Ports & Ships Maritime News

Aug 10, 2008
Author: P&S







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THIS WEEK’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • Transnet opens new Freight Rail communications centre


  • Kenya Ports Authority head replaced over inefficiency


  • Repairs to Beluga Foundation completed in record time


  • US Navy ship stops pirate attack


  • UN hails Canada's decision to provide escorts for food ships


  • No protection available for UN ships


  • Mozambique takes back Nacala railway and port


  • Neptune Orient Line still a favourite to buy Hapag Lloyd


  • Evergreen pulls away from mega container ships


  • Marine Bulk Carriers adds to fleet


  • Rift Valley Railway MD replaced in reshuffle


  • Sunken ship blocks Walvis Bay syncrolift


  • Another busy week for NSRI


  • Nigeria calls for ENL’s Apapa license to be revoked


  • Original Richards Bay ship unloader is phased out


  • Sea Consortium appoints new Dar es Salaam agent


  • MSC Los Angeles will become largest container ship in regular South African service


  • Pic of the day – FAIRMOUNT EXPEDITION & SEDCO 702





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    Transnet opens new Freight Rail communications centre

    Transnet Freight Rail’s new rail freight centre, said to be ‘state of the art’ has been unveiled by Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin.

    Situated in Johannesburg the centre brings together all operational and maintenance division heads in one place and provides a platform for immediately assessment of technical problems including power failures or cable theft stoppages.

    The centre maintains contact with all trains in real time, allowing TFR to react immediately in the event of a problem rather than having to wait for a report to come in and then the decision maker located and consulted.

    According to Transnet chief executive Maria Ramos, TFR is now poised to deliver improved service to clients.



    Kenya Ports Authority head replaced over inefficiency


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    view across the congested Mombasa Container Terminal


    Abdallah Mwaruwa, managing director of Kenya Ports Authority has been dismissed from his post as a result of mounting congestion in the port of Mombasa.

    The reshuffle which saw Mwaruwa replaced by KPA’s former finance manager, James Mulewa was unexpected and sudden, catching most port users by surprise. The news was first announced by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation which said other section heads would also be reshuffled in the shakeup.

    Among the positions affected is that of Harbour Master, where Capt Twalib Khamis reverts to harbour master in charge of marine operations and Joseph Atonga, previously the technical services manager, becomes port operations manager.

    The reshuffle came only days after Mwaruwa announced a number of measures to help relieve congestion particularly at the Mombasa Container Terminal. These included a temporary ban on transhipment containers and a further restriction on landing empty containers from 200 to 100 boxes. The port recently introduced its new KWATOS cargo handling system which has had to be temporarily suspended in the face of mounting criticism from workers and a slowing down of operations.

    It also follows a general reshuffle in other areas of public transport in Kenya, including the replacement of the managing director of Rift Valley Railway, Roy Puffett.

    *see related article on Rift Valley Railway below…



    Repairs to Beluga Foundation completed in record time

    The project cargo vessel BELUGA FOUNDATION has completed repairs at Walvis Bay and is proceeding to Richards Bay where the German ship is due tomorrow (11 August).

    Earlier the vessel had engine failure off Luanda requiring a tug to be despatched from Cape Town to tow the vessel south. The original intention was for the ship to be towed to Cape Town for repair but in the event she called instead at Walvis Bay where repairs were successfully carried out in just four days, taking much less time than was originally expected.

    Beluga Foundation is carrying a cargo that includes a large number of items for a South Africa mining operation. The cargo consists of generators that are being provided by railway, marine, aviation and stationary power supply company Sheltam Grindrod that will be used to provide 10 Megawatts of OEM electric power to one of its clients, believed to be a mining operation.

    The generators and other equipment will be unloaded at Richards Bay and taken to the client using 17 separate lorry loads.



    US Navy ship stops pirate attack

    The US Navy ship USS Peleliu (LHA 5) successfully prevented a pirate attack on a civilian ship approximately 80 miles north of Somalia.

    The US ship responded to calls for assistance from the cargo ship GEM OF KILAKARAI on 8 August. The vessel reported it was under attack from pirates in two speedboats and armed with weapons including rifle grenade launchers.

    USS Peleliu was only ten miles away when the distress signal was received and was able to respond quickly by altering her course while launching three helicopters that flew to the scene.

    On arrival the pirate speed boats broke off the engagement and fled the scene.

    A subsequent inspection revealed that at least one grenade had been launched at the ship, lodging in its bridgeworks where it failed to explode.

    The Gem of Kilakarai was sailing for the Suez Canal at the time.

    Peleliu is the flag ship of the Peleliu Strike Group which is currently deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of operations.



    UN hails Canada's decision to provide escorts for food ships

    UN News Service (New York) - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed Canada's decision to deploy a frigate to Somalia to protect the agency's food ships against pirates, who have launched over two dozen attacks so far this year off the East African country's coast.

    "WFP is grateful for Canada's leadership in protecting our maritime lifeline from piracy - this is a critical moment when more food is needed for a growing number of hungry," said WFP Country Director Peter Goossens.

    Some 90 per cent of WFP food aid for Somalia arrives by sea. Since a naval escort system began last November, no escorted ships carrying WFP food have been attacked. The last escorted ship loaded with WFP food arrived in Mogadishu in late June.

    There were a total of 31 incidents off Somalia in 2007 - the worst year on record for Somali piracy. Without escorts, WFP's whole maritime supply route is under threat, according to the agency, which noted that since the escorts ended in late June some shippers have refused to load WFP food for Somalia.

    WFP urgently needs to double the amount of food it delivers to Somalia - which is facing a dire humanitarian crisis owing to drought, insecurity, failed harvests, the weakness of the Somali shilling and rising food and fuel prices - through the coming months so it can feed 2.4 million people by December.

    Canada is the third largest donor to WFP's operations in Somalia, as well as worldwide. It stepped forward after WFP made a strong appeal in July for naval escorts, which have proved to be an effective deterrent against pirates. Previously, frigates from France, Denmark and the Netherlands have provided escorts for WFP ships.

    The agency said that it hoped other governments would step forward to take over from Canada once it completes its mission in a few weeks.



    No protection available to commercial shipping in Gulf of Aden

    The Gulf of Aden has become one of the world’s most worrying trouble spots owing to the frequency of pirate attacks which has seen more than 30 vessels attacked this year alone. Yet according to the British publication Sea Sentinel there is little or no protection available.

    In a rare incident the US Navy ship USS Peleliu was able to chase away pirates in two speedboats that were engaging with a commercial ship, the KIlakarai. At least one grenade was launched at the civilian ship, lodging in the bridgeworks but not exploding.

    The reason why this attack was thwarted was the speed with which the US ship was able to respond by flying off its helicopters and making for the scene, which was a mere ten miles away.

    The Coalition Task Force (CTF) 150 consisting of a number of coalition naval ships operates in the area but has a vast area to patrol. According to the US Navy spokesman in one attack last month involving the Japanese bulk carrier STELLA MARIS the Somali-based pirates were able to capture the ship because the nearest coalition ship was 60 miles away, which he described as being too far.

    But according to the Sea Sentinel report a BIMCO spokesman said the problem was that naval forces were out of touch with the civilian shipping industry.

    “There is a significant lack of understanding within the naval communities of the world of merchant shipping, its modern needs and concerns and above all its role in the maintenance of global world commerce which has often been based on an inaccurate understanding of the scale of the dangers involved, both economic and environmental.”

    He added there was a need for the proper monitoring and tracking of ships sailing in defined and specific sea lanes. He called for more naval commitment from national governments, saying “given the current situation and threat to strategically commercial shipping lanes this should not be a complex decision making process.”

    In another report the commander of CTF 150, Commander Bob Davidson called for the arming of merchant ships to deter pirate attacks, saying there was a need for an element of self-help.

    But a spokesman for the International Transport Federation said Commander Davidson’s remarks were “unacceptable” and Captain Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau which monitors piracy activity said the Somali coast was no place for gun battles between merchant ships and pirates.



    Mozambique takes back Nacala railway and port


    CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE


    Mozambique has bought out the foreign partners in the Northern Development Corridor (CDN), the privatised consortium that manages the northern port of Nacala and the railway to the Malawi border.

    “CDN will be 100 percent Mozambican, since the foreign partners are finalising their withdrawal,” said Fernando Couto, CDN’s director.

    The two foreign partners in the CDN consortium were US companies Edlows Resources and the American Railroad Corporation.

    “We are in the final stages of completing the transaction, however we are not putting out a press release until the deal has closed, per agreement with INSITEC, but an “Out of Africa…for now!” press release will be forthcoming,” Henry Posner III, chairman of the American Railroad Corporation told Ports & Ships.

    “We are selling our interests at a profit, reflecting acknowledgement by a third party investor that there has been significant value created. While the government has expressed disappointment with a number of aspects of the concession, each such “disappointment” was agreed to under the terms of the concession.

    “It is our intention to redeploy the profit generated by this transaction elsewhere in Africa.”

    According to Couto the American companies sold their shares in CDN to the Mozambique group called INSITEC, which is closely linked to the Commercial and Investment Bank (BCI), Mozambique’s second largest commercial bank.

    It is being reported that the new investors have given an undertaking of funding CDN’s developmental projects.

    Much of the criticism surrounding the performance of CDN has sprung from a perceived lack of investment by the American investors. The physical condition of the railway also led to concern with a number of delays reported. Another complaint revolved around the closure of railway stations along the line to Malawi and on the branch. The Mozambique government on several occasions threatened to cancel the 15-year concession held by CDN.


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    The Nacala northern corridor railway which has been sold to Mozambique interests



    Neptune Orient Line still a favourite to buy Hapag Lloyd

    Neptune Orient Line (NOL) remains a favourite to acquire the assets of the German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd despite reports that a Hamburg consortium has been put together to ensure the line remains in German hands.

    NOL confirmed last week it has been invited to the next stage of the bidding process. This was after NOL provided a non-binding bid for the line on 21 July.

    “Any agreement would be subject to due diligence, submission and acceptance of NOL's final bid, regulatory approvals and NOL shareholders’ approvals. If successful, NOL would integrate its APL container shipping business with Hapag-Lloyd, which would create the world's third-largest container carrier,” said NOL in a statement.

    “While the process is underway, NOL will be bound by strict confidentiality undertakings, which legally restricts the company's ability to share information. NOL is committed to keeping stakeholders informed of important developments,” NOL said.

    NOL is owned by Temasek, a state-owned Singapore shipping and logistics company.

    Reports suggest that a Hamburg-based consortium that involves the city-state may have made the highest bid for Hapag-Lloyd but due to the confidentially clause this cannot be verified or confirmed.



    Evergreen pulls away from mega container ships


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Evergreen’s EVER GIVEN (37,023-gt and 2,922-TEU) in Cape Town harbour in March 2007. Picture Ian Shiffman


    Taiwan shipping line Evergreen says it has cancelled an order placed with the Niki Group for eight 12,500-TEU very large container ships (VLCS).

    The company has replaced the container ships with an order for tankers thus using the construction slot and says it will concentrate on mid-size ships in its container fleet for at least the time being.

    According to Evergreen chief executive Chang Yung-fa ships of 7,000-TEU size are expected to dominate in the next few years. There is speculation that the Taiwanese operator also believes that surplus VLCS and ULCS vessels will come available on the market in the near future and that Evergreen may seek then to purchase or charter.

    Evergreen’s order book for container ship now reads a single 4,298-TEU vessel named ITAL MODERNA, which is due for delivery in October.



    Marine Bulk Carriers adds to fleet


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    Capt Fred Petersen, master of the SHINING STAR


    Cape Town based BEE shipping company, Marine Bulk Carriers, has extended the bulk carrier fleet under its management by two new vessels to further increase opportunities for South African mineral exporters.

    Marine Bulk Carriers also recently announced that it had concluded two new anchor-handling contracts with PetroSA. This deal involves the provision of two powerful tugs to provide assistance to the oilrig Pride South Seas in the oilfields along South Africa’s Southern Coast.

    MBC has now also reached agreement with Japanese shipping company Sanko to take over the commercial management of the SHINING STAR, a 172.000 ton bulk carrier working mainly in the iron ore trade. The ‘Shining Star’ loaded her first cargo under the new agreements in Saldanha Bay last week.

    The second of the two new vessels under MBC management is the 82,000 ton BILLION TRADER 1, a Kamsarmax bulk carrier which was immediately placed on a long term charter.

    “Sanko’s decision to place the Shining Star with MBC is further evidence of the Japanese company’s commitment to the development of MBC’s business in the bulk shipping business,” says Jan Rabie, Director of MBC. Sanko has a 20 percent share in MBC following a deal concluded in 2005 between Sanko and the Cape Town based company.

    “While the world shipping markets recently experienced an all time peak driven by the commodity boom and imports to China, MBC has been able to establish itself as an operator in the bulk business. These latest moves, including the acquisition of 20 percent of MBC and MCS by African Renaissance Holdings Limited, a blue chip BEE investment company, will boost our capital base for further expansion. MBC is looking for investment opportunities in the bulk and off-shore sectors and has come a long way since its establishment three years ago.”

    “The Shining Star is perfectly suited for exports through Saldanha Bay, but coal out of Richard’s Bay will also continue to play an important part in our business,” says Rabie. “MBC has become a leading South African based operator in the exports of iron ore and coal from South Africa. We have demonstrated our ability to perform in the international bulk market to the advantage of South African brokers who have been affected by the exodus of bulk shipping companies from South Africa.

    “The addition of these two vessels, as well as the new anchor handling supply vessels, has brought the number of vessels under charter and commercial management by MBC to eight,” he said.

    Last year MBC extended its relationship with Sanko Steamship Company of Japan to take over the commercial management of the 161,000 ton Cape size vessel SANKO OASIS.

    “At that stage we already managed the 150,000 ton SANKO SPARK and the addition of the second vessel underlined Sanko’s commitment to our business.”

    Mr Rabie says MBC has also independently chartered two Panamax size vessels, the ELINAKOS of 73,780 tons for a period of two years and the GOLDEN KIJI for one year in order to give it more options for extending its business in the bulk shipping market.

    The Shining Star’s first cargo of iron ore under the new agreement will be delivered to Rotterdam on the Dutch coast for the Austrian company, Voest Alpine. From Rotterdam the cargo will be following an interesting route by barge along the canals and waterways of Western Europe to its final destination in Linz in Northern Austria.
    The two anchor handling tugs, the 12,600 horse-power EEMS, and the 10,880 horse-power OCEAN SUPPORTER have already started their contracts with PetroSA. The Eems has been chartered by MBC from Femco Management (Ltd), a company based on the Russian east coast island of Sachalin, north of Japan, while the Ocean Supporter was deployed in South African waters in a charter arrangement with the Norwegian company Oceanlink.


    The US-owned semi-submersible oil rig PRIDE SOUTH SEAS which was towed out from Cape Town harbour in February by the anchor handling tug EEMS, after having undergone repair and maintenance lasting some months. Picture by Aad Noorland



    Rift Valley Railway MD replaced

    In a surprise development the head of Rift Valley Railway, Roy Puffett of South Africa’s Sheltam Rail has been replaced as MD.

    The move is being interpreted as a move towards defusing some of the criticism directed towards Rift Valley Railway in recent months concerning performance levels.

    RVR has come under an intense campaign of criticism concerning performance levels, which was made worse following the political upheaval in parts of Kenya earlier in 2008 which further disrupted rail operations.

    In his place as managing director the board has appointed Australian Kevin Whiteway, with Brown Ondego, a former head of Kenya Ports Authority appointed as executive chairman, a new position.

    The latter appointment is thought to have political motivations.

    “The creation of an executive chairman slot and the subsequent appointment is geared at ensuring that we continue to enhance our management capacity to facilitate a speedy turnaround of the Kenya-Uganda Railways,” said Ngugi Kiuna, RVR director and steering committee chairman.

    Puffett said the move was a result of a reshuffle of top management by the parent company, Sheltam.

    Rift Valley Railway holds a 25-year concession to manage and operate the former colonial railways of Kenya and Uganda, which had fallen into a state of collapse since independence.

    The consortium behind RVR is headed by Sheltam of South Africa, Australian firm Babcock and Brown, Centrum and the TransCentury Group.




    Sunken ship blocks Walvis Bay syncrolift


    Ship repair work on Walvis Bay’s syncrolift has been delayed following the sinking of the fishing vessel Holmatindur, which capsized prior to undergoing its annual drydocking at the Namibian port.

    At least five vessels booked on the facility have been affected, reports the newspaper New Era.

    The cause of the accident has not been disclosed. Holmatindur is owned by a Luderitz fishing company, Sea Flower.

    The report suggests it may take three to four weeks to salvage the fishing vessel and regain full access to the syncrolift. The salvage operation has been awarded to Namib Marine Services and Elgin Brown & Hamer (Namdock).

    Initial efforts have been concentrated on removing 20,000 litres of fuel on board the sunken vessel.

    The syncrolift lifts approximately 400 vessels a year on average.



    Another busy week for NSRI

    A number of incidents requiring the services of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) have been reported.

    In Cape Town police, the NSRI and other rescue services responded to a report that a man, believed to be a Tanzanian, had jumped off a ship berthed in the harbour. He was found floating in the water holding on to a life-buoy thrown to him by one of the ship’s crew. The man, thought to be a stowaway had been discovered hiding on the ship but after being confronted he allegedly threw himself overboard. According to crew of the ship a second man was also discovered on board the vessel.


    Port Elizabeth NSRI responded to a call to assist the 10.5m yacht Addis Cape with a lone sailor on board which reported being low on diesel fuel and experiencing problems in heavy seas. The yacht had taken part in the annual Vasco da Gama yacht race between Maputo and Durban where it came in second, and was returning to the Royal Cape Yacht Club when it encountered adverse weather off Port Elizabeth including 36 knot winds and 3 to 5 metre swells.

    NSRI crew went out to the yacht and rendezvoused 17 n.miles off the port and escorted and later towed the yacht into Port Elizabeth harbour.


    The Gordon’s Bay NSRI was activated to assist a ‘crayfish chucky boat’ Marlena with four crew on board which was experiencing engine trouble at Rocky Banks near the northern mouth of False Bay. On arrival the NSRI craft rigged a line onto the fishing boat and towed it into Gordon’s Bay harbour.


    At Melkbosstrand in Cape Town the NSRI was called out to assist following a report of a dog suspected of having been washed out to sea at Table View Beach in front of Doodles Restaurant.

    An NSRI volunteer responded directly to the scene to investigate while NSRI Melkbosstrand volunteers prepared to launch their rescue craft. On arrival on-scene a Jet-Ski was observed at the dogs position behind the breaker line and it appeared that the Jet-Skier was coaxing the dog to turn around and swim to shore which the dog did and after some swimming the dog came up on the beach and seemed to reunite with its owners.

    The NSRI volunteer questioned the owners who confirmed that this was a regular swimming activity of their “short haired German Pointer”. All rescue resources were stood down.


    NSRI Hout Bay, NSRI Kommetjie, the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter and the Metro Ambulance and Rescue Services were activated by the National Ports Authority following a Mayday distress call from the 12 metre fishing trawler Tamara with 5 crew on-board reporting to have collided with a Southern Right Whale resulting in a 1 metre hole to the vessels bow and taking water fast off shore off Scarborough.’

    Two fishing trawlers from the same fleet, Penjamin and Hiram had gone to her assistance and Penjamin reported having the casualty craft under tow, while Hiram stood-by to assist the crew off the casualty boat if it became necessary, but they requested a water extrication pump to be delivered to them urgently as the casualty boat was rapidly filling with water.

    While NSRI Hout Bay and NSRI Kommetjie's rescue craft were launched the Metro Red Cross AMS helicopter responded to NSRI Hout Bay’s rescue base to fetch a water extrication pump which was loaded into the helicopter and taken out to the casualty craft and hoisted aboard the casualty craft.

    Once the pump had been delivered the crew of the casualty craft began pumping water out of their vessel and shortly thereafter the NSRI rescue craft arrived on-scene and NSRI volunteers were put aboard the casualty craft to assist the water extrication efforts and NSRI Hout Bays rescue craft MTU Nadine Gordimer took over the towline from Penjamin and assisted by NSRI Kommetjie's rescue craft Spirit of Winelands the casualty craft was safely moored in Hout Bay harbour.

    NSRI Kommetjie’s second rescue boat Wavescapes was dispatched to investigate the condition of the whale which was found to be swimming along appearing to be fine and appeared to not have sustained any injury.



    Nigeria calls for ENL’s Apapa license to be revoked

    Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Privatisation and Commercialisation has called on the Bureau for Public Enterprises to revoke the license for the Apapa Port Terminal C issued to ENL.

    According to the committee, an investigation following several petitions has revealed that the concession for the terminal ought to have been awarded to Messrs Michelle Ltd. It called the matter a “clear case of policy and position paper failure”.



    Original Richards Bay ship unloader is phased out

    One of Richards Bay landmarks in the port, a Demag ship grab unloader at the Dry Bulk Terminal, is about to be scrapped.

    The machine, used to discharge cargo from the holds of ships onto the quayside, was commissioned into service in 1981 and is now considered obsolete.

    The first priority is to move the unloader, one of the port’s original pieces of equipment, from berth 701, to another location nearby where it can be safely dismantled without causing disruption to ship working.

    According to a notification issued to port users no ships will be allowed alongside berths 609, 701 and 702 while the ship unloader is being slipped (moved) for the period between August 27 and 31.



    Sea Consortium appoints new Dar es Salaam agent

    Sea Consortium has appointed a new ships agent in Dar es Salaam with immediate effect. Forebridge Tanzania has taken over the agency from Inchcape Shipping Services.

    Sea Consortium says it has done its utmost to get Forebridge up to speed and individually briefed on all customer requirements.

    The main contact person at the agency is Mr. Benard Magessa.



    MSC Los Angeles will become largest container ship in regular South African service


    CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE
    The 5,000=TEU container ship MSC MESSINA under four cranes at Durban Container Terminal. Picture Trevor Jones


    Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) continues to acquire more ships, either at the builder’s yard or by leasing them, and in the process the Swiss/Italian line is steadily increasing its container carrying capacity with larger ships cascading down into various secondary services, including those to South Africa.

    Some recent additions to its fleet include the 5,700-TEU MSC Los Angeles, the 5,500-TEU MSC France and three sister ships to the Los Angeles, the former ER Amsterdam, ER Felixstowe and ER London which had previously been in service with Maersk Line.

    MSC Los Angeles and MSC France are both transferring to the Europe – South Africa service, with MSC Los Angeles due in Durban on 28 August when she will become the largest container ship in regular service to South Africa, while another ex-Maersk ship, the 4,000-TEU vessel MSC Toledo arrives this week.

    Other post Panamax container ships already in MSC service to South Africa include MSC Messina and MSC Catania (both 4,953-TEU).



    Pic of the day – FAIRMOUNT EXPEDITION & SEDCO 702

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice



    The anchor handling tug FAIRMOUNT EXPEDITION and oil rig Sedco 702 at Cape Town, February 2008. Picture Aad Noorland





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