Hutson - 21 March 2007
computer simulation of the new entrance channel
in perspective to the Point and the Bluff.
CLICK TO ENLARGE.
Picture courtesy NPA.
most readers will be aware that the North Pier, or breakwater,
has been closed off to the public as it is now a construction
site. The much-hyped widening and deepening of the entrance
channel is about to get underway and once completed will improve
the safety of navigation of ships calling at the port while
also enabling Durban to accommodate the much larger ships
that are becoming commonplace.
of construction will also answer the doubts of those who wondered
if the widening would ever take place.
pier will be of the same length and shape as the existing
pier which it replaces, except that it is further north and
will widen the channel from 130m at its narrowest point to
220m, flaring out to 300m apart at the outer end.
same time the draught in the channel will be increased to
a depth of 17m in the inner channel, compared with 12.8m at
present. This plus the additional width will ensure that much
larger ships are able to access the port and that Durban remains
a major port of call for shipping lines for many years to
will the port entrance be deepened but so also will the various
channels within the port. It is not much use deepening the
entrance but leaving inner channels leading to the berths
as too shallow to take the bigger ships. So too will certain
of the berths be 'adjusted' to be able to handle deeper draught
ships - the first of these berths is at Pier 1 Container Terminal
where berths 105, 106 and 107 will have the draught alongside
increased to 15.5m compared with a maximum draught alongside
at present of between 11.5 and 11.9m.
will be that if a shipping line such as MSC, or Maersk or
Safmarine or any of the many international container carriers
wants to send one of their latest generation ships to Durban,
the port will be able to say yes, no problem.
Port Operations introducing the latest generation of super
post panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes at these facilities,
even the widest ships can in future be handled.
to acting port manager Ricky Bhikraj and NPA engineer Dave
Ward, the contract for the construction of the new North Pier
is to be awarded during March and the work completed within
the first quarter of 2010. So for the next three years the
site becomes one of construction but the good news is that
when completed the new north breakwater will in all likelihood
be reopened to the public.
some work has been undertaken - the municipality for instance
has completed sinking a new tunnel beneath the entrance channel.
The job of demolishing the old tunnel will be in the hands
of the National Ports Authority contractor when it comes to
dredging the channel to the required new depth.
as the contractor is concerned the first task is to begin
demolishing old structures in the path of the new channel.
These include the old restaurants that proved highly popular
over the years. The next stage will be dry excavation of the
land and the building of a rock revetment along the side of
the new channel wall - this is to absorb wave energy generating
from passing ships and from incoming swells.
be followed by the construction of a new pier extending 500m
into the outer anchorage, along a similar path to the existing
north pier but further north. At a certain point in this process
demolition of the old north pier will have begun, allowing
the contractor to make use of the same material for the new
old pier has been removed the dredgers will move in to start
dredging the new channel roughly where the old pier once stood.
Later the dredgers will deepen the existing channel, during
which time shipping will make use of the 'new' channel further
north, thus avoiding any delays or interruptions to shipping.
Once both channels are cleared and become a single wider channel,
the new entrance channel will be basically complete.
this work is going on engineers will also be building a new
sand transfer system on the south breakwater, which involves
having a new pier erected into the sea away from the present
breakwater to carry the pipes and waterjet pumps used to move
sea sand from the sand trap area (outside the south breakwater)
through a piping system to the municipal pump stations along
the beachfront. The existing hopper station at the base of
the north pier will of course have been removed. This will
happen in about a year's time.
been a lot of talk about the effect that incoming swells might
have on shipping within the harbour once the port has a much
wider entrance. According to the port engineers this has been
extensively studied using simulation tanks at the University
of Stellenbosch, during which every conceivable scenario was
examined. This included flying senior marine pilots to Stellenbosch
to assist with the simulations. The result has been a design
that takes into consideration all the various aspects involving
weather and sea conditions and how ships will react both in
the channel and on the berths and the engineers are confident
there will be no problems in this regard.
first priority has always been, 'is it technically feasible',
only then did we look at cost and other factors," said
and deepening of the port entrance channel has been relatively
free of controversy although there are some regulatory procedures
remaining. Otherwise all finances have been approved by Transnet
and all that remains is to appoint the contractors within
the next couple of weeks.
of this project to the city of Durban, as well as to the province
and the country and region as a whole, is immense. Durban
has shown itself to be the most strategically placed port
in southern Africa, and also the most efficient in handling
large volumes of cargo. Some may query this claim but no other
port has to contend with the volume of traffic that Durban
handles and still come out on top. By making the harbour friendly
to large ships the NPA and other authorities are ensuring
that Durban's role as the country's principal port will continue
for many years ahead. For all people of Durban and KZN that
is good news.
Visit Terry's excellent website on to do with ports