Just a few weeks after docking its widest vessel to date, the Port of East London has successfully tackled another mammoth challenge with the maiden voyage of the new generation Post Panamax Ro-Ro vessel MV THERMOPYLAE.
Velile Dube, GM: Cape Channel for Transnet Port Terminals said, “We are proud to be part of this momentous occasion and milestone achieved by the port, shipping lines, Mercedes Benz South Africa and other key role players.
“Being able to receive a vessel of this magnitude at our port and efficiently handle its cargo speaks volumes for the world-class infrastructure, equipment and work-force that we have at our disposal.”
The ship, which sailed in on Wednesday, 9 May, is the widest car carrier and the first HERO Class vessel to call at the Port of East London.
“These HERO class vessels offer greater capacity and can present even bigger challenges as well as opportunities for our ports than the usual roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) vessels, which are all big, boxy vessels with multiple decks built to carry thousands of vehicles on high-volume routes,” said Sharon Sijako, Port Manager, TNPA’s East London.
Handling the oversized project
With a width of 36.5 meters, gross tonnage of 75283 tonnes and a length of just under 200 metres the car carrier is substantially broader than the standard large ships, which are slightly over 32 meters wide.
The ship is capable of taking a car payload of up to 8 000 car-equivalent units (CEUs), compared to the 6 400/6 500CEU capacity of preceding pure car/truck carriers.
It boasts a wider beam and greater cargo range and capacity than earlier ships.
The HERO also includes a number of innovations to help reduce fuel consumption and its environmental impact, achieving a reduction of some 10-15% in fuel consumption per cargo unit.
According to the Port of East London, other car carriers that have docked in East London had a maximum beam of 32 metres.
A range of special arrangements and conditions were also put in place by East London Harbour Master Captain Gugu Dube and WW Ocean.
“In order to establish whether we could safely dock the height and width of these HERO vessels a simulation exercise was conducted in the town of Leer, Germany, with WW Ocean, Lloyds of London and the Port of East London,” Sijako added.
Niran Sheoprosad, Head of WW Ocean South Africa, said, “When faced with this challenge, it was very good to see the close co-operation between WW Ocean and Transnet to achieve this major milestone.
THERMOPYLAE discharged 595 passenger cars and light and heavy commercial vehicles in East London. The ship will depart East London on Wednesday after loading a consignment of Mercedes Benz products for export to Australia.