The Port of Durban is taking full advantage of the recent deepening and widening of the port entrance channel, as it attracts more vessels of this size and type into its harbour.
Tau Morwe, Chief Executive of TNPA said: “With the ever-increasing number of large vessels visiting our ports, we believe that South Africa is ideally positioned as a leading trans-shipment point between the emerging markets of the eastern and western seaboards.
“It is noteworthy, that the introduction of these vessels to our waters indicates the confidence shipping lines such as the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has in our ability to operate in an environment that is effective, safe and efficient.”
Built in 2008, The MSC SOLA is more than the length of three and a half rugby pitches (363.5 meters long and 45.6 meters wide) with an impressive gross tonnage of 131771 and a slot capacity of 11,660 TEU (20-foot standard containers), with connections for 960 refrigerated containers (reefers).
The vessel arriving - half laden - from the Far East via Port Louis, will be guided into port by Bongiwe Mbambo, one of the three women, who last year made history as Africa’s first black, female marine pilots to obtain the prestigious ‘open licence’.
This qualification enables Mbambo to navigate ships of any size and type into the port.
What makes this event even more unique is that due to the enormity of the vessel, four tugs will be used – for the first time ever- to escort it into port.
Another key factor is that these tugs will also be navigated by female tug masters.
“We have made great strides towards gender and racial equality and transformation in the maritime environment, as we see more black females playing such crucial roles in this industry.
“However the arrival of the MSC SOLA is a powerful illustration of the need to implement the planned deepening of the three berths alongside the north quay of Pier 2, to enable ships of this size to come in fully laden.
“To ensure the country remains competitive and well ahead of demand, we need to increase the port handling facility by more than 50% in the next seven years. By doing so, container capacity will increase from approximately 2.7 million TEUs annually to more than 5 million TEUs.” said Morwe.