Port of Southampton makes way for world’s largest containerships


The channel widening will enable the largest container vessels to pass the biggest cruise ships berthed in the port.

Port of Southampton

The Port of Southampton has finalized a major navigation channel widening project in its Western Docks, allowing large container vessels to navigate alongside the largest cruise ships berthed in the port.

Specifically, the objective of the project was to enable the largest container vessels to pass the biggest cruise ships while they are bunkering fuel in port.

“Before the project was completed, the largest container vessels could not pass the cruise vessels until the bunkering was complete. We are expecting an increased number of larger container vessels in the port as per the most recent ship designs,” a port spokesperson said in a statement to WorldCargo News.

This marks the first such project in a decade and it has involved removing about 900,000 cubic meters of predominantly clay-based material over a 2-kilometer section, widening the channel by 30-65 meters.

The project, managed by ABP Southampton’s Engineering and Marine Teams, took two years to complete. Extensive navigation simulation exercises and comprehensive geotechnical surveys were conducted to determine the scope of work and assess the material to be removed, ABP said.

The dredging activities were scheduled during the winter months to avoid impacting the salmon migration to the River Test.

“This project is a considerable investment enabling the world’s largest vessels to enter the port and support the UK’s import and export markets. It has been a very complex and challenging project to navigate due to the number of stakeholders and consenting requirements, as well as delivering the project through the winter with several significant weather events,”Andrew Hallam, ABP Southampton Programme Lead, said.

“The container vessels coming into Southampton are the largest in the World, carrying up to 24,000 containers. This programme enables the safe navigation of these huge vessels and supports the UK container handling capability. Our thanks are extended to all those involved in the project,” Steve Masters, Southampton Harbour Master, said.

The Port of Southampton is a significant contributor to the UK economy, supporting over 45,600 jobs and contributing GBP 2.5 billion annually. At the heart of its operations is the Southampton Container Terminal, operated by partners DP World, known for its capacity to handle the largest container vessels globally.

Southampton also serves as the UK’s primary vehicle handling port, processing 900,000 vehicles annually.

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