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'Med-Mooring' Ship that Called to Dublin Had Berthed in Port of Beirut During Explosion

9th August 2020
City of Paris a former car-carrier of Nissan renamed Jouri was sold this year to Lebanese interests and converted into a livestock-ship, was among the nearest ship's to the scene of the massive explosion in the Port of Beirut. The Isle of Man flagged vessel as above in Dublin Port during 2007, had notably for a ship in an Irish port made a unique 'Mediterranean' mooring also whereby City of Paris approached the quayside astern with mooring lines to enable the stern's ro-ro ramp lowered on the quay at right-angles. Note the ship also secured mooring lines from the bow across Alexandra Basin to Ocean Pier and in the water a port anchor was deployed. Note the yellow structures is not part of the ship but quayside based container straddle-cranes while on left is the original linkspan RoRo Ramp No.2 with associated tower since demolished. City of Paris a former car-carrier of Nissan renamed Jouri was sold this year to Lebanese interests and converted into a livestock-ship, was among the nearest ship's to the scene of the massive explosion in the Port of Beirut. The Isle of Man flagged vessel as above in Dublin Port during 2007, had notably for a ship in an Irish port made a unique 'Mediterranean' mooring also whereby City of Paris approached the quayside astern with mooring lines to enable the stern's ro-ro ramp lowered on the quay at right-angles. Note the ship also secured mooring lines from the bow across Alexandra Basin to Ocean Pier and in the water a port anchor was deployed. Note the yellow structures is not part of the ship but quayside based container straddle-cranes while on left is the original linkspan RoRo Ramp No.2 with associated tower since demolished. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

City of Paris a former Nissan Car Carrier that served in Irish waters and sold this year to Beirut interests as a livestock-ship berthed in the Lebanese capital port when the massive explosion took place on Tuesday, writes Jehan Ashmore

The devastating scene of major damage inflicted in the port and large swathes of the adjoining capital has led to more than 160 deaths, 6,000 injured and more than 200,000 left homeless according to this morning's RTE Radio 1's 'World Report'.

The explosion occured next to the Port of Beirut's largest grain silo, which lays in ruins with such cargo spilled out like scree on a mountainside strewn with debris, while rescue /recovery teams from France and Russia were working at the scene.

The blast is widely attributed to thousands of tonnes of unstable, dangerous chemicals stored in a warehouse following the discharge of a cargoship of bulk ammonium nitrate in 2014 according to Channel 4 News report on Thursday. For much more details about the cargoship and fallout of the damaged port city, click for footage here featuring the former City of Paris.

All this carnage in the capital of The Lebanon follows political turmoil and economic strain, the impact of Covid-19 and further compounded with angry citizens taking to the streets of recent days leading to clashes with security forces in the beleagured west Asian state.

It was during Channel 4's footage on Thursday, where scenes of destruction throughout the port included footage (from 1min 17sec) of the former City of Paris now renamed Jouri which Afloat can confirm following online tracking to be the 1999 built ship of 9,950 gross tonnage. Its new owners are Etab Shipping SA based in Beirut as reported in July's Ships Monthly. The Lebanese flagged livestock-carrier currently remains berthed at Quai No. 8.

This quay is the nearest pierhead to the east (of Basin No. 3) where the devastating explosion took place in a quayside warehouse with behind the large grain silo on the Quai Pour Silos which given its name is tragically an all now too familar scene as the epicentre of the disaster. Also in Basin No.3 next to the warehouse,but on the far side is a capsized ship (possibly another car-carrier) where in recent days divers were examining as Channel 4 also reported as part of the disaster related operation.

As for the former City of Paris, it was in late July, Jouri last arrived to Beirut as Afloat traced online its previous port of departure as Vila do Conde, Brazil. The port is near Belem, a city on the north coast of the South American country from where the trans-Atlantic voyage to the eastern Meditterannean took 17 days to complete.

The City of Paris had belonged to a series serving UK-European waters for the Nissan Motor Car Carrier fleet including the 800 vehicle City of Sunderland, named after the UK location of their car manufacturing plant in north-east England, see Nissan 'Brexit' Cork site story. This ship was also disposed by Nissan this year and to other Lebanese owners as their Hajh Amina.

Afloat also observed from the footage and tracked another of the series, City of Rome to be in port's Basin No. 4. This ship was reported by InsuranceMarineNews along with City of Barcelona to be in the port during the blast along with other vessels. The City of Rome Afloat also tracked to have arrived in the port only days before the blast, though according to IMN the ship still retains its name despite been under new owners but still under the Isle of Man flag.

In addition another half-sister, City of Barcelona also berthed in Beirut, which was built in 1993 and slightly smaller in tonnage retains its UK Red Ensign 'Duster' flag albeit with an unknown owner as IMN also highlighted.

Also on Thursday, President Macron had jetted in to the former French colony to see the mass destruction, where there was admiration from citizens and also anger expressed at the domestic politics given claims of widespread corruption that have beset the country. The Lebanese Government had arrested officials of the Port of Beirut which is among the top 10 ports in the Meditteranean Sea and is considered the gateway to the Middle-East according to the port's website. The nation is highly dependent as more than 80% of goods are imported on ship's including those from Ireland, in which Afloat will have more to report.

Returning to the Jouri, just shy of 100m long was immediately recognised from the Channel 4 footage to be one of the former Nissan ship series based from a personal trip into Dublin Port when the car carrying City of Paris called in 2007. It was then and remains a memorable occasion, as this was the first and only such example of a ship to have observed berth in an Irish port when the City of Paris made a 'Mediterranean' mooring also known as 'Med-mooring'.

The Med-mooring is a technique involving a ship at a pier to be at a perpendicular angle, i.e. the relationship between two lines which meet at a right angle. Therefore this method occupies less space as it is connected to a fixed length of pier along the width rather than its length, enabling more vessels to occupy such an area, though is more favourable in certain climates compared to our more variable Irish weather!

Such a practice is not seen in Irish ports with exception of fishing fleets including supertrawlers on south and west coast harbours, where quayside space is more of a premium hence this method as outlined below.

So when the City of Paris took up this Med-mooring more than a decade ago, is was understood to be due to either an incompatable or inoperable linkspan at ro-ro ramp No.2. (see photo) that dated to the 1960's in Alexandra Basin. This ageing linkpsan (and associated tower housing hydraulics) was also unique in the port compared to modern low-profile designed linkspans. The old ro-ro Ramp No.2 was subsequenty demolished and replaced with a larger linkspan at the same site on Alexandra Quay East and was opened in 2010.

This new Ramp at berth No. 36/37 was installed as part of infrastructural investment to attract larger capacity freight-ferries. Along came CldN Ro-Ro S.A. operations for the first time to Dublin which began trading through the capital a decade ago providing new direct Ireland links to mainland Europe through ports in Belgium and The Netherlands. An alternative for hauliers by avoiding the UK land-bridge.

Among the CldN's fleet is the Celine, dubbed the 'Brexit-Buster' (which departed Dublin tonight) was joined by sister Delphine in 2018. Last year capacity expansion took place with the start of the introduction of a succession of smaller yet newer tonnage involving among sisters Sixtine.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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