Durban Millenium Tower, Durban
Built to commemorate the new millennium on the Bluff headland near the entrance to Durban's harbour, the Millenium Tower is not officially a lighthouse, nor does it fall under the National Ports Authority. However, when lit up at night it is a truly impressive sight, and ships use it as a landmark.
The Tower does, however, operate a vessels tracking service system, or VTS, of all shipping movement inside the port's limits. All navigation in and out of the port from a point of three n.miles northeast of the port entrance is governed by compulsory pilotage. Ships and boats are piloted by helicopter, backed up by a pilot boat service should the helicopter not be available.
The Millennium Tower is thus part and parcel of port control, providing those in the tower with a 360-degree panoramic view of the port, city and sea approaches to Durban. The operations room is 27 metres up, whilst a central floor is available for Search and Rescue operations.
The tower in its entirety stands 37 metres high with a rotating cowl and wind vane to reflect the direction of the wind. What is interesting is the computer driven sunscreen that automatically adjusts a series of horizontal and vertical blinds, keeping track of the movement of the sun. In the process, the external appearance of the tower regularly changes through the day, making it, for those who can see it, an indicator of the time of day.
At night there is a beautiful change of lighting colours within the cowl driven by a random computer algorithm that is driven by the tide, wind direction and humidity.
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