Activities from National Members
England & Wales
Trinity House announced in mid-May that it will replace the Channel Lightvessel with a Safe Water Mark buoy now that the lightvessel position in a TSS has successfully established a marine traffic pattern. The operation to remove the lightvessel and deploy a replacement buoy is set to take place in mid-August.
Following the grounding of the Amoco Cadiz in 1978, IMO adopted the Off Casquets Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in 1979; Trinity House established the Channel Lightvessel so as to clearly define the new TSS at a time when such schemes were a relatively new maritime feature.
As part of the continuous review of its aids to navigation – and further to the discontinuation of the East Channel buoy in 2018 – Trinity House has carried out extensive analysis on the requirement for the Channel Lightvessel. It has been determined that as the lightvessel marks only the end of the TSS and not any physical hazards to navigation, it could be removed now that the marine traffic patterns in the area are well established.
Recognising that the Channel Lightvessel has become a prominent physical mark for all sectors of the marine community, Trinity House has decided to replace the lightvessel with one of its largest Safe Water Mark buoys in order to enable position verification in the area.
The replacement buoy for the Channel station is based upon a standard Type 1 modular format and will incorporate a bespoke electrical design that independently powers the buoy’s aids to navigation and also the array of sensors and communication equipment required for the Met Office’s meteorological and hydrographic installation. The AIS and Racon (radar beacon) facilities will be retained to enhance conspicuity.
To read FLASH, the biannual journal of Trinity House London, readers are invite to see here: https://www.trinityhouse.co.uk/about-us/media-centre/flash-journal
Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships
Lushington Shoal is located NW of Okha at the mouth of Gulf of Kachchh (Lat. 220° 38ˊ N Long : 68° 47ˊE). This unmarked shoal is a danger to navigation being subject to strong tides and currents. At the time of independence (1947), the hazards of this shoal were so serious that the British Admiralty contemplated declaring the whole of Gulf of Kachchh and its approaches a danger to shipping. It was then decided to mark the shoal by constructing either a lighthouse or mooring a light vessel. Since technology at that time was in its infancy, the proposal, although approved by the Government, could not be implemented. When VLCCs/ULCCs began serving the Mathura Refinery in late 1970s, the Department marked a 70 nautical mile deep-water channel by laying deep-sea lighted buoys south from Mithapur to Vadinar. VLCCs/ ULCCs use this route for all the single point mooring and refineries in the Gulf.
If the Lushington Shoal is marked VLCCs entering the Gulf of Kachchh can directly take the route from west instead of coming south and then follow the deep water channel. This would reduce the distance by about 30 nautical miles and save on time and fuel. With the establishment of a light at Lushington Shoal, the Directorate contemplates marking another deep water channel 10-20 nautical miles west of Lushington Shoal. This will meet the existing deep water channel north of Gurur Shoal to facilitate safe movement of VLCCs.
The Directorate is now planning to establish a powerful solar-powered light with 15 nautical miles range on a 30 metre hire circular steel tower. Due to the monsoon working time is limited to the months from October to March and the scheme is likely to take three years. Past experience indicates a preference for a prefabricated steel tower structure created on land and erected on site at sea.
Commissioners of Irish Lights
It is reported that Irish Lights will be completing engineering works to upgrade all three lighthouses on Rathlin Island, while retaining the historic optics. This work will improve energy efficiency and the environmental footprint at these important heritage sites, as well as ensuring the lighthouses meet international standards as working aids to navigation. This work will also ensure the property and its surrounds are safe and ecologically secure for the communities that live alongside them and visitors who access them.
Engineering works planned for St. John’s Point will deliver a better quality, environmentally superior solution which meets modern health and safety requirements, it is reported. With respect to heritage, proposals for St. John’s Point have been significantly changed since 2015, following consultation with the local community and technological research. In preparation for these works Irish Lights has recently completed a successful three-year trial of an innovative bearing system which will allow retention of the First Order rotating Fresnel lens.
Engineering works planned for Black Head will deliver a better quality, environmentally superior estate to meet modern health and safety requirements, while maintaining the important heritage aspects of the lighthouse and surrounding site.
Kenya Ports Authority
It was reported in April that the Port of Mombasa handled 9.54 million tons in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 8.62 million tons in a similar period in 2020, a 10.7% growth rate. During the period January to March 2021, the Port also witnessed increased volumes in container traffic registering 389,515 TEU against 340,812 TEU recorded in a similar period in 2020. Trans-shipment traffic recorded 69,658 TEU against 41,363 TEU during the corresponding period in 2020. Container traffic translates to an increase of 48,703 TEU or 14.3% while trans-shipment traffic registered a growth of 28,295 TEU or 68.4%.
Total imports during the quarter recorded 162,504 TEU up from 151,998 TEU in the corresponding period January-March 2020, registering a growth of 6.9%. Equally, exports registered an upsurge by 6.8% from 146,049 TEU in 2020 to 156,007 TEU during the similar period in 2021.
March 2021 boosted the Port’s performance registering a marked growth in both conventional and containerised cargo. A total of 3.48 million tons were recorded in the month of March 2021 against 2.71 million tons realized in the corresponding month in 2020, representing a positive performance of 768,453 tons or 28.4 %. This achievement was mainly attributed to increase in handling of wheat and clinker cargoes within the month compared to the same period in 2020. For container traffic, the Port recorded a positive increment of 31,261 TEU or 30.4% to register 133,904 TEU in March 2021 against 102,643 TEU witnessed in March 2020.
KPA acting Managing Director, Rashid Salim, noted that the month of February 2021 was the highest ever in terms of daily average container throughput with 4,662 TEU beating the record daily average of 4,279 TEU recorded in July 2019.
The Managing Director added that for Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), the month of March 2021 recorded the highest ever handling with 25,104 TEU which is an average of 8.32 trains per day beating the daily record average of 8.1 trains of February 2021.
Northern Lighthouse Board
News this quarter is of completed renovation work on the Isle of May beacon in the Firth of Forth. Built in 1636, the beacon was Scotland’s first lighthouse.
Challenges were encountered. Access was not straightforward as there is an important seabird nesting area with ground nesting puffins and so work cannot be carried out from mid-April to September and must receive agreement from NatureScot, responsible for Scotland’s natural heritage. The island is also an important breeding ground for the largest Atlantic seal colony on the east coast of the UK. Consequently boat landings are not permitted from mid-October to mid-February.
Scheduling the work, obtaining approvals, with Covid restrictions, unseasonably cold weather, need for suitable tides for boat landings all reduced the opportunity for carrying out the work even further this year. Coordinating with the main contractor at short notice and making sure their suitably skilled workforce were available for the required traditional methods, and liaison with the boatman, left few days in March and April when the work could be completed.
Work involved repair to the wall render, using traditional lime render and lime wash, along with window and door repairs. As the beacon is listed as a historic monument there was a need to use traditional materials and methods and obtain Historic Monument consent from Historic Environment Scotland (HES). The snap cold spell at the beginning of April almost halted the lime render and wash application but overnight temperatures mercifully rose sufficiently.
In February the UK Maritime Minister, Robert Courts, announced his decision to raise Light Dues by one penny (to 38.5 pence per net registered tonne). Light Dues is a tax and the rates are set annually by the respective Shipping Ministers of the UK and Ireland.
Rapporteur: Paul Ridgway