Europe’s newest container port facility is scheduled to open in August in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, and unlike its neighbors Hamburg and Bremerhaven, the new port will be capable of handling the world’s largest vessels without depending upon tidal variations.
A delegation of Eurogate Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven executives visited Long Beach Thursday to market the new facility on the North Sea. Eurogate Wilhelmshaven covers 320 acres and has a water depth of 18 meters, or 59 feet, said Marcel Egger, managing director.
There are more than 100 giant ships of 10,000-TEU capacity or greater either in service or on order in the global container trades, Egger said. To handle a vessel of at least 10,000 20-foot equivalent unit capacity and not rely on tidal variations, a terminal requires a channel depth of at least 50 feet.
“We must find a solution to the ship size and water depth,” Egger said.
Eurogate Wilhelmshaven will feature quayside cranes capable of stretching across a vessel with 25 rows of containers on the deck. The largest vessels on order today, the 18,000-TEU ships being built for Maersk Line, will have 23 rows of containers on deck, Egger said.
A load center port is only as good as its connections to the hinterland, Egger said. Eurogate Wilhelmshaven is served by Germany’s main north-south highway, and a rail line from the port connects with the intermodal rail network that serves the industrial heartland of Europe. Egger said intermodal rail in Europe is generally single-stack, rather than the double-stack intermodal networks in North America.
Eurogate Wilhelmshaven also features a 400-acre warehouse and logistics zone and container freight station facilities for loading and unloading containers.
Although some European terminals are highly automated, with unmanned automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes, Eurogate Wilhelmshaven’s layout favors a more traditional straddle-carrier operation, Egger said.
APM Terminals is a partner with Eurogate Wilhelmshaven, and APM’s sister company Maersk Line is the only carrier currently committed to call at the terminal when it opens in August. Egger said the Eurogate Group operates 10 container terminals in Europe, and experience in opening terminals dictates it is best to grow into a facility rather than fill it up all at once. “We are happy to start with one big client,” he said.