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Río Gallegos is the capital of Santa Cruz, the southernmost continental province in Argentina; it has a population of 92.000 and significant administrative, commercial and financial activities. This is the point of exit of the coal production of Río Turbio, some 250 km west, and of other minor mining enterprises. Sheep breeding is quite important in this area, however the most important activity is the oil extraction. In R’o Gallegos the southern Patagonia highways meet, both the coastal and mountain roads. A narrow gauge railway connects the coal mines in Río Turbio (at the frontier with Chile) to the wharfs at Punta Loyola. There is an airport serving domestic and regional flights.

Description of port and berths:

Río Gallegos has four wharfs. The original El Turbio, Gas and Fiscal Wharfs near the city, and the Presidente Illia quay at Punta Loyola. The El Turbio, Gas and Fiscal (general cargo) wharfs are used solely by Argentine vessels engaged in the domestic trade. These berths, which are not described here in detail, have draft limitations of around 5,20 – 6 m (17-20 ft) and vessels are required to lie hard aground at low tide, meaning that in most cases ships will be left high and dry. Vessels of LOA up to 130/140 m use these berths.

Berth assignment:

Berthing priority is granted according to vessel´s order of arrival, providing arrival notice is duly given to L3I Prefectura Naval Radio.

Roads:

Pilots recommend anchoring about 8 miles NE of Banco Light Beacon at 51º 33´S 68º 47´W.

Access:

This is via the North Channel (entrance via South Channel not possible and suspended) as indicated on the chart using leading beacons and courses as shown with allowance for strong current. Vessels enter on a rising tide to usually arrive off the berth and come alongside at the beginning of the ebb tide. Sailing is usually an hour or so before high water.

Depths:

North access channel: minimum 0,8 m at datum (reported 0,6 m sailing 200 yards out of leading beacons courses).

Tide/current:

The tide turns quickly and the current reaches speeds of 6-7 knots. Prevailing winds are W/SW.

Pilots:

Ships of LOA > 120m must take pilot. Pilots are not stationed at Río Gallegos and must be requested not less than 48 hrs in advance to embark outside north channel; otherwise, pilot should be embarked at Puerto Madryn or Punta Quilla

Local communications:

Río Gallegos Radio, call sign LPG on VHF channel 26 (07:00/24:00) on HF receiving 4092 Mhz, trans 4384 Mhz. Rio Gallegos coastguard, call sign L3C W/T on500 Khz – R/T on 2-4 Mhz – VHF ch 16(continuos) L3I VHF ch 9,12,14,16 (continuous).

Business hours:

Port Administration 1300/2000
Coastguard 24hs
Immigration Dept 0800/1600
Shops 0900/1200,1400/2000
Banks 1000/1500
Public offices 0700/1500
Stevedores 0700/1300,1300/1900, 0700/1300 sat

Local holidays:

December 19th (anniversary of city´s foundation), January 31st (Patron Saint day) Optional for business, overtime for stevedores.

Medical aid:

There is a new modern public hospital and 4 private clinics capable of providing adequate attention.

Hotels:

There are several hotels of different standards up to 5 star category, and two apart-hotels.

Transport:

Regular airline services by four domestic airlines to Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and intermediate cities. Regular bus services to Buenos Aires and intermediate cities as well as to Ushuaia and Punta Arenas. Rail link with the Río Turbio coal mine.

Slop/sludge:

By truck

Divers:

There are qualified divers authorized by Prefectura Naval at Río Gallegos.

There are qualified divers authorized by Prefectura Naval at Río Gallegos.:

The Presidente Illia berth is fitted with rubber fenders.

Fresh water:

Although there is a fresh water fire fighting system in the quay, presently only available by truck at Punta Loyola.

Loadlines:

Seasonal winter zone (Apr 16th – Oct 15th).

Repairs:

Radio equipment service only available.

Cranes/port equipment:

Up to date the wharfs near the city are inoperative, so all equipment was sent to other ports; if necessary, available from private owners.

Stores/victuals:

Victuals and ordinary kitchen stores available locally but should be ordered in good time.

Tides:

Semidiurnal.

PRESIDENTE ILLIA QUAY TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS:

as per Anexo alpha to Disposición PNA S.NAV NA9 Nº 115/95 (modified by PNA S. NAV. NA9 Nº 129/95 and 34/97).
1) Max LOA 230 m.
2) Max beam: Presently no restriction as per Disposición PNA S.NAV NA9 Nº 34/97
3) UKC. Not less than 15% of the vessels´ draft in static conditions (flat calm).
4) Vessels are prohibited from meeting in the access channel, the deepest draft vessel having priority.
5) Vessels of LOA >120 m prohibited to enter or sail at night.
6) Anchoring of only one vessel with LOA >120 m permitted in inner anchorage, provided a) the berth is free or b) vessel alongside is berthed bow out.
7) Visibility must be sufficient to permit visual recognition of leading beacons.
8) Berthing/unberthing prohibited in winds exceeding 50 kph (Force 6/7)
Note on item 5: on occasion exceptions have been granted by PNA (Coastguard) to permit vessels of LOA >120 m to leave quay at night and anchor off berth at inner anchorage awaiting day ligtide. Due to the strong current (about 6 to 7 knots) and tides of 11 to 13 m, a careful watch on deck must be maintained at all times.

Presidente Arturo Illia (Punta Loyola) Quay:

This quay, owned 25% by YPF and 75% by YCRT, is situated in deeper water at Punta Loyola, some 40 km by road from R’o Gallegos. A causeway of 280 m length by 9,8 m width joins the berth to the shore. The quay itself being 182 m in length with two outlying mooring dolphins giving an overall length of 400 m. Not advisable to operate medium or small ships (LOA less than 110 m). This quay was built for loading crude oil from the nearby oil fields and coal from the Río Turbio mine. Initially only oil was loaded but coal has also been shipped, a railway having been built joining the quay with the mine and a conveyor belt laid on the quay, together with a loading tower. To date, no coal from Río Turbio has been utilized for domestic consumption (formerly being shipped to the power station at San Nicolás), whereas crude oil has been loaded for both local consumption and export.
A draft limitation applies at the berth (see below) and tankers if so required can continue loading further south at TOTAL’s Hidra SPM buoy at Cullen or at San Sebastián Bay or further north at TERMAP’s Caleta Olivia or Caleta Córdova SPM buoys. Temporary restrictions are in force regarding the use of the berth as per Disposición PNA S.NAV NA9 Nº 115/95. This means that vessels presently sail with drafts of around 7,70 m (25´5´´) at neap tides and 9,45 m (31 ft) at spring tides, the maximum in the past having been 11 m (36 ft). This PNA restrictions are in force until such a time as buoyage is improved, a tide gauge installed and new soundings of the approaches and entrance taken and charts up-dated.

Warehouses:

The Port Administration has a bonded warehouse of 1920 sqm adjacent to the town berth as well as 1300 sqm of open storage.