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Yangtze MSA warns carriers of new water level at Three Gorges

31 October 2012
The Yangtze Maritime Safety Authorities issued a warning to all shipping lines following the news that the water level at the Three Gorges Dam had reached the maximum height of 175 metres by 8am on 30 October.

Maritime safety officials warned that the raised water level has resulted in a wider river surface. At intersections between the trunkline and tributaries, in particular, the surface could be as wide as 6,000 metres. This means that passenger ferries have a longer distance to travel, and need to cut across river traffic travelling up and down stream, which calls for greater care. Vessels too big to sail on tributaries at a lower water level can now do so, leading to more varieties of vessels on these waters. In addition, the numerous exposed shoals now immersed under water and the change of on-shore reference points as another result of the raised water level can easily confuse barge operators and lead to collisions or passing vessels to become stranded.

MSA officials in Chongqing, The Three Gorges and Yichang will work together to increase the frequency of patrols, check the air draught of all passing vessels and spot potential hazards. Ferries and short-haul passenger vessels have been banned from night sailing.

In a separate development, the Yangtze MSA has launched a special campaign to check all night ferry services operating on the river with its remit, the 2,100km navigable length between Wuhu, in Anhui province, and Chongqing. Among the list of things they are paying attention to are the frequency of night services, the number of crew members on board, the standards of navigational equipment, and operational procedures, including emergency response.

The campaign, which started on 26 October and will finish just before the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress on 8 November in Beijing, is designed to make sure that no disasters happen before and during the all-important congress, according to an official statement by the Yangtze MSA.

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