Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 13, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson


















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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – AURORA

  • Cruise Indian Ocean Association launched in Durban

  • African regional growth overviews

  • AP Moller-Maersk Line publishes first quarter loss

  • Vessel Monitoring System for Nigerian fishing fleet

  • US says anti-piracy efforts along African coast shows some success

  • Pic of the day –GRAND MERCURY




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    First View – AURORA



    P&O’s cruise ship AURORA paid a visit to southern Africa during January this year, during which she called at Durban and while in port she took bunkers from Unical’s barge SOUTHERN VENTURE. Aurora is generally a bi-annual visitor to these parts, but this week the launching of the Cruise Indian Ocean Association was announced, which seeks to market the east and southern coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean islands strongly as a desired cruise regular destination – see our report below. Picture by Terry Hutson



    Cruise Indian Ocean Association launched in Durban

    With little fanfare or advance publicity the Cruise Indian Ocean Association (CIOA) was launched in Durban on Sunday (10 May) with the aims and intention of promoting and marketing East and South Africa and the Indian Ocean islands as the next big cruise ship destination.

    Approximately 60 invited people attended the launch at the Durban Hilton Hotel, placed next door to the International Convention Centre where the 2009 Tourism Indaba, Africa’ s largest tourist get-together, was being hosted. Among those at the launch and subsequent workshop were delegates from the ports of Mombasa and Durban, as well as various representatives from Kenya, Mozambique and Madagascar and a number of tourism bodies.

    CIOA intends targeting the top ten cruise ship operators in a determined effort to market and sell East and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands as a future cruise destination. The association will place particular emphasis on the possibility of staging more ships in the region during various times of the year.

    Among the strategies likely to unfold from this development is a regional forum workshop to which representatives of major cruise companies will be invited. Similar forums have been held with considerable success in other regions of the world, including in South East Asia, Japan, South America and the UK. Based on their success it is believed that by bringing key executives of the cruise ship companies to this region and exposing them to what is on offer, the chances of staging or routing a ship or ships along the African coastline will be greatly enhanced.

    With a considerable number of new and mostly very large cruise ships due to enter the market in the next 12 to 24 months, an increasing number of medium size ships will be cascaded down and new market areas are already in need.

    Currently Starlight Cruises, a Johannesburg-based company in association with MSC Cruises stages one or sometimes two cruise ships in Durban during the summer months – in the immediate past season two of these ships, MELODY and RHAPSODY operated from Durban and Cape Town between November 2008 and April 2009. In November this year another of their ships, the 2,000-passenger SINFONIA will arrive in South Africa to operate summer cruises from Durban to the Mozambique coast and islands.

    Several other cruise companies, including Hebridean Cruises positioned ships in southern Africa for an extended season during the recent southern summer while a number of the German cruise companies operated multiple cruises out of South Africa making use of fly-cruise operations for their predominantly European passengers.

    In addition a number of other ships paid fleeting visits, either on World Cruises or undertaking Round Africa-type cruises or on re-positioning type visits.

    These developments indicate an increase in traditional cruise ship visits already taking place and CIOA hopes to build on this and take things to a higher level. Internationally some 13 million people went cruising during 2008, and while the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and places like Alaska remain favourites, mainly because of their accessibility for American passengers who make up the vast majority of cruise ship clientele, operators are keen to find new unexplored destinations to cater for this growing appetite.

    In this it is believed the African continent has much to offer, including shore visits to big game parks and exotic wildlife, magnificent scenery including spectacular mountain ranges, tropical islands both uninhabited and occupied, good weather most of the year round, great port cities to visit and new cultures and histories to explore. Not the least of these is Kenya and the ‘Obama’ phenomena but there are also unusual attractions like the slave markets on the Spice islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and of course on Madagascar – theme cruises like this form a growing appeal among passengers searching for a bit of their own personal history and heritage.

    Added to this is, the East and southern African coast and Indian Ocean islands, the magical Sea of Zanj, is ideally placed for the emerging cruise markets of India and South East Asia and the Far East.

    The economic value of enticing cruise operators to send more ships to Africa can be measured against figures issued by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise association. According to CLIA, a passenger ship carrying 2,000 passengers and 950 crew generates an average of US$322,705 (R2.7 million) spending per call in a home-port, while a similar ship making port of call visits generates $275,000 (R2.3million) in onshore spending.

    The value of having such ships and passengers doesn’t end with these numbers. Research shows that between 50 and 70 percent of passengers say they would like to return for land-based holidays after visiting a new country for the first time.

    At Sunday’s launch it was also revealed that two large Holland America cruise ships will be brought to South Africa as floating hotels for the 2010 World Soccer Cup. The WESTERDAM and the NOORDAM, both modern 2,000-passenger Vista-class ships will operate between Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town for the duration of the competition.



    African regional growth overviews

    Continuing with the report in yesterday’s News Bulletin “Africa ‘gravely affected’ by economic crisis”, the 2009 edition of the African Economic Outlook (AEO) examines the continent by region. The AEO covers 47 African countries and is presented by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).

    Regional Overviews

    Economic growth in Southern Africa registered at 5.2 percent in 2008, down from 7 percent in 2007. It is expected to slow dramatically in 2009 to 0.2 percent before recovering to 4.6 percent in 2010. In South Africa, growth is expected to fall to 1.1 percent due to the impact of the global economic crisis on demand for its mineral exports compounded by a contraction in private consumption and investment.

    In Angola, the economy is expected to contract by 7.2 percent in 2009 on the assumption that the reduction in quotas by OPEC countries will translate into a reduction of oil production. In 2008, Madagascar and Malawi benefited from strong growth in agriculture, and large investments in the mineral sector in the former.

    Average GDP growth in North Africa is expected to improve slightly from 5.3 percent in 2007 to 5.8 percent in 2008. It is then expected to slow significantly in 2009, to 3.3 per cent before increasing to 4.1 per cent in 2010. All North African countries will grow more slowly in 2009, due to cutbacks in oil production and tourism receipts. Morocco and Tunisia have more diversified production and exports that make these countries less vulnerable to the reduction in demand resulting from the crisis, but growth will slow there as well.

    Real GDP growth in West African countries is projected to slow to 4.2 percent in 2009, from 5.4 percent in 2008 and 2007, before strengthening to 4.6 percent in 2010. Projections for 2009 indicate a slowdown in Nigeria’s growth rate to 4 per cent, as a result of the OPEC quota on oil production and declining investment. Most of the other countries in the region are also expected to experience slower growth in public and private investment associated with lower commodity prices and remittances. Liberia and Sierra Leone, however, are expected to continue to enjoy high growth rates as output recovers after years of conflict.

    In 2008, average GDP growth in the seven countries of Central Africa registered at 5 percent, up from 4 percent in 2007. In 2009, GDP growth is expected to slow sharply to 2.8 percent and increase to 3.6 percent in 2010. Reduction in demand for oil and minerals will undermine growth in resource-rich countries.

    The average growth rate for East Africa is projected at 7.3 percent in 2008, down from a very strong 8.8 percent in 2007. The region’s performance is expected to slow to 5.5 percent in 2009 and remain about the same in 2010. Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda – which were the fastest growing economies in East Africa in 2008 -- are projected to maintain moderately robust growth in 2009 and 2010 because demand for their major agricultural and horticultural exports is less sensitive to the effects of the crisis. Burundi, The Comoros, and Seychelles are expected to continue stagnating; the latter two experiencing depressed tourism due to the global recession and, in the case of The Comoros, civil unrest.

    Growth in Djibouti, which registered at 5.9 percent in 2008, is projected to accelerate in 2009 and 2010 to about 6.6 percent in this period. Kenya is expected to exhibit strong growth in 2009 (5 percent) due to the recovery of domestic demand following the sharp slowdown in 2008.

    The annual AEO is published jointly by the AfDB, the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, with support from the European Commission.



    AP Moller-Maersk Line publishes first quarter loss

    In an interim management statement issued yesterday (Tuesday, 12 May) AP Moller-Maersk says that general market conditions have continued to deteriorate during the first months of 2009.

    The Group registered a net loss of US$373 million in the first quarter compared with a net profit of $1,050 million in the same period of 2008. Volumes transported by Maersk Line fell 14% and average freight rates were 24% lower compared with the same period in 2008.

    The statement says the average oil price in the first quarter was 54 percent below average oil prices in the same period in 2008. The share of oil and gas production was 18 percent above the corresponding period of 2008.

    AP Moller-Maersk expects the result for 2009 to be significantly below 2008, even a negative result.

    “The result is impacted by the extraordinary global recession, which affects all our markets negatively,” says Group CEO Nils S Andersen.

    “Our priorities for the Group remain unchanged. We will continue our efforts to strengthen Maersk Line’s competitiveness, building the strength of our people and organisation, reducing costs and improving our environmental record, which will strengthen the Group both in the short and in the long-term,” he said.

    Looking ahead the Group statement says the outlook for 2009 is subject to considerable uncertainty, especially due to the development in the global economy. Specific uncertainties relate to the development in container freight rates, transported volumes, the USD exchange rate and oil prices.

    Compared to the first quarter the crude oil prices for the remainder of the year are assumed to be slightly higher, just as the diminishing decline in freight volumes in the container trades is expected to reduce the decline in the container freight rates. These conditions combined with an increased effect from cost savings are expected to improve the Group’s earnings in the second half of 2009. A continued loss is expected for the second quarter and the company says it cannot be ruled out that the total result for 2009 could be negative.



    Vessel Monitoring System for Nigerian fishing fleet

    Nigeria’s trawler fleet has to be fitted with Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) instruments before the end of 2009, by order of the Federal Government.

    According to the Federal Department of Fisheries the measure is aimed at reducing piracy in Nigerian territorial waters.

    A spokesman for the department said the decision had been taken on account of continued pirate attacks on fishing vessels off the Nigerian coast as well as loss of lives and property. Its implementation would also streamline the regulation and operation of fisheries while helping overcome insecurity among the fishing vessel crews.

    Each fishing vessel will have a transponder fitted that would be capable of sending an alarm signal relating the location of the vessel to security agencies responsible for monitoring the system.

    “Once a vessel is in distress or is being attacked it will trigger an alarm that could easily enable the security operatives to coordinate rescue operation and identify the location of the vessel,” he said. The spokesman added that the cost would have to be borne by the fishing vessel owners.

    The Federal Government has already called for expression of interest for VMS and that fishing vessel operators would bear the cost," he said.



    US says anti-piracy efforts along African coast shows some success

    Washington — Efforts to blunt maritime piracy off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden are beginning to show some success, but there is an international consensus that more must be done, says Ambassador Stephen Mull.

    In testimony April 30 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mull, the acting assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, told lawmakers the United States is seeking emergency consultations with its Contact Group partners and is finding “notable receptivity” to its outreach effort. The Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was created January 14 to improve discussion and coordination among states and organizations aimed at suppressing piracy at sea.

    The United States will intensify its efforts to persuade victim states to prosecute pirates, Mull said.

    “We are working both internally and with other countries to develop the ability to deny pirates the benefits of concessions, including the tracking and freezing of their ill-gotten gains,” he told the lawmakers, who called him to Capitol Hill for an explanation of US policies on the piracy problem.

    “We are working to expand the regional capacity to prosecute and incarcerate pirates, both by helping to fund multilateral programs to build judicial capacity and by direct unilateral assistance to countries who have expressed a willingness to adapt their laws and processes to accommodate prosecution and detention,” Mull said.

    Mull said the United States “will continue to press the importance of a no-concessions policy when dealing with pirates.” Additionally, he said, the United States is working “in political-military channels to ensure that military counter-piracy operations are as robust and well-coordinated as possible, and … intensifying our efforts to support Somali assistance processes. We are also exploring strategies to actively seek the release of captive ships and hostages, some of whom have been held for months.”

    Mull said those actions are now producing some success. “Naval patrol interventions are increasingly active, international naval forces have intervened to stop dozens of attempted piratical attacks in the past nine months, and we’re seeing a significant upswing in the number of countries willing to commit assets to the effort.”

    He acknowledged, however, that the United States faces “political and legal obstacles to a shared understanding of the imperative for prosecution in and by victim states, and significant logistical issues in prosecution by countries who actually have the will to prosecute pirates. Regional states face challenges with regard to detention and prosecution.”

    Tracking and freezing pirate ransoms is even harder than tracking terrorist finances, given that pirates are most often paid off in the form of air-dropped bags of cash, he said. Mull also said that “the shipping industry — as well as some of our partners — has vigorous objections to, and few incentives for, arming their ships and crews.” Progress still must be made in that area, he said.

    Mull identified fighting piracy as an important element in the United States’ strategic objectives in Somalia, which focus on helping Somalia regain political and economic stability, eliminating the threat of terrorism and responding to the humanitarian needs of the Somali people.

    Mull said the United States hopes to be able to leverage its collaborative counter-piracy efforts into increased security cooperation in the maritime domain with non-traditional partners such as China, India and Russia, and bring added focus to regional capacity-building programs.

    Mull said the United States has a “multifaceted strategy” to suppress piracy and that the State Department is working with interagency partners to integrate maritime and land-based efforts in Somalia into a comprehensive strategy.

    “Our strategic goals are to protect shipping, particularly Americans and U.S.-linked ships; capitalize on international awareness and mobilize cooperation to address the problem; and create a more permanent maritime security arrangement in the region,” Mull said.

    He acknowledged, however, that “significant factors affect our pursuit of these goals, including the enormous difficulties inherent in patrolling, or even monitoring through technical means, such a huge expanse of open sea; and, of course, the broader problem of Somalia itself. Legal challenges also exist, including inadequate domestic legal authorities in some states as well as a lack of willingness on the part of some to prosecute suspected pirates.”

    Acts of piracy more than doubled in the Gulf of Aden area during 2008. The area spans the Horn of Africa and Somalia’s north coast and is a vital shipping lane connecting the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the Americas. In 2008, an estimated $ 30 million in ransoms was paid to pirates who hijacked vessels in the Gulf of Aden. Source America.gov


    Meanwhile Somali pirates released two ships in recent days. UK-based Navalmar UK Ltd issued a statement saying that the general cargo vessel MALASPINA CASTLE (21,175-gt) was released by her highjackers on Saturday, 9 May. “All crew members have been accounted for and are uninjured and in good health,” the statement read. The ship has sailed from Somali waters and is en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka where the crew will be allowed to recuperate.

    A second ship held in captivity, the Panamanian-registered NIPAYIA has also been released and has left Somalia. Her crew of a Russian master and 18 Filipino seafarers are reported to be okay.

    In both cases owners/agents declined to say whether a ransom had been paid although it is assumed to be the case.



    Pic of the day – GRAND MERCURY



    The vehicle carrier GRAND MERCURY (58, 947-gt, built 2002) is seen alongside Durban’s car terminal at R berth, taking bunkers from SMIT Amandla’s barge SMIT ENERGY while simultaneously working cargo. Picture by Terry Hutson



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