On the morning of October 15, the immense container ship Gustav Maersk will enter Haifa Port for the first time. At 367 meters in length, with a maximum capacity of more than 10,000 TEU, the Gustav will be the largest container ship ever to dock at an Israeli port.
But this extraordinary arrival will not even be the biggest news of the day. Onboard the Gustav you may notice its cargo of gray and yellow containers – a color combination that has become more and more familiar at worldwide ports during the past year. These colors represent the alliance that has been formed between the world's two largest shipping companies: the Danish company Maersk (gray containers) and its partner in the 2M Alliance, the Swiss company MSC (yellow containers). The containers also represent the dawn of a new era for East Asian imports to Israel – Israel’s largest and most important trade route aside from Western Europe. According to the Israel Shipping & Ports Authority, these imports will total more than 200,000 containers annually once the 2M Alliance’s ships begin to call at Haifa Port on a weekly basis.
The choice of Haifa Port as a port of call for the Alliance’s ships is no simple coincidence, as the port has already demonstrated the meticulous adherence to schedules and operational efficiency required by the Maersk and MSC managements, including a high average productivity of 30 containers per crane hour.
Exactly one month ago, Haifa Port set an all-time record for productivity during one shift – record output of 318.8 containers per ship hour was achieved by the Carmel Terminal’s six STS cranes, which were assigned to operate on the ZIM Los Angeles. All six cranes attained excellent productivity during the same shift, with the record for a single crane also being broken when the crew operating crane G21 averaged 74.7 containers per crane hour.
At the time these new records were set, Haifa Port CEO Mendi Zaltzman commented: “We welcome any opportunity to demonstrate our outstanding capabilities to shipping line decision makers worldwide." Today, the management of the Maersk/MSC Alliance announced that it would indeed give the port this opportunity. From the beginning of October, the ships of the AE12\TP2 line will begin calling at Haifa Port. This line runs from the port of Busan in South Korea, through Shanghai, Ningbo, Chiwan, and Singapore, and from there to Port Said and Haifa Port. After calling at Haifa, the line’s ships continue on to several ports in the Adriatic: Koper (Slovenia), Trieste (Italy), and Rijeka (Croatia).
Mendi Zaltzman, Haifa Port CEO: "We are very proud of the fact we have been selected, and we are already preparing to accommodate this line in cooperation with other parties such as the Customs Authority and the cargo division of Israel Railways, so that we can provide the very best services to the shipping companies as well as importers and exporters. This is a great challenge for Haifa Port and all its workers. In recent years we have prepared ourselves to take on these challenges, and we have won full global recognition for this terminal’s ability to uphold the highest international standards."
This selection and recognition by the 2M Alliance comes on top of Haifa Port’s other recent achievements: in April, Haifa Port won the "Community Impact" category in the global ports competition held by the technology giant Navis. This put the port on the same stage as the major ports that won other categories: a terminal operated by APM Terminals; the UAE’s biggest terminal, Jebel Ali, which is run by DP World; and a New York terminal run by Global Container Terminals.
Three years ago, Haifa Port’s efficiency in dealing with container traffic earned it an honorable mention in an OECD survey that compared the operations of the world’s largest ports, and found Haifa Port as the 4th efficient in the world.
In addition, technology developed by Haifa Port’s IT division garnered extensive praise in a book by one of the world's leading shipping researchers, Prof. Maria Burns: Port Management and Operations, published in 2014.
According to Prof. Burns, this unique technology enables managers to receive all the necessary data from Haifa Port’s operations in real time and use this overall picture of the current situation to make decisions that significantly improve the port’s capabilities and productivity.