Xiamen continues dredging to take giant container ships

Xiamen Port Credit: Xiamen Port Holding Group Co., Ltd.

Xiamen Port will embark on the fourth phase of the expansion of the Haicang sub-channel, this time to take in ultra-large vessels.

Phase four of the expansion of the Haitang sub-channel forms what Xiamen Port describes as a full-scale “high-speed road” for large container ships, from entry to berthing.

The port official said: “Currently, we can take in ships of up to 13,000 teu, due to the limitations on our waterways. The current phase of expansion will solve the problem of big ships, large wharfs and small waterways.”

The two-year capital dredging programme, which began in April, will involve dredging materials of nearly 6.5 million m3 along an 11.5 km stretch in Haicang to enable 20,000 teu container ships to enter the port.

During the CNY340 million (USD51 million) works, Xiamen port will remain open to traffic.

A port official told DPC: “Our waterway management team will increase coordination, closely track the ships’ entry and exit schedules, strengthen the navigability of the waters, and urge the dredging contractor to go about the project while ensuring the safety of the navigation channel and normal terminal operations.”

Xiamen Port, Hutchison Ports, APM Terminals and COSCO Shipping Ports are among those that operate container terminals in the port.

The deep water Haicang sub-channel and the terminal are described as the twin engines of the port, as these determine its capacity.

Ahead of the current dredging works, checks were carried out on the main channel of Xiamen port in September 2017, resulting in the channel being upgraded to waterway for 200,000 dwt vessels.

Completed in June 2004, the previous rounds of capital dredging involved the main channel and the Haicang sub-channel, totaling 43.6 km in length. At that time, the target was to allow access to ships of around 8,000 teu. In the following decade, container ships have more than doubled in size, obliging ports to undertake capital dredging to keep up with the liner operators.