The filling of the Deurganckdoksluis dock lock, the largest lock in the world, kicked off this morning in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.
Situated on the left bank of the River Scheldt, the construction of the lock had a price tag of EUR 340 mil, with 50% of its cost financed by the EIB.
It will take one week to fill the lock, boasting 1 million m³ capacity of water.
The new lock links the Scheldt and the Waasland Canal to the sea, providing ships rapid access to all other docks on the left bank.
The filling of the dock comes in anticipation of the arrival of giant Deurganck dock lock gates due at the end of May or the beginning of June on board the Zhen Hua 15.
This ship left China at the beginning of April carrying four giant lock gates together with the trolleys on which they will run, two combined road and rail bridges in sections and the dam caisson.
Unloading of the gigantic cargo will take about two weeks, followed by manoeuvring of the lock gates into position, which will be a feat of engineering in itself.
The Deurganck dock lock is due to become operational in 2016.
The lock gates have the same length and thickness as those of the Berendrecht lock.
However, the Deurganck dock lock will be 4 m deeper to handle the larger ships that are now coming into operation. The four gigantic lock doors have dimensions of 70 × 11 × 27 m (LxWxH) and weigh 2000 tonnes each.
World Maritime News Staff; Image: Annik Dirkx