Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 19-20 April 2024

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Newsweek commencing 15 April 2024.  Click on headline to go direct to story : use the BACK key to return.  

FIRST VIEW:   Resilient Lady


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 FIRST VIEW:   Resilient Lady

Resilient Lady. Durban 14 April 2024. Picture by Keith Betts

Here’s a foretaste of what to see in the next few days when we feature this latest cruise ship to come visiting South Africa’s shores.

Beauty is (or has to be) in the eye of the beholder, it is said, and that would certainly be the case with the Resilient Lady of Virgin Voyages, the most recent (and startling) cruise ship to have arrived in Durban.

The adult-only ship carries a maximum of 2,762 passengers in 1,404 cabins who are attended to by 1,150 crew.  The 110,000-gross ton Resilient Lady was built in 2023 – and that’s all we’ll say now until a full exposé after the ship completes her South African tour.  This picture is by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships


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In Conversation: Climate change is causing marine ‘coldwaves’ too, killing wildlife

Ryan Daly

Nicolas Benjamin Lubitz, James Cook University and David Schoeman, University of the Sunshine Coast

The effects of ocean warming are profound and well-documented. But sometimes changes in the patterns of winds and ocean currents cause seawater to suddenly cool, instead.

Surface temperatures can plummet rapidly — by 10ºC or more over a day or two. When these conditions persist for several days or weeks, the area experiences a “coldwave”, which is the opposite of more familiar marine heatwaves.

When a “killer coldwave” manifested along South Africa’s southeast coast in March 2021, it killed hundreds of animals across at least 81 species. More worrying still was the fact these deaths included vulnerable manta rays and even specimens of notoriously robust migratory bull sharks. In southern Africa, bull sharks, whale sharks and manta rays have previously washed up dead following such sudden cold events, especially over the past 15 years.

As we report in Nature Climate Change, the conditions that can drive these killer coldwaves have grown increasingly common over the past four decades. Ironically, strengthening winds and currents as a result of climate change can also make these deadly localised coldwaves more likely in places such as the east coasts of South Africa and Australia, potentially putting even highly mobile species such as sharks in harm’s way.

What’s going on?

Certain wind and current conditions can cause the sea surface to cool, rather than warm. This happens when winds and currents force coastal waters to move offshore, which are then replaced from below by cold water from the deep ocean. This process is known as upwelling.

In some places, such as California on the US west coast, upwelling happens regularly along hundreds of kilometres of coastline. But localised upwelling can occur seasonally on a smaller scale, too, often at the edges of bays on the east coasts of continents due to interactions of wind, current and coastline.

Previous research had shown climate change induced changes in global wind and current patterns. So we investigated the potential consequences at particular locations, by analysing long-term wind and temperature data along the south-eastern coast of South Africa and the Australian east coast.

This revealed an increasing trend in the number of annual upwelling events over the past 40 years. We also found an increase in the intensity of such upwelling events and the extent to which temperatures dropped on the first day of each event – in other words, how severe and sudden these cold snaps were.

Mass deaths warrant investigation

During the extreme upwelling event along the southeast coast of South Africa in March 2021, at least 260 animals from 81 species died. These included tropical fish, sharks and rays.

To investigate the ramifications for marine fauna, we took a closer look at bull sharks. We tagged sharks with tracking devices that also record depth and temperature.

Bull sharks are a highly migratory, tropical species that only tend to travel to upwelling regions during the warmer months. With the onset of winter, they migrate back to warm, tropical waters.

Being mobile, they should have been able to avoid the local, cold temperatures. So why were bull sharks among the dead in this extreme upwelling event?

A large dead bull shark lying on a beach in South Africa, with two pet dogs nearby
One of the dead bull sharks that washed up after an extreme upwelling event in South Africa.
Ryan Daly

When running and hiding isn’t enough

Bull sharks survive environmental conditions that would kill most other marine life. For example, they’re often found several hundred kilometres up rivers, where other marine life would not venture.

Our shark tracking data from both South Africa and Australia showed bull sharks actively avoid areas of upwelling during their seasonal migrations up and down the coast, even when upwelling isn’t too intense. Some sharks take shelter in warm, shallow bays until the water warms again. Others stick close to the surface where the water is warmest, and swim as fast as they can to get out of the upwelling.

But if marine coldwaves continue to become more sudden and intense, fleeing or hiding may no longer be enough even for these tough beasts. For example, in the event in South Africa that caused the death of manta rays and bull sharks water temperatures dropped from 21°C to 11.8°C in under 24 hours while the overall event lasted seven days.

This sudden, severe drop paired with the long duration made this event particularly deadly. If future events will continue to become more severe, mass deaths of marine life could become a more common sight – especially along the world’s mid-latitude east coasts.

A dead manta ray that washed up dead on a rocky reef
Manta rays were among the dead after the extreme upwelling event.
Ryan Daly

Still learning how climate change will play out

Overall, our oceans are warming. The ranges of tropical and subtropical species are extending towards the poles. But along some major current systems, sudden short-term cooling can make life difficult for these climate migrants, or even kill them. Especially if events like the one in South Africa become more common. Tropical migrants would increasingly be living on the edge of what they are comfortable with in these areas.

Our work emphasises that climate impacts can be unexpected or even counterintuitive. Even the most resilient life forms can be vulnerable to its effects. While we do see an overall warming, changes in weather and current patterns can cause extreme cold events as well.

This really shows the complexity of climate change, as tropical species would expand into higher-latitude areas as overall warming continues, which then places them at risk of exposure to sudden extreme cold events. In this way, species such as bull sharks and whale sharks may very well be running the gauntlet on their seasonal migrations.

The need to limit our impacts on the planet by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions has never been more urgent, nor has been the need for research into what our future might hold.The Conversation

Nicolas Benjamin Lubitz, Researcher in marine ecology, James Cook University and David Schoeman, Professor of Global-Change Ecology, University of the Sunshine Coast

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

Added 18 April 2024


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SA Port Statistics for March 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Port statistics for the month of March 2024, covering the eight commercial ports under the administration of Transnet National Ports Authority, are now available.

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

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

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

Aerial view of the port of Mossel Bay on the southern Cape coast

Figures for the respective ports during March 2024 are:

Total cargo handled by tonnes during March 2024, including containers by weight

PORT March 2024 million tonnes
Richards Bay 6.060
Durban 6.477
Saldanha Bay 6.027
Cape Town 1.379
Port Elizabeth 1.313
Ngqura 1.348
Mossel Bay 0.121
East London 0.173
Total all ports 22.991 million tonnes


CONTAINERS (measured by TEUs) during March 2024
(TEUs include Deepsea, Coastal, Transship and empty containers all subject to being invoiced by NPA

PORT March 2024 TEUs
Durban 235,714
Cape Town 77,019
Port Elizabeth 18,310
Ngqura 58,626
East London 4,206
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 393,875 TEU


MOTOR VEHICLES RO-RO TRAFFIC (measured by Units- CEUs) during March 2024

PORT March 2024 CEUs
Durban 39,961
Cape Town 6
Port Elizabeth 13,686
East London 7,082
Richards Bay 0
Total all ports 60,735


SHIP CALLS for March 2024

PORT March 2024 vessels gross tons
Durban 260 9,677,016
Cape Town 214 5,085,050
Richards Bay 126 5,550,388
Port Elizabeth 87 2,612,550
Saldanha Bay 62 3,778,461
Ngqura 52 2,410,128
East London 23 797,975
Mossel Bay 28 384,425
Total ship calls 852 30,295,998
— source TNPA, with adjustments regarding container weights by Africa Ports & Ships

Added 17 April 2024


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WHARF TALK: motor yacht – PARAFFIN

An unanticipated but welcome sight in the Port of Cape Town was this luxury motor yacht Paraffin, en route to the Mediterranean from Singapore. Picture by Feadship

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The Houthi menace in the Red Sea has resulted in many vessels diverting around the Cape sea route, especially if engaged on a voyage from the Far East to Europe. The type of vessels diverting cover every conceivable type of vessel, but of most interest to the casual maritime observer has been the passenger vessels that have been forced, by security concerns, to make their way around the Cape, and seek a bunkers uplift in a South African port.

The classes of passenger vessel that have been calling at both Durban and Cape Town, and including Port Elizabeth too, have ranged from the absolute pinnacle of true ocean cruiser that is ‘RMS Queen Mary 2’, down through the behemoth cruise liners of the Carnival Cruise Group, to the luxurious midsize cruise vessels, and on down to the smaller expedition cruise vessels.

However, there is also one other class of passenger vessel that can now be added to that list of diversions, and that the casual maritime observer might not consider. That passenger vessel is the Luxurious Motor Yacht. There have been a few of these vessels that have called into Cape Town and Durban in the past, normally on a planned voyage to the Cape, and one or two that have based themselves here. Up to now, none have arrived as a result of the Houthi menace.

On 10th April, at 13:00 in the afternoon, the motor yacht ‘Paraffin’ (IMO 1006946) arrived off Cape Town, from Port Elizabeth, and entered Cape Town harbour. Normally, such luxurious and small arrivals are shepherded into the Victoria and Alfred Basin (V&A) and placed alongside the Waterfront quays for the local Capetonians to look on agog at the opulence of such vessels. Instead, she entered the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the outer Eastern Mole, which was a sure sign that the call was for a likely transit call for bunkers and stores only.

Motor Yacht Paraffin. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2001 by the Feadship Royal Van Lent shipyard at De Kaag in Holland, ‘Paraffin’ is 60 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 1,092 tons. She is powered by two Caterpillar 3516B DITA sixteen cylinder, four stroke, main engines producing 2,028 bhp (1,492 kW) each, and driving two fixed pitch propellers for a cruising speed of 15 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Caterpillar generators providing 250 kW, and a single Caterpillar emergency generator providing 100 kW. For added passenger comfort ‘Paraffin’ is fitted with twin Vosper stabiliser fins, that are also designed to be operated when she is riding at anchor, for enhanced comfort when not at sea. She has a range of 6,500 nautical miles at a cruising speed of 12 knots, and is provided with a fuel capacity of 139,300 litres. She also has a potable fresh water capacity of 33,993 litres.

As with most luxury motor yachts, ‘Paraffin’ is owned by a private individual, thought to be based in the Far East. She is both operated, and managed, by Fraser Worldwide SAM, of Monaco. She is listed as the 468th largest private yacht in the world. She was designed by De Voogt Naval Architects, of Hoofddorp in Holland, and her interior design was by Larvor Studio, of Cannes in France. Her luxury internal fittings were all by Lisa Kittredge, which may give some a clue as to who ‘Paraffin’ was originally built for.

Motor Yacht Paraffin. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In 1969 Michael Kittredge founded the Yankee Candle Company, located at South Hadley in the US State of Massachusetts. Most ladies of refined taste are well aware of the allure of the scents from a burning Yankee Candle, in its glass pot, and the product can be found in almost every upmarket gift store in South Africa. Yankee Candle have a regional office in Germiston.

In 1998 Michael Kittredge sold his company for US$500 million (ZAR9.52 billion). He then ordered his yacht, and gave it the name ‘Paraffin’. For the nomenclature aficionado, most connoisseurs of Yankee Candles are aware that the main ingredient in the candle is that of Paraffin Wax, hence the name of Mike Kittredge’s yacht. In 2012, ‘Paraffin’ was listed for sale for the princely sum of US$57 million (ZAR1.09 billion), via the Fraser Worldwide office in Singapore, and sold in 2014 to a local private buyer, where ‘Paraffin’ has spent a lot of her time.

Motor Yacht Paraffin. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has accommodation for 12 passengers, in six luxurious staterooms, and who are looked after by a crew of 16. Her internal fittings include a lounge, dining room, bar, home cinema, gymnasium, Jacuzzi, and she is paneled throughout in Mahogany wood. For pleasure seekers onboard she has a selection of water ‘toys’, which include 3 Waverunners, 2 Seabobs, 2 Sea Kayaks, 2 Windsurfers, Water Skis, and Diving equipment, plus an air compressor.

Her passengers are ferried to and from ‘Paraffin’ by two tenders, one a Costoldi of 7.4 metres, and with a 200 bhp engine, and the other a Boston Whaler of 5.4 metres, and with a 150 bhp engine. In 2019 ‘Paraffin’ was gain listed for sale, at a price of US$30.27 million (ZAR576.15 million). She is no longer for sale, and is offered for charter at a monthly rate of US$302,664 (ZAR5.76 million). It truly is another world for those who can afford it.

Motor Yacht Paraffin. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For that price, the charterer has access to an onboard climate controlled wine cellar of over 400 bottles. In each Stateroom, the ensuite bathrooms all have heated mirrors, and heated floors. The former prevents fogging, and the latter prevents rude awakenings before the first morning cup of coffee is consumed. In the ‘Paraffin’ Owner’s suite, the ‘his’ walk in cupboard has drawers which each have automatically activated lights, to prevent errors in sock selection.

At one time ‘Paraffin’ had a strange order placed against her. It was that she was not to be offered for sale, nor offered for charter, to any United States resident, whenever she was sailing in United States territorial waters.

Motor Yacht Paraffin. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture: Feadship

Her voyage to South Africa had started in Singapore on 19th March at 09:00 in the morning, when she sailed for Victoria in the Seychelles, and where she arrived on 24th March at 17:00 in the afternoon. She had sailed from Victoria at 15:00 in the afternoon of 28th April, bound for Port Elizabeth, where she arrived on 6th April at 20:00 in the evening. She sailed from Port Elizabeth at 07:00 in the morning of 9th April, bound for Cape Town.

Motor Yacht Paraffin. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture: Feadship

Her destination after Cape Town was a clue to why she could rightly be considered to be a diversion from the Red Sea. After over two days alongside in Cape Town, receiving bunkers, stores, and fresh provisions, ‘Paraffin’ was ready to continue her voyage. She sailed from Cape Town at 18:00 in the early evening on 12th April, bound for Arrecife in the Canary Islands.

The likelihood is that she is bound for the Mediterranean summer season, and to join the fleet of other super yachts that congregate there every summer. A wealthy owner, transiting his yacht from Singapore to the Mediterranean, is unlikely to use the Cape sea route if going through the Suez Canal was by far a cheaper, and quicker, option. However, even rich owners are not likely to take such risks over such an investment, much to the satisfaction of the casual maritime observer who was able to see such a vessel, and under such circumstances.

Added 17 April 2024


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Senegal’s third & final offshore patrol vessel, Cayor, is delivered

The OPV 58S vessel Cayor

by Guy Martin

French shipyard Pirou has delivered the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Cayor to Senegal’s Navy, marking the end of the construction programme for the West African nation.

The Cayor was handed over on 16 April during a ceremony at the Pirou Group’s facilities in Concarneau, France, and attended by the Ambassador of Senegal to France El Hadji i Magatte Seye and Admiral Abdou Sene – Chief of Staff of the Senegalese Navy.

The contract was signed by the Ministry of the Armed Forces of Senegal and Piriou Group in November 2019 and entered into force on 30 September 2020. The contract covered the acquisition of three 62 metre offshore patrol vessels. After the Walo, delivered in June 2023 and reaching Dakar in August 2023, and the Niani, delivered in November 2023 and reaching Dakar in January, the Cayor now flies the Senegalese flag and marks the end of a construction programme that mobilised hundreds of employees over four years, representing more than 600 000 working hours, Piriou said in a statement.

“We have designed and built new-generation patrol vessels that will further strengthen the Senegalese Navy’s defence posture and enable the Navy to cover the full range of state actions at sea missions it is responsible for,” said Vincent Faujour, President of Piriou. “We also wanted to be worthy of the trust placed in us by the Senegalese nation and its seafarers, who work, sometimes risking their lives, for the security and sovereignty of their country.”

After a successful experience with the construction of the OPV 87 offshore patrol vessel project for Argentina, Piriou reproduced this scheme and divided the production of the hulls for the OPV 58S between its Concarneau shipyard and that of Lorient, where Kership, a jointly owned subsidiary of Piriou and Naval Group, is based. Working alongside the French Navy and DCI Navfco, Piriou has also contributed to training and coaching seafarers in ship handover and the use of combat systems, the company said.

“The delivery of the Cayor marks the completion of a major programme for the Kership teams in Concarneau and Lanester. I would like to congratulate them, and extend my warmest thanks to the Senegalese Navy, with whom we have enjoyed working on a daily basis over the past few years,” said Éric Langlois, President of Kership.

“We are very honoured to have contributed to the success of this project for the Senegalese Navy, which once again demonstrates the success and performance of the cooperation between Kership, Piriou and Naval Group,” said Olivier de la Bourdonnaye, Naval Group’s Executive Vice President, Surface Ships.

Senegal Navy’s newest OPV, Cayor

The Cayor will soon join her two sister ships, the Walo and Niani. These have already proved their capabilities in several operations, including rescue operations, the fight against illicit trafficking and the fight against pollution at sea, Piriou said. The vessels have been involved in many maritime security operations that have seen their crew board dozens of vessels carrying drugs, mainly to Spain. Other tasks are oil and gas security, combating illegal fishing, emigration, and trafficking.

“The OPV 58S programme is a successful part of our commercial relationship, and it is also an industrial success that contributes to reinforcing Piriou’s position as a key player in military vessels shipbuilding industry,” stated Faujour.

“An important chapter has come to an end, but the story is not over yet: I’ve spoken about design, construction and training. In this respect, be assured that our teams in Dakar are and will remain fully committed to guaranteeing the highest level of operational availability for the OPVs.”

The OPV 58S vessels have a length of 62.2 meters, displacement of 600 tonnes, a top speed of 21 knots and range of 4,500 nautical miles at 12 knots. Endurance is three weeks with a crew of 24, although another 24 personnel can be accommodated.

The OPV 58S design is based on the ‘C-Sharp’ (Combined-Speeds Hull with All-Round Performances) hull developed by Piriou and Kership, which increases the ship’s endurance and seagoing capabilities. The hull is all-steel with an aluminium superstructure, featuring a 360° panoramic bridge and an aft ramp for the rapid launch and recovery of two rigid-hull inflatable boats. A large rear deck can accommodate two 20-foot containers, handled by a crane (7.5 t to 8 m).

The vessels are armed with four MBDA anti-ship missiles (Marte Mk 2Ns) and the MBDA SIMBAD-RC air defence system with two Mistral 3 surface-to-air missiles, along with a 76 mm gun, two 20 mm cannons, and two 12.7 mm machine guns. France’s Naval Group supplies the combat management system (POLARIS).

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

Added 17 April 2024


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Clearing the Baltimore Bridge wreck: now the legal issues surface

Terry Hutson
Africa Ports & Ships

As efforts focus on removing crashed sections of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge from the bows of the container ship Dali (IMO ) and from the Patapsco River bed, a criminal investigation has been opened by US Federal authorities into the cause of the collision, in which six people working on the bridge perished.

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) declines to say anything further than that they have opened their investigation, the US Coast Guard is conducting its own probe into the events that led up to the fatal collision.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has also carried out an enquiry involving selected crewmembers of the container ship.

On 26 March the container vessel Dali, left its berth in Baltimore harbour and headed for the open sea. Approaching the Francis Scott Key Bridge the ship suddenly veered off course, and collided with one of the two main pylons, which brought down the principal sections of the bridge.

The Washington Post newspaper reported this week that part of the FBI investigation will look at whether the master and engineers on the Dali were aware of possible serious problems before the ship left the wharf.

River and harbour authorities have meanwhile opened two shallow-draft channel under surviving sections of the bridge, to enable smaller craft to safely navigate. The U.S. Army of Engineers, which is coordinating the removal of the broken bridge, expects to have a new channel for major shipping opened by the end of April.

All this time a search has continued where safe for the bodies of the still missing workmen. This week it was reported that a fourth victim had been recovered.

While these enquiries and endeavours continue, a separate scene is being played out, which will involve the court rooms and legal offices. It was reported last week that the ship’s owner, Grace Ocean Private, and manager of the ship, Synergy Marine Group, have filed a court document in the U.S. District Court aimed at limiting their financial liability, using a law dating back to 1851.

They seek to have the ship’s owner allowed to cap the payout from the disaster at the value of the Dali and its cargo, which the company reported in court filings as $43.67 million. A general average has also been declared, meaning that cargo owners will share the salvage (of the cargo) costs.

This is no real surprise, as the costs of this collision will be enormous, involving the loss of the bridge and its eventual replacement including ongoing costs involving rerouting traffic by many miles, damage and repairs to the container ship, liability for the lives of the victims, and delays to cargo not only on the ship but also locked in port on other vessels. This and other costs will result in significant economic and environmental loss claims.

Litigation is likely to last years and the final marine claim could well become the most costliest ever.

There are no doubt many other costs not mentioned that will be incurred which the legal fraternity will identify and pursue.

For the ship owner and agent this is potentially overwhelming.

For others affected by the accident it is no less overwhelming. In response to the application to limit their liability by the ship’s owner and agent, there was a swift response by the City of Baltimore, which has appointed legal council to ‘hold the wrongdoers responsible’.

In its press release on Monday the city mayor’s office said it is bringing in two private law firms “to launch legal action to hold the wrongdoers responsible,” pointing to the ship’s owner, charterer, operator and ‘manufacturer’ among possible legal targets.

It’s also learnt that a general average has been declared for the cargo on board the Dali, which means that cargo parties will share salvage costs.

Added 17 April 2024


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International Maritime Bureau: Concern raised on continued piracy

Picture: IMB

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) raised concern on the continued acts of maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia in its first quarter report for 2024, released on 10 April.

A total of thirty‐three incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were recorded in the first three months of 2024, an increase from twenty-seven incidents for the same period in 2023.

Of these incidents reported, twenty-four vessels were boarded, six had attempted attacks, two were hijacked and one was fired upon. Violence towards crew continues with thirty-five crew members taken hostage, nine kidnapped and one threatened.

Worrying rise in Somali pirate activity

The Q1 report highlights the continued threat of Somali piracy incidents with two reported hijackings. In addition, one vessel each was fired upon, boarded and reported an attempted approach. These incidents were attributed to Somali pirates who demonstrate mounting capabilities, targeting vessels at great distances, from the Somali coast.

A Bangladesh flagged bulk carrier was hijacked on 12 March and its twenty-three crew were taken hostage by over twenty Somali pirates. The vessel was underway approximately 550 nautical miles from Mogadishu while en route from Mozambique to the United Arab Emirates.

The IMB is aware of several reported hijacked dhows and fishing vessels, which are ideal mother ships to launch attacks at distances from the Somali coastline.

A forty‐hour operation by the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean on 15 March culminated in the capture of thirty-five Somali pirates and the release of a previously highjacked vessel and its seventeen crew.

A bulk carrier boarded by pirates on 4 January over 450 nm off the east coast of Somalia was rendered safe along with its twenty-one crew members by an Indian warship.

In late January, the Seychelles Coast Guard intervened to safeguard a hijacked fishing vessel and its six crew. Three suspected Somali pirates were apprehended in this operation.

Caution urged in the Gulf of Guinea

Incidents within the Gulf of Guinea waters continue to be at a reduced level. Six incidents were reported in Q1 2024 compared to five in the same period of 2023.

The IMB urges continued caution as nine crew were kidnapped from a product tanker on 1 January 2024 around 45nm south of Bioko, Equatorial Guinea.

Rising risks in Bangladesh and Singapore Straits

There has been a noticeable increase in reported low‐level opportunistic crimes in Bangladeshi waters in 2024 with seven reported incidents received – six from vessels at anchorage in Chattogram –compared to one report for the whole of 2023.

The Singapore Straits recorded five incidents against four large bulk carriers and a general cargo vessel, considered low‐level opportunistic incidents. But the threat for crew safety remains high as five crew were taken hostage in three separate incidents in January.

To request a copy of the Report

In order to request a copy of the Q1 2024 Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships report readers are invited to see here

Added 16 April 2024


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Analysis: South Africa’s national security priorities in question amidst troop deployment, naval visits

SAS Drakensberg, will supposedly visit Brazil and Cuba this year, though for reasons that are puzzling. Picture: SA Navy

by Helmoed Heitman

With the planned deployment of up to 2,900 troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the planned visit of a frigate to St Petersburg, the South African Government has hit a new low in its approach to national security, going well beyond its by now routine overstretch and underfunding of the Defence Force. A new low because those taskings show an abysmal failure to prioritise.

There are good strategic, political and economic arguments for helping the DRC stabilize the east of the country – if there was a credible plan, if we had the military resources and if there were not other, more pressing, security issues demanding attention:

• Credible Plan: How can anyone believe that the 5,000-strong SADC force will be able to do what the 15,000-strong MONUSCO force was not able to do over two decades? There is no credibility there. Even less when the force seems likely to lack any serious air support in a large area of operations with difficult terrain and few – mainly bad – roads.

• Resources: The Defence Force lacks the funding, the equipment and the personnel to take on this task. The Army is short of deployable troops and serviceable equipment and the Air Force lacks trooping and attack helicopters to provide tactical air support, reconnaissance aircraft to build an operational picture, and the airlift to deploy any useful force, let alone carry out a quick reinforcement or hot extraction.

• Other Security Issues – Cabo Delgado: The insurgency is flaring up, but the SADC force is to withdraw in July. Assuming that takes place, the insurgency will flare up even more and will begin to spread. That threatens our future ability to draw gas from the field off Cabo Delgado and could evolve to present a threat of maritime terrorism or piracy in the Mozambique Channel. Should it spread south, it would place at risk electricity from Cahora Bassa and gas from Panda and Temane.

• Eswatini and Lesotho – Both are politically fragile and insurrection or insurgency in either would present a security threat that could require considerable numbers of troops to contain.

• Border Patrol – The Army does not have the funding to deploy the full 22 companies required and is limited to 15 companies, leaving long stretches of border uncovered. Worse, our air space surveillance radars are old and in need of replacement and the Navy lacks the ships and funding to patrol our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to any effect.

Given these considerations, it seems irresponsible and reckless to commit troops and resources to a mission of less immediate relevance than those being neglected. Even more so when that mission has, at best, no chance of achieving any useful outcome. At worst it could bring us a replay of the situation in Bangui in March 2013, only with more troops at risk and without a secured airport to fall back on and with even less capability to respond than then.

We would do far better to focus on Cabo Delgado, deploying an adequate force with air support there, and on our borders.

Government also wants to demonstrate its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine by sending a frigate to St Petersburg. Skipping around the political imbecility and that it spits in the face of the Ukrainians who hosted and trained many former members of MK, consider other issues:

• The Navy has for several years not been able to patrol our Exclusive Economic Zone to any useful effect for lack of operational ships.

• The Navy was not able to provide the planned maritime interdiction force envisaged as part of the SADC mission in Cabo Delgado.

• Piracy is again flaring up in the Indian Ocean, which holds risk for our oil imports, our trade with Mediterranean countries, the Persian Gulf and South Asia, and piracy continues to be a problem in the Gulf of Guinea, placing at risk trade with West Africa.

• The Navy has not had the funding to properly maintain its frigates and submarines over the two decades they have been in service, let alone modernize or upgrade them, reducing their effectiveness and shrinking their useful service lives. Nor have they spent enough time at sea for their crews to jell as cohesive teams. The only support vessel has been in service since 1987 and needs to be replaced.

Given the present parlous situation of the Navy and its inability to perform its primary function in peacetime of patrolling our waters, let alone the operational mission off Cabo Delgado and the renewed risk of piracy, is there any sense at all in sending a frigate to visit St Petersburg and party with the navy of an aggressor country that is of zero economic and strategic relevance to us?

We would to much better to get all of our ships properly seaworthy and out patrolling our EEZ and the Mozambique Channel. And once they are operational, we could and should deploy a frigate – probably together with the support ship SAS Drakensberg – on an extended diplomatic mission around the rim of the western Indian Ocean, visiting our maritime neighbours, friends and trading partners.

Even more to the point, with piracy in the Indian Ocean again on the rise, it would be worthwhile to demonstrate presence and willingness to joint our maritime neighbours in securing the sea routes in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Do we really want to have to rely on France, India and China to do that for us?

Then the plan to send Drakensberg to Cuba and Brazil. A visit to Brazil makes sense – that country is a partner in BRICS and IBSA, participates in the ATLASUR and IBSAMAR naval exercises with the SA Navy and shares our interest in secure maritime traffic in the South Atlantic. A visit to Brazil could also usefully include a call in Argentina and Uruguay and along the western coast of Africa, again looking in on friends and neighbours who all share an interest in the South Atlantic sea routes. Nigeria, for instance, has on several occasions argued for the SA Navy to join forces with their Navy to coordinate patrols.

A visit to Cuba makes little sense, that country being economically and strategically irrelevant to South Africa, but at least will not damage our relations with our key trading partners and investors.

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

Added 16 April 2024


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WHARF TALK: small Handysize products tanker – ALPHA

The small handysize oil and chemical products tanker Alpha, in port at Cape own 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

3rd April 2024 and again 9th April 2024
Sometimes the arrival of a vessel, to conduct cargo operations at a working berth at a South African port, is a slight mystery. This is not only because of where she has arrived from, or where she is bound to, but also because of her size in relation to that port, and the distance travelled to get here. And to cap off the mystery, she arrives and departs twice, on an in-out-in out basis, but her second call is not for purposes of cargo operations.

On 3rd April at 10:00 in the morning, the small Handy combined product and chemical tanker ‘Alpha’ (IMO 9286451) arrived off Cape Town, from Maputo in Mozambique. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock and went alongside the outer berth at the Tanker Basin to begin her cargo operations.

Alpha. Cape Town, 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2004 by Yardimci Tersanesi AS shipyard at Tuzla in Turkey, ‘Alpha’ is 118 metres in length and has a deadweight of 10,127 tons. She is powered by a single MAN-B&W 6S35MC six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 6,040 bhp (4,442 kW) and driving a MAN VBS 1080 controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three MAN D2842 LE301 generators providing 443 kW each, and a single MAN D2866 TE emergency generator providing 170 kW. She has a single Thieg 500 exhaust gas boiler, and a single TX V3000 oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a single Ulstein 90TV bow transverse thruster providing 450 kW. She has an ice classification of ICE 1B, which allows ‘Alpha’ to navigate in first year Baltic Sea Ice thickness of 0.6 metres.

She has a total of 12 cargo tanks, with a cargo carrying capacity of 10,957 m3, with the tanks on ‘Alpha’ being coated with Epoxy Sigma Phenguard 965. She has twelve cargo pumps, with each pump being capable of pumping at a rate of 200 m2/hour.

Alpha. Cape Town, 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She is classified as an IMO Type III chemical tanker by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where IMO Type III chemical tankers transport chemical products requiring a moderate degree of containment, in order to increase survival capability in a damaged condition. The maximum quantity of cargo allowed for carriage in any cargo tank for an IMO Type III tanker is unlimited, as opposed to a maximum cargo tank capacity of 3000 m3 for an IMO Type II chemical tanker. Very often you will find Type III tankers trading in the clean market segment.

One of a class of six sisterships, and being nominally owned by Sea Tankers Incorporated, ‘Alpha is both operated, and managed, by Al Sidra Ship Management LLC, of Sharjah in the UAE, whose houseflag she displays on her funnel. Until last year, her majority area of trading operations was within the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden region. She has also recently called at Richards Bay to discharge cargo.

Alpha. Cape Town, 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This is not her first call at Cape Town, as she also arrived in Cape Town back in February, again from Mozambique, arriving on 16th February at 08:00 in the morning, and sailing once more exactly 24 hours later, at 08:00 in the morning of 17th February. Prior to arriving at Cape Town in February, ‘Alpha’ had loaded at Duqm, located on the Arabian Sea coast of Oman, at 19°39’ North 057°42’ East. She had called at Nacala in Mozambique to discharge, prior to making the voyage to Cape Town.

Prior to 2010, Duqm was nothing but a small fishing Port, until it was chosen to become the Special Economic Zone at Duqm (SEZAD), which resulted in it becoming the largest multi-purpose fishing port in Oman, with construction only completed in 2021. The main breakwater at Duqm is 2.2 km long, with a secondary breakwater being 1.1 km long, and a total of 1.2 km of jetties being provided.

Alpha. Cape Town, 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

A major oil refinery was also constructed at Duqm, and located within the Special Economic Zone, and occupying a site of 900 hectares. The refinery is a 50/50 joint venture between OQ, the Oman state oil company, and Q8, the Kuwait state oil company, and was only completed at the end of 2023, with a refining capacity of 230,000 barrels of oil per day.

Far sighted Omani planners saw the port, and refinery, of Duqm as a potential alternative to other Persian Gulf oil exporting ports, especially if routes through the strategic Strait of Hormuz were to close due to Iranian intransigence and aggression. The current increase of state backed belligerent action by Iran, both against shipping in the Strait, and against Israel, has vindicated the decision of the government of Oman to construct an oil refinery, and port infrastructure, outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Alpha. Cape Town, 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After just over three full days alongside, ‘Alpha’ was ready to depart, and at Midday on 6th March she sailed from Cape Town, indicating her next destination to be back to Maputo. However, no sooner had she cleared Cape Town port limits, she started to slow steam in circles, and drift off Table Bay. She continued this pattern of steaming and drifting for a full three days. It was not a case of ‘awaiting orders’ due to her next move.

At Midday on 9th April, three days after sailing from Cape Town, ‘Alpha’ re-entered Cape Town harbour, once more proceeding into the Duncan Dock, but this time not going alongside at the Tanker Basin, but this time going alongside at the Landing Wall. This was a move that indicated that her hanging around off Cape Town, for the previous three days, was due to her experiencing a mechanical or technical issue that could not be fixed by the resolve of the crew.

She remained alongside the landing wall for a further three days, or just short of that, and at 10:00 on the morning of 12th April, presumably with any issues resolved, and no longer in need of shoreside maintenance assistance, ‘Alpha’ was ready to resume her voyage. She sailed from Cape Town, once more indicating that Maputo was her next destination.

Alpha. Cape Town, 5 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The question of her visit in the first instance is based on what product she could have been bringing to Cape Town from Maputo? The likelihood is that she was loading for Maputo. A vessel of Handy size in Southern Africa is almost exclusively, but not always, utilised as a tanker for marine fuel oil and marine gas oil, i.e. bunker fuels.

With the huge amount of Red Sea diversions around the Cape sea route, due to the Iranian backed Houthi terrorism, it will not merely be Durban and Cape Town that are seeing an increase in arrivals for bunkers only. The port of Walvis Bay, in Namibia, has also seen a huge increase in bunker only callers recently, and so it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Maputo is seeing the same increase in similar callers.

The question would be where she gets her bunker fuels from. Almost all Mozambique domestic fuel requirements are imported via the sea. Cape Town has a good stock of bunker fuels, with a bunker oil tank fuel farm located within Cape Town harbour, witnessed by the three bunker barges that are currently operating within the port.

As to why Cape Town, and not Durban, which one would consider to be the most obvious place to go to load a cargo of bunkers, it may simply be down to supply and demand availability at Cape Town, rather than at Durban. Of course, in this day and age, and knowing the parlous state of South Africa’s oil refining capability, it may also be within the realms of reality that Maputo has a good stock of bunker fuels that they are willing to export to South Africa, in order to ensure that diverted callers are guaranteed to uplift bunkers on arrival at the Mother City.

Added 16 April 2024


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Hapag-Lloyd and Seaspan to retrofit five vessels to methanol propulsion


One of the five Seaspan Corp vessels to be retrofitted, Seaspan Amazon. Picture: Seaspan Corp

Africa Ports & Ships

Hapag-Lloyd and Seaspan Corporation have entered into a partnership agreement to retrofit and convert five 10,100 TEU container ships powered by conventional MAN S90 engines to dual-fuel engines capable of operating on methanol.

Following the engine retrofit, the vessels will continue to be on long-term charter from Seaspan to Hapag-Lloyd.

“The methanol retrofit project is a further step in our ambitious sustainability agenda, which aims to achieve the decarbonisation of the entire fleet by 2045,” says Dr Maximilan Rothkopf, Hapag-Lloyd’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).

“By enabling these vessels to use green methanol as of 2026, we will meet our customers’ growing demand for green transportation solutions.”

Rothkopf added that with Seaspan, Hapag-Lloyd benefits from a valued partner with deep experience, a wide supplier network and scale.

Torsten Holst Pedersen, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Seaspan, said that collaboration between strong and like-minded partners, Hapag-Lloyd and Seaspan, drives innovation.

“Retrofitting must be an integral part of the strategy if the container shipping industry wants to deliver on its decarbonisation targets,” he said.

To achieve its strategic decarbonisation goal, Hapag-Lloyd’s investments are not only focused on newbuildings or retrofits (dual-fuel propulsion) and the optimisation of the efficiency of its existing fleet (Fleet Upgrade Program), but also on covering the exploration and sourcing of green fuels.

Green methanol is thereby emerging as one of the low emission fuels of the future.

The vessels scheduled for retrofits are the ‘Seaspan Amazon’, ‘Seaspan Ganges’, ‘Seaspan Thames’, ‘Seaspan Yangtze’ and ‘Seaspan Zambezi’.

The retrofit is expected to take approximately 80-90 days per vessel starting in the first quarter of 2026. The total investment is estimated at around USD 120 million for the five units.

Added 16 April 2024


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The Marrakesh Agreement: WTO at 30

WTO at 30 Pictures by WTO

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

On 15 April 1994, 123 countries gathered in Morocco to sign the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, the foundation of today’s rules-based international trading system. Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala marked the anniversary by underlining the critical role trade has played in improving peoples’ lives around the world.

Today, 44 member states of the WTO are in Africa*

She reflected: “Thirty years ago, over 120 countries united with a shared vision: to transform the world through trade. They created a new global public good: one committed to using trade to raise people’s living standards, create jobs, and promote sustainable development.

“Countries have used the open and predictable global economy anchored in the World Trade Organization to accelerate growth and development. Over the past three decades, more than 1.5 billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty, embodying the enduring promise encapsulated in the Marrakesh Agreement.

WTO Director-General Okonjo-Iweala has marked the thirtieth anniversary of the Marrakesh Agreement

“As we mark the thirtieth anniversary of the WTO, this promise still stands as a beacon. The WTO now counts 164 — soon to be 166 — members. The way we do business across borders has evolved. So have the challenges to sustainability and socioeconomic inclusion. But trade remains a vital tool to solve these challenges and build a brighter future for people around the world.”

The WTO has set up a dedicated web page marking the thirtieth anniversary of the Marrakesh Agreement and highlighting some of the WTO’s achievements over the last three decades under the spirit of Marrakesh.

* A 64-page WTO briefing publication on African trade is to be found here.

YouTube Video: A three-minute corporate video showing the origins of WTO and its predecessor GATT

Added 16 April 2024


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In Conversation: Rogue waves in the ocean are much more common than anyone suspected, says new study

  • SA Agulhas II from which much of this research was conducted. Picture by Trevor Jones

Alessandro Toffoli, The University of Melbourne

We used three-dimensional imaging of ocean waves to capture freakish seas that produce a notorious phenomenon known as rogue waves. Our results are now published in Physical Review Letters.

Rogue waves are giant colossi of the sea – twice as high as neighbouring waves – that appear seemingly out of nowhere. Stories of unimaginable mountains of water as tall as ten-storey buildings have populated maritime folklore and literature for centuries.

Recent technology has allowed scientists to spot rogue waves out at sea, making legend become reality. The first and most famous measurement was of the Draupner wave, a 25.6-metre monster recorded in the North Sea on January 1 1995.

Despite observations, we still don’t know how often rogue waves occur, or if we can predict them. A record of a rogue wave doesn’t include specific features that distinguish the sea around it, so we can’t make comparisons or predict the conditions needed.

Our team set sail on the South African icebreaker S.A. Agulhas-II to chase rogue waves across the Southern Ocean, where mighty winds shape Earth’s fiercest waves.

A blue coloured photo of the ocean surface with small white wave crests throughout.

Ocean surface during a storm somewhere in the Southern Ocean.
Alessandro Toffoli

What creates rogue waves?

In the random environment of ocean waves, several mechanisms give rise to rogue ones. One primary source involves the overlap of multiple waves at the same location and time. This results in concentrated energy, leading to tall waves.

Under consistent ocean conditions, rogue waves generated this way may occur once every two days at a set location. But the ocean is dynamic, so conditions are rarely consistent for long – making it less likely for rogue waves to occur. The overlap of waves may be minimal or non-existent even during prolonged and intense storms.

Numerical and laboratory studies suggest strong winds also contribute to the development of rogue waves, because they push harder on some already tall wave forms. But wind has seldom been considered in rogue wave analysis.

A simplified anatomy of ocean waves.

Wind prompts ocean waves to grow progressively higher, longer and faster. During this stage, waves are “young” and hungry for wind input. When waves go faster than wind, they stop being accelerated by it and reach a “mature” stage of full development.

Through this process, the wind creates a chaotic situation where waves of different dimensions and directions coexist.

Our recent observations show that unique sea conditions with rogue waves can arise during the “young” stage – when waves are particularly responsive to the wind. This suggests wind parameters could be the missing link. However, there’s even more to consider.

Powerful waves amplify each other

Ocean waves are one of the most powerful natural forces on Earth and could become even more powerful in the future due to climate change. If the wave field possesses an extreme amount of energy – when waves are steep and most of them have a similar amplitude, length and direction – another mechanism can trigger the formation of rogue waves.

This mechanism involves an exchange of energy between waves that produces a “self-amplification”, where one wave grows disproportionately at the expense of its neighbours. Theoretically, studies show this could increase the likelihood of rogue waves ten-fold.

While self-amplification manifests as whitecaps – frothy, aerated crests of choppy waves – until now there has been no evidence it can make rogue waves more likely in the ocean.

Recent experiments suggest wind can make extreme events like rogue waves more common. But this aspect has not been thoroughly explored.

What did we find in the Southern Ocean?

We used a new three-dimensional imaging method for scanning the ocean surface throughout the expedition. It mimics human vision: closely located sensors record sequences of simultaneous images. Computer algorithms then match pairs of them to reconstruct the three-dimensional depths – the wavy surface.

As our ship passed through several storms, the sensors captured data during various phases of wave growth – from the early stages of young waves fuelled by the wind, to mature waves that aren’t influenced by it.

Our results show young waves display signs of self-amplification and an increased likelihood of rogue waves. We recorded waves twice as high as their neighbours once every six hours.

This mirrors what lab models have reported: sea conditions theoretically more prone to self-amplification would produce more rogue waves.

In contrast, mature seas don’t show an increased probability of rogue waves. We detected none under those conditions.

Our findings challenge previous thinking: that self-amplification doesn’t change the likelihood of rogue waves in the ocean. We have also shown that when developing tools for predicting rogue waves, we need to take wind into thorough consideration. After all, it’s a natural feature of the open sea.The Conversation

Alessandro Toffoli, Professor in Ocean Engineering, The University of Melbourne

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

Added 16 April 2024


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Indian Navy carries out first drug interdiction as CMF member

INS Talwar F40 in an exercise at sea with the US Navy. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cheyenne Geletka/Released

Africa Ports & Ships

The Indian Navy frigate INS Talwar F40, first of the Talwar class, recently operating in support of the Canadian-led Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, conducted its first interdiction of illicit narcotics as a member of Combined Maritime Forces, seizing 940 kg of drugs in the Arabian Sea on Saturday 13 April.

Talwar seized 453 kg of methamphetamines, 416 kg of hash and 71 kg of heroin from a dhow as part of Focused Operation Crimson Barracuda.

The Indian Navy joined CMF last November.

“I commend the crew of INS Talwar for their efforts throughout this Focused Operation and their hard work has paid off with this seizure of 940 kg of drugs,” said Royal Canadian Navy Capt. Colin Matthews, Commander, Combined Task Force 150.

Captain Matthews said this seizure was the fourth of this Focused Operation, and demonstrates the effectiveness and professionalism of CMF and of the Indian Navy, in deterring and disrupting criminal and terrorist activities at sea.

Crimson Barracuda, which concluded on Monday 15 April, focused on countering terrorist and criminal organizations’ use of the high seas to conduct smuggling operations in the Western Indian Ocean region.

CTF 150 is one of five task forces under Combined Maritime Forces, the world’s largest international naval partnership. CTF 150’s mission is to deter and disrupt the ability of non-state vessel to move weapons, drugs and other illicit substances in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman.

Combined Maritime Forces is a 42-nation naval partnership upholding the international rules-based order by promoting security and stability across 3.2 million square miles of water encompassing some of the world’s most important shipping lanes.

Added 16 April 2024


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WHARF TALK: The Queens at the Cape

Spectacular sight at night – Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 at Cape Town’s Cruise Terminal. Picture: Wesgro

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Phil Short & Wesgro
Story by Jay Gates

One of the great maritime sights for any casual maritime observer, located anywhere on earth, is the time when two great passenger liners from the same company tie up, bow to stern, in the same port, at the same time. It is something that very rarely happens away from home based cruise ports, and almost never in any South African port.

If there is one thing that is a positive from the Red Sea nonsense activities of Houthi Rebels in Yemen, it is that South Africa’s maritime economy has benefited hugely from diverted passing trade, calling in, or stopping off port limits (OPL), to uplift bunkers, pick up stores, or load fresh provisions, as they make their way around the Cape sea route en route to Europe and the USA.

The local tourism industries have also been granted a bumper season too, as those diversions from the Red Sea have included a number of passenger vessels. Whilst one or two have only called in for a bunkers uplift, and also being devoid of passengers, which has not helped the local tour operators, there are some passenger liners whose diversion calls are still replete with passengers, all wanting to experience what South Africa might be able to offer them.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Mary 2. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

One such diversion arrival is a passenger liner that has already passed through South African ports whilst outbound on her World Cruise, and was not expected back this season, as the nature of World Cruises is that they keep going in one direction. And all the while, those passenger liners whose World Cruises were always going to take the Cape sea route on their itinerary, and were never scheduled to be passing through the Suez Canal, continue to arrive at this late part of the season.

Of the two types of passenger liner to be calling at the same time in South Africa, the chances of both vessels being from the same company, and arriving in the same port, in order to be berthed together, on the same date, is quite a slim expectation. So April 12th turned out to be one of those not to be forgotten dates when one passenger vessel on a diversionary call, and another calling on her scheduled itinerary arrived, nigh-on together. Not only was it special, but it is not likely to ever happen again. For the casual maritime observer, it was a perfect day.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Victoria. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’ 

On 11th April, at 15:00 in the afternoon, the Panamax passenger liner ‘Queen Victoria’ (IMO 9320556) arrived of Cape Town, from Port Elizabeth, but because of a rising Southeasterly wind, and recent memories of making a mess of a recent passenger ship arrival in similar wind conditions, it was clear that she was not going to be able to be brought into Cape Town harbour, and placed alongside her waiting berth, until such time that it was safe to do so, and when the wind had subsided enough for that to happen.

Finally just after midnight, the wind had subsided sufficiently for ‘Queen Victoria’ to enter Cape Town harbour, and at 01:00 on 12th April she proceeded into the Duncan Dock, and was placed alongside the Cruise Passenger Terminal at E berth. To have such a prestigious passenger liner alongside is already something to behold, but the fact that just four hours later another even more prestigious passenger liner arrived off Cape Town, and from the same company, making 12th April something quite spectacular for anyone local who woke up, and owned a camera.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Mary 2. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

At 04:00 on 12th April the NeoPanamax passenger liner ‘Queen Mary 2’ (IMO 9241061) arrived off Cape Town, from Durban, and entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and being placed alongside F berth, directly behind the already berthed ‘Queen Victoria’. The arrival of ‘Queen Mary 2’ was down to the Houthi menace, as she should have been returning to Europe via the Suez Canal, and in fact, had already called at Cape Town on 31st January, sailing again on 1st February on the outbound leg of her 2024 World Cruise.

The first arrival, ‘Queen Victoria’, was built in 2007 by Fincantieri Cantieri Navali Italiani SpA at Marghera in Italy. She is 294 metres in length, and has a gross registered tonnage of 89,500 tons. She is diesel electric, and powered by four Wärtsilä-Sulzer 16ZAV40S generators providing 11,520 kW each, and two Wärtsilä-Sulzer 12ZAV40S generators providing 8,650 kW each.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Victoria & Queen Mary 2. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

These six generators provide sufficient power for both domestic and propulsion requirements. Power is transferred to two ABB Azipods producing 17,600 kW each, which gives ‘Queen Victoria’ a maximum speed of 24 knots, or a service speed of 18 knots. For added manoeuvrability she has three bow transverse thrusters providing 2,200 kW each.

She has 16 decks, of which 12 decks are given over for passenger use. She can carry 2,081 passengers, who are looked after by a crew of 900. She has 1,007 cabins, of which 718 have balconies, 143 are Oceanview cabins, and 143 are Inside cabins. For added passenger comfort in inclement weather, and rough seas, ‘Queen Victoria’ is fitted with twin fin stabilisers.

The second arrival, ‘Queen Mary 2’, was built in 2003 by STX Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard at St. Nazaire in France. She is 345 metres in length and has a gross registered tonnage of 149,215 tons. She is also a diesel electric vessel, better known as a vessel with integrated electrical propulsion, as she is powered by four Wärtsilä 16V46C-CR generators providing 16,800 kW each. This backed up by two General Electric LM2500+ turbine engines providing 25,060 kW each. Her total power output is sufficient for both domestic and propulsion needs.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Victoria & Queen Mary 2. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

This engine configuration is known as a Combined Diesel and Gas (CODAG) configuration. Power is transferred to four Rolls-Royce Mermaid propulsion pods, two of which are azimuth drive, and two are fixed propellers, providing 21,500 kW each, giving her a maximum speed of 30 knots, and a service speed of 26 knots. When built ‘Queen Mary 2’ was the first passenger liner built with four propellers since ‘SS France’ was built in 1961. For added manoeuvrability she has three bow transverse thrusters providing 3,200 kW each.

Christened by none other than the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in January 2004, ‘Queen Mary 2’ carries the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) designator, as she carries mail when on transatlantic voyages. She has 18 decks, with 14 decks given over to passenger use. For added passenger comfort in inclement weather, and rough seas, she is fitted with twin Denny Brown stabilisers.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Victoria. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Carrying 2,695 passengers, who are looked after by a crew of 1,253, ‘Queen Mary 2’ is considered to be the ultimate passenger liner on the planet, and is the only one designed for North Atlantic winter crossings, with big head seas, hence her long bow. Her prestige status is shown by the fact that she has a library which carries over 8,000 volumes, the largest library on any passenger liner. She also carries 22 kennels for use only when on transatlantic service.

In 2011, her port of registration was changed from Southampton in the UK, to Hamilton in Bermuda, in order to allow marriages to take place on board. This was a reflection of her ownership by the US based Carnival Corporation, and her carriage of many American passengers. Her desalination system is the equivalent of that servicing a small town, as her three desalinator plants each produce 630,000 litres per day, or 1.89 million litres per day.

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Mary 2 & Queen Victoria. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Both vessels are owned by Carnival Corporation & PLC of Doral, in the US State of Florida, and both ‘Queen Mary 2’ and ‘Queen Victoria’ are operated by Cunard Line Ltd., of Southampton in the UK, and are managed by Carnival UK Ltd., also of Southampton. The great Cunard Line was founded by Samuel Cunard, back in 1840, and was originally known as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. ‘Queen Victoria’ cost US$336.34 million (ZAR6.33 billion) to build, and ‘Queen Mary 2’ cost a whopping US$900 million (ZAR16.94 billion) to build.

Sailing from Southampton on 11th January, on a 107 night, 33 port, world cruise, ‘Queen Victoria’ was always scheduled to call at Cape Town on 11th April for an overnight fly/cruise stopover en route back to Southampton, with her cruise terminates. However, when ‘Queen Mary 2’ sailed from Southampton on 14th January, on a 108 night, 34 port, world cruise, she was due to transit the Suez Canal on her itinerary back to Southampton, with a termination date of 28th April. Her original cruise itinerary was;

The Queens in the Cape. Queen Mary 2 & Queen Victoria. Cape Town, 12 April 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Southampton- Tenerife (Canary Islands)- Walvis Bay (Namibia)- Cape Town- Port Elizabeth- Durban- St. Denis (Reunion)- Port Louis (Mauritius)- Fremantle- Adelaide- Melbourne- Sydney- Yorkeys Knob- Darwin (all Australia)- Bitung (Indonesia)- Hong Kong- Da Nang- Nha Trang- Ho Chi Minh City (all Vietnam)- Singapore- Penang- Langkawi (both Malaysia)- Phuket (Thailand)- Colombo (Sri Lanka)- Doha (Qatar)- Dubai( UAE)- Salalah (Oman)- Aqaba (Jordan)- Suez Canal transit- Piraeus (Greece)- Barcelona- Cadiz (Spain)- Southampton.

As a result of the decision not to undertake a Red Sea transit, the cruise itinerary of ‘Queen Mary 2’ was amended on her departure from Colombo. Instead of heading to Doha, her new itinerary was Port Louis- Durban- Cape Town- Walvis Bay- Las Palmas (Canary Islands)- Lisbon (Portugal)- Southampton. It meant she was calling at four ports for the second time on her cruise, which was not well received by some of the passengers onboard. Sadly, some were unhappy with a second call at Durban, as it was considered unsafe after some passengers were mugged, and had mobile phones stolen whilst ashore in the beachfront area.

Added 15 April 2024


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MV Abdullah released by Somali pirates, apparently after ransom paid

Guy Martin

The Bangladesh-flagged Merchant Vessel Abdullah, captured over a month ago by Somali pirates, has been released along with its 23 crew, apparently after a $5 million ransom was paid.

The European Union Naval Force (EU NavFor) in a statement on 15 April confirmed the release, adding its Operation Atalanta was the first actor to respond to the hijacking of the vessel on 12 March, when one Atalanta vessel started shadowing the vessel.

Reuters quoted two pirates as saying the MV Abdullah was released on Sunday 14 April after a $5 million ransom had been delivered to them, but the Somali government did not respond to its request for comment.

The MV Abdullah’s owner, the KSRM Group, said the vessel and its crew were freed following negotiations. “We struck a deal with the pirates,” Mizanul Islam of SR Shipping, the group’s maritime arm, told Agence France Presse. “We cannot say more about the money,” he added, but said all the crew are safe and secure.

The ship has since sailed to the United Arab Emirates – its original destination, which it was supposed to reach on 19 March – escorted by two warships.

Somali publication Garowe Online reported that at least eight pirates were apprehended on the East Coast of Puntland moments after the MV Abdullah was released.

“A high-ranking officer from Puntland Police Force informed Garowe Online that they have apprehended eight members of the pirate group holding the Bangladesh-flagged ship MV Abdullah. It has not been confirmed whether the ransom money paid to the pirates was recovered during the operation,” the publication reported.

The MV Abdullah was en route from Maputo to the United Arab Emirates with a cargo of coal when it was seized by at least a dozen pirates on 12 March and subsequently sailed towards Somalia.

Hijackings off Somalia have raised concerns about a resurgence of Indian Ocean piracy by opportunistic pirates taking advantage of naval forces focussing on defeating attacks on shipping by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Houthi attacks in the Gulf of Aden continue at an almost daily basis, with one vessel (the MV Rubymar) sunk, and two seafarers killed in another attack. Multiple vessels have this year been hit by Houthi missiles.

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

Added 15 April 2024


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Escalating Middle East Tensions Trigger Projected Surge in War Risk Premiums and Freight Rates

Container xChange

Africa Ports & Ships

In a significant escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Iran’s capture of the MSC Aries, a container ship linked to Israel, has reverberated throughout the maritime industry. This development, occurring prior to the missile attacks on Saturday, 13 April 2024, underscores the deepening conflict in the region. Believed to be in response to an Israeli raid on the Iranian consulate in Syria, the capture has heightened concerns about the security of key trade routes and the stability of regional hubs like Jebel Ali.

Furthermore, Iran has launched a coordinated attack on Saturday, 13 April 13 2024, involving hundreds of drones and missiles against Israel. With support from allied forces (France, the United Kingdom, and the United States), Israel intercepted most of the projectiles, but the incident has raised fears of wider escalation and disruptions to maritime operations.

This latest development follows Iran’s seizure of a container ship linked to Israel near the Strait of Hormuz, further intensifying concerns about the security of vital trade routes and the stability of regional hubs like Jebel Ali.

As the situation unfolds, stakeholders are closely monitoring developments and preparing for potential impacts on global trade and shipping markets.

The situation remains fluid, with potential shifts dependent on Israel’s response.

“Regardless of immediate outcomes, we anticipate heightened uncertainty in shipping markets. This comes at a time when tensions have already been simmering since the end of November, particularly in the Bab-al-Mandab strait and the Red Sea. Now, the Strait of Hormuz emerges as a new focal point, with significant implications for Dubai, specifically Jebel Ali, a core transhipment hub in the region.” said Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO of Container xChange, an online platform for global container trading and leasing.

“As far back as December, we highlighted the vulnerabilities in key maritime routes, such as the Bab-al-Mandab strait, emphasizing the potential implications for global trade and shipping networks if the disruptions spread to e.g., the Strait of Hormuz. With the recent events, these concerns have flared up.

“The Strait of Hormuz’s strategic importance, coupled with its role as a key transit point for maritime traffic, emphasizes the significance of this latest escalation. Furthermore, the implications extend to major transhipment hubs like Jebel Ali in Dubai, amplifying the potential impact on regional trade and shipping operations.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and will keep you informed of any changes in container prices and leasing rates. As always, our priority is to support you through these dynamic market conditions.”

Premiums will increase

Roeloffs further cautioned that the war risk premiums will increase, leading to heightened volatility in shipping markets. “We anticipate that freight rates may rise in response to the increased tension and uncertainty. Furthermore, while the possibility of diversions around the region, potentially impacting hubs like Jebel Ali, exists, we believe it’s unlikely given the hub’s importance in global shipping networks.

“Recent incidents, including Iran’s seizure of vessels in the past, highlight the region’s geopolitical complexities. This latest escalation, in response to an attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus, further emphasizes the fragility of regional stability and its potential impact on the global economy.

“As tensions continue to escalate, the question of what comes next looms large. The potential spread of conflict from the Red Sea into the Strait of Hormuz raises concerns about the broader regional and global implications of this localized conflict.”

For similar analysis and advisories, visit see here

Container xChange serves as a global online platform for container trading and leasing, connecting container users with owners, and streamlining the process of finding and exchanging containers.

Added 15 April 2024


IAPH speaks out on seizure of MSC Aries by Iran

MSC Aries (IMO 9857169), highjacked by Iranian commandos in the Hormuz strait. Picture by VesselFinder

Africa Ports & Ships

The International Association of Ports & Harbours (IAPH) has reacted to the seizure of the chartered container ship MSC Aries (IMO 9857169).

MSC Aries was en route to the Indian port of Nhava Sheva from the UAE port of Khalifa and was transiting the Strait of Hormuz in international waters on Saturday 13 April when boarded by Iranian commandos who took control of the 158,097-dwt ship.

The 14,300-TEU ship has a crew of 25 people on board who are effectively held captive after the seizure.

Following the seizure, the IAPH said it calls upon the immediate release of the international crew as well as the chartered vessel.

“We express our deepest concern for the welfare of the seafarers of this ship, which follows the hijacking of the crew of the Ro-Ro carrier Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea back in November. As stated by our colleagues at the International Chamber of Shipping, innocent seafarers are suffering directly as a consequence of geopolitical conflicts, and this has serious implications for the global maritime communities and the ports that serve them,” commented Patrick Verhoeven, IAPH’s Managing Director.

“The recent attacks on merchant shipping in the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden have impacted the fluidity of the global maritime transport chain, and specifically on trade and port activities in and around the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. The attack today in the Gulf of Oman has the potential to further disrupt cargo transits in and out of the region, which will impact all of our member ports one way or another. This make it all the more important to share information and know how on how to respond to these constant disruptions, together,” Verhoeven said.

Iran maintains that the 366-metre long MSC Aries, which is flagged in Madeira, is owned by Israeli interests.

Added 15 April 2024



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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