Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 21 January 2024

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Finncanopus. Durban 13 January 2024   Picture by Trevor Jones

One of the fruits of the current Red Sea crisis involving international shipping, is that here in South Africa we are beginning to see increasing numbers of vessels arriving for bunkers as they divert the long way round the southern tip of Africa.

This is not only an advantage for the local bunker and ship chandler suppliers but also for those attracted by ships somewhat out of the ordinary and not often seen in these waters.

One such vessel this past week was the Finnish Superstar passenger-freight ship named FINNCANOPUS (IMO 9902421) that called at Durban to bunker and revictual as necessary.

Although she arrived offshore of the port in daylight Finncanopus remained waiting outside and only entered port in the hours of darkness, proceeding to her requested M berth, a corner berth at the junction of the T-Jetty and Point MPT RoRo terminal.

This allowed the ship’s crew to lower the ramp onto the quayside as apparently requested, before completing her bunkering and sailing later that evening.

The 235 metre long, 34m wide ferry, which has a gross tonnage of 65,692 tons, was built last year as the second Superstar vessel at the China Merchants Jinling Shipyard in Weihai, China, and was officially ‘ launched’ on 30 December 2023.

The first of the class of Superstar ferries is named FINNSIRIUS.

After arrival in Finland Finncanopus will enter service on the Naantali–Långnäs–Kapellskär route between Finland, Åland Islands and Sweden.

Passenger capacity is set at 1,100, and features 323 passenger cabins as well as a further 64 cabins for crew. Her cargo capacity is quoted as 5,200 linear metres, giving the equivalent of 250 trucks and 200 cars.

Without the Red Sea crisis we would not have witnessed such a ship arriving in the port of Durban. For as long as ships will have to divert, other unusual arrivals are likely to appear.

This picture is by Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships


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Wharf Talk: Two cruise ships brighten Durban port for the day

Fred Olsen Lines’ cruise ship Bolette, which is currently in Durban harbour. Picture: Fred Olsen

Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

Passenger ships arriving off a port on a sunny morning are always a welcome and pleasant sight. This was doubly so this Saturday 20 January when two cruise ships, both former Holland America ‘Dam’ vessel, arrived to berth in port.

This was a day when Durban experienced 31 vessels at the various terminals throughout Durban Bay. That;s including the aforesaid cruise ships, Celestyal Journey and Bolette. Bolette will remain in port overnight before departing on Sunday.

Bolette is owned and operated by Fred Olsen Cruises and is the former Holland America vessel, Amsterdam. As such she last called at Durban in April 2020 to disembark five South Africans and two ill crew members from among the 558 crew on board, who were being repatriated home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The current visit has a more pleasant purpose and reason as part of a programmed Fred Olsen cruise along the SA coast, heading towards Cape Town. Bolette is berthed at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal (B berth, Point).

The other former Holland America ship, Celestyal Journey is currently on charter to Phoenix Reisen, whose cruise ships are no stranger in Southern Africa. She arrived earlier in Cape Town and has called at ports along the coast with Durban her current port of visit, and Richards Bay lined up next.

Celestyal Journey is berthed at the previous cruise terminal known as N Shed and will sail later on Saturday evening.

Container ships

Of the 31 ships in port today (Saturday) six container ships occupy the DCT 1 and DCT 2 berths, while another three are at the Point MPT.

Island View has five ships on berth – four tankers and one dry bulker, with another bulker at the adjacent Bluff coal terminal.

Maydon Wharf is surprisingly quiet, only 5 ships separated between berths 1 through 15. The nearby dry dock has two vessels in occupation – an oil products tanker and the dredger Isandlwana. Dormac’s floating dock also has an oil and chemical products tanker on the blocks.

On the city side of the port are two car carriers at the car terminal, one at R berth and the other at M.

The current list of container ships waiting at the outer anchorage numbers seven, which is an welcome indication that the backlog of boxships outside the port is being reduced by Transnet Port Terminals, although we should remember that additional ships will continue arriving and this number may increase in the coming days.

The balance of the 24 ships outside port on Saturday is made up of general cargo and dry bulk vessels, plus one arrested ship, the Hong Kong-registered general cargo ship Sevgi (IMO 9458406), which arrived off Durban on 6 September 2023.


Other interesting news is that no less than 26 ships are booked ahead to take bunkers in the port of Durban, a sure sign of the ongoing crisis in the Red Sea leading to ship diversions around South Africa.

Added 20 January 2024


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Ngqura Container Terminal recruits operators to run a full three-berth operation

Ngqura Container Terminal, South Africa’s newest and only dedicated transshipment terminal. Picture: TPT

Africa Ports & Ships

As the 2024 citrus export season approaches, though still some months away, Transnet Port Terminals is preparing for an increase in volumes through the Port of Ngqura Container Terminal (NCT).

One of the steps taken in advance is to recruit a total of 36 operators of lifting equipment to run a full three-berth operation when South Africa’s citrus season begins in April.

The operators have commenced with their on-the-job training, which is designed to enable the operating of ship-to-shore cranes and rubber tyred gantry (RTG) cranes. Ship-to-shore crane training will take six weeks, while the RTG training will take three months.

NCT Senior Operations Manager Malixole Mahobe said this boost in operator capacity will enhance the terminal’s productivity, which will, in turn, attract demand.

Last year, the Eastern Cape Container Terminals handled higher citrus volumes than the previous three years, with a volume increase of 12%.

Inclement weather disrupts NCT operations from time to time. To recover, the terminal diverts some vessels to the neighbouring Port Elizabeth Container Terminal (PECT) in agreement with shipping lines and draft allowance as there is capacity.

The Ngqura Container Terminal, which opened its doors for business in 2009, is South Africa’s newest and only dedicated transshipment terminal.

Added 19 January 2024


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TFR returns Richards Bay coal line to service

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) announced that that at 18:45 on Thursday evening (18 January 2024), line 2 on the export coal line at eLubana outside Richards Bay was declared safe for the passage of trains.

This follows a collision last Sunday, 14 January, involving two trains each laden with export coal for the port at Richards Bay. One of the trains was stationary, reportedly because the electricity power ahead had been switched off.

These reports say the second train, unaware that the train ahead had stopped in section, ran into the rear wagons, with locos and loaded wagons coming off the rail and spilling a significant volume of coal.

Recovery crews have worked around the clock to restore operations on the line.
<p<> Weather permitting, the rail service on line 1, is expected to resume before midnight on Saturday, 20 January 2024.

Well done to the recovery teams and others involved in this speedy restoration of service.

Added 18 January 2024


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WHARF TALK: SA Port Statistics for December 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

Port statistics for the month of December 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.

Map of the layout of the Port of Cape Town

Figures for the respective ports during December 2023 are:

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

PORT December 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.951
Durban 6.248
Saldanha Bay 6.374
Cape Town 1.071
Port Elizabeth 1.055
Ngqura 1.245
Mossel Bay 0.071
East London 0.172
Total all ports 23.190 million tonnes

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

PORT December 2023 TEUs
Durban 203,578
Cape Town 54,069
Port Elizabeth 12,812
Ngqura 55,439
East London 4,482
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 330,380 TEU

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

PORT December 2023 CEUs
Durban 31,135
Cape Town 13
Port Elizabeth 5,218
East London 9,732
Richards Bay 22
Total all ports 46,120

SHIP CALLS for December 2023

PORT December 2023 vessels gross tons
Durban 253 10,158,796
Cape Town 134 3,462,971
Richards Bay 136 5,760,682
Port Elizabeth 77 1,623,807
Saldanha Bay 51 3,516,247
Ngqura 40 2,238,659
East London 16 590,848
Mossel Bay 21 141,660
Total ship calls 728 27,493,670
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships
Added 18 January 2024


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US CENTCOM strikes more Houthi weapon sites: US bulk carrier bombed by drone

Genco Picardy, the latest commercial ship to be struck by a Houthi-fired missile or drone. Picture: VesselJoin

Africa Ports & Ships

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reports that Central Command forces conducted further strike actions against Houthi missile launch sites on Wednesday 17 January 2024.

On the same day the UK Maritime Trade Operations office advised that a US-owned bulk carrier, the 55,257-dwt Genco Picardy (IMO 9301720), owned by Genco Shipping, had been hit by a one-way kamikaze type drone, which resulted in a small fire on the Supramax bulker.

According to the ship’s master, the fire was safely extinguished and there were no injuries to crew and the vessel was proceeding to its next port of call.

It is not clear whether the latest US attack on Houthi held positions is a response to the attack on the Genco Picardy, or is coincidental.

The CENTCOM advice states that at approximately 11:59 Yemen time, U.S Central Command forces conducted strikes on 14 Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen.

“These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves.”

CENTCOM added that the strikes, along with other actions taken by U.S. forces, will degrade the Houthi’s capabilities to continue their “reckless” attacks on international and commercial shipping in the Red Sea, the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden.

“The actions by the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists continue to endanger international mariners and disrupt the commercial shipping lanes in the Southern Red Sea and adjacent waterways,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla, USCENTCOM Commander.

“We will continue to take actions to protect the lives of innocent mariners and we will always protect our people.”

Added 18 January 2024


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A Brief Atlas of the Lighthouses at the End of the World

This 160-page volume is published by Picador, the literary imprint at Pan Macmillan 
price £20.00, ISBN
978 1 5290 8714 7

A compiler was once asked to provide a critical review of a lighthouse book and found himself saying that the lighthouse book to end all lighthouse books had yet to be published.

The ultimate book would need be an expanded Admiralty List of Lights (that would be fifteen regional volumes) with every engineers’ drawing produced of the fixed aids to navigation and accompanied by a selection of photographs taken down the years, with chart extracts.

It would be a veritable pharological encyclopaedia, a true vade mecum or Enquire Within Upon Everything. Such a publication is probably impossible to create, and that is before you assemble the text. Remember, the full series of fifteen volumes of British Admiralty Lists of Lights and Fog Signals carries information on more than 90,000 structures around the world.

Macías’s work goes some way to fulfilling the need to extend content of lighthouse literature bibliography.

As we have heard so often before there is something impressive and functional in the architecture of lighthouses. They have been the homes and workplaces of men and women whose romantic guardianship has saved countless lives from cruel seas. As that way of life fades away their stories are still being told and this is all to the good.

Within these covers one reads of the lot of a blind lighthouse keeper tending a light in the Arctic Circle, to the efforts of an intrepid young girl saving ships from wreck at the foot of her father’s lighthouse, and the plight of the lighthouse keepers marooned from shore for forty days. Here is an impressive portmanteau of illuminating stories that will transport the reader to the world’s most isolated lighthouses. González Macías is the latest author to have chronicle their lot.

Two in Africa

On the extremities of six continents the light stations studied by Macias are listed here, alphabetically:

Guardafui Lighthouse, Somalia, marking the Horn of Africa. Constructed between 1924 and 1930, deactivated in 1957. Illustration per A Brief Atlas of the Lighthouses at the End of the World by González Macías ©
By González Macías

Adziogol; Amédée; Aniva;
Bell Rock; Buda; Cabo Blanco;
Clipperton; Columbretes; Eddystone;
Eldred Rock; Evangelistas; Flannan Isles;
Godrevy; Great Isaac Cay; Grip;
Guardafui; La Jument; Klein Curaçao;
Lime Rock; Longstone; Maatsuyker;
Matinicus Rock; Navassa; Robben Island;
Rocher aux Oiseaux; Rubjerg Knude;San Juan de Salvamento;
Smalls; Stannard Rock; Stephens Island;
Svyatonossky; Tillamook Rock; La Vieille;
Wenwei Zhou.

With thirty-four entries that explore a tiny portion of man’s endeavour the volume is dedicated to those who once served on an isolated lighthouse and to the people who have contributed to collecting and passing on their stories.

The text is accompanied by illustrations, chart extracts, drawings and many interesting facts. The title is taken part from The lighthouse at the end of the world (Le phare du bout du monde) by Jules Verne, published in 1905.

A Brief Atlas of the Lighthouses at the End of the World is a fine example of the way in which the pharological story is told. These days, in the early 21st century, the story is still being told by the keen authors assisted by the world’s aids to navigation services and sources of illustrations. Long may this continue. Without doubt industrial archaeology is gaining ground as a topic for study.

Reviewed by Paul Ridgway

Africa Ports & Ships
London Correspondent

Added 18 January 2024


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In Conversation: Ethiopia’s deal with Somaliland upends regional dynamics, risking strife across the Horn of Africa

A Somali soldier controls the crowd at a protest in the capital Mogadishu on Jan.3, 2024.
AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh

Alemayehu Weldemariam, Indiana University

The Horn of Africa ushered in the new year with news of a deal that would ensure that diplomatic relations in the region got off to a bumpy start in 2024. Ethiopia, it was announced on Jan. 1, had signed a memorandum of understanding with the breakaway region of Somaliland, opening the door to an agreement to exchange a stake in flagship carrier Ethiopian Airlines for access to the Gulf of Aden.

Such transactions of economic reciprocity are generally routine, as scholars of international relations and law like myself are aware.

But this deal has another element. It intertwined sea access with Ethiopia’s formal recognition of Somaliland – and this has sparked quite a diplomatic stir. Ethiopia’s neighbor Somalia has demanded that the agreement be immediately retracted. In Somaliland itself, the deal has been greeted by protest and the defense minister’s resignation.

Prior to the memorandum of understanding with Somaliland, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had signaled his intention to gain Red Sea access for his landlocked country – a bid observers warned could have a destabilizing effect in the region.

Ethiopia is reeling from an intense and bloody two-year war within its own borders, coupled with ongoing strife among different ethnic groups. As a result of the violence, Ethiopia is currently experiencing massive internal displacement and famine.

Geopolitical tensions created by the pact with Somaliland could serve to exacerbate Ethiopia’s problems – and that of the region. But despite the risk, both sides know they have much to gain.

Somaliland’s quest for recognition

Since declaring independence from Somalia in 1991, Somaliland has operated as a fully functional de facto state, boasting its own defined territory, population and government.

However, it still lacks the international recognition that would allow Somaliland full participation in the global community, such as membership in the United Nations. A formal nod would also unlock access to protections under international law and economic opportunities.

The agreement with Ethiopia would be a step toward providing that critical missing link.

Recognition of a new state under international law requires established nations to acknowledge the sovereignty and legitimacy of the territory. This can be achieved through either expressed or implicit means.

Expressed recognition takes the form of an official unequivocal declaration. In contrast, implicit recognition can emerge through bilateral treaties, alliances or diplomatic exchanges – essentially signaling acceptance of a country without making an official declaration of recognition. Implicit recognition often provides a strategic advantage, safeguarding a country’s interest without triggering regional discord.

Mastering the art of crafting treaties with implicit acknowledgments can be crucial to avoid overcommitting a country diplomatically. Abiy, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, was expected by the international community to navigate this diplomatic tightrope, balancing a degree of acknowledgment of Somaliland with restraint. Doing so might avoid rupturing relations with Somalia and imperiling regional security dynamics.

An ambiguous deal

The specific details of the memorandum of understanding remain unpublished. So far, any insights gleaned stem mainly from a joint press conference held by Ethiopia’s and Somaliland’s two leaders in Addis Ababa and subsequent press releases.

Nuanced distinctions in each party’s priorities have emerged: Somaliland places emphasis on explicit recognition; Ethiopia directs its focus toward regional integration.

And some larger discrepancies in messaging pop out when you look closer. Both sides point to economic and security benefits. But Ethiopia’s Jan. 3 statement suggests only an “in-depth assessment” of the request for state recognition. This seems at odds with Somaliland’s claim of guaranteed recognition in exchange for sea access.

But because the actual text of the agreement isn’t publicly available, its implications remain shrouded in secrecy – further adding to the unease in the region over the deal.

Rising regional tensions

In the days since the memorandum of understanding was inked, tensions have deepened between Somalia and both Ethiopia and Somaliland. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud issued a stern warning against the agreement and threatened to defend Somalia through all available means.

He urged Somali civilians to stand united against potential incursions and cautioned Ethiopia against escalating the situation into armed conflict.

Mohamud has also been seeking support from allies. Already in 2024, he has traveled to Eritrea for security talks aimed at strengthening bilateral ties and addressing regional and international concerns. He also received an invitation from Egypt in an apparent show of support.

Ethiopia’s precarious situation

In a further sign of growing tensions, Ethiopia’s army chief of staff has engaged in talks with his Somaliland counterpart to discuss military cooperation.

Considering Ethiopia’s delicate situation with domestic secessionist forces, critics have been quick to note that Ethiopia may not be best placed to entertain the idea of recognizing Somaliland. Not only would it risk conflict with Somalia, doing so could also lead to the renewal of a breakaway push within Ethiopia itself.

Somaliland is situated to the south and east of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State. The region is governed by the Somali branch of the Ethiopian Prosperity Party, whose legitimacy has long been contested by the Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF, a group demanding autonomy for Somalis in Ethiopia.

Until a peace agreement in October 2018, the ONLF had been engaged in a decades-long secessionist war with the Ethiopian government. More recently, in 2020, a push for independence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia resulted in a two-year armed conflict that displaced millions of people and forced hundreds of thousands into famine.

Meanwhile, the Amhara – an indigenous ethnic group in Ethiopia – have been resisting the federal government’s attempt to disarm their militia and regional special forces. And the state of Oromia also saw calls for independence before an Oromo prime minister, Abiy, was elected by parliament in 2018.

A renewed push for autonomy from Ethiopia’s Somali community could serve to reignite any number of these simmering internal conflicts and Somali irredentism.

Uneasy international response

Global attention to growing tensions in the Horn of Africa has been mounting: The U.S. has expressed serious concern, and the African Union has urged Ethiopia and Somalia to de-escalate the tensions in the name of regional peace.

Similar statements have come from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development — an African trade bloc — the European Union and the Arab League.

Widespread protests

Djibouti, which neighbors Somaliland to the northwest, has called for dialogue and a diplomatic solution.

But such calls – from both international and regional players – have done little to calm tensions.

In the days since the deal was announced, tens of thousands Somalis have protested in the streets of Mogadishu, calling the move an aggression against the nation’s sovereignty.

And while residents of both Somaliland and Ethiopia have largely supported the memorandum – hopeful in turn that it would lead to international recognition and economic uplift – not everyone is behind the deal. In Somaliland, Defense Minister Abdiqani Mohamud Ateye resigned on Jan. 8, stating that the handing over of access to the coast to Ethiopia represented a threat to Somaliland’s sovereignty.

It would seem that the memorandum of understanding has served to reopen old wounds across the region.The Conversation

Alemayehu Weldemariam, Ph.D. Fellow, Center for Constitutional Democracy, Indiana University

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

Added 18 January 2024


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Cyclone Belal hits La Réunion and Mauritius

The ZOOM EARTH image here shows the track of Cyclone Belal by 2100 on 17 January. Picture: European Union, Copernicus Sentinel-3 imagery/ Zoom Earth

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

On 15 January 2024, Cyclone Belal hit Mauritius and the French island of La Réunion, bringing torrential rain and strong winds to the region. This was reported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space.

At least one casualty had been initially reported in La Réunion, where a level three cyclone warning was issued, and a quarter of the population had been left without electricity and drinking water.

According to reports by 17 January by Rapid Mapping at EU Copernicus* the passage of Cyclone Belal left three victims on the island of Reunion. Although the red alert was lifted on 15 January, it was reported that nearly 20% of residents still have no access to drinking water and 50% of the island no longer has Internet. The agricultural sector was also hardly hit ( )

The image shown above of Cyclone Belal was acquired by one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites on 15 January at 05:45 UTC while it passed through Saint-Denis and Port Louis.

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service has been activated by the French authorities to provide initial rough estimation, storm extent, and damage assessment emergency mapping over La Réunion. More information is available here.

Cyclone Belal’s track away to the southeast. Image: Zoom Earth
Added 18 January 2024


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Elke M salvage operation update

Africa Ports & Ships

Following an intensive week-long operation involving aerial, sea and land-based resources, the recoverable fuel as well as non-fuel pollutants aboard the grounded fishing vessel ‘Elke M’ have now been removed from the wreck.

Elke M on the rocks of Shark Point near Cape St Francis. Picture Glen Kasner/SAMSA

SAMSA (South African Maritime Safety Authority) reported on Wednesday that 24,700 litres of fuel has been recovered from safely accessible tanks on board. Also, debris including fishing nets, crates and related equipment has been removed from the wreck and surrounds.

A Wreck Removal Directive has been issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority in terms of the Wreck & Salvage Act and it is expected that this operation will commence in due course following the appointment of a contractor by Owners P&I Club (Insurers).

In preparation for this, a Bathymetric Survey was completed to provide more information on the underwater terrain in the vicinity.

The Department of Transport and SAMSA will continue monitoring the operation, working in collaboration with the Incident Management Structure (IMS). This includes Owners, the insurers (P&I Club), municipality officials, the NSRI, salvors AMSOL, environmental management organisations, and other relevant parties.

The vessel had 24 crew on board when she ran aground one mile from Port St Francis at 22:30 on Saturday 6 January. All were brought to safety after they abandoned ship.

Added 17 January 2024


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Transnet Freight Rail ‘fast-tracking’ repairs on KZN coal export line

TFR derailment that occurred in May 2023 – for illustrative purposes only. Picture: supplied

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) said on Wednesday night that recovery crews have made good progress towards restoring operations on the export coal line.

This follows the disruption which occurred when two trains collided in the early hours of Sunday, 14 January 2024 at eLubana, outside Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.

While the recovery efforts have been impacted by the persistent heavy rainfall in the region, TFR says it is hopeful that weather permitting, the last remaining debris will be removed overnight (Wednesday).

The rail service is expected to resume before midnight on Thursday, 18 January on Line 2, and on Saturday, 20 January, on line 1, subject to the weather conditions.

TFR expressed to industry for the swift response in providing major breakdown equipment to aid the recovery operation.

The accident has been reported to the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), while an internal investigation into the cause is ongoing.

TFR personnel involved in the collision have been given the all-clear following medical examination.

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Added 17 January 2024


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WHARF TALK: Spirit on Mighty Servant 3

The Boskalis cable layer vessel Spirit. Picture by Shipspotting

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Any casual maritime observer gets excited when a semi-submersible heavylift carrier hoves into view. Other than the interest they evoke about what it is that they are carrying, it is always nice to see them at any time, with or without an unusual deck cargo. The arrival of one of the most famous of the semi-submersible heavylift carriers is always an exciting occasion.

The arrival of Mighty Servant 3 for the second visit in just four months is still a great sight to behold. He last turned up in Cape Town in September 2023, and Wharf Talk covered every technical aspect of this vessel, and the background to her visit, on that occasion. That background article was published in the Africa Ports & Ships edition of 11th September 2023.

In that respect, it is pointless to cover her again, other than to make mention of the details of her actual current arrival. It is clear that she is yet another Suez diversion, this time a southbound vessel, based on her voyage particulars. However, what is worth reporting on is what she was carrying as her deck cargo. On this occasion Mighty Servant 3, which is a Boskalis vessel, was carrying another Boskalis company vessel, or so it at first appeared.

On 12th January, at 06:00 in the morning, the semi-submersible heavylift vessel ‘Mighty Servant 3’ (IMO 8130899) arrived of Cape Town, from Rotterdam in Holland. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding directly into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the Landing Wall. She was not here to discharge her deck cargo, as that would have occurred out in Table Bay, and the Landing Wall is, by now, well known to the casual maritime observer as a bunkering station.

Spirit on Mighty Servant 3. Cape Town 12 January 2024 Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The deck cargo on ‘Mighty Servant 3’ was, as most deck cargoes are, quite interesting, as it was another vessel, carrying all the marks and colours of Boskalis, the same company that owns and operates ‘Mighty Servant 3’. The deck cargo was the inshore, shallow water, cable layer ‘Spirit’ (IMO 9496458), and indeed she was a part of the extensive Boskalis fleet.

Built in 2010 by Xing-Gang shipyard at Taizhou in China, ‘Spirit’ is 90 metres in length and has a deadweight of 6,898 tons. She is powered by two Caterpillar 3512B-HD twelve cylinder, four stroke, main engines producing a total of 3,672 bhp (2,610 kW), which drive two Holland Roer Propeller HRP 6111 Azimuth Thrusters, each producing 1,140 kW to give a sea service transit speed of 9 knots.

Spirit on Mighty Servant 3. Cape Town 12 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 856 kW each, and a single emergency generator providing 200 kW. For added manoeuvrability ‘Spirit’ has two further Caterpillar 3512B generators providing power to two Holland Roer Propeller HRP 6111 Retractable Azimuth Thrusters, providing 1,118 kW each, and she also has a transverse bow thruster providing 650 kW.

The propulsion mix of four Azimuth Thrusters, and a bow thruster, gives ‘Spirit’ a Dynamic Positioning classification of DP2. The requirement for DP2 is for her work as a close inshore, and shallow water, cable layer in the offshore wind farm industry. Her hull shape is flat bottomed to allow her to be deliberately beached close inshore, during low tide, as part of her work in bringing submarine cables ashore during the hook-up phase of the wind farm development.

Spirit on Mighty Servant 3. Cape Town 12 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is also able to utilise an additional six point mooring system for position holding. She has accommodation for 60 persons, and her aft deck has a working area of 1,500 m2, with a deck strength of 15 tons/m2. She has a Heila hydraulic knuckleboom deck crane capable of lifting 18 tons, with active heave compensation.

For her cable laying operations, ‘Spirit’ has a deck carousel able to hold 4,400 tons of submarine cable, and an ability to lay cable at any capacity up to 1,000 metres per hour. She is equipped with two cable tensioners, and carries a Hi-Plough, operating with its own deck winching system, which is deployed for cable trenching requirements.

Spirit on Mighty Servant 3. Cape Town 12 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has been used almost exclusively on offshore wind farm projects around Western Europe for over a decade, and includes the Walney wind farm in the Irish Sea, the London Array wind farm in the UK Southern North Sea, the Moray East wind farm off the east coast of Scotland, and the Butendiek and Hohe See wind farms in the German Bight. She also re-laid the 400 kV high voltage power cables of the Öresund Connection between Denmark and Sweden.

With modern wind farms being vast arrays, with sometimes anything up to 200 wind turbines within the complex, there is a lot of scope for cable laying. The wind farm field will have interarray cables linking the turbines, and interconnecting cables to the infield power substation, and export cables to bring the electrical supply onshore from the offshore field.

Spirit on Mighty Servant 3. Cape Town 12 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned by Royal Boskalis Westminster BV, of Papendrecht in Holland, ‘Spirit’ is operated by BW Marine (Cyprus) Ltd., of Limassol in Cyprus, and is managed by Boskalis Offshore Management BV, also of Papendrecht. However, on 20th December 2023, Taihan Cable and Solution company, of Seoul in South Korea, announced that they had purchased a cable laying vessel for US$38.4 million (ZAR728.2 million). That vessel was none other than ‘Spirit’.

Taihan Cable and Solution are South Korea’s major manufacturer of submarine cables, with a new factory recently commissioned on the Northwest coast of the country. Back in October 2023, Taihan Cable and Solution had announced that they had been selected as the preferred supplier of submarine cables for the 38 turbine, 532 MW, Anma wind farm, off the south west coast of South Korea.

Then three days before announcing the purchase of ‘Spirit’, on 17th December 2023, they announced that that had secured the contract, to the value of US$77.3 million (ZAR1.47 billion), for the provision of submarine cables for the 64 turbine, 365 MW, Yeonggwang Nakwol wind farm, also located on the southwest coast of South Korea. Both fields are located close together, in the Yellow Sea, around 22 nautical miles offshore.

Spirit ‘beached’ during operations. Picture by Boskalis

Taihan Cable and Solution announced that with the purchase of ‘Spirit’ they would utilise her first on the Yeonggwang Nakwol wind farm, followed by the Anma wind farm later in 2024. On arrival in South Korea, the company would hold a naming competition, for all employees, to come up with a new name for ‘Spirit’, which will be the only cable laying vessel operating in South Korea, and under the ownership of a cable manufacturer.

Her time alongside in Cape Town, uplifting bunkers, and loading any stores required, and fresh provision, lasted for 19 hours. At 01:00 in the early morning of 13th January ‘Mighty Servant 3’, loaded with ‘Spirit’, sailed from Cape Town with her AIS displaying her next destination was the South Korean port of Busan.

Despite the excitement of seeing such a combination, the voyage of ‘Might Servant 3’ from Rotterdam, to Busan, via the Cape of Good Hope, was solely down to the activities of the Houthi rebels, as this voyage made more sense to route via the Suez Canal. However, the value, and importance, of the deck cargo of ‘Spirit’ was probably considered to be too valuable to risk a potential missile attack in the southern Red Sea.

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Transnet Recovery Diary 17 January 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 17 January 2024


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Tanzania Ports Authority revives plans for container port at Bagamoyo

One of the envisaged ideas for a terminal port at Bagamoyo.  Picture: TPA

Africa Ports & Ships

Plans to create a container port and terminal at Bagamoyo have been outlined by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA).

Over a number of years proposals have been heard of creating a new deepwater port at historic Bagamoyo, north-west of Dar es Salaam, which so far have come to naught.

At one point Chinese and Omani interests were reported to have developed plans for a large container handling port at Bagamoyo, which have not materialised.

Now it is the TPA which is talking of boosting Tanzania’s economy and improving regional trade by way of creating a container facility capable of handling the very largest container ships afloat – right up to 24,000 TEU capacity.

The country’s main container terminal is currently at Dar es Salaam which is limited in the size of ships able to berth fully loaded. The current maximum sized container ship able to use the port is 8,000 TEU.

Bagamoyo, on the coast of Tanzania opposite the island of Zanzibar, one of East Africa’s historic ports

Mbossa pointed out that the port of Dar es Salaam is hindered by a limited (12) number of available berths, especially during the summer months when there is an increase in cargo.

TPA Director-General Plasduce Mbossa said the time has arrived to construct ‘long berths’ able to accommodate the largest container ships in service, which are currently unable to call at Dar es Salaam fully loaded.

“It is now time,” he said.

Mbossa said that construction of the envisaged mega port at Bagamoyo would start with two long berths able to handle the largest container ships presently in service.

His statement made it clear however that as yet no investor has come forward to enter into a joint venture with the TPA for this project.

The D-G said the TPA wants to fast-track construction of the Kurasini Industrial Logistics Park, which he said will decongest and improve the discharge of cargo at Dar es Salaam port.

Another announcement from the TPA is that of creating a single buoy mooring (SBM) to handle the importation of petroleum products, allied to the construction of two oil storage tank farms within the precinct of the Dar es Salaam port.

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DCT Terminal 2 reducing the backlog – TPT

Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 (DCT2).  Picture: TPT

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) reports that the backlog of container ships waiting in the anchorage for a berth at Durban Container Terminal Pier 2, is reducing.

Over the past two and half weeks Pier 2 has averaged single-digit vessels at anchor – on Tuesday 16 January the number was 8.

TPT says it had earlier ensured that all priority cargo across the retail, automotive, energy and FMCG sectors reached shelves at the required time.

“we are not out of the woods, but we have exceeded our set targets of clearing the vessel backlog,” says Managing Executive at the Durban Terminals, Earle Peters.

He adds that close collaboration with shipping lines and cargo owners as well as employee commitment has ensured that work continued throughout the recent holiday season. Original equipment manufacturers were meanwhile remaining onsite, providing technical support and supplying critical spares of handling equipment for repairs.

Peters said weather is continuing to disrupt operations, however, he said, contingency plans remain watertight.

“We are pursuing an aggressive recovery plan and our main focus is to relieve the pressure on our customers who rely on our service and look to us to provide much-needed value,” he said.

Up to last week DCT Pier 2 was averaging 3,681 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) every 24 hours, with a total of 55,219 TEU moved in the previous two weeks alone. The trucking community has kept the terminal fluid on the landside during this period.

Peters said DCT Pier 2 is continuing to engage with shipping lines on the review of surcharges on import containers with improved productivity.

“We are confident that the supply chain will soon return to normality as many other processes are involved once cargo leaves the terminal,” he said, adding that the rollout of the fourth shift at the terminals since December was yielding positive results.

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In Conversation: Suez Canal is not the only ‘choke point’ that threatens to disrupt global supply chains

Africa Ports & Ships

Sarah Schiffling, Hanken School of Economics and Matthew Tickle, University of Liverpool

The air strikes against targets in Yemen by the US and UK military have not been without criticism. They aim to keep the Houthis from attacking merchant vessels in the Bab el-Mandeb strait. Less than 30 ships have been attacked by Houthis since they seized the Israeli-linked Galaxy Leader vessel in November. It’s a relatively small number, compared to the thousands of ships that have passed through the area since.

Unlike the 2021 Suez Canal blockage, traffic is still moving along the shortcut between Asia and Europe. While it adds one to two weeks of travel time and around US$1 million (£786,000) in cost, ships can also go around Africa.

In response, container prices have increased sharply, but are not at the levels reached at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if the path through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal becomes unusable, this is hardly unprecedented. The Suez Canal was closed due to war from 1967 to 1975.

But the reasons for the strikes carried out to protect global trade are likely to lie deeper than this. Global supply chains have become a lot more important for everyday life since the 1970s, so the impact of disruptions in the Red Sea is now much bigger. Also, crucially, Bab el-Mandeb is only one of several maritime choke points that are vital for world trade.

Map showing the world's biggest trade routes and the various chokepoints that pose a risk.

Global trade can be disrupted at various ‘chokepoints’.

Transport choke points

Choke points are narrow parts of main trade lanes, usually straits or canals. As the geopolitical weaponisation of supply chains increasingly becomes a part of economic statecraft, their vulnerability grows. As the Houthis have shown, disrupting global trade at one of these choke points, does not require huge military power.

Disabling the biggest choke points could have severe global consequences. While about 12% of global trade passes the Suez Canal, more than twice as much goes through the Malacca Strait between Indonesia and Malaysia. The Malacca Strait regularly has issues with piracy.

Disruptions at choke points potentially have much larger effects around the world, as they affect traffic going to and from many countries. Alternative routes to them are difficult, if not impossible, to find. This was maybe most impressively demonstrated by the 2021 Suez blockage when a container ship was wedged across the canal and held up US$9.6 billion in trade per day for nearly a week.

Today is not 2021. Ships continue to use the Suez Canal and the Red Sea is not closed to shipping, the volume of shipping containers passing through Suez fell drastically from 500,000 per day in November 2023 to 200,000 per day in December 2023. Demand is not nearly as high as it was back then. Indeed, there has been over-capacity on many shipping routes over the past year. This can now serve as a buffer when vessels spend more time on longer routes.

Running out of routes

But another of the main choke points is currently suffering severe disruptions. The Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific, is experiencing an intense drought. Now water levels in the Panama Canal are so low that shipping capacity is severely limited. Shipping giant Maersk recently shifted cargo to the railway line running in parallel to the canal. Before the current crisis, some ships took a ten-day detour on their journeys between Asia and the US east coast by going through the Suez Canal.

Alternatives for the route through the Bab el-Mandeb and the Suez Canal are limited. The Panama Canal is not a viable option at the moment. The Northern Sea Route is 40% shorter than the alternative via the Suez Canal for connecting Asia to Europe. But ice makes it navigable for no more than five months per year and there are concerns about the impact of ships on the fragile Arctic ecosystem.

The railway line linking China to Europe has seen significant growth in freight transport in recent years. But both rail and Northern Sea Route connection are affected by sanctions on Russia. What is left for most who are keen to avoid the Red Sea is the long detour around Africa.

Strait of Hormuz

The original military mission in the Red Sea was aptly called “Operation Prosperity Guardian”. Countries involved in the White House’s announcement regarding the strikes on Yemen include major exporters such as Germany and South Korea, Denmark, the home of affected shipping line Maersk and others, as well as countries such as Australia and Canada. This is an indication of the profound global effects this disruption is having. After Houthi attacks continued despite warnings, the military actions have sent a signal that free navigation will be protected despite the high cost.

They can also be understood as a signal that countries are ready to defend other choke points. The most likely target for this is what a former chief economist of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) called called “a horrible and inevitable progression that could see the situation in the Red Sea spread to the strait of Hormuz”.

At least one-fifth of global oil and gas transports is shipped through the 39km wide stretch of sea between Oman and Iran. Iran backs the Houthis in Yemen, as well as other groups in the Middle East. The Strait of Hormuz has a long history of tensions. By blocking this choke point, Iran could throw the global economy into serious disarray.

However, experts also highlight the likelihood of a severe global backlash to any such action – doing more harm to Iran than good. The justification for the current military actions against the Houthis is likely to also contain a nod to this.The Conversation

Sarah Schiffling, Deputy Director of the HUMLOG (Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management Research) Institute, Hanken School of Economics and Matthew Tickle, Lecturer in Operations Management Operations and Supply Chain Management, University of Liverpool

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

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Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd are teaming up with an operational cooperation

Berlin Express, one of Hapag-Lloyd’s latest ships, launched September 2023. Picture: H-L

Africa Ports & Ships

The changes keep a-coming!

Hapag-Lloyd AG (Hapag-Lloyd) and A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk), have signed an agreement for a new long-term operational collaboration called ‘Gemini Cooperation’, which will start in February 2025.

According to the joint statement, the ambition is to deliver a flexible and interconnected ocean network with ‘industry-leading reliability’.

“Teaming up with Maersk will help us to further boost the quality we deliver to our customers,’ says says Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd. “Additionally, we will benefit from efficiency gains in our operations and joint efforts to further accelerate the decarbonisation of our industry.”

290 vessels, 3.4 million TEUs

The new cooperation between Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk will comprise a fleet pool of around 290 vessels with a combined capacity of 3.4 million containers (TEU); Maersk will deploy 60% and Hapag-Lloyd 40%.

“We are pleased to enter this cooperation with Hapag-Lloyd, which is the ideal ocean partner on our strategic journey,” says Vincent Clerc, CEO of Maersk.

“By entering this cooperation, we will be offering our customers a flexible ocean network that will be raising the bar for reliability in the industry. This will strengthen our integrated logistics offering and meet our customers’ needs.”

As a part of the agreement, the two companies have set the ambitious target of delivering schedule reliability of above 90% once the network is fully phased in. As well as improved service quality, customers will also benefit from improved transit times in many major port-to-port corridors and access to some of the world’s best connected ocean hubs.

Both companies are committed to the decarbonisation of their fleets and have set the most ambitious decarbonisation targets in the industry with Maersk aiming for net-zero in 2040 and Hapag-Lloyd in 2045.

THE Alliance and 2M Alliance

As a consequence of joining this cooperation, Hapag-Lloyd will leave THE Alliance end of January 2025. In January 2023, Maersk and MSC announced that the 2M alliance will end in January 2025.

During 2024, Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd will carefully plan the transition from their current alliances to the new operational cooperation. Concurrently, service to customers will continue along existing agreements.

Laura Maersk at Felixstowe, September 2023.  Picture Maersk

Gemeni Cooperation

• ‘Gemini Cooperation’ will be a long-term operational cooperation starting in February 2025. Both companies will provide dedicated operational teams to manage the cooperation

• Both Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk can flexibly adjust their operations outside the network to scale capacity in line with their customers’ needs

• As a part of the agreement, the two companies have set the ambitious target of delivering a schedule reliability of above 90% once the network is fully phased in. This objective is backed by a strong governance model and contractual obligations

• ‘Gemini Cooperation’ will leverage Hapag-Lloyd and Maersk’s combined unparalleled global networks and terminal presence, and the extensive logistics expertise of both teams. The cooperation comprises around 290 vessels with a combined capacity of 3.4 million containers (TEU); Maersk will deploy 60% and Hapag-Lloyd 40%

• The cooperation will cover 7 trades: Asia / US West Coast, Asia / US East Coast, Asia / Middle East, Asia / Mediterranean, Asia / North Europe, Middle East – India / Europe and Transatlantic

• ‘Gemini Cooperation’ will comprise of 26 mainline services. The mainline ocean services will be complemented by a global network of dedicated shuttles centred around owned and/ or controlled transshipment hubs – thereof 14 shuttle services in Europe, 4 in the Middle East, 13 in Asia and 1 in the Gulf of Mexico. These shuttle services will offer a fast connection with flexible capacity between hubs and ports served by shuttle services, and vice versa

Further details about ‘Gemini Cooperation’, including the new vessel schedules, will be announced once available.

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Port Maputo tops 31 million tonnes throughput, 16% up on previous year

The Port of Maputo, growing from strength to strength and as an economic driver. MPDC

Africa Ports & Ships

The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), which manages and operates the Mozambique Port of Maputo, has enjoyed a successful year with significant growth in various commodities and areas.

The positive annual result just announced indicates how the Maputo port has continued to consolidate its position as one of the region’s main economic drivers, having handled a record 31.2 million tonnes over the past year.

Bulk ores are proving to be the port’s main strength, with 25 million tonnes made up of various ores, including chromium, ferrochrome, magnetite, coal, phosphate ore, vanadium, titanium, copper, vermiculite, among others.

“The handling of these cargoes reflects the diversification strategy on which the Port of Maputo has focused in recent years,” says Osório Lucas, MPDC’s Chief Executive Officer.

One point to highlight is the more balanced distribution of the volumes transported. While 61% was handled by road, 39% was transported by rail, indicating a significant increase of 8.4% in rail use compared to the previous year. This is also a new record for the Port of Maputo.

“The sustainable growth of the transportation corridor continues to be a concern for MPDC,” Lucas said.

“Although there is growth in rail handling, demand for the port has grown exponentially and so we will continue to work with CFM to seek a better balance between rail and road cargo.”

Another of the measures adopted by MPDC during 2023 to mitigate road congestion was the opening of the Truck Traffic Management Park in Pessene (on the road between Maputo and South African border at Komatipoort. The truck park opened in November.

The substantial increase in the volume of cargo has had a direct impact on the value of the fixed and variable fees paid to the Government of Mozambique.

In this context, the Port of Maputo contributed more than US$41 million dollars (excluding taxes and dividends to shareholders), marking a growth of 29% on last year. This financial increase consolidates the Port of Maputo’s economic contribution to the country’s development.

The year 2023 was also marked by a strong investment in Mozambican culture. The various celebrations associated with the Port of Maputo (20th anniversary of the concession to MPDC, 120 years of the Port of Maputo in partnership with CFM and the end of the year in partnership with Rádio Moçambique) were marked with unique musical shows, accessible to the general public, with a strong focus on national musicians and artists.

The social investment component included support for Kanyaka, with participation in the rehabilitation of the passenger transport vessel and investment in the executive project that will allow work to begin on the rehabilitation of the Kanyaka jetty in 2024.

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WHARF TALK: laden Supramax bulk carrier SPAR CORVUS

Laden to her marks, the Supramax bulk carrier Spar Corvus enters port at Cape Town for bunkers. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The first indiscriminate attack on a merchant vessel by the Houthi rebels took place as far back as 19th October 2023, almost three months ago. Some weeks after that the first of the diverted shipping began arriving off South African shores in search of bunkers, stores and fresh provisions. For Cape Town, a fleetmate of the ‘Galaxy Leader’ arriving off Cape Town for bunkers was the first concrete sign of a diverted vessel to that port.

That number of diversions has built up as more attacks took place and, despite it being only the major container shipping lines that have had the headlines in regards to their vessels diverting around the Cape, rather than running the gauntlet of the Southern Red Sea, there have been scores of other smaller, almost unknown, shipping companies coming to the same conclusions, and taking the Cape sea route for their vessels.

The daily editions of Africa Ports & Ships took a Festive Christmas break from 14th December onwards, and even on that day the diverted arrivals continued entering Table Bay. Many of them do not require bunkers, especially the VLCC tankers, LNG tankers and some of the larger bulk carriers, and they have remained off port limits (OPL) for their stores and provisions. However, not every arrival, however random, was about diversions from the Houthis. Some arrivals off Cape Town were genuine callers, not associated with the mayhem of the Red Sea.

On 14th December, at 10:00 in the morning, the laden Supramax bulk carrier ‘Spar Corvus’ (IMO 9490791) arrived off Cape Town, after an overnight voyage down from Saldanha Bay, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and going alongside the Landing Wall, as a laden bulk carrier, indicated that her call was either to obtain local engineering support, of most likely a call for bunkers.

Spar Corvus. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Even if the casual maritime observer was unaware of where ‘Spar Corvus’ had arrived from, the giveaway dirty brown hue of her decks and accommodation block showed that she had recently been loading iron ore in a windy environment, and that could only mean one thing, that she had recently sailed from the nearest iron ore port, namely Saldanha Bay.

Built in 2011 by Dayang Shipbuilding at Yangzhou in China, ‘Spar Corvus’ is 190 metres in length and has a deadweight of 58,018 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 6S50MC-C six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 11,510 bhp (8,466 kW) and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN 5L23/30H generators providing 760 kW each, and a single Cummins 6BT5.9-D(M) emergency generator providing 91 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg composite Mission OC boiler.

Spar Corvus. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of 8 sisterships, known as the Crown 58 design, ‘Spar Corvus’ is classed as a Supramax bulk carrier, based on this is the largest sub-class of the Handysize geared bulk carriers, and who fall within the deadweight range of 50,000 to 60,000 tons.

She has a cargo carrying capacity of 71,549 m3, and has five cargo holds, which are serviced by four electro-hydraulic cranes capable of lifting 36 tons, and she also carries four electro-hydraulic grab, capable of holding 20 tons of bulk cargo. She is able to be part loaded with holds 2 and 4 able to remain empty, with holds 1, 3, and 5 being fully loaded.

Spar Corvus. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is owned and managed by Spar Shipping AS, of Kokstad in Norway, as shown by the company houseflag being dis0played on her funnel, and she is managed by Fleet Management Ltd., of Hong Kong. Her owners started off in business back in 1962, but were not initially involved in shipping, but began as a textile retail business. They diversified into real estate, and then into shipping. It was only in 1990 that the stand alone shipping business was formed.

The arrival of ‘Spar Corvus’ into South African waters began on 8th December, when she arrived off Saldanha Bay, at 14:00 in the afternoon, after a voyage from Pipavav in India. She entered the port to begin loading her cargo of iron ore, and sailed after almost six days alongside at 0100 in the early morning of 14th December. Her destination was only a short hop down the coast to Cape Town.

Spar Corvus. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her arrival is another example of the result of Saldanha Bay still not having the capacity to provide any comprehensive local engineering support, or the provision of bunkers, and the arrival of ‘Spar Corvus’ is simply another example of a shipowner having to pay out further harbour dues, merely to get a fuel uplift, after a stint loading cargo in Saldanha Bay.

For the nomenclature fan, the name of ‘Spar Corvus’ is based on the name of the owners, and as with all other bulk carrier in the Spar Shipping fleet, her name suffix is that of a star constellation. As well as ‘Corvus’ being the genus name for the bird family of Crows, hence why Crows are known as corvids, the Corvus constellation is in the Southern Hemisphere and visible from South Africa.

Spar Corvus. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The constellation is made up of five major star systems, with the largest being Gamma Corvi, which is a Blue Giant star, four times larger than our Sun, and 355 times more brighter than the Sun. Within the other star systems in the constellation, three of them have exoplanets, and a fourth star system is what is known as a Dwarf Nova, which is a binary star system comprising a White Dwarf star and a Brown Dwarf star in a very close orbit.

After just over one day alongside, ‘Spar Corvus’ was ready to depart, and at 11:00 in the late morning of 15th January, she sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS showing that her next destination was Qinzhou in China, where she duly arrived just after Midnight on 13th January.

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TNPA to appoint panel to help close operational gaps at port terminals

A Cape Town port scene overlooking A berth and the TNPA port office building on the South Quay. Picture: Zeyyaan Darries

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) intends to appoint a panel of qualified service providers as Terminal Operators of Last Resort for a period of three years.

This is with the strategic intent of closing port operational gaps at its eight commercial seaports where terminal operator contracts have been suspended or terminated.

The panel of service providers (panel) will enable TNPA continuance of efficient terminal operations in instances where an existing terminal operator licence has been suspended under 60(4) provision of the National Port Act of 2005.

In such cases, the selected panel of service providers will bid to provide an interim service that will assist the ports authority with mitigating the disruption of cargo-handling operations during the appointment of a new terminal operator through the concession process as stipulated in Section 56 of the National Ports Act 12 of 2005.

The scope of the required panel also includes the import/export, transit storage, handling and distribution of cargo on and off the vessel with appropriate terminal equipment, as well as the distribution of cargo to inland customers through rail or road.

TNPA told Africa Ports & Ships that it is sufficient to note that all terminal operators appointed by the TNPA are obliged to comply with the terms and conditions of their terminal operator licences and or terminal operator agreements.

“In instances where there is a failure to comply with the terms and conditions of this terminal operator licence or agreement, TNPA will initiate either cancellation and/or suspension of such a Terminal Operator Licence and or Terminal Operator Agreement.

“In such eventuality, TNPA will appoint a suitable alternative terminal operator which would be TNPA’s Terminal Operator of ‘Last Resort’.”

The port authority said this approach is part of its strategy of fulfilling its port landlord role as mandated by the National Ports Act 12 of 2005, which is to provide a globally competitive South African port system.

“This will lead to decreased cargo losses and ensure that we provide our customers with a cost-effective and sustainable freight logistics solution,” said Anthony Ngcezula, TNPA General Manager for Commercial Services.

TNPA told Africa Ports & Ships that as of now, no existing Terminal Operator Agreement and/or Terminal Operator Licences have been cancelled, suspended, or terminated.

“The Panel is established with the view to ensure the continuity of operation if a cancellation, suspension or termination takes place. The tender issued by TNPA is a proactive approach intended to ensure continuity of services at the ports.

The tender documents can be accessed on the Transnet tender portal: CLICK HERE

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Tanzania bans Kenya Airways in tit-for-tat

Flights between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam banned from 22 January.  Picture: KA

Africa Ports & Ships

Tanzania has issued a ban on Kenya Airways (KQ) from using its airspace in a tit-for-tat move as relationships between the both neighbouring aviation authorities deteriorates.

The Tanzanian ban follows the refusal by Kenya’s aviation authorities for an all-cargo service by Air Tanzania under Fifth Freedom Traffic rights between Nairobi and third countries.

Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) director-general, Hamza Johari, issued a statement to this effect which announced there would be no passenger flights by KQ between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as from 22 January 2024.

This is not the first time that various organisations have retaliated against the other, damaging business between the two nations and affecting ordinary travelling citizens of each country.

Nor is it the first time that Tanzania has banned Kenya Airways or other Kenyan airlines from using its airspace.

The respective foreign ministers have agreed to resolve the latest spat within a matter of days, saying that restrictions of air travel between the two countries or from each other to a third country “shouldn’t stand.” source: Chanzo

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IMO and an Onshore Power Supply package: Now available for port stakeholders

IMO and Offshore Power Supply Workshop

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

A workshop package on Onshore Power Supply (OPS) for use by port stakeholders is now available. The package explains how ports can use OPS and supports the use of OPS to reduce ship emissions in ports, in line with the objectives of IMO resolution MEPC.366(79) which encourages voluntary cooperation between the port and shipping sectors to contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions from ships.

The package has been developed by the IMO-GreenVoyage2050 project, in collaboration with the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH).

The OPS workshop package provides port stakeholders, including port authorities, terminals, with a basic understanding of the concept of OPS and key considerations to support the implementation of OPS as an emission reduction opportunity in port.

Core aspects

Core aspects covered in the OPS workshop package include:

* How ports can explore OPS, and key issues to be considered.

* Common drivers and influencing factors that affect the viability of OPS as an emissions reduction strategy.

* Current OPS use globally, and case study examples of OPS implementation around the world.

Types of analyses required to assess feasibility and potential usage:

* Fleet and port call analyses.

* Grid analysis and the importance of grid characteristics.

* Energy consumption and OPS emissions analysis.


The OPS workshop package is available on the IMO-GreenVoyage2050 website and is free to access.

The package was initially delivered at the Port Actions for Green Shipping workshop, held in Mumbai from 10–12 October, which was organised by IMO-GreenVoyage2050, in collaboration with the Directorate General of Shipping of India (DGS), the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), and the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in Mumbai.

Support for developing countries

IMO-GreenVoyage2050 was established in May 2019 to support developing countries in meeting their commitment towards relevant climate change and energy efficiency goals for international shipping.

Scheme extended to 2030

GreenVoyage2050 was recently extended to run until 2030 and will support developing countries in achieving the Levels of Ambition set out in the 2023 IMO GHG Strategy.

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Transnet Recovery Diary 16 January 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 16 January 2024
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Trade News: CIMC Raffles picks TMC for Havfram Wind’s WTIVs

Havfram Wind’s NG20000X-HF jack-up vessel. Picture: Havfram Wind

Africa Ports & Ships

CIMC Raffles has chosen TMC Compressors to supply a complete marine compressed air system to the two Wind Turbine Installation Vessels (WTIVs) Havfram Wind has ordered from the Chinese shipbuilder.

Havfram Wind is an offshore wind company focused on transport and installation services for both bottom fixed and floating projects in the offshore wind sector. The company has placed orders for two GustoMSC NG20000X jack-up vessels from CIMC Raffles.

TMC’s scope of supply is to deliver a complete marine compressed air system – including compressors for control and service air, air dryers, and compressed air to help lubricate the legs of the jack-up system – for both vessels.

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

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Two coal trains collide outside Richards Bay causing derailment

Africa Ports & Ships

Two Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) coal trains have collided on the Zululand rail line near the eLubana Siding, not far out from the port of Richards Bay.

The collision took place in the early hours of Sunday, 14 January 2024, with one train colliding with the rear of the other, with several locomotives and a number of laden wagons thrown sideways across both sets of tracks and leaving both lines blocked to traffic.

It appears the train closest to Richards Bay had stopped on account of a power failure, into which the following train collided.

TFR said on Monday that recovery teams have been sent to the scene and efforts are underway to clear the line and restore services.

Staff involved in the collision were sent for medical observation, said TFR. Environmental teams are also at the scene to ensure compliance in the recovery and clean-up operations.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the accident.

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WHARF TALK: Antarctic Krill fishing vessel ANTARCTIC SEA

Antarctic Sea at work in Antarctica. Picture: MarineTraffic / Frank Grebstad

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The Christmas and New Year festive period in Cape Town is the time when many of the Antarctic bound vessels call in on their southbound leg. This year was no different, with many of the supply vessels making their way south, plus the oceanographic research vessels also heading for the Southern Ocean. But this is not the only link to Antarctica that Cape Town has.

Through these pages, folk are also becoming aware that Cape Town is also the winter home to a number of the Antarctic Toothfish fishing vessels, and also of the many of the licensed Antarctic Krill fishing vessels. This year was no different with no less than four of them using the winter break to complete their annual refits, drydockings, surveys and overhauls in the Mother City.

What was unusual was that the entire fleet of one of the Krill fishing companies, numbering three vessels, also sent their trawlers to South Africa for the winter. Whilst initially reported to be coming to Cape Town for the winter, none of them arrived, but rather all were sent to East London for their drydockings and refits. The reasons why Cape Town subsequently lost out to East London are not known, but are likely to be cost, or lack of berthing and drydock availability.

On completion of their maintenance programmes in the Buffalo City, all three headed to Cape Town for bunkering and final loading of needed stores, equipment and victuals, prior to sailing south for the 2023-2024 Austral Krill fishing season. Two of the vessels were built as Trawlers, and one specifically for Krill, whilst one was not originally even built as a trawler.

Antarctic Sea. Cape Town 24 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The two vessels built as trawlers have been here on a number of occasions in past years, namely ‘Saga Sea’ and ‘Antarctic Endurance’. Both have been reported on previously in Africa Ports & Ships, with ‘Saga Sea’ in the edition of 21st November 2023, and with ‘Antarctic Endurance’ in the edition of 13th October 2022. Both called at Cape Town in late 2023 en route to Antarctica. The final of the trio of trawlers only arrived in Cape Town just before Christmas.

On 23rd December, at 20:00 in the evening, the Antarctic Krill Trawler ‘Antarctic Sea’ (IMO 9160358) arrived off Cape Town, from East London, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the outer berth of the Eastern Mole. Her arrival was solely for bunkers and stores, prior to heading south to Antarctica.

Built in 1999 by the Volharding Shipyard at Hoogezand in Holland, ‘Antarctic Sea’ is 132 metres in length and has a deadweight of 8,664 tons. She is powered by a single Stork-Wärtsilä 6L38A six cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 5,380 bhp (3,960 kW), to drive a Lips BV controllable pitch propeller for a transit sea speed of 14 knots.

Antarctic Sea. Cape Town 24 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery, which provides power for both the vessel’s domestic requirements, for the large onboard Krill processing factory plant, and for the cargo reefer compartments, includes six Caterpillar 3516B generators providing 1,650 kW each. She has a single Caterpillar emergency generator. She has two Parat Halvorsen composite boilers, and two Economiser exhaust gas boilers.

For additional manoeuvrability when undertaking her fishing operations, and when in port, ‘Antarctic Sea’ has a single Lips BV CT06H bow transverse thruster providing 500 kW, and a retractable Kongsberg TCNS092 azimuth thruster providing 2,000 kW. For her operational requirements in Antarctica she has an ice classification of ICE 1A, which allows her to navigate in Polar first year ice thickness of 0.3 metres to 0.7 metres.

Antarctic Sea. Cape Town 24 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned, operated, and managed by Aker Biomarine Antarctic AS, of Stamsund in Norway, ‘Antarctic Sea has a crew of 50. She has a single reefer cargo hold with a capacity of 7,730 m3, and is capable of storing 2,800 tons of frozen krill, and a further dry cargo hold for the storage of dried Krill meal.

For her fishing operation in Antarctica ‘Antarctic Sea’ is licensed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to fish solely for Antarctic Krill (Euphausia Superba) in FAO Sub-Areas 48.1 (Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands), 48.2 (South Orkney Islands), 48.3 (South Georgia), and 48.4 (South Shetland Islands). Her fishing license is valid from 1st December 2023 until 30th November 2024.

Antarctic Sea. Cape Town 24 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

To monitor her fishing activities ‘Antarctic Sea’ is fitted with a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), which is mandatory under the Norwegian Ministry of fisheries regulations. All data produced is sent in real time by satellite back to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre, located at Bergen in Norway. The VMS provides continuous monitoring of the vessel, position, speed, course, and fishing operation both within, and without, the CCAMLR licensing area. She also carries independent fisheries observers when operating in the CCAMLR licensing area.

She fishes for Krill using a midwater beam trawl. The net is 154 metres in length, with a mouth opening of 22 metres by 22 metres. The cod end, where the krill catch is gathered is 27 metres in length, with a mouth opening of 4 metres by 4 metres, with a mesh size of 16mm. As required by CCAMLR regulation, the net is fitted with a marine mammal exclusion device. This is a 20 metres by 20 metres screen, with a 200mm mesh size, fitted across the inner mouth of the net to prevent seals, dolphins or small whales entering the net, getting trapped, and drowning.

Antarctic Sea. Cape Town 24 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The interesting aspect of ‘Antarctic Sea’ is her unusual aspect and outline. This because she was originally built as a gearless mini bulk carrier and general cargo vessel for the Dutch shipping group, Wagenborg Shipping BV of Delfzijl in Holland. She was one of a class of 15 sisterships, with a container capacity of 548 TEU, and carried the name ‘Vlieborg’ when launched in 1999.

In 2009 ‘Vlieborg’ was sold by Wagenborg for conversion into a Krill Trawler by the Norwegian company, Krill Seaproducts AS, and renamed ‘Thorshøvdi’, a name reminiscent of the 1948 built Thor Dahl whale factory ship, of the same name, that used to call into Cape Town in the 1950s. When completed she was not only Norway’s largest fishing vessel, but she was the largest Krill factory trawler in the world.

Antarctic Sea as the gearless bulker Vlieborg

In September 2011, her current owners made their first offer for ‘Thorshøvdi’, which was rejected by her then owners. Aker Biomarine then withdrew the offer and went in search of another Krill Trawler, but made a further offer later that year which was accepted by Krill Seaproducts AS.

At the conclusion of the 2023 Krill fishing season in Antarctica, all three of the Aker Biomarine AS vessels were directed to South Africa for their winter refit periods, with all three arriving in East London, despite their original arrival ports being given as Cape Town. On 15th September 2023, ‘Antarctic Sea’ arrived off East London, from Antarctica to join her fleet mates.

Antarctic Sea in Antarctica. Picture: MarineTraffic / Patrik Hassel

The time spent in East London undergoing her drydocking period, and alongside on refit, saw ‘Antarctic Sea’ spend a total of 97 days in the port. She was the last of the three Aker Biomarine vessels to sail from East London, on completion of her winter refit, departing from the Buffalo City on 21st December at 07:00 in the morning, bound for Cape Town and bunkers, which were not available in East London.

Arriving in Cape Town in 23rd December, she spent the Christmas period alongside, as a result of the timing of her arrival, and was ready to sail after Christmas Day, on 26th December, known as both Boxing Day, or the Day of Goodwill. At 08:00 in the morning she left Cape Town, and headed southwest to her fishing grounds in Antarctica, where she was scheduled to arrive at noon on 15th January, to begin the new season of Krill fishing.

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Breaking News: Houthi missile strikes US merchant ship

The bulk carrier Gibraltar Eagle (IMO 9702508), which was struck by a ballistic anti-ship missile fired from Houthi-held Yemen. The 64,000-dwt ship was earlier named Stony Stream. Picture: FleetMon

Africa Ports & Ships

A Houthi anti-ship ballistic missile has struck a US-owned and operated cargo ship on Monday (15 January 2024), US Central Command said in a statement today (Monday).

The vessel, Gibraltar Eagle (IMO 9702508), a 199-metre long, 32m wide bulk carrier owned and operated by US-owned Eagle Bulk, sustained minor damage. No injuries have been reported by Central Command, and the ship has continued its journey.

The 64,000-dwt bulk carrier ship is carrying a cargo of steel products and was approximately 100 miles offshore in the Gulf of Aden when the missile struck. The vessel was heading from South East Asia (South Korea) towards the Suez Canal and Mediterranean.

“As a result of the impact the vessel suffered limited damage to a cargo hold but is stable and is heading out of the area. All seafarers onboard the vessel are confirmed to be uninjured,” the company statement said, adding that it was in “close contact with all relevant authorities.”

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Tensions rise over Ethiopia’s sea access deal with Somaliland

Africa Ports & Ships

Tensions continue to rise over a 20-km wide access strip through Somaliland granted to Ethiopia to provide the landlocked country with its own access to the sea.

Ethiopia lost its access to the Red Sea when Eritrea broke away as an independent nation in 1991, after a 30-year war of independence between the Eritrean Peoples Liberation Front and the Ethiopian government.

Since then Ethiopia, which still regards itself as a seagoing nation, and continues to have its own national shipping company, has had to rely almost exclusively on the use of the port and enclave of Djibouti.

The recent granting of a 20-kilometre wide access strip to the coast of Somaliland has met with strong criticsm from Somalia, which regards Somaliland as part of its sovereign territory.

Somaliland, an area that previously was governed as the British Protectorate of Somaliland from 1884 until 1960, sees itself as fully independent since 1991, in spite of being unrecognised by other states.

The move now to provide neighbouring Ethiopia with a narrow strip of land to the Gulf of Aden, where the Ethiopians hope to develop their own port, has met with fierce opposition from neighbouring countries, especially Somalia.

Protest march

This was demonstrated earlier this month with a march by thousands of protesters through the streets of Mogadishu, Somali’s capital.

Headed by senior Somali government ministers, the protesters carried placards headed ‘Somali belongs to Somalia’ and ‘Our seas are not for sale’. The international community was called on to intervene and prevent Ethiopia’s ‘aggression’.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s president signed a law to nullify the agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland, despite Somalia having little or no influence over access to the Gulf of Aden. The reality is that Somalia has has little say over the affairs of the de facto state, which has its own government, security forces and currency and a long coastline on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes.


According to Somaliland’s government, Ethiopia will “formally recognise the Republic of Somaliland” under the deal, but this has not been confirmed by the government in Addis Ababa.

Other states in the area, as well as international bodies including the African Union, the European Union, the Arab League and the United States have appealed for calm and for Somalia’s sovereignty to be respected. sources: Shabelle, RFI.

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In Conversation: Ethiopia’s quest for access to the sea: success rests on good relations with its neighbours

The Port of Berbera, on Somalia’s coast facing the Gulf of Aden. Picture DPW

Bizuneh Yimenu, University of Birmingham and Robert McCabe, Coventry University

On 1 January, Ethiopia and Somaliland signed a memorandum of understanding granting Addis Ababa direct access to the Gulf of Aden. This strategic agreement paves the way for Ethiopia to establish commercial and military bases along the coast.

Under the agreement, Somaliland will lease 20km of coastal land to Ethiopia for 50 years. Ethiopia commits to offering Somaliland a stake in one of its lucrative state-owned enterprises, Ethiopian Airlines. It is also contemplating recognition of Somaliland as an independent state.

Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has been keen on securing direct sea access for Ethiopia’s “survival”. Neighbouring coastal states, including Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea, have rebuffed these overtures.

The Gulf of Aden deal has evoked mixed reaction in the region. On the one hand, it lessens the likelihood of conflict with Eritrea. Ethiopia’s aggressive pitch for access to the Red Sea had raised concerns about potential territorial disputes. But the agreement with Somaliland, a self-declared state lacking international recognition, has heightened tensions with Somalia. Mogadishu has declared the deal null and a clear act of aggression. Despite Somaliland declaring independence in 1991, Somalia still considers it one of its provinces.

We are scholars who have conducted over a decade’s worth of research on maritime security, international law and Ethiopian politics.

It is our view that Ethiopia’s quest for sea access might not be guaranteed solely through the recently signed deal with Somaliland. While international law does provide pathways for a landlocked state to gain access to a coastline, that access depends almost entirely on striking deals with neighbours. While the agreement with Somaliland marks Ethiopia’s initial legal move, the contested claim of Somaliland by Somalia poses a potential hurdle for Ethiopia in attaining sea access. We suggest that sustainable solutions require agreement among all concerned states.

The history

Ethiopia has been landlocked since Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993. Since then, it has tried various means to secure access to the ocean. In 2002, it signed an agreement with Djibouti. This has resulted in around 95% of its import-export trade (by volume) passing through the port of Djibouti via the Addis-Djibouti corridor.

In 2018, Ethiopia purchased a 19% stake in Berbera Port in Somaliland as a potential way to diversify its maritime access points.

Since the signing of the 2024 memorandum, military chiefs of Ethiopia and Somaliland have met to discuss cooperation. This has further inflamed tensions, resulting in street protests in Mogadishu and calls from Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asking people to “prepare for the defence of the country”. The heightened tension undermines the sustainability of Ethiopia’s push for direct access to the sea. However, Ethiopia also appears determined, as the deal is seen as a mechanism to address the country’s decades-long problem. Additionally, the deal is considered a turning point for Somaliland in its pursuit of international recognition.

Legal rights

International maritime law grants landlocked states certain rights to access the ocean through bilateral agreements with coastal states. This can take the shape of a corridor agreement: rules that regulate the transit of goods via an approved route.

For example, following negotiations with Bangladesh in 1997, Nepal was able to secure transit rights through Bangladeshi territory to access the ports of Chittagong and Mongla. These arrangements hinge on maintaining positive and cooperative relations between the landlocked country and its coastal counterparts.

This dependency on good diplomatic ties underscores the inherent fragility of such agreements. It also appears to be Ethiopia’s main concern in looking for direct sea access.

The key international law that governs the rights of all coastal and landlocked states is the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Under the law, landlocked states enjoy freedom of transit to the sea through the territory of adjacent states by all means of transport. This is contingent on good relations with coastal neighbouring states and the ability to negotiate bilateral, sub-regional or regional agreements. This might extend to the construction or improvement of port installations and equipment.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea states:

Means of transport in transit and other facilities provided for and used by land-locked States shall not be subject to taxes or charges higher than those levied for the use of means of transport of the transit State.

The law further suggests that landlocked states are “disadvantaged” and therefore require “special consideration”.

Despite this, the rights and jurisdiction of coastal states over the most valuable areas of the ocean means that international law limits the rights of landlocked states to maritime uses and resources. For example, under the law, priority is given to the fishing communities or fishing industries of the coastal state.

In addition, while any state can operate a naval vessel on the high seas with immunity, a landlocked state can only establish a naval base with the explicit agreement of a coastal state.

Challenges of relying on transit countries

Globally, there are 44 landlocked states. Sixteen are in Africa.

Transit arrangements for the import and export of goods inherently carry disadvantages in terms of costs, delays, and the risk of goods being lost or damaged.

When relations break down, as was evident during the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea in the late 1990s, landlocked states may lose access to ports. They depend on the political will and commitment of transit states.

Furthermore, transit agreements are limited by the infrastructural, administrative and customs policies of the coastal state. Djibouti, Somalia and Eritrea all struggle with structural and economic deficiencies.

This perpetually places landlocked nations in a vulnerable position in comparison to coastal states. It helps explain Ethiopia’s recent agreement with Somaliland.

Collaboration or conflict?

Exploring alternative legal options is crucial for landlocked countries like Ethiopia to ensure diverse and reliable access to the sea. The negotiation of transit bilateral treaties, as demonstrated with Djibouti in 2002, is too expensive for Ethiopia.

The coastal states could designate certain ports as free ports to provide access without the huge tax and customs burden on a specific country. There is a benefit for coastal states. Take the case of Ethiopia. Given its large population, economic potential and growing regional influence, neighbouring states could benefit if they worked with Addis Ababa to develop and use ports in their territories.

Given Somalia’s concerns about sovereignty and its opposition to the memorandum of understanding, a collaborative approach is essential. Somalia, Ethiopia and Somaliland should now engage in diplomatic discussions to find a sustainable solution that addresses the interests and concerns of all parties involved. This may involve considering what benefits and guarantees Somalia can secure from Ethiopia and Somaliland in exchange for cooperation on sea access.The Conversation

Bizuneh Yimenu, Teaching Fellow, University of Birmingham and Robert McCabe, Assistant Professor, Coventry University

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

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Transnet Recovery Diary 15 January 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 15 January 2024
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Degrading rebel group Houthi’s capabilities

Picture: US Department of Defense

Reported by Paul Ridgway

In a US Department of Defense report on 12 January it was indicated that the Department was highly confident that the previous day’s strikes (11 January) against Houthi military targets in Yemen were effective in degrading the rebel group’s ability to carry out further attacks against commercial ships operating in the Red Sea.

This was apparently the comment of a senior Pentagon official the same day (12 January).

Lieutenant General Douglas A Sims II, US Army, director of operations for the Joint Staff, said joint forces from the US and UK launched more than 150 munitions from both maritime and air platforms against more than 16 locations controlled by the Iranian-backed militants.

“At this point, we continue to conduct battle damage assessment of the various targets We feel very confident about where our munitions struck,” Sims said.

Picture: US Department of Defense


Such targets were reported to have included command and control assets, munitions dumps, launch sites, production facilities and air defence radar systems used by the Houthis to carry out attacks against vessels operating in international waters.

Sims added: “We know precisely the capability that the Houthis have been employing against the Red Sea and the Bab al Mandeb. This was solely designed to get after the capability that is impeding international freedom of navigation in international waters. We feel pretty confident we did good work on that.”

Order given

Defense Secretary Lloyd J Austin III issued the order for US Central Command Commander General Michael E Kurilla to carry out the strikes on 11 January.

Said Austin in a statement following the strikes: “This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways.

“Today’s coalition action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will bear further costs if they do not end their illegal attacks.”

Austin added in conclusion that the US “maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, will take follow-on actions to protect U.S. forces.”

The 11 January strikes launched against the rebel stronghold in Yemen were not associated with, and are separate from, Operation Prosperity Guardian, the Pentagon official said.

Picture: US Department of Defense

Diplomatic efforts

Defensive strikes followed sustained diplomatic efforts and broad international condemnation of the Houthi attacks that have threatened global commerce.

The previous week (ending 6 January) the coalition governments issued a joint statement condemning the attacks and warning the rebel group against further escalation.

In the statement, the nations warned that 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.’

Earlier the UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that the rebel group cease all attacks against ships in the Red Sea.

Picture: US Department of Defense

Allied governments’ joint statement

In a statement following the Allies’ strikes the governments of the US, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and the UK issued a joint statement further condemning the Houthis’ actions and warning against further escalation.

The nations’ statement read that the strikes: “demonstrated a shared commitment to freedom of navigation, international commerce and defending the lives of mariners from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.

“Our aim remains to de-escalate tensions and restore stability in the Red Sea, but let our message be clear: We will not hesitate to defend lives and protect the free flow of commerce in one of the world’s most critical waterways in the face of continued threats.”

Based on material provided by the US Department of Defense.

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WHARF TALK: multi-purpose heavylift vessel CPC CAROLINA

The multi-purpose heavylift vessel CPC Carolina arriving in the port of Cape Town on 8 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The decision over the Christmas and New Year period of shipowners to avoid passage through the Red Sea, due to the Houthi terrorist attacks on shipping passing their territory, has seen a growing number of vessels calling into South African ports for bunkers, all due to the extended sea passage to go around the Cape, rather than through the Suez Canal.

The increase in vessels has resulted in a vast variety of different types calling into Cape Town, with at least one general cargo vessel carrying a cargo that is not normally seen in South African waters, or even on South African territory. That is because the deck cargo on view are wind turbine blades, and South Africa has yet to turn towards meaningful sustainable, and renewal, wind power as part of the climate change agenda. Sadly, ‘coal is king’ still remains the mantra of the ANC government.

On 8th January at 15:00 in the afternoon, the multi-purpose heavylift vessel ‘CPC Carolina’ (IMO 9402043) arrived off Cape Town, from the European ports of Sines in Portugal, Antwerp in Belgium and Emden in Germany. Such a port calling list, and with her intended destination being in the Far East, clearly marked ‘CPC Carolina’ as a Red Sea diversion.

CPC Carolina. Cape Town 8 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and went straight to the outer berth on the Eastern Mole, which as a non-commercial berth, is one of the two regular berths being utilised for transient, short stay, bunker callers at the port. Both the two Eastern Mole berths, plus the availability of space on the Landing Wall are where all the vagrant callers are directed on arrival. If vessels were birds, the ‘twitchers’ out there would be having kittens!

Built in 2007 by Jiangdong Shipyard at Wuhu in China, ‘CPC Carolina’ is 138 metres long, and has a deadweight of 12,705 tons. She is powered by a single MaK 6M43C six cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 7,341 bhp (5,474 kW), driving a Lips 4C13 controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 13 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN D2840 LE301 generators providing 395 kW each, and a single MAN D2866E emergency generator providing 99 kW. She has a single Weisloch H4-0-TFO-015 oil fired boiler, and a single EXV-5-40-29-57.0-1000-DD exhaust gas boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a transverse CT12S bow thruster providing 500 kW.

CPC Carolina. Cape Town 8 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As a multi-purpose heavylift cargo carrier, ‘CPC Carolina’ is fitted with two port side offset NMF electro-hydraulic cranes, each capable of lifting 150 tons, and when used in tandem, capable of a lift of 300 tons. She has a cargo carrying capacity of 15,952 m3, and has three holds, each with MacGregor hydraulic folding hatch covers, and a tanktop deck strength of 16 tons/m2. She has a container carrying capacity of 665 TEU, and is fitted with 25 deck plugs for reefer containers.

She is one of a prolific class of vessel, originally built for specialist heavylift carrier Beluga Shipping GmbH, of Bremen in Germany. They were known as the ‘F Class’, with all of the four company vessels given the name ‘Beluga’, followed by a word beginning with the letter ‘F’, and ‘CPC Carolina; originally entering service as ‘Beluga Fantastic’.

CPC Carolina. Cape Town 8 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

A total of 36 vessels of the class were built, all in China, and the class was divided into three sub-classes, depending on their deck crane fit. The sub-classes were fitted with tandem twin cranes capable lifts of 240 tons, 300 tons, and 360 tons. Hence ‘CPC Carolina’ is known as a ‘F300’ class vessel due to her maximum lift capability.

For her worldwide trading requirements, ‘CPC Carolina’ has the ice classification of ICE 1A, which allows her to navigate through first year Northern Baltic Sea ice with a thickness of 0.8 metres, with the assistance of an Icebreaker.

She is owned and managed by Carsten Rehder Schiffsmakler und Reederei GmbH, of Hamburg in Germany, as can be seen by the company houseflag on the funnel of ‘CPC Carolina’. She is operated by COLI Project Cargo (CPC) GmbH, hence her name prefix, also of Hamburg. Her owners have been in existence since 1903, and are still led by a member of the Rehder family.

CPC Carolina. Cape Town 8 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

Her deck cargo of just four wind turbine blades, all held in bespoke carrier frames, would indicate that the connected hubs and nacelles associated with the blades are being carried within her holds. The growth of both the onshore, and offshore, windfarm industry shows no signs of abating, with many offshore windfarms being constructed in the Far East.

In the past two years Cape Town has seen the arrival of a number of offshore construction vessels, which were positioning to, or from, windfarm projects off the coasts of Taiwan. An idea of the size of the onshore, modern, wind turbines is that they stand, on average over 125 metres high, and are usually in windfarm collectives of no more than a few dozen turbines. Offshore windfarms are much bigger than onshore windfarms in both height and number.

Mingyang Wind Turbine and its colossal rotor diameter (310 metres)

The offshore windfarms have no such size limitations, and the current largest windfarm in the world is the Hornsea 2 field off the UK East Coast, which has 174 wind turbines producing 1,386 MW of electricity. The Hornsea wind turbines have a rotor diameter of 190 metres. As big as that sounds, it pales into insignificance when compared to the Chinese Mingyang turbine, which has a truly colossal rotor diameter of 310 metres.

Currently under construction off the UK East Coast is the Dogger Bank Windfarm. When completed in 2026 it will take the mantle of the largest windfarm on the planet, and it will have 277 GE Haliade wind turbines, producing 3.6 GW of electricity, which will provide power to no less than 6 million homes.

The first turbine of Dogger Bank Windfarm

An idea of the power that is generated by these offshore wind turbines is that each GE Haliade turbine can produce up to 14.7 MW of power on its own, and each single rotation of the 107m long blades on a GE Haliade turbine produces enough energy to power an average British home for two whole days.

Two of the departure ports in Europe for ‘CPC Carolina’, Antwerp and Emden, are known as manufacturing and logistics centres for wind turbines. Earlier in 2023 ‘CPC Carolina’ loaded a full cargo of wind turbine blades at the Nordkai in Emden, for delivery to Japan. It is possible that the current load is part of the same order.

As always, with vessels merely calling into Cape Town for bunkers, plus an uplift of fresh produce and stores, the ‘CPC Carolina’ was ready to sail in under 24 hours. At 01:00 in the early morning of 9th January, after just 10 hours alongside, she sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS indicating that her next port of call was to be Singapore, probably as another bunker stop en route to her true, as yet unknown, destination in the Far East.

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SAMSA Update: Elke M casualty, St Francis Bay

Elke M on the rocks of Shark Point outside St Francis Bay. Picture: SAMSA

Africa Ports & Ships

Following the grounding of the fishing vessel ‘Elke M’ at St Francis Bay on Saturday 7th January, the protection of the environment and removal of onboard fuel and pollutants remains the priority of the salvage operation and progress continues to be made, reports SAMSA.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority says that to date approximately 13 cubic metres of fuel has been removed from onboard tanks. A helicopter continues to assist in the transfer of equipment to the vessel and in the removal of bulk IBC containers containing fuel.

Floating debris washed off of the vessel by high swells since the grounding is being collected by a boat dispatched last week. This includes fishing nets, buoys and other smaller items which can also be expected to wash ashore in the days ahead and will be collected.

An appeal has been made to recreational cyclists and hikers in the nature reserve to refrain from entering the demarcated landing site at the Shark Point parking lot at the end of St Francis Drive.

This is for their own safety as well as the safety of all operational personnel and to ensure that fuel removal operations can continue uninterrupted. Traffic and Law Enforcement officials are on site to assist.

Thanks are extended to the residents of St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis for their continued support during the operation, SAMSA said.

The safety authority says it will continue monitoring the operation, working in collaboration with the Incident Management Structure (IMS). This includes owners, the insurers (P&I Club), municipality officials, the NSRI, salvors AMSOL, environmental management organisations, and other relevant parties.

The vessel had 24 crew on board when she ran aground 1 mile from Port St Francis at 22h30 on Saturday night (6 January). All crew were brought to safety after they abandoned ship.

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Red Sea: UN Security Council Resolution 2722 (2024) Statement by IMO S-G

IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez

Edited by Paul Ridgway

On 11 January the IMO media service reported that Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez had commented on the UN Security Council Resolution.

He said: “I welcome and support the United Nations Security Council’s resolution affirming the exercise of navigational rights and freedom by merchant vessels, in accordance with international law, must be respected.

“The entire world depends on international shipping. Seafarers, ships and cargoes should not be the subject of attacks. We must all work together to ensure safety of seafarers, freedom of navigation and stability of supply chains. And I join the calls for caution and restraint to avoid further escalation of the situation in the Red Sea and the broader region.

“I wholeheartedly reiterate my strong support for the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

“IMO will continue to enhance the safety and secure transit of vessels of all States through the Red Sea and will closely monitor the situation, in collaboration with Member States and partners from the industry.”

The Resolution

The UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 2722 (2024) on 10 January 2024.

The document is available here

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World’s largest semi-submersible crane vessel calls at Walvis Bay

The giant crane vessel Sleipnir at anchor off the port of Walvis Bay. Pictures: Namport

Africa Ports & Ships

The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) last week welcomed an unusual visitor to the port of Walvis Bay – the world’s largest and most sustainable SSCV (Semi-Submersible Crane Vessel).

SSCV Sleipnir, which was making her first call at Walvis Bay, is owned and operated by Heerema Marine Contractors.

The vessel docked at the Port of Walvis Bay anchorage on the 11th of January 2024, initiating a brief layover of an expected two days.

During this brief visit, the Panamanian-flagged SSCV Sleipnir underwent essential procedures, including a quick rundown, a crew change, and bunkering via STS (Ship-to-Ship).

Crane vessel Sleipnir, another marvel of modern engineering

SSCV Sleipnir, which is named for Odin’s 8-legged horse in Norse mythology, is a self-propelled crane vessel with its own propulsion system, eliminating the need for tugs for transferring the vessel across the ocean.

The giant vessel was built in 2019, and with her twin cranes each capable of lifting 10,000 tonnes, boasts a total lift capacity of 20,000 tonnes. She has already set several records with lifts of over 15,000 tons.

Sleipnir has a length of 220 metres, beam of 102 metres and a draught of between 12 and 32 metres.

According to Namport, the crane vessel is expected to make a second call at the Walvis Bay port later in 2024.

The vessel is currently en route to North America.

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SAECS advisory – SANTA ISABEL to omit Cape Town call

Santa Isabel arriving at Durban on an earlier occasion, will omit her planned current Cape Town call. Picture by Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships

Maersk and Ocean Network Express (ONE), both members of the South Africa Europe Container Service ‘alliance’ (SAECS) operating between South Africa and northern Europe, have each issued advisories concerning “major delays faced in Cape Town as a result of weather and poor productivity”.

The advisory concerns the container vessel Santa Isabel (voyage 234S/234N) which will now omit her Cape Town call in order to maintain her schedule.

The advisory reports that Cape Town import cargo will be discharged in Durban and transferred to the next SAECS vessel, Santa Rita on v.235N, ETD on 4 February 2024.

The SAECS Cape Town schedule looks like this:

Departure Week & Vessel

2 No Departure expected
3 Santa Clara
4 Mehuin
5 Santa Rita
6 Kalahari Express
7 Santa Teresa
8 ONE Readiness
9 ONE Reassurance
10 Santa Cruz

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IMO improving Polar Code training: Key recommendations proposed

Pictures: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway

Argentina, along with co-sponsors Canada, Chile, Georgia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa and Türkiye, tabled fourteen recommendations with the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW), aimed at enhancing training programmes for seafarers who operate in polar waters.

This was reported by the IMO news service a few days before the Festive break in December.

Among these documents were recommendations:

* To issue manning and training guidelines for pleasure yachts and fishing vessels operating in polar waters.

* To review and revise the competency standards for seagoing personnel and instructors

* To update current training courses on the Polar Code and seafaring in polar conditions.

* To leverage e-learning to deliver training.

The recommendations stemmed from an international workshop to review lessons learned over five years of delivering mandatory training since 2019, including on the implementation of the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code).

The Polar Code

The Polar Code is mandatory for ships operating in the inhospitable waters surrounding the two poles, covering safety and protection of the environment, and training of seafarers.

SA participation

The workshop, held from 31 October to 3 November 2023 in Buenos Aires brought together twenty-four participants from fourteen countries (Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines, South Africa, Türkiye and Slovenia).

Experts’ contributions

Those present included highly experienced training instructors, seafarers, and maritime administration representatives with expert knowledge in the application of Polar Code provisions within their areas of responsibility.

Many delegates had participated in one of the five Regional Train-the-Trainer Workshops, held between 2019 and 2022. Discussions covered best practices in implementing training programmes and improving the delivery of specific training, based on IMO Model Courses 7.11 and 7.12 on Basic and Advanced Training for Ships Operating in Polar Waters.

Comprehensive review

Host country Argentina, along with several co-sponsors, submitted the findings and recommendations to the HTW Sub-Committee, to be considered during the comprehensive review of the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention) and the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping Code (STCW Code).

It was reported that the comprehensive review aims to adapt the Convention and Code to new technical developments in shipping, environmental protection and climate change.

The next session of the Sub-Committee (HTW 10) is scheduled for 5 – 9 February 2024.

Based on material provided by the IMO

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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

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

Africa Ports & Ships

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

Africa Ports & Ships

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

Africa Ports & Ships

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. Image: 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. Pictures: 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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Added 4 January 2024


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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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Added 4 January 2023


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Transnet Recovery Diary 4 January 2024

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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

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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

Cyclone Alvaro path – Metservice
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S-G IMO’s New Year message

Arsenio Dominguez, IMO Secretary-General.  Picture: 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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Added 1 January 2023



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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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

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

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by  CLICKING HERE – use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories here in the general news section.




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

PORT December 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.951
Durban 6.248
Saldanha Bay 6.374
Cape Town 1.071
Port Elizabeth 1.055
Ngqura 1.245
Mossel Bay 0.071
East London 0.172
Total all ports during December 2023 23.190 million tonnes