Port of Ngqura’s New Automated Mooring System

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

April 24, 2015

Photo: Port of Ngqura

Photo: Port of Ngqura

The automated mooring system at the Port of Ngqura in South Africa’s east coast is poised to improve port efficiency and safety, cementing the deep water port’s position as a leading transshipment hub for the Sub-Saharan region. The system comprises 26 mooring units, the last of which arrived at the port in March 2015.

“Procured from global engineering group, Cavotec, the mooring units were designed, custom manufactured and installed to meet the specific environmental conditions of the Port of Ngqura. They will complement manual berthing teams at the port by stabilizing container vessels on the quayside at the click of a button, reducing docking and undocking times from between 10 and 40 minutes to less than 10 seconds,” said Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu.

He further expressed that TNPA is excited to be leading the pack in the African maritime industry by acquiring this technology.

Port Manager, Mpumi Dweba, added that Ngqura experiences significant long wave effects and  strong winds, particularly in the winter months, which frequently cause berthed vessels to move excessively and impacts on cargo operations, safety and the port’s efficiency.

“This unique vacuum based automated mooring technology is used in a few ports internationally, but will be the first in the South African port system, proving once again that the Port of Ngqura is the leader in deploying new technologies to improve port operations and the safety of vessels,” she said.

Technicians from Cavotec have been on site since November 2014 assembling and testing units at Berth D100, one of four berths at Ngqura Container Terminal that will be equipped with the technology. Dweba said the pilot berth was selected because it was most severely affected by weather conditions.

Local skills transfer was a central requirement of the contract and Cavotec will upskill local mechanical and electrical companies to provide ongoing technical support, maintenance and repairs to the port. In addition, Ngqura maintenance staff have received specialised training, while operational training will take place after the units have all been installed. Installation and testing of the 26 units is underway and due for completion at the end of August 2015. Thereafter, the system could be rolled out to three additional berths at the Ngqura Container Terminal. 


The AMS technology uses remote controlled vacuum pads recessed in, or mounted on the quayside, to moor and release vessels in seconds, increasing productivity. It also dramatically improves safety and operational efficiency.

Ngqura Port Engineer, Gerrit du Plessis futher added: “A very unique capability of the AMS is that the vessel will be kept almost static whilst alongside the quay with minimal movements of up to 50mm only. This is made possible by the unique design of the pneumatic AMS units that can move both vertically and horizontally due to wind and wave actions and also “walk” up and down the vessel to accommodate tidal variations.”

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