Cleaner ports for tomorrow

The EnviroPort pioneers a new and innovative methodology to expand global container ports capacity while having a minimal impact on either the coastal or seabed environment. It offers a low risk means of addressing an emerging and severe shortfall in capacity for large container ships and offers a way in increasing the range of markets these ships can serve. The EnviroPort:

  • Is a Ship-to-Ship transfer solution
  • Reduces environmental impact in port expansion  
  • Improves homeland security
  • Is a catalyst for smaller coastal ports
  • Reduces land side road congestion
  • Expands constrained transhipment ports
  • Minimal impact on intertidal mudflats
  • Removes political risk for smaller nations
  • General Infrastructure catalyst for trade
  • Powered by cleaner fuels for its operation


Mean containership size is growing rapidly. Twenty years ago, no ship exceeded the parameters of the Panama Canal, limiting vessel capacity to around 4,000 TEU. The largest ships now trading can carry closer to 14,000 TEU. Over 1,000 ships are trading or on order that exceed 'Panamax' parameters. The imminent rebuilding of the Canal and the dredging of major ports on the US East Coast will release this constraint completely. As a consequence, port terminals around the world face the challenge of being able to accommodate very large ships if they are to attract direct services. In some areas, this is physically very demanding (e.g. where river ports can- not offer adequate draught), presents environmental con- straints (particularly in Europe) or is simply too expensive for the cargo volumes involved.      

General Dimensions

Vessel Name .................................................EnviroPort One

Length Overall ..............................................  440.00m

Overall Breadth ............................................ 220.00m

Depth from Baseline to top of deck ........       20.00m

Maximum Displacement .............................   1,700,000 tonnes

Lightship Platform Weight .........................    700,000 tonnes

Total Operating Weight ..............................    1,500,000 tonnes

Water Ballast ................................................. < 1,000,000 tonnes

Channel Width ............................................... 35.00m

Container Storage Area Width ...................    80.00m

Gantry Crane Outreach ...............................    60.00m

Bridge Crane Span ........................................ 84.00m 

Ports Capacity Shortage

The shortage of port capacity able to accommodate the largest ships and offer them large rapid turnaround time further constrains the container shipping industries ability to use coastal shipping to distribute deep sea cargo from the major ports. Once landed at port, there is every temptation to add to inland congestion and global warming by forward- ing goods by road rather than transfer cargo back over congested quays to 'feeder' ship to serve smaller regional ports. A recent study for the UK Government revealed that there would also be a huge shortfall in smaller port capacity if the larger ports could not be expanded. There is a pressing need to identify an innovative solution to the challenge presented by the giant container ships now being so rapidly built.

The EnviroPort has been developed to allow very large container ships to berth wherever natural deep harbours are available, regardless of whether deep-water quays and associated landside developments exist or can be built.
Modern (conventional) deep water container ports require 15 metres depth of water at the quay, around 0.5m2 of terminal area per Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (TEU) handled per annum, and the inland infrastructure to despatch large volumes of lorries and trains from a single geographical location. A typical terminal project of 2,000 quay metres would be expected to generate 6,000 truck and 60 train movements per day (or the equivalent in trucks if rail is not available), traffic volumes which themselves trigger the need for further local infrastructure investment. 

The EnviroPort will assist in avoiding such 'overloads' of local networks. In other circumstances, the EnviroPort, by being located in natural deep water close to established shipping lanes, will allow very large container ships to make direct calls without significant deviation to be discharged by a highly efficient handling facility, leaving the containers to then be redistributed locally by barge and feeder ships.
The concept is to develop floating 'ports' which can be created 'off site', towed to different locations should market circumstances require, minimising commercial risk, and which, by floating rather than being built into the seabed, do not create the environmental impacts which conventional ports do. The 'port' can be located in natural deep water, avoiding the cost and environmental impact of expensive dredging programmes.


Technical Specifications 

The EnviroPort is a floating container transhipment terminal and will be capable of holding over 10,000 twenty-foot equivalent units. The platform will have a throughput of some 1.5 million containers per annum as its base case, a figure that may be capable of being doubled. The platform itself has an overall length of 440.00m and a width of 220.00m with a depth of 20.00m.  

It will be built using existing concrete floating dry-dock technology and has sufficient transfer systems onboard to ensure the safe and rapid ship-to-ship movement of containers.  

It is expected that the EnviroPort will be moored in a geographically suitable location close to major shipping routes to ensure that the larger Post- Panamax ships do not have to deviate far from their normal route. The geographical location would be a naturally protected but deep-water bay, fjord or estuary, with sufficient draught for the platform and larger vessels to moor next to.  

The EnviroPort’s key attributes are its ability to hold 'on dock' very large volumes of containers to act as a 'buffer stock' between the time boxes are discharged from one ship and reloaded to another and its handling technology and IT systems that minimise the lifting movements involved in transferring and sorting containers. This gives it an equivalent capability of a large land based transhipment hub without the long lead times this involves, the risk this represents and the impact this poses. The EnviroPort, through the linkages to smaller and existing port infrastructure, also offers a continuing future for smaller ports that might otherwise not survive the introduction of very large container ships.

The EnviroPort project assists in promoting Short Sea Shipping expand more routes by sea and fewer on land. The concept also sits comfortably with the European Motorways of the Sea concept.

The intent of this short specification is to broadly outline and introduce the new concept and the name is derived from its operational means and it's capability of storing up to 10,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) and distribute ISO Containers in an environmentally conscious clean sustainable way.   

The specifications herein have been formulated with the objective of informing the reader of the construction, equipment, and capacities of the EnviroPort. A description of the components, layout, working philosophies, and versatilities culminated in this document, together with the general arrangement drawings, will enable the reader to create a true image of the mobile transhipment container facility that the designers ShipEco Marine are pursuing.

The EnviroPort is characterised by its boxed styled layout, and twin channel arrangement. The EnviroPort will operate a total of 12 super post-panamax cranes, 6 bridge cranes, together with an Automated Train System. This will ensure fast container handling operations that will service all types and class of container vessels, through utilising over 2.6km of quayside.  

Sufficient space is available to berth a super post-panamax vessel on either side of the facility, enabling smaller vessels to use the two channels running longitudinally down either side of the EnviroPort. These channels are 35 metres wide and 15 metres deep, enabling large vessels up to panamax size to utilise the channel. The post-panamax cranes have been re-designed by removing the cross bracing which would normally be seen on land based cranes. This enables vessels with a large air draught to pass through the channel.

The structure is a hybrid design not dissimilar from a floating concrete drydock, many of which are used by shipyards around the world for the building and refitting of large and small vessels alike. A central Container Storage Area ensures the safe storage of containers. Cell guides will enable a stacking height of 8 high during a short dwell time and prior to being exported to other vessels for onward transhipment.  

The EnviroPort is a large infrastructure project that will help shipping companies deliver containers much closer to their final destination by short seaborne routes. It is also an infrastructure catalyst that helps in the regeneration of smaller ports and existing infrastructure. Land based ports have little room for transhipment, this facility can enable ports to expand in that area.  

The economic and environmentally friendly impact of the EnviroPort is a considerable one, since it does not ruin existing coastal land sites in the development of these regions. Further, it reduces unnecessary lorry miles by utilising coastal and inland waterway routes. There are also obvious reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through promoting this method of transport.

ShipEco Marine has together with MDS Transmodal developed in its most optimum form, the overall operational and conceptual design for the EnviroPort. The general parameters are to create a totally green transport solution for the movement of containers from ship-to-ship without the requirement of the usual coastal land based ports. A totally green solution is being developed to power the 25MWe requirement for the EnviroPort and this is mapped out in a separate specification.


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