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Ports & Ships Maritime News

23 September 2014
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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Saga Morus 01 mai 2012 470

The general cargo ship SAGA MORUS (56,816-dwt, built 1997) seen here at the Brazilian port of Santos, is currently working cargo at Maydon Wharf 11 in Durban. Saga Morus is owned by Norwegian company Saga Forest Carriers of Notteroy but flies the Hong Kong flag. Picture: Roberto Smera

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The Gulf of Aden and Yemen

In spite of UN claims that a peace agreement has been signed, fighting was reported to be continuing and Houthi rebels had by yesterday seized the airport as well as a number of government buildings in Yemen’s capital Sanaa including media facilities and military bases.

As a result of the situation, international airline have stopped flying into Yemen but according to reports the country’s seaports are still functioning normally.

In the latest news to hand on Monday, Yemen’s prime minister is reported to have resigned his office. On Sunday it was also being reported that a ceasefire had been signed between government forces and the Houthi rebels but exactly how effective this is proving is not clear.

The turmoil follows a week or more of fighting in the streets and outskirts of the city after Houthi supporters demanded a reinstatement of fuel subsidies. The rebels began blocking roads and resisted efforts by the government forces, using automatic weapons and ‘technicals’ – truck-mounted heavy machine guns.

According to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led states in the region, the rebels are backed by Shiite Iran. The unrest comes after a popular uprising three years ago which brought to an end the 33-year rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. Since then a tenuous peace has existed in the country as it faced a difficult transition to democracy.

A collapse of government for Yemen, which sits at the base of the Arabian Peninsular facing into the Gulf of Aden and the Horn of Africa, brings into question the possibility of further outbreaks of piracy should the country descend into political instability.

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Government authorities and shipping industry insiders are increasingly concerned that maritime piracy will rise globally as huge, commercial fishing firms—especially the ones that operate illegally—drive fishermen from poor countries out of business.

Local fishermen who have plied their trade for generations in Latin America, Africa, Asia and even Northern Europe increasingly find their livelihood threatened by commercial fishing operations whose scale and more advanced vessels are just too much to compete against.

Though it’s impossible to quantify how many pirates were once fishermen, experts agree that many small fishermen have turned to stealing from big merchant ships as their fisheries have been wiped out.

“When people don’t have any way of feeding their families by fishing, they don’t have many options,” meaning some will turn to maritime crime, said Lisa Speer, director of the international oceans program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Countries that border on an ocean all have a 200-mile boundary within which they have exclusive fishing rights. (Exclusive economic zones extend much further into the ocean than “territorial waters” do.) But poorer countries often don’t have the naval craft needed to patrol and protect their own rightful economic zones.

The problem is exacerbated by commercial fishing companies that fly “flags of convenience” on their ships. Companies illegally poaching on a country’s fishing rights often fly the national flag of some third-party nation—usually one that can’t or won’t exert control over its own flagged vessels—in order to conceal their true identities and avoid international laws, according to a 2012 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Other reports from government agencies, such as Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, support those UN findings. Illegal fishing operations take between US$10 billion and $23.5 billion worth of fish annually.

Such illegal fishing ships, which are much bigger than private fishermen’s vessels and can haul in tons of fish, sometimes decimate the fishing stock of a particular area and then move on to somewhere else. That leaves local fishermen without a livelihood. Some of them are turning to piracy, especially as pirates from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Horn of Africa or Nigeria repeatedly demonstrate how profitable it can be.

“If enough impoverished areas of the world feel that what [the pirates] have carried out has been very successful, this will spread,” Capt. David Watkins, a fleet quality assurance manager for Swire Group’s China Navigation unit, told CNBC this month.

CNBC this week produced an in-depth look at maritime piracy in South Asia, where incidents are increasing, becoming more complex and appear to be connected to organised crime.

The widespread dependence on fishing for people in poor nations is demonstrated by examining aggregated data on the world’s fishing fleet. There were about 4.7 million fishing vessels in operation in 2012, according to the United Nations, of which only 57 percent are motorised.

Among the vessels with engines, about 79 percent are under 12 metres (about 39 feet) in length.

An Australian government examination of data from naval insurer Lloyd’s Register of Ships found that many of the companies that use flags of convenience are actually based in Taiwan and the European Union, with Spanish firms accounting for about half of the EU total. Russia is another prominent flag-hopping nation, according to Lloyd’s.

The most common flags of convenience come from Panama, Liberia, the Marshall Islands and Malta. More than half of the world’s merchant fleet is flagged to one of those countries, according to the US Central Intelligence Agency.

Two popular flag-of-convenience countries—Bolivia and Mongolia—do not possess a shoreline. - CNBC

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Queen Mary 2 arriving in Durban on her 2011 cruise. Picture: Terry Hutson

It’s become something of a Durban tradition for thousands of people to flock to the harbour entrance or other vantage points to welcome and later that day bid farewell to the world’s most famous cruise ship, QUEEN MARY 2 on her annual one-day visit.

The same applies for Cape Town, but following her call next April, the grand lady of the oceans will be taking up full circumnavigations of the world and South African calls will be a thing of the past.

Instead, we shall get visits from two other ‘Queens’ that thus far have not been cruising this way, QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN VICTORIA.

When Queen Mary 2 arrives in Durban and Cape Town in April 2015 she will be making her last visit as she returns from a cruise from Southampton out to Australasia and the Far East via the Suez Canal, returning via the Cape of Good Hope. This has been her practice since 2009, reversing the order in which she sails each year. As a result, Durban and Cape Town, and more recently Port Elizabeth have been graced by her visits each year, either in February or April depending on her direction.

Cunard have now announced that as from 2016 the ship will complete her first circumnavigation with her route taking the ship through the Mediterranean and Suez Canal and into the Indian Ocean, calling at 38 ports of call in 26 countries on a journey spanning more than 41,000 nautical miles.

This will be her first crossing of the Pacific Ocean, with a sail-by of Easter Island and then the crossing around Cape Horn into the South Atlantic. The full voyage takes 120 days but shorter segments are available of between seven to 22 days.

Queen Mary 2 is too large to go through the Panama Canal.

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Queen Elizabeth
When Queen Mary 2 sails from Southampton on 10 January 2016 it will be together with two other ‘Queens’, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, who will also be departing on world or exotic cruises. They will return to Southampton together on 10 May, but the itineraries are otherwise very different.

Both the other ‘Queens’ will be calling at South Africa, Queen Elizabeth in January 2016 and Queen Victoria in April of that year. Queen Elizabeth’s world cruise sees her sailing a route that spans 42 ports in 25 countries and covering over 36,000 n.miles. She calls at Funchal and Gran Canaria before continuing down the African coast to Cape Town and Durban. Then it is to Australia and South East Asia, the Philippines, China, Korea and Japan.

Queen Victoria’s route takes her in the other direction, across the North Atlantic to the Caribbean, before crossing through the Panama Canal and the US West Coast. From there she sails to New Zealand and Australia before crossing the Indian Ocean to Durban and Cape Town ahead of returning to Southampton.

Full details of these cruises will be available from your travel agent.

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Geneva-based MSC Cruises has entered into an agreement with Russia’s Kalingrad region to build an international marine terminal to receive vessels at the port of Pionierskiy.

Kalingrad is a Russian enclave located on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania and is geographically isolated from the rest of Russia.

Work is expected to start in 2015, with a total investment of US$240 million. The plans for the construction of the passenger port in the Pionierskiy became known in early 2013 and, thereafter, lengthy negotiations were conducted with potential investors.

Deputy Prime Minister of the regional Kaliningrad government Alexander Rolbinov reported that “under the most optimistic scenario” passenger terminal for marine ships can be built by 2016. MSC Cruises’ CEO Roberto Grandi Navi Veloci Mortinoli has cited the unique geographical position in the Baltic Sea as key to integration with his company’s cruise networks in the Baltic.

“We see the interest and support of the government of the region, and we believe in the success of the project,” said Mortinoli.

Vernon Buxton forPorts & Ships

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Indeed an evocative view of MSC ARMONIA at the Fincantieri yards…having been literally sliced in half ahead of a lengthening process taking place in Italy. This is maritime engineering expertise at its zenith…with a pre-built 24-metre section waiting nearby to be added to one of four ships to undergo this fascinating process. This shot was posted on Facebook by Stephan Cloete…the seasoned cruise director who will be aboard MSC OPERA for the coming South African cruise season. “The first cut is the deepest,” wrote Stephan, “and it’s done! The first stage is complete in lengthening the MSC 'baby' ships.”

The 58, 625gt MSC ARMONIA was built in France and entered service in 2004. As EUROPEAN VISION, the ship began its working life auspiciously, having been selected to be a floating hotel to accommodate leaders and staff of the G8 Summit in 2001. When its owner, Festival Cruises, ceased operations in 2004, she was bought by MSC Cruises for €215 million and renamed MSC ARMONIA. The vessel features only one deck of balcony and suite cabins…an offering that would change the face of cruising when operators finally caught on to the idea…which many were slow to do. It is unlikely (though not impossible) that MSC ARMONIA will be seen in South African waters any time soon.

Vernon Buxton for Ports & Ships


CMN Longliner 470x453px
CMN longliners for Mozambique

Mozambique has begun taking delivery of boats for the state-owned tuna-fishing company it set up with funding from US$850 million in bonds, a transaction that prompted concern from the country’s aid donors.

Empresa Mocambicana de Atum SA, or Ematum, was set up in August last year. Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN) and VTB Capital Plc financed its purchase of tuna boats, then packaged the debt into bonds that they sold to investors.

“There’s five vessels delivered already,” Cristina Matavele, executive manager for Maputo-based Ematum, said in a 19 September e-mailed response to questions. The company plans to harvest 650 metric tons of tuna in the fishing season that starts next month, she said.

The Mozambican company is paying €200 million (US$257 million) for 24 tuna boats and six patrol vessels from Cherbourg, France-based Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie SA, known as CMN, French Foreign Trade Ministry spokeswoman Perrine Duglet said in an e-mail last year. The fleet also includes anti-piracy patrol boats, according to the French ministry.

Ematum borrowed $500 million from Credit Suisse and $350 million from Russia’s VTB Capital. Moody’s Investors Service rated the loan-participation notes B1, four levels below investment grade.

“The debt will be repaid in seven years starting from next year according to the loan agreement,” Matavele said.

Aid Threat

The country’s main donors, known as the Program Aid Partners, are the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Union, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Some donors threatened to delay budget aid over the deal, Anne Fruhauf, an analyst for New York-based consultants Teneo Intelligence, said last year.

“The company appears to be evolving from phantom to operational entity,” she said in a 20 September e-mail. “Donor relations are cool, but not in crisis.”

Mozambique’s long-term credit rating was cut in February by Standard & Poor’s, partly because of the lack of transparency about the bond sale.

“The delivery of the Ematum vessels is a sign of progress on the ground,” Fruhauf said.

The country expects to earn $90 million a year from fishing after the fleet is established, Fisheries Minister Victor Borges told parliament 27 November in Maputo, the capital. Mozambique’s revenue from tuna fishing is currently about $1 million, he said. - Club of Mozambique Source: Bloomberg

* See related article in PORTS & SHIPS Hollande and Guebuza witness start of big ship order - use your BACKSPACE key to return to this page.


Mr Koji Sekimizu 

IMOSecretary General 200px
IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu

The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Koji Sekimizu, says that he will step down from the post at the end of his first term when it ends in December 2015.

He said in a statement on the IMO website that he will not be seeking reappointment in December next year due to the health of his wife.

“I would like to retire from IMO at the end of the current term which expires at the end of 2015. I will not seek reappointment. This is because of my desire to ensure my support to my wife, who has a serious health issue, and I would like to ensure that, when needed, I could give more time for her care and support for her immune system problems.”

He said her problems had flared up in March and April and this has caused him to compromise his travel schedule with the IMO. Although she was now recovering, she needs continuous healthcare.

“My core reason for not seeking reappointment is that if she becomes unwell again in the future, that could affect my duty and responsibilities and I may have to compromise my work in order to ensure her care.

He said there were a number of highly-qualified people who can replace him and lead the IMO into the future, “but nobody can replace me to take care of her.”


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Gateway port

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.

You can access this information, including the list of ports covered, by going HERE - remember to use your BACKSPACE to return to this page.


berge summit piet 

sinke 20 09 2014 (2) 470

The Norwegian-owned LPG tanker BERGE SUMMIT (50,748-dwt, built 1990) seen at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. The tanker flies the Bahamas flag. Picture: Piet Sinke

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