After continued efforts to ready the Port of Antwerp-Burges to handle container ships with a 16-meter draft, the doors have finally opened for the port to be the first in Antwerp to call the largest ships. After six meticulous trials, the port under normal admissions policy on Friday, took in its first larger ship with a draft of 16 meters, the MSC Aurora. Previously, the draft was limited to 15.56 meters.
The collaborative efforts of MSC Belgium, Maritime Services and Coast Agency (MDK), Dutch pilots, Joint Nautical Authority (GNA), and Port of Antwerp-Burges made this possible.
The series of tests began on March 1, 2021, with the arrival of MSC Regulus with a draft of 15.7 meters, and MSC Rapallo also had a successful test voyage with a draft of 15.7 meters. This was followed by MSC Diletta on July 9, 2022, with a draft of 15.9 meters and MSC Isabella. On October 2, 2023, MSC Tessa successfully set the depth record of 16 meters upon arrival from Portugal in the Deurganck dock.
On November 10, 2023, MSC Rayas’ successful trial officially brought the 16-meter draft into effect. This increased draft is exclusive to container ships navigating to the Deurganck dock, offering the potential for an approximate gain of 1000 TEU.
“For our global economic position, it is essential that we can continue to receive the largest container ships. A draft of 16m allows us to further profile ourselves in the Far East, where the largest ships sail. This strengthens our position as the first port of call. It gives us a competitive advantage and consolidates our position as a global port. After the first trial run in October, today was the turn of the MSC AURORA to perform the very first official 16m journey,” stated Annick De Ridder, vice-mayor of the City of Antwerp and president of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges.