The first container gantry cranes commenced operating in the Port of Hamburg 40 years ago, thus inaugurating the container’s triumphal advance in global cargo handling. Along with representatives of the
Hamburg Senate, customers, and the personalities who set the course at the time, HHLA celebrated the anniversary at Container Terminal Burchardkai.
1968 became known as a year of revolution. In Hamburg too, 40 years ago a revolution commenced unobtrusively. Among the consequences was that as Europe’s second largest container port, in 2007 Hamburg handled around 10 million standard containers (TEU). Such figures were still inconceivable in 1965, when HHLA nevertheless decided that the first facility specifically for container handling should be built at
Burchardkai. The first container gantry cranes were taken into service in 1968. Handling of the first specialized full container ships marked the start of the real container era in Hamburg.
“Only a handful of people were aware at the time of the extent to which the container would revolutionize global logistics chains in the decades to come, thus laying the foundation for today’s momentum in
world economic development,” said Klaus-Dieter Peters, Chairman of the HHLA Executive Board, at the anniversary celebrations at Container Terminal Burchardkai. “Among this small group was Helmuth Kern,
Hamburg’s Minister of Economics at the time, later Chairman of the HHLA Executive Board. With tremendous dedication and equally immense success, and against some resistance on occasion, for HHLA and Hamburg
he smoothed the path into the container age.” In the course of a hosted discussion that met with enthusiastic interest and applause, Helmuth Kern and other contemporary witnesses reported on the initial
steps along this path to around 200 invited guests.
Klaus-Dieter Peters also emphasized that it was only the interplay between the port business community and the city’s port policy that had enabled the bold and farsighted decisions of that time to be taken.
Axel Gedaschko, Minister of Economics today, assured listeners that Hamburg’s politicians would also be working in the interests of the port in future: “The ongoing expansion of port infrastructure will equip us to meet the challenges of the years to come. Hamburg’s heart beats in the port that represents a location factor for the whole of Germany.”
For HHLA, the success achieved in 40 years of the container era also represents a spur to further development. “Our staff here at Burchardkai are showing just what that means,” said HHLA Executive
Board Chairman Peters. “At the same time as constantly setting fresh throughput records, we are pressing on urgently with our expansion and modernization programme.” With investments of around 1.5 billion
euros, by 2012 HHLA will be boosting the capacity of its Hamburg terminals to 12 million standard containers (TEU).