Elbe moves closer to target capability

'Scheldt River' Hopper dredger 'Scheldt River' arrive on the River Elbe to begin fairway adjustment work. Image: HHM/ Dietmar Hasenpusch

Adjustment works to deepen and widen the River Elbe fairway have begun with the aim of improving large vessel access at the Port of Hamburg.

DEME’s hopper dredger Scheldt River is being used to carry out dredging work to enable ocean-going ships to be able to leave Hamburg with a draft of 13.50m irrespective of the tide. Using flood tide, ships will be able to leave with a draft of 14.50m.

For shipping, the fairway adjustment will provide one extra metre of draft and the related decisive advantages. Containerships will be able to transport around 1800 more containers (teu) per call. The ‘passing box’ downstream from Hamburg will make the Elbe navigable for megaships in both directions without the existing restrictions.

Rapid implementation aim

“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 the Port of Hamburg marketing team.

“We have waited a long time for today and are now hoping for rapid implementation,” added Ingo Egloff, his executive board colleague.

The port is already megaship-ready and can handle the largest containerships with a slot capacity of over 20,000 teu, as well as other mega vessels. Suitable berths and terminal equipment make that possible currently.

Approval of the controversial project was granted in August 2018, following lawsuits, brought by the cities of Cuxhaven and Otterndorf and coastal fishermen, which claimed the plan threatened public facilities and land, and fishing grounds.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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