The biggest ship to ever grace Israel’s shores is now docked at Haifa Port. The Maersk Hamburg, 360 meters long and 54 meters wide, is a cargo ship that can hold up to 15,300 containers, and dips down to 15 meters below sea level.
The Hamburg is the first of several scheduled super-big cargo ships that are set to visit Israel in the coming months. Even bigger than the Hamburg is the Maersk Havana, another ship plying its way to Haifa. That ship is set to dock next Thursday, Israel Independence Day.
There was some doubt as to whether the Hamburg would be able to dock in Haifa. While the port is being upgraded for a new generation of container ships, the port attempted to expand its facilities in existing docks, as well as to dredge up sand from the bottom of the port to make it deep enough to host ships like the Hamburg successfully. The Carmel dock was chosen for the project, and the work was completed in recent months.
Maersk, along with international shipping company MSC, ship on a regular basis from the Far East to Israel. The ships travel from ports in China and Korea, via the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal, and up the coast to Haifa. From there, the ships proceed to the Adriatic Sea, where they make several stops in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Albania, and then return to the Far East via the Suez Canal. The Havana is currently entering the Canal, Haifa Port officials said.
Eshel Armoni, Director-General of the Haifa Port, said that the docking of the Hamburg early Thursday is an “emotional event at a very emotional time. The docking of the ship is symbolic of the faith two of the world’s largest shipping companies have in the ability of Haifa Port to host their biggest ships. This is another step towards ensuring the future of Haifa Port, and an important milestone in our plans for growth and expansion.”