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09.03.2016

Bigger ships than ever call at the Port of London as trade increases

The Port of London saw larger ships than ever calling last year as the tonnage of cargo handled at Thames terminals climbed to 45.4 million tonnes (up 2% on 2014).

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer said:

“Last year a number of operators introduced new, bigger ships and records were broken. The record breakers included container ship, UASC Barzan and cruise ship Viking Star. The 400 metre long Barzan set a new benchmark as the biggest-ever ship on the Thames when she called at London Gateway Port in September. Viking Star became the largest-ever cruise ship in central London when she called at our Greenwich cruise ship moorings on her inaugural trip in May.

“Since August, the Port of Tilbury has welcomed over 20 calls from Grimaldi’s new-generation, larger capacity con-ro ships, operating on routes between Europe and West Africa. Longer and wider than their predecessors, they are handled at Tilbury’s new landing stage berth, rather than in the docks. And the Thames’ busiest service operator, CLdN has much larger, “game changer”, ships being built as well.

“It’s developments like these, combined with the planned £1 billion of investment by Thames terminals and operators over the next five years, that give us confidence in the future. The Thames Vision project, looking at how the Thames will develop over the next two decades has set a goal of port trade growing to over 60 million tonnes.”


The tonnage of cargo handled at terminals on the Thames last year was 45.4 million tonnes, 0.9 million tonnes (or 2%) up on 2014. Growth was principally in containers and trailers (unitised traffic) up 4% to 16.9 million tonnes; aggregates and cement increased again as construction continued to recover from 9.7 million tonnes to 10.7 million tonnes (up 11%). Oil trades fell by 8% to 10.9 million tonnes, with volumes particularly low at the beginning of year.

At the Port of Tilbury, P&O Ferries passed a milestone, handling its one millionth freight unit at the port and the port handled over 40 million bricks. Not only that, a record 100,000 passengers passed through the London International Cruise Terminal. At London Gateway Port, development of the third berth continued as increasing numbers of ultra large container ships called, benefitting from the port’s ability to continue operating even in high winds.

– ends –

Contact: Martin Garside, Port of London Authority, Tel: 01474 562366. Email: martin.garside@pla.co.uk

Notes to editors:

  • the Port of London comprises over 70 independently owned and operated terminals and port facilities at different locations on the Thames. These handle a wide range of cargoes.
  • the Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for navigational, safety and related matters on 95 miles of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington in west London. The PLA provides navigational, port control / Vessel Traffic Services, safety, pilot, diving and other services for users of the Thames.