Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 4 February 2024

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News commencing Sunday 28 January 2024.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.  Additional news reports will be included as they are received.

FIRST VIEW:   Iberian Bulker


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 FIRST VIEW:  Iberian Bulker

Iberian Bulker, Durban Picture by Keith Betts

One of the more recent bunker callers at the port of Durban was the Lauritzen Bulker’ handysize dry bulker Iberian Bulker (IMO 9782962), which called while en route to Pecem in the Brazilian state of Ceara, where she is due on 3 February.

Iberian Bulker is owned by Lauritzen Bulkers A/S of Hellerup in Denmark and is managed by Synergy Maritime Pvt) Ltd of Chennai, India. The vessel was built in 2017 at the I-S Shipyard, a part of the giant Imabari Shipbuilding company of Japan, based in the Ehime Prefecture of that country.

The 37,668-dwt bulker has a length of 180 metres and width of 30m and is strengthened for heavy cargo loading where holds 2 and 4 may be empty, which is possibly the case on this particular voyage where the bulker is carrying a cargo of heavy wind turbine blades. Across all cargo holds double hull construction has been applied.

According to a description provided by an article in Wikipedia, a bulk carrier or bulker is a merchant ship specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo—such as grain, coal, ore, steel coils, and cement—in its cargo holds.

The report neglects to include deck cargo as is illustrated here, and which is frequently observed in the Durban port where bulkers (and general cargo ships) arrive with a variety of heavy or bulky machinery or large vehicles adorning the decks.

Bulkers are today one of the more regular callers at Durban, vying with tankers and container ships for pride of place as the most common of ships in this particular port and where the variety and number of ships leaves Durban unique among South Africa ports.

Internationally, bulkers make up about one fifth of the global fleet, ranging from mini to mega giant 400,000 dw-tonners with a length of 400 metres. Together with the cargoes carried they are often among the more interesting of our callers.

Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships


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Maritime Single Window – advancing digitalization in shipping

Pictures: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

This year 2024 marks a milestone in the acceleration of digitalization in shipping – the mandatory Maritime Single Window

The requirement under the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL), requires Governments to use a single digital platform or Maritime Single Window (MSW) to share and exchange information with ships when they call at ports, since 1 January 2024. This will streamline procedures to clear the arrival, stay and departure of ships and greatly enhance the efficiency of shipping worldwide.

“Digitalization is critical for greater efficiency in shipping. The Maritime Single Window delivers information between ships, ports and government agencies quickly, reliably and smoothly,” noted IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez.

More than 4.6 million port calls were recorded globally in 2022. Typically, ships spend at least one full day in port (more or less depending on the ship type).

The IMO MSW video

Readers are invited to see the IMO MSW video here [2:15]:

IMO has supported countries to implement the Maritime Single Window. In November 2023, a generic Maritime Single Window (MSW) platform was handed over to the Port of Lobito in Angola, following a Single Window for Facilitation of Trade (SWiFT) project which was supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and IMO.

This initiative built upon an earlier successful project coordinated by IMO that saw excellent delivery in 2019 of a Maritime Single Window system in Antigua and Barbuda.


The Facilitation Committee of IMO has issued guidelines to assist Member States to implement the MSW, including the revised guidelines for setting up a maritime single window and the guidelines on authentication, integrity and confidentiality of information exchanges via maritime single windows and related services.

IMO Facilitation Convention

The IMO Facilitation Convention was adopted in 1965 and contains Standards and Recommended Practices with rules and procedures for simplifying formalities, documentary requirements and procedures on ships’ arrival, stay and departure. The Convention has been updated continuously, embracing digitalization and automation for procedures. (To read more see here.

Corruption prevention

Other amendments to the Facilitation Convention, which entered into force on 1 January 2024, include those addressing lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic and new and amended Recommended Practices to prevent corruption and illicit activities in the maritime sector.

Lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic

Contracting Governments and their relevant public authorities are required to allow ships and ports to remain fully operational during a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), in order to maintain complete functionality of global supply chains to the greatest extent possible.

Key workers

Public authorities are also required to designate port workers and ships’ crew as key workers (or equivalent), regardless of their nationality or the flag of their ship, when in their territory.

Importance of easy crew movement

Best practice recommendations aim to prevent obstacles to crew movement for repatriation, crew change and travel, and encourage dissemination of information about public health matters and expected protection measures by ship operators.

Tackling maritime corruption

Updates to the FAL Convention take a systemic approach to addressing the issue of corruption associated with the ship-shore interface in ports. Contracting Governments are now required to encourage public authorities to assess the risks of corruption and address them by developing and implementing preventive measures to strengthen integrity, transparency and accountability.

Added 2 February 2024


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Reload Logistics acquires 50,000m2 Sulphur Bulk Terminal at Richards Bay

Reload Dry Bulk Richards Bay Facility

Africa Ports & Ships

Reload Logistics new 50,000 m2 sulphur bulk terminal at Richards Bay is already performing record-setting discharging at this strategic location.

Since taking over the facility in November 2023, Reload Logistics has made significant upgrades to the complex, equipment, and related systems, enhancing the discharge rate of sulphur vessels, and increasing the holding capacity of the undercover warehousing.

These enhancements have already made an impact, with Reload Logistics achieving the record for tonnage unloaded from a vessel in a 24-hour period.

Now operating the facility under the name Reload Dry Bulk Richards Bay Facility, this asset joins Reload Logistics’ extensive portfolio, covering all of Sub-Saharan Africa, and has the capacity to move 200,000 Mt per month to and from 7 ports and provides clients with true multi-modal solutions.

Reload’s latest acquisition has an indoor storage of 20,000 m2, a loading area of 10,000 m2, and has operations for simultaneous offloading, bagging, and loading for both rail and trucks of containerized or break-bulk cargo.

The latest in a series of acquisitions, this is a strategic asset for Reload Logistics, empowering the company to deliver reliable and efficient services for the handling, storage, and distribution of sulphur and other dry bulk commodities to clients.

“We are thrilled to share this news with our clients and the public,” said Michael-John Saunders, Managing Director of Reload Logistics.

“This acquisition and upgrade underscore our commitment to providing the best logistics solutions for our clients and the industry. We take pride in our team and the remarkable results they have achieved thus far,” he said.

About Reload Logistics

Reload Logistics is one of Africa’s leading providers of end-to-end supply chain solutions for metals, minerals, soft commodities, and project cargo.

With 1,000+ trucks, rail wagons, and over 1 million m2 of storage, Reload Logistics operates in 12 countries – Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Malta, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Zambia, Zimbabwe – providing seamless freight solutions across Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Added 1 February 2024


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MSC enhances service between South Africa and North West Continent (NWC)

MSC Branka (IMO 9720495) to make the first NWC service call at Bremerhaven. Picture by FleetMon

Africa Ports & Ships

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has announced an update to its NWC service to South Africa with effect from March 2024.

The current NWC to South Africa Service rotation will be updated with a direct call at Bremerhaven.

This, says MSC, will increase flexibility for customers shipping cargo between Germany and South Africa.

The new rotation of the service will be as follows:

London Gateway – Rotterdam – Antwerp – Hamburg – Bremerhaven – Le Havre – Sines – Las Palmas – Ngqura – Durban – Ngqura – Cape Town – Las Palmas – London Gateway

The first vessel on this new rotation will be MSC BRANKA voyage number NZ411A, due to arrive in Bremerhaven on 19 March 2024.

Added 1 February 2024


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Shipping schedule advisories – Durban omit

Maersk Zambezi which will omit her Durban port call. Picture by Shipspotting

Africa Ports & Ships

In a customer advisory, shipping company Maersk advises that the port of Durban is to be omitted on the Maersk Zambezi schedule.

The reason for omitting the port of Durban on this current rotation is – high waiting time to enter the port.

As a result all import cargo will be held in West Africa.

All export cargo will be routed to the Protea service vessels (South Africa, Middle East, India, Africa).

Empty Containers Durban area

In a separate advisory dated 31 January 2024, Maersk advises it is aware of current limited equipment turn-in options in the Durban area.

“From a supply chain perspective, in South Africa where we face continued challenges with terminal delays, exacerbated by bad weather impacting our Ocean services and placing additional pressure on landside operations. The resultant outcome of the challenges impacts our ability to efficiently evacuate empty equipment from our depot facilities where the subsequent impact is high utilization.”

Maersk advises it has secured an additional facility in the Durban Area and expects to have this finalised by Monday, 5 February 2024.

“Preparations are currently underway at the new facility. We will continue to receive containers direct to buffer stack in the terminal (as well as use CX Bayhead) as alternative options, as the situation allows.”

Added 1 February 2024


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MSC introduces new Ingonyama feeder service, East London – Ngqura (Coega)

MSC Tokota F which will operate a feeder service between East London and Ngqura as from late March. Picture: FleetMon

Africa Ports & Ships

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has added a new feeder service in South African waters – the Ingonyama Service [English: Lion Service] linking the East London manufacturing hub with the automotive terminal at Port Elizabeth.

The feeder will operate with a weekly frequency to provide a practical alternative to truck transport between the two cities.

MSC says the service will also provide improved options for customers shipping goods from the industrial hub of East London with connections to MSC’s global network.

The new service is to commence on 25 March with the departure ex Ngqura of the container vessel MSC Tokata F (IMO 9347970), a Liberian-flagged ship of 148 metres length and 20m width.

MSC Tokata F is currently working off the west African coast of the Congo and DRC.

MSC Ingonyama service rotation, starts 25 March 2024
Added 1 February 2024


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In Conversation: Houthi militant attacks in the Red Sea raise fears of Somali piracy resurgence

Indian Navy patrol ship intercepting a suspected Somali pirate ‘mother; ship and five skiffs. May 2017

Samuel Oyewole, Federal University, Oye Ekiti

Renewed attacks on ships by suspected Somali pirates since November 2023 have fuelled fear of a new threat of piracy off the east coast of Africa.

The area at risk stretches from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. At least four ships have been hijacked off the Somalia coast since November 2023. Concern has risen amid the Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi group’s militant campaign of support for Hamas, the Palestinian political and military organisation governing Gaza and currently at war with Israel. Many observers suspect a collaboration between Somali pirates and the Houthis.

I have researched piracy off the east coast of Africa, counter piracy efforts and the enduring relevance of naval power. I have no doubt that the Houthi attacks have emboldened the Somali pirates. Their collaboration or at least combination is undermining security off the east coast of Africa and may not be resolved solely by military means.

The alarm

The combination of Houthi maritime attacks and Somali piracy has disrupted traffic in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and Mediterranean. Most ships are taking the longer route around Africa, and this is increasing shipping costs and lengthening shipping time, with negative implications for prices and the global economy.

The Suez Canal, which accounted for 12% to 15% of the total global trade in 2023, recorded a 42% decrease in ship traffic over December 2023 and January 2024, according to the UN’s trade and development agency, Unctad. The Suez Canal connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. For instance, shipping from the UK, east Africa’s key trading partner, mostly passes through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea.

These developments and others have raised the cost of shipping globally by more than 100%, and from Shanghai to Europe by 256%.

The global economy incurred a colossal loss at the peak of Somali piracy. The World Bank estimates that Somali pirates not only kidnapped seafarers but also received between US$339 million and US$413 million as ransom for hijacked ships between 2005 and 2012.

The threat raised the cost of shipping, as shipping firms had to spend billions of dollars to install security equipment and hire guards aboard. They also had to pay more as compensation to endangered crew and insurance for goods. One Earth Foundation, a nonprofit organisation, estimated that US$7 billion was lost to Somali piracy at its peak in 2011.

Preparedness of international shipping

The threat of the Houthis and Somali pirates against maritime commerce has attracted international military responses. Prior to the latest crisis, the US, France and China maintained a significant military presence in Djibouti. This has since been activated and, in some cases, reinforced, for maritime policing in the Gulf of Aden. In addition, India and Iran, among other nations, have deployed warships to the region.

The US and the UK have jointly launched airstrikes to undermine Houthi capabilities and motivations for maritime attacks in the region. But the group has intensified its attacks.

The US forces rescued a hijacked tanker and arrested five Somali pirates involved on 26 November 2023. The Indian navy also rescued a cargo vessel from pirates on 4 January 2024.

But the threats of maritime piracy and terrorism off the east coast of Africa have persisted. Without confidence in the current security situation in the region, many ships have rerouted around Africa to avoid the hotspot.

Previously, the threat of Somali piracy to global trade attracted a series of multinational initiatives. These included efforts to combat Al Shabaab and reconstruct Somalia state authority to govern its territory.

Many countries deployed their navy to the region. The EU naval operation Atlanta commenced in the region in December 2008, and that of the US in January 2009. Similarly, Operation Ocean Shield by Nato, the military alliance of EU and north American states, started in August 2009. Russia, China, India and Iran also deployed warships to the region. These forces joined the regional players in north and east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to combat Somali piracy.

Many pirates from Somalia were arrested, imprisoned and tried across the world or killed.

Consequently, Somali piracy eventually declined from its peak in 2011 to zero in 2015. Except for 2017, when attacks were recorded, Somali pirates have generally kept a low profile from 2018 until November 2023.

The current counter piracy efforts mainly revolve around military power, coalition building and diplomatic engagements. Little effort is being made to resolve the root causes and trigger of the crisis.

Next steps

To address the emerging crisis off the east coast of Africa, there is a need to take a holistic approach to security in the region.

More concerted efforts are required to address the root causes of the crisis, starting with strengthening the Somali state to govern its territorial space.

Ending the Gaza war that attracted the solidarity of the Houthis, which in turn emboldened Somali pirates, is also important for the general stability of the region.The Conversation

Samuel Oyewole, Lecturer, Political Science, Federal University, Oye Ekiti

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

Added 1 February 2024


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Port Regulator’s TNPA Port tariff decision

Port tariff decision

Africa Ports & Ships

The delayed SA Port regulator’s Transnet TNPA tariff decision was revealed at the Port Regulator’s head office in Durban on Wednesday (31 January) in which the Regulator has decided that the overall average tariff adjustment is set at 0.00%.

That was against a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) request for a 4.98% tariff increase.

The zero rating is balanced by certain differentiations, with various services and related tariffs adjusted. Here are a few excerpts:

The Regulator takes into consideration economic challenges facing port users and end-customers when evaluating the space within which the tariffs are applicable.

The proposed tariff increase of 4.98% by the Authority, includes an amount of R1 267 million retained in the Excessive Tariff Increase Margin Credit (ETIMC).

The Regulator deems it necessary to remind the ports sector that the purpose of the ETIMC is not to subsidise inefficiencies and/or profits for the Authority.

The operational efficiencies of the South African ports are declining and that is a concern for both the Regulator and port users. The Regulator has noted the deterioration of operational performance in FY 2022/23, with the Weighted Efficiency Gains from Operations (WEGO) results recording a 14.19% decrease, a further decrease of 12.05% was recorded in FY 2021/22 performance.

Having considered the application, input made by all stakeholders during the consultation period and their written submissions, and based on latest available data, the Regulator has concluded that an appropriate increase in overall effective weighted average tariff for the financial year 2024/25 is determined at 0.00%.

In particular:
o Marine services and related tariffs (Sections 1-8 of the Tariff Book, excluding Section 7 that deals with cargo dues) are to increase by 2.98%;
o All Container cargo dues are to decrease by 3.00%;
o Dry Bulk coal export cargo dues to increase by 3.00%;
o Dry Bulk magnetite export cargo dues are to increase by 3.00%;
o All other dry bulk cargo to are to increase by 2.70%;
o RoRo cargo dues are to decrease by 3.00%;
o Liquid Bulk cargo dues are to decrease by 3.00%; and
o All other tariffs are to decrease by 3.00%.

o All marine tariffs (Sections 1-8 of the Tariff Book, excluding Section 7 that deals with cargo dues) for all commercial vessels registered and flagged in South Africa from 2019/20, will receive a 30% discount applicable year on year until reviewed by the Regulator.

o The Authority’s request to introduce a motor vehicle permit fee in the tariff book has not been approved. The funds for road infrastructure in the ports have been recovered through required revenues and the Authority will be allowed to continue to recover investments made through the tariff determination process. As such the proposed changes to Section 5.2.3 “Port Rule access permits for persons and vehicles” will, as part of all other tariffs, decrease by 3.00%.

o The Authority’s request for the introduction of a hull cleaning permit fee of R18,959 per annum under Section 5 of the Tariff Book is approved. The approval follows the completion of the pilot phase conducted by the Authority with port users of the hull cleaning service.

o All license fees for port activities as per section 5 of the Tariff Book will continue to be discounted by 30%, and all license fees (Tariff) applicable per port for the tariff year 2024/25, can continue to be paid in equal instalments on an annual basis over the period of the license.

o For the 2024/25 tariff year, as per section 4.1.1. of the Tariff Book a continued reduction of 35% in port dues applicable will be allowed in the following instances:

Passenger vessels; and
Small vessels classified under Section 4, Clause 2 when visiting a port other than their;
 registered port; or
 vessels in port for longer than 30 days not engaged in cargo working or undergoing repairs will be liable for a 20% surcharge on the incremental fee of port dues.

o Further, a reduction of 60% will be allowed to vessels calling for the sole purpose of taking on bunkers and/or stores and/or water or a combination of all three, provided the vessel’s entire stay does not exceed 48 hours. This reduction will not be enjoyed in addition to the 35% reduction granted for vessels not engaged in cargo working for the first 30 days only,
bona fide coasters, passenger vessels and small vessels classified under Section 4, Clause 2.

o The Regulator considers the long-term sustainability and affordability of the port sector.

As a result, the Regulator will retain R983 million of the clawback arising from the 2022/23 tariff period, into the ETIMC to replenish the facility to mitigate volatilities and for the smoothing of tariffs in periods of large capital investments.
End Quote

The full statement is available here

Added 31 January 2024


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WHARF TALK: Fred Olsen Line cruise ship BOLETTE

Between 20-21 January 2024 Bolette overnighted in Durban, before sailing on the Sunday. This picture of the Fred Olsen ship sailing from the KZN port is by Trevor Jones

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Trevor Jones
Andre Oosthuizen
Story by Jay Gates

The Southern African cruise liner season is well underway, and the flow of passenger liners along the coast, in both directions in currently in full swing with a veritable panoply of liners of all shapes, ages and sizes, on the move. As well as those that are, if not regular, then frequent visitors to South African shores, it is always nice to have a relative newcomer popping in.

On 26th January, at 06:00 in the morning, the passenger liner ‘Bolette’ arrived off Cape Town, from Mossel Bay in the Southern Cape, and entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock and, as has happened with one or two other passenger vessels, was not placed alongside the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E berth, but sent to the far reaches of the Duncan Dock and went alongside L berth, which is the normal De Beers Marine working berth.

Built in 2000 by the Fincantieri SpA shipyard at Monfalcone in Italy, ‘Bolette’ is 238 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 62,735 tons. She is a diesel electric vessel and is powered by two Wärtsilä 16ZA40S sixteen cylinder, four stroke, generators producing 11,520 kW each, and three Wärtsilä twelve cylinder, four stroke, generators producing 8,640 kW each. She also has an emergency generator.

Bolette. Cape Town 26 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Power from the main generators is provided for both domestic requirements, and to power two ABB electric motors, which drive two Azipod thrusters producing 15,500 kW each, and giving ‘Bolette’ a service speed of 25 knots. She has two composite oil fired generators, and no less than five Economiser exhaust gas boilers. For added manoeuvrability she has two bow transverse thrusters.

For the casual maritime observer who thinks ‘Bolette’ looks familiar, she is one of four sisterships, known as the ‘R’ Class, and was the last of the quartet built. All were also known as the ‘Rotterdam’ Class, which gives a hint to their lineage. Built originally as ‘Amsterdam’ for the Carnival Group subsidiary company Holland America line, with her sister ships named ‘Volendam’, ‘Zaandam’, and the namesake of the class, ‘Rotterdam’.

Bolette. Cape Town 26 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was sold by Holland America Line in 2020 to Bolette Cruise Ltd., of London, who remain her current owners. She is operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd., also of London, and is managed by Fred. Olsen Windcarrier ASA, of Oslo in Norway. Founded in 1848 by Petter Olsen, the company is named after his son, Fredrik, and is still family owned, with the fifth generation of the Olsen family managing the company.

For the nomenclature aficionado, the great grandmother of Fred Olsen was named ‘Bolette’, after which the vessel is named, and this is not the first time that this name has been used for one of the Fred Olsen fleet. The naming tradition of Fred Olsen vessels, is generally that they start with the letter ‘B’. When built, the construction costs of ‘Bolette’ was US$400 million (ZAR7.51 billion).

Bolette. Cape Town 26 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has twelve decks, of which five are set aside for passenger facilities and amenities. Her facilities include six restaurants, a total of eleven bars and lounges, a show theatre, a culinary theatre for cooking classes and demonstrations, an art studio, a wellness centre that includes a gymnasium, spa, hot tubs, hydro pool, two saunas, and nine treatment rooms. She also has two swimming pools, with Jacuzzis, one with a retractable roof, and also an upper sun deck.

She has a crew of 640, looking after a passenger complement of 1,338. There are a total of 690 cabins, which are located on five of her twelve decks, some of which are equipped with balconies, and which range in size from standard inside cabins with an area of 17.2 m2, up to Executive Suites with an area of 53.42 m2.

Bolette. East London, 22 January 2024. Picture by Andre Oosthuizen / FB

Her arrival on the Southern African coast sees ‘Bolette’ two thirds of her way through a 93 night, 43 port, cruise titled ‘The Intrepid Beauty of Africa and the Indian Ocean’, which started from Southampton in the UK back on 19th November 2023. Despite the current issues of the Houthi menace in Southern Red Sea, ‘Bolette’ managed to get through the region in late November without mishap. The cruise itinerary thus far has been as follows:

Southampton- Tangier (Morocco)- Valetta (Malta)- Alexandria- Port Said- Suez Canal- Sharm el Sheikh- Safaga (all Egypt)- Jeddah (Saudi Arabia)- Salalah (Oman)- Mumbai- Goa- Mangalore- Cochin (all India)- Uligamu- Gan (both Maldives)- Victoria- Praslin- La Digue (all Seychelles)- Mombasa (Kenya)- Zanzibar- Dar es Salaam (both Tanzania)- Mayotte (Comores)- Nosy Be- Diego Suarez (both Madagascar)- St. Denis (Reunion)- Port Louis (Mauritius)- Tamatave- Fort Dauphin (both Madagascar)- Maputo (Mozambique)- then onwards to South Africa.

Bolette. Durban 21 January 2024. Picture by Keith Betts

Her first call in South Africa was Richards Bay (19th January 0200-2300)- then on to Durban 20th and 21st January 0800-1200)- East London (22nd January 0600-1600)- Port Elizabeth (23rd January 0200-1900)- Mossel Bay (24th January 0600-1600)- and Cape Town on the 26th January. Cape Town was an extended stopover, and very unusual for a passenger liner to spend three days in a port, but which was as advertised on the cruise itinerary.

Cape Town, as with many other world cruise itineraries is used as fly-cruise option, and a large passenger turnover was completed at the port. Finally on 29th January, at 21:00 in the late evening, ‘Bolette’ was finally ready to sail from Cape Town, and continue on her African circumnavigation cruise. She sailed for Lüderitz in Namibia, with an ETA of 06:00 on 31st January.

Bolette. Durban 21 January 2024. Picture by Trevor Jones

Her final cruise leg back to Southampton is Cape Town- Lüderitz- Walvis Bay (both Namibia)- Principe (São Tomé)- Cotonou (Benin)- Lomé (Togo)- Takoradi (Ghana)- Dakar (Senegal)- Tenerife (Canary Islands)- Funchal (Madeira)- Southampton, where she will arrive early on 20th February to complete the current cruise.

She is scheduled to begin a world cruise from Southampton on 6th January 2025, less than one year from now. For ‘Bolette’ this cruise is known as ‘The Grand Voyage’, and it is a 106 night circumnavigation of the Earth. For any casual maritime observer who might be interested in partaking of such a cruise, the prices, for the smallest cabin, start at not less than US$15,510 (ZAR291,247), and only gets more expensive as the cabin grade increases.

On this cruise ‘Bolette’ will once more be calling in to South Africa, but her current published 2025 Grand Cruise itinerary through Southern Africa only shows her calling at Reunion and Mauritius, before arriving in South African waters and calling at only Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, with Cape Town being an overnight stopover as part of a Fly-Cruise offer.

Added 31 January 2024


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Port of Nacala establishes own record in cargo handling

The Port of Nacala, achieved 3.1 million tonnes in 2023

Africa Ports & Ships

In results just released, the Mozambique Port of Nacala set a new ‘high’ in cargo handling of 3.1 million tonnes during 2023.

The port has achieved this on the back of the rehabilitation and modernisation of infrastructure at the port.

Port director, Naimo Iduna, said the figure of 3.1 million tonnes covered all three terminals at the port and was thanks to attracting new regional customers who were seeking alternatives in the face of pressure on ports in neighbouring South Africa.

“In 2022, the volume of cargo handled was 2.7 million. This global value represents 103% of what was the plan for the year 2023 and around 12.5% above what we achieved in the year 2022,” he said.

According to Iduna, the port of Nacala now has the capacity to handle 10 million tonnes of cargo per year.

This is the result of recent investments financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Ports of Nacala and Nacala-a-Velha and Nacala Logistics Corridor

Port Nacala-a-Velha

Not included in the numbers for the Port of Nacala are details and figures for the unrelated sister bulk cargo port of Nacala-a-Velha, situated on the opposite side of the huge group of bays making up Nacala.

Nacala-a-Velha caters for coal exports from the mines of Tete province, delivered by rail along a 912-km Cape gauge railway that traverses Malawi.

In 2010 permission was granted for an extension of the existng railway from the port of Nacala, linking with the railway network in Malawi, to be extended further west to the coal belt of Benga-Moatize in Mozambique’s Tete province.

The extension from the Nkaya interconnection station and Moatize was completed in 2017.

The project included construction of an export terminal and coal storage yard at the port of Nacala-a-Velha.

The railway carries general cargo in addition to heavy-haul coal trains and a further extension links the railway and port with Zambia.

Coal train along the Nacala Logistics Corridor

Vale sells Nacala Logistics Corridor to Vulcan

In late December 2021 Vale, the then owner and operator of the Moatize coal mines and the Nacala Logistics Corridor (the railway), announced it had sold both interests to Vulcan, a private company within India’s multinational conglomerate Jindal Group, which was already active in coal mining at the Chirodzi mine in Tete, Mozambique. The sale was valued at USD 270 million.

Two short YouTube videos to provide readers with a sense of this lengthy and interesting African railway success.



Added 31 January 2024


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Yet another merchant vessel attacked in the Red Sea

The Marlin Luanda burns after being hit by a Houthi missile. Picture: French Navy

by Guy Martin/ defenceWeb

In what is becoming an almost daily occurrence, Houthi forces have attacked another merchant vessel transiting the Gulf of Aden.

US Central Command said Houthis struck the Marshall Islands-flagged, Bermuda-owned M/V Marlin Luanda on 27 January with an Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile (ASBM). The vessel is transporting a cargo of Naphtha, a highly flammable liquid hydrogen mixture. Following the missile strike, a major fire ensued in one of the cargo holds.

Fortunately, swift action by multinational naval forces averted a potential disaster. The US Navy’s USS Carney (DDG 64), the French Navy Frigate FS Alsace (D656), and the Indian Navy Frigate INS Visakhapatnam (DD66) promptly responded to the distress call, providing critical firefighting material and assistance to the civilian crew onboard. Despite the intense fire, there were no casualties reported, and the ship remains seaworthy, having resumed its previous course after the fire was extinguished.

Also on 27 January, in the early hours of the morning, US Central Command forces conducted a strike against a Houthi anti-ship missile in Yemen aimed into the Red Sea and which was prepared to launch.

Houthi strikes on shipping – in support of the Palestinian cause in Gaza – continue on a regular basis, with consequent retaliation by US-led forces. For example, on 26 January Houthis fired an ASBM that struck the Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker M/V Marlin Luanda, inflicting some damage but no injuries. That same day they fired an ASBM towards the USS Carney, which managed to shoot it down.

Two days before, on 24 January, Houthis fired several ASBMs at the US-flagged, owned, and operated container ship M/V Maersk Detroit, transiting the Gulf of Aden. One missile impacted the sea and the other two were shot down by the USS Gravely (DDG 107). That same day, Central Command struck two Houthi anti-ship missiles in Yemen.

Together with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, the US conducted strikes on eight Houthi targets in areas of Yemen on 22 January in response to “increased Houthi destabilizing and illegal activities in the region.” The targets included missile systems and launchers, air defence systems, radars, and deeply buried weapons storage facilities.

“These strikes are intended to degrade Houthi capability to continue their reckless and unlawful attacks on US and UK ships as well as international commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Bab Al-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden. These strikes are separate and distinct from the multinational freedom of navigation actions performed under Operation Prosperity Guardian,” Central Command said in a statement.

Other recent Houthi attacks on shipping have targeted the M/V Chem Ranger on 18 January (targeted but not hit), the M/V Genco Picardy (hit and damaged on 17 January) and the M/V Zografia (hit and damaged on 16 January).

Written by defenceWeb and republished with permission. The original article can be found here

Added 31 January 2024


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Xeneta: Impact of Red Sea crisis more rapid than Covid-19

Shipping continues to divert away from the Red Sea

Africa Ports & Ships

The Red Sea crisis has seen ocean freight rates increase faster than the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic as swathes of shippers are told some of their contracts will not be honoured.

Xeneta, the leading ocean freight rate benchmarking and intelligence platform, has released data which reveals shipping costs on key trades from the Far East to Europe spiked more than 200% in the first 52 days of the Red Sea crisis.

Emily Stausbøll, Market Analyst, Xeneta

This outpaces the increase in rates seen during the first 52 days of the pandemic.

“Rates have not hit anywhere near the levels we saw during Covid-19, but the sudden nature of the Red Sea crisis has seen a more rapid increase in rates, which is arguably creating even more disruption than during the early months of the pandemic,” said Emily Stausbøll, Xeneta Market Analyst.

The impact of the Red Sea crisis, while more immediate, is not expected to be as prolonged as the pandemic – and shippers are becoming increasingly impatient and suspicious of carriers seeking to keep rates elevated for as long as possible.

This is backed by a poll of hundreds of Xeneta customers, which revealed almost two thirds of shippers have been told their minimum quantity commitments (MQCs) are not being honoured under existing contract agreements, with carriers pushing them onto the freight all kinds (FAK) market and higher rates.

Peter Sand, Xeneta chief analyst

Peter Sand: Xeneta Chief Analyst, said that everyone is accusing everyone at the moment, which is normal during situations when there is so much uncertainty in the market.

“Ocean freight carriers did not invent this crisis and it takes time for them to put in new shipping networks to deal with the disruption caused by diverting away from the Suez Canal.

“However, you can also see this from the shippers’ perspective who may view the rate increases as carriers acting opportunistically to maximise the money they can make.”

With the market expected to peak during February, it remains to be seen how long shippers’ patience will last.

Stausbøll added: “It is inevitable that rates will come down once carriers are able to deal with the capacity crunch in the Far East resulting from ships being delayed returning from Europe via the Cape of Good Hope.

“At the moment shippers may accept the carriers’ argument that it takes time to react to such an unexpected and sudden crisis, but that will only last so long and we may see rates begin to flatten or decline sooner than many anticipated.”

Added 31 January 2024


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TPT says improvements are happening at Cape Town Container Terminal

Cape Town Container Terminal and Ben Schoeman Dock

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet reports improvements at the Cape Town Container Terminal, following multiple initiatives having been introduced.

Evidence of this, said Transnet on Tuesday (30 January), is that during a single shift in the past week, CTCT achieved a high of 17 container moves per hour. A total of 2,388 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were handled on that one shift.

This was achieved despite fluctuating productivity.

In addition to global Navis container management system experts assisting with making full use of existing equipment by enhancing systems on-site, a continuous improvement team has also been deployed to troubleshoot, return operations to acceptable levels, and sustain the momentum, said Transnet.

The report said that on Tuesday there were four vessels at anchor and the terminal was handling an average of 1,345 trucks over 24 hours.

Encouraging, but….

The peak of 17 container moves an hour is encouraging though port users will be wishing for a much better improvement to at least 24 moves an hour, and that across all shifts. And that’s just for starters.

On our own simplistic count, based on data provided in the Transnet Recovery Plan that is supposedly issued daily, some recent achievements at the terminal have been rather dismal. Since mid January we’ve received just four Recovery Plan reports. On 16 January the terminal handled 1,568 TEUs at a hourly rate of 10.68 moves p.h. while on the previous day the tally was a dreadful 3.5 moves an hour (507 TEUs), though the terminal could have been windbound on that occasion.

On 24 January 1,700 TEUs were handled at CTCT, for an average of 11.8 crane moves per hour, while on 25 January 1,381 moves which averaged 9.50 per hour.

CTCT and RTGs at night

On this small sample it appears that the claim that CTCT was achieving an average of 10 crane moves per hour seems credible. Also that this low level of productivity is the factor most responsible for ship delays and vessels omitting the port.

Unfortunately that’s all the evidence we have, as these are the only days on which Transnet provided their ‘daily’ Recovery Plan details, despite a request from Transnet that we publish them amid assurances that they would be available daily.

Nor has Africa Ports & Ships been able to obtain a more comprehensive report asking for current productivity rates per hour across all the container terminals. Initially assured that we would be provided with the details, suddenly they became confidential and unavailable.

Nevertheless, from TPT’s published annual reports, in 2019 we see that CTCT recorded an average of 22 moves per gross crane hour, against a targeted 28. A year later this decreased to 17 (target 24) though there were extenuating circumstances accounting for this sudden decrease. The Covid-19 pandemic had struck and CTCT was particularly affected. It has never fully recovered.

So the consensus must surely be that this week’s claim of 17 moves for just one shift, though encouraging, is simply not good enough to satisfy those in industry forced through circumstance to make use of the Cape Town port and terminal.

Nor will it help remove Cape Town from among the very worst performing container terminals worldwide.

Especially not when average container moves per hour remain at around 10.

As always, Transnet deflects reasons to equipment failure, while seldom acknowledging the role of poor human productivity, though this is alluded to on rare occasions.

Oscar Borchards, now the Acting Western Cape Region Managing Executive, said the breakdowns on ship-to-shore cranes as well as rubber–tyred gantry cranes were a focal point, with original equipment manufacturers Liebherr, Kalmar and Kone Cranes focused on improving the fleet’s availability and reliability.

“All running initiatives will soon yield good results as the intention is not only to resolve the current challenge but, to ensure sustained improvement over an extended period,” he said.

Borchards said that communication efforts with all key stakeholders, including employees, was to be strengthened and maintained. It was important to foster a culture of transparency, collaboration and finding solutions together, he said.

Meanwhile, operators of lifting equipment were still undergoing training on the recently acquired batch of rubber-tyred gantry cranes.

Added 30 January 2024


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WHARF TALK: MR1 class multifunctional product and chemical tanker TIVY GOLD

The MR1 size tanker Tivy Gold preparing to sail from Cape Town’s Duncan Dock, on 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

There are one or two things you can say about all the diversionary traffic from the Southern Red Sea, all of which are the stuff of dreams for the casual maritime observer. Not only are there some unusual visitors arriving, but there are some arriving with cargoes not often seen in Southern African waters, and some operating on trade routes that would not come via the Cape sea route.

On 23rd January, at 22:00 in the late evening, the MR1 class multifunctional product and chemical tanker ‘Tivy Gold’ (IMO 9251559) arrived fully laden off Cape Town harbour, from Dumai in Indonesia. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeded into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the Repair Quay. As with so many recent arrivals, she was a divert, and was calling in for a bunkers, stores, and fresh provisions uplift, prior to continuing her voyage to her proper destination.

Built in 2003 by the Hyundai Mipo Shipyard at Ulsan in South Korea, ‘Tivy Gold’ is 176 metres in length and has a deadweight of 40,218 tons. She is powered by a single HHI Man-B&W 6S50C-C six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 11,658 bhp (8,580 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Tivy Gold. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN-B&W 6L23/30 generators providing 720 kW each, and a single SISU 634DSBIG emergency generator providing 105 kW. She has a single Alfa Laval Aalborg CHR exhaust gas boiler, and a single Alfa Laval Aalborg CHO oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability ‘Tivy Gold’ has a Kawasaki KT-88B3F bow transverse thruster providing 800 kW, with a Becker Rudder to provide additional manoeuvring capabilities.

She has 12 cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 42,682 m3. She has twelve submerged centrifugal hydraulically driven cargo pumps capable of loading, or discharging, via a midships manifold area, at a rate of 450 m3/hour. She has two slop tanks equipped with two submerged centrifugal hydraulically driven cargo pumps capable of operating at a rate of 100 m3/hour.

Tivy Gold. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of six sisterships, all built to a popular Hyundai design known as the Sea Explorer class, ‘Tivy Gold’ is nominally owned, and managed, by Tivy Gold Resource Capital Pte. Ltd., of Singapore, and operated by Kronos Shipping Co. Ltd., of Shandong in China.

Despite only having been purchased by her current owners in December 2022, ‘Tivy Gold’ has already had her name published on a Shadow Fleet list, due to her being involved in the shipping of Russian oil products, despite an international sanctions order. She was reported in the Black Sea in early November 2023, and reported as transshipping fuel products from the port of Novorossiysk, for delivery to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Confirmation of ‘Tivy Gold’ being involved with Russian exports from the Black Sea, is that she received an earlier Port State Inspection at Taman in September 2023, made under the auspices of the Black Sea MoU. The modern port of Taman lies on the shores of the Azov Sea, on the Russian side of the Kerch Strait, that separates Russia from the Crimean Peninsula. Her inspection revealed six deficiencies, but no port detention.

Tivy Gold. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Pilot boat Red Bishop alongside. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The shadow fleet operating in the Russian oil export industry is estimated to number around 600 vessels, most with mysterious ownership designed to obscure their transport of sanctioned Russian crude oil, or fuel products, which began with the start of the Russian war.

Overseas companies were quickly established following the outbreak of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, to obscure vessel origins and ownership, and to appear both law-abiding and non-sanctioned. These vessels are described as a ‘Shadow Fleet’ because it is difficult to determine legality, and sanctions compliance, in many cases.

Back in February 2009, ‘Tivy Gold’ under her original name of ‘Vallermosa’ was en route from Rotterdam, to Southampton, with a full cargo of 35,000 m3 of Jet A1 Fuel. She had entered Southampton Water under Pilotage, and was making her way to her working berth at the BP Marine Terminal, at Hamble. Due to an error in her customs declaration, BP cancelled her berthing despite her being a short distance away, and she was instructed to return to the outer Nab anchorage.

Tivy Gold. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The pilot decided to turn her around when she was abeam the ExxonMobil Marine Terminal at Fawley, but without tug assistance, using her bow thruster and Becker rudder. The turning manoeuvre, opposite the Fawley terminal, went awry and ‘Vallermosa’ first struck the product tanker ‘Navion Fennia’, which was discharging at Fawley. The Officer of the Watch on ‘Navion Fennia’ hit the cargo pumps emergency stop buttons as soon as the collision occurred.

The ‘Vallermosa’ then struck a second product tanker discharging at Fawley’, the ‘BW Orinoco’, causing hull damage. Quick thinking by the Officer of the Watch on ‘BW Orinoco’, who realised that a collision was imminent, stopped discharging just before the second impact. The impact also caused damage to her stern, and two of her four cargo hoses split, with an estimated 600 litres of fuel spilled into Southampton Water.

After berthing at the BP Hamble terminal, she completed her discharge, and then had to sail to Vlissingen in Holland to receive repairs to her badly damaged forecastle. After the incident, the Southampton Port authorities changed the rules, and banned any vessel from entering the Thorn Channel, which leads past both the Fawley and the Hamble Marine Terminals, unless the tanker in question had a guaranteed berth at either terminal.

Tivy Gold. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In Cape Town, as expected with a bunkers only stop, ‘Tivy Gold’ was ready to sail after just fifteen hours alongside. At 13:00 in the early afternoon, she sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS showing that she was bound for New Orleans, in the US State of Louisiana. A routing from Indonesia to the US Gulf of Mexico is not ordinarily made via the Cape sea route. She was clearly loaded down to her marks on sailing, with her cargo from Indonesia.

The port of departure in Indonesia, Dumai, is located just north of the Equator, and lies on the northern coast of the island of Sumatra, facing the Strait of Malacca at 01°40’ North 101°27’ East. The main industry of the port is linked to the Palm Oil and Palm Kernel agribusiness, but not limited to Palm Oil production, as with many other similar ports in the region.

Tivy Gold. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Escorting tug is Umbilo. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Dumai is the location of three large, and modern, Oleochemical production plants. Oleochemicals are those chemicals produced from vegetable and animal matter. In the case of Dumai the major products manufactured are Fatty Acids and Fatty Alcohols, with the latter production being over 400,000 tons per year.

Fatty Acids are used mainly in the manufacture of foodstuffs, cosmetics and medicines, and include Oleochemicals such as Glycerine. Fatty Alcohols are used in the manufacture of a wide variety of products, and which includes shampoos, soaps, cleaning products and liquid detergents.

The benefit of Oleochemicals is that they are natural, biodegradable, renewable, and environmentally friendly. The strong likelihood was that ‘Tivy Gold’ was carrying one of these Palm Oil, or Palm Kernel, derived Oleochemical products, destined for use in the US manufacturing industry.

Added 30 January 2024


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Ramaphosa to officiate at SA’s AfCFTA launch at Durban port

Africa and its nations

Africa Ports & Ships

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Wednesday (31 January) officiate the launch of South Africa’s first shipment and preferential trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The launch ceremony will take place at the Port of Durban and occurs on the margins of the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers meeting to be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre from 30 – 31 January 2024.

South Africa is the first among the four Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries to practically realise the AfCFTA agreement.

The 37th African Union Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government will, at its annual convention next month, take stock of the progress made thus far in the implementation of the AfCFTA.

The successful implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to lead to diversification of exports, increased productive capacity, acceleration of growth, increased investment, increased employment opportunities and incomes and most importantly, broaden economic inclusion both in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

It provides South African exporters with new market access opportunities to key markets in the African continent and can unlock growth.

President Ramaphosa will be joined by dignitaries including the AfCFTA Council of Ministers, who will witness the first shipment of Proudly South African products exported to the continent in terms of AfCFTA. –

Added 30 January 2024


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In Conversation: Somaliland has been pursuing independence for 33 years. Expert explains the impact of the latest deal with Ethiopia

Africa Ports & Ships

Aleksi Ylönen, United States International University

Somaliland declared itself an independent state in 1991. It used colonial boundary lines to separate itself from Somalia. More than three decades later, however, it has yet to gain international recognition. It has had a difficult relationship with Somalia. A recent memorandum of understanding to grant landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea threatens the relationship further. But it could support Somaliland’s quest for recognition as an independent state. We asked Aleksi Ylönen, who has studied politics in the Horn of Africa and Somaliland’s quest for independence, some questions about this situation.

1. What has Somaliland achieved in its quest for statehood?

Somaliland unilaterally declared its independence in 1991, based heavily on its separate colonial experience from Somalia. Britain declared a Somaliland protectorate in 1884. Italy established another protectorate, which became a colony, in 1889.

British Somaliland gained independence on 26 June 1960. It voluntarily joined the former Italian Somaliland upon its independence on 1 July 1960 to form Somalia.

This union was never formally ratified and eventually fell apart.

In the decades since 1991, Somaliland’s people and their representatives have emphasised their distinct colonial status and associated borders. Regional organisations and foreign powers have adhered to colonial boundaries when recognising independent states in post-colonial Africa.

Somaliland’s political system is democratic in a neighbourhood of authoritarian states like Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Sudans.

Somaliland has organised successful elections and peaceful transfers of political power. Recently, however, there has been some backsliding.

Its security apparatus is elaborate. With the active contribution of citizens, it has ensured a measure of internal stability and security in an otherwise troubled region.

No United Nations member state or global organisation recognises Somaliland’s independence officially. Still, Somaliland has unofficial diplomatic relations with various UN member states. It also maintains relations with other marginalised nations and territories and partially recognised Taiwan.

Several foreign nations have representative offices in its capital, Hargeisa. It maintains liaison offices in 20 countries on five continents.

2. How would you describe the relationship with Somalia?

It’s turbulent.

The Federal Republic of Somalia rejects Somaliland’s independence and agreements with foreign parties. Meanwhile, Somaliland has accused Mogadishu of involvement in the conflict in its eastern territories.

Negotiations over their relationship have taken place from time to time since 2012, with little progress.

Ethiopia’s recent announcement of a memorandum of understanding with Somaliland has set back relations between Somaliland and Somalia even further.

Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland president Muse Bihi Abdi in January announced a plan to give Ethiopia access to 20km of the Somaliland shoreline.

In exchange, Ethiopia said it would seriously consider Somaliland’s aim of international recognition. The exchange also included Somaliland getting a stake in Ethiopian Airlines or EthioTelecom.

The government of Somalia reacted swiftly to this announcement.

It held an emergency parliamentary session and withdrew its ambassador from Ethiopia for consultations. It also declared the proposed deal “null and void” and a sign of Ethiopian “aggression” towards Somalia.

3. What other bilateral arrangements has Somaliland signed?

Many of the deals Somaliland has made with foreign agencies haven’t been made public. It does have unofficial diplomatic ties with various countries. It has also made agreements with foreign countries and organisations linked to their political elites.

These include deals around infrastructure development and management, as well as investment and natural resource extraction.

Ethiopia-Somaliland ties have been strong for decades.

In the early 1980s, Addis Ababa provided sanctuary for the Somali National Movement, which sought to topple the repressive Siad Barre administration in Somalia.

In the 1990s, Ethiopia eyed Somaliland as a possible import-export route to the sea to lower its reliance on Djibouti.

As a result, Dubai Ports World, a state-linked United Arab Emirates ports and logistics company, agreed with the Somaliland administration to develop and manage the Berbera port in 2016. Two years later, Ethiopia agreed to take a 19% stake in a Berbera port consortium.

Although Ethiopia didn’t follow through, it still had plans for a logistics corridor through Somaliland.

4. What can Ethiopia offer Somaliland on the independence issue?

The understanding between Addis Ababa and Hargeisa includes a provision for an in-depth assessment of Somaliland as a sovereign state. This would make Ethiopia the first UN member state to recognise it.

It would give Somaliland what it wants most. Recognition would help open doors for international public financing and raise Somaliland’s status in the region.

Ethiopia seems committed to the proposed deal. Some of the reasons for this include:

Somaliland is holding a long-delayed presidential election towards the end of 2024. Gaining international recognition would likely give President Muse Bihi Abdi a second term in office, even though he has been criticised for mishandling the conflict in Somaliland’s eastern borderlands. People in this area have tried to set up their own state as part of federal Somalia.

5. Why has Somaliland made so little progress and what needs to change?

Achieving recognition has been a foreign policy priority for Somaliland. All administrations have made efforts to raise awareness about its situation internationally.

But international politics have not favoured Somaliland. Most states, including great and middle powers, fear that recognising Somaliland could be destabilising. They have opted to support unity, and peace and state building of federal Somalia.

One of their reasons for non-recognition is that Somaliland’s 1991 self-declaration of independence may appear illegal under international law.

In my view, it’s wrong to think that dividing up states inevitably causes instability and conflict. Each case is unique and deserves consideration based on historical and legal arguments, as well as current conditions.The Conversation

Aleksi Ylönen, Professor, United States International University

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

Added 30 January 2024


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Djibouti, Red Sea Area: IMO maritime security training support

Picture: IMO

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Port facility personnel with designated security duties in Djibouti have received training to identify potential security threats and take action to prevent risks to port facilities.

A workshop held from 21-25 January was organised by IMO through the EU-funded Regional Programme on Maritime Security in the Red Sea Area, bringing together 38 participants. This was reported at the end of the week just past by the IMO media service

Participants, civilian and military, represented the Maritime Administration, the navy, the coast guard, Gendarmerie Nationale, immigration, and included port facility security officers, access control officers, training officers, port authority and relevant port facility managers.

The course (based on IMO model course 3.24) provided the knowledge required for staff to perform duties in accordance with key IMO safety and security instruments: the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); chapter XI-2, the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code; the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code; and the IMO/ILO Code of Practice on Security in Ports.

This event fostered collaboration between agencies with an interest in port security – a cornerstone of the Red Sea Programme. The Programme, funded by the European Union, is delivered by IMO, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INTERPOL and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

It is understood that with this principle IMO aims to assist participating countries in the Southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, to enhance maritime security and safety in the Red Sea Area, in line with the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy.

To find out more about IMO and the Red Sea Area readers are invited to see here, and to read IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez’ message ‘Seafarer safety comes first in Red Sea’ see here footnote.

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Indian Navy ship rescues 19 Pakistani sailors from pirates

Indian Navy patrol ship, INS Sumitra P59, keeping busy capturing pirates

Africa Ports & Ships

The Indian navy reports that the patrol ship INS Sumitra (P59) has carried out a successful interception and rescue of 19 Pakistani sailors.

On Monday 29 January INS Sumitra conducted its second anti-piracy operation in 36 hours. The latest operation involved the Iranian motorised fishing dhow Al Naeemi with a crew of 19, seized by 11 armed Somali pirates.

After intercepting the fishing vessel, navy forces from the patrol ship used their onboard helicopter and fast seaboat to help persuade the pirates to surrender before boarding the vessel and freeing all 19 seafarers. The pirates were taken into custody.

The action took place off the east coast of Somalia.

Earlier, INS Sumitra was involved in preventing a pirate attack on another fishing vessel named Iman.

It is believed the pirates intended using one or more of the fishing vessels as ‘mother ships’ while attacking other vessels at sea.

Watch short YouTube video of this incident [1:45]

Added 30 January 2024


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15,000-TEU LNG-powered container ship calls at Lekki

CMA CGM Scandola, currently calling at Lekki deep sea port. Picture by VesselFinder

Africa Ports & Ships

CMA CGM’s LNG-powered containership, the 14,812-TEU capacity CMA CGM Scandola (IMO 9859129) is the latest very large container ship to call at Nigeria’s new deep sea port of Lekki.

The 366-metre long, 51m wide ship, built in 2020, arrived in the Nigerian port on Monday 29 January from Tema in Ghana, her other West Africa port of call on the FW1/WAX service that CMA CGM shares with Maersk.

Each week another ship in the 13,000 + range is expected to call at the West African ports of Tema, Lekki, Abidjan, and Pointe Noire. At 14,812-TEU, CMA CGM Scandola well exceeds that arbitrary mark.

The introduction of these very large container ships, and having access to four ports able to accommodate them comfortably, is changing the landscape of shipping into West Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa itself for that matter.

The arrival of one of these size vessels that is biomethane- and e-methane-ready, sets another marker for the region.

The rotation of the WAX/FW1 service is Qingdao, Kwangyang, Shanghai, Ningbo, Shekou, Nansha, Singapore, Tanjung Pelepas, Tema, Lekki, Abidjan, Pointe Noire, Colombo, Singapore, Xiamen, Qingdao.

On completion of her call at Lekki, CMA CGM Scandola will proceed to Abidjan in Liberia.

The Lekki Deep Sea Port, situated within the Lagos Free Trade Zone, was developed, built and operated by LPLE, a joint venture enterprise led by the Tolaram Group, the Lagos State Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority. CMA CGM, through its subsidiary CMA Terminals, is the port’s container terminal operator.

Added 30 January 2024


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Wharf Talk: Coast of cruisers and floating workhorses

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, now on the South African coast. Picture: Trevor Jones

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

Since November Transnet has been issuing a daily Port Recovery Plan giving details of the number of container ships at the respective South African ports, including those outside and whether the number waiting outside port is being reduced.

These weekday reports, which Africa Ports & Ships has featured where possible, remain useful in showing progress in reducing the delays to shipping. They don’t however reflect the full story of the challenges facing South Africa’s much maligned ports.

Whilst we have attempted to republish these daily, for reasons unknown to us, they have become sporadic in appearance. If you’ve wondered why we republish these only certain days in the week, the reason is simple. On some days we have nothing to bring you.

Now, and just for interest sake, we bring you a quick glance at which ships are working at South Africa’s ports this Monday, 29 January 2024. Keep in mind that ships come and ships go during the day and night, and what we indicate here may well have been the position around midday, whereas by later afternoon things might be somewhat different.

AIS Services

If you need to be up to date and ‘with it’ then make use of one of the AIS services such as – do also have a look at our updated Ship Movement reports covering ports both locally and regionally.

Taking a quick look at our ports then, and starting with cruise ships there are a surprising number currently on the long southern African coast. Beginning with Lüderitz in southern Namibia we find Silversea’s Silver Spirit introducing passengers to the wonders of the desert. Silversea ships are longtime visitors to South Africa, for more than 25 years.

Cape Town, the ‘Mother City’, has two cruises ship in port today. One is the former Hapag-Lloyd vessel Hamburg, having arrived from Tristan da Cunha. Hamburg is now owned by the Conti Group and operated by Plantours Kreuzfahrten of Germany. The other cruise ship in port is Fred Olsen Line’s Bolette, after completing her cruise along the coast from Richards Bay and Durban and other ports further south. Bolette has now remained in Cape Town for several days.

Moving eastwards along the Southern Coast we should come across the cruise ship AIDAsol on a heading towards Cape Town, ex Port Elizabeth. Around noon she was roughly opposite Stilbaai.

Port Elizabeth hit the jackpot today, with three ships in port at the same time, including Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. With her along the Charl Malan Quay are Azamara Pursuit, continuing her multiple cruises on South Africa’s coast, and Norwegian Dawn.

One imagines it might be a tad crowded with all the buses and people!

Next up along the coast heading and east is Durban, where MSC Splendida is at the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal exchanging passengers ahead of her return overnight to the Mozambique coast for another 4 or so days of cruising in the sun.

The word along the wharfside is that Splendida is not turning out to be the ideal ship for South African cruising and will be replaced later this year by an old favourite, MSC Musica. Perhaps Splendida is just too big for this market although the reports mention too much clutter around the lido deck areas with too little space for lounging. There will be other reasons too.

We wonder how popular the yacht club facility is proving? This is something unique and exclusive to most local cruisers. Any readers’ news or views who have experienced the ‘upper class’ on the ship will be welcome.

On a heading northeast away from Durban and off the Zululand coast at noon was another MSC ship, MSC Poesia, ex Durban and next port Zanzibar.

The nearby port of Richards Bay lacked a cruise ship on this day, although the port, with its close proximity to authentic game reserves including a World Heritage Site, is one of the most popular ports for cruise ships. It did however have a ship listed as a ‘passenger vessel’, the Logos Hope – in reality a floating library and book store.

Originally a car ferry, Logos Hope is owned by a German shipping company GBA Ships who operate her as a faith-based charity.

The vehicle carrier Hoegh New York, which at the time of writing was in Durban port. Picture: FleetMon

Cargo ships

That’s the cruise ship scenario for today, Monday 29 January. But what about the other ships in port at this time? Here’s a quick roundup.

Saint Helena Bay (an anchorage point mostly for Saldanha or occasionally Cape Town:

There were five bulk carriers and one ore carrier, all waiting for berths at the port of Saldanha.

Saldanha Bay:

Three bulk or ore carriers, and one crude oil tanker (Capesize).

Cape Town:

Apart from the two cruise ships, the port included five container ships (three at CTCT), two reefers (plus one outside), two general cargo ships, one crude oil tanker for repairs, three tankers and 19 ships of various types at anchor or drifting outside.

Mossel Bay:

A single vessel in port – an offshore supply vessel, and two tankers at anchor outside.

Port Elizabeth:

Apart from the three cruise ships taking all the attention in port on this day, PE also has two bulkers working cargo and one tanker.


Two container ships and three bulkers.

Algoa Bay:

A total of 11 vessels at anchor outside Port Elizabeth and Ngqura, including several bunker tankers unable to operate due to a dispute.

East London:

The river port here is quiet with a single vehicles carrier in port.


The Durban port is invariable a busy place, and today is no exception, though Maydon Wharf is not too busy. In addition to the cruise ship already reported, the following ships were found: Island View – 6 tankers and 1 bulker. Bluff – 2 bulkers. Pier 1 – 2 bulkers, 3 container ships. Pier 2 – 4 container ships. Maydon Wharf – 5 bulkers. Car Terminal – 3 vehicle carriers. T Jetty – 2 bulkers, 1 French naval ship. Point – 2 container ships, 1 tanker.

Durban anchorage:

A total of 31 vessels outside, evenly split between container ships, tankers and bulk carriers.

Richards Bay

The situation in Richards Bay is 1 ship at RBCT, 9 bulkers and 1 general cargo vessel at the general port, plus the library ship Logos Hope. There are 11 vessels outside, mostly bulkers.

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The cable laying vessel Decisive in Cape Town harbour on 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

For as long as the indiscriminate Houthi attacks on shipping continue in the Southern Red Sea, so the variety of diverted vessels calling into Durban and Cape Town for bunkers and stores is going to broaden. The likelihood is that some unusual, and possibly rare, vessel types are going to turn up at some point during the current emergency, leaving the casual maritime observers in raptures.

The point defense maritime force in the region is the United States Navy, and their 5th Fleet, which currently has a minimum of three Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers patrolling off the Yemen coast. The actions of the US in the region, with their attacks on Houthi facilities, have resulted in vessels linked to the USA becoming targets.

That means American flagged vessels, once regular callers in South African ports with the likes of vessels of the Lykes Lines and Moore-McCormack Lines, were likely to be amongst the diverted callers. The rarity of seeing the Stars and Stripes in Cape Town, or Durban, was certainly something to look forward to. The question was what type of vessel would it be?

On 23rd January, at 11:00 in the late morning, the cable vessel ‘Decisive’ (IMO 9242364) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Salalah in Oman, and went to anchor for a short ten hour period. Like many recent arrivals, the short wait out in the Table Bay anchorage is merely due to the availability of one of the bunkering berths in Cape Town harbour. At 21:00 that evening, she entered Cape Town, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and berthed at the Landing Wall.

Decisive. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2003 by Keppel Shipyard in Singapore, ‘Decisive’ is 140 metres in length and has a deadweight of 10,077 tons. She is a diesel-electric vessel and has five Rolls-Royce Bergen Normo KRGB-9 generators producing 1,990 Kw each, and giving her an overall power output of 13,530 bhp (9,950 kW).

Power is transferred to two ABB motors, which drive two ABB AMB630L6L VAFTMB azimuth thrusters, each producing 3,100 kW to give her a service speed of 14.5 knots. For added manoeuvrability she has two bow transverse thrusters, each providing 1,700 kW. The mix of azimuth thrusters and bow thrusters gives her a dynamic positioning classification of DP2.

She is equipped with a cable trenching plough, and a Remote Operational Vehicle (ROV), both used in the laying of transoceanic submarine cable. She has a 65 ton stern ‘A’ Frame for launching the plough, plus stern sheaves for cable laying. Her cable laying support equipment can be moved around the aft working deck by two 10 ton deck cranes.

Decisive. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

With an operational range of 25,000 nautical miles, ‘Decisive’ has an endurance of 60 days. For her submarine cable laying operations she has a cable carrying capacity of 5,465 tons. She is one of six sisterships, known as the Reliance Class, originally built as ‘Tyco decisive’ for the Tyco International company, where all of their cable ships were given the prefix ‘Tyco’.

With her home port of registry being Baltimore, in the US State of Maryland, ‘Decisive’ was proudly flying ‘Old Glory’ from her stern whilst alongside in Cape Town, a fine sight to see in a South African port. She is owned by Transoceanic Cable Ship Co. LLC, of Baltimore, and is operated and managed by Subcom LLC, of Eatontown in the US State of New Jersey, whose company houseflag she displays on her funnel.

Decisive. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Subcom LLC has an unusual history. They are a company born out of an American Cold War project to spy on the submarines of the old Soviet Union Navy. They currently present a double persona, as publicly they are one of the world’s largest developers of submarine fiber-optic cables for multinational telecommunications firms and tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Meta Platforms.

However, behind the scenes, Subcom LLC is also contracted exclusively to the US Military to lay submarine cables in support of clandestine operations in partnership with the US Department of Defense. So ‘Decisive’, together with her fleet sistership ‘Dependable’ the US Government’s First Cable Security Fleet, which is used in support of often secret operations.

In 2021, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded an ongoing annual US$10 million (ZAR187.91 million) contract to provide undersea cable security with two cable vessels. Subcom LLC selected both ‘Decisive’ and ‘Dependable’ from the fleet for responsibility for maintaining, or repairing, cables for the economic interests of the US Department of Defense partnership.

Decisive. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

An example of this US Military partnership was provided when they laid the first half of a commercial cable from Perth, in Western Australia, to the middle of the Indian Ocean, but one that had a spur to the US Military base on Diego Garcia, in the British Indian Ocean Territory. This cable then continued on to Salalah in Oman.

In normal circumstances ‘Decisive’ is based in the Atlantic Ocean, and often from a base in Avonmouth, close to the city of Bristol in the United Kingdom. In 2022 she laid the Facebook sponsored Amitié telecommunications cable from Lynn, in the US State of Massachusetts, to Bude in the UK County of Cornwall, with a spur to Bordeaux in France.

Prior to her departure from Salalah, en route to Cape Town, ‘Decisive’ had sailed there from Djibouti. This was part of her laying cables as part of the India-Europe-Express (IEX) submarine cable that links Mumbai in India, to Marseille in France, on a routing with spurs to Salalah, Djibouti, Yanbu (Saudi Arabia), Duba (Saudi Arabia) and Zafarana (Egypt), before an overland cable run to Sidi Kerir on the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, and then onwards to Tympaki (Greece), Savona (Italy), and finally Marseille.

Decisive. Cape Town, 24 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her stay in Cape Town was longer than a normal period of time set aside for merely an uplift of bunkers, stores and fresh provisions, which indicates that she was also receiving shoreside engineering, or technical, support, or possibly a crew change based on the direct flights by both Delta Airlines, and United Airlines, from Cape Town International Airport to Atlanta and Newark in the USA.

After a stay of almost two and a half days, ‘Decisive’ was ready to sail, and her onward destination was more proof that she was a Red Sea divert. At 07:00 on the morning of 26th January she sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS set for Avonmouth in the UK. A voyage from Salalah to Avonmouth, via the Red Sea, Suez and the Mediterranean would normally take just over a fortnight, as opposed to one of over six weeks via the Cape sea route.

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$70 million Djibouti port expansion completed

Doraleh Container Terminal, Port of Djibouti

Africa Ports & Ships

A US$ 70 million Djibouti port expansion project has been completed.

The expansion of the Gulf of Aden port, situated close to the Bab el-Mandeb Strait that leads into the southern Red Sea, is intended to meet the increasing demand and specifically to cater for trade with neighbouring Ethiopia, with whom Djibouti is connected by a standard gauge railway and by road.

The expansion has gone ahead even as Ethiopia and another neighbour, nominally-independent Somaliland enter into a pact whereby landlocked Ethiopia hopes to acquire land that will provide it with a direct independent route to the sea.

According to Djibouti port authorities, the expansion of the Djibouti Port Expansion project and in particular the extensive improvements at the Doraleh Container Terminal within the port, means that Ethiopia will benefit from lower rates for the shipment of its cargo.

The expansion of the Doraleh Container Terminal means that the port is now capable of accommodating the largest container ships up to 23,000 TEU capacity.

A further four ship-to-shore (STS) high-capacity cranes have entered service at the terminal, an increase of 50% in the number available.

The stacking area of the terminal has been expanded by 20%, adding to the port’s capacity.

In response to the controversy that has arisen over the reports of the land deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland, Ethiopia says that the MoU signed with Somaliland does not amount to an annexation of a portion of Somaliland’s territory but is purely a business arrangement in which Ethiopia will lease a narrow 20-km wide strip leading to the Gulf of Aden.

Ethiopia will not be assuming sovereignty over the strip of land, it said, pointing out that the two countries share a common language and culture and making their destinies intertwined and inseparable.

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UNCTAD raises alarm on global trade disruptions

Convoy of ships using the Suez Canal. UNCTAD advises that traffic through the canal is down 42% as a result of the Red Sea crisis further south

Africa Ports & Ships

The UN’s trade and development body, UNCTAD, has raised profound concerns over escalating disruptions to global trade.

It says that recent attacks on ships in the Red Sea, combined with geopolitical tensions affecting shipping in the Black Sea and the impacts of climate change on the Panama Canal, have given rise to a complex crisis affecting key trade routes.

UNCTAD’s head of trade logistics, Jan Hoffmann, outlined the organization’s detailed analysis of the situation at the UN’s daily press briefing on 26 January. He underlined maritime transport’s critical role in international trade, noting that it is responsible for approximately 80% of the global movement of goods.

Disruptions in the Black Sea and Panama and Suez Canals

The Suez Canal, a critical waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, handled approximately 12% to 15% of global trade in 2023. UNCTAD estimates that the trade volume going through the Suez Canal decreased by 42% over the last two months.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has also triggered substantial shifts in oil and grain trades, reshaping established trade patterns.

Meanwhile, the Panama Canal, another key artery for global trade, is grappling with a severe drought that has diminished water levels, resulting in a staggering 36% reduction in total transits over the past month compared to a year ago.

The long-term implications of climate change on the canal’s capacity are raising concerns about enduring impacts on global supply chains. The crisis in the Red Sea, marked by Houthi-led attacks disrupting shipping routes, has added another layer of complexity.

Container ship transits plummet as freight rates and emissions surge

In response to the Red Sea crisis, major players in the shipping industry have temporarily suspended Suez transits.

Notably, weekly container ship transits have plummeted by 67%. Tanker transits and gas carriers are also experiencing significant declines.

Meanwhile, shipping prices are increasing. The $500 surge in the average container spot freight rates during the last week of December was the highest ever weekly increase.

Average container shipping spot rates from Shanghai have more than doubled (+122%) since early December. More specifically, the rates from Shanghai to Europe have more than tripled (+256%), while rates to the west coast of the United States increased by 162%, although ships on this route do not go through the Suez Canal.

Insurance premiums have also surged, compounding the overall cost of transit.

Additionally, ships rerouted from the Suez and Panama Canal routes are compelled to travel faster to compensate for detours, burning more fuel per mile and emitting more CO2, further exacerbating environmental concerns.

“Here we see the global impact of the crisis, as ships are seeking alternative routes,” Mr. Hoffmann said.

Global implications: Increases in energy and food prices

UNCTAD underscored the far-reaching economic implications of these disruptions.

Prolonged interruptions, particularly in container shipping, pose a direct threat to global supply chains, raising the risk of delayed deliveries and higher costs.

While current container rates are approximately half of the peak seen during the COVID-19 crisis, it will take time for the higher prices to hit consumers, with the full impact expected within a year.

Energy prices are witnessing a surge as gas transits are discontinued, directly impacting energy supplies, especially in Europe.

The crisis is also impacting global food prices, with longer distances and higher freight rates potentially cascading into increased costs. Disruptions in grain shipments from Europe, the Russian Federation and Ukraine pose risks to global food security, affecting consumers and lowering the prices paid to producers.

Impact on developing countries and the need for collective action

“Developing countries are particularly vulnerable to these disruptions, and UNCTAD remains vigilant in monitoring the evolving situation,” Hoffmann said.

The organization emphasized the urgent need for swift adaptations from the shipping industry and robust international cooperation to navigate the rapid reshaping of global trade dynamics.

The current challenges underscore trade’s vulnerability to geopolitical tensions and climate-related challenges, demanding collective efforts for sustainable solutions, especially in support of the countries more vulnerable to these shocks.

Added 29 January 2024


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ICS Publishes 2023/24 Shipping Industry Flag State Performance Table

Africa Ports & Ships

The 2023/2024 Shipping Industry Flag State Performance, published by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), indicates continuing positive performance by the vast majority of Flag States which are responsible for the safety and environmental performance of the world’s merchant ships.

The Table is intended to encourage shipowners to maintain a dialogue with their flag States, and help facilitate any necessary improvements in the interests of safety, environmental protection and decent working conditions.

As in previous years, reports the ICS, a number of Flag States have shown positive indicators for all of the criteria used in the Table. These include Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Denmark, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Liberia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Negative indicators

In the 2023/2024 Table, a number of Flag States, including Togo, Algeria, and Comoros, continue to record large amounts of negative performance indicators, highlighting the need to encourage shipowners and operators to examine whether a Flag State has sufficient substance before using it.

On the positive side, a number of smaller flag States, including Costa Rica, Egypt, Mexico, and Thailand, show an increase in the number of positive performance indicators compared to the previous Flag State Performance Table.


The ICS report says overall improvements were seen this year in flag State’s attendance at International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings.

This was also evident in the use of well-performing Recognized Organizations authorised by flag State administrations – as shown by Port State Control inspection data – to carry out the survey and certification of ships to ensure compliance with IMO and International Labour Organization (ILO) regulations governing safety, environmental performance and labour standards.

ICS Secretary-General Guy Platten

Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping, described the information in this year’s highly anticipated ICS Flag State Performance Table as continuing to be positive. He said there were notable improvements in several areas including governments’ attendance at IMO meetings.

“It is a positive development that this year’s ICS Flag State Performance Table shows that smaller Flag States have shown improvements in performance. The table also shows that, unfortunately, a number of Flag States continue to record large amounts of negative performance indicators which Flag States must address, for the benefit of the entire shipping industry.”

Platten said he encourages shipowners and operators to use this vital tool to examine whether a Flag State has sufficient substance before using it, and to put pressure on their flag Administrations to affect any improvements that might be necessary, especially in relation to safety of life at sea, the protection of the marine environment, and the provision of decent working and living conditions for seafarers.

“At a time of heightened uncertainty this offers valuable resource for the industry so that the necessary steps to tackle areas of underperformance can be addressed,” he said.

For a pdf copy of the report see here.

Added 29 January 2024


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Maersk names first methanol-enabled container ship Ane Maersk

Maersk’s first large methanol-enabled container ship Ane Maersk at the Ulsan shipyard. Picture: Maersk

Africa Ports & Ships

Maersk has officially named its first large methanol-enabled container ship Ane Maersk (IMO 9948748) at a ceremony in the shipyard of HD Hyundai Heavy Industries (HD HHI) in Ulsan, South Korea.

The vessel is named after Ane Mærsk Mc-Kinney Uggla, the Chair of the A.P. Moller Foundation and A.P. Moller Holding. Ane’s eldest granddaughter served as godmother and christened the vessel by breaking a champagne bottle over the bow.

The 189,508-DWT Ane Mærsk is the first of Maersk’s 18 large methanol-enabled vessels, that will be delivered between 2024 and 2025. It is the world’s second methanol-enabled container vessel.

In the beginning of February, the 349 metre long, 54m-wide ship will enter service on the AE7 string connecting Asia and Europe, which Maersk says marks a significant milestone in its company’s commitment to pioneering low-emissions shipping solutions.

Innovative design

The vessels in the new series have an industry-first innovative design with the bridge and accommodation placed at the very front of the vessel, which according to Maersk, ensures fuel efficient operations.

At this month’s naming ceremony for Ane Maersk

“This series of vessels will have a transformative impact on our ambition to progress on our industry-leading climate ambitions,” says Vincent Clerc, Chief Executive Officer of A.P. Moller-Maersk.

“It is a visual and operational proof of our commitment to a more sustainable industry. With Ane Mærsk and her sister vessels we are expanding our offer to the growing number of businesses aiming to reduce emissions from their supply chains.”

The new vessel will begin her maiden voyage on green1 methanol* while Maersk continues to work on 2024-2025 sourcing and bunkering solutions for its methanol-enabled vessel fleet.

* Maersk says it defines ‘green fuels’ as fuels with low to very low GHG emissions over their life cycle compared to fossil fuels. Different green fuels achieve different life cycle reductions depending on their production pathway. By ‘low’ this refers to fuels with 65-80% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels. This covers, e.g., some biodiesels. ‘Very low’ refers to fuels with 80-95% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels.

Added 29 January 2024


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IATA & ACAO: Global Standards for Dangerous Goods Shipments by Air

Airfreight cargo

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Cooperation on implementing extended

It was reported from Geneva on 22 January that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have extended their long-standing cooperation on setting and implementing global standards for the safe carriage of dangerous goods by air.

An agreement to this effect was concluded at the IATA Executive Offices in Geneva during a visit by ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar during which greater collaboration between the two organizations was discussed.

IATA began issuing guidance for the carriage of Dangerous Goods on aircraft back in 1956 and has been updating and devising standards ever since. A more formalized approach on this subject was taken at a regulatory level by the adoption of ICAO Annex 18 in January 1984. This outlines the broad principles for the international transport of dangerous goods. Technical Instructions For The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air amplify the basic provisions of Annex 18 and contain all the detailed instructions necessary for the safe international transport of dangerous goods by air. In addition, they provide guidance to States for inspection and oversight.

Based on the Technical Instructions agreed on at government level through ICAO, IATA works with the aviation industry to develop the applicable practical tools and operational recommendations. These are issued as the Dangerous Goods Regulations and are global standards applicable to the entire value chain – manufacturers, shippers, airlines, freight forwarders and ground handlers. These regulations include operator variations, supporting documents, tools, guidelines and notes which are essential for a practical, consistent approach to the safe acceptance, inspection, handling and carriage of dangerous goods on aircraft.

In the words of Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General: “The safe carriage of dangerous goods has become common practice, thanks to the strict adherence to global standards and guidelines. Today’s agreement ensures that dangerous goods will continue to be handled according to the highest globally applicable standards.

“To this effect, IATA will continue its advocacy work with key stakeholders to maintain a globally aligned, and practically focused approach to the regulated transport of dangerous goods. This will lead to more efficient and robust supply chains whilst upholding aviation’s number one priority of safety.”

About IATA

IATA represents some 320 airlines comprising 83% of global air traffic.

Readers may find IATA announcements, policy positions, and other useful industry information on twitter here:

More information on the definition of Dangerous Goods transported by air can be found here.

IATA’s commitment to Net Zero is explained here: Our Commitment to Fly Net Zero by 2050

Added 29 January 2024


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Coal: RBCT hits record low last seen in 1992

Richards Bay Coal Terminal, limited by lack of rail service

by Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

The great Port of Richards Bay developed around its coal terminal. Before the decision to construct an export coal terminal connected by a heavy-haul railway from the mines up country, Richards Bay was an environmentally pristine natural bay on the coast of Zululand in what is now northern KZN. Known best for some good fishing!

The success of that decision and action taken in the 1970s is legend, and RBCT, as the Richards Bay Coal Terminal is known across the mining world, developed from strength to strength as the port expanded into one of South Africa’s finest ports, handling a range of mineral exports and a multitude of other processed products.

Year by year volumes grew at RBCT and elsewhere in the port, culminating in 2017 with a record 76.47 million tonnes of coal alone being exported.

In 2023 the terminal exported 47.21 million tonnes.

So what went wrong? Since the peak of six years ago volumes have plummeted and the 2023 export volumes figure of 47.21 million tonnes is even below that of 1992 when the terminal exported 48.59mt.

Reasons provided by RBCT management, representing the 13 coal miner shareholders including Exxaro, Thungela Resources and Glencore, relate to the ongoing poor performance of Transnet Freight Rail, specifying locomotive shortages, lack of spares, and damages caused to the infrastructure by neglect and criminal activity.

Nor does the immediate future look that much better. At an online briefing last week RBCT’s chief executive officer, Alan Waller, said that Transnet had set a target of delivering 60mt to the terminal, which hadn’t been reached.

Annual rail targets for the previous six years in fact haven’t been achieved. Earlier in January two trains collided outside Richards Bay, typifying the delays and loss although in this instance the line was restored to service within 4-5 days.

Coal has also been exported through the port’s multi purpose terminal, which lies in a different section and terminal of the port. Details of those volumes are not readily available. Coal for the MPT arrives by rail and by road, but the problems arising from TFR’s inability to cope with the demand on rail has resulted in heavy road congestion and literally thousands of large trucks engaged in the process of delivering coal to the port from long distance.

None of this has assisted RBCT, which lacks facilities for road haulage into the terminal. RBCT is targeting 50mt for 2024 while Transnet believes it will deliver 60mt for the year ahead. Not many think that to be realistically achievable, given the lack of progress in settling a long-standing dispute with Chinese locomotive builder China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation.

Transnet will also have to take care of the vandalism and theft that helped cripple the rail function. Transnet is taking steps in this direction but the difficulty in safeguarding a double railway that is 594 km in length, not including the various spurs to respective coal mines, is obvious.

The rail company also has to maintain thousands of coal wagons and a fleet consisting of hundreds of locomotives, of which not all are in operation.

Meanwhile, RBCT has an annual capacity of 91mt, a number that now appears well out of its reach.

Added 28 January 2024


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WHARF TALK: handysize chemical tanker CAIFU CHAO

The handysize tanker Caifu Chao which entered port at Cape Town on the night of 22/23 January 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The growing traffic of vessels around the Cape, which when viewed on any maritime tracking site, clearly shows the massive increase in trade that is diverting away from the Southern Red Sea, with the sea lanes from Durban, all the way round to Cape Town, being busy with shipping bound to and from the Far East, and to and from Europe and the USA.

This trade, all avoiding the area around Yemen, is resulting in one or two vessels, every single day, arriving off Durban or Cape Town for bunkers and supplies. All of them are making the diversion to avoid coming under attack from the Houthi rebels. Despite these acts of avoidance, there is at least one vessel, which has arrived in South African waters, which has already been involved in an attack off the coast of Yemen, and managed to escape unharmed.

On 22nd January, at 16:00 in the afternoon, the small, handy, chemical tanker ‘Caifu Chao’ (IMO 9725823) arrived at the Table Bay anchorage, from Gresik in Indonesia, and went to anchor for a short period of eight hours. Her short stay in the Table Bay anchorage was not to await a working berth in Cape Town harbour, but simply to await the availability of a bunkering berth.

Caifu Chao. Cape Town 23 January 2024.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

At midnight, on the 22nd January, ‘Caifu Chao’ raised her anchor, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and as expected, went alongside the Landing Wall, where at least two of the four berths on the Wall, appear to have been put aside by Transnet, by moving other ‘long stayers’ elsewhere in the port, for the sole use of these diverted callers.

Built in 2015 by Kitanihon Shipbuilding at Hachinohe in Japan, ‘Caifu Chao’ is 145 metres in length and has a deadweight of 19,998 tons. She is powered by a single Mitsubishi Akasaka 5UEC45LSE-I five cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 6,664 bhp (4,900 kW), to drive a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three generators providing 560 kW each, and a single emergency generator providing 60 kW. She has a single Miura Economiser exhaust gas boiler, and a single Miura auxiliary vertical CHO oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a bow transverse thruster providing 700 kW.

With a total of sixteen stainless steel cargo tanks, ‘Caifu Chao’ has a cargo carrying capacity of 22,404 m3, and has sixteen cargo pumps, each capable of pumping at a rate of 250 m3/hour. As a chemical tanker, she is capable of carrying sixteen separate products at any one time, and her cargo complex manifold valve area indicates her capacity to carry a variety of chemical products, and discharge them separately.

Caifu Chao. Cape Town 23 January 2024.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of six sisterships, ‘Caifu Chao’ is nominally owned by Rigton Shipping Ltd., of London, whose registered trading office is the same as that of both her operator, and manager, who are Zodiac Maritime Ltd., of London. Zodiac Maritime is owned by Israeli born Eyal Ofer, which points to why she was likely involved recently in an altercation whilst navigating in the Southern Red Sea. At the time of the incident she was trading as ‘Central Park’, again of Zodiac Maritime.

On around 25th November 2023, more than six weeks after the Hamas attack on Israel, and well into the time that the Houthis had begun randomly attacking vessels, irrespective of their links to Israel, ‘Caifu Chao’, as ‘Central Park’, was southbound in the Southern Red Sea, on a voyage from Safi in Morocco, to Cochin in India, carrying a cargo of Phosphoric Acid.

She was called by Houthi Authorities and told to make her way to the Houthi controlled port of Hodeidah. Her Master refused and continued on her voyage south. On 26th November, one day later, she came under attack by a boat of suspected Pirates in the Gulf of Aden. Numerous distress calls were made to known nearby warships about the attack, which resulted in ‘Caifu Chao’ being boarded by five armed men, and the crew withdrawing to the vessel’s citadel.

Caifu Chao. Cape Town 23 January 2024.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Of major concern to international shippers, whose links to any nation that the Houthis deem to be legitimate targets, is that it was reported that the nearby Chinese Naval Flotilla of three PLAN warships, completely ignored the distress calls, and made no effort to come to the aid of ‘Caifu Chao’, according to Pentagon sources.

The current Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have the 45th Naval Escort Task Force in the area, consisting of the Type 052D Destroyer ‘Urumqi’ (D118), the Type 054A Frigate ‘Linyi’ (F547), and the Type 903A Replenishment Vessel ‘Dongpinghu’ (A960), which have been patrolling the Gulf of Aden area since October.

There have been a number of articles written recently, in military press circles, that the presence of the PLAN flotilla, for a while now, has had little to do with anti-piracy in the area, but more to do with official Chinese geopolitical requirements in the region, as well as to ensure that they maintain a military naval presence in India’s western backyard.

Caifu Chao. Cape Town 23 January 2024.  Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Despite the avowed mission of the PLAN flotilla being present to act as a counter-piracy mission, they failed to make any move to come to come to the aid of ‘Caifu Chao’, and it was the United States Navy Arleigh Burke Destroyer ‘USS Mason’ (DDG-87), that responded to the distress call of ‘Caifu Chao’.

On the approach of the ‘USS Mason’, the five suspected Somali pirates, left ‘Caifu Chao’ and attempted to make their escape in their skiff. A Search and Seizure Team was despatched from ‘USS Mason’, and the pirates surrendered to the American team. The Houthis then fired two missiles at both vessels, and both of which fell harmlessly into the sea some 10 miles away, before ‘Caifu Chao’ continued on her voyage to India.

Whilst originally, considered Pirates, it was later thought that the Somali team were directly linked, and in communication with the Houthis, due to the manner in which they had targeted ‘Caifu Chao’ the day after the Houthis had challenged her to head for the port of Hodeidah, due to her Israeli links by vessel ownership.

US Navy Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, USS Mason DDG-87.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker /Released

Back in Cape Town, the ‘Caifu Chao’ had completed her uplift of bunkers, stores and fresh provisions, within 24 hours, and at 21:00 in the late evening of 23rd January she was ready to continue her diverted voyage. Her AIS was set for New York City, which considering she had set out from Indonesia, was a strong indication that her owners, Zodiac Maritime, with their loose Israeli connections, were not going to chance a more direct voyage up the Southern Red Sea.

The port of departure for ‘Caifu Chao’, Gresik in Indonesia, is located on the far Northeast coast of the island of Java, in location 07°09’ South 112°39’ East. The port is the location of the home of the large petrochemical manufacturer, PT Petrokimia Gresik, which as well as producing agricultural fertilisers from oil and gas feedstock, have a division in the port who manufacture, and export, Sulfuric Acid, Hydrochloric Acid, and Phosphoric Acid. That ‘Caifu Chao’ is carrying one such acid cargo to the USA is considered highly likely.

Added 28 January 2024


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Saharan dust reaches the Canary Islands and Cabo Verde

Dust cloud over the Atlantic and Canary Islands

Africa Ports & Ships

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

On 25 January, one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites acquired this image, showing dust particles being carried by the wind from the Saharan desert over the ocean and extending to the Canary Islands and Cabo Verde.

At the time the sand was expected to reduce visibility and affect air quality in the affected areas, and also to contribute to the fertilisation of the ocean and boost the growth of phytoplankton.

Air quality monitoring

The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, CAMS, provides air quality monitoring and forecasting at the European and global level, which support global environmental management and public health efforts.

EU Earth observation programme

CAMS is one of six services that form Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation programme which looks at the planet and its environment for the ultimate benefit of all European citizens. Copernicus offers information services based on satellite Earth observation, in situ (non-satellite) data and modelling.

CAMS is implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission.

ECMWF is an independent inter-governmental organisation supported by thirty-five states. It is both a research institute and a round the clock, day-in, day-out, operational service, producing and disseminating numerical weather predictions to its member states.

To provide and further develop the CAMS portfolio, ECMWF works with many service providers around Europe. By doing so, CAMS combines the expertise and infrastructure that exist in Europe to provide a range of services that are unequalled by any other organisation in the world.

Inter-agency collaboration

To acquire all the observations that are needed to produce the CAMS services, ECMWF collaborates with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) as well as many other organisations providing satellite and in-situ observations.

Copernicus; to read more

For more information, readers are invited to download the comprehensive brochure about Copernicus available here.

Added 28 January 2024


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Queen Mary 2 and MSC Poesia visit Walvis Bay on same day

MSC Poesia. in Ajaccio Picture: Wikimedia

Africa Ports & Ships

Namport had to extend not one but two welcome mats last Wednesday (24 January) when Queen Mary 2 and MSC Poesia called on the same day, bringing thousands of tourists and crew.

For MSC Poesia this was a maiden visit to the Namibian port, as the ship was supposed to have been cruising on her World Cruise through the Suez Canal and Red Sea, bound for Mombasa on the African east coast.

Instead she has been forced to go the long way through the South Atlantic to Walvis Bay before rounding the Cape of Good Hope and entering the Indian Ocean. This Sunday (28 January 2024) MSC Poesia, having visited Port Elizabeth en route, is in Durban alongside the Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal, having sailed direct from Walvis Bay (correction).

The handing over of a crest to the captain of MSC Poesia by the port captain of Walvis Bay, Capt. Lukas Kafuna

MSC Poesia is one of the Musica class cruise ships within the MSC Cruises fleet.

Queen Mary 2 or QM2 as the world knows her, is a familiar sight in Walvis Bay, making what amounts to annual calls save for the time when Covid placed a few years halt on international cruising. Roughly 2,000 passengers are reportedly travelling on the ship, whose next port of call was Port Elizabeth, where the Cunard ship has docked earlier today (Sunday).

Unless the Red Sea problem is soon resolved, both ships will return to southern Africa later in the summer.

For the port of Walvis Bay, last Wednesday’s two visitors were just part of a long list of cruise ship calls between now and the end of 2024. Something in the order of 32 cruise ship calls are due to be made (including multiple visits).

Added 28 January 2024


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Container ship Karoline debuts at Lüderitz Port

MACS’ general cargo ship Karoline arriving at the southern Namibian port of Lüderitz, loaded with containers. Picture: Namport

Africa Ports & Ships

After a lengthy absence, Namibia’s port of Lüderitz has welcomed another container ship to its quayside.

The vessel is the 3345-dwt general cargo vessel Karoline, sailing currently with MACS Maritime for its service between Cape Town, Walvis Bay and St Helena – and now including Lüderitz!

MACS Maritime commenced the St Helena island service this month with two vessels dedicated to providing a necessary sea connection for the South Atlantic island community.

The second vessel is the larger 37,443-dwt Golden Karoo which is capable of carrying up to 2,225 TEU. Karoline by comparison can handle only a small number of containers but has the advantage of having no difficulty in calling at much smaller ports as necessary.

The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) welcomed the arrival of Karoline to their second port of Lüderitz, saying the arrival of a ship dedicated mainly to containers was “after a substantial duration”.

This development marks a positive turning point for port operations in the region and underscores the strategic importance of the Lüderitz Port in Namibia’s maritime landscape, Namport said, adding that this was a revival of container handling activities at the port and positioning Lüderitz as a viable and competitive option for maritime trade.

“This milestone paves the way for increased trade opportunities and underscores Lüderitz Port’s potential to serve as a gateway for cargo destined to and from the southern regions of Namibia.”

The port authority said it remains dedicated to further developing Lüderitz Port’s capabilities, ensuring that it plays a pivotal role in facilitating trade and economic growth in Namibia.

Mr Trevor Ndjadila, Manager: Business Development of Namport, expressed his enthusiasm about the arrival.

“We are delighted to witness the return of container vessel activity at the Port of Lüderitz. This achievement reflects our ongoing commitment to enhancing Namibia’s port infrastructure and bolstering its trade capabilities.”

Ndjadila said Namport anticipates further growth and expansion in the near future.

Added 28 January 2024


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Defence committees provide recommendations to SA defence sector after German study tour

Lurssen shipbuilding facilities in Germany   Picture: defenceWeb

by Guy Martin/defenceWeb

Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) and Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) recently conducted a study tour to Germany, and suggested various ways in which the SA National Defence Force and SA defence industry could learn from the German model.

The June-July 2023 visit was conducted to study international best practice on various defence matters, including military force structure and design, and defence industry management and oversight, allowing the committees to make recommendations for South Africa’s own force design and provide oversight of the Aerospace and Defence Masterplan, amongst others. During the week long tour, the committees visited Hensoldt Germany, the German Parliament’s Defence Committee’s Secretariat, NVL Group, Rheinmetall Germany, Tamsen Maritim etc.

In its September 2023 report, the committees noted the generally positive relationships between defence companies and arms control regimes in both Germany and South Africa. However, they acknowledged frustrations over delays in decision-making by South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). Delays in export applications, such as those from Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM) to Poland and Türkiye, were cited in their post-tour report, emphasising the need for procedural improvements in South Africa. The committees suggested urgent implementation of the electronic permit application system by the Directorate Conventional Arms Control (DCAC) to streamline and expedite defence exports.

The study tour also shed light on the willingness of German defence companies to expand and maintain operations in South Africa, showcasing the potential economic growth associated with the defence industry.

The committees also observed a general willingness by German naval companies to assist the SA Navy in an advisory role regarding its fleet maintenance. “While the committees have no intention in promoting any specific company, the Study Tour did demonstrate the potential value in strategic partnerships around naval maintenance where it is in the best strategic and financial interest of the Navy to do so,” their report stated. The committees visited NVL Group (Lurssen) and Tamsen Maritim in this regard.

The committees underscored the need for South Africa to capitalise on its capability to produce high-quality military equipment. However, concerns were raised about the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF’s) reliance on legacy systems, which are becoming increasingly costly to maintain. The committees highlighted the necessity of South Africa acquiring modern military technology but noted the lack of resources for this.

The committees pointed out the importance of better planning for equipment maintenance within the SANDF, emphasising the need for appropriate funding. They highlighted the importance of clarity and certainty in maintenance planning for both operational purposes and aiding industry role-players in their planning efforts.

Force rejuvenation

Regarding force rejuvenation, the committees in their post-tour report drew attention to the ‘coherent’ personnel management plan of the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces). Specific interest was shown in the various contracting models, including short-term, medium-term, and career soldiers, which contribute to long-term human resources sustainability and constant force rejuvenation.

“The Bundeswehr demonstrated a sustainable model of exiting older personnel from the system in a responsible and humane way by supporting their transition to civilian life through a number of support measures,” the report noted. “The committees observed a balanced Bundeswehr in personnel terms, specifically as it relates to the troop-to-general ratio of the Force.” Also of interest is the fact that officers are required to have a university degree, and that the Bundeswehr spends around 40% of its budget on personnel (South Africa in contrast spends around 60% of its defence budget on personnel).

The committees advocated for the development of a similar system for the SANDF, emphasizing consultation with the National Treasury and the necessity of full funding.

The JSCD and PCDMV noted the importance attached to cyber defence in Germany and recommended the finalisation of the Cybersecurity Bill in South Africa, with a specific framework for Cyber Defence. While acknowledging that the bill might not be finalised immediately, the committees encouraged the SANDF to continue developing its Cyber Defence capabilities, recommending additional ring-fenced funding for this purpose.

“The committees observed that the geo-strategic situation in Europe has a significant impact on recent defence expenditure, as is reflected in the €100 billion special defence procurement package in Germany. While this makes comparison to the South African case difficult in its current form, it shows that years of limited investment in defence capabilities requires heightened levels of expenditure to recover lost capabilities. The committees therefore notes the need for ongoing reinvestment in defence capabilities,” their report states.

The study tour findings also highlighted the importance of using technology as a force multiplier. The committees emphasised the need for ongoing reinvestment in defence capabilities and the potential relevance of equipping the South African Navy with an Offshore Patrol Vessel capability as a cost-effective means of ensuring maritime security.

Other recommendations

The committees further recommended that the SANDF and Armscor jointly conduct a review of SANDF legacy weapons systems that need specific production of munitions. The SANDF and Armscor should then present a report to the JSCD on such systems and future related expenditure for ammunition and upgrades against the cost of replacement with more modern systems. “The high-level report, which should exclude sensitive details, should be submitted to the JSCD no later than three months following the tabling of this report,” the committees said.

They also called for a final decision on the way forward for Project Hoefsyter, for the SA Army’s new Denel Land Systems Badger infantry fighting vehicle, to be decided “as this will clearly impact on the future of Denel and will impact on the entire industry value chain in South Africa.”

The committees encouraged the SANDF to make use of training opportunities at German Military Universities and also consider exchange programmes with the German military at the South African Military Academy. “Where relevant and of sufficient quality, similar learning opportunities with other countries should also be explored to ensure maximum international exposure to SANDF members.”

The full study tour report can be found here.

Written by Guy Martin, defenceWeb and republished with permission. The original article can be found here

Added 28 January 2024


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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



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Port Louis – Indian Ocean gateway port

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

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

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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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Total cargo handled by tonnes during 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