Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 7 April 2024

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Newsweek commencing Monday 1 April 2024.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.  

FIRST VIEW:   Port of Mombasa 


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 FIRST VIEW:   Port of Mombasa

Port of Mombasa: Picture MEAACT – Stuart Price
Port of Mombasa: Picture|: MEAACT – Stuart Price
Port of Mombasa: Pictures taken by the Kenyan Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism (MEAACT) – Stuart Price

Views of the busy port of Mombasa which is setting the mark for other ports across Sub-Saharan Africa to follow.

The Kenya port has Sub-Saharan Africa’s second biggest and busiest container terminal and has been consistently improving its efficiency levels while many other ports along Africa’s eastern coast are struggling with congestion and general inefficiency levels.

What also stands out is that at present, the terminals remain under the control and management of the Kenya Ports Authority. A good example for others to look up to.

The pictures above are courtesy of the Kenyan Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce & Tourism (MEAACT)

Africa Ports & Ships


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Cruise News: Farewell to MSC Splendida, hello to MSC Virtuosa

By Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

There was an unintentional focus on cruise ships in our regular Wharf Talk series for this week, with coverage of three passenger ships calling at South Africa’s ports.

The ships that featured are Silversea’s luxury expedition ship Silver Cloud, Fred Olsen’s lovely Borealis, and the P&O cruise ship Arcadia, currently heading toward Europe at the conclusion of her westward circumnavigation.

The southern summer cruise season is meanwhile drawing to an end, which means South Africa can expect to have a few more visits by these ships returning to the northern hemisphere, particularly by those affected by the situation in the Red Sea causing diversions on the longer route around the Cape.

One such ship that we may expect to see is the Meraviglia-class MSC Virtuosa, expected in Durban on Monday 8 April. More of her in a moment but first its farewell to our summer MSC resident, MSC Splendida, which has been homeported in Durban from November 2023 but will depart our shores this coming weekend.

MSC Splendida

MSC Splendida covered multiple cruises from Durban along the KZN and Mozambique coasts to Maputo, Portuguese Island, MSC’s own Mozambique beach resort at Pomene, and a longer cruise to Mauritius. She also undertook several coastal cruises between Durban and Cape Town, as well as a short cruise season from the Mother City to Mossel bay in one direction, and Walvis Bay in another.

MSC Splendida. Picture: MSC

We’re unaware of any reasons offered as to why this ship is not returning for a second season later this year. If we listen to comments from those who sailed on her, she was not exactly a success with at least some of the South African cruising community – those who make multiple cruises each year as alternatives to visiting the Kruger and other national parks.

It may have been that the ship was just too large for the local market. We also heard reports that the ship lacks the sort of geography preferred by those who enjoy lounging about the pool or open decks. Whatever the reason a smaller and proven ship will be handling the coming summer season.

MSC Musica

It is significant that MSC Musica will replace Splendida as the cruise ship to homeport in Durban and cover the regular cruises, doing the usual seaward treks along the Mozambique coast and venturing further afield to Mauritius for the New Year.

The decision to switch ships is also likely influenced by other factors, including operational considerations, market demand, and strategic planning.

The smaller MSC Musica offers its own distinctive cruise experience centered on elegance, comfort, and hospitality – although that always depends on the staff and crew present at any given time. It features 1,275 guest cabins, a central foyer with a three-tier waterfall, lounges, bars, restaurants, swimming pools, a nightclub, boutique shops, a library, and dedicated areas for children of all ages.

Live entertainment awaits in the Teatro La Scala, and a lavish spa is available for those seeking relaxation.

MSC Musica will start her season in November 2024 with sailings from the recently inaugurated Nelson Mandela Cruise Terminal in Durban and conclude her time in South Africa in April 2025 with sailings from Cape Town. A total of thirty-four sailings will take passengers to the regular destinations.

MSC Musica arriving in Durban

MSC Virtuosa

MSC Virtuosa, a Meraviglia-Plus class cruise ship is scheduled to call at Durban on Monday, 8 May, a couple of days after Splendida’s departure. She is arriving from Abu Dhabi and the UAE, where she has operated since late last year.

Virtuosa is the second ship in the Meraviglia-Plus class and sister ship to MSC Grandiosa. After cruising in the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf to some) throughout our summer months, Virtuosa is now returning to her normal northern summer homeport of Southampton. From there she’ll cruise to destinations across northern Europe and as far south as Portugal, Madeira and the Canaries.

We shouldn’t ever expect to see this ship doing a South African season, and if you’re tempted to travel to Dubai or wherever the ship is next summer, take plenty of cash for extras at almost every corner and in between, including food, drinks and other items not part of your fare. Watch and listen to the accompanying video for examples.

As far as we know, Virtuosa is carrying no passengers on this her repositioning voyage back to Southampton, which due to the crisis in the Red Sea area has meant a diversion around South Africa.

MSC Virtuosa YouTube video [18:13]

Added 5 April 2024


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Durban Terminals prepared for bumper citrus season

Durban Terminals Piers 1 and 2 plus the MPT at the Point are ready for this year’s citrus exports

Africa Ports & Ships

In anticipation of a bumper citrus season over the coming seven or so months, the Durban Terminals of Transnet Port Terminals say they are geared up and ready.

This is in anticipation of a forecasted 15% increase in volumes this year, as a result of what is looking like good harvests. TPT says it has assured the industry of its commitment to helping make South Africa’s citrus fruit season successful once again.

To support increased volumes, all container terminals across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) will have dedicated lanes for refrigerated containers at the gates, according to TPT General Manager of Commercial and Planning, Michelle van Buren Schele.

“We will also increase the number of truck appointment slots based on demand and capacity during this season across KZN and the Eastern Cape”, she said.

Customers have been urged to place orange stickers on steri-protocol refrigerated containers to ensure two-hourly monitoring in line with the company’s commitment.

The recruitment and training of over 200 additional cargo coordinators and port workers for the next seven months is currently under way. Some terminals are receiving new equipment including haulers, trailers, reach stackers and empty container handlers that will enhance landside operations.

Additional capacity has also been created at each terminal to improve the fast turnaround of empty containers, with stacking up to six containers high. All electric plugs are being tested and maintained to ensure operational efficiency.

In addition, the evacuation of import containers via rail to back-of-port facilities would remain in place to enable fluidity on the landside handling.

In Durban, a total of three terminals have been resourced to prepare for the season. The Durban Container Terminals Pier 1 has confirmed a total of 1,440 plug points with back-up power. The Durban Container Terminal Pier 2 has a total of 2,424 plug points while the Durban Multipurpose Terminal has 277 plug points.

In the Eastern Cape, the Ngqura Container Terminal has confirmed a total of 1,652 plug points and the Port Elizabeth Container Terminal a total of 932.

According to van Buren Schele, TPT was also engaging depots and cargo owners. “Previously, we’ve focused our communication efforts on the shipping lines, citrus growers and cold stores. This time, we’d like to fully engage the broader supply chain to ensure better planning and alignment,” she said.

TPT says it will enhance its communication regarding opening stacks to ensure depots and cold stores achieve maximum flexibility.

“It is crucial for the industry to make use of the entire 24-hour operational window at terminals to ensure a successful season,” said van Buren Schele.

The global political landscape and the potential effects of the Red Sea crisis are factors influencing shipping rotations that teams are strategically planning for and discussing with shipping lines.

Citrus fruits make up over 50% of all fruits produced in South Africa, with the country ranking as one of the top three citrus fruit global suppliers in the world. The Netherlands, China, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United Arab Emirates are the largest consumers of the country’s exports.

Added 4 April 2024


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In Conversation: Turkey and Ethiopia have had close ties for many years: Somalia maritime deals may shift the dynamics

Port of Berbera, Somaliland, operated by DP World with an eye of achieving port cargo from Ethiopia. Picture: DP World

Michael B. Bishku, Augusta University

Ethiopia and Turkey, which have had cordial ties since the early 20th century, have drawn even closer in recent years as both battle criticism from the west over domestic policies. But new developments are putting the relationship to the test. These include Turkey assuming the role of protecting Somalia’s waters – deemed to include the Gulf of Aden – as well as efforts by Ethiopia to gain access to the sea through a deal with Somaliland.

Michael Bishku, a Middle Eastern and African history scholar who has recently researched Ethiopia-Turkey relations, explains why Turkey’s ties with Ethiopia are largely economic while those with Somalia are sentimental, in assisting an impoverished Muslim country.

What binds Ethiopia and Turkey historically?

Turkey and its predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire, have had a long history of interactions in the Horn of Africa, going back to the 16th century. But formal diplomatic ties between Ethiopia’s Emperor Menelik II and the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan Abdul Hamid II were not initiated until 1896. At the time, the Ethiopians had just defeated the Italians at the Battle of Adwa. In 1889, the Italians began to occupy the largest share of Somalia, while the British established a protectorate in the Somaliland region in 1898. Ethiopia did not participate in the first world war and Britain and Italy were part of the victorious Entente. After the war, the Ottoman Empire, as part of the defeated Central Powers, was partitioned. Turkey, by 1923, asserted control over Turkish areas of the former empire.

The new Republic of Turkey opened its first embassy in sub-Saharan Africa in Addis Ababa in 1926. Ethiopia reciprocated by setting up its embassy in Ankara in 1933.

When Italy invaded Ethiopia between 1935 and 1937, Turkish soldiers volunteered for the Ethiopian army, with the Turkish government strongly supporting sanctions against Italy. During the occupation, which lasted until 1941, Ethiopia’s embassy in Turkey never closed. Turkey was neutral until the end of the second world war. But it embraced alliance with the United States after the war, as did Haile Selassie’s Ethiopia.

Relations between Turkey and Ethiopia remained close during the 1960s. At the time, both countries took the pragmatic approach of improving relations with both the Soviet bloc and the Arab world.

In 1974, Haile Selassie was overthrown by the military. The military then established a Marxist regime in Ethiopia which lasted until 1991. Relations were suspended by Turkey during this time.

What’s the history of Turkey’s relations with Somalia?

A united Somalia, including former British Somaliland, achieved independence in 1960. The enlarged state coveted the Somali-populated Ogaden region in Ethiopia. Turkey did not establish an embassy in Somalia until 1979, when that country shifted away from close ties to the Soviet bloc in the midst of a war against Ethiopia when it attempted unsuccessfully to occupy Ogaden (1977-1978).

Somalia’s President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991 and the country fell into chaos. The Turkish embassy closed until 2011. Turkey participated in the two United Nations operations in Somalia, the first one between 1992 and 1993 and the second one from 1993 to 1995.

In 2011 Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was then Turkey’s prime minister and whose government regarded itself as a defender of Sunni Muslim interests, became the first non-African leader to visit Somalia in two decades. Five years later, he visited the country again as president, to open Turkey’s largest embassy complex in the world. Mogadishu’s airport and seaport are run by Turkish companies.

In 2017, Turkey opened a military base in Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers. It has also built hospitals and infrastructure though the offices of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) as well as providing scholarships for Somalis to study in Turkey.

Turkey has provided more than US$1 billion in humanitarian aid since 2011, part of which came from Muslim NGOs.

Both Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) support the efforts of the Somali government against the threat of al-Shabaab.

The UAE’s assistance to Somalia has been far less than that of Turkey. However, it’s been involved in the country in other ways. In 2015, it also participated in the second UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia, and set up a military training facility in Mogadishu. It also upgraded Berbera airport in Somaliland and manages two Somali ports: Berbera and Bosaso. Bosaso Port is in Puntland, another breakaway Somali territory.

These moves were regarded as a means to increase security against Iran and its Houthi ally in Yemen.

How does Somaliland complicate matters?

Somaliland declared its independence in 1991. But it is still internationally recognised as a de jure part of Somalia.

Ethiopia, Turkey and Djibouti have established consulates in Hargeisa, Somaliland’s capital city. Other countries such as Kenya and the UAE have liaison offices there. But only the UAE and Ethiopia have bypassed Mogadishu to make deals directly with the Somaliland government even though the UAE publicly supports the territorial integrity of Somalia.

The UAE’s deal involved setting up a military base in Somaliland and training Somaliland’s security forces.

In January 2024 Ethiopia and Somaliland signed a memorandum of understanding under which Somaliland has offered Ethiopia port access through a lease for 50 years of 20km of Somaliland’s coastline. In return, Ethiopia would give Somaliland diplomatic recognition.

Somalia countered the announcement of this deal by making Turkey a key security partner. Turkey is to train and equip Somalia’s naval force and help patrol the Somalia’s coastline.The Conversation

Michael B. Bishku, Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern and African History, Augusta University

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

Added 4 April 2024


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New four-lane in-gate facility in Onne Port, Nigeria

West Africa Container terminal, Onne Port, Rivers State in Nigeria. picture:  WACT 

Africa Ports & Ships

A new four-lane in-gate facility has been taken into service at the APM Terminal-operated West Africa Container Terminal (WACT).

The WACT terminal in the port of Onne in Rivers State, Nigeria, says it expects to significantly lift standards of efficiency and security as a result of this new facility.

APM Terminals adds that following the completion of a new on-terminal container freight station (CFS), this investment moves WACT one step closer to realising its aim of becoming the gateway to Eastern Nigeria and beyond.

The new in-gate is part of WACT’s US$ 115 million investment in a terminal upgrade project.

According to WACT, it provides a comprehensive suite of logistics solutions to empower Nigerian firms and increase overall port efficiency, in accordance with the Federal Government’s efforts to simplify the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

Commenting on the project’s impact on reducing congestion and costs for businesses, WACT Managing Director, Jeethu Jose, said the new gate will improve access and security, facilitate faster cargo movement, and reduce truck turnaround times to under 45 minutes.

Lifting standards for customers

The new in-gate, combined with WACT’s Truck Appointment System (TAS), allows for faster booking and processing of imports, exports, and empty container drop-offs. At the same time, pre-submission and verification of information, combined with reduced congestion and faster truck turn times, will lead to lower costs and improved efficiency.

These latest improvements are offered at a terminal that already has no waiting time for vessels, no congestion and fast physical customs examinations.

With all shipping line offices, customs offices and banks located within the terminal premises, it offers customers a one-stop-shop approach. WACT says its investment demonstrates confidence in Nigeria’s economy and contribution to facilitating international trade.

WACT is the first greenfield container terminal in Nigeria to be built under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model. The terminal is located within the Oil and Gas Free Zone in Onne Port, Rivers State.

Over the years, it has grown to become the most efficient gateway to markets outside the Lagos area and is a major gateway to East Nigeria.

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Port of Nacala-a-Velha handles over 13 million tons of Mozambican coal via Malawi

The coal terminal loading quay at the Nacala-a-Velha port, which in 2023 handled 13,6 million tonnes of export coal. Picture: Mitsui

Africa Ports & Ships

A total of 13,639,000 tons of coal mined at Mozambique’s Moatize coal mines was railed through Malawi to the port of Nacala-a-Velha during the past year.

The first section of what was to become the Nacala Corridor Railway or Northern Corridor was opened in 1924 to link the port of Lumbo (opposite Mozambique Island) with the country’s hinterland and ultimately into Nyassaland.

Although the railway progressed steadily during the ensuing years, with branchline connections and finally reaching Nyassaland (Malawi), it was only in 2005 that impetus was given to developing a specific logistics corridor integrating roads, railways, ports and airports.

Nacala Corridor coal train

It was with this imperative that the railway from the new port of Nacala, a short distance south of Lumba, became more fully developed.

Further progress followed five years later in 2010 when the Brazilian mining house Vale, which had developed the Moatize coal mines in Tete province, and perhaps despairing of the limited capacities along the Sena Railway to the port of Beira, instigated the joint venture known as the Integrated Northern Logistical Corridor Society.

This enabled further extending the Nacala Railway to the coal belt of Benga-Moatize, where Vale held significant mineral exploration concessions, creating a 912-km east-west railway. Completion of this section was made in 2017 and includes a coal storage yard and export terminal at the port of Nacala-a-Velha, directly opposite the port of Nacala.

Vale has since sold its Benga-Moatize coal mining interests to Vulcan Minerals, a subsidiary of India-based Jindal Group.

In the past year over 13.6 million tonnes of coal went along this corridor to the terminal at Nacala-a-Velha. At the same time it is reported that Malawi has begun positioning its internal logistics in favour of railways, including establishing a connection with Zambia’s railways on Malawi’s western border.

Nacala Corridor System map

As in so many other regions in Africa, road transport has until now ruled the logistical roost in the landlocked country but now that may be changing, with both Malawi and Mozambique keen to also reconnect the Malawian railway with the Sena Railway in the south of the country.

This would provide Malawi with a shorter direct rail corridor to the port of Beira in addition to its existing link with Nacala. The extension of the Nacala Corridor to Moatize in the west already mentioned, also enables a Malawian rail connection to the port of Beira via Moatize.

The talk in official Malawian circles is that of shifting up to 60 per cent of its freight away from the road and onto rail, an ambitious target achievable only if rail efficiencies are created and maintained.

Malawi appears so caught up in this railway renaissance that there is talk of a northern extension connecting with Tanzania’s Tazara Railway, which extends from within Zambia to the Tanzanian port of Dar es Salaam.

All the railways mentioned in this report operate on the African standard Cape gauge of 1067mm or 3ft 6ins.

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WHARF TALK: P&O cruise ship – ARCADIA

P&O’s Panamax cruise ship Arcadia arrived in the Mother City from Durban on 31 March 2024, having been diverted away from crossing the Red Sea. This picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
and Trevor Jones
Story by Jay Gates

There was a time, back in the Imperial days of the British Empire, that the greatest shipping company on the planet was considered to be the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, better known to the casual maritime observer as the P&O Line. The routes of the great P&O fleet were mainly from the UK to India, the Far East, and Australia, with all voyages going via the Suez Canal. As such, they were rarely seen in South African waters.

The voyage out to India, during the height of the British Raj, meant a hot passage through the Suez Canal during daytime, and this in the day before air-conditioning. The sun rising in the East, and setting in the West, meant that the coolest cabins, were the most expensive, as they were the best to cope with the stifling heat on any Canal transit. They were snapped up by the passengers who could most afford it, i.e. the well to do, or the upper classes of British Society.

When purchasing their tickets out to India, and/or back from India, the passenger request for the coolest cabins, to cope with the Suez Canal transit, and Red Sea passages, had their bookings annotated by the booking clerks as being allocated cabins on the Port side of the vessel on the outward voyage from the UK to India, and allocated cabins on the Starboard side of the vessel on the homeward voyage from India back to the UK.

Arcadia. Cape Town, 31 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The booking of wealthy passengers requesting such cabins had their bookings marked as ‘Port Out, Starboard Home’. This later got shortened to simply ‘POSH’, and the passengers who had these bookings were simply known as being Posh. The adjective of Posh is now considered to be one that describes any person, from the upper echelons of society, who knows how to dress, how to act, and how to carry themselves in posh society.

Anyone who has seen the cult movie ‘Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang’ might recall Grandpa Potts, dressed as a colonial British Soldier, heading down to his garden shed, and excusing himself to Truly Scrumptious, as he was ‘Off to have Tea with the Maharajah’. His musical ditty for his sojourn included the chorus ‘Port Out, Starboard Home, Posh with a capital P O S H, POSH’!

The closure of the Suez Canal in the 1960s and 1970s allowed the folk of the coastal cities of South Africa to finally see the regular arrival of the fabulous eleven vessel white fleet of P&O Lines as they continued with their liner voyages to Australia, in an era before the jet airliner took away the joy of international travel, at leisure, courtesy of a comfortable, passenger liner.

Arcadia. Cape Town, 31 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After withdrawing from liner voyages, P&O Lines took to cruising, and South Africa got to see a regular summer season stream of at least one P&O cruise liner per year, making their annual world cruise, with such great vessels as Canberra, Oriana, and Aurora. This year was no exception, except that as with quite a number of the round the world cruise liners, the arrival of some was down to a Red Sea avoidance of the Houthi menace.

On 31st March at 14:00 in the afternoon, the Panamax passenger cruise liner ‘Arcadia’ (IMO 9226906) arrived off Cape Town, from Durban. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, but not going alongside the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E berth, but instead going alongside at the adjacent D berth on the Fresh Produce Terminal (FPT). The reason for this was because E berth had been occupied by two other passenger liner callers, over the past 24 hours, namely ‘MSC Splendida’ first, and followed by ‘Borealis’.

Prior to arriving in Cape Town, she had sailed from Port Louis in Mauritius on 25th March, at 15:00 in the afternoon, bound for Durban. She arrived off the Bluff Channel on 29th March at 04:00 in the morning, and entered Durban Harbour, going alongside the Cruise Terminal at the Point, where she remained until 20:00 in the evening of the same day, and from where she sailed directly to Cape Town.

Arcadia. Durban, 6 April 2012. Picture by Trevor Jones

Built in 2005 by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA at Marghera in Italy, ‘Arcadia’ was 285 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 84,342 tons. She is a diesel electric vessel, and is powered by four Wärtsilä 16ZAV40S generators, and two Wärtsilä 12ZAV40S generators, providing a total power output of 63,400 kW.

This power output is sufficient to provide both domestic and propulsion power, with propulsion power transferred to two ABB 1250ZM12 LAEZ motors producing 17,600 kW each, which drive two ABB Azipods for a service speed of 22 knots. For added manoeuvrability she has three bow transverse thrusters.

She has a passenger complement of 2,094, who are looked after by a crew of 866. She is also limited to carrying adult passengers only, with no children allowed. She has a total of 11 decks, of which 7 are allocated to passenger cabins. There are 1,050 cabins on ‘Arcadia’, of which 85% of them have ocean views, and 67% have balconies. The cabins sizes ranging from inside cabins with a floor area of 15 m2, up to suites with a floor area of 45 m2.

Arcadia. Durban, 6 April 2012. Picture by Trevor Jones

Her passenger facilities include five restaurants, seven bars, five lounges, two cafés, show lounge, cinema, casino, nightclub, library, art gallery, boutiques, wedding chapel, a fitness centre which includes a gymnasium, spa, treatment rooms, steam rooms, saunas, beauty salon, and a hydro pool. She has two swimming pools, four Jacuzzis, a jogging track, two golf driving ranges, and a sports court area for basketball, volleyball, tennis, football, and cricket.

Costing US$400 million (ZAR7.51 billion) to build, ‘Arcadia’ is owned by Carnival Corporation & PLC, of Doral in Florida, operated by P&O Cruises UK Ltd., of Southampton in the UK, and managed by Carnival UK PLC, also of Southampton. When launched ‘Arcadia’ entered service in the traditional P&O colours of a mustard yellow funnel, and an overall white hull. As happens when tradition is lost, P&O rebranded her with a blue funnel, on which was what appears to be a stylized Orient Lines sun, and a white hull now with a stylized Union flag splayed on her bow.

When she sailed from Southampton on 6th January, she embarked on a 100 day round the cruise, called the ‘Western Circumnavigation Cruise’, with the following voyage itinerary;

Arcadia. Durban 26 March 2020. ‘Covid call’ Picture by Trevor Jones

Southampton- Freeport (Bahamas)- Fort Lauderdale (USA)- Aruba (Dutch Antilles)- Panama Canal transit- Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala)- Manzanillo (Mexico)- Honolulu (Hawaii)- Lautoka- Suva (both Fiji)- Auckland- Tauranga- Bay of Islands (all New Zealand)- Sydney- Brisbane- Port Douglas- Cairns (all Australia)- Bitung (Indonesia)- Manila (Philippines)- Hong Kong- Nha Trang (Vietnam)- Singapore- Port Klang- Penang (both Malaysia)- Colombo (Sri Lanka)- Dubai (UAE)- Muscat (Oman)- Safaga (Egypt)- Suez Canal transit- Valetta (Malta)- Cadiz (Spain)- Southampton, with an arrival back on 15th April.

With the threat risk from the Houthi terrorists to a British passenger vessel attempting a Red Sea passage, her itinerary was changed to avoid this region, and ensure an on time arrival back in Southampton on 15th April. Her itinerary changed from Singapore onwards, to the following; Singapore- Port Klang (Malaysia)- Port Louis (Mauritius)- Durban- Cape Town- Tenerife (Canary Islands)- Southampton. Fly/Cruise options were offered from Honolulu, Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. The Dubai Fly/Cruise option was replaced by one from Cape Town.

Arcadia. Durban, May 1976. Picture by Trevor Jones

After her overnight stop in Cape Town, she was ready to sail at 22:00 in the late evening of 1st April. Her changed itinerary, and final leg back to the UK is very reminiscent of an old Union Castle Mail Boat run. It will take 14 days, with a lovely, continuous, nine day at sea run from Cape Town to Tenerife, followed by a three day straight run to Southampton. The cost for this final element of the round the world cruise starts at US$2,300 (ZAR43,190).

Her call at Durban, on this diverted cruise, was not the first time that ‘Arcadia’ has called there. When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, ‘Arcadia’ was en route to Dubai, when the UAE authorities closed all UAE ports to arriving passenger vessels. She then diverted to Cape Town, intending to return to the UK via the Cape sea route. However, the South African authorities then closed all South African ports to visiting passenger vessels. After intense negotiations, ‘Arcadia’ was subsequently allowed to enter Durban harbour instead.

Arcadia. Durban, May 1976. Picture by Trevor Jones

On arrival at Durban in March 2020, ‘Arcadia’ was held off the port for two days by the Health Authorities before she could berth. This was because of an insistence that three South Africa members of her crew, who were to be landed in Durban, were first tested by a South African Doctor, who was airlifted out to ‘Arcadia’ which was slow steaming off Umhlanga.

She was cleared to enter Durban to land the three crewmembers, to take on stores, fresh provisions, medicines, and uplift bunkers. All other crew and passengers were to remain onboard for the short technical stop. On departing from Durban, she sailed directly to Southampton. After offloading her passengers, she went into a long layup, anchoring off the south coast of England, and only re-entered full cruise service in July 2022.

Arcadia. Durban, May 1976. Picture by Trevor Jones

Her name is one that goes back a long way in P&O history. During the Suez Canal closures of the 1960s and 1970s, one of the P&O great white fleet that called into Cape Town and Durban whilst heading to, and from, Australia, was the 1953 built ‘Arcadia’. She was constructed by the famous John Brown shipyard at Clydebank in Scotland, and was 220 metres in length with a gross registered tonnage of 29,734 tons. Even as far back as 1951 she cost GB£6.7 million to build. She carried 670 first class passengers, and 735 tourist class passengers, and was powered by geared steam turbines for a service speed of 22 knots. She was scrapped in Taiwan in 1979.

For the nomenclature aficionado, ‘Arcadia’ follows the P&O tradition of being named after an ancient land, region, or a city. She is named after the Greek region of the Peloponnese, which itself is named after the mythical King Arcus, and the home of the Greek Gods Hermes and Pan.

Despite her size, ‘Arcadia’ is actually the second smallest of the seven passenger liners of the current P&O cruising fleet, with only ‘Aurora’ being smaller. When launched, the Godmother of ‘Arcadia’ was Dame Kelly Holmes, the British middle distance athlete, who won Olympic Gold at both the 800 metres, and the 1,500 metres track events, at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

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CMA CGM to update EURAF 4 & 5 services with West Africa

Port rotations for CMA CGM EURAF 4 & 5

Africa Ports & Ships

In a rotation update of its EURAF 4 and EURAF 5 container services between Europe and West African ports, French container carrier CMA CGM has announced the following changes:

While maintaining its port coverage and capacity, CMA CGM will, as from May 2024, include Sierra Leone and Gabon in its EURAF 4 rotation.

The shipping line’s EURAF 5 service will meanwhile provide a comprehensive coverage of Central and South range of West Africa ports.


The EURAF 4 service will be operated in 42 days with the following port rotation:

Valencia > Algeciras > Tanger Med > Freetown > Lomé > Bata > Malabo > Kribi > Libreville

The first departure will be with the vessel GH Maestro, ETA Valencia 10 May 2024.


The EURAF 5 service will be operated in 42 days with the following port rotation:

Tanger Med > Algeciras > Tema > Lekki > Cotonou > Pointe Noire > Luanda

The first departure will be with the vessel CMA CGM Chiwan, ETA Tanger Med 2 May 2024.

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In Conversation: Jihadism in Mozambique: southern African forces are leaving with mixed results

Thomas Mandrup, Stellenbosch University

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) military mission in Mozambique (Samim), which was deployed on 15 July 2021 to fight the Islamic insurgents terrorising the northern Cabo Delgado province since 2017, is scheduled to end by June 2024. Mozambican security forces will then take full responsibility for security.

We asked military science and defence expert Thomas Mandrup, who has published a paper on the situation after a recent ground visit, to evaluate the mission.

Why did the military mission in Mozambique intervene?

The jihadist insurgency by the group now calling itself Al Sunnah had been spreading rapidly in the Cabo Delgado province from late 2019. SADC member states had been putting pressure on the Mozambican government to allow a regional military intervention to prevent the insurgency from spreading in the region. Their fear was that Islamic State (Isis), to which the extremists are affiliated, would get a bridgehead from which they could expand their operations.

More than 850,000 civilians had been forced to flee their homes after violent attacks by the extremists.

The insurgency caused the suspension of a US$60 billion investment in a liquefied natural gas project led by multinational energy giants TotalEnergies, ENI and Exxon. The hope had been that the development would drive local, national and regional economic growth.

The SADC decided to deploy a combined force of 2,210 troops. The mission is dominated by a South African contingent of 1,495 soldiers. Other troops come from Botswana, Tanzania, Lesotho, Namibia and Angola.

The thinking was that they would eliminate the Al-Sunnah presence in its area of operation.

How successful was the mission? What were the challenges?

The SADC military mission had several main strategic objectives:

  • neutralising the extremists
  • assisting the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces in planning and undertaking operations
  • training and advising the Mozambique forces.

The SADC member states also planned to supplement the military efforts with humanitarian aid and even development projects to sustain the progress made by the mission.

An internal assessment report was presented at the July 2023 meeting of the then SADC leadership troika (Zambia, Namibia and South Africa).

It concluded that the SADC mission had achieved its objective of reducing the insurgents’ capacity and assisting the Mozambican military. In addition, 570,000 internally displaced people had returned to their homes by August 2023, as the security situation had improved.

However, since the second half of 2023, the number of attacks has increased, leading to a rise in the number of displaced people.

Samim has found it difficult to fulfil its mandate of training the Mozambican force because they couldn’t identify their training needs.

The development and humanitarian efforts have been limited at best.

The assessment report also concluded that the mission had suffered because it was never given the capabilities outlined in the initial SADC pre-mission report of April 2021.

Firstly, the force was smaller than initially recommended. It never went beyond 2,200, a far cry from the mandated 2,900. The mission lacked numbers and capabilities in terms of air, naval and ground assets. Lack of funding was key to the mission’s limited size and capabilities.

Secondly, coordination and joint operations with the Rwandan forces, which had been deployed in July 2021, the SADC force and the Mozambican security forces have been problematic. For example, they had different communication equipment and the soldiers spoke different languages.

Thirdly, intelligence gathering capabilities were weak. Insufficient information before operations commenced increased the danger to troops and civilians.

Fourth, intelligence and operational information was frequently leaked to the extremists.

What lessons can be learnt from the operation?

An outside intervening force must have the full backing of the host nation. And it must understand the area and situation it’s being deployed into. The Mozambican government and military have not always worked with the mission. Seemingly hidden agendas, or different priorities, have hampered the mission.

The Mozambican government’s delayed and timid response to the growth of the insurgency from its beginning raises a number of questions:

  • why was its response so slow and insufficient?
  • why did it oppose regional involvement for so long?
  • why has the SADC mission at times found it difficult to strike at the core of the insurgents?

The difficult political situation in the capital, Maputo, notably factional battles inside the governing Frelimo and the fallout over the huge 2013-2014 Tuna bonds corruption scandal, hampered the mission.

During my recent fieldwork several interviewees even suggested that a faction of Frelimo had at times supported the insurgents.

In addition, strong personal, political and economic interests affected operational realities. Frelimo has strong ties to the region going back to the war of independence against Portugal, and later the civil war between Renamo and Frelimo. The cleavages from the civil war have never been really solved and are still visible.

It was clear that the Mozambican government didn’t have a clear plan to address the many causes of conflict. For example, it did not understand why the insurgency had attracted support from large sections of the local population.

Many people living in Cabo Delgado view the Mozambican state as removed from their everyday realities. Some even see the government as illegitimate and the cause of their suffering. An effective stabilisation effort needs various interventions – military, socioeconomic and political – to resolve the difficult conditions people are living under.

The SADC mission was starved of the capabilities and numbers needed to be an effective fighting force. The local population considered it less effective than, for instance, the Rwandan force, which was also better equipped and trained.

What needs to happen

Insurgency activities are once again on the rise in Cabo Delgado.
The risk is that the extremists will once again take a stronger foothold there since the issues that led to the conflict in the first place remain unresolved.

The SADC mission shows how difficult and costly it is to launch and run a large scale military operation, especially if the host government is not taking full ownership and supporting the operation. The SADC operation can only create “space” for the political solutions to be found.

In addition, the Mozambican government and its security force have shown only limited signs of improved capacity. It is uncertain that they are ready to take over the full responsibility for security after June 2024, when the SADC soldiers leave.The Conversation

Thomas Mandrup, Associate Professor, Security Institute for Governance and Leadership In Africa (SIGLA), Stellenbosch University

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

Added 3 April 2024


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TNPA develops its first water desalination plant at Port of East London

The Port of East London’s container terminal. Picture: TNPA

Africa Ports & Ships

The development of a groundbreaking water desalination plant by Transnet National Ports Authority (NPA) at the Port of East London, will improve the reliability of freshwater supply to users of South Africa’s only river port.

TNPA has awarded a R60 million contract to construct and operate the solar-powered water desalination plant over a period of seven years.

The contract has been awarded to a Joint Venture between Norland Civil Engineers and Contractors and Impact Water Solutions (IWS) -the latter trades as Sun Water East London.

TNPA’s Chief Executive, Adv Phyllis Difeto, said the introduction of the alternative water solution is a step towards the advancement of the port system and seeks to minimise TNPA’s reliance on external parties for the provision of freshwater.

“The project is in line with the Port Authority’s strategic plan of increasing supply resilience and ensuring security of utilities supply by 2029,” she said.

At the signing ceremony to develop TNPA’s first water desalination plant at the East London port were, from left, Jarl Heurlin, director of Norland Construction, Patrice Boyer, director of Impact Water Solutions, and Phyllis Difeto: TNPA acting CE

This first-ever South African port seawater desalination plant will produce 0.5 mega litres (ML) per day and convert seawater into potable water in line with drinking quality standards.

Key to this initiative is TNPA’s use of renewable energy to complement other energy sources.

“The use of solar-power technology will help towards reducing the cost of operations,” Difeto said.

IWS, a South African company that offers a wide range of services in the water sector, has experience in developing, financing, building and operating decentralised water infrastructure by integrating renewable energy with the most innovative water technologies.

The other company in the JV, Norland Construction, specialises in concrete reservoirs, pipelines, irrigation canals and other building earthworks amongst other capabilities.

Norland Construction brings engineering and fit-for-purpose equipment to ensure the highest quality of construction and delivery workmanship within the stipulated timeframe. Norland holds a Level 1 B-BBEE scorecard.

The contract means that approximately 100 direct and indirect jobs will be created, which is likely to increase during project execution, to the benefit of the East London community.

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President to open R2.6 Billion multi-modal rail terminal in Durban

Newlyn Durban Bayhead Terminals

Africa Ports & Ships

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to visit Durban this Thursday (4 April) to officially open the Newlyn PX Terminal and the Tetra Pak Manufacturing plant.

Both entities form part of South Africa’s investment drive, each having made pledges through the South African Investment Conference. This is an initiative led by the president with the ambitious goal of attracting investments totalling R1.2 trillion over five years.

The Newlyn multi modal rail terminal situated in Bayhead next to the busy port of Durban, pledged R2 billion for the development of the largest multi modal rail terminal in Africa. The last phase of the development has now been completed, exceeding the initial pledge with a total investment of R2.6 billion.

In a statement, the Presidency said the entity has over the last 26 years demonstrated its commitment as well as significant financial, technical and human resource development in developing transformational logistics infrastructure along the country’s major trade corridors.

In addition, the terminal is considered a leading development for logistics.

“The terminal has also been recognised as a flagship development expanding the logistics capacity of the country as well as enhancing global competitiveness as part of the critical NATCOR trade corridor linking Johannesburg to the port of Durban,” the statement continued.

“The development will further facilitate an integrated ecosystem yielding benefits to freight owners, Transnet and logistics service providers. This will also accelerate government’s objective of migrating of cargo from road to rail,” the statement read.

Tetra Pak

The Presidency highlighted that in 2022 the Tetra Pak Group had invested more than R500 million in the manufacturing plant in Pinetown, Durban. The factory is now Tetra Pak’s Southern African hub.

Swedish-headquartered Tetra Pak is the world’s leading food processing and packaging company with a presence in more than 155 countries.

“Post the investment, the manufacturing plant is now the only state-of-the-art facility in Africa producing carton asceptic packaging for the domestic market and Africa export, meeting standards of sustainability, and supporting a circular economy and propelling industrial growth.

“These investments will form a critical industrial base for South Africa’s recent commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), for export opportunities,” the Presidency stated.

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WHARF TALK: passenger ship – BOREALIS

The cruise ships Borealis and Arcadia, which shared the cruise terminal facilities in Cape Town harbour between E and D berths (l-r) during their visit on 31 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The arrival of any passenger vessel in any South African port is always a time of immense excitement for the casual maritime observer. There can be nothing better than to watch a thing of beauty glide into port, and come to the conclusion that some folk are extremely lucky, and able to experience what the world has to offer by becoming a passenger on one of these stately vessels. The period of the Suez Canal closures in the 1960s and 1970s must have been wonderful because of the arrival of passenger vessels not expected to be seen otherwise.

Fast forward fifty years, and although the Suez Canal is not closed, the outcome is that passenger liners not expected to call into any South African ports are turning up throughout this 2023-2024 cruise liner season. It means seeing some of the biggest world cruising liners in all their glory, and brings some folk back in time to the days when beautiful ocean liners such as the ‘Rotterdam’ of Holland America Lines came calling at the Cape. And talking of Rotterdam…

On 30th January, at 05:00 in the morning, the passenger liner ‘Borealis’ (IMO 9122552) arrived off Cape Town, from Muscat in Oman, and entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock and, unusually, initially went alongside L berth, which is the normal De Beers Marine working berth, at the far end of Duncan Dock. The next day she was shifted back down Duncan Dock, and now went alongside the Passenger Cruise Terminal at E berth. There was a good reason for switching berth. It was because ‘Borealis’ should not have been in Cape Town.

Borealis at L berth, Cape Town. 30 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 1997 by the Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA shipyard at Marghera in Italy, ‘Borealis’ is 238 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 61,849 tons. She is a diesel electric vessel and is powered by no less than five Wärtsilä 16ZA40S sixteen cylinder, four stroke, generators producing a total of 11,540 kW each, and giving her a total power output of 57,750 kW. She also has an emergency generator.

Power from the main generators is provided for both domestic and propulsion requirements, with propulsion coming from two ABB electric motors, which drive two controllable pitch propellers producing 18,750 kW each, and giving ‘Borealis’ a service speed of 22.5 knots. She has two composite oil fired generators, and three Economiser exhaust gas boilers. For added manoeuvrability she has two bow transverse thrusters providing 1,900 kW each, and two stern transverse bow thruster providing 1,900 kW each.

For the casual maritime observer who thinks ‘Borealis’ looks slightly familiar, she is one of four sisterships, known as the ‘R’ Class, or ‘Rotterdam’ Class’, which gives a hint to her lineage. She was the first of the class built, and was launched as ‘Rotterdam’ for the Holland America Line, who are a subsidiary company of the Carnival Cruise Group. Her other sister ships were named ‘Volendam’, ‘Zaandam’, and ‘Amsterdam’.

Borealis at L berth, Cape Town. 30 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She was the sixth vessel of the Holland America Line to receive the name ‘Rotterdam’, and as homage to her predecessor, the 1959 ‘Rotterdam’, now a hotel in her namesake city, and a previous regular visitor to South African shores, the sixth ‘Rotterdam also received twin funnels. This homage went so far as to have her launched by none other than Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, who is also Patron of the Dutch Merchant Navy. She displayed an art collection onboard that was valued at US$2 million (ZAR37.91 million).

Sold by Holland America Lines in 2020 to Borealis Cruise Ltd., of Nassau in the Bahamas, ‘Borealis’ is operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd., of Ipswich in the United Kingdom, and is managed by Fred. Olsen Windcarrier ASA, of Oslo in Norway. The famous Norwegian company was founded in 1848 by Petter Olsen, with the company being named after his son, Fredrik, and which is still family owned, with the fifth generation of the Olsen family managing the company.

Borealis at L berth, Cape Town. 30 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the nomenclature aficionado, the naming tradition of Fred Olsen vessels is generally that their vessel names start with the letter ‘B’, and ‘Borealis’ follows a Fred Olsen vessel of the same name from the 1940s, and she is named after the atmospheric marvel of the Northern Lights, better known as the Aurora Borealis. When built, the construction costs of ‘Borealis’ was US$400 million (ZAR7.51 billion).

She has ten decks, of which five are set aside for passenger cabins. She can carry a passenger complement of 1,353, who are looked after by a crew of 642. There are a total of 702 cabins, of which 570 of them are outside cabins, some of which have balconies. Cabin sizes vary from standard inside cabins with an area of 17.2 m2, up to Executive Suites with an area of 53.42 m2.

The onboard facilities of ‘Borealis’ include five restaurants, six bars, two cafés, four lounges, a show theatre, a culinary theatre for cooking classes and demonstrations, casino, card room, meeting rooms, art gallery, kids lounge, teens lounge, a wellness centre that includes a gymnasium, spa, beauty salon, aerobics rooms, therapy and treatment rooms, saunas, hydro pool, and hot tubs, a main swimming pool, two Jacuzzis, a tennis court and a basketball court.

Borealis at L berth, Cape Town. 30 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Her arrival on the Southern African coast sees ‘Borealis’ on the last leg of a 103 night, 40 port, world cruise which started from Liverpool in the UK back on 5th January. This pricing for this round the world cruise started at US$17,289 (ZAR327,697). However, she should never have been here, as her original published itinerary for the current cruise was as follows;

Liverpool- Southampton- Bermuda- Charleston- Port Canaveral- Fort Lauderdale- Key West (all USA)- Panama Canal transit- Golfito- Puntarenas (both Costa Rica)- Puerto Vallarta (Mexico)- Honolulu- Hilo- Maui (all Hawaii)- Uturoa- Papeete- Bora Bora (all French Polynesia)- Auckland- Picton (both New Zealand)- Sydney- Newcastle- Cairns (all Australia)- Alotau (Papua New Guinea)- Komodo Island- Lombok Island (both Indonesia)- Singapore- Phuket (Thailand)- Cochin- Goa- Mumbai (all India)- Dubai (UAE)- Khasab- Muscat (both Oman)- Aqaba (Jordan)- Suez Canal transit- Limassol (Cyprus)- Rhodes- Heraklion (both Greece)- Valetta (Malta)- Cartagena (Spain)- Southampton, where the cruise would terminate on 17th April.

Rotterdam. Cape Town, January 1970. Picture by Trevor Jones

However, as a passage up the Red Sea, between Muscat and Aqaba, would expose ‘Borealis’ to the double threat of the Houthi terror, and the re-emerging Somali Piracy, the cruise itinerary was cancelled from Muscat onwards, and instead ‘Borealis’ made a long sea passage directly from Muscat to Cape Town. Such a long passage at sea would be reminiscent of voyages in times past, when ocean liners were running on commercial routes, and not on cruises.

It was for the reason of the Houthi menace that brought ‘Borealis’ to Cape Town, and her arrival was, not unsurprisingly, well timed. She arrived at the same time as two other large cruise liners were scheduled to arrive, namely that of ‘MSC Splendida’ and ‘Arcadia’. In order to make room for ‘MSC Splendida’ on E berth, it was decided to berth ‘Borealis’ down the Duncan Dock to L berth, and shift her up to E berth once ‘MSC Splendida’ had sailed from Cape Town.

Her final cruise leg back to Southampton was amended to Cape Town- Walvis Bay (Namibia)- Mindelo (Cape Verde)- Tenerife (Canary Islands)- Southampton. Her arrival back in the UK remains as the original schedule of 17th April. The prices for this last leg from Cape Town to Southampton start at US$2,132 (ZAR 40,411). At 1500 on 31st March, ‘Borealis’ sailed from Cape Town, to continue her diverted cruise, and now bound for Walvis Bay.

Rotterdam. Cape Town, 2012. Picture by Chris Godden

Back in September 2004, whilst underway on a transatlantic ocean crossing, she suffered a complete power failure. The failure could not have come at a worse time as she was attempting to avoid Hurricane Karl, a Category 3 hurricane. Without power, she was exposed to swells of 15 metres, which caused chaos onboard, and resulted in many passengers receiving injuries, and which included broken bones. Her engineers managed to restore power, and she made her way to Halifax, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, to land her injured passengers.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, still sailing as ‘Rotterdam’, she made worldwide news as she was sent to assist her sistership ‘Zaandam’ who had almost 180 passengers onboard who had Covid symptoms, some of whom were in critical condition. Both vessels were at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, and had been denied transit by the Canal Authorities. Whilst negotiations continued to allow them canal passage, four of the passengers died.

Eventually, both were given permission to make the transit into the Atlantic Ocean, where asymptomatic passengers were transferred from ‘Zaandam’ to ‘Rotterdam’, and additional medical staff transferred over to ‘Zaandam’. Both vessels made their way to Fort Lauderdale in the US State of Florida, where after more negotiations with the US Health Authorities, passengers showing no symptoms were landed, and repatriated back to Canada and the UK. The crew of both ‘Zaandam’ and ‘Rotterdam’ were all ordered to remain onboard.

Added 2 April 2024


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Chinese naval task force visiting Mozambique

The destroyer Urumqi escorting the Chinese bulk carrier Zhao Yang Feng (IMO 9576791). Picture: Chinese MoD

Guy Martin

Fresh after a stop in Tanzania, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) 45th naval escort task force is now visiting Mozambique.

On the morning of 1 April the task force arrived in Maputo and began a five-day goodwill visit, the PLAN reported. The flotilla comprises the Type 052D destroyer Urumqi, the Type 054A frigate Linyi, and the Type 903A replenishment ship Dongpinghu.

More than 200 people, including representatives of the Mozambican military, staff of the Chinese Embassy in Mozambique, representatives of Chinese-funded enterprises and overseas Chinese, greeted the vessels as they arrived in port.

“It is understood that during the visit to Mozambique, the 45th escort fleet will hold a deck reception and other related exchange activities,” the PLAN reported.

The 45th escort task force had just visited Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, between 23 and 27 March. During the visit, the task force commander paid a courtesy visit to Major General Mwasaika, Commander of the Tanzania Navy. Representatives of the formation’s officers and soldiers visited the Dar es Salaam Station of the TAZARA Railway and paid their respects at the cemetery of Chinese experts who assisted Tanzania.

The PLAN’s 46th escort task force is currently on duty in the Gulf of Aden area after departing from China on 21 February and arriving on station at the beginning of March. The new task force includes the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Jiaozuo, the Type 054A missile frigate Xuchang, and the Type 903A replenishment vessel Honghu, with over 700 crew members including dozens of special forces personnel and two helicopters onboard.

Zhang Junshe, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times that the PLA Navy’s escort missions are not related to the current situation in the region with Houthi attacks on shipping or “so-called major power competition”.

By the end of 2023, the PLA Navy had escorted more than 7,200 vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somalia in more than 1,600 missions, with more than 50% of escorted ships being foreign vessels, China Central Television reported in December 2023.

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

Added 2 April 2024


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Chinese tanker targeted by Houthi anti-ship missiles

Africa Ports & Ships

A Chinese owned and operated crude oil tanker, the 115,449-dwt Huang Pu (IMO 9402469) became the target of a number of Houthi-fired anti-ship missiles as the vessel transited the lower Red Sea. The tanker flies the Panama flag.

This has evoked some surprise as the Houthis had previously assured China and Russia that their ships would have safe passage through the Gulf of Aden and southern Red Sea. Huang Pu was acquired by a Hong Kong-based Chinese company as recently as 1 February 2024, which may help explain the attack.

The Chinese ship, which has had several previous non-Chinese operators, came under attack more than a week ago on 23 March and involved four anti-ship missiles which were launched toward the ship as the Huang Pu was transiting the lower Red Sea. Later a fifth missile was launched in the direction of the tanker.

Four of the missiles landed harmlessly in the sea but one did strike the vessel, with minimal damage although a fire did break out, which was however quickly extinguished.

According to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the tanker issued a distress signal but did not request assistance. There were no injuries reported and the tanker was able to resume its course en route to the Arabian Gulf.

In the latest update from CENTCOM, an unmanned surface vessel (USV) dispatched by the Houthi forces in Yemen has been intercepted and destroyed before it could cause any harm. It had been determined that the USV presented a threat to U.S. and coalition forces and merchant ships in the region.

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MSC strengthens freight forwarding logistics with acquisition of Clasquin

Africa Ports & Ships


Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has completed its acquisition of French freight forwarding logistics specialist, Clasquin.

MSC and Clasquin agreed on the terms of an acquisition deal first announced in December 2023. The acquisition is being completed by SAS Shipping Agencies Services Sàrl in Luxembourg.

SAS is acquiring a 42% stake in Clasquin for an estimated $353 million (€325 million). The remaining shares will be picked up on the stock market.

Clasquin is a 40-year-old, mid-sized international freight forwarder and overseas logistics company, managing customer shipments along the transport and logistics chain between France and the rest of the world.

Their services cover both land and sea shipments to and from regions such as Asia-Pacific, North America, North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.

In recent years, Clasquin has experienced strong growth in Africa and is in the process of taking full control of its Morocco-based subsidiary, Timar, which operates in several African countries.

MSC has also strengthened its land-based operations throughout much of Africa with its subsidiary Africa Global Logistics (AGL), formerly known as Bolloré Africa Logistics. MSC acquired the former Bolloré Africa Logistics in late 2022 for the sum of €5.7 billion.

A second MSC subsidiary active in Africa is Terminal Investment Limited (TIL), the successful bidder to manage and operate the Walvis Bay Container Terminal. TIL also manages over 70 terminals in 31 counties, including in such ports as Lomé in Togo, King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Singapore, Busan and Ningbo.

Added 2 April 2024


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Déjà Vu – Another sickening stink ship arrives. East London this time

The Kuwaiti livestock carrier Al Messilah which has berthed at East London port to load livestock for the Middle East. Picture: Anthony Legg/ Shipspotting

Africa Ports & Ships

Remember the livestock carrier that stank out the centre of Cape Town? Well, another has just arrived, at East London this time where it is today (Tuesday) preparing to load roughly 60,000 sheep, 1,500 cattle and 200 goats destined for slaughter in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

And guess what. The livestock carrier Al Messilah (IMO 7924425) is berthed immediately behind (or in front depending on the perspective) of the super luxury cruise ship Silver Cloud (see Wharf Talk in this edition today), and directly across the river from the Logos Hope library ship.

How nice!

We’re not going to do a write-up about this inhuman and sickening trade that appears to carry the blessing of the South African government and the farming community in general. Instead, rather you read the coverage given to the ship’s arrival in today’s Daily Maverick, which is to be found here

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Steady growth for Kenya’s Port of Mombasa

Kenya’s Port of Mombasa aglow with growth

Africa Ports & Ships

It has been a year of steady growth for Kenya’s principal port of Mombasa.

With the release of the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Annual Review and Bulletin of Statistics, it is learned that the port has increased its total cargo throughput from 33.88 million tons handled in 2022, to 35.98 mt in 2023.

This represents an annual growth of 6.2 per cent.

Containers handled account for just over 50 per cent of total port throughput, increasing from 1.45 million TEUs in 2022, to 1.62 million TEUs, representing a healthy 11.9 per cent growth.

Containers amounted to 50.4 per cent of the total cargo measured in tons.

Transit cargo for neighbouring countries totalled 11.41 million tons of the above volumes in 2023, an increase on the 10.23mt registered in 2022 and a percentage growth of 11.5 per cent.

Mombasa continues as Sub-Saharan Africa’s second busiest container port behind Durban. Only the North African transshipment ports of Tanger Med in Morocco and East Port Said in Egypt rank higher in Africa.

Unlike Durban which showed no growth in 2023 (2.544m TEUs in 2023 versus 2.574m TEU in 2022), Mombasa is attracting increased volumes not only for internal Kenya, but several neighbouring countries as well. These include Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and East DRC.

Mombasa Container Terminal scene. Picture: KPA

Overall, the KPA believes an ongoing surge in vessel calls and consequent cargo increases is due to improvements in operational efficiency that has led to decreased ship delays.

“Mombasa has observed a rise in the number of initial calls to the port, with the growth credited to operational efficiency improvements that have led to decreased ship waiting times,” the Kenya Ports Authority said recently.

Some examples of these improvements can be seen with turnaround time for container ships having decreased from an average of three days in 2022, to two days in 2023.

Dwell time dropped marginally from 3.9 days in 2022 to 3.5 days in 2023, which is a 10 pr cent improvement.

Waiting time for container ships dropped in 2023 to 0.2 days, while the gross vessel turnaround time decreased from 90.5 hours in 2022 to 64.1 hours in 2023.

The port has been experiencing a number of diversions of cargo, in particular containers, intended for neighbouring ports that are experiencing congestion. These include Djibouti and Dar es Salaam.

If this trend continues there is the potential for Mombasa to experience its own delays and congestion pains but at present the Kenya port appears to have the situation under control.

Kilindini port and the Port of Mombasa  Map: KPA

Other Kenya ports

Kenya’s new Port of Lamu has yet to realise its future potential and is not worth recording. A recent report quoted 37,576 tons for 2023 which requires further confirmation.

Kenya’s Lake Victoria port of Kisumu handled a reported 127,745 tons of cargo in 2023, an increase of 119 per cent on the previous year. During the 2023 year the lake port has been upgraded in an effort to rejuvenate the use of lake vessels operating from Kisumu to Uganda and south to Mwanza in Tanzania.

Added 1 April 2024


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WHARF TALK: luxury expedition ship – SILVER CLOUD

Silver Cloud offshore of Hermanus in the southern Cape, with one of her tenders ferrying passengers ashore. Picture by Melanie Frieslich

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Melanie Frieslich
and Keith Betts
Story by Jay Gates

The small stream of Antarctic expedition passenger liners that arrives in Cape Town every year as the Austral exploring season comes to an end includes the whole scale of passengers, from the equivalent of the ‘bucket and spade’ brigade, all the way through to the equivalent of the ‘nouveau riche’ and the ultra-luxury liners.

Amongst the arrivals, what is almost something that is never reported on is that of the Captain of the vessel. Apart from the obvious mention of Captain Knowledge Bengu, who is the Master of ‘S.A. Agulhas II’, the rarity of the fact that the arrival of one of the ultra-luxury expedition vessels was commanded by another South African Captain, seemed to elude everybody, including Transnet, who were waxing lyrical about the call of his vessel, due to her previous call at a Transnet port that has never before welcomed a modern era passenger liner.

On 28th March at 05:00 in the morning, the ultra-luxury expedition passenger liner ‘Silver Cloud’ (IMO 8903923) arrived off Cape Town, from Saldanha Bay, which is not your normal port call for a passenger liner of any description or persuasion. She entered Cape Town harbour, and in a turn up for the books, she made her way into the Victoria Basin, and went alongside No.2 Jetty at the V&A Waterfront.

Silver Cloud at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, 28 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Such an arrival is almost unheard of in the modern era. Well done to Transnet for accommodating ‘Silver Cloud’ at a berth almost always excluded from your run of the mill overnight cruise caller.

Could it have been a reward for her owners agreeing to make a port call at Saldanha Bay, after years of negotiations?

Built in 1993, with her hull constructed at the Societa Esercizio Cantieri SpA shipyard at Viareggio in Italy, ‘Silver Cloud’ was completed at the Cantieri Naval Visentini shipyard at Donada, and then outfitted at the T. Mariotti shipyard at Genoa. She is 156 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 16,800 tons.

She is powered by two Wärtsilä 6R46 six cylinder, four stroke, main engines producing 15,908 bhp (11,700 kW), and driving two controllable pitch propellers for a service speed of 18 knots. Her auxiliary machinery includes three Wärtsilä 8R32 generators providing 2,340 kW each. For added manoeuvrability she has two bow transverses thrusters providing 480 kW each.

Silver Cloud at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, 28 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built at a cost of US$125 million (ZAR2.33 billion), ‘Silver Cloud’ has nine decks, of which six are for the sole use of passengers, and four of these decks are set aside for cabins. She has 126 cabins, of which 80% are provided with balconies, and she normally carries 254 passengers, who are looked after by a crew of 217. However, when cruising in Antarctic waters, her passenger complement is capped at a maximum of only 200, as part of her owner’s environmental responsibilities in reducing the human footprint in that pristine wilderness.

Her passenger facilities include four restaurants, five lounges, three bars, library, theatre, gymnasium, beauty salon, spa, sauna, boutiques, swimming pool, two Jacuzzis, a golf driving range, golf putting green, paddleboard tennis court, and a jogging track. Her cabins range from Vista Suites with no balcony having a floor area of 22 m2, up to two bedroomed Grand Suites having a vast floor area of 122 m2.

Silver Cloud at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, 28 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One of two sisterships, ‘Silver Cloud’ is owned by Silversea Cruises, of Monaco, who are part of the Royal Caribbean Cruises Group, and she is operated by Silver Expeditions, also of Monaco, with her management being undertaken by V Ships Leisure SAM, of Monaco.

In 2017 ‘Silver Cloud’ was selected by her owners to become a polar expedition vessel, for their new cruising subsidiary of Silver Expeditions, and she was given a refit to enable her to navigate in polar waters. Her refit costs were US$40 million (ZAR744.53 million), and she was given an ice classification of ICE 1C, allowing her to navigate in first year ice thickness of 0.4 metres.

Silver Cloud at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, 28 March 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After the conclusion of this season’s final cruise in the Antarctic Peninsula, ‘Silver Cloud’ sailed on 2nd March from Puerto Williams, in the far south of Chile. Her cruise itinerary was Puerto Williams- Falkland Islands- South Georgia- Tristan da Cunha- Gough Island- Walvis Bay- Lüderitz- Saldanha Bay- Cape Town. The prices for this 21 day cruise started at US$16,866 (ZAR313.931).

Her call at Saldanha Bay has huge significance as this was the first time that any passenger liner has ever called at the port, and used it as part of a scheduled cruise itinerary. She arrived in the iron ore port on 26th March at 04:00 in the morning, and anchored in the bay, rather than at a berth. After all, a pristine white passenger liner going alongside the working berths in this dusty port would not end well for her looks. After an overnight stop, ‘Silver Cloud’ sailed for Cape Town the next day, 27th March at 19:00 in the evening.

What is nice to report is that her Master is none other than Captain Freddie Ligthelm, a west coast South African, and a resident of Blouberg in Cape Town. Captain Ligthelm completed his nautical studies to become a Foreign Going Master Mariner at the Maritime Studies Department of the Caper Technikon, located at Granger Bay, just outside the V&A Waterfront, and where previously the General Botha South African Merchant Navy Academy was located.

Silver Cloud and HMS Belfast at Tower Bridge, London, August 2011. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

Captain Ligthelm was previously a Master with Smit Amandla Marine, subsequently AMSOL, and was previously Master of the original ‘S.A. Agulhas’, and the ‘S.A. Agulhas II’, which he brought back to Cape Town from the shipyard in Finland. He subsequently became an Ice Pilot on ‘S.A. Agulhas II’, which included the famous ‘Endurance 22’ expedition that found the resting place of the expedition vessel of Sir Ernest Shackleton, lying at the bottom of the Weddell Sea.

He was in great demand as an Ice Pilot, and undertook this role for many of the great expedition cruise companies whose passenger vessels ply the waters of Antarctica, including for his current employer, Silversea Cruises. Despite Captain Ligthelm being possibly the only South African who is an Antarctic expeditionary cruising vessel Master, and a West Coast boy to boot, this completely eluded Transnet when ‘Silver Cloud’ first arrived at her first South African port, namely Saldanha Bay. Sadly, his being there received the minimum of cover.

Silver Cloud arriving in Durban, 14 April 2023. Picture by Keith Betts

Transnet social media output was more to do with their part in getting her to call there, and the presentation by the Saldanha Bay Port Captain. There was no mention of Captain Freddie Ligthelm, other than the fact that he was the master of ‘Silver Cloud’. Transnet information also included the fact that she arrived with passengers from Nassau, in the Bahamas. The cruise began in Chile, and the port of registry of ‘Silver Cloud’ is Nassau.

After her stay at the V&A, ‘Silver Cloud’ was ready to start her next cruise segment, which is a long double round of the South African coast. At 02:00 in the early morning of 30th March, she departed from Cape Town, and her next itinerary call was another unusual location, namely that of the Western Cape coastal town of Hermanus, where she arrived at 06:00 that morning. By 17:00 that afternoon, she sailed to continue with her cruise, the itinerary being;

Silver Cloud arriving in Durban, 14 April 2023. Picture by Keith Betts

Cape Town- Hermanus- Mossel Bay (31st/07:00-20:00)- East London (2nd/06:00-19:00)- Port Elizabeth (3rd/06:00 to 4th/14:00)- Cape Town (8th/06:00). From there she sails from Cape Town at 23:00 on the 6th with her next itinerary being Cape Town- Saldanha Bay (9th/05:00-19:00)- Hermanus (10th/06:00-19:00)- East London (12th/08:00-13:00)- Durban (13th/12:00-23:00)- Richards Bay (14th/08:00 to 15th/14:00)- Maputo (16th/08:00).

From Maputo she will continue up the Mozambique Channel, with her itinerary being Maputo- Morondava- Belo Sur Mer (both Madagascar)- Comores- Kilwa Island- Fanjove Island- Zanzibar (all Tanzania)- Assumption Island- Aldabra Island- Astove Island- Port Victoria (all Seychelles), where she will arrive on 4th May. She will then depart to India and onto Australia, where she will be based for cruises throughout the Austral winter.

In her thirty year career, ‘Silver Cloud’ has received no less than 103 Port State Inspections. Surprisingly, this includes two inspections in South Africa, both under the auspices of the Abuja MoU, and the Indian Ocean MoU. The first was in Port Elizabeth in January 2016, and the second in Cape Town in January 2017. In both instances there were no findings filed against the vessel. Back in May 2007, at the Italian port of Castellamare di Stabia, she was detained for one day, after a Port State Inspection logged two findings, both related to Fire Safety criteria.

Added 1 April 2024


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Coral Sul FLNG: 50 successful LNG tanker transfers offshore Mozambique

The FLNG Coral Sul with LNG tanker alongside and assisting tug nearby. Well into production offshore northern Mozambique – 50 tankers later.  Picture: Eni

Africa Ports & Ships

In the 17 months since first STS (ship to ship) operation on 11 November 2022, Smit Lamnalco has completed 50 successful LNG STS operations at the Coral Sul FLNG facility offshore northern Mozambique.

Coral Sul is the first NG liquefaction facility to enter service from Area Block 4 of the Rovuma Basin, regarded as having the largest known liquid natural gas deposits in the world. The deepwater Area 4 block contains over 85 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The consortium operating the Coral Sul FLNG vessel consists of the Italian oil company Eni as the operator of the project, ExxonMobil, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Galp Energia, Korea gas Corporation (Kogas), and Mozambique state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos (ENH).

The FLNG Coral Sul is connected to six wells at a water depth of 2,000 metres and as it comes into full operation is expected to produce approximately 3.4 million tonnes of LNG annually. The LNG is contracted to oil major BP for 20 years and revenue earned by host country Mozambique is seen as a game-changer for the country and its people if handled proportionately, while also contributing to meeting global demand for liquefied natural gas.

The FLNG, which was purpose-built in South Korea at the Samsung Heavy shipyard and delivered in 2022,

The tug company of Smit Lamnalco secured a 10-year fixed term contract with Coral FLNG to provide integrated marine services to the Coral Sul FLNG, with several long-term options.

For the delivery of its services Smit Lamnalco deployed three fit for purpose 95TBP offshore new build tugs to provide escort, berthing and un-berthing of LNG Carriers to the FLNG facility.

A fourth new build OSV is utilised to provide logistical and marine services support.

Since the signing of the above-mentioned contract, Smit Lamnalco has since been acquired by Boluda Towing.

Added 1 April 2024


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Russian frigate Marshall Shaposhnikov arrives in Massawa, Eritrea

The Russian Pacific Fleet frigate, Marshal Shaposhnikov which is currently visiting the Eritrean port of Massawa..  Picture: U.S. Navy by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class William R. Goodwin

Africa Ports & Ships

The Russian Pacific Fleet frigate, Marshal Shaposhnikov (BPK543), arrived in the Eritrean port of Massawa on Thursday, 28 March for a five day visit.

En route the frigate, part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, negotiated without incident through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait into the lower Red Sea.

The purpose of the Massawa port call is to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Russian Federation and Eritrea.

Upon its arrival at the Massawa port, the frigate was visited by Igor Mozgo, ambassador of the Russian Federation to Eritrea.

Other senior Eritrean government and military members later toured the frigate and received a briefing on the objectives of its tour and its history.

Marshall Shaposhnikov 543 in Massawa 28 March 2024. Picture: Eritrean MIn of Information

Marshall Shaposhnikov (BPK543) is a modernised Udaloy-class destroyer subsequently reclassified as a frigate. For much of 2023 the frigate, together with the destroyer Admiral Panteleyev and the navy tanker Vladimir Kolechitskiy, were deployed in the Indian Ocean, where among other activities they conducted exercises with ships of the Indian Navy.

In early March 2024, the ship took part in the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition and Conference (DIMDEX 2024) in Doha, Qatar.

Commissioned in December 1985 as a destroyer, the 163-metre long vessel, displacing 7,900 tons when fully loaded, was reclassified as a frigate in June 2020 and returned to service following a refit in 2021.

Added 1 April 2024


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The Baltimore Bridge disaster – one week later

Picture: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Africa Ports & Ships

Almost a week after the catastrophic collision between the container ship Dali (IMO 9697428) and the Francis Scott Key Bridge across the Baltimore greater harbour, the first of seven floating cranes have arrived to take part in clearing away the collapsed sections of the bridge and enable the ship to be moved in order that access to the main port is once again possible.

At the same time investigators are busy unraveling the reason why the Dali lost all power at such a critical moment, with the ship then veering off course and into one of the two main piers supporting the bridge.

Reports say one of the vessel’s engines coughed and stopped with a strong smell of burned fuel.

Information derived from the ship’s recorder or ‘black box’ provides evidence of how one of two pilots on board the vessel radioed for tug assistance after advising of a loss of engine power. The pilot also warned of the ship heading in the direction of the bridge pier.

Despite the pilot ordering a sharp turn to port and the dropping of the port anchor, with the vessel then travelling at 8 knots, these efforts were in vain and the ship collided with the pier. The collapse of the entire central sections of the bridge then collapsed into the river and across the bows of the container ship.

Diagram of the Francis Scott Key Bridge indicating the point of collision and highlighting the section that collapsed. Image Wikipedia Commons, Image author Fvascoconcellos

Cranes arrive

The first of the floating cranes, the giant ‘Chesapeake 1000’ arrived on Thursday 28 March and as its name suggests, is able to lift up to 1,000 tons. Before attempting to lift away sections of the huge bridge, large sections are being cut away to enable the cranes to do their work.

Other vessels including tugs, barges and salvage vessels will be utilised to move away the cut sections after each has been lifted clear of the ship and from the waters of the river. At some stage the ship will be cleared of wreckage.

The Port Captain of the Port of Baltimore says authorities are preparing to open an alternative channel near the bridge.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the cause of the accident is underway, with the ship’s master and his crew all having been questioned. Access to the Dali and in particular its engine room has been possible.

A separate enquiry will undertake an investigation as to why and how the bridge collapsed so spectacularly. The Baltimore Bridge was built in 1977 when ships were considerably smaller. The Francis Scott Keys Bridge is one of the 3% of over 600,000 US bridges that was not built with redundancies, hence when one section collapsed, other sections followed.

The collision occurred despite dolphins having been inserted into the waterway subsequent to the bridge being built to provide protection against an approaching vessel. These proved ineffectual.

The Francis Scott Key Bridge. The pier fourth from the left was struck by the ship. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

The Dali, a 10,000-TEU capacity ship under charter to Maersk Line, was carrying 4,700 containers when she sailed from the Baltimore container terminal. Fifty-six of the boxes contained hazardous material of which 14 suffered damage. According to the Key Bridge Joint Information Center, only nine of these posed any immediate threat to the environment.

There were no serious injuries on board the ship – one member of the crew received a minor injury requiring some stitches. Unfortunately eight workers on the bridge undertaking road repairs at the time of the collision, disappeared into the river. Two of these were rescued and the bodies of another two were recovered from a vehicle in the river several days later. Unsafe diving conditions have hindered further attempts.

A relatively smallish amount of oil from a bow thruster (80 litres) may have leaked into the waterway, leaving a sheen on the water.


Onshore, the loss of a busy road across the bridge is causing some 30,000 vehicles a day to find alternative routes to each destination. Perhaps more serious is the plight of several thousand dockworkers whose occupations are now at threat for as long as it takes to reopen the waterway beneath the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Elsewhere along the Atlantic seaboard other nearby ports will be playing host to incoming ships. Baltimore’s mayor, Wes Moore, called the bridge collision a ‘national economic catastrophe’ which he said will have a wide-ranging and long-lasting effect on the American economy.

“People have to remember this is not a Baltimore catastrophe, not a Maryland catastrophe, this is a national economic catastrophe,” he told CNN’s ‘State of the Nation’ programme on Easter Sunday.

Added 1 April 2024


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Baltimore Bridge’s losses within absorption capacity of the insurance industry – Morningstar DBRS

Francis Scott Key Bridge at Baltimore. Picture: Wikipedia Commons

Africa Ports & Ships

Will add pressure to the marine market

Global credit rating agency Morningstar DBRS has published a commentary discussing the potential implications of the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on the global insurance and reinsurance market.

Key highlights in the commentary include the following:

— The collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the subsequent blockage of the Port of Baltimore will trigger a large number of insurance policies, including marine liability and hull, property, cargo, and business interruption.

— Depending on the length of the blockage and the nature of the business interruption coverage for the Port of Baltimore, insured losses could total between $2 billion and $4 billion, surpassing the record insured losses of the Costa Concordia catastrophe.

— Despite the hefty insured losses, it’s expected they will remain manageable for the insurance industry as they involve a large and diversified pool of well capitalized insurers and reinsurers.

“In our view, these losses will add to the woes of marine insurers who have been facing recent challenges due to the Houthi rebels’ attacks in the Red Sea,” said Marcos Alvarez, Morningstar DBRS managing director.

“We also anticipate that the losses linked to the collapse of the Baltimore bridge will add upward pressure to the pricing of marine insurance coverages globally.”

The Morningstar DBRS commentary can be found here.

Added 1 April 2024


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SAMIM to withdraw from Mozambique by 15 July 2024

Botswana Air Force transport aircraft at Pemba Airport in northern Mozambique, in support of SAMIM forces

Africa Ports & Ships

The SADC Military Force (SAMIM) will have withdrawn completely from northern Mozambique by 15 July 2024, it has been announced, but President Filipe Nyusi says he maintains hope for continued bilateral and multilateral support.

Mozambique’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Verónica Macamo Dlhovo, said that SAMIM faces financial problems with its involvement in the DRC, and explained that Mozambique has the increasing responsibility of taking care of its own troops and would find itself financially constrained to support SAMIM.

President Nyusi meanwhile said Mozambique was not distracted and that an interim assessment would take place before the withdrawal of the SAMIM force.

“We are the owners of the country. At all times we have to prepare for this. We are not distracted,” Nyusi said, adding that there is multilateral work still to be done with organizations such as the African Union, United Nations and European Union.

While acknowledging that the terrorists in Cabo Delgado province had demonstrated improved techniques and a resurgence of activity in the province, he gave an assurance that the government is training the Mozambique defence and security forces.

“We will continue to work to stop terrorism as much as possible and minimise suffering. The responsibility lies with Mozambicans. More union, less noise. Noisy ones haven’t been much help in combating terrorism,” he said.

The presence of military support from SAMIM and from Rwanda has helped stabilise the situation in northern Cabo Delgado, although a more recent resurgence of terrorist activity has been reported along the coast of Quissanga and on Quirimba Island, as reported last week in Africa Ports & Ships see here.

Added 1 April 2024


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Commissioner Lighe takes office at Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA)

Liberia Maritime Authority’s new commissioner and CEO, Neto Zarzar Lighe. Picture: LiMA

Africa Ports & Ships

Cllr Neto Zarzar Lighe, Sr has taken office as the new commissioner and CEO of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) at a brief ceremony in LiMA’s corporate headquarters.

Lighe said he has taken on this new task to work in the country’s interest and to build on what he has just inherited.

Saying he is a man of action and not one of many words, Lighe said his administration would require professionalism, hard work, respect, and punctuality, but nothing based on mere friendship.

He further emphasized that developing and maintaining professional behavior would be essential to attaining success during his administration.

“The way we conduct ourselves, relate to one another, and approach our tasks all amounts to professionalism,” he said.

Thanking the LiMA team for all the good work they did over the years to keep the institution viable both locally and abroad, he encouraged the workforce to continue to do the work at hand.

While welcoming Commissioner Lighe, Deputy Commissioner Emmanuel N Reeves declared the affairs at LiMA to be in good hands and said the new commissioner has a talented, professional, and dedicated staff to work with.

“We want to welcome you personally, we will follow your lead to ensure that this program and our national heritage remain vital,” the Deputy Commissioner said.

Added 1 April 2024


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First of 45 new haulers arrive for Durban Container Terminals

New haulers for the Durban Container Terminals.
Picture: Transnet

Africa Ports & Ships

Over and above this week’s good news of more than a hundred dumpers and haulers arriving at the port of Richards Bay – see here, it is now learnt that the first 10 of 45 new fully-assembled haulers have arrived in Durban harbour for use in the Durban Container Terminals, Piers 1 and 2.

This is just ahead of the start of the citrus season during which they will prove both timeous and useful.

The haulers are used for moving containers from the stack to the ship-to-shore (STS) cranes in a vessel loading operation, and from the STS crane to the stack in a vessel offloading operation.

The haulers arrived from Terberg Tractors in Malaysia, who will ship another 25 haulers in mid-April and the last batch of 10 at the end of May 2024.

The new equipment will be allocated across DCT Pier 1 and DCT Pier 2, with each terminal receiving 23 and 22 haulers, respectively. The arrival of the equipment will relieve pressure on and enable better use of straddle carriers while enhancing the terminal’s use of its fleet, thus contributing to improved efficiency.

The purchase of the haulers comes with a 12-months warranty, after which the technical team will be supported by Terberg as the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) through a seven-year partnership.

Haulers arriving at Durban Container Terminals. Picture: Transnet

By the end of May 2024, the terminals would have taken delivery of four new reach stackers and five empty container handlers, all critical in the terminals’ fleet replacement plan, according to Earl Peters, managing executive at Durban Terminals.

“It’s not common to have this type of equipment readily available on purchase and we thank our customers for helping us identify it,” Peters said, adding that the industry has demonstrated unparalleled support.

No training for the new haulers is required, but the more than 330 operators at the terminals will each be allocated a day to familiarise themselves with the model which, as a newer version, differs slightly to what the team is used to.

Added 28 March 2024


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In Conversation: I’ve captained ships into tight ports like Baltimore, and this is how captains like me work with harbor pilots to avoid deadly collisions

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff onboard Hydrographic Survey Vessel CATLETT observe the damage resulting from the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, March 26, 2024. In accordance with USACE’s federal authorities, USACE will lead the effort to clear the channel as part of the larger interagency recovery effort to restore operations at the Port of Baltimore.

Allan Post, Texas A&M University

Details are still emerging about the disaster that happened in the early morning of March 26, 2024, when the Dali, a large cargo ship on its way out of the port of Baltimore, hit a major bridge and caused it to collapse.

The Conversation’s senior politics and democracy editor, Naomi Schalit, spoke with Captain Allan Post, a veteran ship’s officer, about the role a ship pilot plays in bringing a large ship in and out of a harbor. Post, who now directs Marine Education Support and Safety Operations at Texas A&M University at Galveston and is also deputy superintendent of the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, said the disaster was “absolutely” every crew member’s nightmare.

What was your first thought when you heard about the accident?

Post: My first thought was, thank God it happened at night, because of the low amount of traffic on the bridge. If that had happened during the daytime, casualties would be in the thousands. My heart aches for those lives lost.

There were two ship pilots aboard the ship as it left its berth in the Port of Baltimore. Can you tell us what ship pilots do?

Post: Ship pilots are brought on board in what are considered restricted maneuverability or navigation areas. They are local experts who are usually certified by the state or federal government to provide advice to the master of the vessel as to how to control the vessel, safely and adequately, through the pilotage waters, which in this case would be down the river from the Port of Baltimore.

Pilots are well practiced in close-quarters maneuvering, especially with tugboats and docking the vessel alongside the assigned berth.

The moment the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after a container ship slammed into it.

But a pilot doesn’t come aboard the ship and take control of it, do they?

Post: They are just advisers to the captain, who is known as the “master.” The master still has full responsibility for the safe navigation of the vessel. So the pilot will meet the ship out at sea or at the dock if it’s in port and leaving to go to sea. They proceed up to the bridge. Usually they exchange greetings, and usually a little bit of ship’s swag is given, either a hat or something else, or at least a cup of coffee.

They then set up their gear. With the electronics that we now have, they plug into the ship’s electronic chart data information system. And then they conduct the pilot exchange with the master of the vessel, where the master of the vessel describes where they are going, what the characteristics of the ship are, who’s on the bridge, what their first language is and the air draft of the vessel, which refers to how high out of the water the vessel is, so that you know whether you can take the ship under a bridge safely.

Once that’s completed, the pilot then starts instructing the officer of the watch or the captain – those are usually the same person – in how to get to where they need to be to dock the ship, or undock the ship and bring it to sea. This instructing is done during complex maneuvers, not all the time. The pilot can also say he’s not going to do it, and can shut down their operations if conditions are unsafe or if they feel that the vessel is not in condition to be able to transit safely. That happens a lot, especially in fog.

The ship pilot also interacts with the Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service and other ships in the area, and coordinates with the tugboats and line handlers to be able to safely maneuver the vessel close to the pier or when a ship is leaving the berth.

Can you describe the training of a ship pilot?

Post: Most of them start out at a maritime academy and have to spend many years at sea in command or as a bridge watch-stander on a vessel. From there, they start into the pilot apprentice program that each one of the pilot associations has, and those programs last years. What they do in those programs is use simulators and real, actual hands-on training, so that they can see how the different ships maneuver, how different places along the route have different currents and tides, and how the channels affect the ships.

It’s not something that you can go to a sea school for three weeks to learn and then come out and be a pilot. It’s many years long. They’re really the surgeons of the sea.

So when a ship’s pilot shows up, they’re going to be someone with a minimum of how many years training before they even get onto your ship?

Post: Many have 10-plus years before they are allowed to work on their own.

Picture: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

They have to be specialists in the place where they work, don’t they?

Post: Most of them are ship’s officers licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard, and they’re licensed for unlimited tonnage vessels. But that’s not the end of training. From there, they are hired into the pilot apprentice programs for the area in which they’re going to gain their pilot endorsement or credentials. One pilot may not be credentialed in another area. They spend many years under the guidance of senior pilots who teach them basically everything that they need to know about the local waterways, about the navigation, current tides, where all the berths are. They become absolute experts in how to do this. And then, when most of them end up taking the pilotage exam, they have to draw the charts that they would be using in the pilotage waters – from memory.

Are there legal requirements for ship pilots to be present both going out of and coming in these restricted areas?

Post: Yes, there are – state law, federal law or both.

This is an almost 1,000-foot-long vessel. Is that big, small or medium?

Post: That’s about standard size these days. Ship sizes have absolutely grown monstrous over the years. But 1,000 feet is just about normal.

Has ship piloting been around for a long time?

Post: It’s been around for almost as long as man has been using the sea for commerce. In the early years of sea travel, and even now, a captain is not going to know every port, so he would bring on a person with local knowledge. It started out a lot of times as local fishermen. In the U.S., the Sandy Hook Pilots Association has been piloting ships in and out of New York Harbor for about 300 years.

Was what happened in Baltimore every captain, pilot and crew’s nightmare?

Post: Absolutely. My initial assumption is that I think it’s going to come down to an electrical fault on the ship that was just terrible timing.The Conversation

Allan Post, Deputy Superintendent, Texas A&M Maritime Academy, Texas A&M University

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

Note:  This is a US-generated story and American spelling and style is left unchecked.
Added 28 March 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 February 2024, including containers by weight

PORT February 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.390
Durban 5.914
Saldanha Bay 5.928
Cape Town 1.590
Port Elizabeth 0.986
Ngqura 1.607
Mossel Bay 0.051
East London 0.124
Total all ports during February 2023 23.59 million tonnes