Sea Breezes Editor, Hamish Ross

Spirits lifted at Greenock

I was delighted to see that Greenock – one of Scotland’s most famous ports – recently welcomed the largest ever container vessel in its history. In late July, the 267m long MSC Pohorje with capacity for 4,045 twenty foot containers (TEUs) docked at the port’s Ocean Terminal.

Greenock occupies a spectacular position at the ‘tail of the bank’, as the River Clyde opens out into the wider estuary of the Firth of Clyde. Like many locations along the Clyde, it is steeped in maritime history but fell on hard times in the 1970s and 1980s as shipbuilding and its supporting industries declined dramatically.

At the start of the 1990s I spent a brief spell as Director of Port Operations for the Clydeport authority whose portfolio included Greenock. This was a fascinating time in the evolution of ports in the UK with privatisation just around the corner. Greenock is now part of the Peel Ports empire and it was interesting to note in the news release announcing the Pohorje’s arrival, that Peel Ports feel that Greenock will benefit from their new Liverpool2 container terminal and its associated feeder services.

Remembering the times not too long ago when ports on the Clyde were struggling, it is exciting to hear that the aim for Greenock is for it to handle 200,000 TEUs by 2021 which would represent a doubling of current levels. The port will also see over 50 cruise ship calls this year, testament to its fantastic location close to Glasgow and the rest of Central Scotland. Further down the west coast of Scotland, Peel Ports is also working to continue to develop the port of Hunterston in Ayrshire as a bulk terminal, energy and logistics hub.

_ These are exciting times for many of the UK ports. Having read about the MSC Pohorje calling at Greenock, it was interesting to read that the Port of Felixstowe in the south east of England (owned by Hutchison Ports) recently had a visit from the OOCL Hong Kong – the world’s largest container vessel. At 400 metres long and with a capacity for 21,000 TEUs, I find it hard to get my head around the scale of such a vessel.

These recent news releases underpin the point I often make in the pages of Sea Breezes about the importance of the maritime sector to the world economy and the phenomenal volumes of cargo carried by sea. Part of the cargo loaded onto the MSC Pohorje at Greenock was, not surprisingly, Scottish spirits with 500 TEUs bound for Le Havre in France! However, despite their criticality to import and export markets, activities at our major ports are rarely “front page news” - so Sea Breezes is delighted to bring more attention to these exciting developments.