The Cuban shipping fleet in a few years will cross the Caribbean Sea with the same force as it did three decades ago, when it reached its highest level of development. At least that indicates the work currently being undertaken to increase the Cuban capacity of cargo transportation by ship.
Deputy Transport Minister Lázaro González Marrero explained recently in Havana that the gradual recovery of the fleet is a reality already. A proof of this is the recent the agreement with China to build ten vessels in the Asian country for Cuba.
The vessels, of 45,000 displacement tons each, are of the latest generation and four have already been added to the fleet. The rest will be received at the Container Terminal Port of Mariel, when they are finished.
Besides Cuba will also have seven tankers and five freighters, which will be produced shortly for use in operations in the Caribbean and also for a lesser extent to engage in cabotage.
As part of the works to rescue the fleet of the island, over thirty vessels of the Cuban auxiliary fleet, belonging to the Caribbean Navigation Company, are now undergoing repairs and another fifty will get the same treatment in 2013.
Currently the Cuban merchant navy serves in all oceans of the world, specialized for different types of loads and geographical areas. Cuban carriers carry dry, liquid, refrigerated, containerized and loose cargoes. All boats have a International Safety Management (ISM) Code issued by Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.
But Cuban merchant fleet was significantly affected by the so-called special period. Between 2001 and 2006 the shipping industry underwent a major reorganization, especially regarding ships; however most of them showed a high level of wear.
The general deterioration led, in recent years, to a notable decrease in the number of operational vessels, especially bulk, container and refrigerated carriers.
The modernization of ports and vessels began in 2010 due to the need to revitalize the fleet and port infraestructure, essential for the country.
Current investments in new and more efficient equipment will reflect in increased port activity. This, in turn, will have a major impact in the Cuban economy, and will help the work of the Cienfuegos refinery and petrochemical complex, said González Marrero.
The increased use of the navy to transport goods, likewise, will replace the use of trucks, which in recent years was in charge of moving around more than seventy percent of all cargoes in the country.
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