By issuing a circular on 19 March, the CPA said, from now on, ships of 200-meter long and 10-meter draft will be able to take berth at the jetties.
“…vessels having LOA (length overall) up to maximum 200-meter length and 10-meter draft may be allowed to take a berth in jetties depending on prevailing real-time hydrological condition,” the port authority said in the circular.
In the past 190-meter long and up to 9.5-meter draft vessels were allowed to take berth at the port jetties which have capacity to carry up to 2,200 TEUs. With the same length and water draft a bulk carrier vessel can carry less than 30,000 tonnes of cargo.
With the new length and water draft allowed over 3,000 TEU vessels will be able to come to the Chittagong port jetties while bulk carriers will be able to dock with 40,000 tonnes of cargo.
In the face of repeated calls from the shippers as well as foreign ship liners to accommodate larger vessels, the port authority in November 2020 appointed London-based consultancy firm HR Wallingford to study the port’s navigation capacity.
The firm conducted a hydrological and hydraulic study based on which the port authority dredged some parts of the Karnaphuli River.
Following that the CPA board in a resolution on 27 December last year approved allowing the berthing of 200-meter length and 10-meter draft vessels, but the decision remained ineffective as no circular was issued.
On 16 January this year the port authority conducted a trial run of accommodating larger vessel and a Marshall Island flag carrier ship namely “MV Common Atlas” berthed at a jetty of the port.
Moreover, on 26 February 2023, another large vessel of 200-meter size also anchored at the newly built Patenga Container Terminal proving that the navigation channel and berthing area were suitable for docking larger ships.
Syed Mohammad Arif, chairman of the Bangladesh Shipping Agents Association (BSAA), said the FE hailed the issuance of circular allowing the berthing of larger vessels and noted this will help cut import costs and also lessen congestion at the port.
“Allowing larger vessels will immensely benefit all,” he pointed out.
He said the number of required ships to carry cargo to and from Chittagong will lessen with the new decision as from now on larger ships will carry higher volumes.
Arif said the BSAA members, who mainly represent foreign shipping companies, now will inform their principals about the change who will then decide about deploying larger ships in the Chittagong route.