The Port of Rotterdam Authority signalled a slight decrease in the number of accidents in 2022; 137 accidents compared to 141 in 2021. However, René de Vries, harbour master of the Port of Rotterdam, expresses concern now that his waters are becoming ever more busy with recreational and passenger shipping.

Slightly more seagoing vessels arrived in Rotterdam in 2021 – 29,029 compared to 28,876 – and fewer inland vessels (97,459 compared to 98,469 in 2021).

Two accidents in the Port of Rotterdam (one involving the water taxi and a fatal accident caused by the capsizing of an inland vessel) left their mark on last year’s nautical results. These are the main results of the 2022 nautical annual figures presented by (State) Harbour Master René de Vries on 26 January. 

‘Due to a fatal accident in the port, we obviously cannot be satisfied with the results of the past year,’ said (state) harbour master René de Vries, who rated himself with a 6.39 (nautical safety index) this year. ‘We always aim for a seven. The number of 137 accidents seems a lot, but they mainly involve so-called “parking damage”. The water taxi accident does worry us. We await the results and recommendations of the investigation by the Dutch Safety Board. However, we see the use of waterways in the city region getting busier and busier. We are doing our best to influence navigational behaviour in recreational and passenger shipping.’

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Expansion of camera network

To achieve this, monitoring of the navigational behaviour of recreational and passenger shipping has been intensified. Regular coordination takes place on identified dangerous situations. The Port Authority’s Harbour Master’s Division has now extended traffic control on a trial basis to include camera supervisors. In the coming period, the camera network in the port and industrial area serving Seaport Police, Customs and the Port Authority will be expanded from 220 to 280 cameras. 

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Recreational sailing

The harbour master expressed satisfaction with the gradual decline in recreational boating accidents. From fourteen in 2018 to six in 2022.

‘However, this concerns an extremely vulnerable group of waterway users. The risk of things going wrong remains high. Therefore, we inspect more, issue more tickets and provide a lot of information: We will continue with the water stewards, who provide education to passing recreational boaters. We organise themed weeks. We organise webinars and actively participate in “Varen doe je samen”.’

This is an alliance between port authorities, police, inland waterway shipping, ANWB and recreational boating representatives, among others, to encourage waterway users to share waterways and waters safely with each other. Last year, the Harbour Master observed 36 pleasure boats with engine failure. ‘That is too many. People should prepare well if they dare to sail in Europe’s busiest and largest port. And that includes engine maintenance.’

2023 outlook

The harbour master also touched on important developments in the coming year:

  • A study will be conducted on extending the generator ban for idling inland vessels. Currently, there is already a generator ban in the city and the desire is to make the generator ban mandatory elsewhere in the port. This is because the 32 shore-based power cabinets with 116 connections now available in the areas where there is no generator ban are virtually unused.
  • Starting July, methanol will be bunkered regularly. Ahead of this, the preconditions for safe bunkering have now been agreed with the parties involved.
  • In late 2022, the Port of Rotterdam Authority announced that it will make it mandatory to use a bunker measuring system on board bunker vessels to measure the exact amount of fuel delivered to sea-going vessels.In 2023, the Harbour Master will decide which bunker measuring systems are suitable in the Port of Rotterdam and when they will be made mandatory. 
  • This month, the Port Authority set up an Airspace Centre at the World Port Center to gain knowledge on what it takes to keep the drones airspace safe, determine the impact of drone air traffic control on the organisation and get an idea of the Port Authority’s future role in this respect.

Picture: Camera supervisor Port Coordination Centre (by Ries van Wendel de Joode).

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