The container ships arriving in the port of Antwerp continue to score a series of “firsts.” On the evening of 22 June the Maersk Enfield called in Antwerp on its maiden voyage. With a capacity of 13,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) this is the first time that the Danish company, Maersk Line, has sent ships of such a size to Antwerp. The increase in scale demonstrates the great confidence that the port of Antwerp inspires following completion of the third round of deepening of the river Scheldt. “The deepening has turned out to be a commercial success. We are now a top-level player, with the largest container lines in the world placing their confidence in Antwerp,” declared Marc Van Peel, port alderman and chairman of the Port Authority.
Antwerp has witnessed a spectacular increase in the number of calls by ultra-large container ships (ULCS) during the past few months. Thanks to the deepening of the Scheldt these behemoths can count on tide-independent navigation with draughts of up to 13.10 metres. If allowance is made for the tide, then the maximum draught at the moment is 15.50 metres. At the end of 2009 the maximum (tide-dependent) draught was still only 14 metres. Thanks to the deepening, shipping companies can now load an additional 1,500 TEU on board their vessels when calling at Antwerp. The Permanent Commission for Scheldt Navigation will continue to review the conditions for port access. In the meantime it is investigating the possibility of reducing the keelroom percentage when passing the “thresholds” on the way to the sea.
By choosing Antwerp, shipping companies opt not only for accessibility but also for sustainability. “Our location deep inland is greatly appreciated in this respect,” declared Marc Van Peel. “Antwerp is 100 kilometres farther inland than other ports on the Hamburg – Le Havre range. This means maximum use can be made of shipping transport as opposed to road or rail, which not only saves time and cost but also reduces the carbon footprint. That’s an important advantage for shipping companies striving for sustainability,” he concluded.
During its stay in Antwerp the Maersk Enfield will berth in the Deurganck dock on the left bank. Twenty-four hours after its arrival it will leave for Felixstowe in the UK.
Source: portofantwerp, June 24, 2011;