Elbe Deepening Works Officially Kick Off

Scheldt RiverImage by: Kai Gerullis/Hamburg Port Authority

Dredging works to deepen the river Elbe and enable larger vessels to call at the Port of Hamburg have officially kicked off with the arrival of trailing suction hopper dredger Scheldt River.

The Hamburg Port Authority confirmed the start of works after Dutch dredging specialist DEME was awarded a EUR 238 million (USD 26.5 million) deal in April 2019, after a number of delays and legal challenges.

The necessary works will allow the port to welcome as many as 2,800 large containerships, twice as many as today, according to the port authority.

What is more, the Elbe deepening is expected to avert the decline in container throughput reported by the port for the second consecutive year in 2018.

Ocean-going ships will be able to leave Hamburg with a regular draft of 13.5 meters and 14.5 meters using flood tide.

In addition to deepening, the river will also be widened, from the current 300 to 320 meters. A 385-meter-wide “passing box” will enable four-lane traffic at a length of 8 kilometers.

“Once the relevant work has been completed, the world’s largest container ships will be able to reach the city of Hamburg with virtually no limitations,” Dr. Maximilian Rothkopf, Chief Operations Officer of Hapag-Lloyd AG, Port of Hamburg’s largest customer, said.

“In addition to container liner shipping companies, this will ultimately also benefit customers worldwide, whose cargo will reach the Port of Hamburg more easily and quickly.”

In the 2018 financial year, Hapag-Lloyd handled roughly 1.9 million TEU in the Port of Hamburg, which corresponds to approximately 22 percent of the port’s total volume.

The port and its handling terminals are already today clearing mega-carriers with a slot capacity of more than 21,000 TEU. The adjustment works will speed up the transit of ships and make the process safer for larger vessels.

The Port of Hamburg is Germany’s most important port in terms of throughput. In 2018, it handled 8.7 million TEUs and 135.1 million tons of cargo.

World Maritime News Staff

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