The Mersey Docks and Harbour Co., which owns the Port of Liverpool, reported a sharp profit rise for 1987.

The company, which was once one of Britain's premier ports but which came close to bankruptcy a few years ago, posted an after-tax profit of 3.8 million ($7 million) last year, compared with 2.1 million in 1986.The operating profit was up 56 percent to 5 million while revenue of 53.9 million was the highest since 1983.

Cargo-handling volumes improved in all areas. Container throughput at the Royal Seaforth Terminal, which handles Atlantic Container Line and Hapag-Lloyd traffic, rose by the equivalent of 11,000 20-foot-long containers to 111,000 units. Volume at the Royal Seaforth Grain Terminal was 11 percent higher at 1.2 million metric tons, while general cargo volume climbed from 466,000 tons to 527,000 tons.

The Liverpool Freeport, also owned by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Co., continued to develop and is now operating profitably, the company said.

Nevertheless, the port experienced some difficulties during the year, notably the European Community's objection to a special voluntary severance scheme to reduce the size of the work force by more than 300.

Although the objections were eventually withdrawn, the EC's intervention considerably delayed implementation of the layoff plan and therefore added to port costs during the year.