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Largest container ship in the world calls on Port of Antwerp

Largest container ship in the world calls on Port of Antwerp, © Port of Antwerp
© Port of Antwerp


The container ship HMM Algeciras arrived at the Port of Antwerp last Thursday night to load and unload containers at the North Sea Terminal of container handler PSA. It is the newest and largest container ship in the world.

The ship can carry 23,964 TEU (20-foot containers). The Korean ship was delivered on 24 April by the shipyard Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering’s Okpo. It is 400 metres long, 61 metres wide and has 23 crew members. The ship is from Yantian (China) and departs for London on Saturday 13 June at 5:30am.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp: “At the Port of Antwerp, we are resilient. We remained 100% operational during the pandemic, and while we will also see the effects of the coronavirus crisis on our figures, we continue to look ahead with faith in the future. We are delighted to welcome the HMM Algeciras. In doing so, we are showing that our port can receive the largest container ships. This puts Antwerp in a good position for further up-scaling. It is our ambition to continue to grow as a port in a sustainable way, with a finger firmly on the pulse of the global economic situation.”

Jae-hoon Bae, President and CEO of HMM: “Last April was very important for HMM because of two historic events. One of these was the completion of our rebranding process, with the adoption of our official company name ‘HMM’. The other was the delivery of HMM Algeciras, the world’s largest 24K-class container ship. The debut of HMM Algeciras in Europe and the first call at the Port of Antwerp has enormous symbolic significance. I believe that 24K-class ships will serve to ensure a mutual partnership between the Port of Antwerp and HMM.”

Annick De Ridder, port alderman: “Our port continues to dedicate itself successfully to sustainable growth and the arrival of the largest container ship in the world, the HMM Algeciras, is a great recognition of this. It is an incentive that continues to encourage us to carry on building tomorrow’s port today. This is the only way that world players will continue to choose our city as their gateway to Europe.”

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Port of Antwerp trials social distancing bracelets

Port of Antwerp trials social distancing bracelets


The Port of Antwerp is gearing up to test a device aimed at helping workers respect social distancing. The port, which hosts over 900 companies, will run trials in May whereby 2 teams of port workers will wear an electronic bracelet that was originally designed to find tugboat crew members fallen overboard. The bracelets are worn like a watch. Coated in black plastic, they vibrate when they move to within three metres of each other. The vibration strength, similar to that of a mobile telephone but more obvious when attached to a wrist, increases the closer the bracelets get and warning lights flash.

The bracelets ensure physical distancing and collect no data. No plans have been announced at the port to use them to track workers’ movements or measure their performance as some companies elsewhere have explored doing. But they can be programmed to provide information.

Antwerp Port Chief Technology Officer Erwin Verstaelen said, “You have a helmet, and your safety shoes, and you have swimming vests. All these kinds of things. And now we’re adding a wearable on top of that to make sure that people are safe, and if something goes wrong, that it is being detected as soon as possible” 


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Antwerp records rise in reefer container volumes


The port of Antwerp recorded a 7.2% increase in perishables, handling a total of 871,757 TEU of reefer containers. Much of this growth was driven by traffic with Latin America. This marks the seventh consecutive year of freight handling growth for the port, which now totals 238m tons of cargo.

According to a statement released by the port authority: “Container shipping companies operating in the big reefer markets of Latin America are increasingly choosing Antwerp as their first European port of call. Antwerp’s central position deep inland offers shippers short transit times for perishables on their way to large consumer markets in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and beyond. Furthermore the port’s experienced service providers offer fast, high-quality unloading and storage, as well as added-value services and completion of customs and food inspection formalities. Far-reaching digitisation such as the  ViSiGiP platform also allows shippers to visually follow the reporting and inspection process at the border inspection post, which in turn makes for a simpler, more efficient process.”

Additional container handling capacity will now be added to the port of Antwerp to ensure sustained growth of its operations.

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Port of Antwerp 1st port of call for reefer services from Peru, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Panama

Hamburg Sud and Maersk launch a joint stand-alone service connecting Europe and the key perishables markets of Central America, the Caribbean and the western coast of South America. In northern Europe, Antwerp is the first port of call. The service provides a fast direct connection between the Chilean ports of San Vincente and San Antonio, and northern Europe. In addition an extensive regional feeder network will link the main ports of Peru, Ecuador and Colombia via transshipment hubs in Panama.


 The first northbound sailing of the new SAWC1 service is scheduled for June 10, 2019. The “Luna Maersk” will depart from San Antonio, and is set to arrive in Antwerp on July 4th. The first southbound sailing is Lexa Maersk with ETD from Antwerp on June 6, 2019.

“Antwerp is very pleased to welcome the 1st port of call service. Our inland and central location in Europe offers perishables clients very short transit times to reach key consumer markets in Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany and beyond. The new service confirms that carriers, such as Hamburg Sud and Maersk, trust in the operational excellence of Port of Antwerp for containerized cargo in general, and perishables in particular”, thus Michiel Vermeiren, Manager Shipping Lines at Port of Antwerp.

Extensive feeder network

Eight ships with post Panamax class (4.500 TEU) will deploy on the SAWC1 service, which departs weekly. With 1.400 reefer plugs each, the vessels are well suited to meet the requirements of the perishables trade.

Ingrid Vanstreels, Key Account Manager Containerized Cargo at Port of Antwerp: “Our ambition is being the preferred perishables port in Europe. Therefore the Antwerp port community eagerly invests in additional capacity, technology, and stimulates cooperation. Together with logistical service providers and the Customs & Food Agency services, Port of Antwerp tackles cold chain challenges jointly. Our key objective? Guaranteeing operational excellence for each perishable client.”

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Port of Antwerp presents smart port of the future at Supernova


The port of the future is a smart port. During Supernova, the festival of the future being held in the Eilandje docklands neighbourhood from 27 to 30 September, the port of Antwerp is presenting its vision and its current innovative projects. For the occasion Antwerp Port Authority has built a spectacular floating pavilion in the middle of the Bonaparte dock where visitors can discover the port of the future. In the meantime the latest technological developments will be on display in the MAS Port Pavilion, while the Echodrone autonomous sounding boat will be driving itself around in the Bonaparte dock.

Futuristic water pavilion
What will the port of the future look like? Digitisation and technological innovation will certainly play a leading role. At the Supernova festival of the future dedicated to the world of tomorrow, the port of Antwerp gives visitors a sneak preview and lets them become acquainted with the latest technological developments and surprises. The futuristic water pavilion on a pontoon in the middle of the Bonaparte dock can accommodate more than 350 visitors at a time for an astonishing 360° surround-screen projection featuring the port of tomorrow.
“Technological innovation is essential in order to collaborate ever more effectively, safely and efficiently, and to make the port platform more sustainable, as the main engine of the Belgian economy. Permanent innovation is the lever we need for further growth in employment and added value for the entire region. It will, at the same time, provide solutions for dealing with climate challenges,” says Port Authority CEO Jacques Vandermeiren.
MAS Port Pavilion is innovation hub
One of the developments that is fast becoming a reality concerns self-steering, self-navigating vessels. At Supernova there will be demonstrations with the “Echodrone,” a fully autonomous sounding boat that uses unique, innovative cloud technology. For the occasion the MAS Port Pavilion will be transformed into an “innovation hub” where the latest practical developments and innovations in the port will be presented.
Smart port with a digital nervous system
“Our 360° surround-screen video presentation in the Water Pavilion is more than just an inspirational vision of the future,” says Erwin Verstraelen, Chief Digital and Innovation Officer at Antwerp Port Authority. “On the contrary, many of these developments are already up and running. Our ultimate ambition is to have a digital nervous system covering the entire port so that we can be constantly be aware of what is happening and take immediate action in real time. By demonstrating practical, on-the-ground examples at Supernova we want to show the outside world how we are playing a pioneering role in innovation and digitisation.”

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Port of Antwerp intensifies cooperation with coast of West Africa


Antwerp and Dakar port authorities are to collaborate more closely in the next few years. In this way Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe, seeks to reinforce its historic position as leader on the coast of West Africa. The Senegalese port of Dakar for its part views the collaboration as a way to position itself as the main regional hub for freight.

In order to put an official seal on the future collaboration, the respective port authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday this week. Mr. Aboubacar Sedikh Beye signed for the Port Autonome de Dakar, while Kristof Waterschoot, CEO of two subsidiaries of Antwerp Port Authority (PAI and APEC), represented the Antwerp side. The signing ceremony was attended by the Belgian first minister Charles Michel and deputy first minister and minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo, both on a working visit to Senegal.

Crossroads of Dakar
With an annual freight volume of 17 million tonnes, Dakar is one of the largest ports on the coast of West Africa. This port city occupies a uniquely strong position on the world map, located at the crossroads of sailing routes between Europe on the one hand and North and South America and southern Africa on the other. Thanks to its excellent sea access, Dakar is one of the few West African ports that are able to handle ships of all dimensions at any time.

But now Dakar has set its sights higher and plans to build a new port 50 km away from the present facility which with a keel depth of 18 metres will be able to handle the latest generation of giant container carriers without difficulty. Together with the new port Dakar also plans an economic and logistics zone of 600 hectares.

Antwerp’s expertise
“We will make use of our experience and expertise to help Dakar realise its ambitions,” declared Kristof Waterschoot after the signature. A recent report by the World Bank underlines the economic potential of the continent but also points up a number of challenges such as the lack of sufficiently trained personnel. “We will immediately step in to fill this gap, by sharing our know-how and expertise. Our training centre APEC remains the partner of choice for training maritime professionals, while our consultancy subsidiary PAI will assist the port authority with the necessary expertise for developing a multipurpose terminal and deepening the approach channels so as to maximise the capacity of the port of Dakar,” Waterschoot concluded.

The MoU also contains a number of commitments in the area of marketing, developing trade relations, organising joint commercial events and exchanging information on subjects such as customs & excise, security and sustainability. The agreement has been signed for a period of five years.



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Port of Antwerp gears up to handle more perishables


Europe’s second largest seaport, the Port of Antwerp, recorded a 7.5% rise in the volumes of refrigerated containers and perishable goods handled in 2017 (10 million tons). Thus continues the positive trend seen in recent years. To cater for the expected future growth, the port’s service providers are increasing infrastructure capacity with additional refrigerated and fresh storage facilities and implementing blockchain technology and sustainable transport concepts like groupage freight transports or modal shift.

“The continuing growth of reefer traffic via the Port of Antwerp confirms that the range of transhipment and extended services for perishable goods offer real added value to the market. We are approaching the 10 million tons mark, which we hope to exceed next year,” said Maartje Driessens, business development manager perishables of the Antwerp Port Authority, at a press breakfast at this year’s Fruit Logistica.

Transport connections with the world’s fruit and vegetable producing regions have also been upgraded. In 2017, there were new or expanded connections to West Africa (Cameroon, Côte d’ Ivoire, Ghana and Morocco) and Latin America (Ecuador, Chile and Peru). The Levante Express of MSC now offers a direct connection to Beirut as well as optimised transit times between Antwerp and Turkey and Italy.

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Record freight volume for port of Antwerp

For the first time, the Port of Antwerp’s shipping container volume has risen above 10 million TEU

The port of Antwerp is set to end 2016 having handled a record volume of more than 214 million tons of freight.

And for the first time in its history, the shipping container volume has risen above 10 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, i.e. standard containers), the port said in a press release.

“Liquid bulk is also showing year-on-year expansion and with an estimated volume of just under 70 million tons it’s the second main foundation on which freight growth in Antwerp is based.

“There are positive figures also in the conventional breakbulk and dry bulk sectors, although overall the totals for both segments are negative. The continuing trend towards containerisation has depressed the volumes of, among other things, fruit and paper.

“Meanwhile the volumes of coal and ore have fallen drastically in all North-West European ports,” it said.

Containers and breakbulk

The container volume rose 4.1% over the past 12 months and is expected to end the year at just under 118 million tons. In terms of the number of containers, this represents more than 10 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units), a 4.2% increase.

“With these excellent growth figures Antwerp has further expanded its market share in the Hamburg – Le Havre range. Antwerp has also managed to considerably improve its position in the Far East trade over the past few years, at the expense of its direct competitors Rotterdam and Hamburg.

“The situation among international container shipping companies has altered dramatically in the past few years, with companies entering into collaboration and forming alliances in order to achieve cost savings and efficiencies of scale.

“In 2017 the shipping scene will be dominated by 2M, Ocean Alliance and THE Alliance, making it more important than ever for ports to secure their place in the respective sailing schedules. So far Antwerp has managed very well in this respect.

“In the meantime the ro/ro volume has declined by 1.9%, totalling 4.56 million tons at the end of the 12-month period. This negative result is due to the performance on the export side, as ro/ro exports to Africa and the Near East are down 15% and 18% respectively. In fact exports to all countries around the Persian Gulf have dipped.

On the import side, however, the ro/ro volume is up by 9.5%.

“The conventional breakbulk volume for its part contracted by 2.4%, ending the year at 9.76 million tons. Steel on the other hand experienced strong growth of 12%, but the lower volumes of non-ferrous metals, paper & cellulose and fruit meant that the amount of conventional breakbulk was down overall,” it said.

Seagoing ships

The number of seagoing ships calling at Antwerp rose by 0.7% in 2016: by 31 December a total of 14,523 ships are expected to have visited Antwerp. Apart from the increased number of ships, the growth in gross tonnage is up 9.5% to 402.6 million GT.

“This figure illustrates well how ships visiting Antwerp are getting bigger and bigger: in 2016 Antwerp welcomed 458 container carriers of 13,000 TEU or more, whereas last year the number in this category was only 320,” the port said.

It said the above freight figures are provisional, with definitive ones expected in the second half of January.

Source of images and information: Port of Antwerp

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Port of Antwerp handling more freight this year

Increased containerisation has led to a lower conventional volume of fruit (down 26.5% to 377,418 tons) at the Port of Antwerp.

The volume of freight handled by the Port of Antwerp for the first 9 months of this year totalled 161.67 million tons – a figure up 3.3% on the same period last year.

In a press release, the port said its container volume for January-September saw growth of 4%, exceeding 7.5 million TEU and further expanding Antwerp’s market share for containers in the Hamburg-Le Havre range.

The container volume rose 3.7% to nearly 88.64 million tons. Ro/ro was down 1.9% at just under 3.4 million, while the volume of conventional breakbulk remained practically the same at 7.26 million tons.

“On the down side, increasing containerisation led to a lower conventional volume of paper (down 44.4% to 436,444 tons) and fruit (down 26.5% to 377,418 tons),” the port said.

Seagoing ships

The number of seagoing ships was up 1%, with the number of calls totalling 10,894 as at October 1.

“Not only was there an increase in the number of ships, there was continuing strong growth in gross tonnage. This rose by 11.3% to 301.66 million GT, demonstrating the trend towards ever larger vessels,” it said.

Photo: Antwerp Port Authority

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New partnership between ports of Antwerp and Guangzhou

The Port of Antwerp said the twinning agreement also dovetails perfectly with the ‘One Belt One Road’ philosophy announced by China in 2013 which aims to improve connections between the main Chinese industrial cities and trade centres elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Antwerp, the second-largest port in Europe, and Guangzhou, number 8 in the world, are to collaborate more closely under a twinning agreement signed on December 10 in the Chinese port city.

The two cities had already had a close relationship as under an agreement signed in 2010 between Guangzhou and the Port of Antwerp training centre APEC, various groups of shipping professionals from the Guangzhou port  have attended tailor-made courses at APEC. The twinning agreement will take the relationship between the ports to a new level and, among other things, include commercial collaboration.

For instance, there are currently two shipping services between North-West Europe and China calling at Guangzhou and Antwerp. “By developing a joint marketing approach the respective port authorities aim to get both ports included in several more loops,” the Port of Antwerp said in a press release.

Also, in collaboration with APEC and three other partners, a joint training institute under the name of Guangzhou-Antwerp Port Training & Consultancy Co. Ltd will be set up to offer courses in port operations for professionals from Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Other action points in the twinning agreement include the exchange of information on port development and best practices for sustainable enterprise in a port environment.

The Port of Antwerp said the twinning agreement also dovetails perfectly with the ‘One Belt One Road’ philosophy announced by China in 2013 which aims to improve connections between the main Chinese industrial cities and trade centres elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

It also said there are strong similarities between the ports of Antwerp and Guangzhou, both of which are located quite a long distance inland and multifunctional ports with excellent trimodal connections with a rich hinterland.

With an annual freight volume of 510 million tons including 16.63 million TEU, Guangzhou is one of the main container ports in China, acting mainly for transshipment of fuel stuffs, raw materials and commercial goods.

Image of Guangzhou skyline by jo.sau (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons