The Port of Felixstowe – otherwise known as the Port of Britain – is the largest port in the UK. It handles over 4 million TEU per year; over 40% of all the container traffic that comes into, or out of, the UK.
An increasing proportion of those containers are carried on the rapidly increasing fleet of mega-ships employed, in particular, on the Asia – Europe trades. The port handled its first 18,000 TEU ship in November, 2013 when the Majestic Maersk, one of Maersk Line’s first Triple-E vessels, made its maiden call at the port.
Since then, the capacity of the largest ships has increased still further. The 19,100 TEU CSCL Globe first called at Felixstowe in January, 2015, but was quickly surpassed as the world’s biggest by the 19,224 MSC Oscar, which made its maiden call at Felixstowe in March. Felixstowe is now the clear port-of-choice in the UK for the largest mega-ships. In total, the port will play host to over 100 calls by these huge ships this year.
The growth in both the absolute size of the largest vessels, and the number of such vessels being introduced in a relatively short space of time, throws up a number of challenges for ports.
The most obvious one is the provision of facilities physically big enough to accommodate these giants of the sea. Quays need to be deeper, cranes higher and wider, and approach channels need to allow access across the widest possible tidal window. What gets less attention is the impact these giant vessels…
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