The MSC Tessa, one of the world’s largest ships, has entered the Port of Antwerp with a draft of 16 metres, a new record.
It is the latest in a series of six trial runs where the draft was increased from 15.7 to 16 metres. The pilot project is a collaboration between the Flemish and Dutch Pilotage Services, MSC, the Joint Nautical Authority and Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
A draught on approach of 16 metres is required to allow even the largest seagoing vessels to use Antwerp as their first port of call in the future.
As a result, it was agreed to conduct a series of trial runs in which the maximum draught is gradually increased to 16 metres.
Increasing the authorised draught significantly increases the cargo capacity of the vessels. These extra decimetres could yield +/- 1,000 TEU gains.
The MSC Regulus entered the port with a draft of 15.7 metres and on 9 July 2022, the record was broken again with a draft of 15.9 metres with the MSC Diletta.
The MSC Tessa successfully completed the first trial run with a draught of 16 metres. The ship arrived from Portugal, breaking the depth record at the Deurganck dock.
Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the Board of Directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges, said: “This successful first trial in the Deurganck dock is a milestone for our port. For our global economic position and the prosperity of current and future generations, it is essential that we can continue to receive the largest containerships.
“A draught of 16 metres allows us to profile ourselves even more strongly in the Far East, where the largest ships sail. This will strengthen our position as the first port of call. This gives us a competitive advantage and consolidates our position as a world port.”
Nathalie Balcaen, Administrator-General of the Agency for Maritime Services and Coast, stated: “Glad to be able to contribute to the accessibility of the Port of Antwerp from MDK. Thanks to our partners in the nautical chain and the expertise of our own services such as the Pilotage, Shipping Assistance and Flemish Hydrography.”
Marc Beerlandt, CEO MSC Belgium, said: “MSC welcomes the fact that our longstanding demand, to be able to get by with a greater draught at our home base, the Port of Antwerp, is being acted upon and this is now finally being tested further.
“It is evident that the shipping company wants to maximise the vessels’ performance to and from its European hub. We thank the pilots and port authorities for helping to make this happen.