The UK’s logistics industry has welcomed the opening of a new deepwater terminal at the country’s busiest container terminal, which is capable of handling the latest generation of container vessels.
The Felixstowe South Terminal will comprise two berths – 8 & 9 – and its owner, Hutchison Ports UK, claims it is currently the only facility in the country capable of handling the latest generation of containerships, which have capacities of up to 18,000teu.
Graham Riches, Managing Director, DSV Air & Sea, said: "The opening of this new terminal is great news for the whole of the UK.
"Had the port not built the new berths, which are capable of handling the latest large vessels, the UK could have eventually become reliant on European transhipment which would have extended supply chains and added extra costs to UK exporters and importers and increased emissions for everybody.
"Our customers need a reliable and regular supply chain and it is essential that the freight industry is able to provide business with the option of direct ports of call.
"Offloading cargo on the continent increases the risk of delays to cargo caused during the transfer of cargo onto vessels heading to this country."
Steve Walker, Chairman of supply chain solutions provider SBS Worldwide, adds: "This development is of national importance. Losing deepsea calls would mean transferring cargo at other ports – this extra handling not only increases prices and extends transit times but also adds risk into the supply chain.
"The extra cost would eventually be paid for by the consumer which is unacceptable in these times of economic uncertainty.
"Customers would build in excessive inventory into their supply chains to compensate for the extended transit times and potential for continental rollovers and it would also drive up the cost of exports, which would make British businesses less competitive abroad.
"It is essential that the country as a whole manages to maintain deepsea calls, and with containerships getting bigger, any country that doesn’t keep pace with vessel developments risks becoming a feeder only destination."
Currently, Felixstowe handles more than 40% of the UK’s container cargo, with around £60 billion of imports and exports passing through the port each year. The expansion could add a further £20bn to this figure.