By the afternoon of 12 October, 95% of the total Durban Port area had been declared safe for navigation of vessels, but sounding surveys were still in progress along the C-Shed area and vessel movement was still suspended in that area, informs Durban’s daily The Mercury quoting Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), which manages the Port of Durban, South Africa.
The port was severely affected by the massive storm on Tuesday, 10 October, when winds of up to 50 knots at peak in places and heavy rain caused extensive floods, damages and disruptions in the city with at least 8 people reported to have died. The port operations were suspended, as three vessels, a floating dock and a tug boat run aground, two more vessels – MSC Susanna and Maritime Newanda – broke their moorings and had to be held by harbour tugs to prevent them from also grounding. Among the grounded vessels there was the 348m long MSC Ines (9100 TEU capacity), that drifted into the mouth of the Port of Durban abeam, blocked the harbour entrance and required 5 tug boats to be refloated (see the video). On the land side, a straddle carrier and some containers were blown into the bay, some cranes were reportedly derailed by strong winds.
The salvage operations began on Tuesday night and lasted until Wednesday morning refloating ships in distress. As of 18.30 on Wednesday, 11 October, TNPA declared 80% of the port’s navigable area safe for marine operations, following the sounding surveys of the seabed in search of any obstruction that could pose a risk to navigation.
Today, although the marine and pilot services are 100% operational and most berths are open, challenges remain on the land side, where cargo handling equipment of some port tenants is not operational due to damages incurred during the storm.
TNPA says: “At Island View terminals, all berths are open. In Maydon Wharf all the berths that were used before the storm have been opened. All berths but one in the RoRo precinct are accessible. As at 6pm on Thursday, all container berths are open for berthing.”