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Cargo ship expected to avoid Dorian impact

The threat of powerful Hurricane Dorian has prompted the evacuation of Amelia Island in Florida, the starting point for the regular voyages by cargo ship Somers Isles to Bermuda.

However, ship's agents Meyer Agency said yesterday that the vessel's schedule is expected to stay on course.

The Somers Isles sailed from Fernandina Beach on Saturday, arriving in Bermuda yesterday morning. It is due to sail from Bermuda tomorrow and arrive in Florida Tuesday. The next sailing out of Fernandina Beach is scheduled for next Friday.

The fourth-named storm and second hurricane of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season skirted the eastern coast of Florida yesterday before heading towards the Carolinas.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had declared a state of emergency for all 67 counties in the state, but Dorian stayed offshore while downgrading to a Category 2 storm, far less powerful than the Category 5 hurricane that devastated The Bahamas with 185mph winds.

“Providing there's no major damage to the port, we don't see our next voyage being impacted,” said George Butterfield, vice-president, freight, at Meyer.

The 90-metre long Somers Isles carries 20-foot containers filled with a full range of consumer goods, foodstuffs, other essentials and construction materials on the eastbound leg. The ship, which can accommodate 198 such containers, carries primarily empty containers on the westbound trip.

The ship also carries to Bermuda break-bulk cargo such as building materials, boats and vehicles.

Somers Isles makes two direct voyages every three weeks, 34 or 35 round-trip voyages annually. The port-to-port transit time for the 880 nautical mile trip is 3½ days.

The island's lone cargo service between Bermuda and the southeast United States began operating in 1985 with port-to-port service from Jacksonville, Florida to Hamilton. Fernandina Beach, 40 miles north of Jacksonville, became the US port for the service a year later.

Essential service: operators of the Somers Isles container ship hope its voyages will be unaffected by Hurricane Dorian (File photograph)

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Published September 05, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated September 05, 2019 at 1:01 am)

Cargo ship expected to avoid Dorian impact

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