ACL, a division of the Italian shipping group Grimaldi, is already the largest ocean carrier operating at Liverpool’s Royal Seaforth Container Terminal. Tony McDonough reports
Shipping giant Atlantic Container Line (ACL) has agreed a new deal with Peel Ports that will see its huge container vessels call at the Port of Liverpool for the next 15 years.
ACL, a division of the Italian shipping group Grimaldi, is already the largest ocean carrier operating at Liverpool’s Royal Seaforth Container Terminal (RSCT) and the port’s longest serving container carrier, with a relationship going back 50 years.
Peel Ports says the new extension to 2035 is demonstrates ACL’s confidence in the growing volume of transatlantic trade between the UK and North America. With the UK now out of the European Union there are hopes a new UK-US trade deal could benefit the Port of Liverpool.
Peel is making a significant investment at RSCT to accommodate ACL’s new fleet of G4 vessels, which are registered in the UK and fly the Red Ensign. The passage entrance into the Seaforth Basin has been widened by 28 metres to allow safe access for the large G4 vessels into the terminal.
There has also been new investment in two Ship-to-Shore (STS) cranes with increased height and reach, adding capacity to the dedicated vehicle storage area to handle ACL’s growing cargo requirements. The overall project expected to be completed during 2021.
ACL ships more than 125,000 units of containers, cars and RORO machinery every year and supports a substantial supply chain with a critical link between the UK’s export and import trades.
Its vessels call at Liverpool twice each week, its fastest import and export transatlantic service. Liverpool connects ACL’s customers in the British industrial heartland, Scotland and Ireland with North America.
Atlantic Container Line’s vessels have called at the Port of Liverpool since 1967. ACL holds a major place in British maritime history and was Europe’s first dedicated container line. Cunard Line of Liverpool was one of ACL’s original shareholders. In May 1982, ACL’s vessel Atlantic Conveyor was sunk after being struck by two Exocet missiles while operating with the Royal Navy during the Falklands War.
Twelve crewmen, including Captain Ian North, tragically lost their lives. A permanent memorial commemorates these men at Liverpool Parish Church. In October 2016, ACL’s first new G4 vessel, the Atlantic Sea, was christened by HRH The Princess Royal. Only a few days later, ACL opened its new office on Duke Street, the first office built by a shipping company in the City since 1924.
Mark Whitworth, chief executive of Peel Ports, said: “This is a huge vote of confidence in us as a port and a company. Liverpool’s strategic position makes it a prime gateway for transatlantic trade and will continue to be instrumental as confidence in North American trade grows.
“The investment we’ll be making in the new STS cranes will help other customers as well as ACL.”