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Hydrovia – Low Water Levels Warning – Increased Risk of Grounding

SSM Roundel

Steamship Mutual

Published: April 24, 2020


May 2021 update

Club correspondents Pandi Liquidadores report that water levels in the Parana River remain critical despite some recent improvement. The Argentine Coast Guard has issued a new warning stressing the utmost importance of complying with the daily maximum permissible sailing draft and with the mandatory UKC of 0.6 meters that should be kept at all times.

The Coast Guard also recommends Masters discuss the navigational plan with the Pilots before proceeding, as well as providing all necessary information related to ship’s manoeuvrability.

Pandi Liquidadores also recommend to the Master to check with Pilots as to the relevant regulation within the area to be transited, including specific speed limits and to bear in mind at all time, ship’s squat effect in restricted waters.

Further information can be found in Pandi Liquidadores  Circular 042 of 3 May 2021

September 2020 update

Club correspondents Pandi Liquidadores of Argentina advise as follows:

Whilst there was small improvement since June 2020, the situation remains critical and the forecasts do not anticipate any relevant improvements soon.

The rainfalls relevant to the Parana River basin are still expected to be ‘deficient’ during the last quarter of the year. The rainfalls are one of the main factors affecting the height of the water in the Parana River. Neither of the forecasts issued by the National Weather Service (SMN) nor the National Institute of Water (INA) foresee any relevant improvement soon.

As the condition of the Parana River continues to be critically low, the significant reduction on groundings seen the last 60 days compared to previous months would be explained by the effect of alert and awareness raised to all relevant parties. However, we would suggest reminding to those shipowners trading to Argentina of the current situation on the Parana River and to continue maximising all precautions and taking all measures as previously recommended:

  • It is very important for the passage plan to be discussed with the pilot with all the crew that will be on the bridge during navigation even in ballast condition and to keep a good record in writing of the discussed navigational plan.
  • When loading, the Master should be alert of the condition of the river bearing in mind the maximum permissible draft - which are based on the critical points that the vessel has to sail through depending on the port/terminal she is in. This information is provided by the Undersecretary of Ports and Waterways every morning around 9 or 10 am so a vessel which is going to complete overnight could be sailing with the information provided during the morning and must be checked with agents daily.
  • Be reminded that the vessels should keep a 2” (0.60m) UKC at all times and it is of utmost importance to consider the ship’s squat especially when crossing critical passages bearing in mind this time of low water levels.
  • In case of any doubt the Master should always get in touch with the designated port agents before entering the River Plate basin and before departing from the designated terminal as to obtain accurate/updated information to be confirmed then with the pilot on duty.
    Pandi Liquidadores Circular 032/2020 dated 11 September 2020 can be read  HERE

June 2020 update

The article below was published in April 2020. Since then Correspondents Pandi Liquidadores of Argentina and Paraguay have issued an updated Circular warning about the exceptionally low water level in the Parana River, the lowest for the last 50 years. Their 3 June 2020 circular can be read here .

Original article - April 2020

Members should be aware that with the present global changing weather patterns, certain waterways, known as “Hydrovia” (or “Hidrovia”) in Argentina, have shown unusually low water levels and there is an enhanced risk of vessels going aground if proper precautions are not taken during the navigational transit of these waters, especially during the High Transit Season. The Club has experienced many incidents in the past of groundings or other navigational incidents in these waterways, and these occurrences can give rise to substantial claims.

It is important to note that the present weather conditions are not predicted to change in the next few weeks. In this regard, the Hydrographic Office of Argentina (Prefectura Naval Argentina) has issued the Hydrographic Alert circular No. 023/2020 and 2020-24345065-APN-PZBP#PNA alert of which Free English Translation is included in this  Circular from Club Correspondents Pandi Liquidadores.

In view of the above concern, Members are requested to direct their masters navigating in the rivers of Argentina i.e. Hydrovia, to take appropriate precautions and to take advice from the Coast Guard through its VTS Centres when transiting the affected waterways.

For further details, please see the attached newsletter .

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