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Elbe navigation speed limits tightened up

Vessel speeds in the Lower Elbe are to be more tightly monitored and controlled

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Elbe navigation speed limits tightened up

The federal German Generaldirektion Wasserstraßen und Schifffahrt (Directorate General for Waterways and Shipping) has announced that vessels with a minimum length of 90m have in future to obey a speed limit on the Elbe river between Cuxhaven and the Hamburg state border.


Between Wedel (Schleswig Holstein) and Hamburg a maximum speed of 10 knots is allowed, between Glückstadt and Wedel the maximum speed is 12 knots, between Glückstadt and Brunsbüttel it is 14 knots and from Brunsbüttel to Cuxhaven it is 15 knots.

Schematic of the new speed limits. (Source: Generaldirektion, Bonn)
Schematic of the new speed limits. (Source: Generaldirektion, Bonn)

The aim is to avoid nuisance and danger caused by ships’ movements, to protect the environment and the sensitive shore areas from wash.


The GDWS explains that the observance of speed limits will be controlled by their offices in Brunsbüttel and Cuxhaven. Non-compliance will be fined as per the Fine Catalogue for inland and marine waterways.


Prof. Dr. Ing Hans-Heinrich Witte, GDWS President in Bonn, remarked: "We are introducing the speed limit on the lower and outer Elbe because the existing regulations for sustainable protection of buildings, shores and environmental protected locations are not precise enough.


"At the same time we are setting the requirements of the planned approval process for the improvement of the fairway of the lower and outer Elbe."

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