The construction of four gates for the Deurganck dock lock in the port of Antwerp, part of what will be the largest dock in the world, has been officially completed.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday, 18 March in the Chinese city of Changxing to mark the official completion of the construction work.
The gigantic gates are being built by the Chinese steel constructor ZPMC, together with the trolleys on which the gates will ride, two combined road/rail bridges, the caisson and other items.
Mr. Liu Jianbo, vice-president of ZPMC, emphasised in his speech how his company has been working hard on this project since 2011. For ZPMC, specializing in building gantry cranes, the project represents a new chapter in its offshore engineering activities.
“And of course we hope that the bridges that we are physically building will also contribute metaphorically to mutual understanding between the Chinese and Belgian people,” said Mr. Jianbo.
The Flemish government has invested in the Deurganck dock lock as a response to the increase in scale of modern ships.
Once it is completed the ship handling capacity of the port area on the left bank will be considerably increased. The volume of freight handled in the area behind the locks in this part of the port is expected to rise to more than 25 million tonnes in 2020, an increase of 56% when compared to 2011 figures.
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 will have dimensions of around 70 × 11 × 27 m (LxWxH) and will weigh 2000 tonnes each.
Loading the gates and ancillary equipment on board the ship that will take them to Antwerp, the Zhen Hua 15, began on 3 March.
The gates will begin their journey from China at the beginning of April and the outsize load is scheduled to arrive eight weeks later.
Manoeuvering the lock gates into position will itself be a major operation that is expected to take at least two weeks.