Port Canaveral, FL
Port Canaveral, FL, a man-made harbor facility, is located on the Atlantic coast of the Florida Peninsula, approximately mid-way between the cities of Miami and Jacksonville. The topography adjacent to Port Canaveral is typical of the Florida coast, being composed of low-lying terrain that offers Port Canaveral no protection from wind.
USNS Hayes, converted from an oceanographic research vessel to an ultra-quiet noise measurement vessel, began operation in 1991 as the fleet's submarine acoustical measurement platform on the East Coast. Utilizing advanced measurement systems developed under the Acoustic Measurement Facilities Improvement Program (AMFIP), USNS Hayes provides the platform and system capability of measuring radiated noise signatures of the Navy's quietest submarines. It conducts deep-water measurements at a variety of locations off the Florida coast and the Bahamas. Special measurement arrays, a high capacity data acquisition and processing system (MAX), and a towed array measurement system (ATAMS) provide enhanced measurement capability of various noise deficiencies including sources that may be transient in nature. The ship is currently based in Port Canaveral, Florida.
Port Canaveral is composed of three primary turning basins and facilities located along the east-west oriented Inner Reach of the Entrance Channel. The Port is a multiple-use facility composed of cruise ship berths, cargo berths and U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command berths. The West Turning Basin is used by Cruise ships and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Central Turning Basin is jointly used by commercial, U.S. Navy and MSC vessels. The Trident Turning Basin is used by U.S. Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine forces. The berths situated on the Inner Reach of the Entrance Channel are used primarily by Cruise Ships, cargo ships and tankers. The U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command facilities in the Central and Trident Turning Basins are of primary importance to this evaluation.
The primary U.S. Navy facilities at Port Canaveral consist of the Trident Wharf on the east side of the Trident (East) Turning Basin, the Poseidon Wharf on the southeast side of the Central Turning Basin, and the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC) Wharf on the north side of the Central Turning Basin. The berths are designed to safely moor a vessel in winds up to 61 kt (70 mph). This does not mean it would be considered unsafe for a vessel to remain in the port if greater than 61-knot winds are expected, as several factors need to be considered such as shelter, wind direction, ship's anchors, vessel's speed in avoiding an approaching storm, condition of vessel's engineering plant/propulsion system, ballasting capabilities, manning, sail area, and other physical characteristics.
Trident Wharf, constructed between 1975-1977, is an operational facility in support of the U.S. Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Program. The wharf is 1,220 ft (372 m) long and 68 ft (21 m) wide. The wharf deck is 14 ft (4.25 m) above mean low water (MLW). Project depth at the wharf is 41 ft (12.5 m) at MLW. The wharf has three 60 ft (18.3 m) wide accesses and a rail-mounted 120-ton portal crane. The wharf is fitted with 18-inch double bitts at 15 locations and 42-inch cleats at 27 locations along the face of the wharf. An H-pile fender system is installed at 9 ft (2.75 m) spacing intervals along the face of the wharf. Four mooring dolphins are located behind the wharf next to the bulkhead wall. Each dolphin contains an 18-inch double bitt fixture. Trident Wharf and its mooring hardware were in good structural condition as of a comprehensive survey completed in 1996. Minor repairs to structural elements of the wharf were in progress as of early 1998. The pier is considered to be the strongest at Port Canaveral, but it is constructed specifically for submarine mooring. With adequate fendering, however, surface vessels can use the pier. Deep and shallow draft camels are used to prevent ship and wharf damage. It is thought that the camels will crush with an on-setting 25-30 kt wind, however. Local harbor authorities expressed concern that, since the current H-pile fender system extends only to the top of the wharf deck, the pile ends could rip open a surface vessel's hull with a strong on-setting wind. There is a need for very large Yokohama fenders, but the pier has none.
Poseidon Wharf was constructed between 1957 and 1959 to serve primarily as an operational facility for U.S. Navy Polaris submarines. The wharf is 1,220 ft (372 m) long and 58 ft (17.7 m) wide. The wharf deck is 10 ft (3 m) above MLW. Project depth at the wharf is 35 ft (10.7 m) at MLW. The wharf has three 60-61 ft (18.3-18.6 m) accesses, and one 20 ft (6.1 m) wide access. Poseidon Wharf has two rail-mounted portal cranes, one with 45-ton capacity and one with 25-ton capacity. The wharf is fitted with 24-inch bollards at 18 locations and 42-inch cleats at 17 locations along the face of the wharf. There are two mooring dolphins at the east end of the wharf. One dolphin is fitted with a single bollard, and the other is fitted with two bollards. A timber fender piling system is installed along the berthing face. Deep and shallow draft camels are used to prevent ship and wharf damage. It is thought that the camels will crush with an on-setting 25-30 kt wind. The pier needs very large Yokohama fenders, but has none. The Poseidon Wharf was considered to be in fair condition, with significant structural deterioration, prior to extensive structural repairs conducted in 1998 and 1999.
Fuel (Bunker "C" (#6 oil), MGO, and diesel) is available at Tanker Berth #1. Bunker "C" can also be delivered by barge to any berth in the harbor. Diesel fuel can be delivered by tank trucks to any berth. Several local vendors have trucks with capacities that range from 4,000 to 7,500 gallons. NOTU regulations state that no fueling will take place at the Navy wharves unless prior permission is obtained from NOTU, and only then in case of emergency or if adequate justification accompanies the request. All ships docking at Port Canaveral moor with their bow to the sea to expedite departure.
The anchorage for Port Canaveral is located in 56 ft (17 m) of water at 28°17'N, 80°30'W, or approximately 5.7 nmi from Buoys 3 and 4 on a bearing of 164°. The holding quality on the sand bottom is not specified. The anchorage is exposed and vulnerable to wind and waves, and would be unsuitable as a hurricane anchorage. An uncharted anchorage for vessels waiting for berth assignment is 1 nmi south of entrance Buoy #3. Anchoring is not permitted in the turning basins or channels.
The seaward end of the Outer Reach of the Port Canaveral Entrance Channel is located southeast of the port. Local harbor authorities state the recommended approach point of 28°22'24"N, 80°31'36"W is located 10,775 yd from Cape Canaveral Light on a bearing of 170°. The Outer Reach of the channel becomes the Middle Reach about 0.7 nmi east of the Port. The Inner Reach of the channel begins at the west end of Middle Reach.
Shoaling is a continuous problem in the entire harbor. The Army Corps of Engineers state that shoaling occurs throughout the channel beginning approximately 1 nmi seaward of Buoys 3 and 4 and continues to the junction of the Trident (East) Turning Basin access channel. It is most noticeable in the area from buoys 7 and 8 to the turn at buoys 9 and 10, in the vicinity of Buoy 12 on the north side of the channel at the approximate mid-point of Middle Reach, and in the entrance to the Trident Turning Basin (Figure XXX-3) (Gregov, undated). Local harbor authorities state that depths in the Port Canaveral Entrance Channel are as follows based on a November 1997 survey: Outer Reach - 44 ft; Middle Reach - 44 ft; Trident (East) Turning Basin - 41 ft; and Middle Turning Basin - 39 ft.
All US Navy ships entering or departing Port Canaveral are directed to schedule their time of entry or departure so that no passing situations are created within the reaches of the Port Canaveral Entrance Channel. The use of harbor pilots is not required for U.S. Navy vessels entering and departing Port Canaveral, but they are normally used. Foreign flag vessels must use pilots. The pilot boarding ground is located 1 nmi southeast of lighted whistle buoy #3.
Port Canaveral Entrance Channel becomes the Canaveral Barge Canal west of the West Turning Basin. Pleasure craft and other small boat traffic use Canaveral Barge Canal to reach the Banana River Safe Haven for small craft. As a result, congestion in the Entrance Channel is a major consideration whenever hazardous weather threatens the port. In a storm threat scenario, the small boat traffic and commercial and Cruise Terminal traffic, in addition to U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command (MSC) traffic, could easily cause a delay in sortieing from the port.
The maximum speed limit in the channel is 6 kt; it is unlawful to proceed at a speed which will endanger other vessels or structures or cause wake damage. Transit time from arrival at buoys 3 and 4 to first line over is typically about 1.5 hours and varies only slightly for all berths. Departure takes less than one hour from last line in to debarking the pilot. Ships may not commence transit in the channels or basins if visibility is restricted to less than one-half mile.
There is heavy small craft traffic at the port during early morning and late afternoon hours (1530 to 1700) as fishing vessels leave and return to the port.
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