Filling the big hole in Durban

Dec 2, 2003
Author: P&S

A dredger owned by a Belgian company, bearing an Italian name, flying a Spanish flag and registered in the Canaries arrived in Durban on Saturday, 29 November to begin work on filling the huge space between the new quay wall and the old Point D – G berths.

The area measuring 1 200m x 200m is being reclaimed from the harbour to provide deepwater berths and create a large open cargo working space for the multi purpose City Terminal. The project also forms part of the port’s container expansion programme.

The trailing suction hopper dredger with the name of Filippo Brunelleschi entered service as recently as September and is owned by one of the world’s leading dredging companies – Jan de Nul of Belgium. The vessel is 142.9m in length with a beam of 27.5m and has a loaded draught of 9m (3.8m unloaded) with a deadweight of 18 590 tonnes.

More importantly, the vessel carries a hopper capacity of 11 300 cubic metres that will be put to good use dredging some 3 million cubic metres of sand from outside the harbour entrance.

Filippo Brunelleschi’s arrival in Durban appears to have been unexpectedly early, as the dredger was previously engaged on a maintenance contract in Walvis Bay and Luderitz. However, the Namibian contract was suddenly curtailed when the dredger encountered deposits of gas among the spoil from Walvis Bay harbour, which led to the hospitalisation of a number of crewmembers after they inadvertently inhaled the hydrogen sulphate gases brought up from the bottom of the harbour.

As the vessel was not the right type to work in such conditions it subsequently moved to Luderitz before sailing for Durban in the early hours of last Wednesday (Nov 26).

According to Namport’s port engineer Jan de Nul would be given some time to complete the small maintenance contract at the two Namibian ports involving about half a million cubic metres of spoil.

Jan de Nul is also reported to have secured the contract to dredge the new harbour works at the port of Ngqura near Port Elizabeth.

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