The Dijksgracht becomes largest ship ever to call at the Port of Ipswich after just squeezing under Orwell Bridge

The Dijksgracht, the largest vessel ever to call at the Port of Ipswich, passes under the Orwell Bri

The Dijksgracht, the largest vessel ever to call at the Port of Ipswich, passes under the Orwell Bridge. - Credit: Archant

The largest ever ship to call at the Port of Ipswich has passed under the Orwell Bridge – with less than half a metre to spare.

The Dijksgracht, which is 156.93 metres long, arrived at Ipswich with a shipment of 10,500 tonnes of rice from Texas for the Ipswich Grain Terminal.

Precision planning and co-operation was required between the Port of Ipswich, part of Associated British Ports (ABP), the Harwich Haven Authority and river pilots to ensure the arrival of the vessel coincided with exactly the right tidal conditions.

ABP divisional port manager Paul Ager said: “Marine teams who work on the River Orwell came together to ensure the ship sailed in on a spring tide which gave it approximately one-and-a-half hours to complete the transit up the river.

“Furthermore, there was only a 25 minute window to get the ship safely under the Orwell Bridge. The co-operation by all the parties has ensured this operation was executed successfully.”

The Dijksgracht passed under the bridge with a clearance of about 0.37 of a metre (about 14.5 inches) but marine staff were then also kept busy with the berthing of the Amazoneborg, itself 143 metres long, which arrived in Ipswich not long after carrying 11,000 tonnes of bulk fertiliser from Egypt for Nidera.

Mr Ager added: “It is fantastic for the Port of Ipswich to welcome these vessels and reaffirms the continued investment that ABP are putting into infrastructure which allows cargo of this magnitude to discharge and be stored in Ipswich.”

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“The Port of Ipswich has invested £2.2m into constructing a new 40,000 square foot bulk store that will be completed in early 2017.

“We look forward to offering even more state-of-the-art storage facilities on behalf of our customers going forward as we continue to update, improve and expand our storage offering at the UK’s leading agricultural export port.”