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Ports & Ships Maritime News

16 July 2016
Author: Terry Hutson

Bringing you shipping, freight, trade and transport related news of interest for Africa since 2002




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The tug FAIRMOUNT GLACIER has safely completed the delivery of the oil rig FALCON 100 which it towed from South America to Pointe Noire. The tow involved a journey from Rio de Janeiro across the South Atlantic, a distance of over 3,400 n.miles.

Falcon 100 is a 1974 build semi submersible drilling rig, owned by US based Transocean and is capable of drilling to a depth of 7.6 kilometres. The rig has a length of 79 metres and is 66m wide.

For this job the Fairmount Glacier was mobilised from Trinidad. The first job was to tow Falcon 100 from her drilling location offshore Macae, Brazil, to offshore Rio de Janeiro. Then Fairmount Glacier assisted the rig in anchor handling activities and loading all kinds of equipment needed for her next job off Africa. Fairmount Glacier also assisted in installing a new ‘bridle’ – the connection between rig and towing line.

After arrival in Pointe Noire Fairmount Glacier helped to keep the rig in position during the deployment of her anchors. The tug then took over equipment and other cargo from Falcon 100 which was to be discharged in the port of Pointe Noire. Picture courtesy Fairmount


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Maersk McKinney Moller, the first of the Triple-E class of container ships, set sail from Busan on her maiden voyage to Europe yesterday, 15 July 2013. Picture courtesy Maersk

The first Triple-E has commenced her maiden voyage in Busan, South Korea, bound for Europe. At the helm, the crew of the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller whose members have been selected from among Maersk Line’s finest.

A selection of highly qualified crew members, specifically chosen because of their background and experience, is manning the largest ship in the world. The ship can accommodate 34, and in principle run with as few as 13, but in regular service approximately 22 persons will make out the crew.

Understanding of roles and responsibilities on the vessel is of utmost importance to ensure smooth sailing and safety.

On the 18,200-TEU Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller, the Captains are Jes Meinertz and Niels Vestergaard Pedersen, and the Chief Engineers are Per Schilling Nielsen and Niels Peter Svarer.

All of them were present at the naming ceremony in Korea on 14 June. ”You are among the finest in your fields, and you should be honoured by being selected to take this vessel into service,” said the Maersk Line CEO in his speech on that occasion. ”May you always have fair winds and following seas.”

Away from home

Working on a ship is different from a regular nine to five job, the most obvious being the long periods spent away from home. All four testify that the hardest is that you cannot be there for special occasions, good and bad. On the other hand, modern communication has reduced the feeling of solitude significantly. Although bandwidth is limited, crew members these days can use email, Skype or FaceTime to be in regular contact with friends and family back home.

On another level, however, it is a job like any other job, and sometimes you hardly notice that you’re at sea,” says Per. ”We had a trip two years ago where we sailed south of Africa and were at sea for 45 days. I was never bored. There was always something to do.” It’s like any other job,” adds Jes. “There are periods with interesting tasks and periods where it’s more routine.”

Breaking in a new ship

Taking a new ship to sea, however, is not routine. There are many surprises and things to get used to. The crew is involved in the sea trials, but will also use the first voyages to really get the hang of how the ship performs.

The Triple-E is designed for slow speeds and energy performance. But this doesn’t make it less interesting, insists Niels Peter. “It is a huge satisfaction,” he says“ when you know the enormous costs involved which are pumped through the system, if you can cut a few percent off that.” Niels adds that the Triple-E is quite different from previous vessels with its added weight and more box-like hull shape. “It will take some getting used to, and the captain will need to be aware of the capabilities of the vessel,” continues Niels.

They are fully confident, however, that sailing the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller will indeed be a special experience. The maiden voyage began yesterday. The crew was ready for the attention the vessel will receive in ports along the way, creating history with the latest record-breaking member of Maersk Line’s fleet.

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Following the interception of two containers of illegal ivory, Kenya Wildlife has taken measures to tighten things up at the Port of Mombasa in a further attempt at curtailing this activity, reports Kenya’s Capital Radio FM.

Acting on information received, the two containers were intercepted before they could be shipped off to Malaysia (see our reports in last week’s News Bulletins). A spokesman then said that just one of the containers represented the killing of 200 elephants for their ivory.

Kenya’s Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Mbugua told the radio station that the recent ivory hauls were from neighbouring countries and were in transit to South East Asia.

“We have stepped up our system of surveillance and of course we are working closely with the Kenya Revenue Authority to ensure that every consignment that passes through the port is cleaned and those consignments that are found to be contraband are intercepted,” he said.

“Most of the consignments intercepted in the country are only repackaged here in the country. We are going to use DNA technology to establish from what population is the ivory coming from; whether from this country’s elephant population or from other countries.”

“All the shipments from the landlocked countries within East Africa pass through the port of Mombasa,” he stated.

Mbugua also revealed that a meeting held in Bangkok in March 2013, Thailand on poaching, grouped Kenya in a cluster of seven other countries ‘in a dishonourable group labelled the Gang of Eight′.

“Kenya was considered both a source and a transit country. All these countries in this group were required to come up with an action plan that will ensure contraband does not pass through their ports,” he explained. Kenya had already presented its action plan, noting it is has proved effective with the latest interceptions of the ivory in the country.

Mbugua said they were embarking on an awareness programme even to the countries where the ivory is being taken. “Most of the citizens of these countries think ivory is harvested from an elephant that continues to live. They do not know an elephant has to die.”

He said implementing the wildlife bill increasing the penalties for poaching and trade in ivory will help curtail both practices.


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Pretoria - South Africa will this week roll out the red carpet for the 6th SA-EU summit. On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma and his delegation will meet with the EU delegation led by the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, and President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso in Pretoria.

Given the challenges that face South Africa at the moment, President Zuma will emphasise South Africa’s engagements with Europe around a central theme, Job Creation through Inward Investment.

This is also in response to the diverse demands of South Africa’s national development plan where Pretoria will emphasise that investment should be seen as broad and multi-faceted to encompass all the aspects of bilateral relationship between the two.

The summit, according to the Presidency, will also be used to highlight job creation initiatives that South Africa is implementing and encouraging the continuation of EU development cooperation in South Africa.

Since 1994, building on shared values and mutual interests, South Africa and the EU have developed a comprehensive partnership based on the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA).

The SA-EU relationship is guided on the principle that they must support South Africa's national, regional and African priorities and programmes to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.

From a trade perspective, the EU has maintained its lead as South Africa’s most important regional trading partner between 2000 and 2011, although its total share of trade decreased from 35.5% in 2000 to 26.5% in 2011.

SA-EU total trade grew 13% in 2011 year-on-year and reflects a high sectoral diversity, including manufactured goods, commodities and agriculture.

Processed and semi-processed goods represented more than 50% of total South African exports to the EU and 79% of EU exports to South Africa.

The EU is also South Africa's main development assistance partner, amounting to €980 million for the period 2007-2013, with a further €900 million of assistance from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the same period. Source – SAnews


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The Port of Beira – fuel terminal to be revamped. Picture by Glen Martin

Engen Petroleum, the African downstream petroleum multinational, is significantly increasing its supply capacity to southern African countries, after it acquired seven in-country operations from competitor Chevron in the region and the Indian Ocean Islands.

The company is currently undergoing first-phase revamp work on Beira Terminal, an import and storage facility in the Port of Beira, Mozambique. When complete, the terminal will be able to supply Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and southern DRC.

According to Drikus Kotze, Engen’s General Manager of Engen’s International Business Division (IBD), the depot forms part of the Mozambican component of the acquisition.

“It predated all others and was aimed at strategically boosting security of supply in the region, given Engen’s increasing market share in southern and sub-Saharan Africa,” he explains.

Jan Sithole, Special Projects Manager for IBD, says the depot required a significant capital investment to overhaul and extend, as it had not been operational for a period of time.

“The project involves cleaning and safe dismantling of redundant piping and two unusable tanks; revamping of three tanks and admin offices; and installation of new tanks, road tanker loading facilities, import and export piping, a firefighting system, and security system.”

The first phase of proceedings, currently under construction, is aimed at readying the facility for import and supply of petrol and diesel in Mozambique (20% of the volume requirement), and Zimbabwe (80%). This will be done via the existing pipeline to Masasa Depot in Harare.

The Terminal’s designed capacity of 18 million litres (diesel) and 7 million litres (petrol) is expected to be sufficient for this purpose.

Once phase one projected products demands have been achieved, second-phase construction will involve increasing tank and road-loading capacity, and the construction of a new rail-loading facility to cater for Engen’s other southern African sister companies (Engen Petroleum Zambia, to begin with).

Sithole says the Beira Terminal Revamp Project scope comprises civil works, mechanical works, tankage and electrical works.

“Work for the first three scopings is progressing as per schedule, and the electrical works will commence in due course,” he says.

Overall, the project is on track, with the target of reaching 90% mechanical completion (installed piping, equipment and support structures) by the end of December 2013.

“We want to have the depot fully operational in the first quarter of 2014,” says Kotze. “Engen aims to be a leading Sub Saharan African oil company by 2016, and this undertaking will be instrumental in us achieving that.”




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The new Panamax floating dock,195 metres in length, will enable EBH Namibia to service vessels up to 190 metres in length and 33 metres in beam. Picture EBH, Namibia

This next story was first published in PORTS & SHIPS last Monday, 8 July but a repeat has been requested where it can appear in an ‘open’ edition of the news. Here it is….

After a lengthy journey, time-wise and taking it across the length of the Indian Ocean, Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH) Namibia’s latest floating dock, NAMDOCK 3 arrived in the port of Walvis Bay on Friday, 6 July 2013.

The Panamax dock’s arrival has been described as having strategic implications not only for the company, but for the Namibian economy as a whole.

Since setting up shop in Walvis Bay in 2006, EBH Namibia has built up a solid reputation for the capacity to offer a holistic service in all aspects of ship repair and the maintenance and repair of offshore supply vessels. With its two existing floating docks – NAMDOCK 1 and NAMDOCK 2, a consistent track record and strategic geographic location, the company can claim to having gained the competitive edge in the shipping industry on the African west coast.

The arrival of the third dock will now substantially increase the company’s docking capacity and its ability to compete on an international scale.

“The increase in capacity will allow us more flexibility to provide a world class service to our customers. The size of the dock alone will allow us to expand our markets and attract work that might have had to go elsewhere,” says Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBH Namibia, explaining that in late 2011 the company had identified a need to increase its docking capacity.

“We explored various options, and finally sourced the ideal size dock in Newcastle, Australia, and the purchase was concluded in November 2012.”

The new Panamax floating dock, 195 metres in length, will enable EBH Namibia to service vessels up to 190 metres in length and 33 metres in beam, increasing the company’s dry docking capacity by 15,000 tons [the dock’s lifting capacity]. The dock, as with the existing two floating docks, is fully financed through the operations of EBH Namibia.

“The new dock will increase our ability to service the local and international shipping industry by 60%. This is in support of Namport’s plans of increasing container trade in the region,” Uys notes.

Namport is EBH Namibia’s main shareholder, with the balance of shares having been acquired in 2012 by the DCD Group (making EBH Namibia part of the DCD Marine cluster of companies).

“The significance of the arrival of the third dock cannot be overestimated in terms of job creation and skills development in Namibia, as well as economic growth in the region,” Uys says. “Since its inception in 2006, EBH Namibia has contributed an estimated N$1.3 billion (R1.3bn) to the Namibian economy.”

The commissioning of a floating dock the size of the Panamax does not come without its logistical challenges, however.

Willie Esterhuyse, Commercial Manager at EBH Namibia, explains: “Having been out of operation for almost three years, the dock required preparation work to ensure safe delivery to Namibia. This included the replacement of approximately 200 tons of steel which was carried out in Batam, Indonesia. The newly refurbished dock left Batam on 18 April 2013, but bad weather meant that the arrival has been delayed by almost 30 days.”

The commissioning of the dock in port, scheduled for September 2013, entails four dimensions, according to Esterhuyse. All work will be carefully planned to ensure a minimum impact on current operations.

“The first dimension is the preparation of the site, which includes the placement of the mooring blocks, dredging, moving Namdock 1 to her new position and placing Namdock 3 in her new position. This process is well underway and simultaneously the remobilisation of all equipment, such as cranes, pumps, valves and the offloading of the floating crane has to be carried out in the main port. The third and fourth is the continuation of the repairs carried out in Batam and the training of our dock operational staff.”

A project of this magnitude requires enormous skills input, as Uys points out. “One of our greatest challenges is a shortage of skills. While employees will be incorporated into the project as and when required, we will be embarking on an active recruitment drive, as well as implementing skills exchange programmes with international shipyards, and mentorship training.

He estimates that the project will create around 150 job opportunities, the majority of which will be offered to local residents.

“This is a very exciting phase in EBH Namibia’s history. We believe that the arrival of the third dry dock will greatly increase our capacity to offer a complete service and enhance the port of Walvis Bay – and Namibia - as a global player in the ship repair industry,” he concludes.

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The floating dock basin in the Port of Walvis Bay. Picture EBH Namibia




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The TNPA harbour tug NONOTI on Durban Bay. Picture by Terry Hutson

Three Transnet National Ports Authority harbour tugs, which went on auction recently, remain unsold at this stage.

Bids received for the tugs, of which two are in Durban and one in Port Elizabeth, were considered too low for acceptance and the offer to sell was withdrawn.

The online auction which closed on Thursday, 11 July included the three tugs and a large number of railway items, including locomotives and wagons. The auction followed a previous sale when the Durban—based dredger PIPER (former RE Jones) went under the hammer. It is understood this vessel also remains unsold at this time but this has not been confirmed.

The three tugs that went on offer were:

NONOTI, a Schottel-drive Port of Durban Class 9 tug built in 1982. The condition report states: ‘The Nonoti is currently operational and is working as a single shift on a quad shift cycle. The vessel is being maintained to our (Transnet) normal high standard.’ The start price for this tug was R3 million. No bids were received.

UMZUMBE, also a Schottel-drive former Durban Class 9 tug built in 1982. The Umzumbe was taken out of service when the new tugs PHOLELA and LOTHENI came into service. The report says the tug has been laid up at Shop 24 (in Durban) under the care of a pensioned contract chief engineer, and that all equipment has been run once a week since being laid up. The start price for Umzumbe was R2.2 million. The highest bid received was R2.3 million and the sale was not accepted.

IMONTI, a Z-peller former Port Elizabeth class 9 tug built in 1977. Imonti was built in Japan at the Niigata Shipyard. There is no report stating whether the tug is running or not. The start price for Imonti was a low R400,000. The highest bid received was R420,000 and the sale was withdrawn.




Mediterranean Shipping Company has revised three regional services involving Africa and each associated with the MSC hub in Salalah.

The Red Sea Service will now include additional calls at Mundra, Karachi and Bin Qasim. The new four week service rotation becomes: Mundra, Karachi, Bin Qasim, Salalah, Djibouti, Jeddah, Aqaba, Sokhna, Port Sudan, Mundra with four ships being utilised.

MSC’s Middle East-East Africa service currently linking Dar es Salaam and Mombasa with Salalah has been extended to include calls at Mundra and Nhava Sheva. This requires the cycles to be extended by one week to four weeks but by using four ships in the 1,900 to 2,400-TEU range a named day weekly service is able to continue. The rotation becomes: Salalah, Dar es Salaam, Mombasa, Mundra, Nhava Sheva, Salalah.

MSC’s current South Africa Sub-Continent service is being extended to also include the Indian port of Mundra and Port Louis in Mauritius. The call at Salalah in this case has been dropped. The new rotation on this service thus becomes: Mundra, Port Louis, Durban, Ngqura, Jebel Ali, Mundra with five ships utilised and turning in 35 days.




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The Emirates-owned and managed 2D seismic research vessel NORTHERN EXPLORER (3,072-gt, built 1987) seen arriving in Durban this past week. Pictures by Trevor Jones

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