Motor tanker Itsuwa Maru approached the English Channel from her rough crossing of Biscay Bay, heading for the Port of Rotterdam. She encountered a delay of 90 minutes, and this was reported to her agent in the Rotterdam, 34 hours before her expected arrival at Shtandart Tank Terminal. Her agent forwarded a revised ETA to the harbour control centre of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, and 20 minutes after, a revised port passage plan was made available to the master of the Itsuwa Maru, including a requested time of arrival at pilot station and administrative clearance.
After pilot boarding, the master and the maritime pilot exchanged information and aligned their plans and intentions. Subsequently, VTS was informed that the vessels’ passage plan could be maintained. Operational clearance was given by VTS and immediately a prediction of the intended path of the vessel to the terminal, including predictions of estimated traffic density and real-time hydro/meteo information, was shown on the pilot’s laptop. The master – surprised by the vast amount of shipping movements in the port entrance – wondered why the efficiency he experienced was not standard practice for each big port. It was his first time to the Port of Rotterdam and, unlike any port entry he had experienced before, he felt relaxed and confident that his vessel would be moored safely and efficiently according to plan. He decided to ask the first officer to act as officer in command and assist the maritime pilot in his control, so he could prepare for the meeting with the terminal operator and his agent, as soon as the vessel moored. Certainly, no minute seemed to be lost in this port and as indicated in the port entry guide, traffic planning and terminal planning were aligned as well.
The prospects of vessel traffic management in the Port of Rotterdam have been discussed in Port Technology International previously (2004), but the effects of the investments of the Port of Rotterdam Authority in traffic management have become clearer in recent times. The port entry by MT Itsuwa Maru described above, pictures the port entry process as may be expected within a few years from now. It is one of the results of a changed approach by the Harbourmaster Division of the Port of Rotterdam Authority to sustain safety and efficiency in vessel traffic in the port and accommodate the effects on vessel traffic of foreseen growth of port business.
As already foreseen in 2003, both developments in the maritime domain and other developments in the port’s business raised the need for the harbourmaster to be proactive and to be prepared; prepared to manage the additional wet area and vessel traffic due to the seaward extension of the port, and safeguard nautical safety and efficiency at current level.
In the next 20 years, a 38 percent increase in visits of seagoing vessels (40 percent increase in vessel movements) and a more complex vessel traffic are expected. Other reasons for the Port of Rotterdam Authority to step up and to develop the vision on vessel traffic management include:
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