Friday, January 21, 2011
Biggest construction project in Israeli history
The Port of Ashdod is currently undergoing the largest construction project ever undertaken in the history of Israel. In 1999, Israel news media reported that the government wanted to double the cargo capacity of Ashdod, an ambitious construction project was therefore envisioned, involving the building of new piers, new docks, warehouses and cargo handling equipment. It was to take place in two stages, with the total project costing around $500 million.
“We have a lot of vessels waiting outside the port every day, and we are very congested,” Yosef Bassani, deputy port manager told Isreal news media at the time the first stage of expansion was being considered and designed. Both stages of the expansion will amount to the creation of a second port, Hayovel which will be directly adjacent to Ashdod, but on the northern side, functionally rendering the two ports as one entity.
Ashdod was opened as a port in the 1960’s and since then has not had any significant expansion, while the number of ships using the port, and the amount of cargo being handled, has increased significantly. Between 1993 and 1994, for example, the port registered a 6% increase in cargo handling with 14.2 million tons of cargo entering Israel through Ashdod in 1994. By 1999, that figure has increased to 16.2 million tons.
Stage one of the expansions has therefore provided much-needed additional capacity. The main breakwater that protects the harbor was extended by 1150 meters and an entire new construction terminal was built, capable of handling Super Post-Panamax vessels, these are massive leviathans that are not capable of transiting the Panama Canal due to their size.
In addition, a general cargo terminal and dry bulk terminal were built as well. Five new quays were thereby created, with a combined area of 1700 meters. This entire new section was called Eitan Terminal in honor of retired IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eiten who was swept off the harbor’s breakwater in rough weather during construction.
The second phase is just as extensive with the further extension of the breakwater by 900m and the construction of another new terminal with four new quays. This second stage is still in the design period. Work was meant to begin in 2008, but ongoing disputes over the privatization of the harbor have created delays.
Once the second stage is complete, the port will be capable of handling 9 additional vessels at the same time and will have 600,000 square meters dedicated to the handling and storage of cargo.
The expansion project, therefore, will see the port more than double in size and cement its role in the Israeli economy.
The Port of Ashdod is one of Israel's two main cargo ports. The port is located in Ashdod, about 40 kilometers south of Tel Aviv, adjoining the mouth of the Lachish River. Its establishment doubled the country's port capacity. It is a major point of entry for both cargo and tourists in and out of Israel, as well as imported military equipment. Ships carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip also unload their cargo at the port.
The Port of Ashdod remains one of the few deep water ports in the world to be built on the open sea, and its construction involved great engineering challenges. The decision on the location and construction of the port was preceded by a maritime and climatic survey which confirmed the engineering feasibility of its construction. The physical design began in 1957-1958, a critical time, both from the point of view of the development of maritime transport and port facilities for cargo handling, and from the point of view of the development of cargo vessels. It was during this period that modern shipping concepts began to be applied throughout the world.
Its construction was based on a long term development plan. Breakwaters were built to create a harbor where quays could be built and developed in stages. In the first stage, quays 1 and 3 were built, mainly for the handling of citrus and other agricultural exports. Other parts of the port were allocated for future development, as special needs arose. Thanks to this approach, the Port of Ashdod has managed so far to supply satisfactory solutions to the new types of cargoes and vessels which developed since its opening. Modern vessels, maritime transport methods, and appropriate port facilities have developed very rapidly over the last 30 years. World shipping has undergone a real revolution vis-a-vis vessel size, new cargo handling concepts based on containerized and unitized cargo, large consignments of liquid and dry bulk products. etc.
The port began operations on November 21, 1965, with the entry of the Swedish ship "Wingland" and its cargo of sugar.
Operated by: Israel Port Authority
Owned by: Government of Israel
Type of harbor: Artificial
Website: Official website