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Coast Guard will temporarily close Cape Fear to all traffic, moored vessels must depart

The U.S. Coast Guard will restrict all traffic and require moored vessels to leave the Cape Fear River on March 28. (Port City Daily photo | COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD)
The U.S. Coast Guard will restrict all traffic and require moored vessels to leave the Cape Fear River on March 28. (Port City Daily photo | COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD)

WILMINGTON — All vessels will have to leave the Cape Fear River later this week in accordance with a temporary safety zone enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard will enforce the temporary safety zone on Thursday, March 29, for the arrival of the heavy-load carrier vessel Zhen Hua 18. The Zhen Hua is delivering two neo-Panamax cranes to the Port of Wilmington, which will allow the port to load and unload the latest generation of shipping vessels.

Due to the large size of the cranes and the Zhen Hua itself, the safety zone will cover “all navigable waters” along the entire 26-mile length of the Cape Fear River from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the mouth of the river, south of Southport. The Coast Guard is asking all vessels moored on the Cape Fear River south of the Port of Wilmington to leave before midnight the day before, Wednesday, March 28.

The safety zone will last between five to seven hours. According to Bethany Welch, spokeswoman for the port, the Zhen Hua is expected to pass Southport around 8 a.m. and reach the North Carolina State Port Authority (NCSPA) facility around 10 a.m.

According to the Coast Guard, “no vessel is authorized to moor, transit, or remain with the river while the safety zone is in effect.”

The safety zone will remain in effect until the Zhen Hua has completed mooring operations at the NCSPA facility.

Additional, less expansive safety zones will be established on Sunday, April 1, and Tuesday, April 3, for the offloading of the cranes from the Zhen Hua onto the port facility. Traffic will be restricted for 200 yards around the Zhen Hua for two to four hours on each day, according to the Coast Guard.

The April safety zones will not impact traffic south of the port.

Residents or boaters with any questions concerning the closure of the Cape Fear River, should contact the Waterways Management Division at NCmarineevents@uscg.mil or call the Coast Guard office at 910-772-2230.

Those interested in watching the crane’s arrival can do so from the following locations:

  • Riverlights Marina Village Waterfront Park, 109 Pier Master Point, Wilmington
  • River Road Park, 6500 River Road, Wilmington
  • Southport Waterfront Park, 146-176 E Bay Street, Southport

On the map: Where to watch the neo-Panamax cranes arrive

[mappress mapid=”1157″]

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