Wider Entrance to Port of Hamburg Provides More Room for Big Ships

Mike Schuler
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March 8, 2017

A container ship arrives at a loading terminal during a media tour at the annual news conference of the Hamburg harbour in Hamburg, Germany February 15, 2017. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

The Port of Hamburg has completed the widening of its Vorhafen Harbour Basin entrance which will allow more space for bigger ships to maneuver.

Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) on Wedensday marked the official completion of the “Redesigning the Entrance to the Vorhafen Harbour Basin” project, completed both on time and within budget. The port says the new entrance will provide more maneuvering space for big ships, faster berth assignment, and improved safety of navigation.

The widened Vorhafen basin will benefit container shipping and cruise ships at the port of Hamburg, Europe’s third busiest container port. For one, the tidal (time) windows available to inbound and outbound ships are now longer and the maneuvering space for big ships in the Tollerort area has also increased. Also, it is now possible for cruise ships with a beam of 40 meters (formerly 32.3 meters) to berth at the Cruise Center Altona. Also additional waiting berths for feeders can later be added, which will help reduce vessel movements in this high-traffic section of the port.

The Vorhafen harbor basin is the approach to the cargo terminals in Steinwerder. Its location along the main current of the Norderelbe combined with the former river bank geometry had created river current conditions that previously only allowed ships with a maximum width of 370 meters to enter and leave the basin. The now completed widening project permits the passage of vessels with a beam of up to 400 meters.

Due to the improvements ships can now maneuver in a space with a diameter of 450 meters, while berth assignment has become more flexible and the safety of navigation in the Tollerort area has improved.

“The widened Vorhafen basin entrance has made vessel traffic management more efficient, easier to plan and safer,” says Jens Meier, Chairman of the Management Board of the HPA. “With the now optimized waterside access we have added another important piece to the port’s infrastructure that will further increase the competitive edge of the Port of Hamburg and benefit both container shipping and cruise shipping.”

Frank Horch, Hamburg Minister for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation explains, “We are developing the port with an eye on the future, and the infrastructure must be upgraded and expanded accordingly. This project is another milestone in the development of the port. Shipping companies and terminal operators will benefit in particular.”

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