Crowley Maritime began operating a ship-to-shore transfer of containers at Port-au-Prince"s badly damaged harbor.
Crowley Maritime began operating a ship-to-shore transfer of containers at Port-au-Prince"s badly damaged harbor on Friday that authorities hope will provide a more rapid path for relief supplies into Haiti.
?If it proves successful,? said Crowley spokesman Mark Miller, ?it will allow us to bring larger vessels to the port to a point offshore and allow for the transfer of the containers from there.?
Crowley officials said the regional container ship Macajama, which left Port Everglades on Sunday brought 12 20-foot containers to Port-au-Prince after unloading 56 containers with food and water at Rio Haina in the Dominican Republic, where they were to be carried by truck into Haiti.
The container transfer at Port-au-Prince is part of a broad effort by military, commercial and aid groups to bring food, water and clothing to an increasingly desperate Haiti, where an estimated 200,000 people perished in last week"s earthquake.
The enormous damage at the Haitian capital, including severe damage to the main port, has made has created large logistics hurdles, including logjams at the Port-au-Prince airport as groups struggle to get goods in amid the wrecked infrastructure.
Crowley"s Miller said the port operation, called ?lightering,? had the container ship use its own crane to load containers onto a smaller vessel, which can pull close to a beach at the port and roll the boxes onto the shore.
If it works, he said, ?It opens the door for the ship to return to Port Everglades and then return directly to Port-au-Prince? for faster delivery of the large volumes of needed supplies.
Although Crowley calls the operation experimental, ?it"s something we"ve had a lot of experience with on the north slope of Alaska, in the Russian Far East and in West Africa in recent years,? Miller said. ?We"ve used it for large and bulky shipments in support of the energy industry, project cargo.?
The company also has signed a contract with the U.S. Transportation Command to operate two 400-foot flat-deck barges to form a makeshift pier ?that would support regular cargo operations,? he said.