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Specialised reefer ships to boost the citrus industry

‘A truly historic moment’ – noted Citrus Growers Association’s Justin Chadwick on the largest specialised reefer ship (refrigerated cargo ship) in the world docking in Durban’s port last week.

The capacity of the Cool Eagle is almost triple that of older generation vessels.

The capacity of the Cool Eagle is almost triple that of older generation vessels.

The MV Cool Eagle is visiting the South African ports to meet increasing export demand for South Africa’s citrus produce.

It’s “a truly historic moment for the citrus industry and the country as a whole” says the Citrus Growers Association (CGA). Local growers are expected to export around 160 million cartons of citrus during the 2021 season.

CEO, Justin Chadwick says, “Specialised reefer vessels have holds and the fruit is in pallets which go into the different holds. The Cool Eagle can take 1.1 million cartons, opposed to the older-generation vessels that only could accommodate about 400 000 cartons. She is on her maiden voyage. She went from New Zealand to Rotterdam and now she’s come to Durban, so we’re really excited about that.”

The Cool Eagle helps solve a huge problem for the country’s citrus farmers – the current congestion at our ports in terms of both cold storage facilities and container terminals.

At the container terminals there are additional issues in terms of productivity and space. These vessels are serviced mostly out of private terminals. The other challenge is that our cold stores also become full.

“If you have just one of those vessels coming in, it takes the equivalent of many, many containers and so emptying those cold stores allows them to be filled up with new fruit,” Chadwick adds.

The Cool Eagle’s next stops after Durban are Gqeberha and Cape Town. The vessel then sets off for Rotterdam in The Netherlands before moving on to St Petersburg in Russia.

“In catering to our exports, I expect there will be about five calls by these massive ships during the season” says Chadwick.

Originally published on Cape Talk.