The port of Hamburg, by far the most important goods transhipment point in Germany, will remain closed to large ships this Thursday. With the beginning of the late shift, a warning strike began on Wednesday at the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). He is part of the public sector work stoppages on Thursday under the motto “We are the gold of the city!”. The action in the port should last until Friday, 6 a.m.

The HPA had already blocked the Elbe for ships requiring pilotage on Wednesday morning, making the port of Hamburg inaccessible. The reason is that ships need up to eight hours from the mouth of the Elbe to the port and if they enter the federal waterway later, they cannot reach the port in time before the official start of the strike at 5:30 p.m. The Verdi trade union wanted to strike the so-called pilot transfer boats so that the pilots could no longer get to the ships.

“Due to the massive restrictions expected from the announced warning strikes, the HPA has decided to block the Elbe for ships requiring pilotage from around 10 a.m. today until further notice,” said an HPA spokeswoman. This applies to all ships with a length of 90 meters or a width of 13 meters and more.

Major traffic jams are not to be expected

According to the HPA, around 18 ships bound for Hamburg are affected by the blockage. According to the terminal lists, this also includes several large container ships, such as the 400-meter-long freighters “Cosco Shipping Nebula”, “Tihama” and “Eugen Maersk”. The number of ships leaving the port affected could not initially be quantified because they only had to report two to four hours before departure, the spokeswoman said.

The Port of Hamburg is by far the most important goods handling center in Germany. Every year, around 130 million tons of sea freight go over the quay edges via a good 50 handling facilities. Around 290 berths offer space for ships of all sizes – from particularly large container and bulk carriers to oil and chemical tankers to smaller feeder and inland vessels.

However, major traffic jams are not expected during the warning strike. Ships further away could slow down to avoid going on warning strike in the first place. Others would wait in the German Bight or change their route completely and go to another port first, it said.