FEATURE: Bulk shipping and lightering around Ho Chi Minh City

The heavily laden HTV1404 lies alongside the partially unloaded HTV1408 at the coal terminal on the Saigon River.

The extensive network of rivers and channels that make up the waterways of the area around Ho Chi Minh City, gain an added complexity with the Saigon River that runs parallel to the Mekong Delta.

Song Long Engineering’s Nguyen Van Tu checks out the pilothouse onboard the HTV1408

The shallower inland waters require a wide range of specialised boats. Among these are the lightering ships that bring cargos from deep draught ships, up to shallow draught inland ports. A series of 60- by 12-metre vessels for the lightering of bulk cargos was recently delivered to the area.

Nguyen Van Tu discuses the vessel’s Cummins engine with Engineer Nguyen Duc Thanh in his immaculately clean engine room

The small ships carry 1,500-tonne cargos, such as coal or cement, in a single large hold set between the forward pilothouse and an aft accommodation block. The single engine, a Cummins KTA19-M3, provides 450kW to a 6:1 reduction gear. With the Saigon River crowded with heavily laden small boats, speed is restricted so the 450kW is more than adequate and safe for the passage.

Heavily laden small craft on the Saigon River make a slow bell mandatory for all ships

The boats are designed with double hulls to provide multiple ballast tanks to maintain a limited air draught on empty voyages and to clear the low bridges. These boats play an important role in developing river shipping in an effective manner.

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