Port of East London handles its widest car carrier

Source: TNPA

The Port of East London yesterday successfully docked the widest car carrier and first High Efficiency Ro Ro (Hero) class vessel to call at the South African port.

On its maiden voyage, the MV Thermopylae discharged 595 passenger cars and light and heavy commercial vehicles at the Eastern Cape port. It departed with an export load of Mercedes Benz products bound for Australia.

There was plenty of advance planning ahead of the vessel’s arrival, with East London harbour master, Gugu Dube, and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean (WW Ocean) – who designed the Hero class vessels – working in close consultation.

“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,” said Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) East London port manager, Sharon Sijako.

“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,” she added.

With a width of 36.5 metres, gross tonnage of 75 283 tons and length of just under 200 metres, the Thermopylae is substantially broader than standard car carriers, with a maximum beam of 32 metres.

It is capable of taking a car payload of up to 8 000 car equivalent units (CEU), compared to the 6 400/6 500 CEU capacity of previous car or truck carriers.

According to TNPA, these Hero class vessels also have a shallower draught, allowing them to dock in developing countries’ ports where depth is often an issue.

TNPA stated that South African ports were likely to see more of these newer ships as oversized project and breakbulk cargoes became a growing part of car carriers’ business.

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