The Port of NY/NJ has challenges, which will require planning for handling a generation of ships yet to be built and cargoes to be borne.
Port Industry Day raised some interesting issues that need to be explored further if the Port of New York/New Jersey is to survive the onslaught of the mega-ships. PANYNJ is gearing up for one of the biggest challenges it will face in the modern age of containerization. In the past, the problem of discharging a heavy-laden ship could be solved by spreading containers over more land. Working a larger ship simply meant hiring more casual labor. Today, backland, if available at all, is at a premium. The labor required to handle these mega-ships has to be skilled in working with semi-automated equipment and understanding the logistics of loading, discharging and handling the larger volume of containers associated with these behemoths.
The Dynamics of Big Ship Handling
Many challenges face our port as larger vessels come into the harbor. Not the least of which is maneuverability. Wind and wave action is compounded when handling mega-ships and they don’t turn quite as smartly as today’s 8,500s, so there is a learning curve. Capt. Schoenlank, president of the Sandy Hook Pilots, noted that they are constantly reviewing how bigger ships move through our local waterways. Simulations are run with various size vessels in order to prepare for the mega-ships to come.
The Kill Van Kull is the principle strait through which all cargo ships enter Port Elizabeth and Port Newark. Robbins Reef Light marks the entrance to the channel, which spans 3 miles to Bergen Point, just under the Bayonne Bridge. At its widest point it is 0.5 miles. The Kill’s four doglegs are of particular interest to harbor pilots. A starboard turn must also be negotiated after clearing the bridge between Bergen Point and Shooters Island, a span of 0.65 mi in order to reach the container terminals in Newark Bay. The MSC Beryl with a 12,400 TEU capacity has a length of over 12,000 feet and a beam of nearly 159 feet. She draws 50.85-feet of water. As a result of her size, the ship will have to await high tide to transit through the Kill Van Kull. It’s been said that big ships act like giant sails. With minimal water under her keel and a 15-knot wind, a ship like the MSC Beryl will require skillful navigating to transit from the Upper New York Bay to Newark Bay.
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