DP World told Port Finance International today that SAECS (Southern Africa Europe Container Service) will be calling at London Gateway from November 2013.
SAECS is a consortium whose member lines are: Safmarine, Maersk Line, Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL) and MOL. Until now, SAECS was calling at Tilbury (Essex). The facility, on the northern bank of the river Thames, is part of Forth Ports.
Dubai-based DP World is developing its deep-sea container port London Gateway further down the river, in Stanford-le-Hope (Essex), 25 miles east of London and closer to the sea.
Maersk Line confirmed that the SAECS member lines have decided to move their UK call from the London Container Terminal Tilbury to the new London Gateway Terminal. The first vessel is planned to call at London Gateway on Thursday November 7th.
"With this change of terminal the lines aim to secure not only benefits for the clients through the improved infrastructure, but also operational advantages such as enhanced schedule integrity and reliability, while enabling the clients to further streamline their supply chains," Maersk Line told PFI in an e-mail.
Worth £1.5 billion of foreign direct investment, London Gateway is due to open in the fourth quarter of this year. Until now, DP World hadn’t announced any anchor customer for its port, but only for its logistics park.
In June, Marks & Spencer said that it was going to invest £200 million to set up a distribution centre in the logistics park. Subject to planning, the retailer plans on starting to build a 900,000 square feet facility in 2014 to store clothing, home and gift products before they are transported to British and foreign M&S stores.
London Gateway is designed to accommodate Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS). For the moment, those giant ships can only call at Felixstowe (Suffolk), a little bit further north on the eastern coast, and at Southampton (Hampshire), on the southern coast.
DP World plans to open London Gateway’s first berth in the fourth quarter of this year, its second berth in the second quarter of next year, and its third berth six months after that. After that first phase, it will assess market demand before opening berths 4, 5 and 6.
On completion, London Gateway will be equipped with 24 quay cranes and its yard will have about 120 Automated Stacking Cranes (ASCs). The port will have an annual capacity of 3.5 million TEUs.