Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 27, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson




















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TODAY’S BULLETIN OF MARITIME NEWS

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  • First View – MSC SINFONIA

  • MSC SINFONIA sets sail for South Africa

  • Kenya resistance to concessioning Mombasa port

  • News from the shipping lines

  • Piracy – US places drones in service over Horn of Africa

  • Walvis Bay orders six RTGs to increase capacity

  • News clips – Keeping it brief

  • Today’s recommended read – Is Kenya off track with its standard gauge railway proposal

  • Pics of the day – REGNO MARINUS




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    First View – MSC SINFONIA 



    The luxury cruise ship MSC SINFONIA set sail on Saturday (24 October) for Durban and South Africa for a summer season of cruising – see article below for details.



    MSC SINFONIA sets sail for South Africa

    She’s on her way! At 11am on Saturday, 24 October MSC Sinfonia departed Livorno, Italy, on a 20 day maiden cruise to Durban, South Africa, for the start of her first ever cruise season in the Indian Ocean.

    MSC Sinfonia’s southbound course will take her from the Mediterranean Sea, into the Atlantic and finally to the Indian Ocean on a classic route which will include 10 ports of call and 12 full days at sea.

    The ship stops at the European cities of Monte Carlo in Monaco and Valencia in Spain and then into the Atlantic to cruise down the west coast of Africa with stops in Casablanca and Agadir in Morocco, Dakar in Senegal and Walvis Bay in Namibia.

    The magnificent nine storey, 58,600 ton MSC Sinfonia’s first port of call in South Africa will be Cape Town on Tuesday 10 November where the ship docks for one day only. The ship will leave the same day en route for Durban where she will dock for the first time on 13 November.

    In Cape Town a traditional Crest Exchange ceremony will be held at a special evening reception on board ship to signify MSC Sinfonia’s first visit to South Africa and the port of Cape Town.

    In Durban a gala onboard function for almost 2000 guests from around the country will be held to celebrate the ship’s arrival at her final destination in South Africa and the start of the summer cruise season.

    MSC Sinfonia departs Durban for her opening cruise of the summer season on Saturday 14 November.

    Captain Ciro Pinto, who took the helm of MSC Sinfonia for the first time last week (16 October) reports great excitement onboard among both the crew and passengers for the ship’s maiden voyage to Southern Africa.

    Captain Pinto, who is well known in Southern Africa as a former Captain of MSC Melody and several MSC container ships for some 30 years, said some passengers will disembark in Cape Town and more will embark for the last leg of the cruise to Durban.

    Described as the finest floating hotel ever to visit South Africa, MSC Sinfonia, will operate out of Durban for the entire summer cruise season. A full schedule of long and short cruises to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Comores, Mauritius and Reunion continue through to April 2010.

    Sailing details are available on PORTS & SHIPS Cruise Schedule page HERE or else visit: www.msccruises.com or www.starlight.co.za for more information.





    Kenya resistance to concessioning Mombasa port

    Opposition to the concessioning of terminals and services at the port of Mombasa is mounting among politicians, unionists and various affected bodies, The Nation reports.

    According to the newspaper politicians, union officials and civil society groups have vowed to block the privatising of Mombasa port unless more consultations are held.

    “We understand powerful individuals have positioned themselves to take over the port but we are not going to allow this to happen,” said the MP for Galole, Dhado Godhana last week.

    He said a plan would be presented to Kenya’s finance minister, Uhuru Kenyatta which describes how any privatisation proposal should benefit locals.

    Kenya’s cabinet approved the privatisation of the Eldoret Container Terminal, stevedoring services as well as the development of berth numbers 11 to 14 back in December 2008. Since then opposition has begun to mount with a number of politicians and interested parties speaking out against the proposal. They want government to rethink the matter.

    Among these are trade unions which say that privatisation will lead to the loss of 4,000 jobs at Mombasa. They point out that last year Kenya Ports Authority posted a respectable profit and say that by privatizing the port terminal and services local Kenyans will lose out at the expense of the few individuals that acquire the rights to the port.

    The Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) movement claims that privatisation will impoverish the people on the coast. “Muhuri will use all means to ensure the port does not fall into the hands of a few greedy and corrupt individuals,” Muhuri executive director Hussein Khalid said. – source The Nation


    Mombasa container terminal

    News from the shipping lines

    Clipper Group to take control of Nordic Tankers

    The Danish Clipper Group, which is based in the Bahamas, is reported to be close to taking a controlling interest in another Danish shipping company, Nordic Tankers. Reports in the Copenhagen paper Borsen led to Nordic Tankers making a statement last week confirming that talks with the Clipper Group were underway.

    “Nordic Tankers is currently exploring the possibilities of new alliances, partnerships or mergers with a view to participate in market consolidation, which is in line with the company's strategy which was announced at the company's general meeting on 23 April 2009,” the statement read. It added that a further statement can be expected in the event that Nordic Tankers enters into a specific agreement with Clipper.


    Maersk saves a bucket on fuel

    Staying with things Danish, Maersk Line says it has cut consumption of fuel per transported unit by 15%, amounting to Maersk Lines’ ships saving billions of dollars on the company’s bottom line.

    “The 15% reduction of our fuel consumption per transported unit will lead to a cost saving to Maersk Line in the magnitude of half a billion dollars this year, provided the oil prices remain close to the level year to date,” says Eivind Kolding, CEO of Maersk Line. The Danish newspaper Borsen said in its report that Maersk Line will further reduce consumption by an additional 20% per transported unit, giving a total reduction in fuel consumption of 35%.



    Piracy – US places drones in service over Horn of Africa

    US introduces Reaper drones


    MQ-9 Reaper drone somewhere in Iraq - the picture gives a sense of scale as to the size of the unmanned aircraft. Picture US Dept of Defense


    The US military has introduced surveillance aerial drones over the waters of the Indian Ocean near Somalia as a further aid to combating rampant piracy. The MQ-9 Reaper drones are capable of carrying missiles or bombs but are being deployed in the Seychelles in search of pirates. The increasing number of attacks on merchant shipping far from the Somali coast has made it clear that the pirates have widened their sphere of influence in response to concentrated naval patrols closer to the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden.

    The Reapers, which are practically full-sized aircraft are capable of staying aloft for up to 16 hours and are fitted with sophisticated tracking and guidance systems both for observing and directing weapons such as bombs and missiles. Initially the drones will not carry weapons and will be used exclusively for observation but US military sources say this may change according to circumstances. Analysts say the drones will provide excellent early warning capability in searching out suspicious craft operating across the ocean.

    But it is also realised that the drones probably have another purpose; that of searching for terrorist activity such as Al Qaida on the Somali mainland.


    India concerned over spike in piracy

    India has begun discussions over the expansion of piracy into Seychelles waters, in which a number of Indian seafarers have been taken captive by Somali pirates. The latest incident involving the bulker AL KHALIQ saw 26 crew members, of which 24 are Indian, being captured when pirates seized the ship about 180 miles west of the Seychelles.

    India has naval forces operating in the region but with the expansion of pirate activity further south and in the region of the Seychelles she may have to consider deploying more ships to offer protection to nationals working on merchant vessels.


    EU says it is unable to respond outside defined area of operations

    The European Union says it is unable to respond to ships under threat from pirates that are sailing outside the defined EU NAVFOR area of operations. The Council of Ministers issued a statement regarding the highjacking earlier this year of the stone-laying ship POMPEI, which was one of the first vessels to be highjacked in waters close to the Seychelles while en route to Durban in South Africa.

    “The criteria applied when deciding whether to accept a request for protection are the vulnerability of the commercial vessels and the availability of combat vessels in the area concerned, bearing in mind the priorities laid down by the council and within the geographical limits set by the council. Pompei was not in the European naval force’s area of operations. The EU cannot be held responsible for events which take place outside the area of operations defined by the EU,” it said.



    Walvis Bay orders six RTGs to increase capacity


    Kalmar RTGs at work

    Namport has ordered six Kalmar rubber-tyre-gantry cranes (RTGs) for the port of Walvis Bay. At a signing ceremony at Walvis Bay last week, Bisey Uirab, Namport’s managing director said it had become imperative for Namport to provide a world class customer service, especially in operations to ensure effective cargo handling and fast ship turn around times.

    The six RTGs are expected to be commissioned into service by August 2010 when they will effectively increase the port’s terminal capacity by 42% by means of enabling containers to be stacked higher than when using straddle carriers.

    Uirab said that Kalmar had been chosen as Namport’s supplier because it offered a maintenance and back-up service through its facility in South Africa. He said the fact that Kalmar was the supplier of choice for South Africa’s Transnet was also a factor.

    The investment in the six RTGs is Namport’s largest since the dredging project several years ago that deepened the port entrance and turning channel to 12.8 metres.



    News clips – Keeping it brief

    Mystery over death of sailors on board ship

    Mystery surrounds the death of two seafarers on the Maltese-flagged, Russian-managed general cargo ship ATLANTIC ELAND (16,075-gt, built 1990), which docked at Richards Bay last week. The two seafarers, one from Russia and the other from the Ukraine were discovered dead in their cabins on board the vessel after its arrival in Richards Bay from China last week. It is thought they may have become ill from food or alcohol poisoning. Another two Russian seafarers from the ship were both hospitalized after they too fell ill. An investigation is underway.


    TransNamib to refurbish older diesel locomotives

    After having experimented with the importation of new diesel locomotives from China, Namibia’s national rail company TransNamib has announced it will undertake the refurbishment of 18 from the pool of 45 General Electric diesel locomotives it inherited from South Africa. The refurbishment programme is expected to add a further 20 years life to the locos and will cost an estimated R80 million. So far eight locos have been completed at a cost of R4m each.



    Today’s recommended read – Is Kenya off track with its standard gauge railway proposal

    The desire of the governments of Uganda and Kenya to build a standard gauge railway line goes against the counsel of certain donors, or so it appears. The donors wanted the two countries to take the less costly and more pragmatic alternative of revamping the existing railway.

    Instead, politicians from both countries have climbed on the bandwagon of believing that having a new railway, especially one built to the wider standard gauge, similar to that in use across much of Europe and the United States, will transform the region’s logistics network in a manner not possible with the existing metre gauge.

    This belief comes despite available evidence that the cheaper metre gauge and Cape gauge (1067mm) railways are perfectly capable of handling large volumes of traffic well beyond anything the East African region is likely to require. A look at the Richards Bay coal line and the Sishen ore line in South Africa will surely satisfy any doubters.

    Now, in an article in the East Africa this week it is suggested that the advice of donors to remain with existing meter gauge has been ignored because of a desire to ‘glamourise’ railway’s potential. Is this going to be yet another example of wasteful extravagance in Africa? Read on HERE.

    As with all these highlighted links, to return to this page use your BACK button.

    If you have any suggestions for a good read please send the link to
    info@ports.co.za and put GOOD READ in the subject line.



    Pics of the day – REGNO MARINUS



    The wood chips carrier REGNO MARINUS (40,169-gt, built 1990), under charter to NYK Line and working cargo (not woodchips) at Durban’s Maydon Wharf No.5, operated by Bidvest’s South African Bulk Terminals. The picture was taken in 2003 when it was still possible to access the Wharf for pictures like this. The ship has since been renamed STELLAR MERMAID but remains a visitor to southern African shores, while a new wood chips carrier carries the name Regno Marinus. Pictures by Terry Hutson





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