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Elbe fairway widening: Now simpler for mega-ships to pass

Friday, 31 January 2020 | 00:00

From yesterday, vessels with a combined width of up to 98 metres may pass each other in a widened section of the Elbe known as the ‘passing box'. The five-kilometre stretch under Federal jurisdiction now has a width of 385 metres.

Similarly, the fairway along the 36-kilometre stretch between Wedel and the mouth of the Stör has been widened from 300 to 320 metres. From yesterday, in this segment ships with a combined width of 92 metres may pass or overtake each other.

Illustration of the fairway adjustment

“With the initial fairway widenings of the Elbe, meanwhile completed, we are on a good course, immediately improving the conditions for calls by mega-ships,” said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. “For shipping and our port customers, this is really gratifying news for the start of the year.”

The holding area at Brunsbüttel has also been completed. This has been available as anchorage since the end of last year – when allocated by the traffic control centre. This offers ships dependent on the tide, and unable to make the tide ‘window' for currently unforeseeable reasons, the opportunity of waiting during the new low water phase. The holding area forms an essential element of the safety concept.

Andreas Scheuer, German Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, stressed: “We started dredging operations on the Lower and Outer Elbe at the end of July. In our section, the work on widening has now been completed. As soon as the work in the up-river section of the passing stretch through Hamburg has been completed, the combined width of ships passing can be raised. For shipping, this boosts flexibility, efficiency, capacity and safety. Because more and also larger vessels can call and depart simultaneously, the number of mega-containerships can then be more than doubled to 2,800 containerships per year.”

The implementation of the fairway extension on the last section of the Elbe fairway from the port of Hamburg to the North Sea has also begun (symbolic picture)
© Jan De Nul Group

Prof. Dr.-lng. Hans-Heinrich Witte, President of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration – WSV – commented: “With these widenings, shipping on the Elbe will for the first time profit from the fairway adjustment. That is good for waterway capacity, traffic flow and safety.”

Currently, work is in progress on deepening the entire stretch. Both ships dependent on the tide, and those that are not, will gain from one extra metre of loaded draft. The works will be completed next year.
Source: Port Of Hamburg

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