Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halifax visitors in trouble in Australia

Two frequent callers to Halifax made the headlines after a vicious typhoon struck Australia on Tuesday.
With insufficient warning of the 126 km per hour winds (which lasted for 9 hours) the storm set the container ship Kiel Express adrift.  Despite risking their lives, tug crews could not control the ship and it struck OOCL Hong Kong, parting its lines and driving it into the pier. Kiel Express then struck another ship, Marutu then sideswiped it. OOCL Hong Kong could not be moved far from its berth since many of its containers were not lashed for sea. Apparently loading operations were in full swing when the storm struck.

Kiel Express was built as Hannover Express.

Kiel Express began calling Halifax in 1991 when it was new from builders Samsung, Koje, and then named Hannover Express. It was renamed Kiel Expres in 2007 and Halifax was its first port of call with the new name when it arrived June 19. It is now registered in Bermuda, but still owned and operated by HAPAG-Lloyd. With a capacity of 4,639 TEU, it measures 53,783 grt. Soon after renaming its was displaced from Halifax calls by larger ships.

OOCL Hong Kong turning in Bedford Basin March 2, 2013.

OOCL Hong Kong is registered in its namesake port and measures 66,046 grt, with a capacity of 5,344 TEU. It was built in 1995, aslo by Samsung, Koje, and is a post-Panamax ship.

 By May 13, 2013, the ship had been repainted.

All three ships received various degrees of damage, including hull punctures One tug narrowly escaped being crushed between the ships, and another had a mooring line caught in a prop.

This is a cautionary tale for Halifax - as if we needed one. When Hurricane Juan struck in 2003 ships in port also parted their lines and smashed into one another, and tugs were helpless to assist. The ships would have been safer if they had put to sea to avoid the storm - there was lots of warning. Juan was barely a category 1 storm at 100 kph  re-classified as a category 2 =100 mph/160 kph. The cyclone that struck Australia was category 2.
Hurricane Gonzalo, now nearing Bermuda is a category 4, with winds of 145 mph. It is expected to pass east of Sable Island on Saturday, however it may strike the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland. High seas are predicted, in which case ships would probably be safer in Halifax than at sea, but would certainly need to make extra mooring provisions.

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