Elbe River Dredging Kicks Off

Scheldt River dredger arrives in Hamburg
Photo: HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch

The project to widen and deepen the Elbe River has kicked off with the arrival of DEME Group’s hopper dredger ‘Scheldt River’.

The project consists of widening and deepening the 72-mile long Elbe fairway, leading to the port of Hamburg, to allow two-way traffic of ultra-large containerships without restrictions.

“This is very good news for our trading and shipping customers in the German and European hinterland and all our worldwide business partners,” said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.

Following completion of the project, ocean-going ships will be permitted to leave Hamburg with a draft of 13.5 meters, or 14.5 meters depending on tide, which is an entire meter more than currently allowed. The Port of Hamburg estimates the extra draft will allow containerships to transport around 1,800 more twenty-foot containers per call.

Belgium-based DEME Group was awarded EUR 238 million deepening contract back in April. The project will involve the dredging, transportation and relocation of approximately 32 million cubic meters of material from the riverbed.

The Port of Hamburg is the third-busiest container port in Europe, handling around 8.7 million TEU in 2018 and approximately 8,000 vessel calls per year.