A brand new 245 metre pier and almost twice as much port esplanade area with significantly updated solutions for logistics and safety. After three years of reconstruction Port of Kapellskär is a state-of-the-art port with the capacity to welcome the largest combined cargo and passenger-carrying vessels.
It is 11.38 am, the sun is shining and the Liverpool Seaways is ready for departure, a whole 37 minutes ahead of schedule. Tony Gladh and Jocke Norrbacka from the Service team make their way out to cast off the 186 metre-long vessel. As the new pier at Kapellskär is a lot wider than the old one, and is also equipped with a three metre-high concrete foundation for mooring, Tony and Jocke are able to take the port truck all the way out to the hawsers without risk of colliding with anything.
The Liverpool Seaways is a typical representative of the RoPax traffic that has become a niche-segment at Kapellskär. RoPax vessels carry both freight and passengers and combine the capacity of RoRo (roll-on/roll-off) vessels to carry freight lorries with the comfort of a passenger ferry.
Capability to welcome the largest vessels
Christian Östman, Stevedoring Manager at the Port of Kapellskär, nods in satisfaction as the dark blue vessel makes her way out into the brisk wind and begins her voyage to the Estonian Port of Paldiski. The fact that unloading and loading has been completed so quickly indicates that the combination of competent personnel and the state-of-the-art port will have more successes to celebrate in the future. The new pier is sufficiently long for the port to be able to welcome the largest RoPax vessels and the port’s new ramps, with a width of almost 30 metres, are some of the best in Europe.
“Above all else we can work in parallel with unloading and loading in a completely different way to previously. Over the long-term this increased efficiency will mean we can offer our customers better schedule times and greater flexibility. Today we have also achieved an environmental benefit, as being ahead of schedule means that the captain can reduce speed by a couple of knots, resulting in a significant reduction in fuel consumption for this trip,” Christian Östman explains.
At the head of the pier there is a steel bridge over to the huge dolphin, a round and very strong concrete construction surrounded by fender plates that are several metres high. The dolphin has a dual role. On the one hand it provides protection for the pier if a vessel approaches too quickly, but it can also be used as a support when vessels need to turn in towards the pier.
Together with Operational Manager Peter Lundman, Communications Officer Kajsa Nygren and Christian Östman we make our way out to the dolphin for a history lesson. From here there is a fantastic view of the archipelago, but if you instead turn towards the port there is also a perfect view of the development of the Port of Kapellskär.
“Everything started there,” says Peter Lundman and points to the gravel track leading out to the modest stone jetty where the first Viking Line vessel, S/S Viking, backed in on 8 May 1960 and simultaneously started the history of Kapellskär as a commercial port.
The new port must last 100 years
On the other side of the port area there is a concrete pier from 1980 that is currently being reconstructed so that it will be as modern as the new pier to the greatest extent possible.
“If you stand here and look you realise why new ports are not built so often. The goal of the new port is also that it will operate for at least 100 years. While you are in the middle of the construction process you don’t think so much about that, but now when everything is nearing completion it has struck me what a rare treat it has been to have been involved in something like this,” says Peter Lundman.
The area where the new pier is located was a bay before the project started. Extensive blasting, earthmoving and dredging have been necessary to create the new nine metre-deep harbour basin. It needed 257 pilings to be driven into place before the work of shaping, reinforcing and laying the concrete for the new pier could begin.
When we leave the pier we go over to the port esplanade, where Peter Lundman began his career in Kapellskär in 1984 “ticketing cars”. Not much remains unchanged in this area either. The port esplanade has almost doubled in size, to be better able to cope with the large number of vehicles arriving at the port. Currently there is space for a length of an impressive 5,800 metres of haulage vehicles. The asphalt to a great extent has been replaced with more sustainable stone slabs and there is a subterranean system for water purification with no fewer than nine installations for oil separation.
Safety is paramount
On a hill beside the easternmost headland of the port there is a three metre-high wooden cross inscribed “Estonia 28/9 1994”. Kapellskär is the site on the Swedish mainland that is located closest to the place where the vessel Estonia went down. Together with the terrorist attacks in New York in 2001, the loss of the Estonia is the event that has had the greatest impact on maritime security procedures.
“After the Estonia there was a completely different attitude to security aboard vessels. The September 11 attacks had a similar effect in terms of safety and security in port areas. When we designed the new port our objective was that better logistics should be integrated with improved safety and security,” explains Peter Lundman.
With the help of the ITS traffic and trailer management system the port has complete monitoring of all vehicles within the port security zone. The ITS cameras scan vehicle registration plates and vehicles that do not have a booking are not permitted to enter. To optimise the traffic structure a new check-in lane has been created at the southern end of the port. Adjacent to this two new buildings for freight forwarding companies have been built, where the shipping companies Tallink Silja and Finnlines have moved in, and a further freight forwarding company building has been constructed for the shipping company DFDS.
During the reconstruction period Kajsa Nygren has had the task, among other things, of maintaining contact with the residents in area neighbouring the port.
“Those who live out here identify strongly with the area and genuinely care about what happens at the port. We have therefore held regular meetings where we have provided information and given people the opportunity to ask questions. This has been much appreciated and, despite the blasting and noise, we have had very few complaints. On the contrary, there have been many people who have said how glad they have been to see the development of the port,” states Kajsa Nygren.
“Devil of a fine quay!”
Christian Östman confirms that the port’s customers are also pleased.
“The first time that Ossi Falck, the Captain of the Finnlines vessel Finnfellow arrived at the new pier he exclaimed “What a devil of a fine quay!” in sonorous Finland-Swedish. We thought that was an excellent seal of approval.”
Despite several years of extensive rebuilding work, the Port of Kapellskär has succeeded both in operating normal scheduled services and in increasing its freight volumes. Now that the port is completed Christian Östman and colleagues have every reason to believe in a bright future.
“Our primary mandate has been to alleviate the pressure on central Stockholm as a freight port, but we also see good potential to grow even more. We may be able to attract more shipping companies here, but above all else we believe that the shipping companies that are already here will expand their operations. It will be very exciting to see what happens over the coming years.”
The new Port of Kapellskär
The development project began in 2013 and is expected to be entirely completed by the end of 2016. The aim has been to modernise and make the port more efficient, improve environmental factors and safety aspects, and meet market demands for existing and future volumes and vessel sizes. The primary mandate of the Port of Kapellskär in the future will still be to alleviate pressure on Stockholm as a freight port.
The rebuilt port comprises a new pier with two quay-berths at the southern end of the port, a reconstructed ferry berth in the centre, and the existing pier with two ferry berths at the northern end of the port.
After reconstruction the port will have five modern quay-berths. There is a new pilot harbour adjacent to the southern end of the port. The facilities for electricity, water and waste sorting have been significantly modernised. It is now possible for vessels at the quayside to offload wastewater, fill-up with freshwater and connect to the electricity grid at the port.
Twice as much surface area
To optimise traffic flow and to make the port safer and better from environmental and work environment perspectives the surface area of the port esplanade has been expanded to almost twice its previous size.
Traffic and cargo flows are guided by the ITS traffic and trailer management system that uses cameras to register all of the vehicles before they are permitted entry to the security zone at the port. Other improvements include a new check-in lane, three new freight forwarding company buildings and a new customs building.
Operations at Kapellskär
The Port of Kapellskär currently has four shipping company customers: Finnlines, Viking Line, DFDS and Tallink Silja. Most of the vessels operating from the port are of the vessel type known as RoPax ferries, which carry both haulage vehicles and passengers. The only characteristically dedicated passenger ferry operating into and out of Kapellskär is the Viking Line Rosella.
During 2015 freight volumes at the Port of Kapellskär increased by six percent. In the first six months of 2016 cargo volumes also increased by six percent compared to the same period of the previous year. Ports of Stockholm has 17 fulltime employees at the Port of Kapellskär