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Ports & Ships Maritime News

11 March 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

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


Click on headline to go direct to story – use the BACK key to return


News continues below...

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One of the Odense-built container ships of Maersk Line, the 4,500-TEU capacity LEXA MAERSK (63,000-dwt, built 2001) seen inbound for Dunedin harbour, New Zealand in February this year. Picture: Alan Calvert

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Victor Shieh

A very negative view of African ports was painted at last week’s Cool Logistics Conference held in Cape Town.

Victor Shieh, manager and co-owner of Portoverview.com and a former communications manager with Safmarine, said that delays in the logistics chain have not improved – he claims having tracked 2,000 incidents resulting in delays over the last 16 months – and says things are likely to get worse before getting better.

“We see African hinterland connections beyond the terminal gates as the biggest challenge facing shippers,” Shieh said. He referred to an average of one weather related delay per day for South African ports alone.

Shieh said that existing congestion issues will remain a problem whilst port infrastructure is renewed over the next years. “However, we see African hinterland connections beyond the terminal gates as the biggest challenge facing shippers,” he said.

Research by shipping analyst SeaIntel Maritime Analysis, which co-owns Portoverview.com, says that African exporters have at most on average a 60 percent chance that their containers will arrive on time in Asia, and just 55 percent chance of an on-time arrival in Europe.

“For shippers - especially ones who produce and distribute perishable products - that’s a real challenge” said Morten Berg Thomsen, one of SeaIntel’s shipping analysts.

Speaking for ourselves, PORTS & SHIPS is inclined to the view that the stats mentioned above appear to be somewhat exaggerated, particularly if they include container and motor vehicle traffic.

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Collision damage to Tao Star, seen from the bulker Bogdan

From our Beira correspondent...

Two ships have collided in Beira port, leaving one vessel badly damaged and an oil leak discharging into the ebb tide. During the manoeuvre she landed heavily with her stern on the SB quarter of the Taiwanese bulk carrier TAO STAR (25,064-dwt, built 2010) which was berthed at quay No 9 where she was discharging South African manufactured railway wagons. Damage to the Bogdan appears to be light but the Tao Star was rendered unseaworthy by a large hole in the SB hull in way of her engine room where a cylinder oil tank was pierced causing cylinder oil to be spilled into the fast running ebb tide.

The Tao Star was pushed into a bollard on the quay which broke off. The impact caused further internal damage to shell plating and frames of the Tao Star.

The Tao Star remains alongside while the GL class surveyor is assessing the considerable damage.

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MSC SINFONIA had arrived in Cape Town at the end of November last year and subsequently conducted a series of short (perennially popular) and longer cruises out of Cape Town and Durban. “Her time is up locally and she’s soon off to her home port of Genoa,” says Allan Foggitt, sales and marketing director for MSC Cruises in South Africa.

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After a successful South African season in conjunction with sister-ship, MSC OPERA, the 58,600gt MSC SINFONIA (seen leaving Table Bay after maiden season here) sails – completely ‘sold out’ - for Genoa from Cape Town on 17 March, via Walvis Bay, Dakar, Las Palmas, Casablanca, Palma de Mallorca, Ajaccio, and Civitavecchia (for Rome)…featuring some truly exotic island visits.

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“After two very well supported seasons in South Africa, the 58,600gt MSC SINFONIA will not return to SA this year, in advance of a scheduled hull lengthening,” says Allan Foggitt, adding: “Instead, MSC OPERA will be back this coming October to cruise solo for the 2014/15 season,” said Allan, “and earlier booking than usual is more fervently advised.”

There are just a handful of cabins left before MSC SINFONIA heads north
The vessel is conducting some short cruises from Cape Town before heading off to Europe on 17 March. MSC SINFONIA is one of four MSC ships to be lengthened over the next two years. MSC ARMONIA will be the first of the lengthened vessels to cruise in SA waters during the 2015/16 season. She will offer 200 added cabins above present capacity.

“The average occupancy for all departures for the whole season was 92.8%...which is as good as sold out,” Allan told Ports & Ships.

“The new 7- night itineraries incorporating Portuguese Island, Anakoa and Fort Dauphin proved to be a hit with the public, and the Cape cruises had their best year ever…as we scheduled fewer departures and thus created greater demand.

“It’s a pity MSC SINFONIA won’t be back, because she’s very popular and has a strong following. Fortunately, the MSC ARMONIA is almost identical and will arrive here in 2015, with the extended length and additional cabins, so a great combination.”

What happens now to the popular local cruise directors, Stephen Cloete and Derrick van Wyk?...we asked Allan. “Stephen will disembark MSC SINFONIA and move over to the MSC OPERA for the remainder of the season, whilst Derrick, who is multi lingual, will join the MSC SINFONIA and remain in Europe as cruise director for the foreign passengers on one of the MSC Fleet.”

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Popular South African MSC cruise directors, Stephen Cloete (above, left) and Derrick van Wyk, will swop ships for the coming summer cruise season in Europe. Stephen is known and loved (for his self-deprecating humour and skills as a magician) by thousands of cruise-lovers who have sailed with him on several vessels for many years…whilst Derrick, young and full of fun, has made his mark as a people person, good organiser and an entertainer. Have you heard him sing his hilarious song, ‘My Big Bamboo’?

Why not cruise south on OPERA?
Another Southampton-Cape offering looms on the horizon when MSC OPERA glides down the Solent on 7 October, 2014, to Cape Town. “This fantastic new itinerary has already caught the imagination of cruise lovers in South Africa and Britain and we cordially advise you to book now if you wish to be among the privileged on board,” said Allan.

sinfonia 5 MSC OPERA 


The 58,600gt MSC OPERA (with two decks of balcony cabins, and several suites) sails from The Solent (on 7 October, 2014) via Ijmuiden (Netherlands), Le Havre (France), Bilbao (Spain), Lisbon (Portugal), Funchal (Madeira), Mindelo (Cape Verde) and the Namibian port of Walvis Bay…before arriving in Cape Town on 28 October. “How could one resist such an irresistibly romantic sea idyll?,” exclaimed Allan. “These cross- Equator repositioning cruises still offer unbeatable longer cruising value…which has already manifested in the exceptional response so far. If you snooze, you lose!”

The MSC OPERA route will follow in the wake of the old Union-Castle Line vessels, which we’ll recall more about in Ports & Ships soon.

Vernon Buxton for Ports & Ships

News continues below…



The CMA CGM Group has announced an improvement to its SAMWAF service from South America to West Africa with the addition of a new call in Tema, Ghana.

This new call in Tema will allow the CMA CGM Group to offer a direct service to the Ghanaian market from South America East Coast as well as an improved service to Benin and Niger through the Cotonou gateway thanks to an efficient transshipment in Tema.

As from mid March CMA CGM’s SAMWAF service will operate a 14-day frequency using three ships of 1,700-TEU on the following rotation: Buenos Aires – Rio Grande – Itajai – Santos – Abidjan – Tema – Pointe Noire – Luanda – Buenos Aires

Santos – Tema : 13 days
Buenos Aires – Tema : 19 days

Santos – Cotonou : 15 days
Buenos Aires – Cotonou : 21 days

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HMS Birkenhead’s memorial was designed through a local competition. All pictures by Paul Ridgway

by Paul Ridgway

On 5 March a memorial was unveiled in Birkenhead (Wirral, Liverpool City Region, United Kingdom) dedicated to the victims of one of the worst maritime disasters of the 19th century.

HMS BIRKENHEAD, a steam frigate built by John Laird’s shipbuilders in Birkenhead, sank off the coast of Gansbaai, South Africa on 26 February 1852. Out of 638 people on board, only 193 survived. Many victims were taken by sharks. The tragedy was the first occasion when troops were ordered to “stand fast” and the protocol of “women and children first” was used. As a result, all women and children aboard the vessel survived.

The action became famous as the “Birkenhead Drill” throughout the British Empire, capturing a spirit of Britishness, and was used when RMS Titantic sank in 1912. The phrase was also used by Rudyard Kipling in his poem A Soldier An’ Sailor Too, which was read at this memorial service.

This memorial was unveiled on Woodside Promenade, Birkenhead, by the Mayor of Wirral Cllr Dave Mitchell and the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead. They laid commemorative wreaths as did representatives of the Armed Forces. Pebbles from Gansbaai beach, where the survivors swam ashore, surround the memorial which consists of three steel panels.

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Representatives of veterans’ organisations dipped their standards in saltire.

Cammell Laird shipyard
The memorial was designed through a competition organised and judged by Cammell Laird shipyard, Andy Liston of New Brighton Lifeboat Station and Wirral Council. The winning design was submitted by Jemma Twigg of Birkenhead Sixth Form College. Cammell Laird’s apprentices then created the memorial with materials donated and costs met by Cammell Laird.

Of this progress Cammell Laird chief executive John Syvret said the company is immensely proud to build the memorial. “This is a very powerful initiative that the company immediately wanted to support given our connection to HMS Birkenhead,” he said. “It is very fitting that the tragic story of the ship, and the origins of ‘women and children’ first, should be remembered in the form of such a striking memorial on Merseyside for future generations. It is important that our apprentices understand the long history of Cammell Laird and what happened to many of the ships built here, some of which, like HMS Birkenhead, became very famous for what they did or what happened to them. This memorial helps ensure even after more than 160 years that the heroism and courage of the men that day is not forgotten.”

The Mayor of Wirral, Cllr Dave Mitchell added, “This memorial is dedicated to those who lost their lives off the coast of South Africa 162 years ago. I am particularly honoured to be able to welcome our Armed Forces to remember this event, and to bring together the people of Wirral and South Africa in a spirit of friendship and solidarity. The memorial will take its place alongside Wirral’s other important monuments to the fallen, including those at Hamilton Square and Woodside Promenade along with the wider Wirral community.”

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Cammell Laird apprentices built the memorial to victims of HMS Birkenhead with materials donated and costs met by Cammell Laird

About Cammell Laird
Cammell Laird is one of the most famous names in British industry. The business is located on the River Mersey, in the Liverpool City Region, on the West Coast of England. It is in the centre of a marine cluster, with direct access to many support services. It has a 120 acre site with four drydocks, a large modular construction hall and extensive covered workshops.

Cammell Laird specialises in military ship refit, commercial ship repair, upgrade and conversion and heavy fabrication and engineering. It deals with a wide variety of projects ranging from specialist offshore conversions and fabrication, commercial ship-repair through to the refit and upgrade of highly complex naval auxiliaries. It has also recently re-entered the shipbuilding market.

The business is further active in the energy sector. It has become a hub of the off shore wind industry and it is offering its facilities and highly trained workforce of engineers for work in the civil nuclear sector and the off shore oil and gas sector.


iss180 Africa Needs to Rethink Its Approach to Maritime Security

by Timothy Walker - Institute for Security Studies

With incidents of maritime piracy declining and greater awareness of new maritime security threats, the shape and governance of various counter-piracy initiatives and institutions will come into question this year. These typically draw on a narrow definition of maritime security, which emphasises counter-piracy and the repression of armed robbery at sea.

However, a critical transition is underway whereby the notion of maritime insecurity is being redefined. Security infrastructure and institutions such as the Djibouti Code of Conduct also need to adapt to this expanded definition.

In order to fully protect the African maritime domain, other destabilising issues that cause harm to human security are now being reconsidered.

These include illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; human trafficking; the smuggling of narcotics; and circumventing sanctions through the shipment of contraband goods and weapons. To combat and overcome these challenges requires a cooperative and, ultimately, an integrated approach.

This expanded notion of maritime insecurity is reflected in the 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIMS), which was adopted at the 22nd Annual African Union (AU) Summit in January.

The strategy provides member states with many ambitious goals, and signatories and stakeholders now have a vision to work towards - such as establishing a Blue Economy in African waters before 2050.

However, it also presents a complex challenge: how should they respond to both the apparent decline of African piracy and the emergence of new threats, while at the same time striving to achieve long-term maritime goals, and this in a context where piracy has been the main, sometimes only, concern?

Elsewhere in Africa, the various issues and threats affecting the African maritime domain are already being revised. A code of conduct similar to the Djibouti Code was signed in Yaoundé in June 2013 between the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

It is notable for expanding its definition of maritime security to include more than just piracy. So, where does this leave the Djibouti Code and counter-piracy efforts?

The Djibouti Code risks becoming a multilateral counter-piracy instrument that actually has few pirates to fight or incidents to share. In response, signatory states are currently preparing for a May 2014 ministerial review to expand its scope, while also creating a new member state owned or steered governing structure.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has now held two sub-regional meetings - in Mombasa in December 2013, and Djibouti in February - where these issues were discussed.

The code, which was signed in Djibouti in 2009 between African and Asian states bordering the West Indian Ocean, is one of the most extensive transnational efforts for combatting piracy and armed robbery at sea. It has since been signed by 20 of 21 eligible states and is steered by the IMO's Project Implementation Unit.

As signatories, states are expected to review their legislation, support capacity-building efforts and share information on piracy. It is a very technical code as it also encourages members to focus on training, reviewing and harmonising piracy legislation, trust building and creating infrastructure that enables information sharing.

The Djibouti Code remains non-binding, which has proved crucial for wide adoption by eligible states. However, it is important that signatories realise its enormous potential for improving maritime security - especially given concerns over the maritime environment and maritime-based transnational crimes such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, arms smuggling and human trafficking.

To combat these threats and efficiently utilise current infrastructure - such as the information-sharing centres in Mombasa, Dar es Salaam and Yemen - requires a revision of the Djibouti Code, possibly drawing on ideas found in the ECCAS-ECOWAS code.

It is questionable whether such revisions are in fact possible as member states were initially drawn together to counter piracy and armed robbery; an issue that was agreed to pose an international problem and which made cooperation necessary.

In addition, the code remains vulnerable to competing regionalist interests and contexts. The Djibouti Code comprises African states from five regional economic communities (RECs), as well as Asian states. Drawn together around a common and international threat, they otherwise lack a history of sustained political cooperation or a security culture.

Arguably, if the Djibouti Code does not also move in a similar direction for an expanded concept of maritime security, it risks becoming obsolete or irrelevant. However, from an African, regional and security studies standpoint, the Djibouti Code represents a laudable starting point upon which to build future maritime security capacity.

African maritime stakeholders now need to collaborate and contribute towards the successful implementation of the 2050 AIMS, as well as become involved in both creating and implementing national and regional integrated maritime strategies.

There are crucial lessons to be learnt from the process, as successful implementation depends on well-established information-sharing networks, which in turn should be underpinned by trust, technological compatibility and reciprocity.

East African RECs sorely lack an integrated maritime strategy similar to that of ECCAS, ECOWAS and SADC. As many members of the various RECs - such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA); the East African Community (EAC); and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - are also signatories to the Djibouti Code, it is likely that continued participation and implementation could enhance cooperation and integration in other sectors of the African maritime domain.

The future shape of the Djibouti Code should be monitored closely. It will prove indicative of how all stakeholders intend to respond to emerging concerns over the governance of the African maritime domain.

Timothy Walker is a Researcher at the Conflict Management and Peacebuilding Division, ISS Pretoria


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UKZN students and staff of TNPA enjoying a harbour cruise on the Isiponono, despite the threat of inclement weather. Picture: TNPA

Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Maritime Studies Unit were recently hosted by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) to a workshop aimed at giving insights into the functions and operation of the various commercial ports of South Africa.

The Maritime Studies Unit was created in 2012 as an inter-disciplinary research and teaching initiative between the Schools of Law and the Schools of Accounting, Economics and Finance, offering an LLM in Maritime law, an MCom and a Post-graduate diploma in maritime studies.

The LLM is a dynamic programme, offered full-time or part-time, and presents several opportunities for student interaction with legal professionals and members of the shipping industry. The intensive theory and student research components of the degree are grounded in exposure to the practical application of knowledge.

Supreme Court of Appeal Justice M Wallis, who is an honorary professor at UKZN, has extensive oversight over course design and content, and is a regular lecturer and examiner on the programme, which currently has 33 students registered at various stages of their degree. Vishal Surbun, UKZN School of Law, and Dusty Donnelly, who practised for many years as a maritime attorney and then as a member of the KZN Society of Advocates, are the other regular lecturers on the programme. Guest lecturers are invited from the ranks of senior attorneys, advocates and judges.

During the orientation week students also received presentations on maritime economics from Professor Trevor Jones, a well-known maritime economist and Director of the Unit, and were hosted to an evening at attorneys Norton Rose Fulbright, with presentations by director, Andrew Robinson and director of Shepstone & Wyle, Shane Dwyer.


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East London harbour

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STX Arborella 

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The South Korean-owned general cargo vessel STX ARBORELLA (57,540-dwt, built 2012), under charter to Japan’s NYK, is departing the Brazilian port of Santos in this March 2014 photograph. Like many of her kind, the general cargo ship is in full use as a container carrying vessel. Pictures: Robert Smera

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