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  February 5th, 2017 | Written by

First Mega Ship Calls at Israeli Port

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  • The largest ship ever to dock in an Israeli port arrived at the port of Haifa on Thursday.
  • Further development required before Israel can handle next generation 18,000-TEU ships.
  • Massive ships being serviced at a dock originally built to accommodate ships of 6,000 TEU.

The largest ship ever to dock in an Israeli port arrived at the port of Haifa on Thursday.

The 13,092-TEU Maersk Elba container ship arrived at the Carmel Terminal the morning of February 2. It was operated on by four STS cranes with an average productivity of 136 containers per ship hour.

The Haifa Port, dubbed the vessel “Isra-max,” a takeoff on panamax, suezmax, and aframax, terms use to denote the largest vessels able to transit certain waterways or be handled at certain ports.

The arrival of the Maersk Elba inducted Haifa into the exclusive club of ports capable of handling high-capacity 14,000-TEU ships. But the next generation of ships of 18,000 TEU and above will not be able to call in Israel until further development takes place.

Five new cranes were built at the Carmel Terminal in recent weeks in preparation for the facility’s handling of vessels like the Maersk Elba. These were constructed on the dock and are join six other STS cranes.

Israeli Transport Minister Israel Katz officially unveiled the new cranes a few weeks ago in time for wide beam ships to begin calling at the port. Last month, the Israel Ports Company deepened the water by the Carmel Terminal.

In the last two years, Haifa Port has also acquired two new tugs, the second of which, the Elad, arrived a few months ago. The port also adopted the advanced Navis TOS system to completed the port’s preparations to handle to big ships.

The Maersk Elba is part of the weekly service operated by the 2M Alliance of Maersk and MSC. It links the ports of South Korea, China, and Singapore to Haifa and continues on to Adriatic ports.

Haifa is the only Israeli port that has the necessary cranes, water depth, and tugs to handle mega ships of 14,000 TEU. The other major ports in Israel are Ashdod, like Haifa, also on the Mediterranean, and Eilat, on the Gulf of Aqaba leading to the Red Sea.

“We are entering a new era, as Haifa Port is promoted to the premier league of terminals worldwide,” said Mendi Zaltzman, the Haifa Port CEO. “It is important to remember that these massive ships are being serviced at a dock that was originally built to accommodate ships of up to only 6,000 TEU, yet now we are fully prepared to receive ships of 14,000 TEU. The ships in question, such as the Maersk Elba and those that will follow, are very selective about the few ports they call at, and they will not settle for anything less than excellent, rapid service.”