While on her maiden voyage to Europe the MSC Gülsün makes an unscheduled call at the Port of Felixstowe. The original plan was for the Gülsün to board a Harwich Haven pilot at the Sunk around 14:30 on Thursday afternoon and be alongside for 20:00. Unfortunately plans never work out how they should. It quickly became clear that she would arrive under the cover of darkness. A lengthy delay in Rotterdam she would miss the tidal window to arrive in Felixstowe. The next window as the early hours of Friday morning so a pilot boarding time of midnight was confirmed and would make her arrival into the harbour about 01:30-02:00. As this was going to be a one off visit, the intentions were simple, the build up to in full swing, Felixstowe wanted to clear out some of there storage yards before the rush begins. This was also a test for the port to see if they could handle 24 across and 11 high. The test proved the Port of Felixstowe could handle these Megamax Class vessels. Friday evening, the MSC Gülsün’s departure time changed from 16:30 Saturday to 7am in the morning. As usual it changed again to 6am. Finally confirmed 6am with three tugs ordered, cargo operations were almost complete. As the time went on, the three Svitzer tugs began to leave the tug pontoon to assist. The Harwich Haven pilot boards from the shore side up the gangway. Once onboard he radios Harwich VTS to say he was onboard with maximum draught of 14.5 metres for Malaysia via Suez Canal and would like the services. All three tugs were standing by the ships side waiting for ordered from the pilot. Svitzer Kent goes aft and makes fast centre lead aft, Svitzer Shotley takes the quarter and makes fast starboard quarter and finally Svitzer Deben goes forward and makes fast centre lead forward. Once fast they back off, the task of singling up 2 by 2 to just the springs fore and aft. The pilot radios Harwich VTS to ask for permission to break away from the berth, permission granted VTS gives them an update that the Solway Fisher was leaving Parkeston 6 in about 10 minutes time but would keep the pilot updated. The plan was to get her off the berth square then back her into the tide before swinging the bow out. After that the forward tug would be released and standby on the starboard side, then the quarter tug to be released and then go around onto the port quarter to escort, aft tug usual procedure for the he pilot gets the Shotley to build to a 50% pull with Kent and Deben following soon after. All three tugs increase to full power before the Deben is reduced forward. Off the berth, the pilot backs her out using the aft tugs. With the aft in the tide, the pilot gets the Deben to build to a full pull to get the bow out. The bow swung into the channel, the Deben eases and drops in ahead ready to let go. Once they had been released, the pilot asks them to standby on the starboard side about mid ships. Shotley was next to be released and they come around the stern onto the port side to escort on the most aft tug point on the port quarter. Coming ahead on the main engine the speed begins to increase, the pilot gets the Kent to build to a full powered indirect to help the stern turn around the 90° Beach End turn out of the harbour. Deben is stood down half way around the corner with Shotley soon after. Once clear of the turn, Kent eases and closes up to the transom ready to let go.
All pic credits to Andrew McAlpine
Strait Talk: The largest in the world: MSC Gülsün.
The Mediterranean Shipping Company continues to invest in a greener future and in doing so, now has the largest container vessel on the planet in service. By design, she also has the lowest carbon footprint, enabling her to champion the sustainable supply chain conundrum.
The 23,756 TEU ultra-large container vessel has a beam of 61.5 metres and a length just short of 400 metres. This is the end of her maiden voyage to Europe from the Far East. The Samsung 23000 project, a reference to her capacity, was completed this year at the South Korean Samsung Heavy Industries yard, in Geoje.
The 210,000 gross ton vessel is employed on the Silk/AE10 service, she has visited various European ports, latterly Felixstowe and is now heading back to the Far East. She is indeed a big one and here she is currently passing Folkestone, looking pretty well-stacked, just the way I like 'em....