Focus on terminal railway, quay at Kaiserhafen, flood protection and eco-friendly port operations
“2016 was a busy and successful year for bremenports,” sums up Robert Howe, Managing Director of the port management company. “Together, our staff of roughly 370 employees ensured that the infrastructure at the world port of Bremen/Bremerhaven was available for our customers without restrictions round the clock, 365 days a year,” stated Howe in Bremen on Wednesday (21 December 2016).
Howe outlined the key items of the day-to-day work at bremenports and explained that the tasks were clearly defined:
Major construction projects
The most important project right now is the expansion of the Imsumer Deich storage track complex at Bremerhaven’s Überseehafen. “The construction work is making good progress and is on schedule,” said Howe. The number of parallel tracks at this facility, each the length of a full train, will be doubled to a total of 16 in future (inclusive of electrification).
In 2015, bremenports had already provided additional tracks and technology for the users of the terminal railway facilities around Kaiserhafen. This area is used primarily by car-carrying trains. The expanded storage track facilities at Imsumer Deich, on the other hand, will be used primarily for the transport of containers. If the weather remains mild this winter, the new tracks could go into operation at the end of 2017. The construction costs amount to approx. EUR 30 million.
While work has been going ahead at full speed for months at Imsumer Deich, the enormous construction site for refurbishment of the derelict western quay at Kaiserhafen III still has to be set up. “It is no longer possible to calculate on paper whether or not the quay – which dates back to the days of Kaiser Wilhelm – is still sufficiently stable,” says Howe. “We can start work next year. The consortium of construction companies has ordered the steel and is waiting until the pile-driving work can begin for the roughly 500-metre long quay. However, notification of the project by the EU Commission first has to be completed.
Construction of the quay will involve investments of around EUR 30 million and will take roughly one and a half years to complete. In the course of the project, around 4000 tons of steel sheet piling and approx. 3500 cubic metres of concrete will be installed and around 50,000 cubic metres of soil excavated.
Dyke construction in front of Fischereihafen
One of the main tasks of the port management company is to ensure flood protection in Bremerhaven. As global warming will lead to a significant rise in the sea level over the next few decades, large sections of the dykes along the Bremerhaven coastline have been raised and fortified in recent years. The project has now reached the sea dyke in front of Fischereihafen. Howe explains, “Work began on this 500-metre long section in summer 2016. The dyke will not only be raised, but also substantially fortified. It will be widened by 8 metres between the crest and the foot to a total of 42 metres. Work is suspended right now, during the storm tide season.”
The total costs of EUR 3.7 million will be split between the federal government (70 per cent) and the Federal Land of Bremen (30 per cent). The project is scheduled for completion in the third quarter of 2017.
Eco-friendly port operations
One of the core tasks of bremenports is to identify solutions which lead to sustainable port operations. “The work of our environmental and landscape planning engineers enjoys an excellent international reputation,” says Howe. Last autumn, the European Seaports Organisation ESPO presented bremenports with the “ESPO Award 2016” in recognition of its overall concept for Luneplate. Luneplate is the central substitute site for the ecological compensation for port construction projects and is meanwhile the largest nature reserve in the Federal Land of Bremen.
bremenports also pursues ecological objectives when modernising its own fleet of around 20 vessels. In summer, the new sounding and surveying vessel “Seeadler” was commissioned and the modern diesel engine has significantly reduced fuel consumption. The batteries store surplus energy, which means that the “Seeadler” can cover short distances at the port without generating any emissions.
In 2017, the LNG hopper barge “greenports 1” will join the bremenports fleet. This is the first working vessel at a European port to be powered with liquefied natural gas and it is currently being prepared for operation at a shipyard in the Netherlands.
Howe regretted that it was still proving difficult to establish LNG infrastructure at the ports of Bremen. “There are simply not enough LNG-powered vessels yet. Nevertheless, Bremen and Bremerhaven are LNG-ready and if necessary, vessels can refuel from a truck at both ports without any problem.”
Howe pointed out that the ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven were explicitly encouraging the maritime shipping business to operate environmentally friendly ships and this was reflected in the “greenports Award” that was presented to the most eco-friendly ship to call at Bremen and Bremerhaven every year. In 2016 bremenports presented the award for the third time. The winner (2015) was MS “Morning Lisa”, a car-carrier operated by the EUKOR shipping company.
“A vessel’s emissions are assessed in accordance with the international Environmental Ship Index ESI,” said Howe. The index indicates the extent to which a vessel’s emissions fall below the internationally prescribed limits. “Last year, 45 particularly eco-friendly ships called at Bremen and Bremerhaven a total of 76 times and were granted an appropriate discount on the port charges.”
Challenge of the demographic trend
MD Howe believes that the greatest challenge facing bremenports GmbH & Co. KG is the demographic trend. “We have to replace a total of 112 colleagues who will be retiring between now and 2025. That is by no means an easy task. We are planning to redouble our efforts as a training company in order to find replacements for those qualified employees who will be leaving the company. We are also banking on cooperative education programmes so that the trainees will remain loyal to the company after graduating from university.”
In future, said Howe, the company would have to make even more effort to attract new employees, for instance at job and vocational training fairs. bremenports meanwhile offers its employees around 50 different working hours models to allow them to combine their career and family interests flexibly. The choice even includes home office models, provided that working from home can be reconciled with workflows at the company.