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Hamburg ready to receive larger ships after Elbe expansion

Existing draft restrictions on the River Elbe that led to competitive disadvantages for the Port of Hamburg now belong in the past with the clearance of the second stage of the adjustment of the navigation channel.

The goal of enabling containerships with a draft of up to 13.5 m to reach the third largest port in Europe regardless of the tide has now been achieved. The navigation channel of the Lower and Outer Elbe has been deepened in places and also widened, enabling extensive seagoing vessels to meet, pass, and accept more cargo in the port.

“Completion of the work is a milestone for shipping traffic in Hamburg. For Germany’s largest port, it means improved access conditions that will enable shipping companies to bring more cargo to Hamburg. In ideal conditions, a vessel of the megamax class can now transport around 1,800 additional teu to and from Hamburg. Especially large bulk cargo and cruise ships will also benefit from the fairway adjustment, explained Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s minister of economics.

Megamax vessels with a width of up to 62.5m and a length of 400 mm can now move about the port with a draft of up to 13.1 m. Depending on the tide, bigger draughts of up to 15.4 m are also possible, according to the port.

The first clearance stage was already implemented in spring 2021. Last year, 2,377 containerships called on the Port of Hamburg between May and December. Of these, 666 had a design draft of over 13.8 m while 96 of them had a draft that would not have been acceptable before the release of the fairway adjustment.

“With the final release, shipping now has distinctly greater draft at its disposal. Apart from the navigational advantages, the greater depths provide both economic and ecological added value. Greater depth means improved utilisation of vessels and leads to lower emissions per ton transported,” added professor Hans-Heinrich Witte, president of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

Adis Ajdin

Adis is an experienced news reporter with a background in finance, media and education. He has written across the spectrum of offshore energy and ocean industries for many years and is a member of International Federation of Journalists. Previously he had written for Navingo media group titles including Offshore Energy, Subsea World News and Marine Energy.
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