Port of Hamburg redesign creates more space for big ships

The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) announced that it officially completed its Redesigning the Entrance to the Vorhafen Harbour Basin project, whereby creating more maneuvering space for big ships, faster berth assignment and improved safety of navigation.

The widened Vorhafen basin access benefits both container shipping and cruise shipping. The tidal (time) windows available to inbound and outbound ships are longer now and the maneuvering space for big ships in the Tollerort area has increased. Additionally, it is now possible for cruise ships with a beam of 40 metres (formerly 32.3 metres) to berth at the Cruise Center Altona. Moreover, additional waiting berths for feeders can later be provided, which will help reduce vessel movements in this highly-frequented section of the port.

The Vorhafen harbour basin is the approach to the cargo terminals in Steinwerder. Its location along the main current of the Norderelbe combined with the former river bank geometries had created river current conditions that only allowed ships with a maximum width of 370 metres to enter and leave the basin. The now completed widening project permits the passage of vessels with a beam of up to 400 metres.

“The widened Vorhafen basin entrance has made vessel traffic management more efficient, easier to plan and safer,” says Jens Meier, chairman of the management board of the HPA, and adds, “With the now optimised waterside access we have added another important piece to the port’s infrastructure that will further increase the competitive edge of the Port of Hamburg and benefit both container shipping and cruise shipping.”

Frank Horch, Hamburg Minister for Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation explains, “We are developing the port with an eye on the future, and the infrastructure must be upgraded and expanded accordingly. This project is another milestone in the development of the port. Shipping companies and terminal operators will benefit in particular.”

The project comprised three major construction phases:

  1. The soil of a four-hectare large site at the Tollerort tip was removed to create more water surface area. Part of the excavated material was used to backfill what was left of the Kohlenschiffhafen harbour basin, thus creating additional areas for the Container Terminal Tollerort (CTT) and the Köhlbrandhöft sewage plant. The remaining soil was temporarily stored at the adjacent Kuhwerder Terminal for use in future port development and other infrastructure projects.
  2. On the northern Tollerort river banks new foreshore structures were built. An about 250-metre-long quay wall starts at the north-eastern corner of the Tollerort tip and turns into a roughly 350-metre-long embankment line in the western section. The already existing quay wall at the northern end of the Europakai was reinforced by an about 90-metre-long foreshore quay wall.
  3. To reinforce the existing all-round quay wall at Lotsenhöft, a roughly 160-metre-long quay wall structure was built in front of it.

Due to the above measures, ships can now maneuver in a space with a diameter of 450 metres, berth assignment has become more flexible and the safety of navigation in the Tollerort area has improved.

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