June 15 - Grimaldi's vessel Grande Lagos has become the first ship to enter the new Kieldrecht Lock in Antwerp, Belgium.
The huge lock was officially inaugurated at the end of last week by King Philippe of Belgium; the Flemish minister of mobility, Ben Weyts; chairman of the European Investment Bank, Werner Hoyer; and Marc Van Peel, Antwerp alderman and port authority chairman.
The government of Flanders and the Port Authority of Antwerp have together invested EUR382 million (USD428 million) in the lock construction project, which has been on-going for the past five years.
The lock measures 500 m long, 68 m wide and has an operational depth of 17.8 m, and enables smooth access to the Waasland harbour in Antwerp.
Before its construction, the only access was through the smaller Kallo Lock, which meant that ships occasionally had to wait for more than three hours to enter the harbour.
The Kieldrecht Lock now enables a second, bigger, more upstream access to the docks on the left bank of the Scheldt river, which the Antwerp port authority says means that ships can expect faster and smoother access to the harbour in the future.
"The Kieldrecht Lock will give shipping companies an additional reason to choose Flanders. We will strengthen the international competitiveness of the Port of Antwerp and attract new economic activity to our region," said Weyts.
Van Peel added that the lock project marks the first phase in the construction of the Saeftinghedok - a new tidal dock on the left bank of the Scheldt river, which is the next infrastructural project on the Port of Antwerp's agenda.
From left to right: Marc Van Peel, King Philippe, Ben Weyts, and Werner Hoyer.
Watch a video summing up the project below: