BREAKING NEWS - port closes

Nov 12, 2005
Author: P&S

Ports & Ships Maritime News


BREAKING NEWS - Durban port closes again

Saturday, 12 November 2005: posted at 10.15

The port of Durban was again forced to close to all shipping at about midnight last night (Friday) following the failure of the pilot transfer launch Tsitsikama and the non-availability of the harbour workboat Royal Tern.

Early this morning eight ships were waiting to sail, having completed cargo working at their respective berths and frustrated ships agents said there appeared to be no contingency plan. Other ships in the harbour are also likely to complete cargo working and become available for sailing, while vessels outside the harbour are beginning to queue again even before the backlog caused by weather-induced delays has been completely cleared.

“It is costing our principals hundreds of thousands of dollars and coming so soon after the port was closed to incoming vessels because of the weather makes the situation even worse,” said one agent. Another agent told Ports & Ships he estimated costs to his principals would exceed R1 million just for today.

Among the ships being delayed are a car carrier at R berth that has finished cargo working (Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line’s Don Carlos), which is delaying another car carrier, K-Line’s Dong Fang Gao Su, waiting outside for the berth to become available. It is believed the latter vessel is operating on a very tight schedule owing to a dry dock booking at a Far Eastern port, which will have to be re-booked at additional cost if the ship misses its deadline. That’s on top of the daily charter costs of the vessel - probably in the region of between US,000 and US,000 a day.

A spokesperson for the port told Ports & Ships this morning that port authority management was aware of the problem and the situation was being closely monitored. The marine department was pulling out all stops to have Tsitsikama repaired and returned to service, we were told. Asked whether the port was considering hiring a privately owned launch of the type used to service ships in the outer anchorage, the response was that this would obviously come under consideration.

The pilot launch Tsitsikama arrived in Durban recently as a replacement for another pilot boat, the Ballito, which was considered to be unreliable. This coincided with the departure of the marine pilot helicopter for its major service, which takes about six weeks to complete.

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