Saturday, February 23, 2013

White Pearl - open hatch cargo type

White Pearl arrived to day for class survey en route to Contrecouer, QC. The ship is operated by SMT Shipping, a Poland/Cyprus company that specializes in running older ships, often of this type, which are well past their prime years. Generally they have some self-loading/unloading capability and operate in low margin trades.
According to an article in The February 2013 issue of Western Mariner magazine, it was fifty years ago that the "open hatch" cargo ship was developed for Crown Zellerbach's forest product trade on the west coast of North America. Simply put, these are ships with hatches the same size as the holds. The holds are squared off with wing tanks in the left over spaces on the sides of the ship. This "lost space" is made up for by the ease of loading and unloading directly from the holds, without double handling of cargo. At the same time the Norwegian firm of Sverre Munck A/S developed traveling gantry cranes, that ran along rails on deck. Special gear was developed for handling baled timber or paper rolls, and awnings on the gantries provided weather protection.  
The method caught on with several operators, including Gearbulk, originally set up in 1968 by Krisitian Gerhard Jebsen, Louis Dreyfus and others. Since them the company has become 51% owned by the Kristian Jebsen family and 49% by Mitsui-OSK Lines and has 60 open hatch gantry ships up to 70,000 tons, and they carry all manner of cargo with discharge rates similar to container ships.
White Pearl was built to operate in the Gearbulk fleet, as Monique LD (Louis Dreyfus ships usually had the "LD" suffix). It was a product of the Stocznia im Komuny Paryskiej yard in Gdynia Poland, and measures 26,130 gross tons, 39,273 deadweight.  Its two gantries are rated at 25 tonnes. In 1990 it adopted the name Siskin Arrow (Arrow is a common suffix in the Gearbulk fleet) and acquired its current name in 2011.
Upon joining the SMT fleet, the ship has been fitted with grab buckets and now carries bulk cargoes, even though it is classed as a general cargo ship.The port at Contrecouer, is about 40 miles downstream from Montreal, but is part of the Port of Montreal.It is home to a major steel making complex operated by ArcelorMittal, producing billets, rod, rebar and other steel products from iron ore and scrap metal.
There are plans to improve the port's US rail link via CSX through Beauharnois, QC to Syracuse, NY to accommodate containers as a way of expanding the Port of Montreal, which is geographically restricted.

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