At least two marine operations are planning to do business with the port of Botwood.
The town’s Port Development Corp. has been lobbying and believes it is finally seeing a bright side in marine enterprise, starting with the visit of the cruise ship Clipper Adventurer.
Now, said corporation chairman and Botwood Mayor Jerry Dean, at least two shipping companies are showing interest in overwintering some of their vessels at the port.
“I think some of these vessels are used for northern services, and they want a place to tie up some of their vessels and do their winter maintenance,” he said.
Berthing the vessels isn’t the same as parking one’s car and just leaving it for an indefinite time. The mayor said a small contingent of employees would stay on board the ships for the winter.
Why did the companies show interest in the port of Botwood? Dean said, to use a parking lot analogy, marine space is limited in St. John’s and around the province, as he understands it.
The ships in question are bigger vessels, he explained, and the operators want the security of coming into a good harbour.
Dean was not free to provide more comments on the shipping companies, but said they were not using their vessels over the winter.
“They wanted a place to do winter maintenance, and apparently it’s all self-contained,” he explained. “These ships have their own generators, and they’re not concerned with power as such.”
The power at the warehouse where AbitibiBowater used to store and ship the giant bales of paper was cut after the company pulled out of the province. However, there are plans to re-establish power in the shed, the mayor added.
“They told us they’re not concerned about that because they are self-contained on their vessels,” he said. “I believe they will have a small crew on the vessels, but they will be doing so on a rotating basis.”
The companies are anticipating starting up this winter, according to the mayor. They won’t need to get on the docks to load or discharge anything, he added.
“It’s another opportunity for turn over a minimum amount of money, and to get some of our investment back,” he said.
In August of this year, the town purchased all parcels of land, as well as the warehouse and shipping deck, once known as the AbitibiBowater properties, for a cost of $35,000.
“They don’t want to tie up off the coast somewhere where there’s no amenities and stuff,” said the mayor. “At least tying up at that facility, should any of their workers choose, they can use what’s in the town.”
If the operators decide to use the port, they are looking to arrive within the next month and staying until April or May. Then the ships will leave and go back into service again.
“By that time, we’ll be utilizing what we have in a more productive manner,” he said.