Sunday, 1 September 2019

Previous worlds largest OOCL Hong Kong breaks away then swings to depart Felixstowe 31st August 2019

Published on 31 Aug 2019

The OOCL Hong Kong was the worlds largest container ship from May 2017 but was only knocked off the top spot in July 2019 by the MSC Gülsün. Not that common at the Port of Felixstowe, the OOCL Hong Kong was starboard side to the berth. When she arrived there was little tide remaining due to a vessel on her berth delaying her arrival so the safest option was to put her straight on the berth and swing when she departs. As the cranes began to boom up, the OOCL Hong Kong prepares to set sail from Felixstowe for their next port of Zeebrugge. The ships agent ordered three tugs for departure. The Svitzer Kent radios Harwich VTS to say that they were about to break away from the tug pontoon to assist with the Hong Kong. A senior Harwich Haven boards and checks with the Berthing Master to see what cargo operations were left, luckily there was only gear bins to go so the pilot radios Harwich VTS to confirm he was onboard max draught of 13.7m for Zeebrugge and would like the three tugs that were ordered. Svitzer Kent was by the ships side heading for the stern, they radio the pilot and says that they would be the centre lead aft tug. The pilot said that they will let go of a couple of lines to make the tugs fast but the Kent could get to the lead with no problem. After waiting a few minutes, the Kent gives a couple of quick toots on her whistle to say "I'm here to be made fast!" Finally the last crane booms up and they were ready as soon as the crane driver was down. The crew aft, finally come to the lead with a heaving line prepared, the crew member throws it down to the Kent and they attach their own tow line to it to be winched up onto the bollard. While being made fast, Kent lost out a plume of black smoke which drifts across the port. Svitzer Sky leaves the tug pontoon and positions on the port quarter to be made fast. Shotley is released from the maribo Maersk then proceeds down the harbour to be made fast on the centre lead forward of the OOCL Hong Kong. The three tugs back away and get ready to pull the monster off the berth. The mooring gang begin the task of singling up to just the springs fore and aft. The pilot radios Harwich VTS to get permission to break away from Felixstowe 9, they would be swinging to starboard once they were off the berth and working channel 12 with the tugs. Permission granted, the springs are released. The pilot asks the Kent to tow aft of the beam so the Hong Kong doesn't get headway into the Maribo Maersk. All three tugs lift off at 50% with the Kent and Sky increasing further. The pilot runs the engine astern With the gap increasing, the pilot says to the Shotley that when they see the gap move around to the other side to take the bow around. Shotley appears from the port side and begins to increase their power to swing the bow around. Swing almost complete, the pilot gets the Sky to come in to let go from the quarter but remain there for escorting around the corner. Kent drops in astern as the Hong Kong comes ahead on their engine band told usual procedure around the corner. Shotley eases and comes in to let go then stood down from forward when they had cleared the ship. Passing the Fort Buoy, the pilot gets the Sky to push up at a 45° angle on the port quarter for a push indirect. A few moments later, the Kent is asked to go out on the starboard side for a powered indirect to help the stern turn around the 90° Beach End turn into the North Sea. Without this manoeuvre, ships of this size have a massively increased risk of grounding as they wouldn't have the correct amount of steerage at their current low speed of about 5-8 knots Both tugs show how hard they are working by the angles they were producing. Once around the Beach End, the sky is stood down and heads back in to the harbour to take a turn on berth 9 waiting for the next job. Kent eases and closes up to the transom and let's go from aft. They head back to the pontoon to wait for the next job which was the Ever Glory.

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