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PortSide: 'Insect class' gunboat creates buzz

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World War I model for Gateway exhibit presented to Trade Center

  • Photo courtesy Savannah International & Maritime Trade Center This model of a World War I “insect class” gunboat is the latest addition to the Trade Center’s maritime model collection.

The latest addition to the Port of Savannah – Gateway to the World exhibit at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center comes courtesy of Ships of the Sea Museum.

It’s an “insect class” gunboat, built for the British Royal Navy around 1905. Designed to operate in shallow, fast-flowing rivers, the small, well-armed gunboats featured a 4-foot draft, tunneled twin propellers and three large rudders for maneuverability.

“They were first used during World War I and continued in use through the Vietnam War,” said Wendy Melton, curator at Ships of the Sea.

Although they were originally intended for use on the Danube, the first four ships — aptly named Gnat, Mantis, Moth and Tarantula — made their World War I debuts on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the Mesopotamian Campaign.

The ship’s model was presented Wednesday at the trade center’s monthly board meeting.

 

Canal on course?

According to the Journal of Commerce, Panama Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano has assured shipping leaders that the canal’s new, larger locks will open on schedule next year, despite the most recent issue of multiple leaks in one of the recently constructed concrete sills.

As reported in this column last month, photos of some pretty serious leaks at the head of one of the new locks on the Pacific side began surfacing on social media in August, prompting the Panama Canal Authority to issue a warning that it would not accept the current work until all flaws were addressed and repaired to the authority’s satisfaction.

On Oct. 1, the Journal of Commerce reported those repairs would be more extensive than previously indicated, making the date for their completion even more uncertain.

The central concern for the shipping industry has been the extent to which the leak repairs could again delay the commercial opening of the expanded canal, which is scheduled for April.

The $5.25 billion expansion project was originally slated for completion in October 2014 to coincide with the canal’s 100th anniversary, but a labor strike and disagreements over cost overruns between the canal authority and the consortium of contractors working on the project have pushed that deadline back.

Quijano talked about the canal expansion’s progress Wednesday in Copenhagen at the Danish Maritime Forum.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he said, referring to the leaks and to other disputes with the consortium, but added that the work is 95 percent complete.

The new locks will allow passage of container ships with capacities up to about 14,000 20-foot-equivalent units — nearly triple the size of ships that currently can fit through the existing 100-foot-wide locks.

However, Quijano said the expanded canal won’t immediately handle 14,000-TEU vessels. Rather, the size of ships coming through the locks will increase gradually as pilots become accustomed to the new conditions.

Ports also have to be ready to handle the super ships.

In the nearly 10 years since Panama’s voters approved the project, ports up and down the East Coast have been scrambling to get the deeper water those ships will require.

Currently, the deepest channels — at 50 feet — are in Virginia, Baltimore and Miami. New York/New Jersey is almost done with its deepening to 50 feet but now has to deal with the issue of the Bayonne Bridge, whose vertical clearance limits all but one of the port’s main terminals.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said recently that a $1.3 billion project to raise the bridge’s clearance has been pushed to the end of 2017.

Savannah is expected to finish deepening its harbor to 47 feet in 2018 and Charleston is aiming for a 2019 completion of its deepening efforts, according to the JOC.

 

Senior business reporter Mary Carr Mayle covers the ports for the Savannah Morning News and savannahnow. She can be reached at 912-652-0324 or at mary.mayle@savannahnow.com.

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Breakout Box: 

Following are the ships expected to call on Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City and Ocean terminals this week. Schedules are supplied by GPA and are subject to change.

 

TERMINAL VESSEL ETA

 

GCT HYUNDAI VOYAGER Today

GCT SPIRIT OF COLOMBO Today

GCT MAERSK CHICAGO Today

GCT MAERSK WINNIPEG Today

GCT OOCL TAIPEI Today

GCT AS MARIELLA Today

 

GCT JADRANA Saturday

GCT ALLISE P Saturday

GCT ITAL MELODIA Saturday

GCT MSC MICHAELA Saturday

GCT YORKTOWN EXPRESS Saturday

GCT KALLIOPI R C Saturday

 

GCT HANJIN DURBAN Sunday

GCT JPO VOLANS Sunday

GCT CMA CGM TANCREDI Sunday

GCT KAAN KALKAVAN Sunday

GCT MSC LAURA Sunday

GCT MARE LYCIUM Sunday

GCT ALBERT MAERSK Sunday

OT TIRRANNA Sunday

 

 

GCT MAERSK ATLANTA Monday

GCT COSCO GERMANY Monday

GCT BEIJING BRIDGE Monday

GCT MAERSK KOTKA Monday

GCT OOCL LUXEMBOURG Monday

OT TARAGO Monday

 

GCT ZIM TARRAGONA Tuesday

GCT HANJIN KINGSTON Tuesday

GCT NYK ROMULUS Tuesday

GCT XIN HUANG PU Tuesday

GCT JPO VULPECULA Tuesday

GCT ERNEST HEMINGWAY Tuesday

GCT DEIRA Tuesday

GCT HONOLULU BRIDGE Tuesday

OT K. OPAL Tuesday

 

 

GCT MOL EMINENCE Wednesday

GCT SATIE Wednesday

GCT AL RAWDAH Wednesday

GCT CONRAD S Wednesday

OT TAMESIS Wednesday

OT ISSARA NAREE Wednesday

OT GAO QIANG Wednesday

 

GCT NYK RIGEL Thursday

GCT YM EMINENCE Thursday

GCT MOL MAJESTY Thursday

GCT OCTAVIA Thursday

GCT OVERSEAS ALCESMAR Thursday

GCT MSC BARBARA Thursday

GCT MSC LISBON Thursday

GCT TASMAN Thursday

OT BLUE MARLIN I Thursday

OT ATLANTIC NAVIGATOR II Thursday

OT ATLANTIC VENUS Thursday                              

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