The world's port of call
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Aberdeen Harbour has been welcoming the world into the heart of the city for 900 years. In 2021, the Trust Port will open South Harbour, expanding its horizons even further.
The £350 million is the current single largest investment in port infrastructure in the UK. When complete, Aberdeen Harbour will be Scotland’s largest port in terms of berthage and it will strengthen its standing as a major strategic UK asset.
Geographically, Aberdeen Harbour is in the relatively rare position of being so close to the centre of a city, as Michelle Handforth, Chief Executive of the Aberdeen Harbour Board points out: “A lot of other harbours are not located in their city regions, they are adjacent to them. Or you have to travel to them. Or they are in an area that is maybe not so great.
Here you can walk off a ship and go straight to Union Street. A lot of people would bite your hand off for that.”
The harbour has been a key support base and logistics hub for the North Sea oil and gas industry. It’s also the ferry gateway to the Scottish Isles of Orkney and Shetland, and tourists can sail on short cruises from Commercial Quay to try to catch sight of bottlenose dolphins that have taken up residence around the harbour mouth.
The addition of the new South Harbour opens the port up to new and expanding industries. Larger ships are being used both for the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas infrastructure as well as in the leisure cruise industry. The harbour expansion, with some of the greenest facilities in the world, will accommodate vessels of up to 300m in length – sometimes described as the ‘holy grail’ of the cruise ship industry.
And as the UK’s trading landscape changes, Handforth sees the possibilities of using the expanded harbour as an import/export hub, receiving goods as well as providing access to global markets for key exports such as Scotch whisky: “From a logistics management perspective, we have a tonne of differentiators. The cruise liners can berth directly to quayside, which is critically important. We have a unique combination of location and scale. We have all of the benefits of the city and Aberdeenshire.
“We can put Aberdeen on the map – in the global shipping market, the import/export market, as well as supporting what is already a global industry in terms of oil and gas, and any emerging energy industry in the future.
“Aberdeen is rising to the challenge of repositioning itself as a major city in a growing Scottish economy. The port is the heartbeat of that.”