will implement scientific research programmes.

In addition, the minister said that the National Institute for Scientific, Fisheries and Marine Research is preparing teams to undertake research cruises, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and in company with the Norwegian ship ‘Dr Fridtjof Nansen’ and the Spanish Oceanographic Institute.

Baía Farta inoperative since 2021

The report said that on its arrival in Angola from the Damen Shipyard Galati in Romania, the vessel underwent the first phase of sea trials, which took place from 1 to 8 April 2021.

During the delivery voyage a number of malfunctions and non-conformities were reported, which were confirmed during Baía Farta’s first local scientific voyage, carried out from 25 May to 3 June 2021 off the northern Angolan coast.

As a result further scientific voyages were suspended pending discussions with Damen, which resulted in the vessel moving to Cape Town where Damen has a shipyard.

Baia Farta has a length of 74.1 metres and width of 17m and a gross tonnage of 3,208 tons. The ship can embark 51 persons – 29 crew and 22 scientists and can remain at sea for up to 29 days.

Costing around USD 80 million, Baia Farta is equipped for the full range of fisheries research and assessment activities including hydrographic operations, acoustics research, pelagic and demersal trawling, plankton, water, environmental and geographical sampling, oil recovery and emergency towage operations.

At its handing-over function in October 2018 a spokesman for Damen said: “We are confident that she will prove to be a highly efficient and effective vessel, and will in the years ahead play a valuable role in the development of the Angolan fishing industry.”  source: ANGOP

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Durban Cruise Terminal quay wall strengthened

Scour protection repairs undertaken at the Durban Cruise terminal berths A & B – even in the rain!. Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) says it has completed the ‘Scour Rock Protection Project’ at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in the Port of Durban to ensure safe navigation and berthing of visiting cruise vessels in the Port of Durban.

The initial berths A and B were built in the 1900s without scour protection measures in place. The current scour project is designed to prevent the scouring of the existing seabed and mitigate the risk of quay wall instability.

Since the completion of the new Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal, these berths near the entrance to the port and close to the Ushaka Waterfront, have been designated for docking cruise vessels. This modification has become imperative to ensure the safe and efficient berthing of cruise vessels.

Image: TNPA

Two Phases

The enhancement of A and B berths quay infrastructure was divided into two phases. The first phase was completed in 2020 and consisted of the installation of 300-ton dual bitt bollards and the strengthening of the quay wall by installing tie-rods and new foam fenders.

The second phase of the project commenced in May 2023 and the scope entailed the installation of the scour protection to further strengthen the berth and prevent undermining of the toe by vessel thrust that will be introduced by the new cruise liners.

Port manager Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana said the completion of the scour protection shows the port’s dedication to environmental sustainability, infrastructure maintenance and economic growth.

“We are continuously improving our port infrastructure to ensure that vessels calling into the port are protected against any damage and are berthed safely,” she said.

“The benefits of the strengthened quay wall have already been enjoyed by the cruise vessels that we have safely docked since the 2023/24 cruise opening.”

The project scope also included extensive dredging to prepare the seabed, followed by the installation of an 800mm thick scour rock layer of between 200kg – 400kg in weight to secure the port’s infrastructure to prevent erosion.

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Transnet Recovery Diary 12 December 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 12 December 2023

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Increasing number of ships avoid the Red Sea & turn for the Cape

The container ship Number 9 that was targeted by missiles and drones fired from Yemen. Picture: FleetMon

Africa Ports & Ships

Because of threats posed by the rebel Houthi forces in Yemen, an increased number of merchant ships are avoiding the Red Sea and Suez Canal in favour of rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

It began with an attack and seizure of an Israeli-owned car carrier, the NYK-operated Galaxy Leader, captured by the rebels and taken to an anchorage off the Yemeni port of Hodeidah.

Since then several other ships have come under attack from drones and missiles fired from Yemen, amid statements issued by the Houthis that any ship associated with Israel in any manner, would be attacked or seized.

With these threats having been carried out, and a number of drones and missiles being destroyed by American and French warships on patrol in the Red Sea, some ship operators have begun taking the decision to instead route their ships the long way round between Europe and the Indian Ocean.

This is being applied to head-haul and back-haul voyages, which are taking longer to complete but safely avoiding any danger to the ships and their crews.

Analyst Alphaliner calculated that a diversion around the Cape of Good Hope on a voyage from Shanghai to Rotterdam at a speed of 18 knots would increase the transit time from 25 to 33 days.

This will bring a possible benefit to bunker suppliers in South Africa and Mauritius for vessels having to refuel along the longer journey.

Similarly, the problems being experienced at the Panama Canal with low water is resulting in a number of ships operating between the Far East and the American east coast, having to also travel via the Indian Ocean and Cape of Good Hope.

According to Alphaliner, at least 12 container ships of The Alliance’s EC1 service were expected to divert from their established Red Sea routes over the coming week and round the Cape instead.

This is thought to be in response to the drone and missile attack on the OOCL vessel Number 9, reported HERE last week, in Africa Ports & Ships.

It is also reported that Saudi Arabia has lated crude shipments through Bab-el-Mandeb, the narrow strait between the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea.

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WHARF TALK: logistic support ship FS JACQUES CHEVALLIER A725

Marine Nationale’s newbuild logistic support ship (LSS) Jacques Chevallier A725 in Cape Town harbour on her maiden visit. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

When is a warship not a warship? In terms of the Royal Navy (RN), it is when a support vessel, such as a logistics support ship (LSS), is operated by a civilian crew, and has merely defensive armament. These vessels are operated by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). In the same way as are the logistics support ships that the United States Navy (USN) depend on, and which are manned by civilian crews under the auspices of the US Military Sealift Command (MSC).

Another view is when the vessel in question is still undergoing sea trials, and engaged in commissioning cruises, but has yet to be formally accepted by the Naval Authority and commissioned into the Naval fleet, complete with its pennant number. However, if it is wholly manned by the Navy, even when undergoing a commissioning cruise, it is technically still a warship. Unlike the RN, and the USN, many other NATO navies operate their logistic support ships as integral elements of their naval fleet. The French Navy is one such example.

As expected, and previously indicated in the 4th December edition of Africa Ports & Ships, the French Navy, known as the Marine Nationale, logistic support ship (LSS) FS JACQUES CHEVALLIER A725 arrived off Cape Town, after a voyage across the Atlantic from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Her call was expected to be for a full five days, and will see her remain in the Mother City until 12th December, when she is expected to sail into the Indian Ocean, and make her way to the French Naval base on Réunion Island.

FS Jacques Chevallier A725, Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and sadly, as she is not a Chinese Naval vessel, she did not proceed into the V&A Waterfront. Instead, she was directed to the far reaches of the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the Landing Wall, which as far from public access as you can get. She was not to be berthed where the public could either gaze upon her, or be able to enjoy a visit aboard her. Another grand PR opportunity wasted.

It will be noted that she is not carrying her pennant number, A725, on her hull. She is technically not yet a full unit of the French Navy, and is still undergoing comprehensive commissioning sea trials. It is expected that she will receive her commission once she arrives back at her home port of the Toulon Naval Base, on the French Mediterranean coast.

FS Jacques Chevallier A725, Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is the first of a new class of Logistic Support Ship (LSS), known in French as Bâtiment Ravitailleur de Forces (BRF). There will eventually be four ships of the ‘Jacques Chevallier’ class, which will be replacing the original five units of the Durance Class of LSS. Two of the Durance Class, ‘FS Marne A630’, and ‘FS Meuse A607’, have both previously visited Cape Town, and were both berthed at No.2 Jetty in the V&A, in the days when a lack of political correctness, and a lot of common sense, prevailed.

She is based on the Vulcano class of LSS, already in service with the Italian Navy. However, the design has been modified by the French Navy to enable her, and her sisterships still to come, to support a naval carrier strike group, centered around the French nuclear powered Aircraft Carrier ‘FS Charles de Gaulle R91’, and her embarked air wing.

FS Marne A630. No.2 Jetty V&A Waterfront. Picture: V&A

Her commissioning cruise began back in September, when she departed from the French Naval Base at Brest, on the Atlantic coast, and she made her way, first to Reykjavik in Iceland, for cold water trials, and then across the Atlantic to the US Navy Base at Norfolk, in the State of Virginia. There she conducted numerous replenishment at sea (RAS) trials with units of the United States Navy, and the Royal Navy. These included RAS receiving trials with another LSS, the ‘USNS Arctic T-AOE-8’ of the US MSC, and a RAS transfer trial with the USN Ticonderoga class cruiser ‘USS Leyte Gulf CG-55’.

However, the two major RAS trials of ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’, off Norfolk, were NATO interoperability trials with the RN Aircraft Carrier ‘HMS Prince of Wales R09’, and then with the USN Aircraft Carrier ‘USS George Washington CVN-73’, where she transferred 50 pallets of stores, and 1,300 m3 of aviation fuel.

From Norfolk, ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’ made her way south to Rio de Janeiro, where she conducted a RAS trial with the Brazilian Navy Helicopter Carrier ‘NAM Atlântico A140’, which is the ex Royal Navy ‘HMS Ocean L12’. She then sailed across the South Atlantic Ocean to Cape Town. The purpose of the visits to both Brazil, and South Africa, are in support of the Chantiers de l’Atlantique, and Naval Group, shipyard export programme, as France is offering the BRF design to both the Brazilian Navy and South African Navy.

FS Marne A630. No.2 Jetty V&A Waterfront. Picture: V&A

On the conclusion of her visit to Cape Town, ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’ will head for Réunion, and by the end of December she is expected to through the Red Sea, and the Suez Canal, back into the Mediterranean, with a return to Toulon on 2nd February 2024, and her subsequent admission into French Navy active service.

Throughout the four-month maiden deployment, ‘FS Jacques ChevalierA725’ will conduct numerous exercises, and is expected to take part in the European led ‘Operation Atalanta’, and the European Maritime Awareness operation in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASoH) mission, ‘Operation Agenor’, providing logistic support to participating EU, and other, warships.

Ordered in 2019, and built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard at St. Nazaire, with all four of the class costing US$1.83 billion (ZAR34.68 billion). Under the terms of the contract, the Italian Fincantieri shipyard at Castellammare di Stabia built the bow section of ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’, and shipped the completed hull section to Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

In cooperation with the Naval Group, Chantiers de l’Atlantique is responsible for the construction of the aft sections of all four ships, the final assembly, as well as the integration of onboard systems. Naval Group provides design, development, and integration of military systems. She was launched in April 2022, and completed her sea trials in July 2023, at which point she was handed over to the French Navy for her operational commissioning trials.

FS Meuse A607. V&A Waterfront, 27 March 2000. Picture: Pat Worman

With Combined Diesel-Electric and Diesel (CODLAD) propulsion, ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’ is powered by two MAN 20V32/44CR twenty cylinder, four stroke, main engines, producing a total of 32,000 bhp (24,000 kW), which provides power to two electric motors, which in turn drive two fixed pitch propellers for a maximum service speed of 20 knots.

Her CODLAD systems also allow her to achieve a speed of 10 knots using electric power only, and at her most efficient speed of 16 knots, ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’ has an endurance of 30 days, and a range of 7,000 nautical miles. Her auxiliary machinery includes four MAN 6L27/38 generators providing 2,000 kW each, for domestic and operational support power. For added manoeuvrability she has both a bow transverse thruster, and a stern transverse thruster.

She has a displacement tonnage of 31,000 tons, and is 194 metres in length. She has a helideck that is big enough for a MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor to operate from, and she has a hangar capable of housing one NH90 utility helicopter, and one unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system. Designed to operate with a crew of 160 officers and men, ‘FS Jacques Chevallier A725’ also has accommodation for a further 60 embarked personnel.

FS Jacques Chevallier A725, Cape Town, 8 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her logistic support equipment includes four multi-purpose stations, with two on either side of the vessel, to enable her to replenish two other warships at the same time. The stations are capable of simultaneously supplying both liquid and solid payloads. She has a liquid cargo carrying capacity of 13,000 m3 of marine fuel, and aviation fuel, plus potable water, as well as a solids payload cargo carrying capacity of 1,500 m3. Her container carrying capacity is 20 TEU, which can be transferred using a deck crane.

She has onboard medical facilities, as well as maintenance and repair facilities. Her defensive weapons the Simbad-RC Mistral Mk.3 SAM system, which is mounted abaft the bridge, and two Thales-Nexter 40mm Rapid fire guns, one mounted forward, and one mounted aft. Both weapons systems are the first of their type to be mounted on ships of the French Navy.

The combat system on ‘FS Jacques Chevalier A725’ was integrated by Naval Group, and is centered on the Polaris CMS, with a communications suite which includes a Syracuse IV SATCOM terminal, and a sensor suite featuring a Terma Scanter 6002 main air/surveillance radar, together with two Safran Paseo XLR EO/IR surveillance units.

For the nomenclature fans, the Jacques Chevallier Class of LSS are all named in honour of pre-eminent French Naval Engineers, with Jacques Chevallier being a notable as a pioneer in the introduction of nuclear propulsion for the Submarine fleet of the French Navy.

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Richards Bay’s South Dunes Precinct Development moves ahead – call for RfPs

Berths 208/209 in the Port of Richards Bay, with the liquid bulk tanks of the South Dunes Precinct in the background beyond RBCT  Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

The Port of Richards Bay’s South Dunes Precinct development has reached a critical stage.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) for the appointment of suitable terminal operators to fund, design, develop, operate, maintain and transfer the liquid bulk and/or green fuel terminals for a concession period of 25 years.

The RfP is issued as part of Phase 1 of the South Dunes Precinct development which includes five sites identified by TNPA.

The proposed liquid bulk sites within the South Dunes Precinct are aligned to the Master Plan for the Port of Richards Bay.

These sites will have access to existing berths 208 and 209 and, upon demand, TNPA will prioritise the development of the proposed berth 210 to support Phase 2 of the liquid bulk terminals development.

“The South Dunes development is a major milestone towards achieving the Transnet Segment Strategy,” said Dr Bridgette Gasa-Toboti, TNPA KwaZulu-Natal Logistics Hub Portfolio Director.

She said the project prioritises liquid bulk handling. “Strengthening of this sector is crucial for the development of the South African economy and furthers our intent of creating capacity for cleaner green fuels, in compliance with the international standards.”

This project is being executed under the auspices of the TNPA KwaZulu-Natal Logistics Hub Portfolio, which comprises of strategic programs seeking to expand capacity in the Ports of Durban and Richards Bay through the delivery of 31 flagship initiatives.

The KZN Logistics Hub Portfolio, through execution of the KZN Port Master Plans, seeks to expand capacity in the Ports of Durban and Richards Bay.

RFP documents can be accessed from the National Treasury’s e-tender portal  and/or the Transnet website.

The non-compulsory RFP briefing session will be held with all interested parties in the Port of Richards Bay on Friday the 19th of January 2024 and the bid closing date is the 30th of April 2024.

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US rail developer invests heavily in Angola’s rail corridors

Angolan railway map.  Original map CIA Factbook

Africa Ports & Ships

The All-American Rail Group (AARG) has become the latest US company to invest in the expansion plans of Angola’s various railway corridors.

AARG, which is headquartered in Houston, Texas, is investing a total of USD 4.5 million in the project which seeks to upgrade and improve existing rail connections in the African country.

In a media release AARG announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed in Luanda between AARG and the Angolan Ministry of Transport, firming up plans that had been hinted at earlier.

In a broader sense, the investment will be used in support of rail and agriculture expansion in the Angolan provinces of Uíge, Cuanza-Norte, Bengo, Malanje and Zaire, in close synergy with the logistics platforms of Soyo, Luvo and Lombe.

The interconnection with the Lobito Rail Corridor connecting the port of Lobito with the DRC and Zambia, will enable the export of oil, timber and minerals to the Atlantic countries, the document stated.

Transport Minister Ricardo Viegas D’Abreua said that the agreement will highlight the development potential of the Northern Corridor, “which despite ending in Malanje, can extend to the North and East of the country – the most populous regions of the country and holders of natural characteristics conducive to the implementation of agribusiness, trade, industry and tourism.”

D’Abreua pointed out that Angola’s Master Plan for the sector calls for the extension of the three national corridors to the borders with neighbouring countries, with the priority objective of enhancing connections to the respective coastal ports, facilitating cross-border trade and boosting the real economy in Angola.

Mike Ocalir

Mike Ocalir, Executive Director of AARG, said the MoU is the first step in supporting the expansion plan of the Angolan railway network, a critical issue for the diversification of the economy and job creation.

“It should be realised, however, that the interest in the Northern Corridor of Angola is not only rail, the railway will be built and integrated with logistics platforms and a port in this agricultural region, to advance the bold plans and strengthen food security in Angola,” he said.

Mike Ocalir stressed that they are ready to make available to Angola AARG’s capacity to build, operate and finance railway and logistics projects.

AARG is a railroad consortium consisting of six American railroad and infrastructure companies.

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Transnet Pipelines pleased with stiff jailtime for two fuel thieves


Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Pipelines (TPL) says it welcomes the 10 and 15-year jail sentences handed down by the Vosloorus Magistrate Court on 6 December 2023 to two fuel thieves.

The individuals were apprehended attempting to escape Mapleton, Ekurhuleni in a truck which was carrying six flow bins, five of them containing diesel. A total of 4,570 litres of diesel was recovered from the flow bins, with an approximate value of R152,638.

The court handed down the following sentences on the two counts:

– Count 1: 15 years for tampering with essential infrastructure.
– Count 2: 10 years for fuel theft; half of the count 2 sentence will run concurrently with the count 1 sentence.

In a statement, TPL said it extends appreciation to law enforcement agencies and service providers for their dedicated efforts in ensuring the incarceration of these criminals.

“The noticeable decrease in fuel theft incidents and the increase in convictions with significant sentences are indicative of the success of these initiatives,” the statement read.

“We will continue our unwavering efforts until this crime is completely eradicated,” said Sibongiseni Khathi, Acting Chief Executive of Transnet Pipelines.

“This verdict conveys a strong message to potential offenders and criminal networks, making it clear that tampering with vital infrastructure will not be accepted. This sends a clear message to those involved in such actions that they will face the full force of the law.”

Members of the public are urged to report any suspicious activities along the Transnet pipeline to Tip-Offs Anonymous Hotline 0800 003 056

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Transnet Recovery Diary 11 December 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary  11 December 2023

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WHARF TALK: SA Port Statistics for November 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

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

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

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

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

An aerial image of Durban’s Maydon Wharf and the berths 11/12 corner opposite the Bayhead, with the TPT corner terminal that appears set to become an independent container terminal under the port master plan. Picture: TNPA

Figures for the respective ports during November 2023 are:

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

PORT November 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.575
Durban 6.742
Saldanha Bay 4.566
Cape Town 1.533
Port Elizabeth 1.046
Ngqura 1.264
Mossel Bay 0.161
East London 0.205
Total all ports 22.092 million tonnes

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

PORT November 2023 TEUs
Durban 195,323
Cape Town 74,876
Port Elizabeth 14,712
Ngqura 62,434
East London 5,558
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 352,903 TEU

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

PORT November 2023 CEUs
Durban 56,364
Cape Town 3
Port Elizabeth 15,799
East London 10,305
Richards Bay 42
Total all ports 82,513

SHIP CALLS for November 2023

PORT November 2023 vessels gross tons
Durban 252 9,482,352
Cape Town 149 3,817,619
Richards Bay 116 4,581,542
Port Elizabeth 85 2,229,797
Saldanha Bay 50 3,449,761
Ngqura 57 2,697,849
East London 23 686,890
Mossel Bay 20 224,367
Total ship calls 752 27,170,177
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
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Richards Bay municipality to charge R30 ton toll on arriving long-haul trucks

On the road to the Richards Bay port. Picture: Road Angels

Africa Ports & Ships

The uMhlathuze Local Municipality (Richards Bay, Empangeni and surrounding district) intends levying a toll on heavy long-haul trucks arriving for the port of Richards Bay, at a rate of R30 per ton.

An estimated one million tons of coal and other ores is road-hauled to the town and port each month and the total amount tolled is expected to be in the area of R360 million.

In a statement issued by the joint IFP/DA coalition that runs the municipality, the money will be used to repair the damaged infrastructure caused by the thousands of trucks arriving for the port.

It will also be used to pay for overtime for the traffic officers who are policing the trucks arriving and in queues along the N2 and the John Ross Highway leading to the port.

The municipality is also taking Transnet and the government to court over their failure to properly manage the immense congestion arising from Transnet’s inability to provide adequate rail services to handle the coal and ore exports to the port.

In the past week Transnet advised that its rail divsion, Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) was adding an additional daily train of 40 x 55-ton capacity wagons to delivering minerals such as export coal or chrome to the Richards Bay Multipurpose Terminal.

With immediate effect this will bring the number of such trains for the multipurpose terminal to 28 per week. See that report HERE

A further statement by the municipality in regard to the intended road toll is expected during the week.

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WHARF TALK: bitumen tanker – BALTIC NARVAL

The bitumen tanker Baltic Narval which arrived in Cape Town from Luanda on 29 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There seems to be more and more stories emerging of possible subterfuge between OPEC nations at the COP28 meeting in Dubai, which seems to go against the whole ethos, and point, of the climate emergency meeting itself. Added to that the tales of backroom discussions by even the host nation about having every intention of increasing oil production and exports, and one would think that there is little interest in meeting the climate change avoidance criteria.

Yet, in the maritime world the casual maritime observer cannot fail to notice that some of the more progressive shipowners, and ship design bureaus, are putting their money where their mouths are, by designing, building and operating vessels that are both eco-friendly in terms of emissions, and with onboard technology that will help the future carbon neutral status that is desired within the maritime industry. One such technology is operating main engines that are Dual Fuel, using Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) as an oil fuel alternative*.

* See report ‘Maersk gets set to deploy first large methanol-enabled ship‘ below…..

Back on 29th November, at 20h00 in the early evening, the bitumen tanker BALTIC NARVAL (IMO 9930222) arrived off Cape Town, from Luanda in Angola, and entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the inner berth of the Eastern Mole, which is the tanker berth normally set aside for those bitumen tankers who are discharging into the nearby tank storage facility, operated by FFS Refiners, and located opposite the berth.

Baltic Narval. Cape Town, 30 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

A newbuild vessel, ‘Baltic Narval was built in 2023, only entering commercial service in July of this year. She was built by Wuhu Shipyard at Wuhu in China, and is 169 metres in length and has a deadweight of 23,500 tons. She is powered by a single Wärtsilä 8V31DF eight cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 7,376 bhp (5,500 kW) to drive a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 13 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes a single generator providing 1,400 kW, and a single generator providing 500 kW. The Wärtsilä main engine of ‘Baltic Narval’ has a DF suffix, which indicates that the engine is configured for Dual Fuel operations. A hint as to what that dual fuel might be is that she has two Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) fired boilers, and a single standard exhaust gas economiser boiler. She also has a hybrid electrical system, with a battery pack of 400 kWh, giving her a full Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) in case of main onboard power failure.

Baltic Narval. Cape Town, 30 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The casual maritime observer does not need to read about, nor see, the boilers to note that she may utilise LNG as a fuel, as there are two large fuel tanks on her forward deck, with both clearly marked as LNG/LBG tanks. The normal fuel utilised on ‘Baltic Narval’ is Marine Gas Oil (MGO), for which she has a fuel tank capacity of 350 m3. However, her two LNG/LBG tanks have a capacity of 700 m3 each, giving her a combined LNG/LBG capacity of 1,400 m3, and giving her a range of 11,700 nautical miles.

One of two sisterships, who both commissioned in 2023, ‘Baltic Narval’ was designed by FKAB Marine Design, of Gothenburg in Sweden, as an FKAB I15 class, which incorporates the FKAB patented F-Bow. Her bow gives her an ice classification of ICE 1C, which allows her to navigate in first year Baltic Sea ice thickness of 0.4 metres. Her design is so advanced that on her maiden voyage from the Wuhu Shipyard, via Singapore, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore announced that they had awarded her their ‘Green Ship Programme Award’.

Costing US$30 million (ZAR568.86 million) to build, ‘Baltic Narval’ has ten cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 21,100 m3. She can discharge three tanks simultaneously, and is equipped with three cargo pumps, each with a pumping capacity of 400 m3/hour. Her cargo of bitumen can be kept heated up to a temperature of 200°C.

Baltic Narval. Cape Town, 30 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Nominally owned by Baltic Narval Shipping Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, ‘Baltic Narval’ is operated by Continental Bitumen Ltd., of Dublin in Ireland, whose company house flag she displays on her funnel, and who are part of the Colas Group, of Paris in France. Continental Bitumen Ltd. are wholly responsible for bitumen production, transport, storage, and sales within the whole African market. Management of ‘Baltic Narval’ is carried out by Atlantic Narval Shipping Pte. Ltd., also of Singapore.

Her stay in Cape Town was short, less than 24 hours, indicating that her bitumen cargo was destined for more than one port on the South African coast. At 16h00 in the afternoon of 30th November, after just 20 hours alongside, she sailed from Cape Town with her AIS indicating that her next destination port was Durban.

Her voyage to Durban covered a distance of 845 nautical miles, with a maximum speed of 12.6 knots being achieved, and she arrived off the Durban Bluff at 18h00 in the early evening of 3rd December. She was, as with most Durban arrivals, sent to the Umhlanga anchorage to await her berth. She remained at anchor for over three and a half days.

Baltic Narval. Cape Town, 30 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Finally, at 10h00 in the morning of 7th December she entered Durban harbour, proceeding down the Maydon Channel, and going alongside at Maydon Wharf 6 to continue with her discharge of bitumen. Bitumen tankers not only berth at Island View to discharge their cargo, as tank facilities, specifically for bitumen, also exist at Maydon Wharf, and are being enlarged.

Whilst the bitumen storage facility in Cape Town is owned, and operates, by FFS Refiners (Pty) Ltd., the facility on Maydon Wharf is owned, and operated, by their subsidiary company FFS Tank Terminals (Pty) Ltd (FFS TT). The facility is undergoing a huge development with the addition of ten new tanks, of which three will be for bitumen storage. The development upgrade cost ZAR350 million, with commissioning taking place at this very moment.

The new upgraded facility will make it easier for South Africa to absorb ever increasing imports of bitumen, which at Durban have had to be delivered in ship to truck operations, using a gantry system. Both Importers, and local suppliers, have at times been unable to accommodate all incoming cargoes moved in bitumen tankers, due to port road congestion issues, and this has caused discharge delays, as well as some domestic distress sales of surplus truck volumes.

Baltic Narval. Cape Town, 30 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Sadly, as a result of the closure of local refineries, where bitumen was one of the products produced, local bitumen availability has dropped dramatically, with bitumen cargo imports rising, purely due to the lack of domestic production. The bitumen import figures of the last few years give a good indication of the issue arising from a lack of domestic bitumen production.

The increase in bitumen cargo imports to South Africa, mainly to Durban, are expected to reach 185,000 tons by the end of this month. This annual total for 2023 in South Africa has already surpassing the 96,000 tons of bitumen that were imported in the previous year of 2022. These figures are actually a sad state of affairs, and not ones to cheer.

The point is made when you realise that South Africa imported no bitumen cargoes in either 2019, or 2020, when local production catered for all of South Africa’s domestic needs. As the refinery closures took place, the first imports began in 2021, with an annual total of 10,000 tons imported in that year. This is just another example within industrial South Africa of how the mighty have fallen.

Baltic Narval. Cape Town, 30 November 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As for the dual fuel nature of ‘Baltic Narval’, the switch to LNG, and LBG (which is Bio-Gas), as a fuel, can provide shipowners with significant advantages, by meeting regulatory requirements, offering enhanced competitiveness, as well as improving overall air quality, and reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Vessels fuelled by LNG can reduce their EEDI rating by 20%, while their Carbon Intensity Indicator will be reduced by approximately the same amount. Advanced vessel design, such as that of ‘Baltic Narval’ ensures upcoming compliance, some ten years longer than conventional designs. The use of LNG reduces NOx emissions by up to 80%, and almost eliminates SOx, and particulate matter (PM). Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions can be reduced by up to 23% with modern engine technology. The use of Biogas fuel also offers a path to further reducing vessel carbon intensity.

With the operating area of ‘Baltic Narval’ being solely within Africa, it is noteworthy that she had a full set of deck anti-boarding plates stacked on her aft deck. Sadly, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is still rife, and growing. The other issue for her operating in Africa is bunkering. South Africa is a good example of how the LNG bunkering facilities network is yet to be fully developed across Transnet ports.

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Durban port now has six working tugs

Two of the six available Durban tugs, Umkhomazi and Lotheni. Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) says the Port of Durban has made significant strides in the improvement of its marine craft status by increasing tug availability to an average of six tugs as of December 2023.

The six tugs will complement the pilot helicopter service, which has reverted to a 24-hour service. TNPA says this will ensure a quicker turnaround of vessels at the port and allow terminal operators to implement the Container Recovery Plan at the port with agility.

This comes after the introduction of the TNPA wide fleet renewal programme which seeks to ensure that marine crafts are maintained and serviced periodically to mitigate against breakdowns and provide a buffer should there be a need.

The six operational tugs are namely, Umkhomazi, Mkhuze, Lotheni, Palmiet, Pholela and uMhlali, which will play a vital role in adding the required tug capacity and availability in the improvement of operational efficiencies in the port.

The provision of tugs falls within the ambit of TNPA as stipulated in Section 11 (n) of the National Ports Act of 2005, which states that the authority should provide or arrange for tugs, pilot boats and other facilities and services for the navigation and berthing of vessels in the ports.

“Having all 6 tugs operating is a big step in the right direction for the Port and our investment in the marine fleet exhibits our commitment to continuous improvement and ensuring the port remains a gateway for trade,” says Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana, Durban Port Manager.

She said NPA is optimistic about the positive impact the tugs will have on the current container recovery plan and TNPA’s general service offering to its customers.

Most of the repair and maintenance of the Port of Durban marine fleet has been carried out by TNPA’s internal heavy engineering workshop, Workshop 24, which is based in the Bayhead Precinct in the port.

TNPA says it anticipates the delivery of three second-hand tugs to the Port of Durban in the first quarter of 2024.

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TPT secures equipment spares for port terminals

The crane repair and assembly yard on Pier 2, Durban Container Terminal. Picture is by Chris Hoare /

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Port Terminals says it has entered into a seven-year agreement with four Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for the supply of critical spares for equipment across its terminals, including the Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2.

Earle Peters, the Managing Executive of TPT at the Durban Terminals, says the much-needed relief, which has been months in the making, will see an improvement of about 30% in straddle carrier availability within the next two weeks at DCT Pier 2.

He said that the availability of straddle carriers, in particular, will boost the offloading of containers from vessels.

With the recovery plan gaining traction, Peters says DCT Pier 2 has focused on increasing volumes handled per 24-hour period. Inclement weather, dredging by landlord Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and new vessel arrivals were an ongoing factor that the team has integrated into its plans.

“Working with shipping lines, we have also identified and prioritised vessels with cargo that needs to make its way to the front of the queue” said Peters, adding that employees had contributed immensely to the current momentum.

The confinement agreements signed with the OEMs are aimed at reducing waiting times for critical spares of handling equipment like straddle carriers, ship-to-shore and rubber-tyred gantry cranes.”

The process of developing a parts catalogue and aligning coding of materials on both OEM and TPT systems started last week and OEMs Kalmar, Liebherr, Kone Cranes and ZPMC have already started supplying spares.

They are currently prioritising a three-month list of demand materials in the Container sector to ensure a bulk, uninterrupted supply.

According to Peters, TPT required about 8,000 different material items from each OEM across its four sectors containers, bulk, break bulk and automotive in its 16 sea-cargo terminals and three inland terminals.

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SA police make R150 million cocaine bust at Durban Harbour

Cocaine trafficking routes in Southern Africa. Map: Insight Crime Investigations

Africa Ports & Ships

Cocaine from Brazil seized in Durban

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has commended the successful operation by a multi-disciplinary team of police intelligence and border agents at the Port of Durban which has taken millions of rand worth of drugs off the street.

Police seized drugs valued at R150 million packed in meat boxes at the Durban Harbour on Monday night.

According to the national police spokesperson, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, a multi-disciplinary team intercepted and inspected a container at a cold storage facility and found 433 blocks of cocaine disguised in meat boxes. The container was en route from Brazil.

The Premier has commended the dedicated law enforcement officials for their outstanding efforts.

“This operation again emphasises the value of collaboration with our international counterparts on intelligence across our borders and oceans. Just this one operation has removed from our streets illicit drugs valued at an estimated R150 million.

“It comes just two months after another intelligence driven operation resulted in the discovery of 200 blocks of cocaine with an estimated value of R70 million hidden in 20 litre paint containers at the Durban Harbour,” the Premier said.

The Premier commended the cooperation of law enforcement agencies for their dedication to public safety and justice and their ceaseless efforts at making our province and country safe.

She said the success of this operation serves as a powerful message against those who seek to exploit communities through illicit activities.

Cocaine discovered in Durban Harbour drug bust.  Picture: SAPS

“The removal of such a substantial quantity of drugs from circulation is a significant step in safeguarding the well-being of our citizens, particularly our youth and women.

“As we head into the holiday period this means our streets will be safer as the joint operation by our officers has removed these killer drugs from circulation and from being sold to our young people,” Dube-Ncube said.

The Premier noted that the country is observing the 16 Days of Activism for no Violence Against Women and Child, and “drugs are known to play a significant role in fueling the epidemic of abuse.

“We want to send a message to criminals, especially drug dealers that we will not allow our cities to be overtaken by drugs. We call on all members of our community to work together with law enforcement agencies to identify those who are involved in crime in our communities so that they can be apprehended and kept behind bars.

“Our message to all drug lords is that KwaZulu-Natal is not a place for drugs, or any other criminal activities and we will leave no stone unturned to find the criminals wherever they are,” the Premier warned.

This was the third big drug bust in two months at the port of Durban. In October, cocaine worth R150 million was seized. source: SANews

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Ethio-Djibouti Railway reaches maximum capacity on 40% annual growth

Africa Ports & Ships

The standard gauge railway between Ethiopia and the Gulf of Aden port of Djibouti has experienced a growth rate of between 35 and 40 per cent per annum in terms of cargo and passengers carried.

As a result the strategic railway to the port has now achieved and is exceeding its maximum capacity of two million tonnes per year.

According to the railway’s chief executive officer, Abdi Zenebe, preparations are underway to double the line’s capacity to four million tonnes p.a.

The port at Djibouti currently handles about 95 per cent of Ethiopia’s imports and exports.

Zenebe said the railway has become an important and integral part in contributing to trade facilitation and foreign exchange reduction.

“Currently, rail transport is playing a pivotal role in strengthening regional connectivity and stabilising the country’s economy.”

Problems that had been experienced with power interruptions have been resolved and the misuse and destruction of resources has been reduced by 85 per cent, the CEO said.

Ethiopia, as a landlocked country, is economically reliant on access to the sea and a seaport and conscious of the risks of dependency on just a single port in a single country.

As a result Ethiopia has been engaging with other neighbours for access to alternate ports, which is not without its challenges.

Although Ethiopia has practical access to several ports in these countries, the only railway currently connecting the country to the sea lies with Djibouti.

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COP28: Africa could lose $25 billion a year from EU Carbon tax


Africa Ports & Ships

A warning that Africa could lose up to $25 billion per year as a result of the new EU carbon border tax, has been made at the COP28 meeting held recently in the UAE.

President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina warned that a new EU carbon border tax could significantly constrain Africa’s trade and industrialization progress by penalising value-added exports including steel, cement, iron, aluminium and fertilisers.

“With Africa’s energy deficit and reliance mainly on fossil fuels, especially diesel, the implication is that Africa will be forced to export raw commodities again into Europe, which will further cause de-industrialisation of Africa,” Adesina said.

“Africa could lose up to $25 billion per annum as a direct result of the EU Carbon Border Tax Adjustment Mechanism,” the Bank President told delegates at the Sustainable Trade Africa Conference held at the UAE Trade Centre in Dubai.

“Africa has been short-changed by climate change; now it will be short-changed in global trade,” Adesina emphasised.

He said that because of weak integration into global value chains, Africa’s best trade opportunity lies in intra-regional exchanges, with the new Africa Continental Free Trade Area estimated to increase intra-Africa exports over 80% by 2035.

Adesina stressed that Africa was already being overlooked in the global energy transition, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency.

“Africa received just $60 billion or 2% of the $3 trillion of global investments in renewable energy in the past two decades, a trend that will now impact negatively on its ability to export competitively into Europe.”

Adesina called for what he termed the Just Trade-for-Energy Transition (JTET) policies, which would enable Africa’s renewable ambitions without restricting its trade prospects.

“Africa will need to use natural gas as a transition fuel to reduce the variability of renewable energy and stabilise its energy systems in support of its industrialisation.”

Africa the New Frontier

The Chief Executive Officer of the UAE Trade Centre, Walid Mohammed Hareb Alfalahi said Africa is the new frontier for investment contrary to widespread perception that the continent is a dangerous and difficult place to do business.

“What you hear about Africa is not the reality. I see the potential in Africa. I see the possibilities to do more,” said Alfalahi as he recounted his positive experience of investing in a number of projects on the continent.

Adesina said a report by Moody’s Analytics showed that Africa had the least default rate on investment in infrastructure compared to other parts of the world.

According to the report, Africa’s default rate stands at 5.5 per cent, compared to Latin America’s 12.9 per cent, followed by Asia at 8.8 per cent, Eastern Europe 8.6 per cent, North America 7.6 per cent, and Western Europe 5.9 per cent.

Adesina also highlighted some of the mega projects that had attracted investor interest through the Africa Investment Forum that was created by the African Development Bank and seven other founding partners.

The projects include Mozambique’s $24 billion liquefied gas project, the $15.2 billion Abidjan to Lagos Highway corridor covering five countries and the $3.6 billion Tanzania to Burundi and DR Congo standard gauge railway line.

“I’m talking about a different Africa. There is no project that as partners, we cannot handle,” said Adesina.

The conference, moderated by the African Development Bank President’s Senior Adviser for Communication, Dr Victor Oladokun, was also addressed by the President of the African Export-Import Bank, Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah.

“Preliminary results of a study recently commissioned by Afreximbank reveal that rapid decarbonisation by fossil fuel-exporting countries in Africa could cut merchandise exports by $150 billion,” Oramah said.

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Maersk gets set to deploy first large methanol-enabled ship on Asia-Europe trade lane

Maersk’s first methanol-enabled dual-fueled 16,000-TEU container ship which will shortly enter service between the Far East and Europe. Picture: Maersk

Africa Ports & Ships

Early 2024 will see the launching of the world’s first large methanol-enabled container service into regular service, with the first of 18 such vessels entering service with A.P. Moller-Maersk.

On 9 February 2024, the first vessel will enter service on the AE7 string connecting Asia and Europe, which includes port calls in Shanghai, Tanjung Pelepas, Colombo and Hamburg, with Ningbo, China, being its first destination.

The container vessel built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea has a nominal capacity of 16,000 containers (TEU) and is equipped with a dual-fuel engine enabling operations on methanol as well as biodiesel and conventional bunker fuel.

Maersk has set a Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2040 across the entire business and has also set tangible and ambitious near-term targets for 2030 to ensure significant progress. Maersk has secured sufficient green* methanol to cover the vessel’s maiden voyage and continues to work diligently on 2024-25 sourcing solutions for its methanol-enabled vessel fleet.

“Deploying the first of our large methanol-enabled vessels on one of the world’s largest trade lanes, Asia – Europe, is a landmark in our journey towards our Net-Zero target,” says Karsten Kildahl, Chief Commercial Officer at Maersk.

“With the vessel’s capacity of 16,000 containers, this will make a significant impact in our customers’ efforts to decarbonise their supply chains, and we are looking forward to introducing more methanol-enabled vessels on this and other trades during 2024,”

Ahead of its deployment, the vessel will be named at the shipyard in end January 2024. The following two sister vessels will be deployed in the first half of 2024 with naming events taking place in Yokohama, Japan, and Los Angeles, USA. Maersk expects to take delivery of four additional sister vessels in the second half of 2024.

At the time of deployment of the first large vessel, it will be only the second container vessel in the world that can sail on green methanol, the first being the feeder vessel Laura Maersk which entered service in September this year.

Picture: Maersk Line

Overview of Maersk vessels on order

● Maersk has 24 container vessels on order
● All vessels currently on order will be equipped with dual-fuel engines and will be able to operate on green methanol
● 12 of the vessels on order have a capacity of 16,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit containers)
● 6 of the vessels on order have a capacity of 17,000 TEU
● 6 of the vessels on order have a capacity of 9,000 TEU
● Since 2021, Maersk has had a policy of only ordering new vessels able to operate on green fuels

About Maersk’s AE7 service string

The AE7 string connects Asia and Europe through the Suez Canal
The AE7 string has the following port calls: Ningbo, Shanghai, Nansha, Yantian (all China), Tanjung Pelepas (Malaysia), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Port Tangiers (Morocco), Felixstowe (UK), Hamburg (Germany), Antwerp (Belgium), London Gateway (UK), Le Havre (France), Port Tangiers, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Abu Dhabi (UAE) and Jebel Ali (UAE)

* Maersk defines ‘green fuels’ as fuels with low to very low GHG emissions over their life cycle compared to fossil fuels. Different green fuels achieve different life cycle reductions depending on their production pathway. By ‘low’ Maersk refers to fuels with 65-80% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels. This covers, e.g., some biodiesels. ‘Very low’ refers to fuels with 80-95% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels.

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French frigate Languedoc shoots down two drones over Red Sea

French Navy frigate FS Languedoc D653 inspecting a stateless motorised dhow in the Arabian Sea, June 2021  Picture CTF/French Navy

Africa Ports & Ships

The French Navy said Sunday (10 December) that their navy frigate FS LANGUEDOC, operating on regular patrol in the Red Sea, had shot down two drones seen approaching from the coast of Yemen.

The frigate was operating 110km off the Yemeni coast at the time.

Describing the incident, the navy communique said the interception and destruction of the two identified threats was carried out late on Saturday by the frigate Languedoc.

It is assumed that the drones were flown from forces operating in a Houthi controlled area. The incident follows other recent attempts by Houthi forces in Yemen to attack merchant ships and a US Navy destroyer, the USS Carney, similarly using drones as well as shore-based missiles.

The Carney shot down several drones but other drones and missiles landed on or near merchant ships. There were no injuries to crew reported and damage caused on the merchant ships was described as minor.

The Iran-backed Houthi rebels occupying a large part of Yemen have said they will target any vessels associated with Israel and even ships heading to or coming from an Israeli port.

“Ships linked to Israel or [those] that will transport goods to Israeli ports” are not welcome in the Red Sea, the Houthi have stated.

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Transnet Recovery Diary 10 December 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 10 December 2023

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Added 10 December 2023



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

PORT November 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.575
Durban 6.742
Saldanha Bay 4.566
Cape Town 1.533
Port Elizabeth 1.046
Ngqura 1.264
Mossel Bay 0.161
East London 0.205
Total all ports during October 2023 21.725 million tonnes

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