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Hong Kong
2218'N 11408'E

The United States Navy conducts 60-80 port calls a year to Hong Kong. This program has continued uninterrupted since the reversion of Hong Kong to PRC sovereignty. Port calls to Hong Kong contribute to U.S. overseas presence in the region, allowing for minor maintenance and repair of transiting ships. Continued ac-cess to one of the world's premier quality-of-life ports contributes positively to sailor retention and also serves as symbolic support for the continued autonomy of Hong Kong as called for in the 1984 UK-PRC Joint Declaration, and Hong Kong's Basic Law.

Hong Kong is located on the north shore of the South China Sea at approximately. Hong Kong actually includes more than 230 islands and islets as well as a portion of the mainland east of the Pearl River estuary adjoining the People's Republic of China (PRC). The latter area is called the New Territories. The total areal extent of Hong Kong, including the New Territories, is approximately 415 square miles (1,076 square kilometers).

A 1985 Joint Declaration between the United Kingdom and the PRC provided for the restoration of Hong Kong to the PRC in 1997. Consequently, the British Naval complex on the north side of Hong Kong Island, known as HMS Tamar, was turned over to the Hong Kong government by 1997. The adjacent mooring basin was scheduled to be filled, with a target completion date in the year 2002. By common agreement, US Navy ships visiting Hong Kong are assigned to the Pun Shan Shek Anchorage. Local harbor authorities report the bottom to be mud with very good holding quality. Several other anchorage areas exist in the harbor.

Hong Kong Harbor is centered at approximately 2218'N 11408'E. The central part of the harbor is located between the north side of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon on the southern end of the Chinese mainland. The busy harbor is large, and it is oriented generally east-west. Approximately eight nmi separates the northern ends of the three main access channels to the harbor, Tathong Channel on the east side of Hong Kong Island, and East/West Lamma Channels on the west side of the island. The narrowest part of the harbor exists across the Hung Hom Fairway between Hong Kong Island and the southern tip of Kowloon, a distance of approximately 0.65 nmi (1.15 km).

Hong Kong Harbor has many government mooring buoys in water depths varying from 10.2 ft (3.1 m) to 39.4 ft (12 m). Some buoys plotted on a 1992 harbor chart obtained during a US Navy port visit in 1994 were omitted from a separate 1994 buoy listing obtained from the Hong Kong Marine Department during the same visit. Consequently, those buoys may have been removed or declared unusable. Use of Government buoys is strictly controlled by the Marine Department. Class A buoys have a maximum vessel length of 600 ft (183 m) and class B buoys have a maximum vessel length of 370 ft (113 m). Since the status of all Government Class "A" and Class "B" moorings may be changed on short notice, up-to-date information on buoy locations, water depths and other specific information should be obtained from the Vessel Traffic Centre. Specific mooring regulations are contained in an undated Marine Department of Hong Kong Shipmasters Guide.

Extensive construction projects are ongoing in the harbor. The projects include the construction of a new PRC Naval Base on Stonecutter's Island. The project was completed in 1997, the same year that Hong Kong was returned to the control of the PRC. Stonecutter's Island was already connected to the mainland by a large reclamation project. Another large project is the construction of a new Hong Kong Airport on Chek Lap Kok Island, on the north side of Lantau Island. When construction is complete, the airport will be connected with Kowloon and Hong Kong Island via a new expressway and railway that crosses one of the world's longest (1.4 mi) suspension bridges. The bridge is being built between Ma Wan Island on the northeast end of Lantau island and the island of Tsing Yi.

Local authorities state that all non-tanker vessels of 5,000 GWT or more and tankers of 1,000 GWT or more must use a pilot. Non-tanker vessels less than 5,000 GWT are not required to use a pilot in Hong Kong Harbor, but their use is encouraged.

Tug boats are readily available under normal weather conditions. Several civilian companies operate tugs in the harbor. A wide range of tug sizes are available, with engine ratings from 2,600 to 4,200 hp and bollard pulls up to 56 tons. Tugs are normally booked by the US Navy Liaison Officer or the designated husbandry agent of the vessel requiring the service.

The harbor has extensive ship repair facilities that can handle major and minor hull and machinery repairs.

There are 12 public-use typhoon shelters located around the harbor. Vessels are limited to 164 ft (50 m) in length. Those over 100 ft (30.5 m) long are allowed in only four of the shelters.

Hong Kong Harbor maintains a staff of approximately 65 licensed pilots, and their availability for service is generally good. One exception occurs when the Port authorities set Tropical Storm Condition Three (TS #3), which requires ships to leave their moorings. Because of the increased need, individual ships may have to wait as long as two to three hours for pilot services. To allay this problem for visiting US Navy ships, the US Navy Liaison Officer or designated husbandry agent arranges booking for a pilot as soon as TS #1, the initial tropical storm condition to be set, is hoisted or about to be hoisted. Local authorities state that pilots prefer to debark close to the northwest end of Hong Kong Island because they don't want to risk having to go to sea with the sortieing ship. When typhoon warnings are issued, the pilotage service will gradually be withdrawn. All services are suspended when weather conditions have deteriorated to the point that pilots cannot safely board or leave a vessel. The service will resume when all typhoon signals are lowered.

Hong Kong cannot be considered to be a typhoon haven for ships. The primary reason for the aforementioned conclusion is that Hong Kong Harbor offers no protection from wind. Anchor dragging is a major hazard at the port during strong wind events. Strong tropical cyclone passages have resulted in major damage to Seventh Fleet units and merchantmen. They were grounded because they dragged anchor even though they were steaming to the anchor. Also, there is a significant risk of damage by collision from undermanned, low-powered merchantmen adrift in the harbor during the passage of a strong tropical cyclone.



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