Photo: Courtesy of Port of Rotterdam

Port of Rotterdam’s service continuity unharmed in 2nd corona year

The second corona year did not jeopardise the continuity of services at the Harbour Master’s Division of the Port of Rotterdam, according to the authority.

The division responsible for the safe and smooth handling of shipping traffic and compliance with the Port Security Act made it through 2021 unharmed by the raging pandemic.

As informed, the number of sea-going vessels arriving in Rotterdam increased by about 700 to almost 29,000. For reference, around 29,492 sea-going vessels arrived in the port in 2019 while 2020 saw 28,169 vessels arriving in Rotterdam.

This difference is considered to be largely due to the increase in the scale of container shipping. In December 2021, the port received the 15 millionth TEU container of the year, marking the first time that a European port had broken this record.

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Furthermore, the nautical safety index for accidents (7.5) was better than the target of 7 while the safety environmental index for inspections (7.4) almost equalled the target figure of 7.5.

The authority explained that, as a result of the pandemic, fewer inspections were conducted, but these were focused more specifically which led to a comparatively higher number of findings.

On the other hand, the number of accidents – half of which involving only parking damage (67) – increased from 122 to 144. Three of these were serious: a sea-going vessel hit the Caland Bridge, an inland vessel grazed a sea-going vessel in the Eemhaven, and a tug capsized in the Bocht van Esch near the Van Brienenoord Bridge.

Despite this, harbour master René de Vries looks back on the second corona year with satisfaction. de Vries said: “I am proud of my colleagues. This second corona year, our services were not jeopardised either, and the port remained easily accessible throughout the year.

“2021 was also a safe year. 144 incidents during about 800,000 vessel movements is not a high number, although the increase in accidents is not gratifying. Most of these were caused by hasty mooring. Seafarers are on board for longer stretches of time, and much is demanded of the crews. This calls for extra vigilance on our part, for the pandemic is anything but over”.

Due to the corona pandemic dominating the Harbour Master’s Division work, the Maritime Declaration of Health (MDoH) has been automated. In 2021, the Port Authority and the Municipal Health Service (GGD) had daily consultations on the pandemic, particularly because crew members who had contracted COVID-19 or who had been in close contact with people who had tested positive for the disease, had to be received and relieved.

The Port Authority was also among the initiators of the strategy to give seafarers access to vaccination. According to the authority, since 15 June 2021, almost 25,000 vaccinations have been administered to seafarers and more than half of these took place in Rotterdam.