The largest vessel to call at Northport to date is scheduled to tie up around mid-day on Sunday 6 December. Her cargo includes items that will make their way into Christmas stockings and under Christmas trees all across New Zealand.
‘Constantinos P’, a 261m, 67,906 max displacement, gearless container ship, is carrying about 1,340 containers bound for Auckland that otherwise would not make it into the shops in time for Christmas due to congestion at other ports around the country. She is operating under a Vessel Sharing Agreement between four shipping lines; ANL, OOCL, COSCO and PIL.
Containers will be offloaded by Northport’s two mobile harbour cranes. This will be a slower process than would be the case if we were equipped with container gantry cranes. Operations will start at about 2pm on Sunday 6 and are expected to be complete around mid-day on Wednesday 9.
We will be working between 6am and midnight each day due to staffing numbers and equipment capability.
We have ample space for the containers in our storage area but placement so that individual containers can easily be reached by our container-handling equipment will be a logistical challenge, as will the marshalling of the many trucks expected on site to collect the containers once the vessel has been completely unloaded.
The shipping lines plan for all cargo to be carted by road, although coastal shipping options are also being explored. At this stage we are planning for delivery to start at 6am on Thursday 10. [Editorial note: enquiries relating to this process should be directed to ANL Container Lines]
Patience and understanding from all involved is the key to making this ship call a success. This is not the way we would have chosen to introduce large-scale container handling operations at Northport. We are not yet fully equipped to manage container ships of this size on a regular basis and we have had a very short planning window.
However, our small team is well aware of the pressures being placed on other ports around the country by the perfect storm of global, regional and national pressures on supply chains. We are motivated by the challenge and more than happy to step up to do what we can to help.
Northport is a natural deep-water port. We have a ship simulator on site that we have used to plan for the arrival and movement of ‘Constantinos P’ and we are confident that this can be achieved safely. Oil tankers that are longer and heavier routinely tie up at the adjacent Refining NZ berth.
We are being asked by other shipping lines if we can help with similar shipments. We will review the exercise next week to determine what we can do to help, when we can, with our limited resources.
While current supply-chain issues impacting the country might be unprecedented, they demonstrate clearly the need for a resilient and geographically-astute Upper North Island Supply Chain strategy that makes best use of the three existing ports that already serve the region. This in turn calls for continued central government investment in, and upgrading of, road, rail and coastal shipping infrastructure.
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