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Port pioneers new container system

The London Gateway port Credit: ITV Anglia

The new London Gateway port at Stanford Le Hope in Essex has pioneered a new way of speeding up the unloading of container ships.

Special cranes are being used to lift four containers at once which reduces the amount of time it takes to turn ships around.

The cranes are capable of unloading some of the largest container vessels in the world.

New container port opens for business

The giant cranes have been built on land reclaimed from the Thames Credit: ITV

A new deep water container port on the banks of the River Thames in Essex will officially open today.

The London Gateway at Thurrock will be able to handle some of the largest ships in the world.

Containers will be transported to and from the port by road and rail Credit: ITV

It will also have the biggest logistics park in Europe where containers will be stored and loaded.

The new port will be in direct competition with Felixstowe in Suffolk which is the UK's largest container port.


Giant cranes to arrive in Essex

The first cranes arrived at the London Gateway earlier this year

A number of giant cranes are due to arrive at a new deep-sea container port in Essex. It is the second delivery of cranes to the London Gateway in Thurrock. The first cranes arrived earlier this year and were transported upright on a ship.

They are the biggest ever cranes to be delivered to the UK. They weigh 2,000 tonnes and stand at 138 metres tall - that is two and a half times the height of Nelson's column. In fact, they are so tall it would be possible to roll the London Eye under the lifting arm.

Once the port is fully operational, London Gateway will have 24 cranes on the quayside.

  1. Derek Johnson

Giant cranes destined for new Essex super port

A boat loaded with giant cranes made its way around the region's coast today destined for a big new port on the Thames Estuary near the Dartford Crossing in Essex.

London Gateway will be the biggest port in Britain when it opens later this year. It will handle millions of containers each year and create 12,000 news jobs directly as well as thousands more in the local economy.

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Meridian's Derek Johnson:

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First sight of cranes

A traditional welcome for the quayside container cranes Credit: Port of London Authority

Manufactured in Shanghai by ZPMC, the cranes are semi-automated for quick and efficient handling. They will be connected directly to the Terminal Operating System, which tracks the containers and sends work orders to the crane operator.

Ship "Zhen Hua 26" coming alongside The London Gateway Credit: Port of London Authority

The cranes have also already been put through their paces – they were fully pre-commissioned and moving boxes in Shanghai. “All the testing was done, and then they were disconnected ready for shipping,” says London Gateway engineering director Andrew Bowen.

"Meanwhile, we are already training our crane operators on our unique simulator, so they will be more than ready to step up to the job.”

Two more cranes are on their way.


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First 3 of 20 cranes heading to London Gateway

The three 138 metre tall cranes set sail Credit: DP World

How large?

The cranes are taller than the London Eye, weigh 1,848 tons each, will reach across 25 rows of containers on a vessel and can lift up to 80 tons at a time.

Why so large?

London Gateway will be handling the world’s largest container ships, operated by shipping lines to provide economies of scale and reduce environmental impact on the main shipping trade lanes. That means lower cost and lower carbon supply chains for retailers and other cargo owners.

And the future?

The 25-box outreach takes the cranes beyond the width of the world’s largest container ship. “The size of the cranes future-proofs the port, allowing London Gateway to handle the next generation of ultra large container ships,” says London Gateway operations director Tim Halhead.

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Cranes are 138 metres tall

CGI of the Gateway

The massive cranes are 138 metres tall - two and a half times the height of Nelson's Column - and have been upright on the ship for the whole trip. Weighing 2,000 tonnes, it would be possible to roll the London Eye under the lifting arm.

These will be just the first quay cranes destined for London Gateway. A further twenty one will be delivered once construction on the six main berths is completed. The quay itself - where the cranes will sit - will be over 2.5 km in length once the port is fully operational.

The site in 2011

London Gateway is set to create around 12,000 jobs once its fully complete, and the developers claim it will help to save around 65 million road miles each year as businesses in the south east can save on transporting goods.