Crowley Maritime Corporation, working under contract with the U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), successfully discharged 12 20-foot containers of relief supplies across a beach in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on Jan. 22 in an experimental lightering operation. The success of this operation, which involved lifting the containers from a Crowley container ship anchored in the harbor to a smaller, shallow-draft landing vessel for transport and discharge over the beach, paves the way for container shipments directly into Port-au-Prince next week.
"Today's operation was an important milestone in reestablishing direct container shipments into the heavily damaged port," said John Hourihan, Crowley's senior vice president and general manager of Latin America services. "The port survey conducted Monday by a team from our TITAN Salvage subsidiary was spot on in terms of identifying a suitable location in the port where we could safely discharge the cargo."
The Crowley container ship Marcajama, which offloaded the containers, is scheduled to return to Port Everglades, Fla. over the weekend and load more relief cargo under contract with USTRANSCOM. The ship will then return to Port-au-Prince in the middle of next week and discharge containers via the proven lightering method utilizing two shuttle vessels.
Future cargo operations in the port should improve substantially in the coming weeks. Crowley is mobilizing two 400-ft long, 100-ft wide flat deck barges, along with two Manitowoc 230-ton crawler cranes in the United States for USTRANSCOM that will be brought into Port-au-Prince to serve as a makeshift dock for future cargo operations. The first barge and crane in Orange, Texas should arrive in Haiti on or about Feb. 4. The second deck barge is being outfitted in Lake Charles, La. and will arrive by mid-Feb.
Relief cargoes are being consolidated and stuffed into containers at Crowley's Miami warehouse and distribution center. Containers delivered by Crowley in Rio Haina, Dominican Republic this week are being trucked over the border into Haiti.
"The combination of direct shipments into Port-au-Prince and shipments into Rio Haina that are then trucked over the border is now resulting in a steady flow of aid," said Hourihan.
"We believe our two methods of delivery into Port-au-Prince (lightering containers offshore and over-the-road trucking via Rio Haina) will soon allow Crowley to start accepting relief cargoes from non-government parties," said Tucker Gilliam, Crowley's general manager for Haiti and the Dominican Republic. "We continue to offer twice weekly service to and from the Dominican Republic for regular commercial cargoes.