Roro built in Kenya and transported by road to Uganda

Southern Engineering Co Ltd (SECO) partnered with Damen to build and deliver MV Albert Nile 1 to Uganda National Roads Authority from their shipyard in Mombasa, Kenya.
MV Albert Nile 1 is a roll on roll off (RoRo) modular ferry specially designed to safely transport passengers and vehicles across Lake Albert in Uganda.

The hull of the vessel consists of container sized units which are coupled together with a specially designed coupling system. The entire vessel was transported by road, Uganda being a landlocked country, to her final destination and assembled on-site.
The ferry currently connects Buliisa district to Nebbi (Panyimur) in Uganda and has a capacity of carrying 250 people and 20 vehicles.

SOURCE: Southern Engineering Co Ltd

Department of Transport highlights seafarer wellbeing

The Department of Transport (DoT), together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), hosted stakeholder engagements in Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth where industry had the opportunity to raise concerns and address issues related to training, selection and wellbeing of seafarers.
During the roundtable sessions, delegates heard that the DoT had committed to enhancing the wellbeing of seafarers by proposing to add specialised health services in vessels. Dumisani Ntuli, head of Maritime Transport in DoT, said through the assistance of the Department of Health, the health services onboard would be “beefed-up”.
“We are determined to roll out services to help elevate the health status of the seafarers, while working at sea. Psychological, medical and physiological services will help ease the burden faced by seafarers, while removed from land services. Health professionals will soon be travelling with seafarers,” said Ntuli.

Cadet program attracts attention

Industry stakeholders, however, challenged the government to rethink its cadet program in the light of the high drop-out rate as well as the lack of real opportunities that seem to actually exist for South African seafarers – many of whom remain unemployed after completing costly training.

The notion that these youngsters were being trained for failure was highlighted and debated at the session in Cape Town where honest and robust feedback delivered 10 key points to be addressed going forward.

Panellists and delegates highlighted the need for cadets to be more prepared for what they face at sea and what is expected of them under the Merchant Shipping Act. It was noted that the industry may have over-glamourised the opportunities presented by a career at sea in an attempt to encourage the youth to sign up to become seafarers.

Developing a ships’ registry

The option to address some of the issues currently being faced through the development of a more robust ships’ registry was also discussed, but represents a medium to long term solution.

Similarly, considerations around cabotage laws to favour South African manning of coastal vessels could alleviate some of the challenges being faced in placing seafarers. Maritime Review Africa

SA Training vessel SA Agulhas takes on ratings

The SA Agulhas, South Africa’s dedicated training vessel has taken on its first group of 20 deck and engine rating trainees in a pilot program aimed at growing the pool of employable South African Seafarers.

this new pilot project is a first and takes on board rating trainees who are able to climb the ranks from Deck- or Engine Rating, up to Able Seafarer level through further on board training, which will enable them to eventually achieve a Certificate of Proficiency.

The ratings trainees are part of a group of 45 candidates in a pilot project facilitated by the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI) and funded by the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA).

Sobantu Tilayi, Chief Operating Officer for SAMSA, said: “As part of our commitment to address the high unemployment rate, this rating training provides a wider scope of maritime training and skills development.

“It addresses the gap for career opportunities. Young people would be able to find jobs in areas such as

“The vessel is well suited for its training role, and its recent refurbishments at the dry dock, is testimony of its strength and calibre,” Tilayi said.

By supporting the hands-on aspects of maritime training, the project partners are contributing to skills development as outlined in the South African government’s Operation Phakisa plan to fast-track the growth and development of the oceans economy.

SAIMI chief executive officer Professor Malek Pourzanjani said getting a project of this nature off the ground was the result of strong partnerships and collaboration, involving both public and private sector role-players and training providers.

“Special mention should be made of TETA as the funder and SAMSA as the owner of the vessel for providing this valuable opportunity for the trainees to gain sea-time,” he said.

Malcolm Alexander, TETA’s maritime education training and development practitioner, said: “We are pleased to see this pilot training project taking shape with the trainees being able to gain practical experience at sea aboard the SA Agulhas.

“The project expands TETA’s involvement in maritime sector education and training at a practical skill level and is a positive for the maritime sector and oceans economy growth.

“It also grows the pool of South African seafarers available for local and global employment.”

The next phase of the project will entail building the capacity of TVET (Technical Vocational Education & Training) Colleges to offer the training.The current group of trainees are being managed by the South African Maritime Training Academy (SAMTRA) and the Sea Safety Training Group. Marine Crew Services is also a partner to the project, having agreed to place trainees in their managed fleets for further training.

The SA Agulhas will be sailing along the coast to Cape Town, on charter to the SA Environmental Observation Network (SAEON), a business unit of the National Research Foundation (NRF), to retrieve data from a number of scientific buoys deployed in coastal waters to monitor the Agulhas current and its role in climate change. Source: Maritime News

‘Autonomous’ does not necessarily mean ‘unmanned’

I was assured last week in Houston that “autonomous doesn’t mean unmanned”. The expert who offered me his wisdom is a senior player in the energy shipping sector and heads a team of techno-wizards who should know about these things. So it wasn’t an idle statement and has deep relevance for shipping.
It’s not the first time I had heard this attempt to head off one of the most divisive conversations in maritime since the whole ballast water fiasco ripped up the myth that regulators were working hand in glove with marine equipment manufacturers. Five years ago, when “autonomous” emerged from the mists to become the answer to all shipping’s problems, it was laid on pretty thickly that there would be no crew needed to oversee these connected vessels running between connected terminals, with skeleton teams of technicians in operations control centres maintaining propulsion or pumping systems simply using holograms. There would be no accommodation block, because crews are no longer necessary on board, the space created now being filled with paying cargo. The big debate then was, how were the remote technicians able to do more than play computer games when they had no experience of life at sea? The implication of such a question was that autonomous or, to be more accurate, remotely controlled shipping did indeed mean “unmanned”. But there has been a softening of stance among the experts, in line with a great deal of rethinking among the autonomous commercial airline and ride share enthusiasts. Human error is still regarded as the number one cause of accidents and incidents in transportation but, somewhat ironically, such is our hesitancy to entirely trust technology that we think it best if humans oversee technology. A year ago, Wärtsilä conducted a series of tests on the platform supply vessel Highland Chieftain off the coast of Scotland while remotely operated from San Diego, California. I was told that the PSV’s crew were standing by throughout with instructions to take manual control if anything went wrong. So, if an autonomous ship mirrors an autonomous car in that it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input, why would this ship need to be manned? Perhaps for maintenance, with advice from ashore, or to pounce on manual controls if the technology malfunctioned.
Rather than “unmanned” — the softened stance suggests “differently manned” — and differently manned means manned. So, in mid-2018, and in spite of the dictionary definition, when it comes to shipping, autonomous does not mean unmanned. And it will be a few more years until it does. Source: LloydslistThe

Maritime Training opportunities on board third SA registered vessel

The multipurpose platform supply and support vessel Greatship Manisha – operating out of the port of Mossel Bay – became the third ship to be registered on the South African Ships Registry. The vessel was registered on the 14th March 2017.

It is the first ship to be registered by the Cape Town-based Marine Crew Services (MCS) which has chartered the vessel as part of its two-year contract with petroleum company PetroSA.

Two South Africans have been serving on the vessel – which was previously registered in Singapore – and the move to the South African Ships Register will lead to a further seven South African seafarers joining the vessel upon registration.

MCS aimed to eventually have a 100% local crew complement aboard the 4 600-deadweight tonne (DWT) vessel, said company CEO Daniel Ngubane. Provision had been made to take six South African trainee cadets on board once the ship had been officially recognised as a maritime training vessel by the South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA), he added.
Ngubane pointed out that MCS had, for the past 14 years, successfully trained and placed close to 900 South Africans — ranging from officers to cadets – on local and international vessels.

He said the company also provided bursaries to Lawhill Maritime Centre graduates ( for enrollment in tertiary maritime studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

According to him, the local registration of the Greatship Manisha offers opportunities for young South Africans who have completed their theoretical training to obtain the required practical experience at sea that completes their international qualification.

Rufus Lekala suspended

South Africa’s Chief Harbour Master has suspended.
No reasons have been given at this stage.

The following as an extract from Brand South Africa’s article:
“From taxi driver to South African and world maritime history-maker – this is how Captain Rufus Lekala’s life story would read if it were written today.

Appointed as the first black harbour master in South Africa and the youngest in the world in 2002, Lekala has now made maritime history again after becoming the first black chief harbour master in the country and the youngest in the world to hold such a position.

The 41-year-old father of two took up the position on 1 June 2011.

A chief harbour master is responsible for strategising maritime projects and dealing with policy-making.

Lekala is also responsible for cohesion between the Department of Transport, Transnet, the International Maritime Association and the International Lighthouse Association.”

BMC attends VDES conference in Cape Town

We recently attended the VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) conference in the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West near Cape Town, South Africa. The event was organised by Stone Three Venture technology.

It was very gratifying the founder of BMC, Captain Keith Burchell, was publicly recognised as one of the founders of the AIS technology.

To quote from the handout:
“VDES is seen as an effective and efficient use of radio spectrum, building on the capabilities of AIS and addressing the increasing requirements for data through the system”

Presentations on the way forward for VDES were given by a variety of speakers, with John Hirst of Senro UK hosting the event.

Apart from the guy next to me having a kip after lunch, the attendees were participatory and this new communication technology has a lot of support in the shipping community.

Compliance issues were discussed at length and this is going to pose a challenge for the international community.

A very informative conference and we look forward to being part of the future of Maritime communications.

Macuse gets the go-ahead in Mozambique

Macauhub reports that the Portuguese construction group Mota-Engil has been hired to build a rail-road between Moatize in Tete province Mozambique, and Macuse on the Zambezia province coast in Mozambique, where a deep-water port will be built for the export of coal.

The announcement was made by the president of the Zambezi Integrated Development Corridor (Codiza) in conversation with Radio Mozambique.

According to Abdul Carino, the international tender attracted six bids, and all that was left to do was sign the contract for the company to start work, “as the cost of the work was set at US$2.3 billion.”

Carino was speaking in Quelimane, the capital of the Mozambiquan provincce, Zambezia.

Mozambican news agency AIM reported that interest in the project came from China, Turkey, Brazil, Portugal and South Korea.

The line between Moatize and the port of Macuse, located north of Quelimane, will be about 500 kilometres long.

Mozambique’s LNG dreams falling apart

By Nick Cunningham of

Mozambique is heading towards a major default on outstanding loans related to offshore natural gas infrastructure, symbolizing the deflating hopes for a major source of new natural gas production from East Africa. The state-owned Mozambique Asset Management is set to default on $535 million in loans, which it took out to construct shipyards to service natural gas drilling off of its coast. Because of the grace period included in the loan terms, Mozambique is not yet technically in default, but it could default soon if it fails to convince creditors to make a deal. Mozambique had tried to renegotiate with creditors, led by Russia’s VTB Bank, but has been unable gain some leniency.

Mozambique’s debt problems have snowballed. The government made a surprise announcement in April that it had $1.35 billion in outstanding debt that it could not pay. Fitch Ratings quickly downgraded the country’s sovereign credit rating to CCC, a rating that denotes a very real risk of default. Its debt pile owed to foreign creditors, according to Reuters, now stands at $9.86 billion, or 80 percent of GDP. Much of the debt is related to a buildup in the country’s security services, including patrol vessels to protect its fishing fleet. But, by all accounts, financial mismanagement has put the country up against a wall. The IMF, taken aback by the secret debt, cut off assistance to the East African country in April, which will likely only make the problem worse. The World Bank also discontinued its assistance.

The ballooning debt is connected to the hype surrounding Mozambique’s large natural gas reserves that sit just offshore. Estimates vary, but there could be 100 to 180 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which puts it just behind the continent’s two largest holders of natural gas reserves, Nigeria and Algeria. Those massive reserves attracted significant attention from some of the largest oil and gas companies in the world, including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Eni, Statoil, Anadarko Petroleum and Russia’s Rosneft. The idea was relatively simple. The companies would drill for gas and pipe it to the shore. Some of the gas could be used domestically, but much of it would be liquefied and exported abroad from yet-to-be constructed LNG export terminals. The IMF predicted that $100 billion in investment could pour into Mozambique over the ensuing years. In theory, Mozambique could become the third largest LNG exporter by the end of the decade, creating huge opportunity in one of the world’s poorest countries. Anadarko Petroleum, for example, is weighing a final investment decision on a $15 billion LNG export terminal, but the U.S. company is slashing spending because of low oil prices.
Mozambique has been concerned that there is a limited window of opportunity given the very large volumes of LNG export capacity coming online elsewhere around the world. “Unless we speed the process, we could lose the opportunity,” Omar Mitha, chairman of state-owned oil company ENH, told Bloomberg in February. ENH is partnering with Anadarko. Similarly, Eni is weighing an FID on its floating LNG export terminal, and could make a decision this year. Eni’s project is thought to be at the forefront of several on the drawing board. But Eni is also looking to sell off some of its holdings in the country to raise cash and reduce risk. The Italian oil giant is reportedly sitting on 85 Tcf of gas, which is equivalent to the entire U.S. residential demand for natural gas over two decades. Mozambique’s northern neighbor, Tanzania, is also hoping to develop large-scale natural gas production in order to export LNG, but it too has hit roadblocks. The problem is that development has taken longer than expected. And crucially, global LNG markets are no longer desperate for new sources of supply. Spot prices in East Asia, which is traditionally the most attractive market, are down by around 75 percent from a peak two years ago. That means that the oil majors that had been considering large-scale gas drilling off of Mozambique’s coast are no longer scrambling to move forward. Plus, many of them are cutting costs and retrenching in the face of low prices and rising debt.

Broader financial mismanagement has put Mozambique in a bind, and the problems that have mushroomed since the original natural gas discoveries several years ago, some say, are signs of a resource curse. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on ports in Mozambique may not see a return. Reuters says that other state-owned companies spent large sums on “high-speed naval interceptors, radar stations, offshore patrol vessels and aircraft.” Much of that equipment is sitting idle. Source: Oilprice