Hong Kong Ready for Mega Containerships

Friday, January 03, 2003
The Hong Kong Marine Department announced that the port is ready to handle the next generation of container vessels. Hong Kong port is capable of receiving the next generation of container vessels and Kwai Chung's alongside water depths are currently adequate to meet navigational requirements of large containerships, a spokesman for the Marine Department said. The assessment was reflected in a study, “Yesterday Evening and Tomorrow Morning of Container Fleet” conducted by the Marine Department earlier. The study confirms that Kwai Chung is able to serve not only large containerships currently in service, but also those expected to be in operation within the next few years.

As for future five-digit containerships, given their draft is still uncertain, there is a need to regularly review their development in terms of physical dimensions so that dredging can be planned in good time to meet their operational conditions,” the spokesman said. The proportion of future five-digit containerships is expected to account for a small percentage of the total containerships calling at Hong Kong based on the current distribution of large containerships visiting Hong Kong,” the spokesman added. The study was initiated with a view to finding out exactly whether Hong Kong could handle containerships, which were increasingly becoming larger, the spokesman noted.

Besides, the study also assessed global development of the container trade, current trend of world fleet of container vessels and their implications for Hong Kong up to 2011 as well as the latest distribution in containership sizes visiting Hong Kong. The study also revealed that the trend towards larger containerships to achieve better economies of scale and to lower operating costs would continue, with indications that a sizeable fleet of 10,000 to 12,000 TEU (20-ft equivalent unit) ships would come on stream between 2005 and 2010, but was "uncertain at present" regarding the advent of ships of 15,000 TEUs or more. The study expected that future mega-containerships would continue to visit Hong Kong so long as the territory was able to maintain its high efficiency in container handling operations. It recommended Hong Kong maintain water depth of 15.5 metres in the approach channels and alongside berth to meet future requirements up to 2005, with a need for regular review to keep its objectives in line with future development of five-digit containerships. The study reflected that the arrival or departure drafts of the largest containerships calling in Hong Kong range from 10 to 13 metres and that the draft of five-digit containerships was unlikely to go beyond 15 metres in the next five to six years. Presently, CT9 is being built at Kwai Chung and its quayside draft will be up to 15.5 metres to enable its berths to handle containerships that are even bigger than the 7,500 TEU containerships now being handled in Hong Kong.

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