Estuary car terminal expansion will make Grimsby the UK's premier handling port

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 12 Apr 2019

A multi-million pound project to make Grimsby the premier car handling port in the UK will allow the town to welcome the largest vessels carrying thousands of precious cargoes.

Port manager Ashley Curnow has told how the docks will evolve again as the car-carriers it relies on do, six years on from the opening of the £26 million out of harbour jetty.

Grimsby River Terminal moved the port up a gear by taking away the lock gate limitations, allowing the 800-capacity vessels to be joined by boats carrying upwards of 3,000 vehicles.

Now, as reported on Humber Business earlier this week, an application has been submitted for the enabling works required to bring in three times that number in a single sailing, modelling facilities on the needs of the largest of the world's specialist fleet.

The terminal as it currently looks from the air, and on the huge floating pontoon looking along the finger jetty. 

“This could make Grimsby THE car handling port,” Mr Curnow said. “We are looking at vessels with a capacity of 9,000 vehicles. The project is modelled on having the largest ship in the world on the terminal. It will open up Grimsby to new markets. Currently we serve short sea, this is changing the dynamic of the port.”

Vessels are getting wider rather than longer, and the first port on the Humber enjoys no limitations on that front. It would mean one single sailing could be carrying a staggering £160 million of car.

MORE: Merchant Navy cadetship to be taught in the town after 30 year break in nautical training

Norwegian shipping giant Höegh has been tapped into for knowledge by Associated British Ports, as it breaks records the world over. The 228m long, 32m wide Höegh St Petersburg is one leading vessel, with 13 decks.

While European built Volkswagens form the baseload on which the terminal was built back in 2013, the likes of Kia and Hyundai are also marques making their mark in the UK market, with the former investing again in Stallingborough as it increases pre-delivery import handling by 50 per cent. Further expansion of roll-on roll-off facilities was something hinted it by Paragon's business development director Mark Hindley when the initial Kiln Lane site was created in early 2016.

A current record-breaker, the Hoegh St Petersburg, and below, a video tour of what could soon be mooring beneath the Dock Tower.

This could open the door for regular Far East sailings calling as part of multiple drop-offs in the West, and also places the town in pole position when the short sea fleet expands to take advantage of economies of scale.

“We are moving with the market,” Mr Curnow said. “Short sea vessels are getting larger, so it doesn’t necessarily mean deep sea markets, but it will handle deep sea vessels, which may come from Germany. It is securing the port’s future and expanding at the same time.”

MORE: Energy giant Innogy brings Triton Knoll offshore wind farm base to Grimsby creating 70 jobs

The physical infrastructure required isn’t much, but the dredging of the terminal and the channels leading up to it would be extensive. It already benefits from a 70m linkspan bridge, allowing vehicles to be driven on and off the huge roll-on roll-off vessels regardless of the height of the tide in the river. It forms the connection between the fixed 195m finger pier jetty, stretching out from beneath the Dock Tower, and the huge floating pontoon, onto which the vessels discharge. That measures 80m by 30m – an area capable of accommodating seven tennis courts, with the ability already to handle two vessels simultaneously.

Land side a ‘first point of rest’ area, a short stay car park in essence, would be created immediately by the Dock Tower and secondary pump house, to enable the vessel to be turned round as quick as possible, while the recently opened Grimsby Automotive Terminal - the long stay car park - will handle the deliveries ahead of inspection and showroom delivery.

A pre-dawn vessel unloading, moored at the current terminal, with Mr Curnow there below. 

“The recently purchased Tioxide site will come in to play and we need more space close to the terminal,” Mr Curnow said.

GAT will have an initial 20 acres developed by the end of the month, with a further 40 still to go.

“We will have plenty of capacity when it comes to berths an storage,” he added.

Now with the Marine Management Organisation, a 12-month consenting period is envisaged, with delivery over the next two to four years. 

It comes as Merchant Navy training also returns to the town after a 30 year hiatus, with the port also seeing further expansion in offshore wind, as Innogy brings its Triton Knoll project to Royal Dock, signing a long-term lease with ABP. 

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