The culmination of a decade of development and £100 million of reinvestment has paid off today when the Port of Tyne welcomes the Jin He, a panamax vessel carrying the largest cargo to have ever entered the river Tyne. She is due to arrive at the port's Riverside Quay at 21.00 this evening.
The Jin He is 225 metres long and is carrying 61,727 tonnes of coal from Murmansk and while it is not the largest vessel by any means to have entered the river Tyne – that claim lies firmly with the Bonga who left the Tyne on 19th October 2003 – it has certainly the deepest draft at 12.17 metres!
Today, longer, wider vessels are the new standard in ocean shipping and the visit of the Jin He is a symbol of the astounding success the Port of Tyne has achieved as the result of its ten-year business plan, started in 1997 and culminating in December 2007 with the delivery of the two Gottwald G HSK 6424B Port Technology Portal Harbour cranes which joined the four new Liebherr LHM320 Harbour Mobile cranes already in place. Port of Tyne Managing Director, Keith Wilson says: ” Our business plan drawn up ten years ago focused on a strategy to diversify the port's operations through the development of its infrastructure to increase capacity and to update its cargo handling berths and equipment. This means we can take advantage of new business opportunities which, a decade ago, were out of our reach. It is with a huge sense of achievement that we are able to accommodate vessels and cargo the size of the Jin He”.
Martin Jordan, Divisional Director, Port Operations, says: “The discharge of the Jin He will be carried out using the combination of Gottwald and Liebherr cranes and this is the first time that Riverside Quay will be used to its full potential.”
The coal will be loaded on to trains at the port's rail terminal. Keith Wilson, explains: “I think that foremost among the many success stories during the past decade has been the development of our Channel Tunnel-approved rail terminal which has established a land bridge between the UK and European hinterland. Coal has been an international success story for us. By the end of December 2007 we had transported over 2 million tonnes of coal. We are already handling 16% more tonnes than in the same period last year and a massive 246% more during the same period in 2006”.
At a time when the media regularly reports that UK ports are struggling with rail and infrastructure capacity, the Port of Tyne presents a model of best practice in the excellent relationships it has built with Network Rail and various rail freight operators such as EWS, Freightliner, STVA and GB Railfreight. In December, a record number of 13 trains left the port within 24 hours delivering to customers in the Aire and Trent Valleys.
Keith Wilson reports that in 2008 it is anticipated that cargo handling tonnages will increase dramatically and says: “We look forward to continuing to expand the port's infrastructure and cargo-handling facilities in line with our current 3, 5 and ten year strategic plans.”
The Port of Tyne is a key player in the Tyne & Wear region; a dynamic trading hub with five business sectors comprising: conventional cargoes; supply chain services (container handling, warehousing, distribution, rail services); car terminals (Nissan and VW Group); International Passenger Terminal (cruise and ferries); and estates (68 commercial and manufacturing tenants, owner of 600 acres on the north and south side of the river Tyne).