Kerala's Vizhinjam Port gears up for major trial with Maersk Vessel arrival

Port all set to start trial run with container ships. Kerala CM to welcome ship at 10 am on July 12.
Vizhinjam International Seaport in Thiruvananthapuram (VIST)
Vizhinjam International Seaport in Thiruvananthapuram (VIST) File Photo

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The arrival of San Fernando, a vessel of the world’s second-largest shipping company Maersk, at Vizhinjam International Seaport in Thiruvananthapuram (VIST) on July 12, marks a pivotal event in the state’s ambitious economic infrastructure development project. With the actual commissioning a couple of months away, the port is all set to start the trial run with container ships. The docking of the mothership, although a part of the trial, is considered a commercially significant event after getting customs clearance for cargo handling.

Authorities have outlined extensive plans to commemorate the event. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will personally welcome the ship at 10 am on July 12, with Port Minister V N Vasavan presiding over the ceremony. Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal will grace the occasion as the chief guest. Also in attendance will be Karan Adani, CEO of Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), Shashi Tharoor, MP, and other state dignitaries. The trial operations will involve handling actual containers. India’s first semi-automated container port will demonstrate its capabilities by unloading 2,000 containers from the 300-m-long and 48-m-wide San Fernando, which departed from China’s Xiamen port and is expected to reach outer waters by July 11. The vessel will utilise Vizhinjam port services to manage the movement of 400 containers on board, with one of two feeder ships scheduled to arrive on July 13 to facilitate further cargo handling.

Why trial run?

The rationale behind these trials lies in ensuring that the port meets stringent operational standards essential for commercial transshipment container operations. Parameters such as dwell times, vessel turnaround, berth productivity, vehicle service time, ship-handling productivity, and quay crane efficiency must adhere to global benchmarks.

Commissioning in Sept- Oct

Commissioning is projected for September to October. Following successful trials, commercial shipping companies are expected to utilise the port, which is strategically developed as a transshipment hub. Leading companies such as MSC, Maersk (represented by Merc), APM Terminals (part of A P Moller-Maersk Group), and Hapag-Lloyd (represented by Von Line) have already expressed interest in establishing a presence at Vizhinjam.

Key approvals for the port

  • Provisional NSPC clearance for handling commercial vessels from July 2 to September 30, 2024

  • International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code certification on April 2, 2024

  • Customs recognition for port: June 15, 2024

  • Location code of Vizhinjam International Port (IN NYY 1) received on June 21, 2024.

  • Customs approval for landing area, demarcation of customs area: June 24, 2024

  • EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), custodian code pending approval

  • Awaiting Immigration Check Post (ICP) clearance.

Vizhinjam Port update:

  • Breakwater: 2,960 m of breakwater has been completed. The construction of the retaining wall is in progress.

  • Container Berth: 800 m container berth is completed. A 600 m container berth is ready for operation.

  • Port Approach Road: 600 m of 1700 m Port Approach Road has been commissioned. The remaining work on road connectivity is in progress.

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