Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Study: Port of Tacoma Can Handle Ultra-Large Ships

A study commissioned at the prompting of several containership lines calling at the Washington United Terminal at the Port of Tacoma has determined that the port’s Blair Waterway is capable of handling ultra-large container ships, as long as certain conditions are followed.

“I’m pleased to confirm for the Commission that the Port of Tacoma is ready to receive ultra-large container ships,” Tacoma Strategic Operations and Risk Management Director Lou Paulsen said during the Port Commission’s Sept. 19 business meeting.

The conclusion is based on an operational assessment conducted Aug. 5 to 9 to simulate the transit of a 13,000-TEU container vessel into and out of the Blair Waterway.

The study, which was commissioned by the port and Puget Sound Pilots organization, used a model of the Blair Waterway and a model of the 13,000-TEU MV Hamburg Express, the largest ship in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet.

The test, which was conducted under several scenarios, including different load configurations and inclement weather conditions, found that a vessel the size of the MV Hamburg Express – 1,200 feet long and 157 feet wide – could safely navigate the waterway if it had a working bow thruster, was accompanied by three tugboats and was guided by two Puget Sound pilots. The wind also has to be at 20 knots or less for the vessel’s path to not be affected, according to the assessment.

“The conclusion from the assessment is that 13,000-TEU vessels can safely and reliably transit to and from the Washington United Terminals facility,” Strategic Operations and Risk Management Director Lou Paulsen said.

Earlier this year, the ZIM Djibouti became the largest container ship ever to call at the Port of Tacoma when it arrived at Washington United Terminals on July 10. The ship, which has a capacity of 10,000 TEUs, is 1,145 feet long and 150 feet wide.