Bremerhaven Westkaje project for completion soon
A €30 million project to rebuild Bremerhaven’s 110-year-old Westkaje for big ships will be completed soon following initial delays, Tom Todd reports.
The reconstruction of the 500m long Westkaje built between 1907 and 1909, has been underway since July 2017 in the German port’s Kaiserhafen III.
Local authorities decided to rebuild the largely-derelict facility after reporting it was “showing signs of damage which substantially endanger the safety of the location”. Work began in July 2017 when a spokesman told MJ “It has to be renovated as quickly as possible”.
The project had originally been due for completion by the end of 2018 or early 2019, but was delayed by tougher than expected pile extraction. It will now be finished early next year, according to Robert Howe, managing director of management company bremenports. He said the rebuilt Westkaje would enter service in spring. “Now that we have overcome the problems that cropped up during execution, construction work has entered its final phase,” he added.
Bremenports spokesman Holger Bruns explained Howe’s comment to Maritime Journal: “The old quayside was built completely on wooden piles”, he said, “It took a great deal of time to pull them all out over a distance of 500m. The building of the new quay was delayed as a result”. About 2,000 old pilings had to be removed, Bruns said, as part of the old quayside demolition. Behind it, old foundations and obstacles including an old loading ramp were also demolished and the ground level excavated to a new water depth to suit a new quay being set nine metres behind the old one.
At the same time, ramming has been underway on the new quay’s steel pilings and grouted footings and anchorings behind the old wall. Bremenports said some 4,000 tons of steel sheet pilings were going into the new Westkaje along with 3,500m3 of concrete and that 50,000m3 of soil were being removed. The reconstruction has meant the loss of some workboat berths for bremenports but a replacement landing stage has been created at the northern end of the Kaiserhafen III.
Responsible for the construction works is a consortium grouping the German concerns Bilfinger Marine &Offshore Systems and August Prien Bauunternehmung. The setting back of the new Westkaje by nine metres has benefitted shipping by widening the Kaiserhafen III basin, creating better nautical conditions for ships using the nearby auto terminals – specifically more room for giant vehicle carriers to manoeuver. That is being welcomed by local officials. Robert Howe said it will “ease ship manoeuverability in the harbour”. Although no vehicles are handled on the Westkaje, Bremerhaven processes more than two million a year and Kaiserhafen terminals are a hub of that business. The bulk of the vehicles enter on car carriers from the North Sea and the Weser through the 305 x 55m Kaiserschleuse, just a few hundred metres south of the Westkaje.
The new Westkaje is a public facility and will, when re-opened, be available for all ships. Bremen Science and Ports Senator Claudia Schilling said it would generate fresh opportunity for the port as a whole and also for Bremerhaven shipyards like Lloyd Werft (LWB) , adjacent to the Westkaje, and German Dry Docks. “Completion of the new quay has created the necessary conditions for exceptionally large vessels to reach the Kaiserhafen …”, she said. LWB in Bremerhaven has long hoped to complete or outfit the 204,000gt Global Class ships being built by its parent company Genting with the Westkaje a possible location for that work. Genting originally said they would be built at LWB but then relocated the work to its east German yards in Wismar, Stralsund and Rostock.
Guenther Pallentin told Maritime Journal in November it had “still not been finally decided” where the 342 x 46m Global ships would be completed. However, the Global ships are being built in Wismar and Rostock, with completion likely in Wismar. Early approach channel deepening is also under consideration in both ports. It would last several years but delivery of the first two Global Class ships is not scheduled until 2021 and 2022.
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