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Ports & Ships Maritime News

17 January 2017
Author: Terry Hutson

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


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A slightly unusual visitor to the port of Durban this week has been the French research vessel with something of a different name, which starts to remind one of the local Khoisan language! This is the 7854-gt POURQUOI PAS? -- that's right, with a question mark as part of the name. Add an exclamation mark and the odd asterisk and one could be excused for expecting the crew to include clicks in their language.

Owned and operated for the French Government, the vessel is named for an earlier French vessel, POURQUOI PAS? IV, which was in use by the French polar explorer Jean-Baptiste Charcot when he died along with most of his crew when the ship was wrecked in a storm off Iceland in 1936.

The current research ship, built in 2005, spends half the year doing hydrographic work for the French Navy and the other half is operated on behalf of IFREMER, the French research institute.

Incidentally, the name Pourquoi Pas? simply means Why Not?, hence the question mark, and yes, they speak French on board. This picture is by Keith Betts

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11th IHMA CONGRESS London, 25-28 June 2018. Theme: Ports -- Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade

IHMA Congress 2018 480
IHMA Congress logo 25 28 Jun 2018 480

A call for papers has been issued and the International Harbour Masters' Association (IHMA) advises that the deadline for submission of abstracts is 19 May 2017.

Submissions are invited for abstracts of 400-600 words length in respect of a proposed paper in a potential delegate's area of expertise.

Addressing the theme Ports -- Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade, the Congress programme will be designed to appeal to all responsible for the safe, secure and efficient conduct of marine operations in ports and industry organisations working with, or within, ports across all levels of the industry.

Here is an opportunity for the presentation of ideas, case studies and technical research on innovations that will promote safe, efficient and secure maritime logistics, improve cooperation between ports and ships, develop best practice, and raise global standards for the safety, security and efficiency of ports.

Abstract submissions should:

  • Include the broad theme of the proposed paper together with the reason why the topic would be interesting for the Congress and how it addresses the theme, Ports -- Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade
  • Include a short note about the author's background and affiliations
  • Be written in English
  • Abstracts may be submitted online at: CLICK HERE

    Abstracts will be reviewed by the Papers' Committee and authors will be notified of the outcome of that review on 7 August 2017.

    The Papers' Committee comprises senior members of IHMA who are committed to developing a balanced and engaging Congress programme with contributions from members and industry that share best practice and stimulate discussion.

    If a paper is accepted the author will be sent guidelines for the paper format and presentation, as well as a timetable for the remainder of the paper's process.

    Any questions?
    Readers with questions are invited to contact the Congress Conference Manager, Niamh Horan by telephone on +61 2 9080 4138 or by e-mail at: niamh.horan@informa.com.au

    Need Inspiration?
    The Congress's interactive Resource Centre enables the potential delegate to view a collection of high calibre papers presented at the 2016 IHMA Congress held in Vancouver from 30 May to 2 June 2016.

    This comprehensive conference programme for the biennial IHMA Congress was developed following an extensive peer-review process and industry consultation to ensure that the presentations addressed current concerns and to prepare for future challenges and opportunities.

    See HERE

    Paul Ridgway

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    Turnkey delivery of ferry stations will improve transport infrastructure

    Damen Fast Ferry 1806 Agboville 480
    The new Damen-built ferries for service in Abidjan

    Following the contract signing between Damen Shipyards Group and Societe de Transport Lagunaire (STL) for 16 shallow-draught ferries for the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan (PORTS & SHIPS Damen to build 16 passenger ferries for Ivory Coast), the two companies have announced a supplementary contract for eight Damen Pontoons 2404. STL will use the pontoons for vessel mooring and passenger transfer purposes.

    The eight 24-metre pontoons will be used to construct four separate 'hop-on, hop-off' ferry stations that will be capable of mooring a ferry as well as providing a stable structure fit for safe embarkation of passengers. A number of onshore ticket offices will complete the ferry station set up: these will be supplied by STL.

    Focusing on the ferry mooring parameters of the design, the pontoons will be installed with proven fender systems to ensure the optimal landing of an approaching ferry. The pontoons will be anchored securely by blocks.

    To guarantee safe transfer of passengers, the pontoons will be equipped with anti-slip ramps as well as handrails. "These ferry stations will support Abidjan's busy water-based urban transport network," explains Damen Product Director Pontoons and Barges Frank Koppelaar. "With journey times averaging about 10 minutes, it is important to have efficient and stable passenger embarkation. These Pontoons will help STL achieve that."

    Next to delivering the client a turnkey solution with pontoons, ramps and ferries, Damen arranged the transport from the shipyard to Ivory Coast. All eight of the Pontoons 2404 were built in just 10 weeks and delivered to the client.

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    CAP SAN NICOLAS 1 31 January 2014, DBN Trevor Jo
    Hamburg Sud's Cap San Nicolas in Durban harbour, soon to be sailing as a ship in the wider Maersk Transport & Logistics group. This picture by Trevor Jones

    Maersk Chief Executive Officer Soren Skou says that Hamburg Sud would play a similar role to Safmarine for Maersk in South America.

    This follows the recent takeover of Hamburg Sud by the Maersk Group. Hamburg Sud has particular strengths in the Europe-South America trade services.

    Maersk Group CEO Soren Skou said recently that with Hamburg Sud now a part of the group, "we will build a very strong dual platform in South America. We want Hamburg Sud to do what Safmarine did for Maersk in Africa."

    He compared the absorption of the German line into the group with what happened with Safmarine in 1999 when it acquired the container section of the South African company.

    According to Skou, the recent consolidation of certain lines that is taking place will benefit Maersk and said that the Danish company intended becoming a global integrator of container logistics along the lines of FedEx and UPS.

    The container shipping industry is currently suffering from an over-supply of ships, many of which have had to be idled while other, relatively young ships -- some less than seven years old -- are being scrapped. The lines themselves are largely responsible for this situation following their headlong rush to create newer and bigger tonnages, which with the extended economic downturn has seen an over-supply of large container ships. This in turn has led to many of these having to be cascaded onto the secondary trade routes, such as those to southern hemisphere ports, and leaving many smaller vessels without areas to trade.

    Skou has acknowledged this by saying that the industry does not need any new ships and that by next year the top five container lines will control two thirds of the global market. It is unlikely that Skou regards this as a disadvantage although the ongoing imbalance in ships is certainly a concern for him and Maersk. He pointed out that by 2022 there will be a likely demand for 22 million TEU compared with a 23 million TEU in global container line capacity. If his prediction proves true then an over-capacity of container ships is going to be an ongoing challenge to the industry for some years to come. Maersk on the other hand is big enough to best withstand these challenges. Meanwhile, hundreds of senior Maersk Transport & Logistics Managers congregated in Copenhagen last month to discuss and strategise the way forward for the 'new' Maersk.

    Some five hundred executives were involved to face the changing scene at Maersk. Previous seminars were divided between Maersk Line and APM Terminals. December's gathering involved all relevant managers from Maersk Line, APM Terminals, Damco, Svitzer, and Maersk Container Industry to rethink the future for the Transport & Logistics company both short term and long term.

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    ANTAIOS IMG 3675a framed resize 480
    The casualty ANTAIOS with tugs SMIT AMANDLA and PERIDOT in attendance in Table Bay. This picture is by Glen Kasner

    The Greek-owned bulk carrier ANTAIOS (27,776-dwt, built 1999), which was abandoned by her crew in the South Atlantic after a fire broke out in the ship's engine room in December last year, was finally permitted to enter the port of Cape Town to undertake strengthening repairs.

    The crew was rescued by another ship, NSU INSPIRE which diverted to the scene after the crew of Antaois had taken to the boats. The South African salvage tug SMIT AMANDLA, which isoperated by AMSOL, hurried to the scene and salvors were able to extinguish the fire and the bulker was taken in tow to Cape Town, some 860 n.miles away.

    On arrival off the South African port, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) gave instructions for the damaged ship to be held some distance off the coast while all fuels on board were transferred onto another vessel. Only once this was accomplished was the bulker allowed to enter Cape Town harbour which was shortly before Christmas Day.

    Since then it is understood that some repairs have been carried out to enable the ship to be towed to Durban where the cargo is to be discharged at Maydon Wharf. Antaios is laden with soya flour and corn (maize) which had been loaded in the port of San Lorenza in Argentina and was intended for Yemen.

    It is understood that the cargo will now be discharged in Durban before the vessel is towed to another location, possibly to be broken up, in which case the breakers yard at the Mozambique port of Nacala is considered likely.

    In other 'ship repair' news, the Royal Navy patrol ship HMS CLYDE (P257) has arrived in Simon's Town for a two-month stayover during which time the 81-metre long River-class vessel will undergo maintenance and repair in the naval base dry dock.

    The ship has been on patrol duty off the Falkland Islands and conducts routine visits to the small settlements on the different islands. The ship also patrols around the other British Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic, such as South Georgia.

    HMS Clyde is expected to sail from Simon's Town on 20 February 2017.

    The patrol ship has been replaced temporarily in the seas off the Falklands by the survey vessel HMS ENTERPRISE which will use the opportunity to update charts of the area.

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    SS Mendi 1917 480

    The South African Navy frigate SAS Amatola (F145) will shortly be sailing for the UK to take part in a special commemoration marking 100 years since the tragic sinking of the troopship SS Mendi in February 1917.

    SS Mendi, built in 1905 of 4,222 gross tons and formerly of the Elder Dempster Lines, had sailed from South Africa via Lagos in West Africa with 823 men of the 5th Battalion of the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLC), who were to serve in France, along with their 23 white officers and NCO's.

    On 21 February 1917, after visiting the port of Plymouth, the troopship sailed for France with a Royal Navy destroyer HMS Brisk as escort, bound for Le Havre in France. As Mendi approached the Isle of Wight and in misty conditions she collided with the larger SS Darro of 11,484-gt, which was en route for South America and was sailing at full speed despite the foggy conditions.

    Mendi was breached in her forward hold and rapidly filled with water and began to sink.

    Reports say the men and officers of the SANLC gathered on the sinking ship's decks and prepared to go down with the ship as many could not swim. Among the men were 33 of the crew, of which a number were from Sierra Leone in West Africa.

    Legend has it that an interpreter and SANLC chaplain among the soldiers, Revd Isaac Wauchope Dyobha, who had been a minister in the Congregational Native Church of Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape, had called out to the men gathered on the deck in a loud voice, "Be quiet and calm, my countrymen. What is happening now is what you came to do......you are going to die, but that is what you came to do. Brothers, we are drilling the death drill. I, a Xhosa, say you are my brothers....... Swazis, Pondos, Basotho, so let us die like brothers. We are the sons of Africa. Raise your war-cries, brothers, for though they made us leave our assegais in the kraal, our voices are left with our bodies."

    Certainly, survivors recorded that the men faced death with great dignity.

    In all, 618 men of the 5th Battalion SANLC, 9 Officers and NCOs and 33 crew perished that day. Those who died were drawn from all parts of the country and neighbouring states and included 87 men who came fron Natal. The largest number came from the Transvaal. Some of the men died from the initial impact or were trapped within the ship, but most drowned in the cold waters of the English Channel. The relatively few survivors were picked up by the escorting destroyer which lowered its boats, but SS Darro which was lightly damaged did not stop to help but sailed on. The master of that ship was later found guilty of "having travelled at a dangerously high speed in thick fog, and of having failed to ensure that his ship emitted the necessary fog sound signals." It being wartime, his licence was suspended for just a year.

    The wreck of the Mendi was positively identified in 1974, 11.3 nautical miles off Saint Catherine's Light.

    Two ships of the present South African Navy carry names commemorating this tragedy -- one of the four frigates is SAS Mendi and a renamed former strike craft and now patrol vessel, is SAS Isaac Dyobha.

    When she sails for the UK SAS Amatola will travel via the west coast where she will conduct patrol duties before heading for the UK and later to Germany. The SS Mendi commemoration will involve Amatola and ships of the Royal Navy with the lowering of wreaths into the sea above the wreck, which is sitting upright on the sea bottom.

    Afterwards, SAS Amatola will undertake the Royal Navy's Basic Operational Sea Training (BOST) work-up inspection. This involves the combining of surveys of the physical condition of the ship with tests of the crew's readiness for deployment, including a warfighting and damage control scenario. The objective is to ensure the ship is at the right level of operational capability to progress to multinational, task group training.

    SAS Amatola has conducted a previous Royal Navy BOST work-up in 2007, four years after she entered service. Since then the ship has completed a full R400 million refit at the Durban shipyard of Southern African Shipyards in which both main propulsion engines were replaced, her gas turbines were refurbished as were various other parts of the ship.

    Later she is to sail for Kiel in Germany where Amatola will take part in Exercise Good Hope VII, the bi-annual naval exercise between the South African and German Navies. These are usually held in South African waters.

    During her return to South Africa the frigate will pay courtesy calls at several ports on the West Coast of Africa, before arriving back in Simon's Town on April 19, after a three month deployment.

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    Maydon Wharf 13 and 14 completed ship Bright Sky
    On Friday 13 January the Port of Durban's Maydon Wharf Precinct serviced Bright Sky, the first vessel to use the common-user berth 14 after reconstruction of both the berths. With the handover to port operations both berth 13 and 14 are now fully operational. Picture: TNPA

    Another two berths at Durban's historic Maydon Wharf terminal have been deepened as part of a R1.5 billion project to cater for much bigger ships now calling at the port.

    The latest two berths to be completed are berths 13 and 14 at the Bayhead end of the terminal. The project was completed within the specified timeframe.

    The project is under the charge of Transnet Group Capital which is executing this on behalf of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).

    The first ship to make use of the new improved and deepened berths was the MACS vessel BRIGHT SKY, which came onto the common-user berth 14 on Friday, 13 January and to mark the handover of the site to port operations.

    "The handing over of these two berths marks a great milestone for one of the oldest ports in the country. It talks to safety improvements and revamping of infrastructure which will further enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of our ports," said Moshe Motlohi, Durban's port manager.

    The adjacent berth 13 is also now fully operational. Another berth, berth 12 underwent similar conversion some time ago and has been in full service for a couple of years.

    The R1.5 billion project for reconstruction and deepening of six Maydon Wharf Berths, numbers 1-4, 13 and 14 was awarded to Stefanutti Stocks AXSYS Joint Venture in 2014.

    The completed berths have a draught alongside of 14.5 metres, enabling them to handle vessels with draughts up to 13m, making these berths the deepest berths in the Port of Durban. However, the Maydon Wharf access channel will still need to be deepening thereafter to enable deeper-draught vessel to sail in fully laden. This is reminiscent of putting the cart before the horse with the entrance channel widening and deepening project, which now enables ships with deep draughts to enter port although there are no berths capable of taking them fully laden.

    Constructed more than a hundred years ago, the Maydon Wharf Precinct is one of the oldest cargo terminals and is the largest breakbulk and dry bulk handling precinct in the Port of Durban covering 120 ha of port land.

    The precinct's oldest berth is 110 years old. Work commenced on building Maydon Wharf in 1905 and the first ship to dock at the new wharf was the freighter ILLERTON which berthed with a cargo of timber for the firm of Hunt, Leuchars and Hepburn on 5 October 1906.

    That first wharf was built of timber on timber piles.

    The project scope at berths 13 and 14 involved demolition of paving, rail track work and services, construction of new steel sheet piled quay walls, demolition of existing piled crane beams, extraction of timber, concrete piles and limited number of steel sheet piles and removal of the existing quay walls and capping beams.

    Despite the reconstruction being identified as a brownfield project, the team had a challenge in obtaining initial engineering drawings for the berths.

    "One of the biggest challenges was to understand and retrieve the initial engineering recording of these berths. This meant that the team had to spend more time in designing and reconstruction of the quay walls," said port engineer Malefetsane Setaka.

    The newly constructed quay walls is expected to have a lifespan of about 50 years.

    The completion of Berths 13 and 14 comes six months after the handover of Berth 1 and 2 to port operations in July 2016. This brings to four the number of completed berths out of the six berths included in the current project scope.

    The project to reconstruct and repair all six berths is expected to be completed by 2018.

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    MG 9844 480
    MSC SINFONIA. Picture by Trevor Jones

    For anyone who fancies a leisurely cruise from the Mother City to Durban, lasting a whole seven nights, this may be your opportunity, although you'll have to move fast.

    It's also worth your time as this is a cruise that won't overstretch your budget.

    MSC Cruises has come up with a combo cruise taking seven nights between Cape Town and Durban. Normally MSC SINFONIA would take a maximum of four days between Cape Town and Durban, but this time round the ship is sailing from Cape Town to Mossel Bay, returns to Cape Town where you remain on board (unless you fancy a day visiting the V&A or other sights), before the ship sails for Port Elizabeth and then Durban.

    To achieve this MSC Cruises has created a Combo Cruise by combining two cruises for a total of one week on board, for a special rate starting as little as R4300 per person.

    The ship sails from Cape Town on the evening on 20 January, bound for Mossel Bay. She returns to Cape Town on the morning of 23 January, providing an opportunity to spend a day exploring the city or relaxing at the V&A Waterfront. That evening she sails again this time for Port Elizabeth and Durban, taking four days in total before arriving in the morning of 27 January.

    Time is short, the ship sail this Friday -- full details can be had from your nearest MSC Cruises office.

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    Request a Rate Card frominfo@ports.co.za


    Port Louis 470
    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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    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

    Naval News
    SA Navy 480

    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

    Remember to use your backspace key to return to this page.


    NAVIG8 AVENTURINE 14 January 2017 480

    The Singapore owned and operated oil products and chemical tanker NAVIG8 AVENTURINE (37,568-dwt, built 2015) passes down the Durban entrance channel before entering Durban Bay and a berth at Island View, the oil berth terminal. Navig8 Aventurine is registered in the Marshall Islands. This picture is by Trevor Jones


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