The number of ultra large vessels calling at the Port of Hamburg has been on the increase for years. This is resulting in some major challenges for the port operators, shipping companies and authorities.
With the introduction of the Nautical Terminal Coordination (NTK), there is now a body to handle the centralized operational coordination of mega-ship calls for the first time – long before a vessel proceeds up the estuary of the river Elbe. It draws on the experience and the structures of the Feeder Logistics Center (FLZ).
Since 2008, the number of ultra large vessels calling at the Port of Hamburg has increased from 621 to 989. This includes not only container ships, but also cruise ships, bulk carriers and other vessels, all of which are subject to different restrictions when navigating the estuary to and from Hamburg, caused by, for example, the water level in the river Elbe or the width of the navigation channel.
These restrictions have to be taken into account when ship calls are being processed and this results in there being interdependency on the arrival or departure of other ships.
With Nautical Terminal Coordination, there is now a coordinating body that monitors the interdependency of all ship entries in Northern Europe and can then identify conflict situations and reduce the impact on the entire port system.
Peter Zielinski, Managing Director of EUROGATE Container Terminal Hamburg GmbH, emphasized the uniqueness of Nautical Terminal Coordination: “It made sense to set up Nautical Terminal Coordination and it was also necessary, irrespective of the impending judgement regarding the dredging of the navigation channel. This is because the number of mega-ship calls has increased significantly in recent years. We are therefore delighted to see the four Hamburg container terminals being joined by Hansaport, the biggest bulk cargo terminal in Hamburg, in Nautical Terminal Coordination.”
Nautical Terminal Coordination has been working since the start of October on the basis of a two-shift system. A third shift is set to be introduced as soon as possible, and preparations are currently under way to increase staff numbers to accommodate this.
Three employees currently work for NTK. NTK’s duties for the Hamburg container terminals and Hansaport include cross-terminal coordination of the preliminary planning, approach guidance and departure planning of mega-ships in the Port of Hamburg. NTK will also assume a central and active communication role in relation to the Vessel Traffic Service Centre.