Letter responding to July 19 Editorial “No free parking for ships”

Tuesday, August 2 2016

Your report on the Aleutian safe harbour buoy omits one critical detail. The buoy is intended for use by a disabled vessel of the size you stated and to ensure it can survive a one hundred year storm unassisted: 60 knot winds, four- to five-metre waves, no engine. Now this is not my area of expertise but this is a somewhat different engineering problem from the one posed here, where you’re essentially using a mooring to replace the function of the ship’s anchor, with the same rules about use of ship’s engine or departing the mooring completely in adverse conditions. But this $10M price tag has been tossed out in a few places now, unqualified I suppose, with the intent to forestall further discussion of the topic.

The real issue about moorings is the fact that it reopens for consideration many of the sites rejected by the anchorage proponents on the basis of poor holding, insufficient swing room and the like. Moorings, if I understand correctly, can be designed to address these issues - and deployed in sites already designated for industrial activities, where no one’s life and economic well-being need be disrupted. Going beyond this, it’s easy for the lay person to envision technological solutions to coordinate arrival of ship, product and availability of berth, addressing at least part of the parking congestion problem.

But any of these solutions require monies to be spent and recouped from shippers, who after all are the only people the proponents are beholden to. As you’ve pointed out, anchorages are economic externalities: shippers benefit, we pay. It’s tough to argue with free.

~ Desmond Vaughan-Pope