January 5 - The Venice Port Authority has taken another step forward with its innovative offshore-onshore port transfer system.

With ports increasingly required to handle ever-larger vessels, any unable to cater for ultra large containerships are unlikely to feature on transcontinental liner shipping routes. The port of Venice, with its unique lagoon and rare marine ecosystem, is in this very position. To solve this problem the Venice Port Authority has decided to develop an innovative offshore port system that can handle 1.5 million teu annually.

Positioned 12.8 km offshore where the seabed is at least 20 m deep, the offshore platform will play host to an oil/LNG/energy terminal and a container terminal able to accommodate up to three of the latest generation container ships concurrently. Containers will be ferried to the mainland by a specialised semi-submersible barge transporter. A 4.2km long breakwater will protect the development, and a highly automated system will ensure loading/unloading performances are equal to those of the best worldwide terminals, says the Venice Port Authority.

The authority forecasts that in cooperation with other Adriatic ports by rail, road and inland navigation, the regional system will be able to attract a critical mass of at least 6 million teu of traffic and operate as a unique hub by 2030.

According to the Venice Port Authority, the project is ready to be tendered in a PPP model, and it is actively on the hunt for investors. The jury of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - International Transport Forum Innovation in Transport Award 2014 - described the potential development as a "very interesting initiative with replicability possible with other ports with insufficient water depths".