London Thamesport Welcomes new W.E.C. Line service

London Thamesport Welcomes new W.E.C. Line service

15.4.2021 | Ports

London Thamesport Welcomes new W.E.C. Line service

“Will further cement our position as the  preferred carrier of choice on the short sea trades of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.” 

Hutchison Ports London Thamesport has welcomed its second new short-sea sailing in less than a week with the first call of a new W.E.C. Line service to Bilbao.

The Spanish short sea market has historically offered cargo owners little option when it comes to carrier choice.W.E.C. Lines is changing that with an innovative new direct service to London Thamesport.

Commenting on the new sailing, Mark Taylor, Director, London Thamesport, said:

“Brexit has shaken up the European logistics landscape with more and more operators seeking the reliability and predictability afforded by short sea container services. London Thamesport is ideally situated to service this trade, and we are delighted that W.E.C. Lines have chosen us for this new service.”

Roger Megann, Managing Director of W.E.C. Lines UK, said:

“This is a major milestone in the success story of W.E.C. Lines and will further cement our position as the preferred carrier of choice on the short sea trades of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

“More cargo owners can see the benefit of converting freight from the traditional but expensive trailer option to the flexible and cost, carbon-friendly modality of containers. Since Brexit, the conventional short sea routes from Spain have been congested, and supply chains have been damaged.

“W.E.C. Lines and London Thamesport offer a market-leading transit time of 72 hours and a congestion-free UK port. Container haulage turnaround times are the fastest in the country. Our investment in owned tonnage, rail and equipment is a vast commitment, and further expansion of rail to other major Spanish cities will follow.”

W.E.C. Lines offers its customers a one-stop-shop including customs clearance, cross-docking, canvas haulage, warehousing, and many other facilities.

Port of Lowestoft cares for Kittiwakes

Port of Lowestoft cares for Kittiwakes

1.6.2021 | Ports

Port of Lowestoft cares for kittiwakes

Maintenance work is underway to encourage Kittiwakes to keep returning to Suffolk.

Associated British Ports (ABP) has announced vital works on the Port of Lowestoft’s Harbour Kittiwake Wall, to maintain the important breeding site for the local kittiwake population.

Dating from the late 1980s, ABP’s bespoke kittiwake wall on the North Pier was built to replicate the cliff-like conditions that kittiwakes favour for nesting. The wall has been a successful breeding site, with hundreds of nests and fledglings recorded in previous years. However, it is not currently used by the kittiwakes. Thought to be due to the build-up of old nests, ABP will be upgrading the Harbour Kittiwake Wall as part of the preparations for Lowestoft Eastern Energy Facility (LEEF). This work will remove abandoned nests and install safe wire mesh protection above the wall ledges to protect the kittiwakes from gull predation.

Lowestoft is home to one of two established breeding colonies in Suffolk, and kittiwakes first colonised the piers at the entrance to the Port in the 1950s. Within the Port of Lowestoft, the Harbour Kittiwake Wall is recognised as a County Wildlife site. With advice from the Council’s ecologist to ensure that no active nests are being disturbed, ABP will be completing the essential maintenance work over the coming weeks.

Andrew Harston, Regional Director, Wales & Short Sea Ports, said: “The Port of Lowestoft has long been home for one of Suffolk’s two established kittiwake colonies. We are delighted to be able to upgrade the Port of Lowestoft’s Harbour Kittiwake Wall to ensure that it provides a safe, attractive nesting site for the visiting birds.”

Cllr James Mallinder, East Suffolk Council’s Cabinet Member for the Environment, said: “We welcome the work and initiative which AB Ports are undertaking to improve the harbour area for kittiwakes and other sea birds. We all have a responsibility to support and protect our wildlife, and by introducing positive enhancements, no matter how small they may be, we can really make a difference over time.”

Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said: “With Lowestoft being the home to one of two established breeding kittiwake colonies in Suffolk, as recent events have highlighted, there is a need to ensure that appropriate nesting facilities are provided locally that replicate the cliffs that are their natural habitat. It is thus very good news that ABP will be carrying out work to the wall on the North Pier so that a safe and secure home is provided for these popular visiting seabirds.”

Freeports, hot air or hot stuff?

Freeports, hot air or hot stuff?

18.5.2021 | Ports

Freeports, hot stuff or hot air?

Jon Swallow of logistics specialists, Jordon, questions Freeport benefits and asks is it good, bad or ugly? 

Freeports, the post-Brexit panacea – coming soon to Felixstowe, Teesside, London Gateway, Liverpool City Region, Humber, Southampton, Plymouth, and East Midlands Airport.

Here at Jordon, we’ve been monitoring the freeports initiative for some time as we’ve dealt with Brexit over the last four years. Lately, we have uncovered a clear divide in opinion of whether the benefits being touted will be game-changing or simply that the whole notion will quietly fade away as businesses struggle to find ways to benefit.

The EU currently has about 80 freeports, but this number appears to be winding down due to a reason similar to us in 2012, where the UK Government closed all the UK’s freeports (yes, we had them whilst we were in the EU) because apparently there was no evidence of economic benefit.  However, the government believes by now not being a member of the EU, we can re-introduce them and do things differently, which on the one hand is correct – but as we know, trade is a two-way street, which we will come to later. You can view the Parliamentary transcript here.

The good

So, we know freeports are in general exclusive zones where normal rules and taxes don’t apply, but what are freeports actually for?  If you ask what a freeports objective is, the government paper makes clear:

  1. To establish Freeports as national hubs for global trade
  2. To promote regeneration and levelling up
  3. To create hotbeds of innovation

When you look at those three points, it feels good, if a bit woolly, yet there seems to be an awful lot riding on the private and third sector to invest heavily into the idea.  The benefits have to be clear and crucially workable to create new business opportunities and jobs, not simply move activity from one place into a more attractive one creating economic displacement.

Here is a VP of a manufacturing software company and a Southampton Chamber representative talking up the benefits of freeports.

The bad

But the immediate risk, if they work as proposed, is an uneven playing field, and exported goods may be hit with larger tariffs in some countries.  As we write this, it’s been discovered that 23 countries already have specific clauses in their trade agreement that do just that. Read this article at the FT about this latest blow.

Only time will tell how the revitalised perception of freeports tallies up international trade’s global realities. The marketing literature is undoubtedly impressive, and clearly, a lot of money is being spent making freeports look attractive to prospective investors.  We have been in meetings about our freeport in Felixstowe with our local Chamber.

However, nothing pops out as truly beneficial compared to what alternative customs options exist now post-Brexit. This is an important point I think which is missed by the press.  Of course, if we had a client that wanted to use a Freeport, we would help facilitate their requirements because this is what we do.  However, at present, Freeports are a mysterious and intriguing proposition that we are exploring from all angles.

Robert Keen from our trade association BIFA is pessimistic about the value of Freeports, see what he has to say as we believe this is one of the more informed views.

You could (and should) argue a good FTA would easily topple any ‘benefit’ from a freeport.  So maybe this is where the energy needs to be spent – to get better FTAs than the ones currently being agreed, which at the moment are generally continuity agreements.  After all, this is what Brexit promised us but has yet to deliver.

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak, probably the biggest driver of the freeport resurgence, wrote a report in 2016 highlighting, amongst other things, what he believed were the employment benefits.  We dug out a copy here. It makes interesting reading and certainly seems compelling.  But now we’re finally here the examination and scrutiny in the real world, where the political landscape has changed significantly, has started.  And it needs a lot more than simply ‘believing’ in it, like what we experienced with Brexit (border friction was never negotiable).  When dealing with international trade, you merely have to stick to the cold hard facts because both parties need to end up on the same page.  Global Trade Review here illustrates what the parliamentary committee’s conclusion is so far.

The ugly

Then finally creeping in at the end, there is currently deemed a bit leftfield, but for the sake of inclusion (because you never know – remember project fear), these freeports will become Charter Cities. Essentially deregulation zones with low workers’ rights, tax havens for the rich and lots of dodgy stuff like money laundering, smuggling, etc.  Who on earth would want that?  See here for some intense reading about big data, private universities, global business and finance, billionaires, think tanks and governments involved in some grand-scale shift in global power that will change the world forever.  Don’t have nightmares…

So as freeports go live later this year, we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments and eager to see how the vision will be achieved.  For us here in Felixstowe, we are already seeing huge warehouses go up. We would hope planning laws are kept in check to negate any negative environmental impact on the area.  This is sleepy Suffolk, after all.  But with a freeport radius of 27km, locals should be on guard that development will probably intensify if the freeport model of success is to be achieved.  We would also hope the government provides an impact assessment for economic growth and job creation.

In summary, if we really can achieve ‘international hubs for manufacturing and innovation’, we need to do this to counter any negative effects, ironically, of Brexit. But whether we ever needed freeports to do all this in the first place is, of course, the question.

Watch this space.

This article is also available at Jordon.

Hutchison Ports buys APMT’s Rotterdam terminal

Hutchison Ports buys APMT’s Rotterdam terminal

10.5.2021 | Ports

Hutchison Ports buys APMT’s Rotterdam terminal

Joint announcement of the divestment of APMTR to Hutchison Ports.

APM Terminals (APMT) and Hutchison Ports are pleased to announce that Hutchison Ports Netherlands B.V., a subsidiary of Hutchison Ports, has signed an agreement to acquire the Rotterdam container terminal APM Terminals Rotterdam (APMTR) from APMT.

APMTR is located adjacent to Hutchison Ports’ existing ECT Delta terminal in the Maasvlakte area of Europe’s largest port. It has 1,600 metres of deep-water quay serviced by 13 ship-to-shore gantry cranes.

Commenting on the divestment, Rolf Nielsen, Head of Hub Terminals APMT said, “We are pleased to announce our divestment of APMTR to Hutchison Ports. Over the past eighteen months, the various parties have worked intensively and constructively together with all relevant parties, including APMTR’s works council and trade unions, to complete the transaction. The sale gives APMTR the best possible future with good security for jobs for its employees.”

Commenting on the acquisition, Clemence Cheng, Managing Director of Hutchison Ports Europe said, “We are delighted to strengthen further our presence in the Port of Rotterdam. We already handle the majority of containers in the port through ECT’s Delta and Euromax terminals. The addition of APMTR will further enhance our ability to offer a first-class and flexible service to our customers.

“We will continue to serve Maersk Line’s existing business at the terminal and will work with the workforce to develop the customer and volume base to meet growing demand. We have the opportunity to redevelop and enhance the facility in the future and look forward to continuing to grow our business in the port.”

APMT Rotterdam (image courtesy APMT).

Enhanced Deep-Water berth for Port of Felixstowe

Enhanced Deep-Water berth for Port of Felixstowe

15.4.2021 | Ports

Enhanced Deep-Water berth for Port of Felixstowe

Berth 7 upgrade in direct response to the increasing size and depth of the world’s largest container vessels. 

Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe has further enhanced its deep-water berth capacity following the successful completion of strengthening and dredging works to Berth 7 on Trinity Terminal.

Berth 7 – one of the Port of Felixstowe’s nine container berths – has been dredged from 15.0m to 16.5 metres below Chart Datum and the berth box widened from 55m to 70m.

Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer, Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe, said:
“The Port of Felixstowe is ever progressive and continuously invests in its infrastructure, equipment and people, with the view to enhancing its customer offering. As the number of ultra-large container ships continues to grow, we will continue to improve and upgrade our facilities to meet the needs of our customers.

“Berths 8&9 are designed for a maximum depth of 18 metres and the next phase of development will see further increases to the depths at Berths 6, 8 and 9. The deeper berths are being complemented by dredging planned by Harwich Haven Authority to increase the depth of the approach channel to up to 16 metres, further reinforcing Felixstowe’s position as the country’s No.1 deep-sea container port.”

The berth upgrade, together with a program to extend the outreach of 10 ZPMC quay cranes to 23 boxes wide on Berths 6 & 7, are in direct response to the increasing size and depth of the world’s largest container vessels, keeping Felixstowe at the forefront of the UK logistics and supply chain.

The 19,630 TEU Manila Maersk, operated on the 2M AE6/NEU3 service to Asia, was the first vessel to use the deeper berth. With a departure draft of 15.6 metres, the vessel was the deepest ever to be berthed on Trinity Terminal.

Boskalis Westminster Limited was the appointed dredging contractor for the project and used a combination of backhoe dredger, the ‘Nordic Giant’ with a bucket size of 13 cubic metres, and a trailing suction hopper dredgers to undertake the works.

For further information please visit

No job too big for the Port of Ipswich

No job too big for the Port of Ipswich

7.4.2021 | Ports

No job too big for the port of Ipswich

Smooth sailing for 8,000-tonne rice vessel operation.

The Port of Ipswich, owned and operated by Associated British Ports (ABP), has recently welcomed the large rice-carrying cargo ship MV Ijborg to support the UK food processing and manufacturing sector.

The vessel was carrying over 8,000 tonnes of rice, had been imported into the UK from Waggaman in New Orleans. At nearly 143 metres long, MV Ijborg required the support of three tug boats to berth safely and prepare for discharge and departure.

Andrew Harston, ABP Wales and Short Sea Ports Director, said: “This complex operation is a great example of how our expert marine team in Ipswich, working with Harwich Haven pilots and Svitzer Towage, can accommodate the requirements of larger vessels with flexibility and efficiency.”

As one of the leading grain-handling ports in the UK, the Port of Ipswich handled over 900,000 tonnes of cargo, including agribulks and fertiliser, supporting the UK farming industry in 2020.

Image: MV Ijborg at the Port of Ipswich. Credit Stephen Waller Photography