Largest vessel in port history spans 900 feet

BROWNSVILLE — The largest cargo vessel to pass through the Port of Brownsville is long enough to span 2 1/2 football fields.

Let that sink in.

From the water’s edge yesterday, port officials watched as tugboats on either end of the M/V Nordic Pollux turned the oil tanker so it could dock.

The vessel is 900 feet from bow to stern and arrived from the Port of Philadelphia.

“That is impressive,” Port Director and CEO Eduardo Campirano said. “It shows you how vessels are getting larger, so ports have to keep up with the capacity.”

The M/V Nordic Pollux is 157 feet wide and has a nearly 33-foot draft.

It will be loaded with between 100,000 and 140,000 barrels of heavy naphtha before moving on to the Port of Corpus Christi. Naphtha is the first petroleum product that results from the distillation process and later is used for gasoline, industrial solvents, shoe polish, lighter fluids and camping stove fuels.

Campirano said the M/V Nordic Pollux is an example of a cargo vessel that is long but does not have a large draft. As the port moves forward with plans to deepen its channel, he said, it will be able to accommodate a larger variety of ships and vessels carrying more cargo.

The port’s channel is 42 feet deep and was given Congressional approval in 2016 to deepen it by another 10 feet as part of the Water Resources Development Act, he said. The plan is now in its permitting stage, and that phase could be completed late this year or early 2019, Campirano added.

The dredging, once finished, would allow the port to take in vessels like drilling ships that currently travel to Asia when in need of repair, he said.

“We could support that industry … here rather than outside the country,” Campirano said, listing workers like boat operators, longshoremen and truckers who all work in and around the port. “It keeps a lot of people employed.”