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Klaipėda’s port depth has been increased

26 Apr 2023

The port waters and entrance channel dredging project that began at the Port of Klaipėda in 2020 has been completed. 15.5 metres – this is now the depth of the Port of Klaipėda ship channel, and the harbour master will be issuing an order to increase the maximum permissible draught to 14.3 metres in the near future. This, one of the most important projects of recent years, opens up new opportunities for the port, the city, and the Klaipėda FEZ business community.

“Increasing the depth of the port channel is akin to widening a street. The throughput of the port to the city and the efficiency of the use of this infrastructure increase, and because larger vessels can be accommodated and loaded more, freight transit times as well as transportation costs decrease. This project will undoubtedly contribute to making the Port of Klaipėda more competitive. On the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, ports compete with maximum parameters in order to accommodate the largest vessels that come into the Baltic Sea. The depth is one of the most important factors for the competitiveness of ports,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis.

Target investments are one of the main factors enabling the port to grow cargo throughput and generate benefits and returns for the state. A depth of 15.5 metres was reached in an almost 9-kilometre stretch of the Port of Klaipėda ship channel, and a depth of 16 metres was achieved in an outer 1.7 km stretch of the ship channel in a new direction outside the port gate.

“Every centimetre of depth at the Port of Klaipėda is worth its weight in gold. It’s estimated that one centimetre of depth allows an additional 100 tonnes of cargo to be loaded on a Panamax-type ship, which means direct benefits for the state and each and every one of us. Previous investments in the dredging of Malkų Bay are generating significant changes in loading. From 2017 to 2023, the handling volumes at the terminals in Malkų Bay increased from 6.3 to 9.2 million tonnes. We expect this dredging project to enable us to record cargo growth rates in the near future as well,” says Klaipėda State Seaport Authority Director General Algis Latakas of the benefits of dredging for the port.

Charts are also currently being changed to help seafarers navigate safely in ports, seas and other bodies of water. When the Lithuanian Transport Safety Administration updates the publications in the beginning of May, the harbour master will issue an order to increase the maximum permissible draught in the Port of Klaipėda channel to 14.3 metres. It is currently 13.8 metres.

“This dredging project is also a historical event. The Port of Klaipėda never had a draught of 14.3 metres before. Increasing the maximum permissible draught by half a metre will make it possible to load ships more fully in the port and thereby simultaneously increase the efficiency of the transport chain. During the dredging, the entrance bend was reduced in the outer part of the port’s ship channel, and the underwater part of the inner channel was widened by 50 metres – from 150 to 200. All this for the safety of large vessels sailing and maneuvering in the port,” says Port of Klaipėda harbour master Vladas Motiejūnas.

Dredging of the outer and part of the inner ship channel of the Port of Klaipėda was also connected with the formation of an underwater embankment at the Melnragė I beach. Approximately 180,000 cubic metres of sandy soil were used for the formation of an underwater embankment at Melnragė I. This shoreline management measure was meant to replenish the beach with sand, which also creates favourable conditions for dune ridge regeneration. The sand poured under the water near the shore is gradually washed ashore and carried by the wind to the dune ridge. In the coastal area at Melnragė, the Seaport Authority filled the beach with sand for the first time during the dredging of the ship channel.

According to the Klaipėda State Seaport Authority strategic plan, further dredging of the port waters to a depth of 17 metres is planned for 2026.

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