Berthing and marine trials have started at Liverpool 2, the delayed £300m container terminal in the Mersey which was due to open in December 2015.
The first ship, MV MSC Nederland, visited the Peel Ports facility last week and will be followed by a variety of cargo handling tests throughout July and August. The testing is being done by Mediterranean Shipping Company.
As well as 3,007-container capacity MV MSC Nederland, four other MSC vessels will be used during the trials, MV MSC Santhya, MV MSC Koroni, MV MSC Sandra and MV MSC Alyssa.
The five vessels operate on the two MSC services currently calling at Liverpool carrying containerised cargo between Liverpool and worldwide destinations via Antwerp and Le Havre, and the Montreal Express service linking Liverpool and NWC hub ports with the Canadian port.
David Huck, port director, said: “This is yet another major milestone for the project and we’re delighted to have the involvement of MSC in the initial marine commissioning and berthing trials at Liverpool2. Although the terminal has really been taking shape in recent months, seeing a container vessel alongside for the first time really brings home how much the team at Peel Ports has achieved.”
Kelvin Wilden, operations director of MSC UK, added: “MSC has supported the Port of Liverpool for over 15 years and we’re very pleased to make our vessels available for the final commissioning stages of Liverpool2. The port is integral to us being able to offer our customers the widest port network of any line in the UK. We’re all very excited to be at the heart of the process over the coming months.”
Liverpool2 is to have a phased opening through the summer with the first landside phase expected to be fully operational by autumn.
Construction of the terminal met with weather and engineering related delays over the winter months and is running six months late. Liverpool 2 was built by main contractors Bam Nuttall and, for the dredging, Van Oord. More than 30 acres of land were reclaimed from the river to create the container terminal.