A £130 million project to improve access for the world’s largest container ships near Harwich has now been completed.

Work to deepen the main navigation approach channel, managed by the Harwich Haven Authority, and berths eight and nine at Hutchison Ports, at the Port of Felixstowe, has finished.

The work was formally completed on October 4 during the maiden call at the port of its namesake the OOCL Felixstowe.

The depth of the approach channel has been increased from 14.5 metres to 16 metres and berths eight and nine increased from 16 metres to 18 metres below chart datum.

The Harwich Haven Authority appointed Dutch dredging contractors Royal Boskalis Westminster and Van Oord to undertake the project as a joint venture.

Sarah West, chief executive of Harwich Haven Authority, said: “The project to deepen the approach channel has been a significant financial investment by the Authority to ensure this vital UK gateway remains competitive and further safeguards the UK’s position as a major trading nation.

“The increased depth of the navigation channel together with the additional deep-water berths provides a compelling proposition for existing and future customers using the Port of Felixstowe. 

“Extensive environmental studies were undertaken before any work could begin and we are pleased that, working with beneficial partners that include the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, we have been able to deliver – on time and to budget - a project that not only helps future-proof trade coming into the harbour but that also delivers significant environmental benefits.”

The latest project comes after the port’s berths six and seven were upgraded in 2022 to provide four berths capable of handling vessels of more than 20,000 TEU capacity.

Paul Hesk, spokesman for the Royal Boskalis Westminster and Van Oord venture added: “We are proud to have successfully delivered this important project. 

“Over 22 months we have used more than 20 different vessels to remove over 17.1 million cubic metres of material from the channel to improve access for some of the largest ships to be found anywhere in the world.”