Large ships need help
Even large ports are struggling to handle the new container giants with capacities of up to 23,000 teu. One of the reasons is a lack of fairways, as is the fact that they are sometimes too shallow or too narrow.
The port of Antwerp is severely hampered when it comes to handling large container freighters, as access to the gateway is via the river Scheldt. A vessel’s draught is the main obstacle when it calls there for unloading, or after it departs with its full load on board.
The same applies in the German port of Hamburg. The managers there have been waiting for decades for a project for the deepening of the river Elbe to start. But even if this is finally completed, the question remains whether this depth will then be sufficient for container shipping’s giants to be able to use the fairway when fully loaded.
The problems facing these two ports are the same for numerous other hubs in Europe as well as in many other countries throughout the world. They all have similar problems with the giant freighters. Some of them can handle some of the cargo, but need support for the on-forwarding of goods to final destination.
This is where shipping lines operating smaller ships come into play, as they can provide connections between the major ports and the final destinations. The precondition for this is that these lines at least keep pace with the latest developments, especially in the field of digitalisation.
Fast links between Sweden and the rest of Europe
The feeder line Unifeeder is a good example thereof. It already offers numerous services between Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Sweden, and is further strengthening them this month. A new direct service will be offered from 10 October.
The line’s new service starts in the port of Antwerp every Friday afternoon and is ready to unload its goods for delivery to recipients in the Gothenburg region every Monday. In addition to strengthening existing services between Rotterdam and Gothenburg, the option also shortens the route for shipments trucked from Belgium and France. The shipping line additionally pointed out that by providing this option, with more frequent domestic links carried out by road as well as by inland waterway and the railways, it goes easier on the environment, on account of the reduced emissions.
Thus Unifeeder now offers its clients nine weekly departures from Sweden to major hubs in Poland, Germany, Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the UK. This will also benefit the major ports that receive regular calls from today’s giant ships. The latter may circumnavigate the world, but many of the final destinations nevertheless remain out of their reach without support from feeder shipping lines.