Felixstowe Opens Berths Able to Handle Mega Ships

Felixstowe Opens Berths Able to Handle Mega Ships

The port of Felixstowe inaugurated the first deep water berths in the U.K. able to handle the latest generation of mega container ships on Wednesday.

The two new berths are part of a $1.6 billion expansion aimed at strengthening the port’s position among northern Europe’s top hubs as ocean carriers’ trim the number of calls made by the largest container vessels. The new berths will enable the U.K.’s leading container port to handle Maersk Line’s 18,000 20-foot equivalent container units ships due to enter the Asia-Europe trade in 2013.

Felixstowe is one of only three European port calls, along with Rotterdam and Bremerhaven, in Maersk Line’s daily service from Asia with guaranteed delivery times that debuts on October 24. The new berths are equipped with the world’s largest container cranes capable of handling ships with boxes stowed 24 wide on deck.

By the Numbers: Asia-Europe Westbound Container Traffic

The U.K. east coast port, which is owned by Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings, is also building a third rail terminal, scheduled to open in 2012.  With capacity for 30-wagon long trains, it will be the largest terminal of its type in the U.K. and will double the port’s rail capacity.

Felixstowe said 1,500 jobs will be created by its expansion – 680 directly employed by the port and 820 by suppliers.

“The port of Felixstowe was HPH’s first investment outside Hong Kong, and this exciting new investment underscores our ongoing commitment to ensuring it has facilities to retain its position among the world’s leading ports,” said Clemence Cheng, Managing Director,  Central Europe of HPH. “Our latest investment will ensure that the U.K. remains a direct-call destination for the latest generation of ultra-large containerships.”

Felixstowe handled an estimated 3.4 million TEUs in 2010, around 40 percent of the U.K.’s total container traffic.

-- Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.