The new world’s largest lock was opened for business at the Port of Antwerp on Friday with the push of a button by King of Belgium.
The new Kieldrecht Lock, or Kieldrechtsluis, connects container terminals at the port’s Deurganck tidal dock with the Waastland Canal. It is the second lock in an area Antwerp known as Waasland Port, located on the left bank of the Scheldt. Until now the area was only accessible by the Kallo Lock, which has been in service since 1979, but has been outgrown in terms of capacity, size, and reliability.
The new lock was symbolically inaugurated with the Grimaldi Lines vessel, Grande Lagos.
The Kieldrecht lock measures 68m wide, 500m long and 17.8m deep, making it slightly larger than the nearby former world record holder, the Berendrecht Lock, also located at the port of Antwerp but in a different area. In fact the two locks, along with the new Neopanamax locks in the Panama Canal, are all the same type, using rolling gates to form watertight the lock chambers.
Construction of the Kieldrecht Lock started in 2011 and was led by THV Waaslandsluis, a consortium between Jan De Nul NV, BAM Contractors, Herbosch-Kiere and Antwerpse Bouwwerken.
To build the lock, a total of 5,500,000 m3 of ground was excavated, 800,000m3 of concrete was poured and 55,000 tonnes of reinforced steel – three times the amount of steel than the Eiffel Tower – had to be installed. On top of that, another 12,000 tonnes of steel were processed in the lock’s 4 gates and 2 bascule bridges.
The Kieldrecht Lock is so big that it can even handle the world’s largest containerships, but preparing the port for future growth does not come cheap. The lock came with a price tag of €382 million (US$430 million).