The Cosco Belgium, the latest container carrier in the fleet of the Chinese shipping company Cosco, moored in the port of Antwerp on Sunday. The Cosco Belgium scored an important first: with a capacity of 13,350 TEU the Cosco Belgium is a new record for the state-owned Chinese company. The Cosco Belgium is the 55th ultra-large container ship (more than 10,000 TEU) to call at the port of Antwerp.
“This demonstrates incontrovertibly that the port of Antwerp is fully accessible to the very largest container ships in the world, thanks among other things to the deepening of the Scheldt,” declared Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority.
The Chinese shipping company is among the most faithful customers of the port of Antwerp. For many years now it has shown its faith in Antwerp’s good sea access. In the mid-1990s it was the first shipping company to send units of 5,000 TEU to Antwerp, and in 2007 it was the first to moor here with ships of 10,000 TEU. The port is particularly honoured that Cosco has sent its latest ULCS to Antwerp on its maiden voyage.
“The port of Antwerp lies in the heart of Europe, and thanks to its location deep inland it is able to serve European consumers in a quick, efficient and sustainable way. Goods bound for Antwerp are carried 80 km inland up the river, which among other things results in significant time savings. Our international customers greatly appreciate these advantages,” Luc Arnouts, chief commercial officer of the Antwerp Port Authority explained. The port of Antwerp has put great efforts into increasing its market share in China, with initiatives including trade missions, exhibitions and dedicated events. China is the port’s fourth-largest trading partner after the USA, the UK and Turkey.
Antwerp easily accessible
The deepening of the river Scheldt has put Antwerp among the select club of top international ports. In 2012 Antwerp received calls by 167 ultra-large container ships. After the first quarter of 2013 the count stood already at 48, an increase of 15% compared with the same period last year. As an inland port Antwerp is accessible to ships with a draught of up to 16 metres travelling upstream. “These strong figures combined with our inland location make it very worthwhile for many shipping companies to call here,” concluded Marc Van Peel, president of the Port Authority.
This ship was built in China by Nantong Cosco KHI Ship Engineering, a joint venture with the Japanese group Kawasaki Heavy Industries. This shipyard had already built units of 10,020 TEU for Cosco. The Cosco Belgium is its first ULCS. The Cosco Belgium began its maiden trip in Ningbo on 10 March. It will appear regularly in Antwerp, at Antwerp Gateway in the Deurganckdok, as part of Cosco’s NE3 service from the Far East to Europe. The master of the Cosco Belgium is captain Yan Zhengping.
Antwerp Port Authority, April 16, 2013