A large freighter rammed into Westshore’s coal terminal in Deltaport just after midnight today (Dec. 7), causing extensive damage to a coal loader.
The large ship collided with a trestle leading into one of the two deep sea berths, removing 400 feet of the causeway, according to Westshore spokesman Ray Dykes.
“About 1 a.m. this morning a ‘Capesize’ vessel called the Cape Apricot was coming to berth two (which is the inner berth) and somehow managed to not turn and went straight through the causeway, which leads out to berth one (the outer berth),” he said.
“So they backed it off with minimal damage and it’s actually at berth two loading now (1 p.m.).
“We’ve got a great big gap in our causeway and we’re looking into what we can do about salvage and all sorts of things.”
Nobody was injured in the collision and it’s too early to tell how much repairs will cost, he added.
The 289-metre long bulk carrier flies under a Panama flag and was built in 2004, according to online sources.
Dykes said a “very little” amount of coal spilled into the ocean. When the conveyor was hit there was an emergency brake that stopped the coal, however he estimated between 200 and 300 feet of coal did go into the ocean.
“We estimate that’s less than a third of one coal car.”
A coal car typically has a capacity of close to 100 metric tonnes.
Dykes said Westshore has gone through wind storms and minor collisions but nothing like this.
“We’ve had over 8,300 ships and never had an incident like this in 42 years. You just couldn’t predict it,” he said. “It’s rather ironic, we’ve just finished the equipment upgrade in five years, $100 million and were just starting to really steam along.”
Dykes couldn’t estimate how much this will harm Westshore’s production, but they will assess the damage next week and their top priority is to rebuild berth one. The causeway carried vehicles, coal, electricity and water. They’ve had to install a transformer to power the shift loader back up so the docked ship can move.
Westshore Terminals’ Roberts Bank facility is the largest coal export facility in Canada, shipping 27.3 million tonnes of coal in 2011, surpassing the combined total coal exports of all other Canadian facilities.
The coal terminal stretches across 54 hectares, and services more than 200 ships annually. Westshore employs 200 full time staff, and in more than 40 years of operation, has exported 675 million tones of coal to more than 20 countries world wide, according to the company’s website.