Container vessel COSCO Taurus calling at the anchorage area to dispatch a patient
Hambantota International Port (HIP) might be a relatively new destination on the world maritime map, but it is now becoming a safe haven for sailors in distress.
Although Hambantota’s maritime connections go back centuries, its transformation from a modest fisheries harbor into a modern multipurpose deep-water facility is fairly recent.
Not only is the port a prime destination for transshipment in the subcontinent, but it is being positioned to take its place as a bunkering hub for South Asia by the end of the year. Amongst the many milestones HIP has achieved to-date, becoming a refuge during maritime emergencies is a new position.
The Hambantota International Port ran a rescue operation recently, on a 20k vessel which was on a 10,000 mile journey, sailing from Rotterdam to Shanghai. The vessel contacted the port requesting help with a sick crew member and the team responded immediately.
The pilot launch Ruhunu 1 was dispatched without delay, and travelled 12 nautical miles to retrieve the crew member, who had fallen ill. The 20,000 TEU container vessel COSCO Taurus came to the anchorage area, where the operation was handled by HIP.
The patient was transferred from ship to launch, using the pilot hole and the gangway while an ambulance service was ready to receive him, immediately upon arrival at the jetty. The sick crew member was transported to the RuhunuMedi Hospital with utmost care.
“Whilst this particular patient was treated at a private medical facility in Hambantota, the area also has a well-equipped hospital with facilities to handle any emergency situation. “This is an important facility which we have opened up for ships’ crews who might be faced with unexpected medical emergencies.
“The fact that we could send out our rescue teams to transfer them from the moving main vessel to a launch and transport them to hospital in record time, makes another plus factor for HIP,” says Ravi Jayawickrema, CEO of Hambantota International Port Services (HIPS).
The CEO says that the port intends positioning this service for crew members as well as making this facility known to international shipping lines plying the sea lanes 16nm away from HIP.
“Close on 30,000 ships pass Hambantota every year so this would be an important rescue point in an emergency. Last year a container ship Kota Lagu carrying 2851 TEUs on board from Singapore, was sailing past Hambantota to Cape Town, South Africa when a container loaded with undeclared dangerous goods was discovered on board and had to make an unscheduled stop at the Hambantota Port, to restow its container cargo. Likewise medical emergencies are another facility we can easily offer to vessels passing us by as much as those calling in port.”