Ministry Looks Into Widening Shipping Channels

January 24, 2014

The Ministry of Public Works said they would like to advise the public that it has awarded Bermuda Environmental Consultants the contract to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment to look into potentially widening one of the shipping Channels in the near future.

A statement said, “This is needed as part of a wider feasibility study which would allow larger cruise ships to visit Bermuda. Currently, in order for vessels to enter Bermuda, they must approach Five Fathom Hole on the North Eastern tip of the island.

“From this point, vessels wishing to approach Dockyard, Great Sound and Hamilton must navigate a dredged channel, bordered by reef, to St. Catherine’s Point – known as ‘The Narrows’.

“Vessels then can either proceed down the South or North Channel. One of these two channels will need to be modified in order to accommodate the new generation of cruise ships such as Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum class of ships.

“A feasibility study will be undertaken immediately by the Ministry of Public Works to consider the available options for channel improvement.

“The options include:

  • Option 1 – Realign the North Channel
  • Option 2 – Upgrade the existing route of the South Channel
  • Option 3 – Realign the South Channel

“The engineering studies and the obtainment of associated costs of construction have already commenced. An Environmental Impact Study [EIS] is also required as part of the feasibility study.

“The EIS will look at environmental considerations for each of the alternatives, including the impact on coral reefs and marine life; sustainability considerations; and impacts on business, tourism, transport etc.

“The initial phase of the EIS, Project Scoping, involves identifying which special interest groups, Government Ministries and general stakeholder groups have a vested interest in the project; what their concerns are; and what studies/reports for example may be required.

“To meet the targeted deadline, Bermuda Environmental Consultants will soon be inviting expressions of interest from those parties, in addition to holding town hall meetings and presentations. The ‘project scoping’ is scheduled to be completed by April 2014.
Public awareness of the project’s progress will be facilitated through timely updates issued to the media.”

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  1. Input Sought On Bermuda’s Shipping Channels | | March 10, 2014
  1. Rhonda Neil says:

    this cant be true…But I thought the OBA said the reason there wasn’t a ships in Hamilton and St. Geo..was because the PLP govt was incompetent in securing a smaller ship…besides that what happen to the numerous other studies….

    • in the know says:

      Clearly rhonda you can’t read or comprehend cause they are talking about north & sout channels that lead to dockyard… There is no mention in the statement about two rock passage or hamilton Harbour… get it together.

      • Rhonda Neil says:

        where are the ships for Hamilton and St. Geo… then we won’t need to widen anywhere.

        • Rhonda Neil says:

          @ in the know just checking if you comprehen…

          • in the know says:

            clearly you still don’t understand, even if/when we get smaller ships for hamilton/st geo, we still need to widen one of the two channels for 1. the lagers ship to make it to dockyard 2. for any possible future ships that comes years down the line 3. Safety & security for the ships.

            Stop trying to always look negative on the govt. & you just may be able to see the good of this for the whole of Bermuda.

            If your plp was smart they would have done this at the same time they built the over price over budget dock in dockyard.

            • Rhonda Neil says:

              is your opinion…that we need to widen the channel for future super mega ships into Dockyard, ….IMO we should have widen Hamilton and St.Geo and continued having a regular ship there… but that time has passed, secondly the UBP renamed OBA said the only reason those two ports didn’t have a regular smaller ship was due the PLP inability to negotiate… so why have they not negotiated on in an entire year….. that way we won’t have a need for a super mega ship… thirdly what happen to the concentration on Air arrivals… then again the OBA has stated that they make no apologies for contradictions….

              • Type 42 Destroyer says:

                @rhonda neil. Take a deep breath. You are obviously anti Bermuda progressing unless the deflated plp says it is so. The moon is in the sky OBA yes PLP no . Get a grip

        • Gariboldi says:

          Right where they left them, I would imagine.

    • Huh? says:

      reading comprehension is so crucial.

    • skinnydipper says:

      Why don’t I here St George’s Town cut channel been included in these studies

  2. bluebird says:

    Thank you “OBA” for being so OPEN and TRANSPARENT.
    It is good to be informed as to what is transpiring.
    Very different from the PDP.(destructive)

  3. a photog says:

    Didn’t people blast the PLP for wanting to do this? If so I hope the environmental “do gooders” protest against this as well.

    • Reading is fundamental says:

      This is not talking about widening TWO ROCK PASSAGE leading into Hamilton or TOWNCUT leading into St. Georges!

      • a photog says:

        its talking about the Narrows just off of Fort St Catherine

    • Type 42 Destroyer says:

      I am sure the tree huggers are getting a useless petition drawn up now. One ay not in my lifetime the Island might grow up and join the real world.

  4. sea monkey says:

    Why don’t they mention the specific reason for widening the ship channels? There have been a few articles recently, lots of moaning about how we really want the extra mega Quantum to come to Bermuda in 2015. No mention of that here, just a general mention of bigger ships. The Quantum is the reason they are ramming this through so quickly. Meanwhile, the new tourism authority is aiming to attract more air visitors.

    Also, no mention of the feasibility report from a few years back that was supposed to be the initiation of public discourse regarding whether we even have the infrastructure to support the visitor and crew numbers from more big ships.

    Considering this has been on the table for a few years, government should not be ramming this through as quickly as they can, leaving inadequate time for the EIA. April 2014? Really, 3 months for scoping and public consultation? I guess I should be happy they’re doing an EIA at all?

    Can I present Option 4 – no dredging of the marine environment, and not selling our souls for a cruise ship. Tourists come for our lovely marine life – why cover it in sand and silt from dredging?

    • Rhonda Neil says:

      thank You….

    • Reading is Key says:

      “This is needed as part of a wider feasibility study which would allow larger cruise ships to visit Bermuda. Currently, in order for vessels to enter Bermuda, they must approach Five Fathom Hole on the North Eastern tip of the island.”

      Reading is key…

      • Rhonda Neil says:

        so what happen to air arrivals..Hamilton and St. Geo…

        • 40000Summer Dead Weight Tons says:

          ships go on the ocean planes fly in the air in case you are confused.

      • sea monkey says:

        But there already WAS one, that’s my point.

      • cicada says:

        They will still approach from Five Fathom Hole. They are proposing to dredge coral reefs and sand from either the North or South Channels, and the Narrows by Ft St Catherines. The North option means removing entire reefs measuring 60-m diameter…

    • Eastern Mariner says:

      Real reason is most likely the fact that our channels are little changed from when they were laid out back in the early 1930s and designed for ships marginally larger than the old Queen of Bermuda. Town Cut was once thought too tight for her, although her near sister the Monarch visited St George once.

      As ships get larger beyond the design limit of a narrow channel, it becomes more and more difficult to control the hydraulic forces action on the ship during the passage, especially under extreme conditions. Our channels have only had minor dredging in the past and no change to their width.

      Remember the North Channel was demanded by the US so their ships could have an alternate from NOB instead of only the South Channel. Now the larger ships going to Dockyard have only one option which will pose a problem if there is an issue (grounding/sinking) in the North Channel, the ship alongside Dockyard will become a permanent hotel until rectified.

      If you look at a chart you will see there is very little reef in the South Channel which would be impacted by any dredging and the channel is quite wide, until getting to the Elbow. So only the depth will be of concern.

      As for covering the reef and coral from dredging and silt, you only need to observe the Narrows and approaches off St George when it turns to milk due to a storm passing to know that nature flushes the silt away, otherwise the reefs of Sea Venture Flats would long have been dead.

      I am not for widening and dredging simply for the sake of doing it but the island cannot live in a bubble and watch ships get larger and not respond. The choice has long been make improvements or not have a ship, as Hamilton and St George have discovered as the ships have surpassed those port’s entry design limits.

      Take a look online in the North American market where the regular visitors sail from and see how many ships under 60,000 tons and under 725 foot length exist that could be currently accommodated in St George or Hamilton in their present condition…the answer is none.

      The smaller ships can make more going up the Amazon or out of the way ports not served by the large ships and thus economics don’t lend themselves to positioning one here as a regular caller. Ultimately the decision will become, make improvements or not have a cruise industry.

  5. Reading is fundamental says:

    Sea Monkey can’t you read???????

    “Vessels then can either proceed down the South or North Channel. One of these two channels will need to be modified in order to accommodate the new generation of cruise ships such as Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum class of ships.”

    • Joonya says:

      And for all those cannabis cargo vessels which will have steady # of voyages.. lol

    • sea monkey says:

      Ok, they did mention the Quantum class. Thanks for contributing.

  6. Terry says:

    Define “modified”.

    Widening the channels will not benefit Hamilton nor St. George. Period.
    We accommodate some of the largest vessels in the world on a draft basis and length.

    The “Narrows is the Narrows and always will be. The North Channel and South Channel will always be due to nature and a few destructive coral reef removals years ago.

    There is more to it than meets the eye.
    All these mega ships will still end up at DocYard and basically can only handle two at one time.

    Now, if you want to do all this then just widen, dredge Western Blue Cut et al. Straight in; straight out.
    Or.Stop wasting money on surveys and destroying reef areas for a couple of extra bucks.

    Crap. The only vessels that use the routes are cargo vessels during the off season which is basically almost 5 months.

    There is no way to do this without eliminating coral reefs and breakwaters.

    It’s all about ching ching and the more tourists that arrive off a vessel that can’t find a ride and costs them $100…….
    Money in the coffers for a debt left…..


    • cicada says:

      Isn’t the North Channel within the Coral Reef Preserve? How can it be OK to dredge there?

      • Squid says:

        Check the legislation – yes it does prevent the take of anything attached to the seafloor, but does have a proviso that reads something like ….. “except for the purposes of the Government” or some such. As this is for the purposes of the Government, the Act does not prevent the action.

  7. X man says:

    How about widening the St.Georges Cut Channel first ! – so that a larger Cruise Ships can directly serve the economy of St.Georges. — how about that”
    Kenny ya gotta make noise!

  8. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Years ago H. M. Bermuda Dockyard had two floating docks for hauling naval ships.

    I wonder how polluted the water became during W W 11 at the north and South Dockyard Cambers ?

    I wonder what the bottom paint toxic level used on cruise ships which come here ?

    I wonder in order to save money and time out of the water for dry docking ships, if the bottom toxic level is high ?

    I wonder if those ship bottom paint applications have an adverse affect on reefs and fish.

    “You cant make a cake if you don’t break a few eggs.”

  9. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    You can’t make an omelette with out breaking eggs.

  10. sage says:

    Do we have to pay to dig up the Queen’s bottom?

  11. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    Steam Ship “LORD COCHRANE”.

    The east / west ship’s channel in the “Great sound” at Stag rocks
    was dug by a coal burning bucket hopper dredger named the “Lord Cochrane” ,the forward 3/4 of the length of the of hull was a divided
    “U” shaped slot to accommodate the cubic yard bucket chain configuration, of a similar design and principal as the modern day street boom trench digger we see on our roads today.

    The Lord Cochrane approximately 150 ft long ship would buck, when it hit the hard stuff,this vessel puffing black smoke was out there digging the 30 ft deep channel for months on end.”"
    Most likely the “Lord Cochrane” dug out ” Town cut” and “two rock passage” channels.

    There was another vessel at the time we referred to as the “Sand Sucker”
    it was a massive floating water pump that pumped sand out ” Cavello bay” ferry terminal forming the beach to the North West at long point.

    To see a small picture of the Lord Cochrane

    Google to Bucket – hopper dredger : lord Cochrane
    try http://www.gracesguide .co uk