Technical group carries out simulation to reduce restrictions on the turning of large ships at Rio Grande Container Terminal

  • 31/01/2024
  • 6 minutes

Wilson Sons, a leader in port and maritime logistics in Brazil, is consistently focused on enlarging and qualifying the services offered at its logistics terminals, including Rio Grande Container Terminal, in Rio Grande do Sul. Because of this, in April 2023, the terminal joined a technical group composed of Portos RS, Praticagem do Rio Grande, Sintermar (Union of Maritime Terminals for General Solid and Liquid Bulk Cargo and Containers at the Port of Rio Grande), Technomar Engenharia and the Brazilian Navy, to develop solutions to improve access to the Port of Rio Grande.

The work included a range of simulations to optimize the turning draft for large ships (over 300 meters). This stage was entirely virtual, and allowed vessels of this type to operate at the terminal without restrictions. The procedure involved 24 manoeuvres and aimed to reduce any potential impediments. It was supervised by the Port Authority, which ensured that navigation safety concerns were addressed.

A conclusive technical report was issued in early December after eight weeks of activity, including a bathymetric study, historical analysis of ship turns in the focal area, operational alignment, simulator parameterization and the simulation itself. The analysis, carried out by the authorities in charge, turned out positive for the feasibility of turning ships of up to 305 m LOA (length overall), with the possibility of a draft of 12.4 m (bow) and 14.2 m (stern), reaching an estimated average draft of 13.2 m. For 335 m class ships, the feasibility points to a draft of 11.7 m (bow) and 14.2 m (stern), with an average draft of 12.9 m.

“We believe that this is a highly important initiative. We are using all the tools available on the market to make sure that these ships can turn in Rio Grande while complying with all safety procedures”, says Guido Cajaty, president of Praticagem de Rio Grande.

According to Fabiano Rampazzo, naval engineer at Technomar, the objective of the project is to provide Rio Grande stakeholders with a decision-making tool to be used in the operations. “Whether for containerized or bulk vessels, we want to provide the community with a capability of assessing manoeuvres that is higher than the conventional ones”, he says.

“We consider this joint operation to be fundamental for the entire Port of Rio Grande, since, by reducing restrictions on the turning of large ships, it also favours the expansion of our port and, consequently, the entire production chain in Rio Grande do Sul”, says Romildo Fernandes Bondan, operations director at Portos RS. He says that Portos RS, a government-owned company responsible for organizing, managing and supervising the State’s port & shipping system, involved its operations and infrastructure teams.

Improvement in access conditions for ships over 300 m comes at a very positive time for the terminal. Last year, all indicators were positive. The terminal reported the handling of 663,400 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), which is up 21.9% compared to 2022. A highlight is the increase in transshipment and export flows, with 33.1% and 28.8% increases, respectively.

Giovanni Phonlor, director of operations at Rio Grande Container Terminal, says that this process enhances the terminal’s potential to become a logistics hub in the Southern Cone. “This initiative utilised technology and operational experience to reduce restrictions safely and without investing in dredging works”, he says. “The further efforts made to reduce restrictions mean that large ships will be able to call at the Port of Rio Grande with more cargo, which will directly help the facility to be a far South American destination for cargo coming from around the world”, he adds.

Paulo Bertinetti, CEO of Rio Grande Container Terminal, comments on the benefits of allowing larger vessels to operate at the terminal. “This achievement symbolizes yet another advance for our terminal, enhancing the maritime infrastructure that we provide to the international market. As a result, we are one of the few Brazilian ports without manoeuvring restrictions for large ships. We must streamline the arrangements to receive these ships, as they are the levers of national trade in Rio Grande do Sul and Brazil. Because we are at the heart of Mercosur, and with the physical advantages that we have in terms of infrastructure for bulk cargo and containers, we will definitely be the port of choice for large companies”, he further adds.

After the current maintenance dredging campaign at the port of Rio Grande, which began in November 2023, the manoeuvre simulation initiative will be repeated in March 2024. The objective is to analyse whether the canal maintenance dredging work generated positive effects on the manoeuvring area, which will help to reduce restrictions even further, securing higher gains for the Port of Rio Grande and, consequently, for the economy of the city of Rio Grande and the State of Rio Grande do Sul.