Fairway adjustment on the Lower and Outer Elbe – start of two-stage release of increased drafts


After the on-schedule completion of dredging works for the fairway adjustment on the Elbe, the first release for increased drafts was implemented. ULCCs can exploit the new navigation channel depth with a draft increased by up to 90 centimetres from now on.

On Monday, 5 May, the ‘CMA CGM Jacques Saadé’ was the first containership of the Megamax class to utilize the Elbe’s improved draft en route to the Port of Hamburg. With a length of 400 metres and a breadth of 61 metres, this LNG-powered containership is one of the vessels immediately utilising an extra 90 centimetres of draft. This means that the ship can bring around 1,000 more containers to Hamburg.

At Teufelsbrücke, the ‘Jacques Saadé’ was welcomed on arrival by Michael Westhagemann, Senator of Economics for the Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Prof Dr. Ing Hans-Heinrich Witte, President of the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration – WSV, Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority – HPA, and Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port Hamburg Marketing – HHM.

Senator Michael Westhagemann: “A great day for the Port of Hamburg, finally able to fully exploit its market potential again. And a good day for the German economy, now assured of sustained high-performance access to world markets. Last but not least, a fine day for the environment, since the fairway adjustment gives a significant boost to the seagoing vessel as an environmentally compatible and climate-friendly means of transport.”

The release of the new drafts by Hamburg and federal nautical agencies is being implemented in two stages. With today’s go-ahead for the first, containerships may utilize up to 50 percent of the draft improvements gained by fairway adjustment. Thus, depending on ship size, drafts rise by between 30 and 90 centimetres. The final release is anticipated during the second half of the year.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans-Heinrich Witte, President of the WSV: “Today’s release of draft results from extremely constructive cooperation between the federal government and Hamburg. The immense competence of all those involved provided the conditions for completion to plan dredging works and the achievement of the new drafts. Along with the economic and ecological benefits, this also reflects highly competent, professional work by HPA, WSV and the contractors involved.”

Existing draft restrictions on the Lower and Outer Elbe that led to significant competitive disadvantages for the Port of Hamburg now, therefore, belong in the past.

Jens Meier, CEO of HPA: “Along with shipping & logistics group CMA CGM, today the Port of Hamburg has made history. We now have optimal conditions for receiving the world’s largest containerships. I especially wish to thank the WSV for its close cooperation. This made a decisive contribution to a fairway adjustment reconciling economic necessities and ecological concerns.”

Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of HHM: Completing the fairway adjustment on the Lower and Outer Elbe now allows passing by larger ships in the section before Hamburg and higher draft. That is an excellent signal for our port customers. Shipping is now able to utilize the Elbe’s new depth and breadth completely. In addition, the fairway adjustment opens up new areas of business for the port, which will now be able to handle considerably weightier export cargo.

The navigation channel of the Lower and Outer Elbe has been deepened and in places also widened. In that context, a ‘passing box’ has been created between Wedel and Blankenese, enabling extensive seagoing vessels to meet and pass. In other words, on departure, the ‘CMA CGM Jacques Saadé’ will be enabled to accept more cargo in the Port of Hamburg thanks to the new draft of 13.10 metres.

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Ryan is the Digital Marketing and Content Creation Manager for Trade and Logistics Siam Ltd. He provides a creative flair to the team and his resourcefulness helps to bring an imaginative improvement to both literary archetypes and online content production. A writer by day and a rider by night, when he's not composing the latest logistics news update or creating compelling copy for our clients, Ryan spends his free time travelling Thailand by motorbike.