Antwerp groomed to receive container giant

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The world’s biggest and longest container ship owned by the world's biggest shipping company is scheduled to enter the Antwerp harbour this evening. The Evelyn Maersk which, like her seven identical sister ships, is the biggest in the world at 398 meters long and 56 meters wide, with a capacity for 15,000 containers. The ship, on its way from China and destined for Rotterdam, will offload 2,000 containers at the Deurganck Dock in the Antwerp harbour as a possible strike threatens to immobilise the Rotterdam harbour. Antwerp  Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx is most excited about this one-off visit, saying: “We are flattered that the biggest shipping container company has chosen us as a second option after Rotterdam. This indicates that they are also keen to test the benefits of the deeper Scheldt River.” With a draught of 13.1 meters, The Evelyn Maersk marks a very symbolic harbour call. For years Antwerp fought to dredge the Western Scheldt to accommodate ships with a draught of 13.1 meters without worrying about the tides upon entering the harbour. The fact that this megaship is owned by Maersk makes the occasion even more significant, as the world’s greatest shipping giant often bypassed Antwerp on its routes; unlike the second biggest global shipping giant, the Swiss-Italian MSC, which has made Antwerp harbour its number one European container port.  Another reason why the choice of Antwerp as a mooring point is so significant is the fact that the Danish concern has its own container terminal in Zeebrugge, where the biggest container ships in the world have been mooring on a regular basis for the past four years to unload their cargo. CEO for Maersk Line in Belgium, Lode Dheedene, explains that most of the 2,000 containers had in fact Antwerp as their final destination. In an attempt to shake the notion that Maersk is not interested in Antwerp as a port, he stresses that Maersk's container traffic in Antwerp already totals about 500,000 each year. But the gap between Maersk traffic and MSC in Antwerp remains huge.  The transhipment of MSC in the Antwerp harbour amounts to 4.6 million containers this year and each week two MSC container ships enter the port. At 366 meters long and 51 meters wide, MSC’s mega container ships have a capacity of 14,000 containers.

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