A steel manufacturer in South Australia approached CSL for assistance in exporting iron ore to major markets in North Asia. The problem was that the Port of Whyalla in Spencer Gulf could only load Handymax and Supramax vessels, making it uncompetitive in the Australian iron ore export market.
CSL’s challenge was to develop a cost-effective and reliable method for overcoming draft restrictions at the customer’s load dock in order to access Capes and their lower freight cost.
Based on these parameters, CSL concluded that the customer’s best alternative was to load Cape-size dry bulk cargo vessels via the Spencer Gulf floating offshore transhipment system and two-barge shuttle.
With each transhipment, the FOTB Spencer Gulf remains secured to the Cape for the entire operation. The two self-unloading barges shuttle between the loading jetty and the transhipment point approximately eight nautical miles offshore, using three dedicated tugs. Using their gravity based unloading systems, the SUBs self-discharge iron ore onto the FOTB Spencer Gulf which then transfers the ore, via incline belts and ship loader, directly into the export vessel’s holds. A typical transhipment consists of 15 barges of ore and takes less than four days to complete.
The SUBs are unmanned and all tug lines are preset for automatic pickup by the tugs. The mooring system was designed for double-duty, both utilized at the ore jetty for loading and alongside the Spencer Gulf for discharging. The system is operated from the tugs remotely, with no mooring lines required.
As the SUB arrives on site, it plugs into the Spencer Gulf for power and all its operational systems for discharge are connected wirelessly to the FOTB’s control room, where one operator controls the discharge system. Remote control cameras on the SUB and Spencer Gulf allow the operator to monitor the entire operation without leaving the control room.