Deepened channel gives larger ships access to Rotterdam harbour
The access channel 'Nieuwe Waterweg' to the port of Rotterdam has been deepened by a meter and a half across a distance of 25 kilometers, allowing Europe’s largest port to accommodate ever-larger ocean-going vessels.
The dredging work was carried out by contractors Royal Boskalis and Van der Kamp, on behalf of the Rotterdam Port authority and the national public work authority Rijkswaterstaat. The ceremonial opening on 3 October saw a spectacular nautical salute together with vessels from contractors Van der Kamp and Boskalis, a Port of Rotterdam Authority patrol vessel and a Rijkswaterstaat vessel.
The total investment in the dredging project amounted to around 70 million euro.
Time constraints and on-going navigation
The dredging activities were carried out while Europe’s busiest port remained open for business. Over 15,000 sea-going vessels navigate the 'Nieuwe Waterweg' every year. A total of 1,8 million cubic meter sand has been shifted in half a year, with the on-going navigation of the cargo ships entering and leaving the port of Rotterdam.
The time constraints forced the dredgers to work underneath the cargo ships. The safety measures made the work very complex. Underwater cables and ducts had to be removed because they were too high. At the end of the project an unknown ship wreck was located. It was well stuck within the seabed but had to be moved. With great difficulty the wreck could finally be lifted.
Compliments for speed of operation
The ceremony was performed by Dutch Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure & Water Management and Chief Operating Officer Ronald Paul of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. Both praised the cooperation between all parties involved and the speed with which the contract was completed.
Minister Van Nieuwenhuizen: ‘Big, bigger, biggest. We’re talking here about the Aframax, Suezmax and Panamax, mammoth vessels that sail cheaper, more sustainably and safer. In the port sector, big is not only a matter of honour, but it’s also a condition for survival in today’s cut-throat competitive world. That is certainly true for the port of Rotterdam.’
Ronald Paul: ‘That the biggest sea-going vessels can now access the Port of Rotterdam easily is vital to the competitive position of businesses in this area. This confirms our aim to continue to strengthen existing port industry.’