New York jittery as its biggest ship, a 14,400-TEUer, enters Kill Van Kull
THE biggest ship to enter New York Harbour, the 14,400-TEU CMA CGM Theodore Roosevelt, arrived without incident though sparking many serious doubts along the way.
The ship, already the biggest to transit the Panama Canal with its Asian cargo, easily slipped under the newly raised Bayonne Bridge with room to spare, as did 13,208 TEU-OOCL Berlin six weeks ago, reported the New York Times.
But harbour pilots insisted the "T", as the ship has been dubbed locally, must go dead slow in slack water through the Kill Van Kull strait when the tidal flow is calmest.
But one question remained: Would the ship displace so much water ahead of it that it would raise the level and send other ships crashing into cranes along the docks? Or suck away so in its wake as to pull other ships off the docks?
Not if the "T" went slowly enough, pilots said. Otherwise, said John Oldmixon, co-president of the Sandy Hook Pilots association, "it will rip stuff off the docks".
Just to be safe passenger loading from ships departing from Bayonne, NJ has been delayed. "They can delay their vacation by 15 minutes, otherwise there may not be a vacation," said John DeCruz, fellow co-president of the pilots group.
Three tugs accompanied the "T", one on each side and "one on a rope behind the ship to drag on it and keep the speed down".
The tricky bit was the Kill Van Kull, the narrow strait between Staten Island and Bayonne. Ships travelling there must navigate a dramatic turn, northward, into Newark Bay.
For some time, pilots have practiced that turn on a simulator in Maryland. "The margin of error decreases," said Mr DeCruz.
Port officials hope such ships start arriving regularly, allowing more cargo destined for the Midwest to be routed through New York, instead of other ports. "It will allow us to compete a little better for the discretionary market, in the Midwest," said port authority assistant director of commerce Bethann Rooney.