Howe: „Exploiting the potential of the port for the transition to green energy"
Exciting, busy and strenuous: for bremenports, the port year 2021 was full of extraordinary challenges. Summing up at the press conference to present the annual results, bremenports Managing Director Robert stated, “There were very many exceptional topics that faced our team with highly diverse challenges. It gives me great pleasure to announce that bremenports achieved successful results in 2021.” He added that a number of extraordinary projects had been completed and the company had achieved commercial results that were significantly higher than forecast.
Revenues for the “Special Tasks” section alone, which is responsible for projects outside the company’s day-to-day business, were up 25 per cent up year-on-year. “We are highly satisfied that thanks to the numerous and challenging outside contracts, bremenports made a profit and thus helps to ease the pressure on public funds,” said Howe. “In view of the pandemic over the last two years, this is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement.”
Dredging work accounted for a substantial share of the positive results for 2021. In addition to the regular tasks to maintain the water depths at the ports, the company also handled large-scale projects such as dredging the port in Vegesack and creating sufficient water depths at Lloyd shipyard. This raised the volume of dredging spoils to more than 500,000 m³, which was almost twice as high as the preceding year. “In view of the age of our service vessels, bremenports is faced with considerable pressure to modernise its fleet. This year, we will present a new plan for the comprehensive renewal of our fleet.”
The ongoing increase in headcount at bremenports continued in response to the highly diverse tasks to be performed. The company meanwhile has a workforce of 407, i.e. 10 more employees than the previous year. Last year, the company succeeded in refilling 38 vacancies. “Despite these positive figures, we notice that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable applicants to meet the highly diverse tasks and qualification profiles required by the company,” said Howe. Six months ago, bremenports therefore rolled out a marketing campaign to attract suitable candidates. The company also maintains a high percentage of trainees.
A further step in the future development of the company has meanwhile been implemented, with the establishment of a new business unit entitled “Port Development and Innovation“ which bundles many skills which were previously located in different organisational units. “The objective is to focus more strongly on future issues such as digitisation, sustainability and research at the company and enhance our external image in that respect. We wish to raise awareness of the wide range of different skills that is available at bremenports.” This also applies to port marketing. Together with Bremen University, the company is currently creating a new marketing concept for the ports of Bremen which will showcase the special features of the ports more effectively. “We want to highlight the passion with which our port community works to ensure the success of the ports. The issues of sustainability and climate protection will play key roles within the new concept,” explained bremenports’ Managing Director.
The geographical focus of port development in 2021 was the Columbus peninsula, where Quay 66 at the entrance to Nordschleuse lock was completed on schedule and within budget. Work on the construction of a new Columbus Quay then began immediately. This involves the construction of an 800-metre long quay 20 metres in front of the previous sheet piling in the River Weser, thus creating the necessary structural conditions for the successful future development of Bremerhaven as a cruise ship location.
This also highlights the importance of building a new maritime service centre at Columbus railway station, where a new entrance area for the cruise terminal, a new car park level and office space for maritime service providers will be created over the next few years. “This means bidding farewell to the old Columbus station and to ensure that this is shown the respect it deserves, we have agreed to cooperate with a drama project entitled “Das Letzte Kleinod”, which literally means “The last gem”. After a first successful series of events, the drama group will perform further artistic projects on the subject of emigration at Columbus station over the coming years.”
The greatest challenge in 2021 was to cope with the aftermath of the accident at the swing bridge. On 1 April, one of the steel girders cracked and the entire bridge was then dismantled within just one week. Howe: “Thanks to a joint effort by many different players, the port was restored to working order very quickly.” One year after the accident, a ferry is scheduled to start service in spring to provide access to the Columbus peninsula. At the same time, the first plans have been drawn up for the construction of a new swing bridge.
bremenports is confident as it looks ahead to the year 2022. “Thanks to the adoption of numerous political resolutions, the list of projects to be dealt with is both long and varied,” said Howe. In addition to refurbishment of the port infrastructure, the company would also be confronted with new challenges. “Bremerhaven still has scope for contributing towards the transition to green energy and simultaneously benefiting from that development. We have to cast aside our prejudices and seize every opportunity to exploit the wide-ranging potential of the ports.”
Further information and material about the performance of the ports in 2021 is available at www.bremenports.de