ACL’s huge container vessels are already a familiar sight at the Seaforth terminal and transport goods across the Atlantic between Liverpool, the US and Canada. Tony McDonough reports
Shipping giant Atlantic Container Line (ACL) has signed a new 15-year deal to continue its transatlantic cargo service from the Port of Liverpool to North America.
ACL’s huge container vessels are already a familiar sight at the Seaforth terminal and the new agreement, which extends until 2035, is a big vote of confidence in the port amid expectation of an increase in trade with the US and Canada post-Brexit.
The company’s roll-on/roll-off operations makes ACL, owned by the Grimaldi Group, the biggest ocean carrier at Liverpool’s Royal Seaforth Container Terminal (RSCT) and the port’s longest serving container carrier.
Peel Ports Group 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.
Peel Ports is also investing 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 per annum, 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.
The long-term relationship between ACL’s terminal operations and the Peel Ports operations team provides customers with cutting-edge technologies and improved cargo efficiency for all containers, roll-on/roll-off and breakbulk cargo.
Mark Whitworth, Chief Executive of Peel Ports, said: “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.”
ACL’s vessels have called at the Port of Liverpool since 1967. The company 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, 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.
Gianluca Grimaldi, president of the Grimaldi Group, said: “This agreement signifies the long-standing partnership with our daughter company, ACL. The Grimaldi Group applauds the major improvements to Royal Seaforth Terminal and recognises it as a renewed commitment of our strong relationship with the Port of Liverpool, Mersey Maritime, and the customers and suppliers who have been supportive of ACL’s operation for so many years.”