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State Pier Gets First Double-docking Since Repairs

New London — For the first time since the state completed renovations at Adm. Harold E. Shear State Pier last fall, two ships docked there at the same time this weekend.

The two vessels, both carrying cargo from South America, overlapped in their visits from Friday to Saturday night. The Department of Transportation's recent repairs to the western edge of the pier — a side that had previously gone unused — allowed for the simultaneous docking.

“This is the first time, at least for decades, that two freighters have been docked at the pier at once,” said Adam Wronowski, vice president of the Thames Towboat Co. Two of the company's tugboats guided the cargo ships to the state pier over the weekend.

The Veruda arrived first, carrying 8,000 metric tons of copper from Chile. The Pelican Arrow followed at 11 p.m. Friday, bearing 2,900 metric tons of Brazilian plywood.

In a typical month, four to five ships deposit cargos of copper or lumber at state pier. Traffic has increased since 1998, the year the state rebuilt the eastern side of the pier after its collapse in 1993. That year, only eight to 10 ships used state pier as a port-of-call.

The owners of the two ships derived the most benefit from last weekend's double docking, according to Joe Ciccia, vice president of New England Shipping Co., the ships' agent. Because the ships run at a cost of $30,000 to $45,000 per day, he said, the owners save money if they do not have to wait for another ship to unload before pulling into harbor.

“If the Pelican Arrow had to wait three days before she could even discharge, they would lose a tremendous amount of money,” Ciccia said Monday.

Increased traffic at the pier could also create new jobs. A crew of roughly 35 stevedores worked to unload the ships over the weekend. John Pendleton, the terminal manager for Logistec USA, the company that manages the pier, said a workforce of 55 would have been ideal to handle the cargo of two ships.

“We do not have enough help,” he said.
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