Brazilian marine pilots want curb ship sizes calling at Santos
BRAZIL's national marine pilots association, Conapra, is urging the national port authorities, CODESP, to limit the length of vessels calling at Santos, Latin America's busiest container port, citing safety concerns.
Brazilian pilots claim that insufficient dredging at Santos makes it unsafe for vessels such as the CMA CGM Tigris, which is 300 metres long and 48.2 metres wide, to navigate the port’s channel.
"Pilots are trying to blackmail the government into not clamping down," an unidentified Santos-based shipping consultant told Newark's Journal of Commerce.
"Many earn more than US$1 million per annum and don't want newly trained pilots coming in and earning less and reducing expensive pilotage costs," he said.
President of the pilots' Sao Paulo/Santos branch of Conapra, Claudio Paulino, said he wants a 266-metre length restriction at the port because insufficient dredging makes it unsafe for ships like the 10,900-TEU CMA CGM Tigris, which docked at Santos recently.
The vessel, measuring 300 metres long and 48.2 metres wide, is the largest containership handled by Santos to date.
Executive president Claudio Loureiro of Centronave, which represents foreign shipowners in Brazil, blasted the idea in a letter to CODESP, warning of dire consequences for Santos if the current length limit of 336 metres, depending on tidal conditions, is reduced to 266 metres.
"These views do a disservice to the port community of Santos," Mr Loureiro said.
"Freight costs have been systematically falling over the past few years in all trades lanes due to intense competition between the shipowners that transfer the benefits that economies of scale can provide. It is clear that the costs per unit carried increase if we reduce the size of vessels."
He said the pilots' assertions contain "serious conceptual defects and demonstrate an amazing lack of information", and that Santos might lose some of its regular services if it is not allowed to modernise and accept bigger vessels.
CODESP now has to report to the Special Brazilian Ports Ministry, which with the Brazilian Navy will make a final decision on whether the Conapra Sao Paulo recommendations are carried out.