The passage of the largest vessel ever to berth at any port in Nigeria has called at Onne Port.
The channel or water route from the ocean to Port Harcourt in Rivers State may have passed a major test as the largest ship ever to come to Nigeria has passed through the route and berthed at Onne Port near Port Harcourt successfully. The vessel with 9,971TEUS capacity came from Cotonou on Saturaday and is said to depart the next day, according a spokesperson for the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) in Onne, Barbara Ejemeh Nchev-Achukwu.
The NPA said there was jubilation when the gearless Maerskline container vessel arrived at the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) section of the port at about 1620 hours (local time).
Giving details, Maesrkline Port Captain, Kikelomo Abiola Cudjoe, gave the length of the vessel as 300 metres (length overall) and the width as 48 metres and a total draught of 11.2 metres.
The Country Manager of A P Molleer, klaos Holman Laursen, gave insights and confirmed that this is the biggest container vessel to call in Nigerian ports. He disclosed that the vessel, Maersk Stadelhorn, is a flagship from Singapore, while the vessel sailed from Cotonou Port in Benin Republic to Onne Port in Nigeria.
The captain, Marvin Omovbude, an Asst Harbour Master in Onne Port, who led other pilots (Ezra Yashiyi Yakubu and Abdulahi Sarki), to guide the vessel from the high seas to Onne Port, said it was a great to bring the vessel safely. A pilot is a certified expert that helps to bring a ship from the high sea to a dedicated port through dangerous or risky routes such as river knowing his way and debt of the passage.
The pilot said the said the success had given huge credit to the Onne Channel in terms of security and other challenges such that it could receive such large vessels.
He told the jubilant port stakeholders who came to welcome the vessel, that the NPA has recorded a milestone. He however, congratulated NPA managing director for making this possible, saying that Onne Port is taking the lead in port Operations and efficiency among the ports in the African sub-region.
Speaking while receiving the vessel, the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, represented by the Assistant General Manager Harbours, a captain, Uduiguomen Eboreime, said the managing director was very happy for the safe arrival of the Maersk Stadelhorn vessel at Onne Port.
The MD said that NPA is equal to the task, observing that what happened on the day was a five-day preparation for the arrival of the vessel from Cotonou in Benin Republic.
Receiving the vessel (Maerskline Stardelhorn) along with some Onne Port team, the Port Manager, Alhasssan Ismaila Abubakar, said the arrival of the vessel was a milestone attained by NPA.
He expressed appreciation to the Managing Director of NPA for all the support and assistance given to Onne Port complex in making the arrival of the vessel possible.
He added that the arrival of the vessel is a trial, observing that the port is well equipped with all facilities and equipment to receive the vessel. He informed that the vessel was brought in from Fairway Bouy Bonny by NPA’s three pilots who are well trained on pilotage of such vessel.
“We deployed three tug boats with three pilots from Onne Port Complex, and for us, the successful arrival of this vessel showcases the expertise of NPA’s ports operations “, the Port Manager stated.
Abubakar added that this development shows that presently NPA is fully equipped, noting that shippers in the Eastern zone and those in the Northern axis will have option to make choices. He said that consumers in the Eastern and Northern axis will benefit as he congratulated NPA staff for a credible performance on safe arrival of the vessel.
It should be noted that the MD has been implementing deliberate policies to promote the patronage of the Eastern Ports by giving incentives and provision of port facilities and dredging of the channel.