A giant vessel bearing five ‘megamax’ quayside cranes sailed up the River Mersey destined for the new Liverpool2 container terminal, completing the final stage of its voyage from China.
The new cranes mark the start of a new era for the Port of Liverpool as the most visible element of Peel Port’s £300m investment to create the UK’s most centrally located deep water container terminal.
Setting off from Shanghai in August the cranes travelled past south-east Asia, India, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa via the Cape of Good Hope en route to Liverpool in a journey of over 30,000km (18,000 miles, 16,400nm).
The super-structures were produced by Chinese company, Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co (ZPMC), the largest heavy duty equipment manufacturer in the world, as part of a contract with Peel Ports worth more than £100m. A total of eight ship-to-shore megamax cranes and 22 cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes are being supplied to Peel Ports as part of the company’s £300 million investment programme to expand and develop the Port of Liverpool.
Each crane measures 92 metres high to the top of the frame, approximately the same as Liverpool’s iconic Royal Liver Building, and 132 metres high when the boom is raised. Each crane weighs around 1,600 tonnes.
Liverpool2 is the UK’s largest transatlantic deep-sea port and container terminal and the investment in facilities will allow it to accommodate the majority of the world’s current container fleet, including vessels up to 20,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) or two 13,500 TEU vessels simultaneously.
Mark Whitworth, chief executive of Peel Ports, said:
“This is a truly unique day in Liverpool’s long maritime history. The spectacular sight of these cranes sailing up the Mersey to the L2 site is unprecedented. Our investment in leading-edge infrastructure and technology will allow Liverpool to offer the quickest and most cost-effective route to market, not just for goods destined for the north of England but also for Scotland, Ireland, North Wales, opening up a new logistics routes estimated at four million TEU every year and increasing potential import and export trade.”
The cranes will have the ability to operate at speeds in excess of 30 moves per hour and will facilitate an anticipated 1,500 moves in each tidal window. They will be capable of twin-pick and outreach of 24 containers up to 10 high on deck, and safe working loads of up to 85 tonnes. They will also have the ability to operate in wind speeds of up to 55 miles per hour (88kmph).
The fleet of STS and CRMG cranes is supported by a multi-million pound investment in state-of-the-art quayside facilities and support technology, including a fully-integrated Navis N4 terminal operating system, AutoGate and ABB equipment controls. The technology will increase the security and efficiency of terminal transactions whilst reduce costs and minimising waiting times for hauliers
The combination of infrastructure and technology will reduce the time taken to transfer containers from port to road or rail, helping the Port of Liverpool to achieve targets of 65% of haulage turned round in 30 minutes and 95% of haulage turned in 60 minutes.
Peel Ports’ investment in Liverpool2 will strengthen the growing infrastructure of the Northern Powerhouse to create a gateway into the north of the country which Chancellor George Osbourne referred to on his recent visit to China, citing the area’s important trading links and outstanding pedigree in food and drink, fashion, automotive, and aerospace.
Separately, Peel Ports’ Liverpool2 project has hit another key milestone with BG Freight announcing a new schedule increasing the frequency of its services in the Irish Sea routes.
The changes, in response to the creation of Liverpool2 and customer demand, involve the deployment of an additional ship, allowing customers in Scotland and Ireland to tap into the benefits of deep sea vessels calling at Liverpool2 through an integrated approach to short sea shipping and cargo handling.
Liverpool2, which opens later this year will be UK’s most centrally-located deep water container terminal, it will double the capacity of the Port of Liverpool and allow it to handle some of the largest container ships in the world.
The new service, which began last week, will allow end users and shippers to benefit from the economies of scale provided by Liverpool2. Using a one-stop-shop approach, deep-sea lifts from Liverpool2, feeder connections/shipping and port stevedoring are all handled by Peel Ports Group across Irish Sea Hub locations, simplifying the process of getting goods to and from key markets.
The Manchester Ship Canal service has been extended to three sailings per week. In addition there is a fixed weekly return call from Liverpool to Ellesmere Port. The frequency between Liverpool and Dublin has also been upgraded to twice weekly, as will Liverpool to Belfast and a new route from Dublin to Greenock, all offering winter-proof return connections and increased reliability on connections to other European ports.
Koert Luitwieler, CEO BG Freight Line, said:
“We see this new schedule as a huge step forward which will enable us to offer very reliable shipping solutions for our customers. The increased frequency on the canal and the introduction of Ellesmere Port will drive more and more containers from road/rail to environmentally friendly waterways. All this will trigger a smooth and capable hinterland logistical chain ready to support L2 once volume begins to flow through the port.”
The schedule of M.V. Phoenix II, which has a capacity of 658TEUs, is:
- Monday – Dublin
- Tuesday/ Wednesday – Belfast
- Thursday /Friday – Greenock
- Friday – Dublin
- Saturday/Sunday – Liverpool
One customer benefiting from the activity along the Manchester Ship Canal is Quality Freight. Their volumes have grown year on year at their site in Ellesmere Port and in response BG Freight have launched the first ever scheduled weekly call to their site to help them keep up with demand.
Seb Gardiner Managing Director, Quality Freight said
“At Quality Freight we are delighted to see this new service develop. This not only increases the capacity for moving volume quickly and efficiently in and out of the Port of Liverpool, but also enhances the service we can offer to new and existing clients at Ellesmere Port. This has improved our storage and distribution capabilities, which feeds well into our port and transport operations.”
Complementing this activity is the continually increasing demand along the Manchester Ship Canal which has seen a six fold (600%) increase in volume since Peel Ports launched a coordinated strategy in 2009 to revive trade along the historic waterway. The strategy has seen investment in and associated development of sites such as Irlam, Port Cheshire, Port Warrington and most significantly Port Salford.
In March 2015, Culina announced that it had agreed to be the first tenant at Port Salford with their customer, General Mills as the one of the major users of the facility. The strategy has also seen increasing vessel sizes along the waterway to cope with demand.