The Kieldrecht Lock, built with an investment of €382m, has been opened for commercial shipping at Port of Antwerp in Belgium.
Built by Tijdelijke Handelsvereniging Waaslandsluis, a building consortium including Jan De Nul, CEI De Meyer, Betonac, Herbosch-Kiere and Antwerpse Bouwwerken, the lock is 500m in length and 68m in width.
With an operational depth of around 17.80m, the Kieldrecht Lock is the biggest lock in the world and can accommodate the biggest seagoing vessels.
The first ship to use the lock was Grande Lagos owned by shipping company Grimaldi.
Belgium’s Maritieme Toegang of the Department of Mobility and Public Works, the Port Authority of Antwerp are also involved in the making of the Kieldrecht Lock that took around five years to complete.
Antwerp Port Authority chairman Marc Van Peel said: "The Kieldrecht Lock forms a necessary key to the further development of the port on the left bank of the Scheldt River. In recent years, our port had successfully overcome many hurdles, now ranking as number two in Europe.
"In order to retain that leading position, Antwerp must have a highly necessary basic infrastructure such as well-functioning locks that are adapted to the increased scale of international shipping.
"However, Antwerp also needs space to grow, which explains the first phase of the construction of the Saeftinghedok, a new tidal dock on the left bank of the Scheldt river, the next infrastructural project that is high on the agenda."
The newly opened Kieldrecht Lock provides easy access to the Waasland harbour in Antwerp and enables a second, bigger, more upstream access to the docks on the left bank of the Scheldt river.
Both the Government of Flanders and the Port Authority of Antwerp have invested in the Kieldrecht Lock, with Flanders assuming 75% of the investment costs.
The port of Antwerp is a major junction in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), through which Europe seeks to promote sustainable transportation, job creation and economic growth as well as cohesion within the European Union.
Through the TEN-T programme, Europe also granted a subsidy of €5m to build the Kieldrecht Lock.
Furthermore, the Government of Flanders and the Port Authority of Antwerp through NV Deurganckdoksluis had invested €382m to build a second lock for the Waasland harbour.
For the project, the European Investment Bank and KBC Bank also provided €160.5m and €71.3m respectively.