Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 16 June 2024

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FIRST VIEW:   Atlantic Narval


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 FIRST VIEW:   Atlantic Narval

Atlantic Narval  Durban   6 June 2024   Picture by Trevor Jones

The asphalt/bitumen tanker ATLANTIC NARVAL (IMO 9930210) which is currently located at Durban’s Maydon Wharf, working her cargo of bitumen. A modern ship launched in October 2022, along with her sister vessel Baltic Narval which was launched in 2023, Atlantic Narval is owned by the UK’s Continental Bitumen.

She was built in China by the Wuhu Shipyard to a Swedish FKAB Marine I15 design, and features dual-fuel engines capable of running on LNG/LBG propulsion and batteries.

The tanker has a length of 168.7 metres and width of 28.2m with a deadweight of 24,316 tons. The KAB I15 design features a hull form making use of the patented F-Bow solution. The cargo tanks consist of two blocks, forward and aft of the pump-room, with four and six tanks respectively in each block, according to FKAB Marine Design.

With independent cargo tanks for bitumen and asphalt with a temperature of up to 200°C, the vessel is built with a single bottom and double sides for ballast water.

The high-temperature variations require special design considerations, mainly because of thermal expansion of tanks and pipes.

Atlantic Narval flies the Singapore flag.  Prior to her arrival in Durban she called at Cape Town, departing from there on 1 June at 18:30 and arriving in Durban on 6 June 2024 as 12:00

Picture is by Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships


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WHARF TALK: New ‘Russian’ Transnet Harbour Tugs

Four new Damen ASD harbour tugs that arrived in Durban from Vietnam this week, courtesy of a cancelled Russian order. Picture: TNPA

Pictures by Keith Betts
Trevor Steenkamp
Trevor Jones
Jumaine Kruger

Story by Jay Gates

Back in late February 2024 Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) announced that they were investing in a fleet renewal programme. They proudly announced that were investing US$52 million (ZAR1 billion) in acquiring seven new harbour tugs, The order was a departure from the TNPA previous newbuild ordering strategy, which had involved in ordering locally with previous harbour tugs being built by Sandock Austral, previously Southern African Shipyards, at their shipyard in the Bayhead area of Durban harbour.

The new harbour tugs were aimed at enhancing marine operations in both the ports of Durban and East London, with two going to East London, and five going to Durban. The order was given to Damen Shipyards in Cape Town, who were tasked in supplying the new harbour tugs. Supplying is the operative word in this instance, as Damen in Cape Town were not going to be able to build seven tugs with a contract supply requirement to have them delivered between April and August 2024.

A Durban welcome for each of the four tugs. Picture by Trevor Jones

We have to go back to late September 2021 to get to the bottom of where these new harbour tugs originated, and how TNPA managed to procure them so quickly. In late September 2021 the Russian state owned enterprise, FSUE Rosmorport, ordered seven Arc4 ice class tugs from the Dutch shipbuilding company Damen Shipyards, headquartered at Gorinchem in Holland. An online keel laying ceremony was held at the NEVA 2021 exhibition being held in St. Petersburg.

The orders were due to be completed in 2022, with the first five of the tugs to be allocated to their subsidiary company, FSUE Atomflot, based in Murmansk. They were intended for use at the offshore LNG transshipment complex in Ura-Guba on the Kola Peninsula, with the next two based in Kamchatka, in the Russian Far East for a similar operation.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Jones
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Jones

However, as we are all aware, Vladimir Putin ordered an illegal invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022, calling it a ‘Special Military Operation’. Almost immediately, the European Union enacted a broad series of sanctions on trade with Russia. Just a few weeks after the start of the invasion, in March 2022, Damen announced the suspension of work on all existing contracts, and the refusal of all future contracts with Russia.

The contract was cancelled, despite work already being started on the Atomflot order. The order was for Damen to build ASD 3010 ICE class tugs for Atomflot. Rosmorport took Damen to court to demand the repayment of the cash deposits made for the new tugs, which amounted to US$24.35 million (ZAR411 million). The case was heard in the Moscow Arbitration Court, which not unsurprisingly found in favour of Rosmorport. Bearing in mind that Damen could not fulfill the order, and could not return the advance funds due to strict EU Sanctions in place.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Jones
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Jumaine Kruger

On 11th June, from a short period from 09:00 in the morning, four harbour tugs arrived off the Durban Bluff, from Port Louis in Mauritius. All four of the tugs entered Durban Harbour one at a time, being met inside with water monitor salutes from other TNPA harbour tugs within the harbour. The four arriving tugs had the uninspiring Damen Shipyard Identification names of ‘YN512623’ (IMO 9934802), ‘YN512630’ (IMO 9945394), ‘YN512631’ (IMO 9945409), and ‘YN512632’ (IMO 9950739).

All four of the newly arrived TNPA tugs were from the cancelled Russian Atomflot order, and it is likely that the next three will be the remainder of the original order of seven tugs ordered by Rosmorport. It will also explain why they are not painted in the traditional TNPA colours of black hull, white accommodation, and red funnel. They are instead painted in the traditional colours of Atomflot, with a dark blue hull, light blue accommodation, and high visibility orange bridge front top.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Jumaine Kruger
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Jumaine Kruger

The tugs are the standard Damen ASD 3010 ICE class design tug, with a length of 30 metres, and a beam of 10 metres (hence the 3010 in their class identity). They have Azimuth Stern Drive (hence the ASD in their class identity), and they have an ice classification of ICE 1AS (hence the ICE in their class identity), which is the highest ice classification, and allows them to operate in first year Baltic Sea ice, with a thickness of 1 metre, or in Polar waters with a first year ice thickness of 0.7 metres, up to 1.2 metres, with ICE 1AS being the Russian equivalent to ARC4.

The tugs were all originally due for completion in 2023, but completed in 2024, with all of them being built in the Damen Song Cam shipyard, at Haiphong in Vietnam. Despite the TNPA confusing communications indicating that they came from Cape Town, and ignoring the fact that they arrived in Durban from a Northeasterly direction, they were handed over to TNPA in April 2024, ready for their transoceanic ferry voyage from Haiphong to Durban.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Keith Betts
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024   Picture by Keith Betts

They are powered by two Caterpillar 3516C HD-TA sixteen cylinder (V16), four stroke, generators producing 2,575 bhp (1,920 kW) each, giving a total power output of 5,150 bhp (3,840 kW), and that provide power to two Rolls-Royce Kongsberg US355 azimuth thruster units, giving them a free sailing sea-speed of 13 knots, on a draft of 5 metres, and giving them a bollard pull of 60 tons.

The ASD 3010 ICE tug is designed for standard harbour work of push-pull operations, towing, and firefighting operations. Also, due to their Ice 1AS classification, they are capable of conducting harbour icebreaking, ice management, and open water winter towage, which are three characteristics that will be perfect for winter operations in sub-tropical Durban harbour.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Keith Betts
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Keith Betts

For the originally intended area of operations in the Russian Arctic regions, all four of the new tugs have very good insulation, with particular attention being paid to the engine room spaces, the accommodation areas, and around both doors and windows. The proven Damen standard keel cooling system is also available due to the fact that the hull is large enough to accommodate the flush bottom cooling channels.

Their journey from Haiphong began shortly after being handed over in late April at the Damen Song Cam shipyard. They all departed from Vietnam in early May, arriving for their first bunker stop at Singapore, within a few hours of each other, from 09:00 in the morning on 14th May. After receiving their bunker uplift, stores, and fresh provisions, they all departed Singapore, after a short 16 hour stopover, from 01:00 in the early morning of 15th May.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Steenkamp/Nautical Images
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Steenkamp/Nautical Images

They were now bound for their final bunker stop in Port Louis, in Mauritius, where they all arrived within a few hours of each other from 07:00 in the morning of 2nd June, and all tied up at Quay No.2 in the harbour. After a further bunker uplift, and the loading of any stores, and fresh provisions, they all departed from Port Louis from 13:00 onwards in the afternoon of 3rd June, now bound for Durban.

The voyage from Port Louis to Durban covered a distance of 1,550 nautical miles, at an average speed of 7.2 knots, and took one week to complete. On arrival in Durban, all four tugs are now safely alongside the tug wharf in Durban Harbour. More confusing communication regarding the tugs states that they will be completed at the Damen Shipyard in Cape Town.

New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Steenkamp/Nautical Images
New TNPA tug, Durban 11 June 2024 Picture by Trevor Steenkamp/Nautical Images

As all four tugs are likely to need a drydocking, and a full repaint to get them into TNPA colours, and that Durban is only a two hour flight away from Cape Town for Damen commissioning engineers, it is highly likely that the tugs will remain in Durban until such time that they enter service. It makes little sense for new tugs already located in Durban, to be sent on a voyage around the Cape, for completion, and to then be sent back around the Cape and back to their operational base in Durban, when almost all required services are already located in Durban.

Knowing the background to the history of these tugs, and the fact that they are ICE class harbour tugs, one does wonder why TNPA purchased them. This is especially so as Damen are known for building standard ASD 3010 tugs as stock items around the world, and urgency of replacement was not an issue. One wonders if this is another BRICS deal, and one hopes that they stay in South Africa, and don’t somehow end up back in Russia as originally planned.

Added 13 June 2024


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Houthi missiles strike several ships, engineroom of m/v Tutor flooded

Africa Ports & Ships

A Greek-owned and managed bulk carrier, Tutor (IMO 9942627) is reported to have come under attack by Houthi forces and was taking on water in a severely damaged engineroom.

The 82,357-dwt, 229 metre long by 32m wide bulker, which was built in 2022, was targeted on Wednesday, 12 June 2024 by water-borne and aerial drones and missiles while sailing in the Red Sea. Tutor recently called in the Russian port of Ust-Luga and after discharging her cargo of coal in Port Said, was in the Red Sea en route to India when attacked and damaged.

It is not known if there were any injuries – none have been reported.

Tutor is registered to Livenza Shipping Inc and managed by Evalend Shipping Co SA, in Athens, Greece. The bulk carrier is flagged in Liberia.

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) which also reported the attack on the Tutor, said that in the previous 24 hours its forces had destroyed three anti-ship cruise missile launchers in a Houthi controlled area of Yemen as well as one uncrewed aerial system (UAS) that was launched from a Houthi controlled area of Yemen over the Red Sea.

This continued malign and reckless behavior by the Iranian-backed Houthis threatens regional stability and endangers the lives of mariners across the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, said CENTCOM.

Yemen’s military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Earlier in the week two other ships were reported as having been struck by missiles fired from Houthi-held territory.

One of the ships was the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged cargo ship Norderney (IMO 9968449), struck by a anti-ship missile on Saturday 8 June, which started a fire that crew were able to quickly extinguish. CENTCOM reported that a second missile also struck the Norderney.

The UKMTO centre also reported this incident which took place in the Gulf of Aden.

The second attack earlier this week involved the Liberian-flagged, Swiss-owned-and-operated container ship named MSC Tavvishi (IMO 9189366) which was in the Gulf of Aden at the time. The Houthi’s however, claimed that MSC Tavvishi was attacked in the Arabian Sea.

Added 13 June 2024


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Trade News: All new ships should be built to a seawater-lubricated sterntubeless ship design, says Leontopoulos

The sterntubeless ship would see savings of more than US$1 million in through-life operational costs. Picture: Seaborne PR

Africa Ports & Ships

Future newbuild ships of all types should be built without a sterntube and with a seawater-lubricated propeller shaft bearing arrangement, according to Blue Ocean Alliance’s Chris Leontopoulos.

Speaking at a recent maritime industry forum in Hamburg, Mr. Leontopoulos said the sterntubeless ship design – jointly developed by Blue Ocean Alliance members ABS, Thordon Bearings, Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute (SDARI), Wärtsilä, and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) – is so commercially, operationally and environmentally attractive that “I personally hope that in the future all ships are built like this”.

Kick-starting his presentation with the startling statistic that more than eight million litres of sterntube lubricating oil is polluting the oceans annually, Mr. Leontopoulos, ABS’ Vice President, Technology, EMEA, said the design interventions proposed by the group can deliver a commercially and environmentally optimal vessel capable of saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in operational costs. This, without changing hull lines or existing class rules and regulations.

“We decided to remove the sterntube, and by shortening propeller shaft length and moving the prime mover further aft, we no longer needed a forward sterntube bearing. This places less friction on the shaft, resulting in lower power loss, improved fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. A sterntubeless ship also results in a bigger cargo space for the same vessel length,” he said.

Mr. Leontopoulos went on to say that the use of a seawater-lubricated bearing with a tapered key design – the principal component that makes the sterntubeless ship possible – also…..

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

Added 13 June 2024


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Two of TNPA’s four new harbour tugs will operate at East London

A newly arrived TNPA tug is given the traditional welcome by one of the Durban tug fleet, Pholela. Picture by Keith Betts

Africa Ports & Ships

In a statement issued on Wednesday 12 June, Transnet National Ports Authority welcomed four of the seven harbour tugs that arrived Durban on Tuesday morning.

“In line with Transnet’s focus on operational efficiency through the acquisition of reliable and fit-for-purpose equipment, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has taken delivery of the first four tugboats to boost marine fleet availability and shipping efficiencies at the ports of Durban and East London.”

The port authority said the arrival of the four tugs brought TNPA closer towards the execution of its marine fleet renewal programme.

This entails replacing the marine fleet with the latest technology to extend the lifespan of marine assets. “The move also adds value to the timely implementation of the Transnet-wide Recovery Plan, whose core focus includes improved availability and reliability of critical equipment.”

TNPA is investing R1 billion in acquiring seven tugs, ordered from Damen Cape Town although delivered from Damen shipyards in South-East Asia.

The tugs will replace other harbour tugs that have reached their operational lifespan. With the latest delivery, the Port of Durban has been allocated two tugs with the Port of East London receiving the other two.

Each tug has a 60-ton bollard pull, which is an improvement from the current 32 and 40-ton bollard pull capacity of the existing East London tugs and certain of the older Durban fleet.

The fleet will be located at the Port of Durban’s Drydock where they will undergo various technical tests for a period of about three weeks. Upon completion, TNPA intends holding a naming ceremony to officially christen the tugboats.

The phased delivery of the remaining three tugs will be completed by August 2024.

Added 13 June 2024


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WHARF TALK: handy class size products tanker – ALFRED N

The handysized products tanker, Alfred N, which called at Cape Town on 8 June 2024. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The range of product tankers begins with Handy Tankers, whose deadweight tonnage can be anything up to 34,999 tons. From 35,000 deadweight tons onwards you enter the two Medium Range (MR) class of tankers up to 54,999 deadweight tons, and then into the two Long Range (LR) class tankers up 159,999 deadweight tons. From then on it is the big VLCC and ULCC tankers, which do not transport fuel products, but only carry cargoes of crude oil.

In most cases , South African oil terminals are visited by MR2 tankers, with the odd MR1 and LR1 tanker making an appearance, and extremely rarely there is a visit from the largest LR2 tanker, as recently with the call into Cape Town of ‘King Philippos’. Equally rare is the visit of the smallest class, the Handy, mainly as a result of the commercial needs to make the voyage profitable and the Handy is not best placed for a transoceanic voyage to South Africa. However, thanks to the Houthi idiocy, the Handy does occasionally arrive and all due to a diversion.

On 8th June, at 14:00 in the early afternoon, the Handy class sized product tanker ‘Alfred N’ (IMO 9749324) arrived off Cape Town, from Kandla in the Gujarat state of India. She entered Cape Town harbour, proceeded into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the Landing Wall. By not utilising a berth in the Tanker Basin it was clear that her call was almost certainly a logistic call requiring bunkers, stores, fresh provisions, or possibly shoreside engineering support.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2016 by Hyundai Mipo shipyard in Ulsan in South Korea, ‘Alfred N’ is 169 metres in length and has a deadweight of 25,161 tons. She is powered by a HHI MAN-B&W 6S46ME-B8.5 six cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 7,437 bhp (5,470 kW) and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 15 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes three Hyundai Himsen 6H21/32 generators producing 1,050 kW each. She has a single Saacke Qingdao composite exhaust gas boiler, and a single Saacke Qingdao auxiliary oil fired boiler.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She has a cargo carrying capacity of 29,259 m3, and as a Handy tanker, she is often called upon to carry chemicals, rather than fuel products. As such, she has 14 cargo tanks, and is capable of carrying 14 grades at any one time. She has 14 cargo pumps, all capable of pumping cargo at a rate of 375 m3/hour.

One of six sisterships ‘Alfred N’ is owned by Sterling Ocean Chemical Tankers LLC, of Wilton in the US State of Connecticut, and whose corporate houseflag is displayed on her funnel. She is operated by Shell Trading and Shipping Co. (STASCO), of London, and managed by Fleet Management Ltd., of Hong Kong. Her connection to STASCO is that she is on a long term time charter to the oil major Shell.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

As expected, the stay in Cape Town of ‘Alfred N’ was short, and after 26 hours alongside on completion of her bunker uplift, required stores, and loading of fresh provisions, she sailed from Cape Town on 9th July, at 1600 in the afternoon, with her AIS indicating that she was now bound for Castellón in Spain.

It is clear that a voyage from Northwest India to a Mediterranean port in Spain would be best served by a voyage through the Suez Canal, and not by almost circumnavigating the continent of Africa. It clearly indicates that her call in the Mother City was based on a diversion to use the Cape sea route, and avoid the Houthi missile risk, especially due to ‘Alfred N’ being American owned, and on time charter to a British multi-national oil company.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

It is not the first visit to Cape Town by ‘Alfred N’ during the current Houthi menace, as earlier this year she called for a short 10 hour visit on 14th March, again for a bunker uplift only, when using the Cape sea route, whilst on a voyage to Sultan Qaboos port, at Muscat in Oman.

The destination port of Castellón, which lies in the Valencia region, on the Mediterranean Sea, at 39°59’ North 000°02’ West, is the location of the BP operated Castellón Refinery. The refinery was commissioned in 1967, and is capable of processing 110,000 barrels per day. It lies as part of the Castellón port complex, with four tanker berths connected by pipeline to the refinery.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The current product output of the refinery is petroleum, diesel, paraffin, naphtha, marine fuel oil, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), asphalt, petroleum coke, and sulphur. The Castellón refinery also utilises the waste gases from the oil refining process by utilising it as a fuel for a gas fired power station, located on the refinery, and which produces 26 MW of power for use in running the refinery, and for use for domestic requirements via a connection to the national grid.

In 2023 BP announced that the intention to make the Valencia region a leader, through the Castellón refinery, in green hydrogen production. BP will invest US$2.15 billion (ZAR40 billion) in transformation costs for green hydrogen production, with up to 2GW of electrolysis capacity by 2030. The intent of the transformation is part of a wider decarbonisation programme, which includes a tripling of the current production output of biofuels, up to 650,000 tons per year.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The green hydrogen will be used as a feedstock in the increased biofuel production process, specifically for the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). BP’s Castellón refinery has become the world’s first refinery to receive CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) certification for the production of SAF, issued by the International Sustainability Carbon Certification (ISCC) and endorsed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the United Nations.

In addition to being used by BP at the refinery, the green hydrogen produced will also be used in key local industries in the Valencia region, such as the ceramic industry, where it will replace the natural gas used in their processes, as well as in chemical industries for the production of green ammonia, and as a fuel in heavy transport.

Alfred N. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Use of this green hydrogen, to replace natural gas, is estimated to reduce CO2 emissions by more than 300,000 tons per year, when used first in the refinery and then in thermo-intensive local industries, and heavy transport. Such a carbon reduction figure forms a central part of the BP decarbonisation programme.

Development of the Castellón refinery transformation was due to begin in 2024, and with major construction works to get underway in 2025, with green hydrogen production being underway in 2030. However, there are already schedule problems for BP, as a contract signing issue with a local partner has already created a one year delay to the programme.

Added 13 June 2024


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MPDC and CFM sign Joint Service Level Agreement for greater logistics efficiencies

Africa Ports & Ships

Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), which manages and operates the port of Maputo and Matola, and CFM, the state-owned ports and rail company, have signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to bring about a combined and competitive improvement in rail and port operations along the Maputo Logistics Corridor.

At the heart of the agreement is the intention of increasing the amount of rail freight along the rail corridors between the port and neighbouring countries (South Africa, Eswatini and Zimbabwe).

The current ratio is firmly in favour of road transport and according to Agostinho Langa Júnior, chairperson of the MPDC, both MPDC and CFM must align in order to meet current and future traffic demand.

He said port investment that will be made over the next 25 years should be matched by railway investment.

Junior said it was clear that the road will never have the capacity to carry 40 million tonnes, the volume the port is facing.

“On the land side, and especially on the railway side, there has to be the capacity to increase rail volumes.”

Standardizing road and rail

The SLA aims at standardizing the loading and unloading of trains/wagons and transport services, including transit time, dwell times at stations, in the pit and at the port, in order to make it possible to provide effective and efficient logistics for the customer.

MPDC Chief Executive Officer, Osório Lucas, said that customer satisfaction was achievable only if the corridor is thought of as a whole and becomes increasingly competitive.

The port of Maputo has also obtained the milestone of ISO 9001:2015 certification, becoming the first Mozambique port to do so.

Lucas said the achievement of ISO 9001:2015 certification is a reflection of the commitment to continuous improvement of services and the pursuit of excellence in customer service.

This is not a goal, he said, but “a commitment to our customers, partners and society in general. The aim is to achieve the next certification because this is just the start of a continuous journey of improvement and innovation.” source AIM

Added 12 June 2024


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Transnet another who is angry and disappointed with World Bank port rankings

Africa Ports & Ships

Transnet denounces World Bank Container Port Performance Index factual errors

On Monday 10 June we reported that the Government of Djibouti has responded with dismay at the World Bank’s latest ‘Container Port Performance Index 2023’ that was published last week.

In it the port of Djibouti inexplicably dropped from 26th position worldwide in 2022 to the 379th position in 2023.

Transnet is now also voicing its displeasure, though for different but similar reasons. As with all the preceding World Bank rankings, the four Transnet Port Terminals’ operated container terminals have ranked at the very tail end of each report. The latest just published places Cape Town and Ngqura terminals as the two very worst performing ports, in terms of its container handling.

Durban and Port Elizabeth terminals didn’t fare that much better!

This is Transnet’s response issued today, Wednesday 12 June 2024, in the name of chief executive Michelle Phillips:

Transnet responds

On 10 June 2024, Transnet met with World Bank representatives to discuss factual errors in its recent 2023 Container Port Performance Index (CPPI).

The Bank incorrectly uses the duration of a vessel’s stay as a measure of container port cargo handling performance, relied on third party sample data and failed to give a measured terminal access to the data sample for verification prior to publication.

Upon entering a port, a vessel is serviced by many role players before the actual loading and offloading of cargo, and these services contribute to the length of its stay. The Bank’s measurement of vessel stay in port does not take into consideration throughput and other factors that determine the duration of a stay.

While the World Bank does not guarantee the accuracy of the data in the report, the results purport to be an indicative measure of port performance. In the meeting, the Bank’s Transport Specialists advised that the CPPI is not a comprehensive indicator of container terminal performance and that it only seeks to advise on the stay of a vessel in a port. Transnet is of the opinion that the index is, therefore, not correctly titled.

The report is based on available data from Automatic Identification System (AIS) and liner shipping data. An accurate performance index can have a positive and constructive impact on plans to improve port cargo handling performance. On the other hand, an inaccurate index has damaging reputational impact on measured terminals. Accordingly, it is key to afford measured terminals an opportunity to assess the sample data for verification.

Transnet has not been afforded any opportunity to comment or verify the accuracy of the data or the facts attributed to it in the report. Transnet Port Terminals (TPT) has been requesting access to this data over the past few years, without any success. In the meeting, it was agreed that this data would now be made available to allow Transnet an opportunity to interrogate the data.

There was also a general acceptance that the report should have been made available to measured terminals to provide them an opportunity to comment, with commitment that this would happen going forward. We are of the opinion that we should be given a right of reply before any report relating to our performance is finalised or published. Transnet only became aware of this report through the media.

Transnet, through several roadshows by the Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips and the Transnet executive team have been transparent with the industry and have explained the challenges in the ports and the interventions being implemented to address the root causes of these challenges.

The industry is aware that as a result of inclement weather and equipment challenges, TPT’s Durban Container Terminal (DCT) Pier 2 and the Cape Town Container Terminal experienced severe backlogs in the last quarter of 2023. However, since October 2023, Transnet has been implementing a Recovery Plan to improve operational and financial performance across the business.

As a result of various tactical initiatives pursued as part of the Recovery Plan specifically targeted at improving productivity and optimising the operations, it is clear that there has been a stabilisation in the business as well as real improvement in rail and port operations.

The Recovery Plan initiatives include the acquisition of cargo handling equipment and contracted original equipment manufacturers that are onsite to provide technical support and supply critical spares for the existing terminal fleets. A 24-hour maintenance regime is also in place to secure the availability and reliability of existing equipment.

While weather continues to disrupt operations, contingency plans are in place and integrated planning and collaboration engagements with customers and industry are ongoing. TPT has also enhanced its container management system with the help of US-based NAVIS.

Transnet continues to work with its partners, customers and all stakeholders including academic institutions and industry bodies to improve its overall performance and make its customers globally competitive. We continue to collaborate with all our partners to ensure that we remain on course in the implementation of the Recovery Plan and necessary reforms despite historical underinvestment in equipment and maintenance across the business. As a business, we prioritise handling cargo and moving all the volumes we can to serve South Africa’s economic needs and our recovery efforts are yielding tangible results.

Issued on behalf of the Group Chief Executive, Michelle Phillips.

Added 12 June 2024


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In Conversation: Africa’s freeports should boost trade and foreign exchange earnings – but evidence is thin

Jonas Aryee, University of Plymouth

The concept of a freeport – an area where normal tax and customs rules don’t apply – has existed for centuries. Over time, different terms have emerged. They include export processing zones, free trade zones, special economic zones and industrial free zones. West Africa has 29 free zones, spanning 11 countries. Examples in west Africa are in Togo’s capital, Lomé, and Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

The success of freeports in growing local manufacturing and economies is exemplified by countries like Malaysia and Singapore. This success can be replicated in west Africa under the right conditions. The Conversation Africa’s Godfred Akoto Boafo interviewed transport economist Jonas Aryee, who has studied freeports in west Africa.

What is a freeport?

In his book Elements of Port Operations & Management, shipping and export scholar Alan Branch states that a freeport is a free trade zone. Imports can enter with simplified customs documentation without paying tariffs. Imported raw materials or components may be stored or processed duty-free pending re-export, or duty-paid on entry into the importing country or when sold locally.

Note that some of the popular names do not suggest any relation with ports. Indeed, all the definitions state that it is an “area”. Hence, freeports are a trade concept rather than a “port”.

Why are they established?

Freeports are established to accelerate industrialisation and industry-related international trade.

Creating a special regulatory regime in a physically or legally bounded economic space is intended to attract foreign direct investment into a country or encourage local businesses to operate in those designated areas. The purpose is to manufacture goods using imports, add value, and re-export the finished product without paying the full tariff on the original import, whether it be raw material or semi-finished goods.

The potential benefits to the country are numerous. They can increase:

    • foreign exchange earnings
    • job opportunities
    • income generation
    • foreign direct investment
    • technology transfer
    • exports (thus improving the balance of payments).

Research has shown a strong correlation between establishing freeports and strong export performance. According to the World Bank, exports from special economic zones accounted for 17% of Bangladesh exports in 2013, 44% in China (2012), 11% in South Korea (2007), 49% in the Philippines (2011) and 67% in Sri Lanka (2007). This is the result of export oriented policies. Other countries have experienced mixed results. The UK revoked the policy in 2012 but is having a go at it again.

What negative consequences can they have?

Freeports can create several issues. Authorities may be lenient in attracting users, which can lead to illicit financial flows, illicit goods and tax evasion. They can also be used as fronts for illicit activities. These risks have been highlighted in various reports, including the 2020 Mutual Evaluation Report from the Financial Action Task Force, which pointed to Dubai’s freezones, and the European Union’s 2018 study of money laundering and tax evasion risks in freeports.

Firms may misuse the special privileges by conducting transactions of their non-freeport associates through the freeports to evade taxes, as reported in Ghana.

Criminals could exploit the ports for drug trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeit goods.

This has prompted the EU to clamp down on 82 freeports across Europe. The EU found the special duty and tariff status has encouraged organised crime, money laundering and terrorism financing.

Which are the best performers in west Africa?

Ghana and Nigeria are usually notable mentions in the reports from the World Bank and other development agencies. However, it’s important to consider the specific objectives for establishing each freeport when comparing their performance. Countries may set them up to boost employment, attract foreign direct investment or as part of an economy-wide reform experiment, like the gateway project in Ghana. Data on FDI inflows and annual exports is available for countries, but obtaining data specifically for FDI inflows and exports within the free zones themselves is more challenging. Even more challenging is to get data on employment creation, foreign exchange through exports, economic value added and technology transfer.

In 2022, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Ghana were the top recipients of FDI in west Africa. Nigeria, usually a leader, experienced negative figures due to restrictions on repatriating dollars as a government policy. But these trends cannot solely be attributed to free zones. Similar challenges exist when analysing export figures.

Several World Bank reports allude to the data challenges and the poor performance of African freezones compared to Asia, eastern Europe and to a lesser extent Latin America due to implementation challenges.

Which are the worst?

It can be challenging to make assessments about the effectiveness of free trade zones due to the complexity of available data and the various ways we can interpret it.

At the individual company level, we may want to ask questions such as how many companies have invested in the zone, how many are still operating there, and how many have left. Unfortunately emerging research at firm level is country based and does not compare countries.

The reasons for how long a firm stays can vary. They include factors such as the length of tax holidays, employment incentives, preferential corporate tax rates, building allowances, issues related to the repatriation of profits, and assessments of the business environment amongst others. Some companies may also be taking advantage of trade agreements offered by foreign countries, such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act of the US or the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreements, and their decisions may depend on the duration of these partnerships.

Ultimately, the performance of the free trade zone should have an impact on the larger economy at some point during its existence.The Conversation

Jonas Aryee, Lecturer in Management and Maritime Business, University of Plymouth

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

Added 12 June 2024


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WHARF TALK: multipurpose project ships – BBC NYHAVN and BBC NAGASAKI

The multi-purpose project carrier BBC Nagasaki that called at Cape Town in addition to her sister ship, BBC Nyhavn. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

Those multi-purpose, project freight, heavylift carriers out of the BBC Chartering stable are ever increasing regular callers into Durban and Cape Town, and as expected all as a result of the Houthi terrorist activity in the Gulf of Aden and the southern Red Sea. At least one of the fleet makes a quick call, seemingly every week, and a quick look on any AIS site shows at least one of them approaching, or departing from, South African waters from both the east and the west.

The thing about the BBC Chartering fleet is that nigh-on every single one of the vessels in the fleet is equipped with a variety of medium to heavylift deck cranes, for the project freight that they are designed to carry, and their arrival always get the casual maritime observer excited to see what deck cargo they might be carrying. The frequency of the calls of these vessels is sometimes so close that as one leaves on one day, so another arrives a day or two afterwards and, rarely, the two crossing over vessels are sisterships.

On 6th June, at 17:00 in the afternoon, the multi-purpose project carrier ‘BBC Nyhavn’ (IMO 9559896) arrived off the Table Bay anchorage, from Ngqura in the Eastern Cape, and went to anchor overnight. At 08:00 the following morning, 7th June, she left the anchorage, entered Cape Town harbour, and proceeded into the Duncan Dock, going alongside the Landing Wall, a good sign that she was calling for bunkers, and which was immediately confirmed when the bunker tanker ‘Al Safa’ came alongside shortly after she was made secure on the berth.

BBC Nyhavn. Cape Town 7 June 2024. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2012 by Jiangsu Yangzi Changbo shipyard at Jingjiang in China, ‘BBC Nyhavn’ is 132 metres in length and has a deadweight of 9,737 tons. She is powered by a single Rolls-Royce Bergen B32:40L8P eight cylinder, four stroke, main engine producing 5,365 bhp (4,000 kW), driving a controllable pitch propeller for a service speed of 14 knots.

Her auxiliary machinery includes two Scania D1126M generators providing 324 kW each, and a single AGCO SISU 49-CTAG-4V emergency generator providing 94 kW. She has a single CHM ETF3-42 Economiser exhaust gas boiler, and a CHO 25-HO-04 oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability she has a Wärtsilä FT125M bow transverse thruster providing 500 kW.

She has a continuous deck for outsize project freight, and two holds with a cargo carrying capacity of 12,822 m3, and a hold area of 2,373 m2. For heavylift project freight, the lower hold tank top of ‘BBC Nyhavn’ has a deck strength of 15 tons/m2. She has a container carrying capacity of 468 TEU, and a provision of 20 reefer plugs on the upper deck.

Cargo on the BBC Nyhavn. Cape Town, 7 June 2024.  Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

For her cargo carrying operation, ‘BBC Nyhavn’ is fitted with two Liebherr electro-hydraulic cranes, both offset to the port side, which can lift 60 tons each, or 120 tons when used in tandem. The offset positioning of the cranes allows for the whole length of the upper deck to be used for outsized project freight. She also has a deck gantry crane, which is used to move, and stack, the pontoon hold covers during cargo operations.

With an ice classification of ICE 1A, ‘BBC Nyhavn’ is able to navigate in Baltic Sea ice conditions with a first year ice thickness of 0.8 metres, and in Polar waters with a first year ice thickness of between 0.3 metres and 0.7 metres.

Containerised cargo on the BBC Nyhavn. Cape Town, 7 June 2024.  Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

One of a class of twelve sisterships, of which four operate with a BBC prefix, and are named after a port city beginning with the letter ‘N’, ‘BBC Nyhavn’ is owned by Briese Schiffahrts GmbH, of Leer in Germany, and she is operated by BBC Chartering, also of Leer, and who are a subsidiary of Briese Schiffahrts GmbH. She is managed by Held Bereederungs GmbH, of Haren (Ems) in Germany, and whose company houseflag she displays on her funnel.

Her previous voyage had her arriving in Durban, on 27th March, from Bata in Equatorial Guinea, before sailing on 31st March to Haiphong in Vietnam, via Singapore. The current voyage of ‘BBC Nyhavn’ began in Xiamen in China on 7th May, when she sailed for another call in Singapore, arriving there on 13th May, and sailing on 15th May for Ngqura.

BBC Nagasaki. Cape Town, 9 June 2024 Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She arrived at Ngqura on 4th June at 18:00, and her stay was extremely short, which indicated a discharge of either a few containers, or possibly some project freight, as she sailed for Cape Town at 22:00 the same evening. Her arrival in Cape Town showed that she had a deck load of containers, most displaying the logo of the Taiwanese carrier ‘Evergreen’. However, as project freight, her other deck load to excite the casual maritime observers was two motor yachts.

The largest of the motor yachts carried was a ‘Dominator 28 Ilumen’, which is built by Dominator Yachts AG, who unusually are Austrian owned, and headquartered in Vaduz, in the principality of Liechtenstein, both landlocked countries, but whose shipyard is located at Fano, in Italy. The direction of travel of ‘BBC Nyhavn’ indicated that the yacht was either returning to the shipyard for a refit, had been sold on, or was being repositioned by her owner to the Mediterranean for the summer.

More cargo on the BBC Nagasaki. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

The Dominator 28M Ilumen yacht is 28 metres in length, with a displacement tonnage of 91 tons. She is powered by two 1,800 bhp (1,343 kW) V12 engines (MTU, MAN or MaK), and has two generators providing 36 kW each. She has five cabins, and can accommodate up to 24 persons. In 2020 the Dominator 28M Ilumen was announced as the winner of the BOAT International Design & Innovation Award, in the category of ‘Best Naval Architecture for a Semi-Displacement Planing Motor Yacht’.

The stay in Cape Town was brief, as expected, and with enough time merely to uplift bunkers, take on stores, and load fresh provisions. Just ten hours after arrival, at 18:00 in the early evening, ‘BBC Nyhavn’ sailed from Cape Town, with her AIS indicating that her destination port was Genoa in Italy. Such a voyage, from China to Italy, via the Cape sea route, left no doubt that ‘BBC Nyhavn’ was yet another diversion caused by the Houthi idiocy.

Mixed cargo on BBC Nagasaki. Cape Town, 9 June 2024. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Just over 36 hours after the departure of ‘BBC Nyhavn’, and heading north to Europe, another BBC Chartering vessel turned up off Cape Town. On 9th June, at 08:00 in the morning, the ‘BBC Nagasaki’ (IMO 9559872) arrived from Brest in France, and entered Cape Town harbour. She proceeded into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside the same berth, recently vacated by her sistership ‘BBC Nyhavn’, on the Landing Wall. No sooner had she tied up, and the harbour bunker tanker ‘Southern Valour’ went alongside to begin the bunker uplift process.

Although a sistership of ‘BBC Nyhavn’, and one of the twelve sisterships, all identified by BBC Chartering as ‘Class BBC-9K-120B’, there are just a few minor differences of the technical specifications of ‘BBC Nagasaki’ from those of ‘BBC Nyhavn’. With a deadweight of 9,821 tons, she is marginally heavier than her sistership, and she also carries a marginally greater container capacity of 474 TEU.

Deck cargo on the BBC Nagasaki. Cape Town. 9 June 2024. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

For the casual maritime observer, her deck cargo was a delightful eclectic mixture of all sorts. She appeared to carrying a small tug, or workboat, and a veritable collection of construction equipment, machinery, and vehicles, which included Mercedes Benz and Iveco trucks, VW work vans, JCB backhoe loaders, Keestrack crushers, Liebherr wheeled mobile cranes, and Nobas tracked mobile cranes. Just the sort of, potentially, second-hand purchases that an isolated island, and a French overseas department, might need for the local construction industry.

Her stay in Cape Town was also short, and after 16 hours alongside, again sufficient for her bunker uplift, take on stores, and load any required fresh provisions, ‘BBC Nagasaki’ was ready to sail. At midnight on 9th June, she departed from Cape Town, and with her AIS indicating that her destination was Moroni, in the Comores. A voyage from France to the Comores, via the Cape sea route, may or may not be a diversion voyage, but as virtually all BBC Chartering vessels are opting to give the Suez Canal a miss due to the Houthis, it is a moot point.

Added 12 June 2024


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LNG newbuilding values at record high

Africa Ports & Ships

By Rebecca Galanopoulos Jones,
Senior Content Analyst,
Veson Nautical

The number of LNG newbuilding orders have more than doubled from the same period last year where 34 orders were placed, compared to 78 in the first five months of 2024, an increase of c.129%. Newbuilding prices for the Large LNG sector of 174,000 CBM are currently at an all-time high of USD 269 mil, up by c. 6.1%.

Values for LNG vessels have increased across all sub sectors and age categories since the start of the year, with 20 YO Large LNG vessels of 140,000 CBM up by around USD 10 mil from USD 62.85 mil to USD 72.40 mil, equating to a c.15% increase since the first of January 2024.

At the moment, the orderbook for the Large LNG sector specifically, stands at c.64% in comparison to the live fleet. The majority of orders placed so far this year are in the Large LNG sector, representing c.74%, followed by QMAX with c.23%. Historically, the only other orders taken for the QMAX sector were in the 2000’s, indicating that the recent orders could be part of a fleet renewal program. Qatar has lead orders in 2024 with a share of c.44%, the UAE represents c.13% and in third place, China with c.9%.

Earnings are currently stable but at low levels, which is usual for the time of year. Although LNG spot rates are up by c.12% month-on-month. Year on year earnings are down slightly by c.1%. However, positive sentiment for this sector stemming from geopolitical uncertainties and an increased amount of LNG being delivered to EU ports to replace the Russian Gas formerly shipped by pipeline, in combination with a push towards newer, greener vessels, have ensured that newbuilding demand for the LNG sector has remained firm.

Notable new orders include 10 x Large LNG vessels of 174,000 CBM by ADNOC scheduled to be built at Samsung and Hanwha Ocean and set to be delivered in 2028, VV value 2.7 billion.

Added 11 June 2024


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ONE & Freightliner switch to HVO fuel oil for UK rail cargo

ONE Freightliner cargo trains now running on HVO fuel. Picture: Ocean Network Express (ONE)

Africa Ports & Ships

Following a successful 6-month pilot, Ocean Network Express (ONE) UK in partnership with Freightliner will continue their commitment to use HVO100 fuel for all cargo transportation via rail.

A 100% renewable fuel, HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) is made from raw materials such as vegetable oils, waste-based fat and oil from the food industry.

Switching to HVO can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 90% and is 5regarded as the best alternative to conventional diesel which is normally used to power freight trains. The fuel is certified, which means the materials used to create the fuel and their origin are fully verified.

This new initiative will be part of ONE’s intended green rail offering, where customers can choose to purchase a carbon reduction certificate which recognises their actions to lower their carbon footprint. To understand more about the green offer and its implementation, customers can reach out to their local sales contact.

“ONE UK, in partnership with Freightliner, is pleased to continue the transportation of our cargo inland using rail powered by HVO100,” says Nick Reay, Head of Operations for ONE UK.

He said that over a successful 6-month pilot period, they calculated that an incredible 488 tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved by switching to this renewable fuel.

“We thank Freightliner for collaborating with us to make a greener and more sustainable supply chain as ONE continues to find innovative ways to achieve our goal of net zero by 2050” Reay said.

Clive Slayford, Commercial Director – Intermodal Logistics at Freightliner said they are thrilled that ONE has chosen to roll out HVO fuel to power their UK rail cargo journeys.

“At Freightliner, we are committed to proactively reducing our environmental impact and being a net zero business. Throughout our long-standing partnership, we have demonstrated our commitment to offering customers a greener alternative using HVO fuel which drastically reduces carbon emissions compared to diesel and road alternatives.”

After working together since 2018, ONE and Freightliner recently announced their new 5-year contract which along with a commitment to sustainability, provides UK customers with seamless intermodal connections from London Gateway and the Port of Southampton to strategic locations across the UK.

Added 11 June 2024


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TNPA’s four latest tugs arrive in Durban – Photographs

Picture by Trevor Steenkamp, Nautical Images
Picture by Trevor Steenkamp, Nautical Images
Picture by Trevor Steenkamp, Nautical Images
Picture by Trevor Steenkamp, Nautical Images


As reported here in yesterday’s Africa Ports & Ships, Transnet National Ports Authority has taken delivery of four of the seven tugs ordered from Damen Cape Town but delivered from South East Asia.

The four as yet unnamed harbour tugs arrived in Durban port this morning (Tuesday 11 June 2024). The pictures of the four are courtesy Trevor Steenkamp of Nautical Images.

Added 11 June 2024


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Angry Djibouti refutes World Bank port container performance rankings

The Doraleh Container Terminal (SGTD) in Djibouti, mysteriously dropped from 26th position worldwide to 379th in one year! Picture: SGTD

Africa Ports & Ships

The Government of the Republic of Djibouti has responded with dismay at the ‘Container Port Performance Index 2023’ published last week by the World Bank.

The report is published in partnership with the private company, S&P Global Ratings.

According to this report, the Port of Djibouti has dropped from the 26th position worldwide in 2022 to the 379th position in 2023.

“This decline of over 350 places in a single year is obviously absurd and does not reflect any tangible reality on the ground,” said the Djibouti government in a statement on Monday.

“The Republic of Djibouti strongly rejects the conclusions of this report which causes unjustified harm to our country and our facilities. This comes at a time when we have been facing complex operating conditions since early 2024 due to international tensions.

“It is evident that the ‘data’ used by the authors of this report are erroneous. Our performance indicators, in line with the best international standards, are constantly improving. The productivity of the quays at the Port of Djibouti container terminal is 120 movements per hour.”

The statement said that docking statistics show significant growth, resulting in an increase of over 30% between 2022 and 2023. The quays, it said, are far from being saturated, with an average utilization rate of 40%. The port also fulfills its responsibilities in terms of strategic and humanitarian support for the entire region.

“Finally, no exceptional events have disrupted the port’s activities in 2022 and 2023.”

According to Djibouti, the calculation methods used by the experts in the report seem to distort the reality of the port industry. Other world-class ports with high traffic density are downgraded in the “ranking” to the detriment of ports with significantly lower traffic.

“Furthermore, for perplexing reasons, the Port of Djibouti – considered the best port in sub-Saharan Africa for three consecutive years by the same report – no longer appears in this region and has been ‘moved’ to a ‘West, Central, and South Asia’ region which covers an area from Saudi Arabia to Bangladesh.

Djibouti says that in any case, its commitment remains unchanged. “Last year, as in previous years, the Djibouti Container Terminal (SGTD) continued to invest in its facilities and productivity, fulfilling its import-export missions for the entire region, as well as developing new activities such as transshipment.

“Four next-generation gantry cranes have been acquired for large-capacity vessels.

“The Terminal is more competitive than ever. It is at the centre of a comprehensive multimodal and multi-port project, a major and long-term investment for the State of Djibouti.

“All these facilities serve global trade and our clients, including shipping lines, economic players, importers, and exporters.”

Added 10 June 2024


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The LR2 product tanker ‘King Philippos’ in port at Cape Town’s tanker basin, beneath the shadow of Table Mountain. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

The latest global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) for 2023 makes for terribly depressing reading, especially for South Africans. Out of a total of 405 ports surveyed, all four of South African container ports fall within the bottom 15, with Cape Town finishing in rock bottom in 405th place, with Ngqura backing up the Mother City in 404th place, Durban joining the dream team in 399th place, and Port Elizabeth flying the flag out in front at 391st in the table. It says much about Transnet management and its manifest failures.

These failures do not all point to poor efficiencies and operations in the container terminals in the big ports. In some instances, other aspects of Transnet port operations could also be seen to be woeful, when compared to other similar ports. I am talking about the oil terminal efficiencies in tanker offloading, and one has to be thankful that the World Bank is not about to promulgate a report that highlights an Oil Terminal Port Performance Index, if any such index even exists. Cape Town may also dominate that index too, and for all the wrong reasons.

It has been mentioned before that there does not appear to any rhyme, or reason, as to why it takes so long to discharge a product tanker in Cape Town, even a partially loaded one, when the modern tankers have all been designed to be loaded, and offloaded, in an equal timeframe. There is no correlation between the two once the tanker has arrived in Cape Town, and one looks at the time it took to load the tanker at the departure port, and the time it seemingly always takes to discharge the same vessel once that operation begins in Cape Town.

On 26th May, at 13:00 in the early afternoon, the LR2 product tanker ‘King Philippos’ (IMO 9601194) arrived off Cape Town, from Walvis Bay in Namibia, and went into the Table Bay anchorage for a short period of less than one day. At 11:00 in the late morning of 27th May she entered Cape Town harbour, proceeding into the Duncan Dock, and went alongside Berth No.1 in the Tanker Basin to begin her discharge. Berth No.1 is the longest berth available for product tankers in the basin, with a published length of 250 metres.

King Philippos. Cape Town, 31 May 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

Built in 2012 by Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard at Ulsan in South Korea, ‘King Philippos’ is 250 metres in length, with a deadweight of 111,827 tons. The largest class of product tanker is the LR2, with a given deadweight tonnage range between 80,000 tons and 159,000 tons. From 160,000 tons onwards, any tanker is classed as a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC). The berthing and securing arrangements for a 250 metre long tanker, on a 250 metre long berth, would have been interesting at the planning stage.

She is powered by a single HHI MAN-B&W 7S60MC-C8 seven cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 22,657 bhp (16,896 kW) and driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 12 knots. Her auxiliary machinery includes three Hyundai-Himsen 5H21/32 generators providing 830 kW each, and a single Doosan ADTI emergency generator producing 186 kW. She has a single Kangrim exhaust gas boiler, and two Kangrim PB0402DS13 oil fired boilers.

One of two sisterships, ‘King Philippos’ is one of the fleet of the great Greek ‘Latsis Group’ shipping dynasty, of which their corporate logo is adorned on their famous funnel colours, with the black ‘L’ on a yellow funnel. She is nominally owned by Breakers Holdings SA, and operated by Latsco Shipping Ltd., of Monaco, with management by Latsco Marine Management Incorporated, of Athens.

King Philippos. Cape Town, 31 May 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The Latsis Group was founded in 1937 by Captain John Latsis, initially operating small inter island passenger vessels. Latsis entered the tanker market, with their first crude carrier, in 1958 and operated their first product tanker in the 1970s. At one point, for 12 years from the mid-1980s, until the late 1990s, they operated one of the famous quarter of the ‘Batillus’ class of Ultra Large Crude Carrier (ULCC), named ‘Hellas Fos’, and at the time the largest vessels in the world, with a deadweight of 556,000 tons.

On the death of John Latsis in 2003, the Latsco shipping division was taken over by his daughter Marianna, with the baking and property divisions being taken over by his other son and daughter. Under the guidance of Marianna Latsis, Latsco Shipping has become a world leader in the operation of Eco-Spec tankers. The company is a signatory to the ‘Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonisation’, which arose from the ‘Zero Emissions Shipping’ mission from COP26, the climate summit held in Glasgow, in November 2021.

King Philippos. Cape Town, 31 May 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the nomenclature aficionado, one would be forgiven if you thought that ‘King Philippos’ might have been named after the great Macedonian King Phillip II (382 BC – 336 BC), who was the father of Alexander the Great. However, Marianna Latsis had two children, from her marriage to the late Nikos Kourkoulos, a son and a daughter named Phillip and Henrietta. The sister ship to ‘King Philippos’ is named ‘Lady Henrietta’, so it is more likely that the vessel is named after her son.

The current voyage of ‘King Philippos’ began when she loaded in Duqm in Oman. She arrived at that port on 1st May, at 23:00 in the late evening. She had completed loading by midday on 3rd May, which is the full loading, of an LR2 tanker, completed in just 37 hours. She then sailed to Walvis Bay where she arrived on 22nd May, and after a short discharge, she departed on 24th May, after a stopover of just 35 hours in the Namibian desert port, now bound for Cape Town, to complete her discharge.

King Philippos. Cape Town, 31 May 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

In Cape Town, ‘King Philippos’ had completed her discharge on 6th June, which is almost ten days after she arrived to begin her discharge. At 09:00 on 6th June, she sailed from Cape Town, after a period alongside of an a staggering 9 days and 22 hours, with her AIS showing that she was bound for Fujairah in the UAE.

One has to ask the question of how is it possible for an LR2 tanker to be loaded in just 37 hours in one port, and yet it takes 238 hours, almost eight times longer, to discharge a lesser amount in Cape Town? There is nothing new in this conundrum, as the vast majority of tankers seem to take much longer to discharge in Cape Town, in comparison to the time it took to load them at virtually any loading port, anywhere on earth.

Again, for Cape Town, one has to be thankful that the World Bank does not publish a global Oil Terminal Port Performance Index. I fear it would make yet more depressing reading, and merely highlight the dreadful state that Transnet run ports in general seem to have become, and the ongoing perception of poor management at the port of Cape Town in particular.

Added 11 June 2024


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Heads Up! Four new Transnet tugs arriving Durban today (Tuesday 11 June)

The locally-built Durban tug Umbilo, since transferred to the port of Cape Town. Picture taken in Durban in April 2018 by Trevor Jones

Africa Ports & Ships

Four of the seven Damen tugs ordered by Transnet for the ports of Durban and East London were approaching the South African coast on Monday night with an ETA of 08:00 Tuesday, 11 June 2024. They are approaching from an easterly direction.

Of the seven tugs placed on order with Damen Cape Town Shipyards, five are intended for Durban and two for East London. Delivery was announced for between April and August of this year.

On account of the short delivery time the tugs will either be refurbished vessels or from existing newbuild stock held at various Damen shipyards elsewhere. According to Transnet’s announcement earlier this year, the procured tugboats boast the latest hull design and propulsion, as well as a 60-ton bollard pull.

This is a much-needed improvement from the bollard pull of the existing older tugboats of between 32 and 40-ton bollard pull. These will be gradually replaced.

Several of the modern Voith tugs built locally in South Africa in recent years were transferred to Cape Town to help out in that port, leaving Durban short of sufficient reliable tug power at times.

According to Transnet, it is injecting a R1 billion investment in its marine fleet renewal programme.

“This investment demonstrates TNPA’s ongoing commitment in providing reliable marine craft at our South African ports, which will enable us to effectively service the marine industry and respond to global shipping demands,” said TNPA Chief Harbour Master, Captain Rufus Lekala earlier this year.

The order for seven tugboats marks a radical departure in tugboat procurement for the TNPA, which for the past 40 or so years has placed orders almost exclusively with the Durban-based fully South African firm currently named Sandock Austral – previously Southern African Shipyards.

Added 10 June 2024


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NATO Mine Countermeasures Task Group: Major Italian exercise

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) Public Affairs reported from Sardegna, Italy on 4 June that the specialist crews serving with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) had a real impact on maritime safety. This was demonstrated while staff took part in combined annual Exercises: MARE APERTO, POLARIS and ITALIAN MINEX 24 which ran from 13 to 23 May off the east coast of Corsica, and near Cagliari.

The multinational exercises were conducted simultaneously by the Italian and French Navies, within the same tactical exercise scenario.

The specialist crews serving with Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 2 (SNMCMG2) had a real impact on the safety of the sea while taking part in combined annual exercises MARE APERTO, POLARIS and ITALIAN MINEX 24 which ran from 13 to 23 May off the east coast of Corsica and near Cagliari. Picture per NATO MARCOM ©

While practicing mine countermeasures (MCM) activity in the exercise area south of Sardegna Island – the site of a former minefield – they identified twelve historic sea mines over two days.

Undiscovered ordnance dating back to the two world wars of the 20th century continues to pose a risk to seafarers. Finding and clearing these mines helps to secure sea lines of communication and improve freedom of navigation for all shipping.

SNMCMG2 MCM units are equipped with the most modern and sophisticated sonar systems, allowing them to localize and classify seabed objects to a depth of 200 metres. On board every warship of the Group there are remote operating vehicles with high-frequency SONARs and video cameras, which assist the crews in determining the identity of the localized object and destroying it.

In the words of Commander of SNMCMG2, Captain Fotios Paraskevas, Hellenic Navy: “This exercise has been the ideal arena for SNMCMG2 to carry out MCM operations in the coastlines of Corsica and Sardegna.

“Challenging seabed conditions added to the realism of the exercise. Moreover, we have proved our mine hunting skills by identifying exercise and historical ordnances in support of the community of seafarers and fisheries and safeguarding the freedom of navigation for real life as well as for exercise purposes. SNMCMG2 is always ready to alternate from fictitious to real-life operations.”

By the end of Exercises MARE APERTO, POLARIS and ITALIAN MINEX 24 the Command Staffs were better able to plan and conduct MCM operations in a multi-dimensional environment. The exercise also boosted the warships’ self-defence training against the asymmetric threat, it was reported.

SNMCMG2 participated in the exercises with the Hellenic flagship HS Heracles, the minehunters FS Capricorne (France), HS Evropi (Greece), ITS Chioggia (Italy), ESPS Segura (Spain), and TCG Amasra (Türkiye).

SNMCMG2 operates under Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM), headquartered in Northwood, NW London. MARCOM is the central command of all NATO maritime forces and the MARCOM commander is the primary maritime advisor to the Alliance.

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World Bank publishes Port Rankings for 2023 – poor showing by SA ports

Africa Ports & Ships

Regional Disruptions Drive Changes in Global Container Port Performance Ranking

Global maritime shifts impact container port performance; large Asian ports continue to excel

The newest global Container Port Performance Index (CPPI) reveals that East and Southeast Asian ports excelled in 2023, accounting for 13 of the top 20 places.

The four South African container ports continue to feature as among the worst performing in the world, with Cape Town registering right at the bottom of the lists, 405th out of 405.

Ngqura was ranked second from last at 404 position, Durban at 399 and Port Elizabeth at 391. Other regional rankings include Walvis Bay at 382 and Maputo at 317.

Developed by the World Bank and S&P Global Market Intelligence, the fourth edition of CPPI is based on the biggest dataset ever: more than 182,000 vessel calls, 238.2 million moves, and about 381 million twenty-foot equivalents (TEUs) for the full calendar year of 2023.

More than 80% of merchandise trade is transported by sea, so the resilience, efficiency, and overall performance of ports is crucial to global markets and economic development.

Regional disruptions impacted port performance everywhere, according to the new report.

“While the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath eased further in 2023, container shipping continues to be an unpredictable and volatile sector,” said Martin Humphreys, Lead Transport Economist at the World Bank.

“Major ports need to invest in resilience, new technology, and green infrastructure to ensure the stability of global markets and the sustainability of the shipping industry.”

There are 57 new ports in the CPPI 2023, including Muuga Harbour in Estonia and Port of Al Duqm in Oman, as well as several notable movers. One of the major Indian ports, Visakhapatnam Port, made it into the top 20. Despite its relatively low ranking, Dar es Salaam Port in Tanzania managed to shave ship arrival times by 57%.

“There is a greater awareness and focus on resilience and efficiency of maritime gateways and greater understanding of negative impact of port delays on economic development,” said Turloch Mooney, Head of Port Intelligence & Analytics at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

“The highly interconnected nature of container shipping means the negative effect of poor performance in a port can extend beyond that port’s hinterland and disrupt entire schedules. This increases the cost of imports and exports, reduces competitiveness and hinders economic growth and poverty reduction.”

Looking at the top-performing ports, China’s Yangshan Port earned the top spot for the second consecutive year, while Oman’s Port of Salalah retained the number two position. The port of Cartagena in Colombia ascended to 3rd place. Tanger-Mediterranean of Morocco, the top ranking African port, held steady in 4th, and Tanjung Pelepas Port in Malaysia rounded out the top 5.

The CPPI ranks 405 global container ports by efficiency, focusing on the duration of port stay for container vessels. Its primary aim is to identify areas for enhancement for the benefit of multiple stakeholders in the global trading system and supply chains, from ports to shipping lines, national governments, and consumers.

The full index can be found HERE.

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WHARF TALK: pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) – SAIC ANJI SINCERITY

The pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ that called at Cape Town for bunkers on 5 June 2024. Picture is by ‘Dockrat’

Pictures by ‘Dockrat’
Story by Jay Gates

As shipowners start to seriously address the carbon emissions issues, which are a part of the climate change arguments, so new less polluting fuels are being introduced onto vessels, albeit not en masse, but more drip fed. The two major new fuels are methanol, which is now entering service with Maersk Line, and LNG which is a bit more ahead in its use as a fuel.

The use of LNG as a fuel is mainly due to LNG tankers having a ready source of fuel, which is easily collected from the natural boiling off process, and diverted into the engines, instead of using traditional marine fuel oil (MFO), or marine gas oil (MGO). For that you need dual fuel engines, and if you are not an LNG tanker, then a series of ports with a readily available source of LNG is also a must.

Sadly, South African ports, and Transnet specifically, finds itself behind the drag curve as always, and a lack of both Methanol, and LNG, as available bunker fuels in our major ports means that the casual maritime observer is unlikely to see many, if any at all, of those specialised, ultra-modern, vessels that utilise either as a fuel source. That is, unless the ongoing Houthi idiocy delivers a diversion around the Cape sea route, that is dual fuelled and LNG enabled, but still needs to pop in for a bunker uplift of MFO or MGO.

On 5th June, at 08:00 in the morning, the pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ (IMO 9973377) arrived off Cape Town, from Xiamen in China. The arrival of a PCTC off Cape Town is an absolute rarity, as these tend to be utilising Port Elizabeth, East London or Durban, where major automobile manufacturers are located. Cape Town is almost never a port of call for these vessels. That is unless your reason for being here is due to your normal route via the Suez Canal being too risky, and so a diversion around the Cape is the only alternative.

SAIC Anji Sincerity. Cape Town, 5 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

She entered Cape Town harbour, and proceeded into the Duncan Dock, going alongside the Landing Wall, a sure sign that the call was almost certainly for a bunker uplift. Now ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ is not the first PCTC, or Ro-Ro vessel to call into Cape Town as the Houthi menace continues. However, she is certainly the first PCTC to call into Cape Town, and possibly into any South African port, which displays the words ‘LNG POWERED’ on her hull.

Whilst not the first Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) powered PCTC to enter service, ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ is proclaimed to be the largest LNG powered PCTC to have entered service worldwide. She entered service in January 2024, having been built by Jiangnan Shipyard at Shanghai in China, and she is 200 metres in length, with a gross registered tonnage of 74,871 tons.

She is powered by a dual fuel Winterthur WinGD 7X62DF-iCER seven cylinder, two stroke, main engine producing 22,389 bhp (16,695 kW), driving a fixed pitch propeller for a service speed of 18 knots. Her LNG fuel is carried in a C-Type bi-lobe, foam insulated, cylindrical tank with a capacity of 4,000 m3 of LNG, which meets the needs of a voyage of up to 19,000 nautical miles, at an economical speed, between China and Europe.

SAIC Anji Sincerity. Cape Town, 5 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The use of LNG as a marine fuel for ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’, as compared to a traditionally powered PCTC using a mixture of MGO and MFO, is that it results in a massive carbon reduction of 30% on a round trip between China and Europe. This is the mind boggling equivalent of reducing 1,300 tons of carbon emissions, or akin to the planting of 500,000 trees as a carbon offset.

Her additional machinery includes three dual fuel MAN 8L28/32DF generators providing 1,600 kW each. She has a single Saacke EME-VST-0.6/6 exhaust gas boiler, and a single Saacke FMB-VS-7.0/6 oil fired boiler. For added manoeuvrability ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ has a bow Kawasaki KT-255B3 transverse thruster providing 2,380 kW.

Designed by the Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute (SDARI), ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ has a vehicle carrying capacity of 7,600 CEU (Car Equivalent Unit). These can be carried on a total of thirteen decks, with four of them being hoistable. She is able to carry motor cars, trucks, buses, heavy plant, and commercial project vehicles, such as mobile cranes. Her onboard firefighting equipment features specifically designed systems that allow for the transport of electric, battery powered, vehicles.

SAIC Anji Sincerity. Cape Town, 5 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

The first built of two sisterships, ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ is owned by SAIC Anji Logistics Co. Ltd., of Shanghai, and is operated by Anji Shipping (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., of Hong Long. She is managed by Wallem Shipmanagement Ltd. of Hong Kong. Anji Logistics is a subsidiary of the SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd., and boasts the largest self-operated fleet of PCTC vessels, amongst the all of the automotive manufacturing companies in China. The main distribution routes are to South East Asia, Mexico, West Coast of South America, Australasia, and Europe.

The owners of ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ were founded in 1955, where SAIC is an acronym for Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation, and who are the largest of the big five Chinese state owned automotive manufacturers. Not well known is the fact that SAIC are the owners of the famous MG marque of car, which they purchased in 2007, and moved manufacturing of MG to China, where in 2023 it was the top selling Chinese brand for international sales, for the fifth year in a row.

The new electric MG4 model accounted for 24% of SAIC sales in 2023, and which was also the best-selling compact electric vehicle in Europe. MG brand global sales in 2023 were 840,000 vehicles. This year, 2024, will be the centenary year of the founding of MG at the Morris Garage in Oxford in 1924.

SAIC Anji Sincerity. Cape Town, 5 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

For the past eight years SAIC have been the leading automotive manufacturer, where vehicle export sales in 2023 passed the 1.21 million mark, which was an 18.8% increase on the previous year. This propelled China into overtaking Japan in claiming to be the number one country in the export of motor vehicles. Total SAIC sales, which include domestic sales within China, were 5.02 million vehicles, giving them top place of all Chinese motor manufacturing companies.

On the maiden voyage of ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ on 17th January she carried SAIC’s MG and Maxus range of cars, plus Dongfeng and Yutong vehicles. They were discharged at the ports of Cuxhaven and Bremerhaven in Germany, and in the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium. Her loading ports in China were Shanghai, Tianjin, Lianyungang, and Xiamen, which are the same as those on this, her second voyage.

SAIC Anji Sincerity. Cape Town, 5 June 2024. Picture by ‘Dockrat’

After a short 10 hours alongside in Cape Town, sufficient time to uplift standard marine bunkers, provided by the Cape Town harbour bunker barge ‘Southern Valour’, plus any spares and fresh provisions required, ‘SAIC Anji Sincerity’ was ready to sail from Cape Town. At 18:00 in the evening of 5th June, she departed Cape Town, bound not for Germany, or Belgium, but for the Royal Portbury Dock, near Bristol, in the United Kingdom.

The Bristol dock system is located at the mouth of the River Avon, up the River Severn Estuary, and boasts two ports on either side of the river mouth. The northerly dock is the Avonmouth Dock, and the southerly dock is the Royal Portbury Dock, which was opened in 1977, and is located at 51°29’ North 002°43’ West. The Royal Portbury Dock is a major import, and export, dock for motor vehicles and can berth up to six PCTC vessels simultaneously.

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Port News & Shipping Advisories

Durban Container Terminal, North Quay. Picture: Transnet

Africa Ports & Ships

MSC Lorena – Cape Town double call cancelled

MSC has confirmed they will cancel the first Cape Town call for imports on the MSC Lorena. The vessel will maintain calling Durban first.

Revised schedule is:
15 June – Durban
18 June – Port Elizabeth
21 June – Cape Town

MV Filotimo on AMEX service – Port Elizabeth omission

Maersk advises MV Filotimo will omit Port Elizabeth due to berthing congestion and will proceed directly to Durban.

There are no imports onboard, therefore no impact.

All exports will be transferred to the next available vessel.

CMA CGM San Antonio terminal change

CMA CGM San Antonio on voyage 420S will discharge at Durban Point.

Maersk advises that because of current delays and equipment issues, the CS3 vessel CMA CGM San Antonio on voy. 420S will discharge cargo at Durban Point.

Loading will be maintained at the Durban Container Terminal.

Schedule is as follows:

Durban Point: discharging from 10 June 06:00 until 16 June 11:00.
Loading at Durban Container Terminal from 12:00 on 16 June until 17:00 on 18 June 2024.
ETD possibly +- one day earlier.

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Houthis keep up with their attacks on merchant and naval ships

Africa Ports & Ships

The Houthi militant group occupying much of the the more populated section of Yemen are continuing their attacks on merchant shipping moving in the areas of the lower Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea.

In addition the Houthis last week claimed to have attacked several ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and including the port of Haifa. There has been no confirmation of the latter.

On Friday, according to a Houthi televised statement, two vessels, the Maltese-flagged Elbella (IMO 9312640) and the Cyprus-flagged AAL Genoa (IMO 9393553) were reportedly attacked with drones and ballistic and naval missiles.

The spokesman did not disclose when these attacks took place but did say the two ships were in the Red Sea at the time.

In its statement on X (Twitter), the US CENTCOM said on Friday (7 June 2024) that within the previous 24 hours, “Iranian-backed Houthis launched four anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBM) from Houthi controlled areas of Yemen over the Red Sea. There were no injuries or damage reported by U.S., coalition, or commercial ships.”

US forces also destroyed one drone launched into the Bab al-Mandab Strait.

The report added that US Centcom forces destroyed four UASs (unmanned aircraft system or drones) and two ASBMs in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen, in addition to destroying a Houthi patrol boat in the Red Sea.

In a press statement dated Thursday 6 June, CENTCOM said it had destroyed eight UASs and two uncrewed surface vessels (USV) in the Red Sea.

On Wednesday (5 June) the Houthis targeted two Greek-owned merchant ships, a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier of 93,386-dwt named Roza (IMO 9197909) and the 29,084-dwt bulker named Vantage Dream (IMO 9616606), both headed towards the Suez Canal from Indian ports.

A third ship that was targeted by drones was the US-flagged container ship Maersk Skeletar (IMO 9315197) that sailed from the port of Salalah two days earlier.

The container ship was headed for the Omani port of Duqm and ironically, had sailed around South Africa to avoid having the cross the Red Sea.
It appears the Roza and Vantage Dream were in the Red Sea and Maersk Skeletar was in the Arabian Sea when the attempts were made.

None of the three ships were struck by either missile or drone.


Attempted pirate attack off Somalia

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) says an approach was made by a small boat on the Marshall island-flagged merchant vessel, Pacific Honor (9552317) sailing 355 nautical miles east of Mogadishu in Somalia.

On board the suspicious boat were six armed people, who approached within one and a half miles of the merchant ship before breaking off and moving away. Pacific Honor is Japanese-owned and was sailing from the UAE to Mombasa in Kenya where it is due on Monday, 10 June.

The area where the Pacific Honor was approached is near the position where another vessel, Basilisk, was boarded by pirates on 23 May 2024.

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Lobese reaches out to Chinese Navy

Vice Admiral Monde Lobese at the PLAN Naval Submarine Academy. Picture: defenceWeb

by defenceWeb

China, in the form of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), last month became the latest country to be ticked off by SA Navy (SAN) Chief, Vice Admiral Monde Lobese, in his ongoing efforts at building “mutually beneficial relations” with other navies.

Since taking over from Mosiwa Hlongwane in December 2022, strengthening existing relations and developing new ones has been a feature of his leadership, and this included a visit to the PLAN in China between 18 and 25 May.

South Africa’s senior sailor has visited and received visits from fleet representatives of Egypt, Nigeria, India, Brazil, Cuba, the United States (US) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), among others.

Contact of this type allows the SA Navy to benchmark, compare, and evaluate itself against other navies on a variety of maritime defence and mandate related issues, the SA Navy said. Ship maintenance and acquisition, technological developments, facilities and training programmes are regular agenda items. SAN Public Relations notes further Lobese “leverages these engagements” to explore feasible solutions and learn lessons, including “how they deal with many of the same well-documented difficulties that the SAN faces”.

The engagements are either in the form of reciprocal visits, joint exercises, sharing expertise, student exchange programmes and naval infrastructure capacity. Engagements are planned to expand, especially as regards “equipment, platforms and ships”. On ships, refitting and “spare parts supply” are highlighted.

While in China in May, Lobese and his delegation met the South African Ambassador to the PRC Dr Siyabonga Cwele; PRC Minister of Defence Admiral Dong Jun; PLAN Chief Admiral Hu Zhongming; North Sea Feet Political Commissar Vice Admiral Fu Yaoquan; Shanghai Naval Base Political Commissar, Rear Admiral Wang Yu; and Rear Admiral Liu, Naval Medical University Headmaster. The SAN delegation itinerary included calls on a number of PRC defence industry companies.

Jun said that although China and South Africa are separated by thousands of miles, they are like brothers, and under the guidance of their respective national leaders, “the China-South Africa Comprehensive Strategic Partnership has entered a golden age, providing opportunities and momentum to deepen mil-to-mil relations between the two sides.”

A positive outcome is a planned BRICS+ (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates) meeting in Egypt later this year. This, according to a SAN statement, is in line with China as strategic partner as well as “building bridges of friendship and collaboration” particularly with BRICS+ fleets.

Lobese’s visit to China was prompted by Zhongming’s September 2023 visit to South Africa. Lobese promised that the SA Navy would continue to strengthen relations with the People’s Liberation Army Navy and encouraged more reciprocal visits between the two navies. To this end, the Chinese frigate Xuchang visited South Africa from 16 to 19 May this year and will return between 10 and 12 June.

The vessel is part of the 46th Naval Escort Task Force that is currently protecting shipping in the Gulf of Oman, along with her task force members the Type 052D destroyer CNS Jiaozuo (DDG163), and the Type 903A Fleet Auxiliary CNS Honghu (AOE906).

To further strengthen cooperation with other navies, the Chief of the Navy plans to host a Sea Power Africa Symposium later this year, when world fleets will meet to share experiences on how to battle marine threats. Lobese He also intends to invite other worldwide navies to join in the scheduled Navy Festival 2024, which will take place later this year.

China’s military ties with South Africa go back decades, as China supported the African National Congress (ANC) in its fight against apartheid, with the first batch of six uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) fighters going to China for military training in November 1961. As a consequence of this support during the liberation era, South Africa recognised the People’s Republic of China in January 1998, ending formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

The first meeting of the China–South Africa defence committee, a forum created in 2000 with the Pretoria Declaration, was held in April 2003. Only a year later a formal agreement was signed allowing for the training of South African soldiers and a donation of electronic equipment to the South African National Defence Force, the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) reported.

In recent years South African-China defence co-operation increased notably. In June 2014, for example, three vessels comprising the 16th Escort Task Group of the Chinese PLA Navy visited Cape Town and subsequently numerous naval task groups stopped in the Cape. This culminated in the first multinational maritime exercise (Exercise Mosi) between China, Russia and South Africa in November 2019. The second edition of Mosi was held in early 2023.

Also in recent years, high-level PLA delegations have visited South Africa, with reciprocal visits by SANDF personnel to China, in line with China-South Africa Defence Committee meeting outcomes.

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

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Mauritius: Dry-dock operations: biofouling prevention

Picture: IMO ©

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

Mauritian government officials and other stakeholders have received training on dry-dock operations for biofouling prevention and management to help protect marine ecosystems. This was reported by the IMO media service on 1 June.

A pilot training course, held in Mauritius on 27 and 28 May, saw 50 participants work through a new IMO training package developed under the GloFouling Partnerships project, which addresses the transfer of harmful aquatic species through biofouling.


The course builds on the existing development of Biofouling Management Plans and Biofouling Management Record Books course, in line with the IMO Biofouling Guidelines and other relevant requirements.

This training was delivered in cooperation with the Mauritius Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping (Shipping Division) and included visits to two dry-docks in Port Louis, which allowed participants to gain a first-hand appreciation for the scale of work involved.

Partnership project

Mauritius is one of twelve Lead Partnership Countries (LPCs) of the Glofouling Partnerships project. The project is developing publications outlining biofouling management in dry-dock operations, and recommendations for the development and evaluation of Biofouling Management Plans and Biofouling Record Books, which will be published in due course at

Broad representation

Participants included government officials representing the maritime administration, environmental or biosecurity agencies and port state control, managers and employees of shipping companies, port and drydock operatives, paint manufacturers and academics from the Mauritius Oceanography Institute.

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In Conversation: South Africa’s largest oil refinery sold for a few cents: will BP and Shell be held accountable for environmental damage?

Africa Ports & Ships

Llewellyn Leonard, University of South Africa

The sale of the South African Petroleum Refinery (Sapref), jointly owned by multinational energy companies BP and Shell, to the state-owned Central Energy Fund for R1 (five US cents) raises questions about whether the company is evading its social and environmental liabilities.

The Sapref refinery was commissioned (began operating) in 1964 in the port city of Durban. It contributed 35% of South Africa’s refinery capacity and refined 180,000 barrels of imported crude oil per day. It was South Africa’s biggest refinery, until it was temporarily closed in 2022 after floods damaged the plant. It never reopened.

It was built in the midst of several communities with a population today of approximately 285,000. For decades, it was at loggerheads with these communities over pollution, including oil pipeline leaks.

Selling the refinery to the South African government, instead of decommissioning it, suggests that Sapref will not be held accountable for historical environmental liabilities and social injustices. Decommissioning the refinery would have meant that Sapref was liable for the costs of restoring the site to its original state. Public money may have to be used to clean up and remediate the Sapref site in future. The sale price does not, of course, cover any of these costs.

The sale included land and assets like tanks and pipelines.

I am an environmental scientist who has researched the governance of industrial risk and pollution in South Durban, the location of the refinery. I believe that Sapref should have decommissioned its refinery properly in consultation with local communities.

What went wrong at the Sapref refinery

In March 2022, Sapref closed after severe floods washed hydrocarbons, the primary compound of petrol, out of the refinery and onto a nearby beach.

Sapref said the flood damage would take five years to repair. It said this would need large amounts of capital, without disclosing exactly how much money would be required.

The shutdown came after decades of pollution incidents and accidents by Sapref. The refinery is connected to underground pipelines which run through South Durban residential areas. In 2001, a Sapref petrol pipeline leaked over one million litres of petrol into the environment, groundwater and soil beneath residents’ houses. This leak led to the temporary relocation of seven families.

Other accidents and incidents included a fire and a spill of 1,000 litres of petrol into Durban Bay. A malfunction released five tonnes of hydrogen fluoride into the atmosphere. This is a poisonous chemical that could damage people’s lungs and hearts and even cause death.

In 2002, after fresh oil pipeline leaks, Sapref had to agree to demands from the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance for an independent review of the condition of the pipelines.

Sapref is among other industries in South Durban that have been linked to health problems in the surrounding communities. The asthma rates in South Durban are among the highest in South Africa and leukaemia is up to 24 times higher than the national average.

In 2017, the provincial government declared the area a pollution hot-spot in its Environment Outlook Report. Between 2010 and 2020, 61 serious pollution incidents and accidents in the area were documented, of which 48 emanated from Sapref and the rest from the neighbouring Engen refinery.

The law on decommissioning oil refineries

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act does not provide guidelines and directives on the issuance of closure certificates for refineries as it does for mining. But the National Environmental Management Act says in Section 28 that any person who has caused significant pollution or degradation of the environment has a duty to rectify it.

Both the South African constitution and the National Environment Act emphasise that environmental governance includes addressing community concerns about environmental risks and hazards, being transparent and managing environmental risks effectively.

New ownership is a risk to the Central Energy Fund

The mandate of the Central Energy Fund is to make sure that South Africa has a secure supply of energy. It can do this through exploration for energy sources and acquiring energy suppliers. But the 2022 flood damage to the Sapref refinery has not been repaired and the refinery is not in running condition. If the government’s Central Energy Fund restarts the refinery, it will cost large sums of public money to repair first.

The South African National Energy Association, whose members are energy company directors, government specialists and academics, provides guidance on energy matters. It also warned two years ago that the government should not buy the ageing refinery. The high costs needed to operate it, and the transition away from fossil fuels, outweighed the benefit of owning it and the refinery could be a burden on taxpayers within 10 years. The purchase would leave the government owning “a stranded asset”, the association’s director said.

My research has found that the government has neither the ability nor the technical skills to clean up industrial pollution. The close alliance between government and industry to promote economic development has overshadowed social and environmental protection. Thus, there is a history of weak and inadequate enforcement in South Durban, including a lack of political will to deal with industrial risks.

The Central Energy Fund might end up bearing the cleanup costs for the refinery’s past environmental damage while the industry escapes responsibility. A full environmental assessment still needs to be done to establish how much any cleanup would cost.

Next steps

Decommissioning oil refineries is an integral part of any country’s just energy transition and move towards green jobs. The Sapref refinery has already been sold, and there is no transparency about whether it will begin operating again, or be decommissioned. In my view, BP and Shell should still take responsibility for properly decommissioning the facility and rehabilitating the site. This would demonstrate good corporate social responsibility, goodwill to the surrounding communities, and accountability.The Conversation

Llewellyn Leonard, Professor Environmental Science, University of South Africa

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

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Cameroon: Boosting seafarer training and certification skills

Picture: IMO ©

Edited by Paul Ridgway
Africa Ports & Ships

It was reported by the IMO news service at the end of May that maritime officials in Cameroon have strengthened their knowledge and skills in administering the training, assessment and certification of seafarers, following a national training course delivered by IMO in Yaoundé from 27 to 31 May.

Implementing the STCW Convention

The training focused on the effective implementation of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention), 1978, as amended.

The STCW Convention outlines global regulations that govern the training, certification and watchkeeping standards of seafarers worldwide.

Giving full effect of the Convention

The course covered relevant chapters, regulations and articles of the STCW Convention and Code to enhance the ability of countries to implement the provisions and give complete and full effect to the Convention.

A key aspect involved the sharing of knowledge and experience in administering, supervising and monitoring the training, assessment and certification of seafarers, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the STCW Convention and Code.

Thirty-one officials involved in the effective implementation of the STCW Convention requirements in Cameroon, drawn from government and private stakeholder institutions, benefitted from the training. This included six women, supporting IMO efforts to improve gender balance in the maritime sector.

IMO’s technical cooperation programme (ITCP)

The training was delivered through IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) with the collaboration of the Cameroonian Ministry of Transports. It is based on the findings of a needs assessment mission implemented in April 2023.

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Mozambique’s Coral Sul exports 58 LNG shipments since November 2022

The FLNG Coral Sul with a LNG tanker coming alongside to load cargo. Picture: courtesy Eni

Africa Ports & Ships

The floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) vessel, Coral Sul, situated in Area 4 of the Rovuma Basin off northern Mozambique is reported to have generated 58 shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export since the start of commercial operations in November, 2022.

Coral Sul is owned and operated by a consortium headed by Italy’s Eni.

The FLNG is situated approximately 80 kilometres off the coast of Cabo Delgado province, roughly opposite the Bay of Palma and in 2,000 metres of water. As an operating FLNG, Coral Sul (which in English means Coral South) is able to discharge her production of LNG without any need for moving to a port. Tankers simply come alongside while the floating factory continues in production.

As such the FLNG has been able to avoid all the conflict that took place in March 2021 and subsequently across northern Cabo Delgado province, including the temporary capture by Islamist terrorists of Palma and a similar small port at Mocimboa da Praia a little further south.

The insurgency that emerged in October 2017 and which escalated in 2021, has so far prevented any further development of the TotalEnergies’ landbased liquefaction plant on the coast near Palma.

There is still no indication when the TotalEnergies plant will resume development.

Meanwhile, in the current year Coral Sul has provided 18 LNG shipments with the FLNG remaining in full production.

Coral Sul has the capacity to produce 3.3 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas per year. Area 4 is estimated to hold around 450 million cubic metres of gas in place.

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World Ocean Day 2024: Environmental concerns prompting nearly half of consumers to switch diets

World Shipping Day 2024

Africa Ports & Ships

Growing concern for state of the ocean

Nearly half of shoppers who are changing what they eat are doing so because of concerns about the environment according to a new global survey by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), released ahead of the UN’s World Oceans Day on Saturday (8 June).

Consumers are more conscious than ever about how their food choices impact the planet.

Researchers surveyed over 27,000 people across 23 countries, including South Africa, and asked them if their diets were changing. Of the more than 22,000 people who said yes, 43% of them said it was down to environmental reasons, alongside health and price.

From a global snapshot, the biggest change was in red meat, like beef and lamb, with 39% of all shoppers surveyed cutting their consumption over the past two years. 37% said they were eating more vegetables and 11% said they were eating more fish. Looking forward, 27% of respondents said they would eat more seafood in future if they knew it wasn’t causing harm to the ocean.

Locally, anxiety about the state of the world’s oceans among seafood consumers is on the rise, with 93% of South Africans saying they were worried, up from 89% two years ago. Optimism about the possibility of saving the ocean from irreversible harm has dropped significantly.

Just 50% of South African seafood consumers said they believe in 20 years-time we will have saved the oceans from irreparable damage from humans, down from 61% two years ago.

Top of local consumers’ environmental concerns was climate change (55% put this in their top three), but other major issues were pollution in rivers and streams (53%), extreme weather events (41%) and the health of the ocean (35%).

Despite the often gloomy outlook, greater awareness of conservation and recent record-breaking weather events, can also be motivating, with 64% saying they feel an increased desire to protect the marine environment.

In terms of possible solutions, the survey showed the South African public has a good understanding of the role of sustainable fishing: 59% of seafood consumers said they associated it with ensuring that endangered or vulnerable species are better protected. In addition, 60% of respondents recognised that it includes maintaining healthy, thriving fish populations, both of which are key components of the MSC Fisheries Standard.

Michael Marriott, MSC Program Director for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia said: “The results of the survey show a growing public concern about the state of our ocean.

“Protecting it, and the diversity of life within it is vital for the health of the planet. We need to redouble our collective efforts to tackle overfishing and the enormous threat it poses,” he said.

“Incentivising positive change, through recognising and rewarding sustainable fishers is vital for progress. By ensuring fishing practises are sustainable we can guarantee more life in the ocean as well as protecting a valuable food resource for this, and future generations.”

The findings of the research, commissioned by the MSC and carried out by GlobeScan, a global insight and advisory consultancy, are being released ahead of World Oceans Day, designated 8 June by the United Nations in 2008 to raise awareness of the impact of human actions on the ocean, and to bring people together to improve the sustainable management of the world’s oceans.

Caroline Holme, Executive Director at GlobeScan, said: “These results mirror our broader findings in our annual healthy and sustainable living study and the public’s perception of the challenges that the world faces. Even amid a cost-of-living crisis, environmental issues are of major concern to consumers.”

MSC certified fisheries have made more than 400 fishing practice improvements in the last three years, including to protect endangered marine species and vulnerable habitats. Fishers certified to MSC’s global, science-based fisheries standard, are required to manage fish stocks sustainably and minimize impacts on the wider marine environment.

The ocean covers over 70% of the planet and produces at least 50% of the planet’s oxygen. It is home to most of earth’s biodiversity and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world.

Added 7 June 2024


Did you know? 5 ways sustainable fishing gives us more on World Oceans Day

Africa Ports & Ships

Did You Know?

This week we celebrate our shared Ocean. But our ocean is under pressure. Over a third of global fish stocks are overfished. World Ocean Day is our moment to show how sustainable fishing contributes to protecting our ocean.

1.] More life in the ocean

Patagonian toothfish, Icelandic cod and Cantabrian anchovy have all seen stocks rebound in recent years and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced that four commercial tuna species were recovering as a result of governments enforcing more sustainable fishing quotas and successfully combatting illegal fishing. MSC certified fisheries have made more than 400 fishing practice improvements in the last three years.

2.] More choice

There are more than 20,000 MSC labelled products available in more than 100 countries – something for every taste and budget. The blue MSC label can be found on a wide range of products from supermarket fish fingers and McDonalds Filet-o-Fish to fresh scallops and luxury sushi.

3.] More fish on the plate

It is estimated that 16 million tonnes more in catch could be generated every year if all wild-capture fisheries used sustainable practices. The MSC’s own analysis suggests that this would meet the protein needs of 72 million more people around the world every year.

4.] More discovery

The MSC has awarded over $5million (£4million) to projects that help us understand and improve what’s going on under the surface of the ocean. From reducing the bycatch of turtles in the waters of Reunion, to aiding the recovery of Mexican red urchins after overfishing, the Ocean Stewardship Fund provides grants for fishery improvements and funds important research into bycatch reduction, protecting marine habitats, and the effects of climate change. MSC commits 5% of annual royalties from certified product sales to the fund and combines these with third-party donations.

5.] More for local economies

Fishing sustainably ensures the future of stocks so that the practice can remain a viable livelihood for millions of people. Almost 38 million people are employed in fisheries worldwide, according to the UN FAO’s latest data from 2020. Seafood accounts for more than US $151 billion in international trade per year.

Together, we can spread the word and help people understand how much more sustainable fishing means. Learn more: World Ocean Day 2024 | Marine Stewardship Council ( The Marine Stewardship Council is an international non-profit organisation which sets globally recognised, science-based standards for sustainable fishing and seafood traceability. The MSC ecolabel and certification program recognises and rewards sustainable fishing practices and is helping create a more sustainable seafood market. It is the only wild-capture fisheries certification and ecolabelling program that meets best practice requirements set by both the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) and ISEAL, the global membership association for sustainability standards. For more information visit

Added 7 June 2024




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QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman

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

PORT April 2023 million tonnes
Richards Bay 7.377
Durban 4.884
Saldanha Bay 4.292
Cape Town 0.984
Port Elizabeth 0.782
Ngqura 1.058
Mossel Bay 0.984
East London 0.165
Total all ports during April 2023 19.574 million tonnes