Berge Neblina is classified as a Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) the likes of which we are very unlikely to see on the west coast of Canada given her enormous size. These vessels are built to exclusively serve the world’s major iron ore and coal trades which by far surpass the volume of any other bulk commodities moved by sea. Last month, Berge Neblina loaded one of the first iron ore cargoes at Vale S.A. Brazil’s new Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal near the northern port of Itaqui. Iron ore was sourced from the company’s major new mine in the Amazon known as S11D which is located in Canaã dos Carajás in southeast Pará. Access to the new mine is intended to provide Vale with capacity to move approximately 230 million tons of iron ore annually by 2018.
Built in 2012-13 by Bohai Shipbuilding Heavy Industry, Huludao, PRC
Owned and operated by Berge Bulk Maritime, Singapore
GRT 195,199 tons
DWT 388,000 tons
Registery: Douglas, Isle of Man (UK)
The terminal, abutting the Bay of Sao Marcos (St. Mark) has a natural draft of 26 meters (86 feet) at low tide. Tidal rise and fall of 14m (46') proved quite a challenge given the strong currents generated, but these were overcome by construction of underwater concrete breakers. With eventual production capacity of 90 million metric tons of iron ore per year, the S11D is the largest project in Vale’s history and one of the largest mining projects in the world. The project features a truckless system which uses movable crushers and conveyor belts to extract iron ore from the mine. The iron ore is than processed and loaded onto rail for transport to the Ponta da Madeira Maritime Terminal (picture below) from where it is shipped to European and Asian markets.
Valemax is by now the well recognized trade name for the fleet of very large ore carriers (VLOC) owned or chartered by Vale S.A. With a capacity ranging from 380,000 to 400,000 tonnes DWT, they meet the revised Chinamax standard of ship measurements for limits on draft and beam. They are by far the largest bulk carriers ever constructed, when measuring deadweight tonnage or length overall. The first Valemax vessel, Vale Brasil, was delivered in 2011. Initially, all 35 ships were expected to be in service by 2013, but on account of market weakness the last ship was not delivered until September 2016. In late 2015 and early 2016 following the decision of China’s Ministry of Transport to allow vessels of this size to trade to Chinese ports, Chinese owners ordered 30 more similar vessels with deliveries starting in 2017. This brings the total number of Valemax vessels in service, under construction or ordered to 65. The new orders will also provide much needed employment to struggling Chinese shipyards.
Ship of the Week submitted by Capt. Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.