After three years of efforts to prepare the Antwerp port for container ships with a 16-meter draft, the Belgian port is now ready to welcome the largest vessels during its regular operations.

The successful completion of six test voyages, culminating in MSC Raya’s passage in the Deurganck dock on November 10, 2023, paved the way for this achievement.

MSC Aurora made history as the first container ship to arrive in Antwerp with a 16-meter draft under normal admission policy, marking a significant advancement from the previous limit of 15.56 meters.

The collaborative efforts of MSC Belgium, Maritime Services and Coast Agency (MDK), Dutch pilots, Joint Nautical Authority (GNA), and Port of Antwerp-Bruges were pivotal in achieving this milestone.

Initiated on 1 March 2021, with MSC Regulus, the series of tests progressed through various vessels, including MSC Rapallo, MSC Diletta, MSC Isabella, and, notably, MSC Tessa, which set the depth record of 16 meters on 2 October 2023.

Following the successful trial with MSC Raya, the 16-meter draft is now officially in effect, positioning Antwerp Port to accommodate the world’s largest ships. This increased draft is exclusive to container ships navigating to the Deurganck dock, offering the potential for an approximate gain of 1000 TEU.

“For our global economic position, it is essential that we can continue to receive the largest container ships. A draft of 16m allows us to further profile ourselves in the Far East, where the largest ships sail. This strengthens our position as the first port of call. It gives us a competitive advantage and consolidates our position as a global port. After the first trial run in October, today was the turn of the MSC AURORA to perform the very first official ’16m journey,” stated Annick De Ridder, vice-mayor of the City of Antwerp and president of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

Sources: Container News

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