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Ports & Ships Maritime News

14 January 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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News continues below...

Topaz Sophie 470

The offshore supply ship TOPAZ SOPHIE (3,130-dwt, built 2013), owned by a United Arab Emirates concern and flagged in Marshall Island. The vessel was built in Fuzhou, China. Picture by Frank Vennard

News continues below…


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The existing harbour at Pointe Noire Picture by Bollore

PLANS have been announced for the building of a new port at Congo Brazzaville’s Pointe Noire in the south of the country.

The new oil port will be constructed with the aid of China, with the contract having been awarded to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). The report said the new port will improve Congo’s ability to import and export both liquid and dry bulk products as well as general cargo, official sources said on Saturday.

The port will cover an area of 9 square kilometres and will have 31 berths catering for mainly iron ore and other bulk commodities, but will also handle breakbulk and general cargo.

Included in the plans are a potassium factory adjacent to the port facilities, a refinery, a power plant, a commercial zone and necessary warehouses.

The port will be able to cater for ships of up to 300,000-tons deadweight, sources said. Roads and rail links will also be provided.

There was however, no indication when construction of the new port will begin, nor was its exact location revealed in relation to the existing port of Pointe Noire.

News continues below…


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Bourbon Liberty 249

BOURBON has sold 12 of its vessels to the Chinese company ICBC Financial Leasing (ICBCL) for an amount of US$ 378 million.

This is part of a wider agreement with ICBCL for the sale and bareboat charter agreement of up to 51 vessels.

Including nine vessels already transferred in September last year, Bourbon has now moved 21 vessels into ICBCL ownership for a total amount of $ 522 million. The balance of 30 vessels are due to be actioned during the first half of this year.

Bourbon sold a number of its older vessels in 2013 for an amount of $ 183 million bringing the total mount generated during the year to $ 770 million and creating a net capital gain of about $ 180 million, thus improving its cash flow to a positive state and reducing the level of its debt.

News continues below...


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SOUTH Korea’s Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) will continue to purchase slots on CMA CGM-Delmas' new North Europe-West Africa service. The decision follows the restructuring of CMA CGM-Delmas' Europe-West Africa network.

The service partly succeeds their 'Nigeria Express' service (NIGEX) on which HMM took slots, reports Alphaliner.

HMM brands it the ‘Nigeria-Europe Service’ (NES).

The port rotation is: Dunkirk, Antwerp, Tilbury, Le Havre, Montoir, Tangier, Dakar, Abidjan, Lome, Lagos-Tincan, Lagos-Apapa, Abidjan, Dakar, Tangier, Dunkirk. source – HKSG

News continues below…


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Hapag-Lloyd’s Shanghai Express

Odds are again increasing on German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd buying Chilean shipping line CSAV (Compania Sud Americana de Vapores).

Die Welt, a leading German newspaper carried a report last week saying that an agreement was possible before the end of January.

CSAV itself reported in December that it was in talks with the German liner company. The Chilean company has been struggling with heavy losses caused, it says, by low freight rates, expensive leases on ships and high fuel prices.

According to reports, as merger between the two companies could see CSAV taking a 30 percent share in Hapag-Lloyd but whether the South American line’s 54 ships will join the 152 of Hapag-Lloyd remains to be seen. Neither company is commenting at this stage.

Major shareholders of Hapag-Lloyd are known to be supportive of a merger with another line. Last year talks of a merger with Hamburg Süd fell through despite there being enthusiasm among both groups.

CSAV’s main shareholder is the Luksic family, which made its fortune in copper mining and railroads and has the controlling interest in Chile’s industrial giant Antofagasta, as well as in banking and brewing. Faced with the challenge of a loss-making shipping line, chairman of Quinenco, the holding company, Guilermo Luksic Craig gambled with the family fortune by ploughing more than US$ 1 billion into CSAV, after the shipping line lost $1.25-bn in 2011. But before he could realise his intention of turning round the company, Luksic became ill and passed away from cancer in March last year.

By getting rid of rented ships and unprofitable routes, CSAV losses were reduced to $314 million in 2012. Last year CSAV announced it would focus on South American routes in joint operations with other shipping lines.


EBH Namibia Santa Paws Project 2013 

EBH Namibia: Santa Paws Project 2013

For many of us, the festive season means going away and enjoying a change of pace as we spend time with loved ones. Unfortunately, this is also a time where the needs of our animals are often overlooked.

Shipping company Elgin Brown & Hamer (EBH) Namibia decided to step into the breach by making a sizable donation to the Walvis Bay SPCA’s Santa Paws 2013 project in the form of pet food, pet supplies and funds.

“At EBH Namibia an important part of our ethos is to provide support to the surrounding community and identifying where the needs lie. Animals are often overlooked in this regard, especially over the festive season, and so we decided to get involved,” explains Hannes Uys, Chief Executive Officer of EBH Namibia.

A highly-rated international ship repair company and part of the DCD Group, EBH Namibia has involved itself in several projects based on the needs of the Walvis Bay community, as part of its corporate social investment (CSI) drive. Uys says the company views a genuine commitment to social responsibility as key to its own sustainability, as well as to the broader environment.

“Taking responsibility for the sustainability of the environment in which we operate is a big part of who we are. Job creation for local citizens is high on our agenda, and regular charity drives will help to create a stable and prosperous community. Our community includes our four-legged friends, many of whom are abandoned over the Christmas period,” he said.

“In these tough economic times, many non-profit organisations struggle to stay afloat. The Walvis Bay SPCA relies entirely on donations from caring individuals, community-minded businesses and grants from charitable foundations. We were delighted to be able to help this Christmas.”

The company’s mandate of giving back to the community is taken to heart by its staff members, as evidenced by the enthusiasm given to the Santa Paws project.


searching boats off Somalia pic UK 

Ministry of d
EU NAVFOR forces – in this case a Royal Navy ship, inspecting a suspicious skiff off Somalia. Picture by UK Ministry of Defence

The EU is poised to prolong the life of Operation Atalanta, a multi-million euro counter-piracy naval force off the coast of Somalia, as part of the bloc's comprehensive approach to state-building and peace-making in the Horn of Africa.

The mandate for the force was due to run out in December 2014, but an EU official speaking on condition of anonymity cited "good indications" that it would be extended.

"There is now no reason to believe that member states would not extend it," the source said. "It is even likely to be extended for two more years."

The programme, which is thought to cost over €100 million a year, protects international shipping and takes active steps to counter piracy, as well as monitoring fishing activities.

It is viewed by Brussels as one of a raft of tools - including financial aid and the training of security forces - necessary for the EU's 'comprehensive approach' to state-building and peace-making in the Horn of Africa, meshing humanitarian and political tracks.

Partly due to the success of Atalanta, the US state department says that "there has not been a successful pirate attack on a commercial vessel off the Horn of Africa in more than a year and a half, and pirates no longer control a single hijacked vessel."

Hostage numbers in the region have fallen from over 700 in 2011 to around 50 today. But the EU maintains that it is "strongly committed to bringing this number down to zero: zero ships and zero seafarers in the hands of Somali pirates."

"The fight against piracy is not yet won," said EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in a statement. "It is vital that the international community continues to work together to stamp out piracy and consolidate the gains we have already made."

As it assumes the chair of the International Contact Group on piracy off the coast of Somalia for a year, the EU's priorities thus include streamlining the group and bringing in more regional players, such as shipping companies, the African Union and neighbouring states.

The first meeting under the EU's chairmanship will take place in Paris on 28 January.

Last month, France announced that it would allow armed private security guards to protect its shipping fleets against pirates, a move that the EU tacitly endorses.

EU endorses private boat security guards

"It is clear to us that decisions taken by some member states and international partners to have security guards have contributed to the success - or decrease in number of attacks and hostage taking," the EU official told EurActiv. "We see it, at least internally, as having contributed politically to the fight against piracy."

Equally though, that fight is linked in the eyes of EU policy makers with the battle against al-Shabab Salafi Jihadists, whose support has mushroomed in the years since a more moderate Islamic Courts-led government was overthrown in a US-backed coup.

Brussels accepts that the 'business models' of al-Shabab and the pirates are very different. "But the fact that Somalia has to dedicate so many security forces to fighting al-Shabab means that they don't have them to deal with other security crises," the EU official said.

"That's why, as the EU, we are present on all fronts, training so many people in the army on one side - which directly contributed to recovering ground from al-Shabab - and also dealing with the piracy issue," he added.

Strategic EU interests

The Horn of Africa was first described as an area of 'strategic EU interest' at an EU Foreign Affairs Council in November 2011, largely due to a governmental vacuum.

This geostrategic importance was defined by historic ties, humanitarianism and a need to protect EU citizens from threats emanating from the region, such as "piracy, terrorism or irregular immigration," the Council communication said.

Migration has risen in political importance since then and is now considered a 'strategic EU interest' in its own right.

"A number of migrants are fleeing Eritrea and Somalia and fleeing north through the Sahel, and many of them tragically end up trapped in places and boats like Lampedusa, so it is really important for the EU to contribute to development and security in the Horn," the official explained.

The most common nationality among the roughly 360 dead migrants on the Lampedusa boat was Eritrean, although many of these may have come from Libya where their security had become compromised after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Since 2008, the EU has given more than €1.2 billion to Somalia in humanitarian and security assistance and last September, the bloc pledged €650 million of additional aid to Somalia in a three-year package.

This was intended to strengthen state-building, security institutions, tax collection, and justice systems. "Building resilient communities needs to be at the forefront of our future interventions," the development commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, said as he launched the initiative.


While some EU leaders have called for development aid to be used to contain immigration, the Commission insists that the two issues, though linked, be kept separate.

Don Flynn, the director of the Migrants Rights Network in London said that the EU had an intelligence-gathering strategy monitoring the movement of potential migrants in the Horn of Africa.

"It is very much an item on the EU's policy agenda and does influence the way the EU views the horn of Africa," he told EurActiv.

"The EU has made a huge investment over a long period of time in surveillance, monitoring using passports and visas, and an attempted bigger project aimed at standardising visas," he said.

Europe first adopted its current approach to migration at a special European Council in Tampere, Finland in 1999, developed further at summits in Amsterdam and Stockholm, based on cooperation between countries of migrants' origin, transit and destination. source - EurActiv


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Thousands of kilometres of undersea cable on one long coil inside a cable laying ship – in this case the French cable layer Il de Baz. Picture by Terry Hutson

Angola Cables is laying a new fibre optic undersea cable as part of the so-called “South Atlantic Cable System” (SACS), a network to develop telecommunications in Africa, the company’s chief executive said.

SACS is the first transatlantic system in the southern hemisphere to link Africa to South America and will be an alternative to Africa’s links with the rest of the world.

António Nunes, the chief executive of Angola Cables, said that “this link will provide faster access from South America to Asia, eliminating the need to pass through North America and Europe and reducing the distance between the Sao Paulo and Hong Kong stock exchanges, which could be very interesting for the banking sectors.”

Angola Cables was founded in 2009 by the country’s five main telecommunications operators and its main business is to manage international communications between Angola and the rest of the world via undersea fibre optic cables. source - macauhub


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East London harbour

Ports & Ships publishes regularly updated SHIP MOVEMENT reports including ETAs for ports extending from West Africa to South Africa to East Africa and including Port Louis in Mauritius.

In the case of South Africa’s container ports of Durban, Ngqura, Ports Elizabeth and Cape Town links to container stack dates are also available.

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MACS Carrier’s general cargo ship RED CEDAR being assisted by the Cape Town harbour tug PINOTAGE. Picture by Aad Noorland

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RED CEDAR seen manoeuvring in Cape Town harbour prior to sailing. Pictures by Aad Noorland

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