Call of container giant proves we’re big ship ready, says Belgian port
The Antwerp Port Authority welcomed its largest ever container vessel this week in the shape of the 18,000 TEU capacity Mary Maersk.
In a statement, the port said it was “particularly pleased” with what was primarily a test trip, while port authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx added that a “first of this scale offers the indisputable proof that even the very largest container ships can call at Antwerp.
According to the Belgian port, the number of ultra-large container ships (ULCS) calling its docks has risen steadily in recent years. During the first nine months of this year, as many as 90 vessels boasting a capacity of 13,000 TEU or more called the port, while only 69 docked in Antwerp in the corresponding period last year.
The test trip comes just days after the announcement by the P3 Network, an alliance of the world’s three largest container shipping companies, that it has chosen Antwerp as one of its European ports of call.
In this context the importance of the recent deepening of the Scheldt cannot be emphasised strongly enough, says the Antwerp Port Authority.
“Since the deepening was completed the number of calls by vessels of 10,000 TEU, 13,000 TEU and up has really taken off,” said port alderman Marc Van Peel.
“The return on this investment has proved to be enormous, generating direct added value of nearly 10 billion euros for our port and enabling it to further develop its competitive position.”