The enormous vessels and the tough natural conditions of Dunkerque’s harbor need the great professionalism of the captains of the tugboats who assist every day complicated maneuvers to drive the giants of the sea, charged with tens of thousand tones, to a secure wharf.
In the west terminal of Dunkerque, the Bulk Mexico, of 176000 tones, 292 meters longs and 45 large, has just unload part of its charge of coal of Brasil. Lighten and showing now a draft of 14,5 meters it will be able to start its second phase in Dunkerque, in the Sollac wharf, behind the Charles de Gaulle’s lock.
Pilots and tugboats come in the best conditions to face a maneuver of this kind. The geography of the area in Dunkerque is really tough. In the Dyck’s area, close to Calais and the Belgian border, the sea is fluted by those long sand bench, between whom the pilots and tugboats must find their way.
Four tugboats, two at prow and two at stern, get inside the hull and start to handle with skill the giant of the sea, avoiding the currents and the sand benched that can be seen looking at the marine surface. “ Here it’s always really windy”, says smiling one of the captains,”although our problem is not the wind like in Gascogne Gulf, is the short sea and the currents and over everything, the sand benches that surround us”.
Four hours and half were used to drive this huge great thing from offshore to wharfs. The Bulk Mexico arrives slowly to the wharf. The hatchways of the big boat are open. The maneuver has finished.