Vessel Delays Expected from Southern China Ports
Hong Kong port closed as southern China battles super typhoon Mangkhut
Port operations in Hong Kong, the world’s sixth-largest container port, were suspended on 15 September ahead of the arrival of Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which is set to hit the coast of southern China on 16 September.
Mangkhut, which was packing winds of about 260 km/h when it tore across the northern Philippines in the early hours of 15 September, caused flash flooding and widespread destruction, with disruption set to continue for several days this week.
Port operations in Shenzhen, particularly the terminals at Chiwan and Shekou on the western side side of the city, are also expected to be affected.
Most ocean-going vessels are set to ride out the typhoon in waters just outside of Hong Kong, including the 18,000 teu Mette Maersk and Starbulk’s 76,417 dwt panamax bulker Star Emily, which are both in Hong Kong’s southern waters, and the 28,200 dwt handysize bulker Pacific Hope, operated by Kasuga Shipping, and Shunzan Kaiun’s 154,068 dwt Capesize Ocean Trinity, which are both are in Hong Kong’s eastern waters, according to the city’s Marine Department.
However, about 10 ships were moored at anchorages in the city when the storm hit.
In total, about 80 vessels were listed as being in Hong Kong waters, according to Marine Department data on 15 September, compared with more than 100 ships on a normal day.
The normally bustling Kwai Chung container terminals were eerily quiet on 15 September, with not a single boxship berthed after terminal operators halted container handling operations and harbour pilots suspended pilotage services ahead of the typhoon.
The Hong Kong Pilots Association said pilotage services were suspended from 9am local time on 15 September until further notice. Pilots are required for all ocean-going vessels sailing in Hong Kong waters.
Hongkong International Terminals, which operates 12 berths at four terminals at the port, said it stopped gate operations for laden containers at 6am on 15 September, after halting gate operations for empty boxes the previous night.
Just 16 vessels are listed for arrival over the next couple of days, the data showed, including the 5,047 teu boxship Felixstowe Bridge from Shanghai operated by Ocean Network Express and the 4,800 teu Zim Virginia from Vietnam.
Mangkhut is forecast to tear through China’s Guangdong province, according to data from the Hong Kong Observatory, with more than 2.45 million people in the region evacuated so far. Mangkhut will be the first major typhoon to batter Hong Kong this year.
In a notice to tropical cyclone warning to shipping on 15 September in Hong Kong, the observatory said the centre of the typhoon is estimated to be packing winds of 105 knots. There are 33 knot winds over a radius of 210 nautical miles and winds of more than 63 knots over a radius of 75 nautical miles.
China’s National Meteorological Centre said the typhoon picked up speed as it passed over the South China Sea after hitting the Philippines and would affect Hainan, Guangxi, Yunnan and Guangdong provinces, bringing torrential rain and flooding. The centre ranked Mangkhut at 17 on its typhoon wind scale, the highest grade possible, although it forecast the storm could weaken to a level of between 14-16 when it made landfall.
Hainan provincial governor Shen Xiaoming said Mangkhut posed a “grave” threat. In Hong Kong, maintenance staff were sandbagging buildings and duct taping windows in the city’s main shopping districts to help limit potential damage.