A container ship, the Kourou, ran into the dock at the Port of Port of Spain on Saturday night, Seamen and Waterfront Workers trade Union (SWWTU) head Michael Annisette confirmed to Newsday on Sunday. He said it had been reported to him by his union members as having happened at about 10 pm.
“The story is that there was an explosion and this ship ran aground, running into the berth. It is a reality.”
Annisette was not aware of what damage was caused by the accident.
“It ran into the berth. It had engine failure. We’ll assess the damage.”
He said the vessel was shifted to another berth where it continued to function and to unload its cargo, which he quantified as 455 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of container unit lengths.
“Nobody was injured, which was the most important thing to me as president.”
Annisette said the ship was owned by a French company, CMA-CGM, out of Marseilles, which Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh said in his budget speech was allegedly eyeing a stake in the port upon privatisation as proposed by Finance Minister Colm Imbert in the budget.
Port Authority chairman Lyle Alexander on Sunday also confirmed the incident.
He told Newsday, “Yes, the vessel did strike the quay when coming into dock. The vessel itself is very, very functional. Operations continued on the port today as usual.
"So from the operational point of view it didn’t really affect the operations. It would have delayed it a little bit, of course.”
Alexander said an investigation is under way by the port and the insurers.
“We had no injuries nor any negative impact on the operation. We came through this one quite well actually."
Asked if the owners were CMA-CGM, he replied, “That is the information I have.”
He did not have details about the ship’s nationality.
“I think it’s an unfortunate occurrence, but in the industry that is a risk. Ships coming in to dock can lose the engine. You can have a problem that can lead to situations like those.
“The thing is, that the systems in place to recover from those things did in fact work under these circumstances. We were able to relocate the berth that the vessel was to come in to.
“So we are comfortable with where we are. Unfortunately this is just one of the hazards of the industry we are in. As soon as the report is finished, we’ll know what action we need to take in order to prevent something like that in the future. We are looking good so far.”