HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch
“As a world port the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg has a history and has been assigned a position to fulfil the special needs of the German people. The city will, in the name of freedom, be a link for all parts and peoples of the world.” This is written in the foreword of the Hamburg Constitution. Hamburg has always seen the sea not as an obstacle but as a connecting element. It has always been used as a bridge for trade, politics and culture, crossing national borders.
In a world networked globally this principle has never been more important. Time and again the Port of Hamburg has adapted to maintain its position as a bridgehead for international markets. Successfully, as the change into the world’s advanced container port illustrates. Other port locations were not as successful: London, once the largest port in the world has completely lost importance since the triumph of the container. Liverpool has a similar story and San Francisco that lost its leading role as a trading port to neighbouring Oakland because there was not enough space for containers. Hamburg was faced with similar problems.
Containerization has extended the port slowly from east to west, where there was space to accommodate the increasing number of containers. But space is still at a premium in a city-state like Hamburg. Those responsible today rely on innovative technology and space-saving terminal concepts so that Hamburg can continue to fulfil the needs of the largest sea port in Germany sustainably, at the same time balancing the needs of the city and the port.
The Port of Hamburg is of great importance for reliably serving the European market with over 500 million consumers and the container is the driving force. With nine million containers (TEU) per year Hamburg is one of the top 20 container ports in the world. More than 100 liner services connect the city with a large proportion of the world via 1,000 sea ports – from A for Auckland in New Zealand to Z for Zhejiang in China.
Hamburg plays a significant role in container traffic between Europe and the Far East. 20 weekly liner services link Hamburg to ports in east and southeast Asia. Many of them serve China, Hamburg’s most important trading partner. Almost every third container that goes over the quay wall in Hamburg comes from, or is bound for China.
Since 1968 over 186 million containers (TEU) have been handled in Hamburg. Placed end to end they would cover a length of over 28 times around the circumference of the earth.
HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch
The statistics show the development of container handling in the Port of Hamburg in 1,000 TEU (standard containers).
The Port of Hamburg works three shifts, round the clock 24/7. There are a few exceptions: Easter Sunday, Pentecost, Labour Day 1 May, Christmas Day 25 December, and 1 January the port workers are free and the terminals are closed.
The Port of Hamburg covers 71 square kilometres. That is about one tenth of the whole area of the City of Hamburg. In comparison with Monaco that covers just about two square kilometres that is as large as Burchardkai and Tollerort terminals together.
Hamburg and China – this relationship is not just since containerization, or since economic growth in the Peoples’ Republic. Already in 1731 the historical economic relationship began with the first call of a Chinese freighter to the Port of Hamburg. Today there is a city twinning with Shanghai, and around 120 Hamburg companies with branches or production plants in China. Over 500 Chinese companies have branch offices in Hamburg and are involved in exports and production, just a few facts to show that Hamburg is China’s bridge into Europe.