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Monday, April 24, 2006

Floating ports mooted

Floating ports mooted to ease congestion
(TOI/Mumbai/12th April3006/pg17)
By Manju Menon/TNN

Mumbai: Floating hotels, restaurants and resorts are passe. Now, get ready for floating ports which are set to dot the over 6,000 kilometre long Indian coastline.    Floating ports are ships specially designed to load and unload cargoes. And since, this work is carried out on the high seas and not near the coast, these have been popularly named floating ports although in shipping parlance these are known as the trans-shippers.    India, which is witnessing a boom in cargo movement, has a handful of such floating ports dotting the western coast including a dry bulk carrier operating for the Dempo-Salgoankar JV in Goa and two cement carriers belonging to Mum bai-based K C Maritime.    The latest to join the fray is the 250-metre long M V Goan Pride ship which is as long as two football fields. Built in 1982, the ship was bought last year by Katra Wilhelmsen Logistics, a 50:50 JV from Qatar Shipping for the Dempo-Salgaonkar venture.    The ship, a capesize dry bulk carrier, underwent major modification at Cosco shipyard in China for fiveand-a-half months.    The modification added 3,000 tonne of steel in the form of cranes, conveyor belts and special kinds of loaders. Now, the nearly Rs 100 crore ship is deployed near Goa to handle iron ore cargo.    "Such kinds of ships are very useful at places where ports have shallow drafts as these floating ports literally take the port to the ship,'' said Ramesh Vangal, chairman, Katra group. Most Indian ports have low draft making it difficult for large ships to approach them. Here, a trans-shipper hoards cargo transferred on it by smaller vessels to then shift it to ocean going ships.    "This way the trans-shipper not only reduces loading and unloading time but also saves logistics cost by 50 cents a tonne,'' said Divay Goel, director, Drewry Maritime Services.

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