Freeport Harbor In Bahamas Open For Limited Operations

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Freeport Harbor in the Bahamas is open, but sources say operations are limited by a lack of electricity and personnel.

Anthony Tam, a spokesman for Hutchison Ports, which operates the container terminal in Freeport in partnership with Terminal Investment Ltd., a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC), said an “emergency team at the container port and relevant government authorities have been working round the clock with rescue efforts and trying to resume port operations as sustainable power supply has yet to be restored.

“We are unable to provide updates as the local team is still accessing the situation, but everyone there is in good spirits. However, we have learned that the terminal has sustained minimal damage — no loss of equipment and infrastructure.”

He said in conjunction with MSC the port will begin to handle limited amount of cargo, mostly humanitarian aid with geared vessels, starting as early as Monday, Sept. 9.

Some cruise lines and operators of smaller ships are bringing aid cargo to Freeport.

A notice from the Grand Bahama Port Authority dated Sept. 5 said it was notified by the Freeport Harbour Company that the harbor is operational, but advised vessels must call 24 hours in advance and stand two miles clear of the channel until receiving clearance to enter.

A source tells American Shipper that equipment at the port still needs to be tested before being operated and that more workers are needed before the port can operate normally. He also said his company is awaiting confirmation that soundings have been completed and that there are no submerged obstacles.

MSC said it has pledged support from across all of its business units for Hurricane Dorian relief in the Bahamas.

Those efforts, “in addition to providing and delivering goods of primary necessity, will initially focus on semi-permanent prefabricated modular housing for the population as well as making available MSC geared ships for cargo relief service from the U.S. to the Bahamas.”

MSC said a number of senior managers as well as leadership of its philanthropic arm, the MSC Foundation, is “on its way to Nassau for meetings with local officials, community leaders and key relief and recovery organizations to identify the most timely and urgent additional relief needs that the Group can support.”

Gianluigi Aponte, executive chairman and founder of MSC Group, said, “As a family company and one that has lived off the sea for over 300 years, we are fully committed to supporting both immediate and longer-term relief and recovery efforts in the Bahamas. Our businesses have long been closely tied to the Bahamas and its people, with a rich history spanning over many decades. We now look forward to supporting their efforts to rebuild and recover in every way we can and through all our businesses.”

Maersk has published a customer advisory on port condition in Freeport and ports along the U.S. East Coast.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation says the Grand Bahama International Airport and Leonard Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbor, Abaco, will remain closed until further notice, but that the Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau and airports in Exuma, South Bimini Airport, North Eleuthera Airport, Stella Maris Airport and Deadman’s Cay Airport, are open.

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