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Docks prepare for America’s Cup squeeze

Getting ready: Stevedoring Services unload the Bermuda Islander at the Hamilton Cargo Docks. Next month’s America’s Cup races in Hamilton Harbour will have an effect on operations at the docks, but Stevedoring Services’ chief Warren Jones says the impact will be limited

Next month’s America’s Cup opener could cause problems on Hamilton’s docks.

The docks, at the east end of Front Street, will be used as the base for four of the competing teams — reducing the dock area by around a third.

But Stevedoring Services’ chief Warren Jones said that careful planning and co-operation from importers would minimise any difficulties.

Mr Jones said: “There are some concerns out there and there is no need for concern. It will have an effect, but the impact will be limited.”

Part of the docks will be turned over to race competitors from Friday, October 9 to Thursday October 22, with racing taking place between October 16-18 and two races will finish in Hamilton Harbour.

However, Mr Jones said that working together with importers, HM Customs and truckers should ensure there are no problems over the period.

He added that the docks were already operating with one crane instead of two while a new crane pad is being built.

But he said: “The importing community is still getting their goods on time.”

Mr Jones added that — if people could put off deliveries from overseas over the America’s Cup races it would help, while he urged importers to make sure their containers were picked up from the docks quickly due to the temporary squeeze on storage space.

And he said that he expected extra business to be generated as competitors in the America’s Cup gear up for the 2017 main event and racing series around the Island before the finals.

Mr Jones said that Stevedoring Services had already won a contract to use its expertise to unload the Oracle Team USA’s boats and equipment in Dockyard.

He explained: “The America’s Cup for us was a venture out — it happened to be the America’s Cup, but it could have been something else.

“My aim was to broaden our reach. We bid for the Oracle work, got it and it was successful and our aim is to continue to do these sorts of things, whether it’s the America’s Cup or something else.

Mr Jones said that, in addition to expertise in cargo handling, Stevedoring Services were also skilled in areas like salvage.

He added: “We are the only stevedoring company in Bermuda and our guys are experts at what they do. Our knowledge is broad and we’re looking for opportunities to show that.”

And Mr Jones said: “The docks are the barometer for the entire country — 98 per cent of everything comes in through the docks.”

He explained that business had increased in recent times, but that it was difficult to say how much of that was directly attributable to the America’s Cup due to containerisation.

Mr Jones said: “Our business is just to unload whatever comes in. We’ve seen some increase in cargo volumes since the beginning of this fiscal year — that’s the America’s Cup and hopefully construction projects taking off.

“We saw this last year and in July it fell off. We’re hoping this is sustained and signals a change in the economic climate.”