Britannia and UK P&I have warned members of a significant number of groundings in the Parana River, Argentina, as a result of a new navigation channel being introduced in a specific section. Local correspondents Estudio Vega have advised of another such incident, this time at km 343, bringing to four in the past fortnight the number of groundings between the km 341 and km 350 markers. Britannia said that the latest grounding had blocked the new route, “but ships can still use the old channel and so there is no reported disruption to navigation”.
UK P&I noted that, as from 18th April, the Navigational Authorities established as main channel the “Paso Cortada Isla Nueva” which goes from Km 335 to Km 345 of the Parana River. This replaced the previous channel, which was round the island.
All the groundings took place at a very similar location on the new channel. UK P&I said that there was much speculation as to the cause of the groundings, with one possibility being that the channel had not yet been updated on the charts, while another was that the new aids to navigation might have not been sufficient to cover the new area. Finally, the strength of the current might have caught pilots unawares.
On April 24th a meeting was held between the main authorities concerned with navigation of the Parana River and the Chamber of Pilots. The meeting was requested by the Sub-secretary of Ports and Waterways, in view of the issues at Paso Cortada Isla Nueva, and was attended by:
National Office of Waterways, Juan Martín Canevaro (Director); National Office of River and Sea Transport, Gustavo Deleersnyder (Director); National Office of Works Concessions, Gisela Sivorí (Technical Director of works), Hugo Collante and Ms. Sofía Kaplan; Waterways Control Office Héctor Gutiérrez and Enrique Gutiérrez; Hidrovia SA, Fernando Caviglia, Mariano Marpegan and Koen Robijns; Pilots, Ernesto Torre and John Ryan.
The meeting noted the four groundings in a very short period of time. According to the Pilots attending the meeting, the strength of the current in a section of the passage complicated the navigation, moving them closer to the left margin. A lack of experience in navigating the new channel amounted “to a considerable scale which with an increase on the navigational aids (signalization) could be corrected”.
It was proposed and agreed to increase the navigational aids (buoys) of Paso Cortada Isla Nueva with three new side green buoys.