Transport Minister Stephen Hammond visited the work to expand Southampton container terminal.
The £150m project is in its advanced stages with construction of the four new high cranes, together worth £28m, well advanced.
The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport saw the new 500m quay designed to accommodate the latest generation of ultra large container vessels.
He also heard about the dredging plans to deepen the 40km channel linking the port to the English Channel, which will start as early as January next year. The dredging works will provide access for the deepest and largest vessels afloat to call at the port, including the new 18,000 teu container vessels that are currently coming into service. The main navigational channel used by commercial shipping will be deepened from a current minimum depth of 12.6m, at various points along its length to provide a significant improvement in flexibility and access to all port users.
The new quay, known as SCT5, will open early next year.
Ports and Shipping Minister Stephen Hammond said: ” It is fantastic to see the investment going in to the port. The expanded terminal will generate growth and jobs for the area and ensures that Southampton, and the UK, can continue to compete on the global maritime stage.”
The minister also opened the Orient Vehicle Terminal, the fifth vehicle handling terminal to be built in Southampton.
The four-storey steel framed building creates three-acres of space for the inspection and storage of vehicles, imported or ready for export from the adjacent ro-ro berth. The structure, which uses energy efficient LED lighting controlled by movement sensors, can house 3,040 vehicles.
The £7m Orient Vehicle Terminal is the latest in a £175m programme of investment from Associated British Ports designed to develop the business in Southampton.
Southampton is one of the UK’s leading vehicle handling ports and is experiencing sustained growth in the sector, one of the port’s famed three Cs of core business: Cars, Cruises and Containers. A key part of the UK economy, Southampton is on course to handle over 750,000 vehicles in 2014, with over 60% of these being for export. Exported vehicles include BMW Minis manufactured in Oxford, Jaguar and Land Rover’s three UK plants, Honda vehicles manufactured in Swindon and many more.
Southampton Port Director Doug Morrison said: “The scale of our investment in Southampton should leave no one in any doubt as to our confidence in its future.
“The container port is already Europe’s most productive and the minister was pleased to hear that we are not resting on those laurels and are determined to push our levels of service even higher. SCT5 will mean Southampton is well equipped to deliver for our clients long into the future.”
Press Release, December 11, 2013