Steamship Mutual Club correspondent Shepstone & Wylie has reported that the Richards Bay Harbour Master has circulated a “Port Information Update” regarding the use of the port’s helicopter for Marine Pilot transfers.
The Richards Bay helicopter had been undergoing planned maintenance from March 15th to March 25th, but on March 20th the manufacturer of the port’s helicopter issued a bulletin providing for emergency inspections for cracks to be conducted immediately on all of its helicopters in use around the world.
Upon inspection of the helicopters in use at Richards Bay and Durban, the suspected cracks were found on both helicopters. Replacement parts were ordered and delivery was expected in three weeks’ time. The helicopters were expected to be back in commission by April 13th 2018.
Meanwhile the pilot boat is being used as a primary Marine Pilot transfer craft at Richards Bay, with a work boat available as a backup craft. The correspondent assumed that the same would apply at Durban.
The correspondent warned that, as pilot boats were obviously slower than helicopters for Marine Pilot transfers, and more sensitive to the weather, some berthing delays could be expected at Richards Bay and Durban until the helicopters were returned to service.