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FIRST VIEW : ASPHALT SPLENDOR
The bitumen carrier ASPHALT SPLENDOR recently called at a number of New Zealand ports to discharge bitumen. Here she is seen on her berth at the tank farm in Lyttelton Harbour. Asphalt Splendor (37,087-dwt, built 2015) is owned and operated by various divisions of Sargeant Marine Inc, USA. The picture is by Alan Calvert
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MAERSK SEES ROUGH SEAS AHEAD FOR SOUTH AFRICAN TRADE
Yesterday we published a video clip report by Safmarine's Dirk Hoffmann on the South African trade report for 2015.
In this edition we report on the Third Quarter 2015 trade report published by parent company Maersk Group.
In this, the report states that the economic slowdown in China and the slump in commodity prices was impacting container trade in South Africa. The dry exports market, made up of mostly mining commodities, had declined by 2 percent year-on-year in October and by 4 percent over the previous quarter.
At the same time, the import market remains steady, with 4 percent year-on-year growth in October and 2 percent over the previous quarter.
Matthew Conroy, Maersk Line trade manager for Southern Africa said that the report showed that trade growth rate in South Africa was declining, but with pockets of growth witnessed in certain industries, which are expected to grow.
So far, 2015 had been a strong growth year for South African refrigerated cargo exports, which generally includes fruits such as apples, pears and grapes. This, the report said can be primarily attributed to the exchange rate and strong demand
for fruit from Europe.
Fruit exports grew by 6 percent in the past quarter, and Conroy believes that refrigerated exports will continue to see growth as the global demand for fruit continues to strengthen and crop output remains positive. He warns however that the on-going drought in various areas in the country could be cause for concern.
He said the road ahead for South African trade is not without obstacles, namely low consumer confidence, the fluctuating Rand and low commodity prices, all of which are resulting in lower confidence levels in the industry, and will result in
lower GDP growth and consumer spend.
"In addition, the steady import growth locally from Asia, predominately made up of consumer goods, has declined by 4 percent
over the last quarter, indicates that South Africans are currently spending less on consumables such as high end electronic goods."
Conroy points to the dry cargo export market as another challenge.
"Due to the significant drop in commodity prices, linked to lower consumer consumption in China, it is anticipated that dry export growth will remain negative in the short and medium-term, as commodity prices or demand is not expected to recover globally over the next few months.
"As a result of the uncertain economic trade environment, as highlighted in our latest report, the global shipping industry too
faces headwinds with global demand dropping. It is therefore crucial for South African businesses to align themselves with established and knowledgeable partners with a global infrastructure to ride out these economic storms," he says.
He adds that as a result of the uncertain economic trade environment, as highlighted in Maersk's latest report, the global shipping industry too faces headwinds with global demand dropping. "It is therefore crucial for South African businesses to align themselves with established and knowledgeable partners with a global infrastructure to ride out these economic storms," says Conroy.
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TANZANIA PM MEETS FREIGHT FORWARDERS OVER CLAIMS OF CORRUPTION AT PORT
Port of Dar es Salaam - corruption charges investigated
Following several months of accusations and comment levelled against the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and increasing demand by members of the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) to meet with government leaders over charges and accusations concerning container handling at the port of Dar es Salaam, the country's prime minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa agreed last week to meet with TAFFA representatives.
Tanzania's Daily News quoted the prime minister as saying that he decided to hold a meeting with TAFFA members after receiving a letter from the association's chairman, Stephen Ngatunga.
"I usually watch all television stations everyday to see what is going on in the country and after seeing your chairman on TV several times, I decided to talk to him, advising him to put all the complaints in writing.
"That is why I have decided that we meet today," he said.
The meeting was attended by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, Inspector-General of Police, Ernest Mangu, Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Alphayo Kidata, and various other officials and officers.
TAFFA members are on record as having accused TPA officials of manipulation of computer records at the port, saying it denied the government billions of shillings in revenue. However, the blame has wrongly been shifted to other stakeholders, including freight forwarders.
The TAFFA chairman blamed "sickening corrupt practices by technicians at the IT section of TPA," which was described as 'a hatchery of swindlers', where young technicians allegedly tampered with computer operations to steal billions of shillings.
Mr Ngatunga has repeatedly alleged that the IT people colluded with dishonest bankers to steal billions on a regular basis and pass the buck to agents, adding that there was no way a freight forwarder agent could move a container from the port without a release order after verification of all payments.
On Monday, the prime minister said he was aware of all the grievances being raised by TAFFA members. He asked members to speak openly at a closed door meeting.
Members of the press were asked by the prime minister to leave immediately after his opening remarks. "I understand that you have been accusing the port's officials of double payments -- in my opinion you should submit evidence of the payments," he told the association.
It is not recorded whether the association felt satisfied after finally meeting with the prime minister.
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LARGEST SHIP EVER TO DOCK AT MAPUTO ARRIVES
Maputo port. Picture by Terry Hutson
What is claimed as the largest ship ever to dock in any Mozambican port arrived in Maputo on Tuesday afternoon, according to a release from the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC).
The ship is the GOLDEN KATHRINE (182,486-dwt, built 2015), a bulk carrier registered in Hong Kong, which is 292 metres long with a deadweight of 182,486 tonnes. It is a modern ship, built in 2015. Its previous port of call was Longkou, China, reports AIM.
The ship is owned by the Golden Ocean Group, a bulk shipping company based in Bermuda, which owns a fleet of 70 vessels.
The docking of the Capesize vessel only became possible thanks to recent dredging of the port access channel undertaken by MPDC. In 2010-2011 the channel was deepened from 9.4 to 11 metres, which contributed to increasing the volume of cargo passing though the port from 12 million tonnes in 2011 to 19 million in 2014.
Now MPDC plans further dredging as from May which will deepen the channel to 14.2 metres. The task will be undertaken by the international dredging company, Jan de Nul, based in Luxemburg, and will take ten months to complete.
When this dredging is complete, says the MPDC release, ships the size of the Golden Kathrine will become "a normal sight in the Bay of Maputo".
The dredging programme will cost US$115 million. MPDC says this will make Maputo Port "more competitive on the regional and international markets".
MPDC has held the lease on Maputo Port since 2003.
It is a consortium between the publicly owned ports and rail company CFM (which holds 49 percent of the shares), and the private investor Portus Indico, in which the main shareholders are DP World of Dubai and the South African company Grindrod.
It would appear that the port of Maputo will face the same challenge as does Durban to its south -- that of having no berths with suitable depths alongside to handle loaded Capesize vessels but with an entrance channel capable of admitting such ships. -- P&S
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A LUXURY RESORT THAT MOVES
MSC SINFONIA anchored off Portuguese Island on a perfect morning in late February this year. This particular voyage featured two nights at this remote Mozambican island, and we passengers were the beneficiaries of an ideal beach holiday melded with a splendid 4-Star hotel, filling each day with choices, options and temptations. Yes, the biggest decisions on these idyllic days was what to do next? Takes some beating, to be sure.
At a 'mere' 60,000gt, MSC SINFONIA is no match for the current behemoths galloping across the Seven Seas, but she remains a very large ship creating plenty of space across many decks, and by the end of any day at sea you'll have covered quite some distance on foot. Or, done as little as you please.
Any day at sea fits into time zones, when certain things are going to happen for you, and the in-between times are there for you to make things go entirely your way.
Breakfast and lunch at Il Galeone Restaurant on Deck 5 is the smart choice, in an atmosphere of great service, amid fine crockery, cutlery and napery. There's a buffet spread, plus a printed menu for special items, like Eggs Benedict, for instance. Why not ask for waffles and cream too? Why not indeed! Dinner is offered at 6pm and 8.30pm sittings in both this and the Il Covo restaurant on the deck above. Or, you may rather opt for a buffet spread on Deck 11 in the Buffet La Terrazza, with its expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. Your correspondent opted for the smarter dining facility every time.
That's a joint of Italian-style roast pork, if you please, only one of many highlights in a buffet lunch in Il Galeone Restaurant. If you try to watch your waist you don't stand a chance! What the heck, you're on holiday!
You may browse through the many shops on the lower decks after 9.30am, very definitely a lucrative source of added shipboard revenue, with more outlets added when MSC lengthened the ship.
Why not pop into the Casino for a flutter? -- always much busier than in this picture, which had to be sneaked. The attractions and distractions just never stop, it's what passengers love about cruise liners. There's a permanent buzz in this area, enhanced by a Lotto draw and Bingo sessions in the main theatre, which are very popular.
Or you may opt for a choice of other Italian lunch specialties, with a choice of colourful salads and a line-up of irresistible 'puds' to follow.
Perhaps a little lie down after lunch, before coming down for some relaxing melodies in the main lounge.
Later, a songstress emerges to offer her renditions of popular songs, whilst stewardesses circulate to offer the reduced-price exotic cocktails of the day.
Cakes and biscuits and other afternoon tea delights start at 4pm in the topside Buffet La Terrazza, a sunny place where you can enjoy all meals. This spot is in demand, so do get there early.
Or, maybe opt for pizza in an eatery that stays open for 20 hours a day. About 700 of these real-Italian pizzas are gobbled up daily, and close to 2,000 burgers and chips are handed out at no extra charge. It's not as though there isn't enough to eat, perhaps it's the pure sea air that makes one permanently hungry.
The kiddies simply love the new spray park on the pool deck; it's one of the features that were included when a new 24-metre 'slice' was added to MSC SINFONIA last year. All four Lirica-class vessels, including MSC OPERA, MSC ARMONIA and MSC LIRICA underwent the lengthening process resulting in 200 extra cabins and added facilities. It was an astonishing triumph of engineering and technology and the end result has certainly boosted revenues.
Deck games for little ones are really popular and there are special programmes for youngsters and teens throughout the day. Children are very well cared for, whilst parents can also have a bit of 'us-time' to suit them.
An 'Italian Evening' reveals a full range of Italian specialties in both the Il Galeone and Il Covo restaurants, and the stewards come through the eateries brandishing specially-made cakes. Then the well-honed catering staff is introduced to welcoming guests.
There are two repeat extravaganza shows nightly in the spacious Teatro San Carlo, where cruise director Stephen Cloete entertains you with a great sense of theatre and self-deprecating jokes. Stephen has enjoyed many such seasons in South African waters, and will undoubtedly stick around to indulge a good many more.
Children on the ship are taught to do a little show for the audience before the nightly performance commences and their efforts are met with thunderous applause. The "Ag shames" fly around the theatre without restraint. Just look at them -- ag, shame!
'Romeo and Guilietta' was one of the musical presentations, revealed with exemplary singing and elegant choreography. It's all part of the escapism, fun and fantasy that sets cruise holidays apart. Show me the local resort where you get this every night?
'Nature' was another colourful extravaganza, all part of a full programme of entertainment which few land resorts could match. It's no wonder so many passengers come back for more, year after year.
'Tropical Party Night' is one of the highlights, with everyone out on deck dancing and singing in a fest of fun that goes on until the early hours. There's also a disco to move on to, which only gets really lively after 11.30pm. It's no wonder this South African cruise season is so popular.
During the day or night you can always find a quiet corner to escape from the hullabaloo for a while. It's a chance to meet and chat and with other people, and to spend some time relaxing. There is a small library if a good read is what you seek.
On your way back to Durban enjoy the endless enchanting vistas of the Mozambique coast. It's all part of the overall joy of cruising, on a holiday that is stress-free, excludes crime, and indulges all the fantasies that are not part of your normal day-to-day. Then it's overnight down the South African coast and an early arrival back in Durban, when another slick process ensures you're off home with no hassles at all.
MSC Cruises is a Swiss-based, global cruise company with headquarters in Geneva and Naples. It is the world's largest privately owned cruise company, employing 15,500 people worldwide and has offices in 45 countries. MSC Cruises is part of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world's second biggest container shipping operator, with more than 440 vessels.
MSC Cruises has four new ships on order from STX France and Fincantieri, with options for three more. The first two ships are due to be delivered in 2017, MSC MERAVIGLIA, 167,600gt and MSC SEASIDE, 154,000gt. The two additional vessels will also be 160,600gt, competing with other behemoths in what has become a hyper-competitive environment. A 'tipping point' in Caribbean, Baltic and Mediterranean waters had resulted in a large-scale secondment to China ports, and MSC Cruises will make its presence felt there when it seconds MSC LIRICA to the East in May this year, with bigger vessels to follow, quite undoubtedly.
Are you among the 'clever bunnies' booked for the repositioning cruise to the north come 22 May? Sailing from Cape Town, MSC SINFONIA will chart a course for Walvis Bay, Dakar, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Tangier, Valletta, Dubrovnik, Ancona and, finally, Venice. It's the best-value for money cruising available and the fact that it follows in the wake of Union-Castle, Lloyd Triestino, Ellerman Bucknall, Holland-Afrika, Companhia Nacional de Navegacao and a host of other historic passenger services on African routes would be more than good enough for me. Bon voyage you lucky fishes, and may your extended voyage be blessed with 'fair skies and following seas'.
MSC SINFONIA will be back in local waters later this year with another full programme of Indian and Atlantic ocean departures. See you there, we hope!
for PORTS & SHIPS
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HMS ARTFUL COMMISSIONED
Photographs UK Crown copyright 2016.
Astute Class submarine HMS ARTFUL was commissioned at a ceremony at HM Naval Base Clyde, on Scotland's west coast on 18 March 2016.
Guest of honour at the ceremony was the submarine's sponsor Lady Zambellas, wife of the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir George Zambellas. Lady Zambellas named Artful in September 2013, before her launch in May the following year in Barrow in Furness.
Amanda Zambellas was joined by her husband, representatives of the companies involved in Artful's construction and operation as well as the submarine's 150 ship's company, their families and friends.
"This is a red letter day that marks the beginning of the next crucial stage of development for the Royal Navy and its Submarine Service," said Sir George Zambellas (picture). "Today's ceremony dramatically increases the operational capability of the Submarine Service with the commissioning of our third Astute-class boat, and is another milestone in the journey towards HM Naval Base Clyde becoming the UK Submarine Centre of Specialisation by 2020."
"It is wonderful that so many families and affiliates could join HMS Artful for her big day," said Lady Amanda Zambellas. "Over a decade has passed since her keel was laid, so it is hugely rewarding for everyone involved with the project to finally see the White Ensign flying from her stern. While the technology inside is impressive, it is the Ship's Company who really give HMS Artful her soul. Through their expertise and a good sense of fun, I know they really will live up to her name, and I look forward to supporting her in the many years ahead."
Since she was handed over to the Royal Navy by BAE Systems Submarines in December 2015, Artful has been conducting trials to prove her systems and equipment at sea, ahead of her first operational deployment later in 2017. Highlight of the trials was the firing of six heavyweight Spearfish torpedoes on the British Underwater Testing and Evaluation Centre near the Isle of Skye.
It is understood that Artful is the first of the Royal Navy's submarines to be fitted with the Common Combat System (CCS), which is regarded as the digital 'brain' of the boat controlling its eyes, ears and nervous system.
Artful's two sister boats ASTUTE and AMBUSH have already successfully conducted operational deployments. Both have deployed to the Mediterranean, and Middle East where they have been involved in anti-smuggling and security operations and have provided Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) capability in support of anti-terrorism operations in the region.
The Astute-class are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel.
HMS Astute, Ambush, and now Artful, are the first of the Class to be accepted by Navy Command, which is responsible for operating all the Royal Navy's vessels. The next two submarines in the Class, AUDACIOUS and ANSON, are currently being built in Barrow, with AGAMEMNON and the unnamed Boat 7 to follow.
BAE Systems is responsible for delivering the Astute Class and for the design of the successor to the Vanguard class, Successor, which will carry the UK's nuclear deterrent, and also be based at HM Naval Base Clyde.
Brief technical details about HMS Artful:
Length: 97 metres
Beam: 11.3 metres
Draught: 10 metres
Displacement (Dived): 7,400 tonnes
Displacement (Surfaced): 7,000 tonnes
Pennant Number: S121
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EXPECTED SHIP ARRIVALS and SHIPS IN PORT
Port Louis - Indian Ocean 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.
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CRUISE NEWS AND NAVAL ACTIVITIES
QM2 in Cape Town. Picture by Ian Shiffman
We publish news about the cruise industry here in the general news section, but this is also available in a dedicated Cruise News section. This section will include various stories and news not covered in the general news so if you have an interest in this sector don't forget to check regularly on our CRUISE NEWS page.
This you will find here in CRUISE NEWS & REVIEWS
Similarly you can read our regular Naval News reports and stories which also have their own dedicated section, although some stories may be duplicated in the general news section.
Find the Naval Review section HERE
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PIC OF THE DAY : SUNSHINE STATE
The chemical and oil products tanker SUNSHINE STATE (48,633-dwt, built 2009) arriving at Port Evergades in Florida, USA, escorted by the harbour tug ST JOHN. The US-owned tanker is managed by Crowley Petroleum Services of Jacksonville. The pictures are by Tony de Freitas
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