By the end of June, nearly half the world's fleet of mini-bulkers will be engaged in United Nations relief operations in Bangladesh waters.
LV Grain silo at Chittagong
GV PAN..from grain silo to 'Mini Lens'
MV U.N. sign on side of bridge
GV Ship off from silo jetty
MV U.N. and Bangladesh flags at masthead
GV Ship 'Mini Lans' heading up river
CU Captain Petrov on bridge
GV Mini-bulker passing other shipping, including sailing boat, on river (8 shots)
GV Warehouse damaged by bombing at Narayanganj
GV Mini-bulker approaching silo (3 shots)
CU Grain being sucked into silo (2 shots)
Initials ES. 1545 ES. 1600
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Background: By the end of June, nearly half the world's fleet of mini-bulkers will be engaged in United Nations relief operations in Bangladesh waters.
The mini-bulker - 56 of which have so far been built in Japanese dockyards - is a fully automated cargo-ship of 3000 tons (3048 metric tons) with a draught shallow enough to enable it to navigate the treacherous shifting shoals of the Meghna River.
In response to U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim's February appeal, ocean-going tankers have been arranging relief supplies of grain and high-protein foodstuffs to the port to Chittagong. From there the mini-bulker takes over, threading through the constantly-shifting mudbanks of the Meghna River of the 186 mils (300 km) journey to the port of Narayanganj just south of Dacca.
The U.N. Relief Operation in Bangladesh -- UNROD -- estimates that 1,040,000 tons (1,057,000 metric tons) of foodgrains will be needed in Bangladesh over the next five months. 600,000 tons (610,000 metric tons) have already been pledged by various countries in response to Kurt Waldheim's recent appeal. Over 400,000 tons (metric tons) of foodgrains and thousands of tons of building materials have already been shipped during the past five months by the mini-bulkers.
SYNOPSIS: In response to the United Nations appeal for relief supplies to Bangladesh, ocean-going ships from all over the world have filled the grain alios of Chittagong to overflowing.
But the major factor determining relief supplies is that of distribution....all this international generosity will come to nothing unless the grain can be transported island to the people of Bangladesh as quickly as possible.
This is the answer to the problem -- the mini-bulker. A fleet of these tiny ships have been chartered by the U.N. to carry the vital supplies from Chittagong up the Meghna River to Narayanganj -- a port situated just south of Dacca in central Bangladesh. With a crew of only eight, all of them Greek seamen, these vessels can navigate with seas the shallow and shifting mudbanks of the Meghna -- a river so shallow and treacherous that no ocean-going steamer would ever dare venture into it.
The war-ravaged warehouses of Narayanganj greet the mini-bulkers at the end of their gruelling eighteen hour voyage upriver. But the grain-silos still stand, and are operated so efficiently that within eight hours the mini-bulkers can be unloaded and sent on their way for more life-giving cargo.