The Port of Felixstowe is the largest in the UK, and in September 2011 the port revealed the opening of two new container deep water berths. Felixstowe handles 40% of the UK’s container traffic, and the recently opened facility is equipped with seven of the largest cranes in the world to load and unload this volume of traffic.
These new berths were designed with the future in mind, and were built to facilitate the new breed of container ships. This new generation of container ship are the biggest that the world of container shipping has ever seen, measuring 400 metres in length. That is the equivalent of thirty five train carriages, and shipping containers can be stacked 24 deep across the deck. The cranes to handle these huge ships, and the volume of containers, are only 10 metres shorter than Big Ben.
The port currently has capacity to handle 3 million 20ft containers, and when the development is complete this capacity will rise to 5 million shipping containers per year.
With the facilities that Felixstowe has to offer, the economic and environmental benefits are the greatest in the UK. With Felixstowe being capable of accepting the new larger, more efficient ships, the country benefits economically. If these ships had nowhere to dock in the UK, the cost of imports would rise, and exports would be less cost effective. These new generation container ships also will produce 50& less CO2 per container moved compared with the industry average.
The loading and unloading of shipping containers is a time consuming job, but Felixstowe is capable of completely unloading and reloading 85 ships per week. This is made all the more difficult by the complexities of unloading and loading. Shipping containers cannot just be lifted off from a ship in any order, due to the stability of the ship itself, and when loading, many considerations need to be thought out first. The heaviest containers need to be loaded first, so that they sit below deck level, but at the same time, those that will be unloaded first needs to be taken into account. Then there are the refrigerated containers and the heated containers. These need to be located near to power points on the ship when loaded. Many shipping containers also carry hazardous cargo, such as explosives or chemicals. These cannot be loaded with the refrigerated containers, due to risk of explosion.
The port also has vast container storage facilities. It has 70,000 square metres of container warehousing available onsite.