THE Port of Cork has launched its €89m container terminal in Ringaskiddy, heralded as a “game-changer” facility that puts Cork “in a different league” to any other Irish port.
The €89m is the single largest investment in any piece of port infrastructure in the history of the State.
Conor Mowlds, chief commercial officer with the Port of Cork Company, said the launch of the terminal yesterday was a “momentous day” and a “significant move for the Port of Cork in [its] 250-year history”.
The 39-hectare facility is in one of the largest deep-water, multi-modal berths in the world, and, being 360m in length, can cater to any kind of shipping.
Two giant, 50m, ship-to-shore Liebherr cranes tower over the terminal and have been named ‘Mahain’ and ‘Binne’ by Crosshaven Boys’ National School, inspired by the old Irish folklore story about two giants who lived in Cork Harbour.
The new terminal roughly doubles the vessel size that can be welcomed into Cork, and the Port of Cork is the first port in Ireland that is now able to handle Panamax ships, the size that travels through the Panama Canal, carrying around 4,000 TEU (20ft equivalent) containers each.
“What it means for us is we can go out now and look to develop routes to different parts of the world that we couldn’t have done previously — that’s a game-changer,” said Mr Mowlds, adding that the facility puts the Port of Cork “in a very different league to Dublin and Belfast”.
“It positions Cork and the southern region of Munster really well for the future in terms of a deep sea port which has access to deep sea trade routes that no other port in Ireland has… it gives our customers and businesses down here direct maritime access, literally to the world."
The new terminal has been operating since April, although the M28 road network near the facility must be completed before activity can reach full capacity.
When fully operational, it is expected the terminal will have the capacity to handle 330,000 TEU’s per year, with 400 truck movements per day.
Speaking at the terminal launch yesterday, Minister of State at the Department of Transport with special responsibility for international and road transport and logistics Hildegarde Naughton said it was a “fantastic day for Cork, for the region, and for Ireland”.
“Here we have a new Cork container terminal that will be able to accommodate some of the biggest container ships in the world.
“I think it’s a testament to the board, the management here, and the hard work in getting to this point … 90% of our trade here in our country goes through our ports and I think sometimes we forget that and the importance of it.”
Defence and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, who was also at the launch, said the big vessels able to offload at the new terminal will be “a direct injection into the into the Irish economy”.
“The Port of Cork is busier than it’s ever been, and it’s planning to be even busier in the future,”
Mr Coveney said, “to be a hub for offshore renewables, to build its cruise liner business, and of course now building this deep water capacity to accommodate some of the largest cargo ships in the world.”
Ronan Murray, president of Cork Chamber, said that the state-of-the-art terminal “positions the Cork region to be at the centre of global trade and investment into the future”, as it offers greater efficiencies than any other European port.
“As Cork continues to grow and position itself on a global scale, it’s important the Government also continues with the accelerated delivery of the M28 to complement this new terminal development and maintain the strategic enhancement of the Cork region.”
Port of Cork Company chairman Michael Walsh said the terminal is “the beginning of an exciting new chapter at Port of Cork”, as it represents the first phase of an overall proposed development plan for the port.
The company is developing a masterplan to 2050, a draft version of which is set to launch in the coming weeks for public consultation.