Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
In March 2019, BEST container terminal in the Port of Barcelona, received six new automated cranes (ASC) from the Finnish supplier Konecranes, thereby increasing its storage capacity from 24 to 27 automated blocks. Currently, these blocks are being assembled and tested and they are expected to be fully operational in June this year. This was reported by BEST on 6 May.
These electric rail-mounted cranes are complimentary to Hutchison Ports Group’s commitment to building an efficient and environmentally sustainable terminal in the Port of Barcelona. (See illustration here.)
Guillermo Belcastro, Hutchison Ports BEST CEO stated: ‘This investment will result in a significant increase in operational and storage capacity at the terminal and will contribute to our continuous improvement of service levels both in maritime and land operations.’
Currently, BEST has eleven Super Post-Panamax quay cranes that are able to operate the biggest vessels in the world, 48 ASCs, two rail terminal cranes (RMGs) and 30 Shuttle Carriers to operate the terminal which occupies 80 Ha and has a 1,500-metre berth with a depth of 16.5 metres.
Since its official inauguration in September 2012, BEST has continued to set new standards for ports in Southern Europe achieving a ship productivity rate of more than 200 movements per hour and a sustained average performance of more than 40 movements per hour and by crane, one of the highest in the world it is claimed.
Hutchison Ports BEST is the first semi-automated terminal developed by Hutchison Ports Group. In addition to being the most technologically advanced project in Spain, the facilities have one of the most modern gate systems in Europe and one of the largest railway terminals within a container terminal in the Mediterranean, with eight mixed gauge tracks (Iberian 1668mm and UIC 1435 mm), connecting BEST daily with different points of Spain and the South of France.
This terminal is capable of serving several mega-vessels simultaneously and has an eight-track railway facility, the biggest on-dock railway terminal of any port in the Mediterranean, connecting it to traffic coming from and destined for Southern Europe.
Hutchison Ports BEST is a member of Hutchison Ports, the port and related services division of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited (CK Hutchison). Hutchison Ports is the world’s leading port investor, developer and operator with a network of port operations in 51 ports spanning 26 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Over the years, Hutchison Ports has expanded into other logistics and transportation-related businesses, including cruise ship terminals, airport operations, distribution centres, rail services and ship repair facilities.
Our picture shows a Carnival line up. Five Carnival ships are due in Durban in week commencing 24 May. (Photo: www.africaports.co.za )
No less than five Carnival Cruise ships are due to arrive in Durban between 26 and 28 May to take on bunkers and to restock depleted supplies.
These five ships are part of a group of 12 engaged in the humanitarian task of repatriating over 26,000 crew from the Carnival fleet and other companies, as well as personnel from entertainment centres ashore, who because of the coronavirus pandemic, have had their employment suddenly curtailed.
Hotel staff and entertainers
These are the entertainment staff, the onboard shop workers, beauty salon practitioners, waiters and bus boys, chefs and kitchen staff, cabin cleaners, pursers and front desk people all making up the staff working on board cruise ships.
With cruising curtailed these former employees are finally returning home to destinations like India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines after having remained on board their ships for more than two months, unable to go ashore or receive visitors ever since cruising operations were suspended in mid -March. Ahead they face another three or four weeks at sea before being allowed to disembark. However, there’s something of a problem.
Call to governments
IFSMA* calls upon Governments to adopt the ‘Framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic’ without delay to allow ship owners and management companies to change over their dangerously tired crews.
Governments must act now in order to avoid personal injury to, and mental breakdown of, seafarers and avoid the significant risk of accidents and consequential danger to life and the environment.
Concern at IFSMA
IFSMA is receiving an increasing number of reports from its ship masters’ associations around the world concerned for the welfare and safety of crews and the increased risk with which they are operating in an already high risk environment. Seafarers are feeling let down and abandoned by their Governments.
Following concerns from the maritime industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) issued a circular to all Member States, the UN and agencies and IGOs and NGOs in consultative status with IMO. This document concerned recommendations to Member States about measures to facilitate ship crew changes in seaports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IMO Secretary General has received a framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the pandemic, proposed by a cross-section of global industry associations in consultative status with the IMO, for example: ICS, IAPH, BIMCO, IFSMA, and P&I Clubs as well as the International Air Transport Association (IATA).