(CNS): Images from webcams at the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands (PACI) and posts on social media on Thursday showed serious flooding at the cargo dock in George Town, where at least three empty containers were washed out to sea. Acting Port Director Joseph Woods said swells were breaking over the dock, which is around eight feet above sea level, slamming into the containers. Woods said the forecast had called for swells of two to four feet but the reality was far greater.
“The large swells slammed into the containers stored on the west wall,” Woods told CNS via email. “We stack containers along the west wall of the dock so that we have enough room to load the cargo ships and still leave space for the transportation operators servicing the cruise industry. However, the cargo ship for last night arrived at 1:25pm and commenced discharge at 2am. They left at 6am without taking any empty containers.”
Wood explained that when the overnight supervisor left at around 6:00 this morning, he had said the sea was calm
“The weather forecast only predicted two to four foot seas. The dock is 8 feet above sea level. Sometime after 9am, large swells arrived and started hammering the containers,” he said. “The cruise manager started to move the containers as the cargo staff had gone off duty by then but the power of the swells knocked some of the containers that were stacked four high over. Staff were called in and West Indian Marine engaged to help retrieve the containers that fell into the sea. Three were retrieved. Staff have now moved all of the containers from along the west wall.”
George Town Harbour has experienced rough seas and far worse conditions than today but the loss of containers in such weather is a rare event.
The incident happened on the day Cayman was supposed to be going to the polls to vote on the government’s plans for a cruise berthing facility and the proposed cargo dock redevelopment. It also comes against a backdrop of claims that the cargo area is at full capacity, but concerns are also being raised about serious mismanagement at the authority and very low staff morale.