Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 28 January 2024

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002

For a Rate Card please contact us at


News commencing the week of 21 January 2024 and updated daily.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.  Additional news reports are included as they are received.

FIRST VIEW:   Port of East London

Masthead:  Port of Cape Town

Stay Well, Stay Safe, Stay Patient, don’t become one

Advertising:– request a Rate Card from

Ukraine flag in Africa Ports & Ships Ukraine flag in Africa Ports & Ships

Join us on our journey through 2024

and stay up to date with Africa Ports & Ships  – 22 years of reporting directly from Africa (est. 2002).  


 FIRST VIEW:  Port of East London

A view of East London harbour looking east toward the entrance and the Princess Elizabeth Graving Dock prominent
Port of East London admin building and general cargo berths
East London Car Terminal with two vehicle carriers on berth. A third berth is under construction.
The East London Container Terminal while on the opposite West Bank can be seen a bulk carrier discharging a cargo of wheat
East London port from the air, with the West Bank on the far side of the river, and Orient Beach taking up the lower centre foreground, named for a ship of that name wrecked at this spot.  Further upriver is the car terminal 

South Africa’s only surviving river port, East London on the Eastern Cape coast has its own fascinating history and background. The port today relies heavily on the automotive industry and boasts a modern car terminal on the West Bank of the Buffalo River, with a dedicated connection by road to the nearby Mercedes Benz plant overlooking the port. More recently the port has commenced with the export of manganese, railed from the far-off mines of the Northern Cape.

The port also has a small container terminal and is regularly visited by cruise ships, in particular those catering for the German or European tourist. The port’s dry dock was recently refurbished to complement the ship repair facilities at East London.

Pictures: File

Africa Ports & Ships


News continues below

TNPA’s Pepi Silinga takes voluntary leave of absence

Africa Ports & Ships

In a fast-moving development concerning the allegations levelled against the chief executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Pepi Silinga, the CEO has taken a voluntary leave of absence.

This, he said, is to allow the investigation to proceed without the perception of interference and to ensure that the integrity of the process is not compromised.

Mr Pepi Silinga was head of the Coega Development Corporation before being appointed as TNPA boss

The allegations include his alleged influencing of the awarding of a lucrative fencing contract in favour of the Coega Development Corporation as implementing partner, an organisation of which Silinga was CEO prior to his move to TNPA.

It is alleged that the value of the contract to fence the ports of Richards Bay and Saldanha rose from R80 million to R300 million following the appointment of the CDC.

Transnet has initiated an investigation into these and any other all allegations. An independent law firm has been briefed to investigate, peruse all relevant documentation, interview individuals relevant to the investigation and provide Transnet with a report on its findings and recommendations.

These investigations are at an early stage.

During Silinga’s leave of absence Adv.Phyllis Difeto will assume the role of Acting Chief Executive of TNPA with immediate effect.

TNPA says it views the allegations in a serious light and that the matter is being treated with urgency and more importantly, within the ambit of the law.

Added 27 January 2024


News continues below

SAECS South Africa-Europe schedule updates

Santa Clara currently operating with the SAECS service.  Picture: Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

Santa Clara v235N

In a service schedule update, Maersk has advised that as a result of port delays faced in South African ports, the container vessel Santa Clara on voyage 235N is running late.

As a consequence the ship will omit London Gateway to recover her schedule.

The London Gateway Imports will be discharged in Rotterdam to connect to Santa Isabel/235N. The ETA of the two vessels is as follows, but please note that the dates are subject to change.

Santa Clara – Rotterdam ETA 4th Feb
Santa Isabel – Rotterdam ETA 6th Feb // London ETA 9th Feb

ONE Readiness v240N Cape Town omit

In a similar notification, Ocean Network Express (ONE), which is part of the SAECS consortium, advises that their vessel ONE Readiness on voyage 240N will omit her call at the port of Cape Town.

According to ONE this is a result of expected delays in the port of Cape Town due to bad weather and poor terminal productivity.

With the port of Cape Town omitted on this voyage, ONE Readiness will induce Port Elizabeth after her Durban call.

This is to load reefers after which the ship will sail directly to Rotterdam.

The Cape Town imports will be discharged in Durban to connect with either ONE Reassurance or alternative vessels.

Port Louis / Cyclone Belal

Maersk advises that due to unforeseen operational challenges resulting from Cyclone Belal in Port Louis, as well as significant wind delays in and around Cape Town, Maersk is unable to accept additional bookings destined for Cape Town that connect to the Cape Town express feeder service.

Customers have been requested via an advisory to delay and stagger shipments to allow Maersk to circumnavigate these challenges.

Maersk says the chaotic nature of import corridors currently impacting the industry are excessive, customers are asked for patience whilst Maersk seeks to restore contingencies and alleviate bottlenecks that are negatively affecting supply chains.

It’s recommended that customers prepare their cargo delivery plan as early as possible to ensure smooth passage under the current circumstances.

Maersk Pangani

In further a non-SAECS advisory, Maersk has advised that berthing delays at the Cape Town MPT has resulted in the decision to omit the Maersk Pangani from Cape Town and to proceed to India ports.

MSC Asia – South Africa services

MSC advises that it plans to adjust capacity on its services between Asia and South Africa/ Indian Ocean/ West Africa.

This, MSC says, is in line with the slowdown in demand on Asia to Africa & Indian Ocean (Port Louis) routes due to the Chinese New Year period.

As a result, the Ingwe and Africa Express voyages will be blanked for week 7.

Added 27 January 2024


News continues below

Trade News: A maritime simulation training centre for South Africa

VStep simulator

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Q1 2024

Shortly before the end of last year it was reported by STC South Africa, in collaboration with VSTEP, that it was to launch a maritime simulation training centre in Cape Town in the first quarter of this year.

Learning by simulation
Provision of the equipment will enable learning by simulation on a larger scale in South Africa and the region.

It has been reported that for many years South Africa has lacked the ability to provide high quality maritime simulation training which is essential to the education and development of seafarers.

This partnership will also enable continued proficiency training for the increased competence of existing seafarers such as Bridge Resource Management, Marine Pilot and Tug Master training programmes.

Simulator – v- sea time
Additionally, if it is accepted that simulator time is allowed in lieu of sea service for Cadets undergoing their onboard training towards their Certificate of Competence as an Officer-in-Charge of a Navigational Watch, then the incorporation of a simulator into the region will…..

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

Added 27 January 2024


News continues below

Derailment closes railway from South Africa to Port Maputo

CFM locomotive at the Maputo port

Africa Ports & Ships

The movement of trains along the railway between South Africa and the port of Maputo/Matola have been disrupted with the closure of the line due to a derailment 800 metres beyond the 72 km mark between the border at Ressano Garcia and the port.

The train consisted of of 80 wagons loaded with magnetite (one of the iron ores).

It is reported that five wagon derailed and one was overturned, effectively blocking the line.

The accident occurred between Movene and Ressano Garcia.

As a recovery team attends to the derailed train and clearing the line, the Mozambique railway company CFM has set up a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the cause of the accident.

Added 25 January 2024


News continues below

In Conversation: Uganda will soon be exporting oil: an energy economist outlines 3 keys to success

Uganda oil

Africa Ports & Ships

Micah Lucy Abigaba, Makerere University

Uganda entered into agreements in 2012 with two foreign oil entities to exploit its oil resources. Total Energies holds 56.67% of the joint venture partnership and China National Oil Offshore Company (CNOOC) has 28.33%. Through Uganda National Oil Company, the government owns the remaining 15%.

Production is due to start in 2025. As part of the production sharing agreement, the production licences are valid for 25 years upon extracting the first oil.

To secure the best possible outcome for Uganda, the government needs to focus on three issues: the production sharing agreement, completion of the development stage, and export timing. My co-authors and I identified these areas of crucial concern in a paper based on my PhD thesis: Four essays on oil price uncertainty, optimal investment strategies and cost transmission of an oil price shock.

The context

Uganda joined the list of prospective oil-producing countries in 2006, with six billion barrels of proven oil reserves in the Albertine Graben, part of the western arm of the east African rift valley. Out of this discovery, 1.4 billion barrels are economically viable for extraction. The peak production is projected to be between 200,000 and 250,000 barrels of oil per day, and the extraction is expected to last 25 years.

The cost of extracting oil over this period will amount to about US$19 billion in capital expenditures and operating expenses. Before this production stage, the development of infrastructure, operation facilities, and production wells will cost around US$12.5 billion to US$15 billion.

The annual revenues from oil production are expected to be US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion. The oil revenues have the potential to stimulate Uganda’s economic growth and real household incomes.

But, like many resource-rich sub-Saharan countries, Uganda has limited capacity to solely finance and operate immense complex oil projects. Hence the current production-sharing agreement.

Production sharing agreement

The interests and strategic investment decisions of foreign companies are bound to be in conflict with Uganda’s. That’s why they need an effective agreement.

Uganda’s final investment decision was initially expected in 2015, but was delayed for another seven years. The reasons included tax disputes, negotiations among contract partners, the compensation and relocation of communities affected by the oil project, and oil price volatility.

An effective production sharing agreement is one that maximises returns for both the government and the companies. In my PhD thesis, I examined the implications of the agreement, given the risk factors that influence the project.

The agreement sets out how the government and the foreign companies will share risks and revenues throughout the project’s lifespan.

  • The foreign companies carry the cost of exploration, development of the oil fields and crude oil pipeline, and oil production.
  • The government supplies other infrastructure for the oil project, including roads and the Hoima International Airport.
  • The foreign companies are allowed to claim up to 60% of their net field revenues as cost. Whatever remains after royalties and cost recovery is the “profit oil” shared between the foreign companies and the government.
  • The foreign companies pay royalties to the government based on the daily production. They also pay corporate income tax on their share of the profit oil. So Uganda earns revenues from royalties, profit oil and income tax.

The roadmap to the first oil production

Being a landlocked country, Uganda has to get its crude oil to a regional seaport. It needs a pipeline through Tanzania or Kenya.

In February 2022, Total Energies and CNOOC signed the decision to develop the oil fields and construct the East Africa crude oil export pipeline. The pipeline, costing an estimated US$3.5 billion to US$5 billion, is scheduled to be completed in time for oil production in 2025. It will take the oil to the port of Tanga in Tanzania.

A pipeline company with shareholding from the Uganda National Oil Company (15%), the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (15%), Total Energies (62%) and CNOOC (8%) operates the East African pipeline project.

Exports timing

It is important that Uganda’s oil gets to the global market at profitable terms. The slump in oil prices between 2014 and 2016 resulted in the foreign companies drastically trimming their local workforce and cutting their investment budgets by 20% to 30%. The drop in oil prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lock-downs in Uganda also created uncertainty about when the oil would be ready to sell.

The uncertainties about the completion of the development stage and crude oil price volatility still prevail. This has raised concerns about whether the project can generate returns for the government and foreign companies.

In my PhD thesis, I focused on estimating the influence of these uncertainties on the value of Uganda’s oil project, taking into account the design of the production sharing agreement. I found that:

  • For the development stage to start, the global crude oil price must be equal to or higher than US$63 a barrel. The crude prices, which fell below US$25 per barrel in 2020, have recovered to sell above US$80 now.
  • The required prices to start oil production differed among the parties. It was US$18 for the government and US$42 for the foreign companies. This suggests conflicting interests. I further found that when crude oil prices are highly volatile, the government prefers to delay production. The foreign companies prefer the opposite.
  • I found that as the oil price rises and the project becomes profitable, the government’s revenue share rises faster than that of the foreign companies. But the oil price volatility exposes the government to revenue losses when the prices fall.

What next

The development of the oil fields and pipeline has resumed in Uganda after the COVID period lull. The government needs to design production sharing agreements to allow for options that encourage investments by foreign companies while stabilising government revenues from the oil sector. One option could be delaying investment until oil prices are favourable.

My results indicate that the government’s revenue share is more sensitive to oil price shocks than the foreign companies’ share. These shocks may translate into fluctuations in government oil revenues and, ultimately, macroeconomic instability. The government must consider these shocks when designing and negotiating oil agreements.

Uganda also needs to manage its petroleum fund effectively. It could learn a lesson from how Norway manages its oil fund. Some share of its oil revenues should be put aside for the period when oil earnings begin to decline. This would counteract the macroeconomic instability arising from sudden government oil revenue changes.The Conversation

Micah Lucy Abigaba, Energy Economics Lecturer, Makerere University

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

Added 25 January 2024


Transnet Recovery Diary 25 January 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 25 January 2024
Added 25 January 2024


News continues below

Transnet reacts to allegations against TNPA chief executive Pepi Silinga

eMendi Building overlooking the port of Ngqura, head office for Transnet National Ports Authority

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet SOC Ltd. has acknowledged receiving a number of allegations against Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) chief executive, Pepi Silinga, mainly concerning his awarding of a lucrative fencing contract in favour of the Coega Development Corporation as implementing partner, an organisation of which Silinga was CEO prior to his move to TNPA.

It is alleged that the value of the contract to fence the ports of Richards Bay and Saldanha rose from R80 million to R300 million following the appointment of the CDC.

In relation to this, SATAWU – the South Africa Transport & Allied Workers Union – called on Transnet’s Board chairperson to commence an urgent investigation into the actions of Silinga, saying he should be removed from his position with immediate effect.

According to Satawu general-secretary Jack Mazibuko, Transnet is facing another State Capture, “worse than what we have heard of.”

“Corruption in Transnet is orchestrated by this leadership that could not wait to have their chance to come and loot and ultimately destroy this organisation,” he said.

Pepi Silinga, TNPA ceo

Shortly after his appointment three years ago, Silinga instigated the move of the TNPA headquarters from Johannesburg to the port of Ngqura, which is adjacent to the CDC.

According to Satawu, Silinga recruited a large CDC team to TNPA, which they said were personnel with no experience coping in the highly regulated division of Transnet.

“To name a few, the CEO is from the CDC, the secretary, five members, executive managers, and senior managers, including fixed-term contractors, are all from the CDC,” said Mazibuko.

A number of people in the procurement department are also ex CDC, he claimed.

This level of influence enjoyed by the former head of the CDC created a incentive for corruption and irregularities within the TNPA’s procurement space, it is alleged.

Transnet response

Responding to the allegations, Transnet SOC issued a statement in the name of the acting Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips, saying that the organisation has a zero-tolerance stance on corruption and malfeasance, and views these allegations in a serious light.

“We wish to assure all stakeholders that Transnet will leave no stone unturned and will, at the appropriate time, take full disciplinary action against anyone involved in irregular conduct.

Transnet said it is working tirelessly to restore the confidence of stakeholders in its operations, its finances and its governance framework.

No evidence

“The allegations relate – in the main – to the flouting of procurement processes. Transnet has on a continued basis, officially requested evidence in this regard, to enable the appropriate action to be taken. This has, however, not been forthcoming.

As a consequence, Transnet says it has appointed an independent law firm to undertake an in-depth investigation in this regard.

Special Investigating Unit – SIU

“The matter has also been referred to the SIU, who have acknowledged receipt of the referral, and will be proceeding with the investigation. Transnet welcomes the SIU involvement and is cooperating fully with the process.”

Transnet said that should prima facie evidence become available during these investigations, it will not hesitate to invoke the relevant processes in line with the company policies, laws of the country, and to take the necessary disciplinary action.

“The matter is being treated with the urgency and seriousness it warrants.”

Added 25 January 2024


News continues below

Maputo port concession extended to 2058 – R38 billion additional investment

Maputo port scene

Africa Ports & Ships

The private enterprise MPDC, that both manages and operates the port of Maputo, has reached agreement with the Mozambique government for a further concession extension of 25 years, running to 2058.

In return the Maputo Port Development Corporation (MPDC), consisting of DP World, Grindrod Group, and Mozambique Gestores, will invest a further USD 2 billion (R38 billion approx) in developing the port.

About half of the total investment will be spent between now and when the current concession ends in 2033. This includes roughly $250 million over the next two years.

The investments will be used to increase and improve cargo handling capacity at the strategically-placed port.

Negotiations that led to this announcement took place over 18 months before receiving the authorisation of the Mozambique government with the following decree:

“The Decree authorizes the Concessionaire to carry out, in the Port Concession Area, additional investments in the amount of two thousand and sixty million US Dollars (USD 2,060,000,000), approves the Terms of the Fourth Addendum to the Concession Agreement signed on September 22 2000 under Decree no. 22/2000, of 25 July, and extends the concession extension of the Port of Maputo for 25 years, counting from 2033.”

The port of Maputo, which had a record cargo throughput of over 31 million tonnes last year, caters for Mozambique’s expanding economy as well as drawing increased volumes of minerals, fruit, containers and other commodities from across the border in South Africa.

The minerals are mainly coal, magnetite and chrome, with coal exports through Maputo and the adjacent Matola terminals benefiting from Transnet’s weaknesses at its ports and rail operations.

In terms of the extended concession agreement, the Maputo port will be expected to increase its throughput to 54 million tonnes by the end of the extended term in 2058. This will rely of considerable expansion of the port’s cargo handling facilities including use of the land area.

The demonstrated success of the concessioning of Port Maputo, resulting in the concession period being doubled to 50 years, ought to provide valuable evidence for the SA government, Transnet and the relevant trade unions, of the merits of introducing similar action for the struggling and poorly run SA ports.

Added 24 January 2024


News continues below


On 14 January this year the Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) Ethylene Tanker Gaschem Pacific called at Cape Town. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Gas carriers are not an unknown quantity in South African waters, as there is a small gas industry of sorts, based out of Saldanha Bay, and feeding LPG to the Eastern Cape. So the arrival of any LPG, or even and LNG, gas carrier is not necessarily linked to the current problems with diverting away from the Red Sea.

That said, there is definitely an increase in gas carriers arriving off port limits (OPL) at Cape Town, with one or two of them entering the port for bunkers, which are unavailable offshore. For the casual maritime observer, the giveaway of whether or not the gas carrier in question is a victim of the Houthi terrorism, is where it has come from, and where it is going to, although this is not always certain.

On 14th January, at 10:00 in the morning, the Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) Ethylene Tanker ‘Gaschem Pacific’ (IMO 9402574) arrive at the Table Bay anchorage, from Galveston in the US state of Texas., She remained out in the anchorage for just under 30 hours and, at 1500 in the afternoon of 15th January, she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and berthed at the Landing Wall. Again confirming that she was merely a transit caller, and her requirement was for bunkers, stores, provisions, and possibly some engineering support.

Gaschem Pacific. Cape Town, 17 January 2024

Built in 2009 by Jos. P. Meyer Schiffswerft Neptun at Papenburg in Germany, ‘Gaschem Pacific’ is 155 metres in length and has a deadweight of 18,912 tons. She is powered by a single Wärtsilä 6RT-flex50 six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 13,219 bhp (9,720 kW), which drives a MAN VBS1460 controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 17 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery consists of three Wärtsilä 6L20 generators providing 975 kW each, and a single MAN D2866 LXE20 emergency generator providing 190 kW. She has a single GESAB GmbH HE20V40 oil fired boiler, and a single GESAB GmbH AHE05V40 exhaust gas boiler. For additional manoeuvrability she has a Wärtsilä CT175 bow transverse thruster providing 900 kW.

Gaschem Pacific. Cape Town, 17 January 2024

She has a cargo capacity of 17,323 m3, and has six cargo tanks, which are Bilobe Type C cargo tanks. She has six Deepwell cargo pumps, each capable of pumping at a rate of 200 m3/hour. She is designed to carry a variety of LPG derived cargoes, including Ethane, and Ethylene, plus normal LPG cargoes of Propane, Butane, Propylene, and Ammonia.

One of four sisterships, and of a popular design for a midsize LPG Tanker, the class of tanker that ‘Gaschem Pacific’ represents is considered to be one of the largest Ethylene carriers in the world. Ethylene cargoes have to be kept at a temperature below their boiling point of -104°C, as opposed to a normal LPG cargo such as Butane, which can be transported at a temperature of just -0.5°C. The Ethylene cargo is kept as -105°C by a mix of pressure and refrigeration.

Gaschem Pacific. Cape Town, 17 January 2024

Nominally owned by Schiffahrts Pacific GmbH, of Hamburg in Germany, ‘Gaschem Pacific’ is a part of the fleet of the extensive Hartmann Reederei Group, of Leer in Germany. She is operated by another Hartmann subsidiary, GasChem Carriers GmbH of Hamburg, and managed by another Hartmann subsidiary company, Harpaingas GmbH, also of Hamburg, and whose house flag is displayed on her funnel.

The loading port in the USA for ‘Gaschem Pacific’, prior to her arrival in Cape Town, was the Houston Ethylene Export Terminal, located in Barbours Cutting, at Morgan Point, on the Houston Ship Channel. The terminal was built as a 50%/50% joint venture between Navigator Gas of London in the UK, and Enterprise Products Partners LP of Houston in the USA.

Gaschem Pacific. Cape Town, 17 January 2024

The first export cargo from the terminal was in late 2019, and consists of two tanker loading berths. The berths are connected by pipeline to an above ground cryogenic storage tank, capable of refrigerating 60,000 m3 of Ethylene down to -105°C.

Loading capacity of tankers at the terminal is 1,000 m3/hour, and 1,000,000 tons of Ethylene is exported per annum. The cryogenic storage tank is connected by a 25 mile pipeline to the Enterprise owned Mont Belvieu underground Salt Dome cavern storage facility, which can hold 28,100,000 m3 of Ethylene.

Back in April 2021, ‘Gaschem Pacific’ was detained in Malaysian waters, and charged with illegally anchoring at Tanjung Balau, in Johor State, located to the Northeast of Singapore in position 01° 43’ North 104° 29’ East. The Master of ‘Gaschem Pacific’, and one other member of the crew, were brought ashore, by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, and taken to the Zone Maritime Office, at Tanjung Sedili, for further questioning.

Gaschem Pacific. Cape Town, 17 January 2024

The time spent alongside the Landing Wall stretched to 44 hours, which indicates that more than bunkers was required, and the assistance of shoreside engineering support was also solicited, At 11:00 in the late morning of 17th January, ‘Gaschem Pacific’ was ready for departure, and she sailed from Cape Town, bound for Merak in Indonesia.

The question for the Casual Maritime Observer is whether or not a voyage routing from the Gulf of Mexico to Indonesia, via the Cape of Good Hope, can be considered as a normal route, as opposed to plotting a route through the Mediterranean Sea, and the Suez Canal, and is instead as a result of Houthi activity in the Southern Red Sea.

Gaschem Pacific. Cape Town, 17 January 2024

The destination port of Merak for ‘Gaschem Pacific’ lies at the northwestern tip of the island of Java, on the Sunda Strait, and is located at 05° 56’ South 106° 00’ East. The port has a newly constructed LPG Jetty, built to handle liquid gas imports, for distribution in the surrounding Banten province. It is also the major vehicular, and passenger, ferry port that links the islands of Java and Sumatra to the north.

Merak port also provides services for Indonesia’s largest concentration of Petrochemical facilities, which are located along the adjacent Merak peninsula. An indication of the rapid development of the Petrochemical industry in Indonesia is that there are currently more than 40 Petrochemical plants operating near to the port of Merak, which is a staggering increase from just the two plants that existed back in 1990.

Added 24 January 2024


News continues below

MACS Maritime to commence service to St Helena Island this week

MACS Maritime’s general cargo ship Golden Karoo, one of two vessels to handle the St Helena Island trade. Picture: Cornelia / Veseltracker

Africa Ports & Ships

MACS Maritime Carrier Shipping GmbH & Co, which has entered into an agreement with the government of the island of St Helena to provide a dedicated ocean freight service between the island and Cape Town, Walvis Bay and the United Kingdom, is about to sail their first ship from Immingham in the UK to the South Atlantic island.

The MACS ship Golden Karoo is expected to depart Immingham on voyage 241205 on Saturday 27 January 2024.

The first sailing ex Cape Town is with the vessel Karoline on voyage 241701 expected to depart the Mother City on 6 March 2024.

According to MACS, all shipments are due to arrive at St Helena on 13 March 2024.

The service was until recently provided by Meihuizen International.

In December when making the announcement that MACS had been awarded the tender, Mark Brooks, Minister for the Treasury and Economic Development on St Helena, said that as an island territory the St Helena government knew how important shipping services are to its businesses and community.

“It’s important to appreciate the challenges of running a service to such a remote island with comparatively low volumes of freight when considered against other cargo routes,” he said.

“We import many vital goods, from food to construction materials, so it’s been important to take our time in identifying the right firm to partner with to deliver shipping services. We are very pleased to be in the position we are in and the confidence this will give to the community.

Minister Brooks thanked Meihuizen International for the service provided to the island since the start of 2023. “They were able to provide a service to St Helena at short notice, and we are grateful for their partnership over the last year.”

The agreement between the government of St Helena and MACS Maritime is for an initial five year term, with an option for a further five years, which provides the island with confidence in shipping services for the foreseeable future.

Added 24 January 2024


News continues below

Galp & partners announce light oil discovery off Namibia

Africa Ports & Ships

Portugal’s Galp, in partnership with NAMCOR and Custos Energy, has successfully discovered a reservoir of light oil of high quality in the first exploration well known as Mopane-1X, which is in block PEL 83 off the coast of Namibia.

Odfjell’s semi submersible oil rig Hercules

Galp says it will now perform a drill stem test while continuing to analyse acquired data in order to assess the commerciality of the discovery.

The announcement by Galp reflects on growing evidence of successful discoveries of oil and gas reserves offshore the Namibian Orange River basin area.

The semi-submersible drill rig Hercules, which is undertaking test drills for Galp, will now relocate to the Mopane-2X location for further drilling and evaluation of the extent of this latest discovery.

In November 2023 Custos Energy announced that the Mopane 2X exploration well had been spud. The Mopane prospect is located at the southern end of PEL 83.

The contract involving Hercules provides for two wells to be drilled along with optional testing.

“The significant prospectivity of PEL 83, together with its relatively shallower water depth, position it to be one of the most significant and profitable opportunities in the Orange basin,” said Knowledge Katti, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Custos Energy.

PEL 83 is located to the immediate north of Shell-operated PEL 39, where discoveries have been confirmed at Graff-1, La Rona-1 and Jonker-1.

Added 24 January 2024


Transnet Recovery Diary 24 January 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet Recovery Diary 24 January 2024
Added 24 January 2024


News continues below

Korean line introduces new service to East Africa

KTMC Hochiminh, seen here as CMA CGM Lilac, which inaugurated a new service between Asia and East Africa. Picture: VesselFinder

Africa Ports & Ships

A call at the Kenya port of Mombasa earlier this month marked the first call of a South Korean shipping line vessel in Africa.

Korea Marine Transport Company container ship KMTC Hochiminh (IMO 9314923), capable of carrying 2,824 TEU, arrived in Mombasa with 1000 TEUs to discharge for Kenya and neighbouring state importers.

Welcoming the ship on its inaugural East Africa service, Capt. William Ruto, Kenya Ports Authority managing director, praised KMTC for having the confidence to make Mombasa their first port of call in Africa.

Capt Ruto said KTMC has in the past focused on Asia trade and this was the first time the Korean company was venturing further afield and into Africa.

He said KTMC has assured KPA that regular calls will be made going forward. “We promise efficiency and whatever services that we will be offering them,” he said.

Ruto added that KPA was engaged in attracting more shipping lines to Kenya.

He said that KTMC will have undergone a due diligence on the port of Mombasa before making the decision to go ahead trading in East Africa.

“Part of the due diligence is how long will the ship be waiting, like this ship just arrived today and we gave a priority and it docks on arrival, thus reducing cost on the shipping line and to the receivers of the cargoes.”

KPA chairman, Benjamin Tayari, said the port of Mombasa is operating efficiently. Last year, he said, the port container volume reached 1,600,000 TEU, an increase of 12% on the previous year.

“We expect more vessels to be calling to the port of Mombasa, which shows business is growing in Kenya. We will be purchasing modern equipment,”Tayari said.

After completing her call at Mombasa, KTMC Hochiminh sailed to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.

KTMC Hochiminh has a length of 222 metres and beam of 30m and a deadweight of 39,296t. The ship was built in 2005 and is registered at Jeju Cheju in South Korea.

Watch a short [2:51] YouTube news broadcast about the arrival of this ship in Mombasa

Added 24 January 2024


News continues below

Cape Town Container Terminal recruits to beef up capacity

Cape Town Container Terminal

Africa Ports & Ships

In anticipation of the peaking of the deciduous fruit season this month, the Cape Town Container Terminal has recruited a total of 62 new employees and has increased the number of haulers available to operations from 32 to 44.

CTCT reports a 14% decline in deciduous fruit volumes to date, compared to last season and this has since created industry concern as inclement weather persits of wind speeds of up to 100 knots per hour.

“Weather is not our only problem but, it really sets us back as we have to close the terminal for extended periods,” says Acting Western Cape Managing Executive, Oscar Borchards.

“As such, out of the seven rubber-tyred gantry cranes [RTGs], which were delivered in December, three have been handed to Operations so far.”

Borchards added that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Kone Cranes was onsite supporting the technical team, with another three RTGs undergoing final testing before handover to operations.

Training was still underway for some of the new operators of lifting equipment, with 26 having completed so far.

To date, the Cape Town Container Terminal has handled a total of 113,966 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) units of reefer containers, exported to the European Union countries, Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

According to Borchards, there are pockets of excellence here and there and performance records broken, however, it’s consistency that TPT needs to focus on.

He said that last week the team recorded a performance of over 1,950 TEUs over 24 hours against a daily target of 1,700 TEUs.

The terminal is continuing with its industry engagements and shares regular customer communication in order to ensure transparency.

A 24–hour command centre has been set-up specially to facilitate business continuity despite a total of 202 hours lost to wind this month. The terminal is closely monitoring its equipment ramp-up plan, with 25 RTGs in operation.

By the first week of February, the terminal will operate a total of 29 RTGs. This is following recent confinement agreements with OEMs that have reduced lead times for sourcing critical spares.

Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

WHARF TALK: oceanographic research vessel RRS DISCOVERY

RRS Discovery II, seen here sailing from Cape Town 16 September 1936

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The festive holiday break of Africa Ports & Ships over the 2023 Christmas period coincided with the arrival in Cape Town of one of the world’s most advanced oceanographic research vessels, and one with the most famous names of all ships of exploration. This time of year, every year, is when many of the research vessels from the Northern Hemisphere Scientific nations arrive to conduct their important research in the South Atlantic, South Indian and Southern Oceans.

On 14th December, at 13:00 n the early afternoon, the oceanographic research vessel, the Royal Research Ship (RRS) Discovery (IMO 9588029) arrived off Cape Town, from Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and going alongside the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E berth, and a sure sign that a major crew change, and scientific complement change was planned.

RRS Discovery. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built by C.N.P Freire AS shipyard at Vigo in Spain, ‘RRS Discovery’ was launched in 2012, commissioned in 2013, and entered service in 2014. She is 99 metres in length and has a deadweight of 2,004 tons. She is a diesel-electric powered vessel, and has four Wärtsilä 8L20 eight cylinder, four stroke, generators producing 1,770 kW each. They provide power to two DC electric motors producing 2,200 kW each, which power two Wärtsilä LMT-FS2510 azimuth thrusters to give her a service speed of 12 knots.

For added manoeuvrability ‘RRS Discovery’ has a Wärtsilä LMT-FS200 retractable azimuth thruster providing 1,350 kW, and a Tees Gill bow waterjet omnithruster providing 1,700 kW. The combined azimuth thrusters and waterjet thruster gives her a dynamic positioning classification of DP2. She is fitted with a Kongsberg Maritime K-Pos DP-22 system, which comprises of no less than six GPS receivers, three gyrocompasses, and three Ultra Short Baseline (USBL) acoustic positioning systems.

RRS Discovery. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was christened by Her Royal Highness (HRH) Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, with ‘RRS Discovery’ being owned by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC), of Swindon in the UK, operated by the National Oceanographic Centre, of Southampton in the UK, and managed by the NERC National Marine Facilities (NMF) Division, also of Southampton. She was Built at a cost of US$122 million (ZAR2.34 billion), with the UK government granting US$61 million (ZAR1.17 billion) towards her building costs, with NERC providing the balance.

With seven decks, of which two are given over to crew and scientist accommodation, ‘RRS Discovery’ carries a crew of 24 and a scientific complement of 28. She was designed by Skipsteknisk AS of Ålesund in Norway, as a ST344 design. She has an endurance of 50 days, and an ice classification of ICE 1D, which allows her to navigate in light first year Baltic Sea ice conditions. She was designed with a 25 year service life.

RRS Discovery. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is able to conduct oceanographic science up to Sea State 6, and is designed to conduct hydroacoustic surveys, integrated data logging, seismic surveys, clean seawater sampling, Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operations, Conductivity Temperature and Depth (CTD) surveys, deepwater coring, net trawling, and fish towing. She is equipped with a sub bottom profiler, and a range of single and multibeam echosounders, fitted to a keel mounted blister, with further echosounders, hydrophones and underwater CCTV fitted to two drop keels.

She is fitted with Rolls-Royce scientific winches, which includes winches for Coring, Trawling, Deep Towing, and CTD activities. She is fitted with flexible laboratory spaces, thus allowing a tailored fit for scientific activities on each voyage. Her aft deck has a working area of 432 m2, and she has deck slots for up to 18 TEU laboratory and stores containers.

For the casual maritime observer who wonders why many research vessels seem to have an extra-large foremast, this is because the upper platform contains all of the atmospheric, meteorological and environmental sampling instruments, so that clean samples are taken, and recorded, ‘before’ the ship arrives in that air mass, and thus prevents any contamination, or turbulence, provided by the vessel itself, and from any of its exhausts.

RRS Discovery. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is the fourth Royal Research ship to take the ‘Discovery’ name, with the first one being the expedition vessel of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s 1901-1904 British National Antarctic Expedition. She was saved for the nation, and is open to the public as a museum ship in Dundee, in Scotland. The second ‘Discovery’ dates from 1929-1962, with the third ‘Discovery’ dating from 1962-2012. All of these previous ‘RRS Discovery’ vessels have called at South African ports, mainly Cape Town and Durban.

This is not the first visit to Southern African waters for the ‘RRS Discovery’, as she first called into Cape Town on 28th June 2019, at the conclusion of a voyage studying the Benguela Current upwelling processes, and a voyage that had begun in Walvis Bay on 23rd May 2019.

On her previous voyage she had conducted research between the Falkland Islands and Walvis Bay, which included surveys of the ‘RSA’ and ‘McNish’ seamounts around Gough Island. South African maritime historians will recognise these two names as that of South Africa’s first Antarctic supply vessel, ‘R.S.A’, and that of her first master, Captain Kenneth McNish.

RRS Discovery. Cape Town, 14 December 2023. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

On that voyage, and on the conclusion of her visit to Cape Town, ‘RRS Discovery’ sailed on 1st July, bound for Durban, where she arrived on 5th July for her Five Year Special Survey, which included drydocking and refit, which continued until 26th September 2019. She then undertook post refit sea trials until 2nd October, after which she made a positioning voyage to Santos, in Brazil, to continue her South Atlantic oceanographic research.

On her current voyage, she was ready to sail before Christmas Day, and on 21st December, at 1100 in the morning, she sailed from Cape Town for her next oceanographic research programme. The voyage was notified as DY172, and is to study ocean photosynthesis in the South Atlantic Ocean Gyre, and the Southern Ocean High Nutrient Low Chlorophyll (HNLC) region, which is the largest HNLC ocean region on Earth.

RRS Discovery. Cape Town. 12 October 1929

The voyage is scheduled to undertake 18 oceanic deepwater sampling stations, ranging from depths of 2,046 metres, down to 5,217 metres, including two stations round Bouvet Island, and with the most southerly leg going as far south as 60° South. She will also conduct one deepwater current mooring station, located at 30°00’ South 09°30’ East, in a water depth of 4,919 metres. The voyage will conclude at Walvis Bay in Namibia at midday on 26th January.

The maritime historian will also be aware that the name of ‘Discovery’ has a long history in British exploration, with Captain James Cook’s third, and final, expedition comprising of his own command, ‘HMS Resolution’, and accompanied by ‘HMS Discovery’, commanded by Captain Charles Clerke RN , whose crew included Midshipman George Vancouver, who himself would command the next ‘HMS Discovery’, ten years later, to survey the northwest coast of the USA and Canada, and which answers the casual maritime observer’s question of where the city of Vancouver got its name.

In modern history, the most famous exploration vessel with the name ‘Discovery’ would be the third Space Shuttle of NASA, given that name in Cook’s honour, and which had a service life of 29 years, between 1984 and 2011, and completed 39 space missions, which was the most missions undertaken by any of the five space shuttles, making her the most travelled spacecraft in history. She is preserved for public view at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.

Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

Largest container ship for Nigeria’s new Lekki port berths

The 13,302-TEU Maersk Edirne going alongside at Lekki Deep Seaport, Nigeria. Picture: Lekki Deep Seaport

Africa Ports & Ships

The Lekki Deep Seaport adjacent to Lagos in Nigeria at the weekend berthed another large container ship, said to be the biggest boxship so far to sail in Nigerian territorial waters. She is only the first of many to follow on a weekly basis.

With a length of 367 metres and width of 48m, the 140,973-dwt, 13,302-TEU Maersk Edirne (IMO 9502867) called at the recently opened Lekki deep port on Sunday, 21 January 2024.

This followed recent calls by the 300-metre, 85,810-dwt MSC Maureen (IMO 9251717) at Onne port, and the 300m long, 117,172-dwt Maersk Stadelhorn (IMO 9726671) at Tin Can Island terminal.

Maersk Edirne is deployed with the FW1/WAX service that Maersk shares with CMA CGM between the Far East and West Africa. The service has a rotation of Qingdao, Kwangyang, Shanghai, Ningbo, Shekou, Nansha, Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Tema, Lekki, Abidjan, Pointe Noire, Colombo, Singapore, Xiamen, Qingdao.

Lekki Port is the only Nigerian port within the rotation. All 13 ships in the FW1/WAX service are in the 13,300-13,800 TEU range.

Commenting about the visit of the Maersk ship, managing director and ceo of Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello Koko said the NPA is poised to “provide the leadership and technical guidance required to maximise the potentials inherent in our marine and blue economy.”

Koko commended Nigeria’s Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, for the continuing support of the NPA’s initiatives and investments in employee upskilling and equipment renewal.

It was these, he said, that made the milestone of Maersk Edirne’s successful visit so seamlessly achievable. The berthing of a ship of measuring 367 metres at Lekki Deep Seaport, “represented a quantum leap”.

Koko added that the Lekki Deep Seaport, in addition to its pioneering of full automation and facilitation of transshipment, has proven its readiness to exceed stakeholders’ expectations.

Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

IMO and Morocco: Port facility security auditors’ training

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Senior officials from Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia completed a week-long regional training course in conducting port facility security audits, which are essential to ensure the security of ports and ships. This has been reported by IMO.

UK funded

The IMO Regional Training Course for Port Facility Security Auditors was held in Casablanca from 15 to 19 January, hosted by the Direction of the Marine Marchande (Ministry of Transport and Logistics), in collaboration with the National Ports Agency of Morocco. The initiative was funded by the UK’s Department for Transport.

Opened with a keynote address by the Director of the Marine Merchant in Morocco, Mr Najib El Karkouri, the workshop provided twenty-one participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively conduct oversight, in line with IMO maritime security measures.

SOLAS and IPS related

The training covered relevant provisions of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter XI-2 and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code), which form the basis for a comprehensive mandatory security regime for international shipping.

These include assistance on how to conduct port facility security audits and the effective preparation of reporting and follow-up actions those generate.

Maghrebian representation

Participants included representatives of the Designated Authorities (DA) of Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, which are specified organizations responsible for maritime security nominated by the national Government.

Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

CMA CGM joins the fleet around the Cape of Good Hope

CMA CGM NEMO revised service rotation

Africa Ports & Ships

The majority of container companies are now diverting their ships around the Cape of Good Hope, taking the longer and more expensive route rather than risk coming under missile of drone attack in the Red Sea.

That list has now been joined by French container line CMA CGM which appeared at first to be intent on using the Red Sea route under the protection of French naval vessels.

One of the CMA CGM services to be affected is the aptly named NEMO service connecting Europe with the Indian Ocean and Australia.

“Due to recent attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea Region, CMA CGM Group is taking contingency measures on several services usually crossing Suez Canal in order to ensure the safety of its vessels and their crews navigating these waters,” CMA CGM said in a notice.

“In that respect, please note that NEMO Service will temporarily stop crossing Suez Canal and go via Cape of Good Hope, both ways.”

New features of this are:

* Direct fixed-day weekly service connecting Europe with Reunion, Mauritius & Australia (SB) and Australia with Singapore, Colombo & Ennore (NB)


The Rotation that took effect with the vessel C HAMBURG, ex London Gateway on 31/12/2023):

London Gateway > Rotterdam > Hamburg > Antwerp > Le Havre > Valencia > La Spezia > Fos Sur Mer > Cape of Good Hope > Pointe des Galets > Port Louis > Sydney > Melbourne > Adelaide > Fremantle > Singapore > Ennore > Colombo > Cape of Good Hope > London Gateway

As a result the Malta hub is omitted. All usual MED export volumes to be routed via Valencia.

Mediterranean Sea omitted. All MED import volumes to be transshipped either in Tanger Med whenever berth is available or in Hamburg.

Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

Xeneta Update: Ocean freight shipping rates are set to rise further in February

Volatile container shipping

Africa Ports & Ships

Early indications suggest ocean freight shipping rates are set to increase further in early February amid the ongoing Red Sea crisis, according to data released by Xeneta today, Tuesday.

The Xeneta ocean freight rate benchmarking platform calls upon more than 400 million crowdsourced data points and the latest projection is based on rates already received from customers for the first week in February. While the situation remains volatile and subject to change, the newly-released data is the best indication of where the market is headed.

From the Far East to Mediterranean, market average short term rates are set to increase 11% by 2 February to stand at USD 6,507 per FEU. This is an increase of 243% since the Red Sea crisis escalated in mid December.

Rates from the Far East to North Europe are set to rise by 8% by 2 February, with a market average of USD 5,106 per FEU. This is an increase of 235% since mid December.

Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst

The biggest increase in rates is from the Far East into US East Coast. On this trade, the newly-released data suggests an increase of 17% by 2 February to bring the average short term rate up to USD 6,119 per FEU. This is an increase of 146% since mid December.

“Carriers are trying to readjust services to make up for the additional sailing time around the Cape of Good Hope,” says Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst. “For example, they are cutting journeys short, missing port calls and increasing sailing speed.

“However, despite this, the early data from Xeneta suggests rates will continue to rise as we head into February.”

While the market is set to rise further, there are early signs of factors which could see rates begin to fall again following the Lunar New Year peak.

“The Red Sea crisis is causing a capacity issue rather than a demand issue, as we saw during the pandemic. It is the massive uncertainty in the market which has brought imbalance and instability. During times like this you can only keep your cool if you are well informed,” says Sand.

“We are hearing from Xeneta customers that carriers are now no longer offering the most expensive premium services which guarantee freight will be shipped during periods of extreme pressure on available capacity.

“This may suggest there is a waning demand for this level of service because the urgency is fading from the shipper side, or perhaps it is because capacity is available after all, despite the chaos caused by carriers pausing transits through the Suez Canal.”

Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

UK-India naval accord

INS Vikrant (R11) and INS Vikramaditya (R33) during joint exercises. Picture: Indian Navy

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Earlier in January (10 January) the UK and India vowed to continue strengthening ties during the first visit of an Indian Defence Minister to the UK in more than twenty years.

In a move that signals the growing importance of the strategic relationship between the UK and India, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps welcomed the Hon Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh to the UK to agree unprecedented levels of UK-India defence cooperation.

The Defence Secretary announced the UK’s plans to send its Littoral Response Group to the Indian Ocean Region later this year, with plans for the Carrier Strike Group to visit in 2025. Both will operate and train with Indian forces.

The two nations also discussed future cooperation in defence from joint exercises to knowledge sharing and instructor exchanges. These steps build on the comprehensive strategic partnership envisaged in the 2030 India-UK roadmap, announced in 2021.

It is understood that in the coming years, the UK and India will also embark on more complex exercises between their respective militaries, building up to a landmark joint exercise to be conducted before the end of 2030, supporting shared goals of protecting critical trade routes and upholding the international rules-based system.

Of the visit and discussions Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, commented that there is absolutely no question that the world is becoming increasingly contested “… it is vital that we continue to build on our strategic relationships with key partners like India. Together we share the same security challenges and are steadfast on our commitment to maintaining a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” he said.

“It is clear that this relationship is going from strength-to-strength, but we must continue to work hand-in-hand to uphold global security in light of threats and challenges that seek to destabilise and damage us.

“Collaboration with industry is also key in the strategic defence partnership between the UK and India, with the two nations working together on electric propulsion systems that will power our future fleets and cooperating on the development of complex weapons.”

Building on the existing strategic partnership, during the visit the UK and India also confirmed several new joint initiatives. These include:

* Launching Defence Partnership-India – a bespoke office designed to further defence collaboration between the two countries.

* A commitment to several instructor exchanges between our world-leading Officer Training Colleges and specialist schools, alongside signing of a Youth Exchange MOU to solidify the already strong relationship between our cadet organisations.

* Signing a Letter of Arrangement that will enable further emphasis to be placed on research and development between the two nations, focused on next-generation capabilities.

* Solidifying an agreement on logistics exchange, allowing for the provision of logistic support, supplies and services between the United Kingdom and Indian Armed Forces, for joint training, joint exercises, authorised port visits and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.

Sign up for Africa Ports & Ships Newsletter
Added 23 January 2024


News continues below

WHARF TALK: Offshore Windfarm Support Vessel IWS SKYWALKER

The Offshore Windfarm Support Vessel IWS Skywalker which arrived in Cape Town on 17 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There is one maritime industry that is growing so fast that there is a critical shortage of specialised construction vessels, and commissioning vessels, available and in service to support the industry. In South Africa that industry does not currently exist, for reasons that are not needed to be looked at here. That means that these specialised vessels are not to be seen.

The industry that is being discussed is the offshore windfarm industry. The first world economies of Western Europe, and those of the Far East are constructing, and developing their offshore windfarm industries at such a rate, that soon more power will be derived from the clean energy of wind turbines than from the traditional carbon fuelled power station.

The locations of these offshore industries, both being located in the Northern Hemisphere, and at opposite ends of the Earth, means that under normal circumstances, South African ports almost never see a dedicated, bespoke, windfarm vessel of any description, as they tend to transit between developments, or new from the shipyard, exclusively via the Suez Canal.

The escalating conflict in the Middle East, and the decision of the Houthi Rebels in Yemen, to indiscriminately target shipping underway in the southern Red Sea, and Gulf of Aden, has resulted in many shipowners choosing to divert their vessels around the Cape. One element of these diversions are windfarm vessels, which are now appearing in increasing numbers at South African ports for bunkers, stores and fresh provisions, as they make their way to Europe.

On 17th January, at 07:00 in the morning, the Offshore Windfarm Support Vessel ‘IWS Skywalker’ (IMO 9947419) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Singapore, and went to anchor for a short 5 hour period, At Midday on the 17th January she entered Cape Town harbour and proceeded into the Duncan Dock, going alongside the Landing Wall.

IWS Skywalker. Cape Town 18 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2023 by China Merchants Heavy Industry (CMHI) Haimen Shipyard at Jiangsu in China, ‘IWS Skywalker’ was only commissioned in December 2023, and she is on her maiden voyage from the shipyard where she was built, heading back to her owners in Europe to start work on her first charter contract in British waters.

Her arrival in Cape Town is thanks solely to the idiocy of the Houthis, as such a valuable vessel on her maiden voyage, would never be risked by her insurers for a voyage up the Red Sea n the climate of today’s geopolitics. She is likely not going to be the last of such specialised vessels to arrive in a South Africa port whilst en route back to Western Europe.

She is 90 metres in length, and has a deadweight of 2,177 tons. With a unique ‘double ended’ configuration, ‘IWS Skywalker’ is a diesel electric vessel powered by three Caterpillar 3512E HD 12 cylinder, 4 stroke, generators producing 1,700 kW each, and providing power to four electric motors, which drive four Kongsberg Maritime US255 CP permanent magnet Azimuth Thrusters, with two positioned aft, and two positioned forward, giving her a maximum transit seaspeed of 14 knots. She has a single Volvo Penta d13B-F MG(FE) emergency generator providing 300 kW.

IWS Skywalker. Cape Town 18 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her four azimuth thrusters give her a dynamic positioning classification of DP2, with Kongsberg Maritime providing the dynamic positioning onboard system. She was also designed by Kongsberg Maritime, of Oslo in Norway, and built to their UT 5519 DE design. She was built at a cost of US$48 million (ZAR913.3 million).

She operates to IMO Tier III restrictions, and her unique design is complemented by the fact that she has the largest battery packs on any similar vessel, with a bank of Corvus Energy Batteries providing 2.2MWh, to give her a hybrid power plant. She is capable of operating solely on batteries, making her capable of zero-emission operations, which also gives her official ‘Silent’ classification. Her battery banks can be recharged with a solar panel array.

Officially ‘IWS Skywalker’ is known as a Commissioning Service Operation Vessel (CSOV), and is the first of a class of six sisterships, with two further options being considered. Her building costs were considered to be US$5 million (ZAR95.14 million) per vessel cheaper than any equivalent European shipyard.

IWS Skywalker. Cape Town 18 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The type of vessel that she was, and where she was taken to be berthed, was the tell-tale sign of a transit vessel, in only for bunkers, and an uplift of stored and fresh provisions. The casual maritime observer would be forgiven in thinking that her general overall appearance might link her to the offshore oil and gas industry, of which the port of Cape Town sees many such vessels.

Such a thought would be an error, as she has one fitting that makes her unique to her industry. That is what is known as a ‘Walk to Work’ gangway. The gangway is a MacGregor 3D motion compensated gangway, capable of a reach height of 32 metres. This means that when ‘IWS Skywalker’ is connected to a wind turbine base, that any sea state that affects her will not translate pitch, roll , or yaw, into movement of the gangway, thus making it completely stable.

Her working deck space is 400 m2, and she also has a below deck warehouse space of 420 m2. Her commissioning work is supported by a 3D MacGregor knuckleboom deck crane capable of lifting 15 tons. She has a stepless boat landing platform on her stern, allowing safe personnel transfer from crew boats. She has accommodation for 30 crew, and 90 client passengers.

IWS Skywalker. Cape Town 18 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She carries a 12.5 metre Daughter Craft workboat, which is capable of speeds up to 25 knits, and operates with a crew of 2. It can carry up to 12 technicians around a wind farm, and can carry 500 kg of spares and work equipment on her aft deck. For logistic and crew transfers she has a raised bow helideck capable of accepting the largest helicopter type used in the North Sea, namely the Sikorsky S-92A.

Owned by Integrated Wind Solutions AS, of Oslo in Norway, hence the IWS prefix to her name, ‘IWS Skywalker’ is operated by IWS Fleet AS, also of Oslo, and is managed by IWS Fleet Management AS, again of Oslo. The company is quite young, founded as recently as 2020.

IWS Skywalker. Cape Town 18 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The modern eco-design of ‘IWS Skywalker’ was helped by the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment (ENOVA) granting US$1.1 million (ZAR19.023 million) per vessel to support the environmental initiatives on ‘IWS Skywalker’ and her sisterships. The vessels advanced technology will reduce annual emissions by more than 1,300 tons of CO2 equivalent per vessel.

For the nomenclature fan out there, the vessel is not named after a leading character in the Star Wars trilogy, but the company naming ethos is linked to the natural world. The next sistership to enter service this year is named ‘IWS Windwalker’, and her other four sisterships, which will enter service over the next two years will be named ‘IWS Seawalker’, ‘IWS Starwalker’, IWS Moonwalker’, and ‘IWS Sunwalker’.

On arrival back in Europe, ‘IWS Skywalker’ will start work immediately on the development of the Dogger Bank windfarm, which is located in the North Sea, some 70 nautical miles off the coast of Yorkshire. It is being built in three phases, with the large GE Haliade-X wind turbine being used in the development. When completed, the Dogger Bank windfarm will be the largest in the World, producing a total of 3.6 GW of clean, renewable power.

Sistership IWS Windwalker. Picture: CMHI Shipyard

The power of each GE Haliade-X wind turbine is 13 MW, and can be explained by the fact that one single rotation of her turbine blades will produce sufficient electricity to power a single house in the United Kingdom for two full days. Each wind turbine will provide enough clean energy to power a total of 16,000 houses in the United Kingdom over the period of one year.

The Dogger Bank windfarm sits in water depths ranging from 18 metres to 35 metres, and will be operated by a trio of energy companies, namely SSE Renewables of the UK, Equinor of Norway, and Eni of Italy. The windfarm will provide enough power to power a total of 6 million homes, and the life of the windfarm is to be 35 years.

As always, with any vessel calling for bunkers and stores, the time spent alongside is not long, and after just 30 hours, ‘IWS Skywalker’ was ready to sail. At 17:00, in the late afternoon of 18th January, she departed from Cape Town, with her AIS set for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, which will be her third, and last, bunker stop on her delivery voyage, with her stop in Singapore being her first. From Las Palmas she will make her way to the UK to begin her specialised work, at the windfarm whose name is emblazoned on her hull, Dogger Bank.

Added 22 January 2024


News continues below

Transnet invited to appear before Western Cape government department over table grape & stone fruit export troubles

Aerial view of the Port of Cape Town with container terminal in foreground

Africa Ports & Ships

The Western Cape Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism is to invite the attendance of Transnet to provide feedback on challenges at the Port of Cape Town that are hindering the table grape and stone fruit export season.

This news coincides with ongoing delays and continued port omissions affecting container shipping at the Western Cape port.

During 2023 the Cape Town Container Terminal had a throughput of 706,245 TEU, a 17.5% decrease from 2022’s throughput of 856,177 TEU.

Transnet continues to blame the delays on strong winds and lack of working equipment.

In a podcast interview with Anton Rabe, executive director of marketing body Hortgro, which represents the deciduous fruit grower, it was revealed that the port’s impact on the industry was proving disastrous, with delays affecting the quality of fruit, loss of market slots and fruit not arriving at destination in terms of pre-programmed times.

Rabe said 2023 was the fourth year since the port became a liability. “We are battling” he told his interviewer Jeremy Maggs. He added that it had cost the fruit growers represented by Hortgro at least R1 billion. He thought the table grape sector probably lost another R1 billion.

He accused Transnet of breaking its promises, citing the example of seven rubber tyre gantries brought into Cape Town from the USA with the help of shipping lines, which arrived in early December with the assurance of having them all in commission by the end of December.

He thought only two were in operation, and said assurances that delays over Christmas and New Year would not happen, did not materialise. Labour over the festive period was a huge, huge problem, he said.

Rabe called for the introduction of international expertise, which has been offered but declined, to get the port terminal running efficiently again. “We just cannot afford a failing Transnet to put our whole country at risk.”

The invitation to brief the WC committee includes the South African Table Grape Industry Association, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders, the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and the Port of Cape Town Container Logistics Chain.

“The goal of this meeting will be to compile a report that can be submitted to Transnet and assist them in fixing the Port,” said a WC government spokesperson.

“A world-class Port of Cape Town will hasten broad economic development and job-creation in the province. It is thus of the utmost importance that the issues at the Port are urgently addressed.”

In December Western Cape Premier Alan Winde led a delegation to meet with Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and officials from Transnet. Informed that a national turnaround plan was in operation, the Western Cape Government Cabinet resolved to monitor these efforts closely and to press for urgent enhancements to the port’s infrastructure.

Added 22 January 2024


News continues below

Red Sea: The Warlike Operations Area Committee agreement

HMS Duncan currently working in Red Sea and Gulf of Aden waters. In recent days the air defence destroyer has shot down several attack drones deployed by Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea. Picture: Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright 2024

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Global ships’ officers’ union Nautilus International reported on 19 January that it had welcomed an expanded agreement to protect seafarers in the Red Sea.

The Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC)* agreed to expand its existing recommendations to cover vessels with connections to the UK and the US. Previously, the recommendations only covered vessels with links to Israel.

This agreement allows for seafarers on these vessels to be given the opportunity to disembark at an appropriate port prior to transiting through the high-risk area or to receive double pay for each day the ship is in the area.

It is understood that the revised recommendations were applied from the date of the Nautilus International notice, 19 January 2024.

Increased threat

The committee agreed the recommendations considering the increased threat posed by Houthi rebels who stated that all British and American assets were legitimate targets after the UK and US launched targeted strikes in Yemen to protect freedom of navigation.

“This is a welcome move, and we are pleased agreement was reached between unions, employers, and government,” said Nautilus International head of professional and technical, David Appleton.

“Merchant navy seafarers, like all workers, have the right to carry out their jobs in a safe environment. While seafarers often work in high-risk situations, all measures must be taken to protect the lives of these civilians who are vital to securing global supply chains.

“Seafarer safety must take precedence over commercial interests.

‘It is now imperative that shipping companies transiting through the high-risk area give seafarers every opportunity to disembark or to ensure they are remunerated in line with the WOAC recommendations.”

* WOAC is a committee consisting of Nautilus International, the RMT Union and the UK Chamber of Shipping.

About Nautilus International

Nautilus International is an independent, influential, global trade union and professional organisation that works with members, the maritime community, national governments and international agencies to create change and promote the sector, improving the lives of maritime professionals.

The organisation represents 20,000 maritime professionals including ship masters (captains), officers, officer trainees (cadets) and shipping industry personnel, such as ships’ pilots, inland navigation workers, vessel traffic services operators, harbourmasters, seafarers in the oil and gas industry, and shore-based staff.

To find out more about Nautilus International readers are invited to see here

Added 22 January 2024


News continues below

The Red Sea: Seafarer safety paramount

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Seafarer safety is paramount in the context of the Red Sea and attacks on international shipping. This was the message contained in a briefing by the IMO media service in week ending 20 January.

During a meeting with shipping industry representatives on 18 January at IMO HQ in London, IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez reiterated the message that seafarers are innocent victims in the volatile Red Sea situation.

Secondly, freedom of navigation must be upheld, to guarantee global trade and the flow of goods by sea.

Further, there must be caution and restraint to avoid further escalation of the situation in the Red Sea and the broader area, Mr Dominguez said, referencing the UN Security Council Resolution 2722 (2024) on the Red Sea.

Seafarer safety uppermost

Shipping industry representatives emphasized that the safety of vessels’ crew is paramount.

Forthcoming IMO MSC

The meeting provided the opportunity to exchange views and look ahead to the steps that the IMO can take, including sharing information and potential future discussions during the next scheduled Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 108) to be held from 15-24 May.

Widespread representation

The IMO HQ meeting was attended by representatives of: International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and World Shipping Council (WSC).

Key areas outlined

Two days before the IMO meeting Secretary-General Dominguez had a productive meeting with representatives of the Member States of the Djibouti Code of Conduct to discuss the situation in the Red Sea. They focused on the need to enhance the maritime security capabilities of the countries in the region. Key areas of safety of seafarers, freedom of navigation and de-escalation were reiterated by countries in the region.

Added 22 January 2024


News continues below

In Conversation: AI and satellite imagery to map out of sight ocean activities, including fishing, shipping and energy development

Many commercial fishing boats do not report their positions at sea or are not required to do so.
Alex Walker via Getty Images royalty-free-image/1285320085

Jennifer Raynor, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Humans are racing to harness the ocean’s vast potential to power global economic growth. Worldwide, ocean-based industries such as fishing, shipping and energy production generate at least US$1.5 trillion in economic activity each year and support 31 million jobs. This value has been increasing exponentially over the past 50 years and is expected to double by 2030.

Transparency in monitoring this “blue acceleration” is crucial to prevent environmental degradation, overexploitation of fisheries and marine resources, and lawless behavior such as illegal fishing and human trafficking. Open information also will make countries better able to manage vital ocean resources effectively. But the sheer size of the ocean has made tracking industrial activities at a broad scale impractical – until now.

A newly published study in the journal Nature combines satellite images, vessel GPS data and artificial intelligence to reveal human industrial activities across the ocean over a five-year period. Researchers at Global Fishing Watch, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency of human activity at sea, led this study, in collaboration with me and our colleagues at Duke University, University of California, Santa Barbara and SkyTruth.

We found that a remarkable amount of activity occurs outside of public monitoring systems. Our new map and data provide the most comprehensive public picture available of industrial uses of the ocean.

A world map shows large areas where industrial fishing activity is not publicly tracked or recorded.

Data analysis reveals that about 75% of the world’s industrial fishing vessels are not publicly tracked, with much of that fishing taking place around Africa and South Asia.
Global Fishing Watch, CC BY-ND

Operating in the dark

Our research builds on existing technology to provide a much more complete picture than has been available until now.

For example, many vessels carry a device called an automatic identification system, or AIS, that automatically broadcasts the vessel’s identity, position, course and speed. These devices communicate with other AIS devices nearby to improve situational awareness and reduce the chances of vessel collisions at sea. They also transmit to shore-based transponders and satellites, which can be used to monitor vessel traffic and fishing activity.

However, AIS systems have blind spots. Not all vessels are required to use them, certain regions have poor AIS reception, and vessels engaged in illegal activities may disable AIS devices or tamper with location broadcasts. To avoid these problems, some governments require fishing vessels to use proprietary vessel monitoring systems, but the associated vessel location data is usually confidential.

Some offshore structures, such as oil platforms and wind turbines, also use AIS to guide service vessels, monitor nearby vessel traffic and improve navigational safety. However, location data for offshore structures are often incomplete, outdated or kept confidential for bureaucratic or commercial reasons.

Fishermen wade into the ocean, pulling large nets.

Fishermen haul their nets by hand from the beach in Muanda, Democratic Republic of Congo. Unregulated fishing by foreign trawlers and other factors have depleted fishing stocks and impoverished local fishermen.
Alexis Huguet/AFP via Getty Images royalty-free-image

Shining a light on activity at sea

We filled these gaps by using artificial intelligence models to identify fishing vessels, nonfishing vessels and fixed infrastructure in 2 million gigabytes of satellite-based radar images and optical images taken across the ocean between 2017 and 2021. We also matched these results to 53 billion AIS vessel position reports to determine which vessels were publicly trackable at the time of the image.

Remarkably, we found that about 75% of the fishing vessels we detected were missing from public AIS monitoring systems, with much of that activity taking place around Africa and South Asia. These previously invisible vessels radically changed our knowledge about the scale, scope and location of fishing activity.

For example, public AIS data wrongly suggests that Asia and Europe have comparable amounts of fishing within their borders. Our mapping reveals that Asia dominates: For every 10 fishing vessels we found on the water, seven were in Asia while only one was in Europe. Similarly, AIS data shows about 10 times more fishing on the European side of the Mediterranean compared with the African side – but our map shows that fishing activity is roughly equal across the two areas.

For other vessels, which are mostly transport- and energy-related, about 25% were missing from public AIS monitoring systems. Many missing vessels were in locations with poor AIS reception, so it is possible that they broadcast their locations but satellites did not pick up the transmission.

We also identified about 28,000 offshore structures – mostly oil platforms and wind turbines, but also piers, bridges, power lines, aquaculture farms and other human-made structures. Offshore oil infrastructure grew modestly over the five-year period, while the number of wind turbines more than doubled globally, with development mostly confined to northern Europe and China. We estimate that the number of wind turbines in the ocean likely surpassed the number of oil structures by the end of 2020.

World map with locations of wind turbines, oil and gas platforms and other structures highlighted along coastlines.

Researchers combined machine learning and satellite imagery to create the first global map of offshore infrastructure, spotlighting previously unmapped industrial use of the ocean.
Global Fishing Watch, CC BY-ND

Supporting real-world efforts

This data is freely available through the Global Fishing Watch data portal and will be maintained, updated and expanded over time there. We anticipate several areas where the information will be most useful for on-the-ground monitoring:

Fishing in data-poor regions: Shipboard monitoring systems are too expensive to deploy widely in many places. Fishery managers in developing countries can use our data to monitor pressure on local stocks.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing: Industrial fishing vessels sometimes operate in places where they should not be, such as small-scale and traditional fishing grounds and marine protected areas. Our data can help enforcement agencies identify illegal activities and target patrol efforts.

Sanction-busting trade: Our data can shed light on maritime activities that may breach international economic sanctions. For example, United Nations sanctions prohibit North Korea from exporting seafood products or selling its fishing rights to other countries. Previous work found more than 900 undisclosed fishing vessels of Chinese origin in the eastern waters of North Korea, in violation of U.N. sanctions.

We found that the western waters of North Korea had far more undisclosed fishing, likely also of foreign origin. This previously unmapped activity peaked each year in May, when China bans fishing in its own waters, and abruptly fell in 2020 when North Korea closed its borders because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Better monitoring may help nations coordinate offshore activities in busy regions like the North Sea.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation: Our data can help quantify the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from vessel traffic and offshore energy development. This information is important for enforcing climate change mitigation programs, such as the European Union’s emissions trading scheme.

Offshore energy impacts: Our map shows not only where offshore energy development is happening but also how vessel traffic interacts with wind turbines and oil and gas platforms. This information can shed light on the environmental footprint of building, maintaining and using these structures. It can also help to pinpoint sources of oil spills and other marine pollution.

Healthy oceans underpin human well-being in a myriad of ways. We expect that this research will support evidence-based decision-making and help to make ocean management more fair, effective and sustainable.

Fernando Paolo, senior machine learning engineer at Global Fishing Watch; David Kroodsma, director of research and innovation at Global Fishing Watch; and Patrick Halpin, Professor of Marine Geospatial Ecology at Duke University, contributed to this article.The Conversation

Jennifer Raynor, Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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

Africa Ports & Ships
Added 22 January 2024


News continues below

SAECS Advisory: Kalahari Express Port Elizabeth call and Cape Town omission


DAL Kalahari, since renamed Kalahari Express, departing Durban port on an earlier voyage. Picture: Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

In a South Africa Europe Container Service advisory, notice has been given that the container ship KALAHARI EXPRESS (IMO 9400095) on voyage 235S/235N will omit her Cape Town call and stop at Port Elizabeth instead.

This is due to ongoing operational delays in South African ports and to cover refrigerated cargo demand on 2 February 2024.

Kalahari Express will discharge her Cape Town import argo at Durban which will connect with the container vessel SANTA TERESA on voyage 235S.

Cargo originally planned for the vessel Kalahari Express v.235N in Cape Town will be transferred to Santa Teresa on v.235N.

Kalahari Express v.235N

PORT                    ETA                ETD
Durban               25 Jan 2024     29 Jan 24
Port Elizabeth      01 Feb 2024     03 Feb 24
Rotterdam          27 Feb 2024      28 Feb 24
London Gateway 01 Mar 2024      01 Mar 24
Bremerhaven      03 Mar 2024      05 Mar 24
Algeciras APMT   10 Mar 2024      11 Mar 24
Algeciras TTIA     11 Mar 2024     11 Mar 24

Source: Ocean Network Express (ONE)

Added 21 January 2024


News continues below

WHARF TALK: passenger cruise ship CELESTYAL JOURNEY

The cruise ship Celestyal Journey which arrived in Cape Town on 14 January, during a world cruise for her charter operators, Phoenix Reisen. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The list of passenger vessels that intend calling at South African ports throughout the summer cruising season, as well as those passenger liners that intend carrying out a full season of coastal cruises along the Southern African coastline, are promulgated on the internet and on social media years in advance.

The published itineraries, and scheduled routings, of these passenger liners is planned down to the smallest detail, and is so accurate, that the casual maritime observer knows when they are coming, and where they are going, down to not only the day of arrival and departure, but the scheduled hour of arrival and departure.

It doesn’t happen often, if at all, but occasionally a passenger liner arrives that surprises nearly everybody. The arrival is not entirely a complete surprise, but the notice given of the impending arrival of a passenger vessel, that wasn’t published on any cruise website in the previous year, is still unexpected. As always, there is a good reason to account for the surprise arrival.

On 14th January, at 08:00 in the morning, the passenger liner ‘Celestyal Journey’ (IMO 8919269) arrived off Cape Town, from Lüderitz in Namibia, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock. However, she did not head to the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E berth, and instead went down the full length of Duncan Dock and went alongside at L berth instead, which is the normal company berth for the diamond mining vessels of De Beers Marine.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The reason for that strange berthing arrangement was that E berth was expecting another passenger vessel, due one hour after the arrival of ‘Celestyal Journey’, namely the ‘Azamara Pursuit’ which was scheduled for an overnight stop, and the adjoining F berth had a container vessel working the Multi-Purpose Terminal (MPT).

Built in 1994 by the Fincantieri SpA shipyard at Monfalcone in Italy, ’Celestyal Journey’ is 219 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 55,451 tons. She is a diesel electric powered vessel, and has two Sulzer Grandi Motori 12ZAV40S twelve cylinder, four stroke, generators, and two Sulzer Grandi Motori 8ZAL40S eight cylinder, four stroke, generators, giving a total installed power output of 34,560 kW.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

Power is transferred from the generators to two ABB electric motors, which drive two fixed pitch propellers, to give ‘Celestyal Journey’ a maximum cruising speed of 22.6 knots. For passenger comfort at sea she is fitted with a set of dual fin stabilisers. For added manoeuvrability she has two bow transverse thrusters.

She is one of a class of four sisterships, known as the ‘S’ Class, or ‘Statendam’ Class, which gives a clue to her lineage. She was originally built as ‘Ryndam’ for the Holland America Line, which is one of the subsidiaries of the great Carnival Corporation & PLC cruise line group. Costing US$215 million (ZAR3.99 billion) to build, her three sisters in the Holland America Line fleet were ‘Statendam’, which was the lead ship of the class, ‘Maasdam’, and ‘Veendam’.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has 633 cabins, of which 149 have balconies, and can carry 1,260 passengers, who are looked after by 580 crewmembers. She has a total of 13 decks, of which 10 of the decks are set aside for passenger use.

Her passenger facilities are quite extensive and include 7 restaurants, 8 bars, 5 lounges, a casino, a theatre, a cinema, 2 meeting lecture theatres, a wellness centre which includes a spa, gymnasium, beauty salon, and treatment rooms. She has a shopping arcade, two swimming pools, and a kids club, plus a large games deck with a tennis court and a basketball court.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Owned and managed by Celestyal Cruises Cyprus, of Nicosia in Cyprus, and she is operated by Celestyal Cruises, of Piraeus in Greece. She has been chartered by Phoenix Reisen GmbH, of Bonn in Germany. This charter was only announced in December 2023, and the voyage number of ‘Celestyal Journey’ being AMR106 gives a clue as to why her charter was such a recent event.

Phoenix Reisen GmbH operates their own fleet of passenger liners, one of which is ‘Amera’, which should have been operating this 143 night world cruise. In late September, she was sent to a dockyard in Gdansk, in Poland, to undergo a substantial modernization refit, which included being fitted with new engines, as well as upgrades to all cabins and public rooms.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

However, delays in the works, together with the late arrival of fittings required for the refit meant that ‘Amera’ was not going to be ready to undertake her world cruise, which was due to begin in Hamburg on 21st December 2023. Phoenix Reisen GmbH had to charter a suitable replacement passenger liner, at very short notice, that was of a sufficient standard to meet the expectations of her German passengers.

Luckily, as a result of the turmoil that the Israel-Gaza was unleashed in the Eastern Mediterranean in early October, where ‘Celestyal Journey’ was undertaking cruises, which included port calls in Israel, her whole winter cruise programme had to be cancelled, and she was laid up in Piraeus to await her published summer Mediterranean cruise programme.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Phoenix Reisen GmbH duly chartered ‘Celestyal Journey’ to conduct the first leg of the cruise, which terminated in Cape Town, as ‘Amera’ was expected to be ready to continue the cruise at this point, and all passengers would transfer over to her in Cape Town. The haste of the charter meant that ‘Celestyal Journey’ could not start the cruise from Hamburg, as hoped, but instead all the passengers were flown to Genoa in Italy, where the cruise started on 21st December.

The itinerary of the first leg of the cruise was the 25 night cruise from Genoa to Cape Town. The routing was Genoa- Lisbon (Portugal)- Tenerife- Dakar (Senegal)- Banjul (Gambia)- Jamestown (St. Helena)- Walvis Bay- Lüderitz (both Namibia)- Cape Town. On arrival in Cape Town it was clear that ‘Amera’ was not ready to undertake the second leg of the world cruise, which allowed ‘Celestyal Journey’ to have an unprecedented three night stop in Cape Town.

Celestyal Journey. Cape Town, 14 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The second leg of the ‘Amera’ world cruise is from Cape Town to Victoria in the Seychelles, and Phoenix Reisen GmbH are continuing with ’Celestyal Journey’ for the next leg due to the continued unavailability of ‘Amera’, which is still in the Gdansk shipyard as of 21st January. With the dangers associated with a passage through the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea, should ‘Amera’ be soon ready to continue with her own world cruise from Victoria, it is looking increasingly likely that ‘Celestyal Journey’ may continue to operate the third leg of the cruise, which is from Victoria to Sydney in Australia.

Celestyal Journey. Durban, 20 January 2024. Picture by Trevor Jones

After a full three days in Cape Town, ‘Celestyal Journey’ finally sailed from the Mother City, bound for Port Elizabeth, where she arrived at 1400 in the afternoon of 18th January. At 21:00 that evening she sailed, now bound for East London, where she arrived at 07:00 the next morning, on 19th January. At 14:00 that afternoon she sailed for Durban.

Her arrival in Durban was at 09:00 in the morning of 20th January. After a day alongside in Durban Harbour, at N Shed on the Point, she sailed at 23:00 that evening, bound now for her final stop in South African waters, which is Richards Bay, where she is due to spend 21st January between 07:00 and 20:00.

Celestyal Journey. Durban, 20 January 2024.

From Richards Bay the continued cruise itinerary of ‘Celestyal Journey’ will see her calling at Tolagnaro (Madagascar)- St. Denis (Reunion)- Port Louis (Mauritius)- Praslin Island- Victoria (both Seychelles), where she is due to arrive on 1st February. Her onward world cruise from the Seychelles will see her call at a further 45 ports as she crosses the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and then into the Atlantic Ocean via the Panama Canal, before the cruise is scheduled to end on 12th May at Bremerhaven in Germany.

Added 21 January 2024


News continues below

Red Sea crisis: MSC Cruises cancels three Grand Voyage sailings


MSC Splendida – positioning cruise Durban to Mediterranean cancelled

Africa Ports & Ships

MSC Cruises has cancelled three repositioning ‘Grand Voyage’ sailings in April from South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Europe because of the risk to shipping in the Red Sea.

Ongoing attacks on merchant vessels in the region has obliged the company to cancel a 24-night cruise of MSC Splendida from Durban, South Africa to Genoa, Italy, a 21-night sailing of MSC Opera from Dubai, UAE to Genoa and a 23-night voyage of MSC Virtuosa from Dubai to Southampton, UK.

MSC said the safety of passengers and crew is the number one priority and as there was no viable alternative itinerary, the company has regrettably had to cancel the voyages.

The three ships will transfer directly to Europe without any passengers on board and avoid transiting through the Red Sea.

Instead, they will sail around the Cape of Good Hope and west coast of Africa with no ports of call on their journeys to their respective European homeports for the summer 2024 season. None of MSC’s other ships in its fleet are affected.

MSC said all passengers booked on the three repositioning cruises have been, or are in the process of being, contacted directly or through their travel agent and can transfer their booking to a future Grand Voyage of a similar duration for free.

Alternatively, affected passengers can rebook to any other cruise in the company’s global network, with either a partial refund or additional payment for the difference in price of the original booking, or receive a full refund with no cancellation fee.

Totsiens to MSC Splendida

When MSC Splendida wraps up her current cruise season in South Africa, sailing mainly out of Durban on cruises to Mozambique, this will be her first and final season cruising in South African waters.

It appears the ship is not proving entirely suitable for the local market and will be replaced in 2024/25 by MSC Musica, a ship that has cruised here previously.

It seems that MSC Splendida is proving to be “too big” for the local cruise market. Comments heard include from returning passengers say that South African passengers are not supportive of the ‘extra fare restaurants’, having become used to one fare covers all meals cruising.

Other comments from passengers include the lido deck having “too much clutter” and not enough space for sun lounging.

Added 21 January 2024


News continues below

Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 begins to prepare for the citrus season

DCT Pier 2 prioritising ahead of citrus season

Africa Ports & Ships

With the completion of the busy South African peak retail season, the Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 has begun preparing for the advent of the citrus season.

Looking ahead to this additional busy period and in order to prioritise terminal fluidity in advance,the terminal will provide a rail link solution for import containers to a back-of-port facility seven kilometres from the port terminal, South Africa’s largest and busiest. This is in order to reduce the number of trucks calling at DCT Pier 2.

Earle Peters, managing executive at the Durban Terminals, said it has always mattered how they handle both waterside and landside traffic.

As from the beginning of January, customers have been collecting their containers at the back-of-port facility with minimal waiting times and flowing roads in the vicinity, he said.

The back-of-port initiative is aimed at clearing terminal stacks much quicker which will in turn encourage improved vessel turnaround time with created capacity, according to Peters.

There were fewer trucks queuing for collections at the terminal, he added, allowing for optimum performance into the citrus season.


Preparations include anticipating an influx of empty refrigerated containers arriving in SA for packing. The terminal is also optimising the 109 A empty stack to ensure punctual delivery of these containers to various packing houses.

In the past week, DCT Pier 2 averaged 3,896 twenty-foot equivalent units per 24-hour period, according to TPT. The terminal is employing various initiatives to clear the vessel backlog which include having onsite original equipment manufacturers for technical support; additional human resources and maintenance around the clock; public holiday workings; customer and stakeholder collaboration; Navis container management system optimisation experts onsite; and as well as the execution of the recovery plan.

“We are in the process of scheduling customer engagements that aid our 2024 planning,” said Peters. “There have been a lot of learnings throughout this experience, and we ought to ensure we never find ourselves in the same situation as we did in October 2023.”

The container ships at anchor for DCT Pier 2 are continuing to average single-digit vessels.

Added 21 January 2024


News continues below

ITF and abandonment

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

It was reported on 19 January from London that the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) released its figures for the numbers of vessels abandoned in 2023. These show a worrying increase on figures from the previous year.

A total of 132 abandonments were reported which is 13 more than in 2022 – an increase of 10.92%. The overwhelming majority of those reports (129) were made by the ITF.

Under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (the MLC) the seafarer is deemed to have been abandoned if the shipowner fails to cover the cost of a seafarer’s repatriation; or has left them without the necessary maintenance and support; or has otherwise unilaterally severed ties with them, including failure to pay the seafarers’ contractual wages for a period of at least two months.

Key findings

Owed wages from the 129 ITF reported cases totalled in excess of $12.1 million.

A total of 1,676 seafarers contacted ITF from abandoned vessels. Indian seafarers were the most abandoned, with more than 400 cases reported.

ITF have received more than $10.9 million in owed wages from 60 of these vessels so far. The final figure will exceed $12.1 million as cases take time to resolve and as other seafarers come forward, thereby increasing the amount of recoverable wages.

Steve Trowsdale, ITF Inspectorate Coordinator commented: “The ongoing rise in the number of seafarer abandonments is unacceptable. It is a consequence of an industry where the seafarer can be a throw-away commodity.

“Seafarers and their families pay the ultimate price for the greed and non-compliance of shipowners, enduring the inhuman consequences of a system that compromises their well-being, dignity and basic human rights. ITF inspectors do an incredible job in holding to account those shipowners that try to get away with treating seafarers like some sort of modern-day slaves.”

The highest numbers of abandonments by flag state were:

Panama 23
Palau 12
Cameroon 11
St Kitts & Nevis 8
Unknown 8
Comoros 6
Tanzania 6
Togo 6

About the ITF

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as one of the world’s leading transport authorities.

The organisation fights passionately to improve working lives. It connects trade unions from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members.

The ITF is the voice for nearly 20 million working men and women in the transport industry across the world.

Added 21 January 2024


News continues below

SAIC Motor launches Anji Sincerity, largest LNG dual-fuel car carrier

Aji Sincerity, now making her maiden voyage. Picture SAICS Motors

Africa Ports & Ships

Chinese auto manufacturer SAIC Group has launched the largest LNG dual-fuel car carrier so far built, the 7,600-CEU SAIC ANJI SINCERITY (IMO 9973377).

With a length of 200 metres and beam of 38 metres, SAIC Anji Sincerity was built at the state-owned CSSC Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai.

Powered by a LNG dual-fuel WinGD engine, SAIC Anji Sincerity will operate internationally for the Chinese motor vehicle manufacturer SAIC Motors, The ship is flagged in Liberia.

The car carrier has 13 cargo decks, including four moveable decks. The ship has a service speed of 19 knots.

According to SAIC Group, a total of 12 new vehicle carriers will be launched between 2024 and 2026, as the group expands operations at the fleet, which currently numbers 31 vehicle carriers of different types.

SAIC Motor said it will operate in collaboration with COSCO Shipping and WWL in order to promote the global expansion of Chinese vehicle brands.

SAIC Anji Sincerity is currently on her maiden voyage to Europe, With the diversion of ships around the Cape of Good Hope there is a good chance of the vessel stopping in a South African port for the purpose of bunkering and fresh supplies.

Southern Africa is not currently part of where Anji Logistics operates, which includes Southeast Asia, Mexico, Western South America, and Europe.

Added 20 January 2024


News continues below

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


News continues below

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


News continues below

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


News continues below

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



in partnership with – APO

More News at



History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.”

– Abba Eban


News continues below………

More Earlier News at



Request a Rate Card from


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 remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.

News continues below


QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section.

Naval News

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




For a Rate Card please contact us at

Don’t forget to send us your news and press releases for inclusion in the News Bulletins. Shipping related pictures submitted by readers are always welcome. Email to

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 0.074
East London 0.172
Total all ports during December 2023 21.725 million tonnes