Ports of Auckland Ltd highlighted one milestone at its container terminal last week – 3 container vessels berthed at the same time – and gave warning of a consent application which has always brought protest, dredging of the channel.
The Gottfried Schulte was the first container ship to berth at the new Fergusson North Wharf, which is not yet operational, while 2 other vessels were serviced at the main wharf.
Fergusson North will eventually be the port’s premium berth, with the deepest water & largest cranes, capable of handling ships of up to 11,000 TEU (1 TEU = 1 20ft container).
The new cranes were delivered in October and are being commissioned. During the next few months a number of container ships will call at the berth as part of the testing & commissioning of the cranes’ systems. This will be followed by trial unloading operations, and Fergusson North Wharf will be fully operational after the first stage of the port’s automation goes live in early 2020.
Ports of Auckland commercial relationships general manager Craig Sain said: “This project is part of our 30-year masterplan, which is designed to keep up with Auckland’s rapidly growing freight needs. Our 2 existing container berths are often both full and there is strong demand for a third berth. The new berth, our high-productivity cranes & container terminal automation will significantly increase our capacity and be a great benefit to importers, exporters & shippers.
Completion of Fergusson North Wharf is one of the final stages of Auckland’s container terminal expansion project, which was granted resource consent in 1998. The project included 10ha of reclamation to create additional terminal space, and this is expected to be fully complete by the end of 2020. After this, Ports of Auckland has made a commitment that there will be no more reclamation in the Waitemata Harbour.”
Channel dredging consent
Ports of Auckland told the Hauraki Gulf Forum, in a brief report for the forum’s meeting on Friday, that it intended to seek a 10-15-year resource consent this year to deepen the channel to enable ships with a draft of up to 15.2m to enter the port, and wanted to discuss this proposal further with the forum.
Port company communications manager Matt Ball told the forum the company would use a mechanical dredge to deepen the channel, and that no blasting would be required.
“The largest container ships we handle at the moment carry around 5000 TEUs and have a draft of 12.7m. In the next 3-5 years we’re expecting to see ships that can carry up to 11,000 TEUs, with a draft of up to 15.2m.
“We need to deepen parts of the channel so these vessels can get to the port. The shallowest parts of the Waitemata navigation channel are 12.5m deep at low tide and need to be deepened to 14.5m at low tide to allow the next generation of ships to safely use our channel. Ships with a draft of over 14.2m will only access our port when the tide is sufficiently high.
“Ports of Auckland will use a mechanical dredge to deepen the channel. This is a large digger sitting on a barge. The digger has an extra-long arm and it reaches down into the sea to scoop out sediment & seabed material.
“The bed of the channel is mostly soft material like marine muds, mudstones and some sandstone & gritstone, which is easily removed by a digger. No blasting is required.”
Attribution: Hauraki Gulf Forum agenda.