Hapag-Lloyd Calls for Elbe Deepening

  • Business & Finance

German container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd is calling for more leeway and the deepening of the river Elbe which would enable mega boxships to reach the Port of Hamburg.

“Besides deepening, it’s also about widening the fairway. These measures would make it easier for the new ships to get into and back out of the port,” Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd AG, said.

This, he added, means that more containers could be brought to the city, which in turn would shorten waiting times and lower costs.

The fleet of the Hamburg-based company is growing to 219 ships as a result of its merger with United Arab Shipping Company (UASC). It is also becoming younger as well as getting many ships that can carry almost 20,000 TEU.

The Lower Elbe between the Port of Hamburg and the North Sea is supposed to be deepened over a distance of more than kilometers. Once the project is completed, ships with a 14.5-meter draught will be able to call at the port, against 13.5 meters at present.

To also be able to guarantee the ships’ safety even in rough waters, the fairway must be dredged to some 19 meters beneath sea level.

In addition to the so-called fairway adjustment of the river, the new construction work on the Köhlbrand Bridge is also meant to make it possible for the new generation of vessels to call at the port. The bridge is supposed to be raised from its current level of 53 meters to 73.5 meters.

Planning for these changes will begin before the end of the current year and the construction is expected to be completed by 2030.

“The Port of Hamburg has to be easily accessible by both water and land. The port will stay competitive in this way,” Habben Jansen further said.

Politicians, he continued, need to ensure that this gets done. At present, more than 150,000 jobs are directly or indirectly dependent on the Port of Hamburg.

The project to dredge the river faced many obstacles as environmental organizations, individual owners and others were submitting their claims to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig.

However, the court dismissed last week the latest appeals against the project. The planning approval authority concluded that the expansion project neither endangers the stability of the river channel slope nor threatens health and property due to effects of construction/ship noise and vibrations resulting from dredging.

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