Felixstowe sets new record for ULCV box exchange – up to 130 moved per hour

The extraordinary lengths operators have to travel to clear congested container ports was highlighted this week when Felixstowe revealed it had broken its record for the largest container trade on a single vessel.

A total of 23,773 TEUs, almost all of the Ultra-Large Container Ship (ULCV) rated capacity MSC Diletta, was traded for a week.

MSC Dilette first appeared on The Loadstar radar earlier this week when a local Mission to Seafarers volunteer in Felixstowe noted that he had been moored in the UK port for ‘almost a week, certainly the longest I have ever seen a ship stay in port’ .

The Port of Felixstowe confirmed yesterday that 23,773 teu had been handled on the vessel, which left port on Wednesday.

The call also gave insight into current productivity levels at the UK’s largest box port – 23,773 TEUs correspond to around 14,000 boxes. According to AIS data, the vessel was berthed at Felixstowe for 129 hours, which represents an average of 110 box movements per hour.

However, this is a gross figure which includes docking/unberthing time, work breaks, hatch movements etc., so the net performance would be over 110, possibly 120 at 130 boxes moved per hour.

The vessel is deployed on 2M’s Asia-North Europe AE55/Griffin service, which has acted as a sweeper for the past few months. The normal rotation of the Rotterdam-Felixstowe-Le Havre Northern Europe service was interrupted last year, due to congestion in the region, the call in Rotterdam dropped in November as carriers sought to satisfy the British imports and to suck up the growing number of empty containers. in the countryside.

Typically, before the pandemic, a typical VCUL call in Northern Europe would normally see 4,000-5,000 boxes exchanged.

“The size of container ships has been increasing for many years and with the growing demand for services at Felixstowe we are seeing ever larger container trades,” said Robert Ashton, Chief Operating Officer of Felixstowe. “We are also seeing a trend to consolidate cargo on fewer ultra-large vessels.

“We are very pleased with the performance of this call and to have been able to work with 2M’s partners to help them achieve their goals of meeting the current high demand for imports from the Far East to UK consumers,” said he added.

Work is underway to further increase the port’s ability to handle ULCVs independently of the tides, with the Harwich Haven Authority dredging the main approach channel, to increase its depth from 14.5m to 16m, which is expected to be completed in 2023.

The port is also increasing the depth of its deep water berths. Pier 7 was deepened to 16.5m in 2021 and Pier 6 will also be dredged to 16.5m this year, while Piers 8 and 9 are increased to 18m.

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