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Poland’s major deepwater port of DCT Gdansk will have seen container throughput decline by around 10% this year on the 1.2m teu handled in 2014, despite the hub winning weekly calls from the 2M and G6 alliances.

Chief executive Maciek Kwiatkowski told The Loadstar that a decline in transhipment cargo to Russia had been “dramatic” – a consequence of the demise of the Russian economy. They were down by more than 30% on a year ago, he said.

But he added that new cargo from MSC, via its partnership with Maersk in the 2M, and the G6 carriers, which began deploying their Loop 7 Asia-North Europe service in August, had mitigated much of the impact of the drop.

“For the first time in the history of DCT there will be a drop in volume, year-on-year,” said Capt Kwiatkowski, “not by much, but entirely due to the problems in Russia.”

Poland is one of the European Union’s brightest success stories and now has the second-largest economy in central Europe. It defied the recession, recording positive growth when most other nations slipped into negative GDP, and it still continues to outperform most of the EU.

It is attracting manufacturing and technology companies that want to be a part of the new “entrepreneurial Poland”, encouraged by a raft of cash incentives and tax breaks in its special economic zones, offered by regional and national government.

One such facility is a logistics park behind DCT, which has already sold out its Phase 1 development and is generating more imports and exports for ocean carriers using the port.

“The interest from lines that are still not our customers is pretty high,” Capt Kwiatkowski told The Loadstar, and he said DCT was talking to CMA CGM, whose O3 partner UASC and its slot-charterer Hamburg Sud are also customers, via Seago’s feeder services.

Maersk Line was DCT’s only deepsea carrier customer until the 2M schedules commenced at the beginning of the year.

Now, the G6’s APL, Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, MOL, NYK and OOCL vessels are scheduled to call at DCT on a Monday, for departure on a Wednesday, whereas the window for the AE10/Silk service call of the 2M is from Thursday until Monday, owing to the much larger exchange of around 8,000 boxes per call.

So far there has been no clash of mega-ship arrivals, thanks to pre-planning, although the T1 terminal would be unable to berth both vessels at once. But construction of the adjacent T2 terminal is well underway and completion is expected in the final quarter of next year.

The new terminal will have 650 metres of quay and five ship-to-shore gantry cranes capable of working 25 rows across the weather decks of future 22-24,000 teu ships on naval architects’ drawing boards.

DCT’s strategy in ordering the five cranes from Liebherr, which are in excess of current needs, said Captain Kwiatkowski, “is forward thinking”, given the history of the industry in the past 10 years that has seen containership capacity double.

Indeed, cranes servicing the 18,000 Triple-E Maersk and other ULCVs at DCT can only extend 19 rows across, against the ships’ 22. This has resulted in some of the first calls of the Maersk ULCVs having to be turned around in the basin, which is obviously far from ideal.

Asked about possible changes in the makeup of the alliances, following the merger of Cosco and CSCL and the acquisition of APL by CMA CGM, Capt Kwiatkowski was bullish. “There is always a risk,” he said, “but we look at the changes as opportunities rather than threats.”

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