A Belgian dredger has arrived at Umm Qasr on Wednesday to work on increasing the depth of the shipping channel.
The vessel is the 18,620 tonne trailing suction hopper dredger, the 'Francis Beaufort'. It is 142m in length, and has a maximum dredging depth of 71.5m.
The report from AKnews says the project was facilitated by a $250 million [300 trillion Iraqi dinar] loan from Japan.
A 52 million Euros contract to buy (hire?) the ship was signed with Belgian company Jan de Nul.
Another dredger is expected to arrive within the coming days, according to Anmar al-Safi, the director of Information department at the Iraqi ports.
"There is another big dredger that started working in May under the same contract, and the excavators will dredge up 5.6 million cubic meters of mud. The project is expected to be completed in March 2011", Safi added
The ports in Basra province (550 km south of Baghdad) have 15 excavators; two of them were brought in 2008 to help increase the depth of the river so that larger ships can enter the ports.
(Sources: AKnews, Jan de Nul)