The Madrid Maersk, the largest container carrier ever to call at the port of Antwerp, moored in the Deurganck dock on 9 June. This record-breaking ship with a capacity of 20,568 TEU unloaded 3,000 containers and loaded another 4,000 in the port of Antwerp in just 48 hours, thus setting a new milestone in the history of the port. Check out the video clip here to experience the atmosphere of the event and how we all welcomed this giant of the seas. Environment-friendly ships

The Madrid Maersk is the first in a series of 11 new ships in the second generation of Triple E vessels being built for the Danish shipping company Maersk Line. Triple E stands for Efficiency, Economy of scale and Environmentally improved, with the second generation scoring even better than the first in all three aspects. Thanks to the advanced design these ships can carry up to 2,000 more containers despite having the same dimensions. This raises the efficiency by 7% and reduces the environmental footprint per container. In addition the ships have an onboard system for recycling of waste water.

“We are very proud to welcome the Madrid Maersk in Antwerp,” says Andreas Coppens, Managing Director of Maersk Line Belgium. “Maersk Line has a long historical background in this port, where its activity has experienced rapid growth in the past few years. The arrival of the Madrid Maersk is also a symbol of the good collaboration with the port of Antwerp, together with the many other players in the port community and not least also our Belgian and international customers.”

Festive activities

Numerous prominent people were on hand to welcome the call by the leviathan carrier. In addition as many interested people as possible were given the chance to admire this magnificent vessel from close up. Antwerp Port Authority organised boat trips to the Deurganck dock during the weekend, and all available places were booked almost immediately.

Thousands involved

In the port alone there are more than 2,300 people directly involved in loading and unloading a ship such as this. These include the nautical specialists who help the ship navigate into the port and to berth there, the 300 dockers who operate the cranes and straddle carriers so that the ship can continue its journey within just 48 hours, the 1,900 other people (truck drivers, train drivers and barge operators) who bring the containers for loading onto the ship and carry the unloaded containers to their final destination, the warehouse and other workers, the forwarders and other specialists who together ensure that a container is carried from point A to point B.

“Containers are much more than simply the metal boxes for carrying the merchandise that we like to find in our supermarkets. The container contents represent an undeniable source of prosperity, not only for Antwerp and the surrounding region but also far beyond the borders of our province. For these and other reasons it is crucial to ensure that our port has the additional capacity for handling containers, since more containers means more jobs for Flanders. Because being able to carry container quickly and easily to Antwerp and far beyond also means more employment for Flanders.”

Port alderman Marc Van Peel