The Port of London says more larger ships than ever called at the port in 2015, helping the total tonnage of cargo handled at Thames terminals climb to 45.4 million tonnes, a 2% increase compared to 2014.
“Last year a number of operators introduced new, bigger ships and records were broken,” commented PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, on the positive results. “The record breakers included container ship, UASC Barzan and cruise ship Viking Star. The 400 metre long Barzan set a new benchmark as the biggest-ever ship on the Thames when she called at London Gateway Port in September. Viking Star became the largest-ever cruise ship in central London when she called at our Greenwich cruise ship moorings on her inaugural trip in May.”
The tonnage of cargo handled at terminals on the Thames last year was 45.4 million tonnes, 0.9 million tonnes (or 2%) up on 2014. Growth was principally in containers and trailers up 4% to 16.9 million tonnes. Meanwhile aggregates and cement increased again as construction continued to recover from 9.7 million tonnes (11%) up to 10.7 million tonnes. Oil trades fell by 8% to 10.9 million tonnes, with volumes particularly low at the beginning of year.
“Since August, the Port of Tilbury has welcomed over 20 calls from Grimaldi’s new-generation, larger capacity con-ro ships, operating on routes between Europe and West Africa,” added Mortimer. “Longer and wider than their predecessors, they are handled at Tilbury’s new landing stage berth, rather than in the docks. And the Thames’ busiest service operator, CLdN has much larger, “game changer”, ships being built as well.”
At the Port of Tilbury, P&O Ferries passed a milestone, handling its one millionth freight unit at the port and the port handled over 40 million bricks. Not only that, a record 100,000 passengers passed through the London International Cruise Terminal. At London Gateway Port, development of the third berth continued as increasing numbers of ultra large container ships called, benefitting from the port’s ability to continue operating even in high winds.
“It’s developments like these, combined with the planned £1 billion of investment by Thames terminals and operators over the next five years, that give us confidence in the future. The Thames Vision project, looking at how the Thames will develop over the next two decades has set a goal of port trade growing to over 60 million tonnes,” said Mortimer.