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North Sea Port impressed as construction of Terneuzen lock Nieuwe Sluis takes another step forward

Published on Fri 2 Oct 2020
The construction of the new, larger lock in Terneuzen is progressing steadily. This is great news to North Sea Port as the New Lock is of vital importance for the future of the entire canal area from Terneuzen to Ghent.

The Sassevaart consortium of contractors celebrated when they reached the deepest point in the construction process by the end of September. (Language: Dutch) 

The dry construction pit of the outer head, the part of the lock on the Westerschelde side for the lock gates and the equipment area, has now reached a depth of 25 meters (or 22 meters below the water level in the Netherlands). This is where the excavations will stop. Another milestone towards the completion of the new sea lock.

In the meantime, the works continue unabated. At the beginning of next year, the inner head, on the side of the sea channel, will be equally deep and dry. For further work at the other end of the lock, Sassevaart will have five tower cranes moved in. A number of them are to be put on rails.

Bridges and lock gates

The construction work is not restricted to Terneuzen. Some lock parts are prepared thousands of miles away. In China, the construction of the two bascule bridges and four lock gates is in full progress. The sewer gates and the maintenance facilities for draining the lock gates are also China made. All these parts will arrive at North Sea Port on one ship in mid-2021.

A video of this gigantic job can be seen here (Language: Dutch). 

A super sea lock

The new lock will be magnificent. The bridges will be 84 meters long and 18 meters wide. When open, they will tower 65 meters above ground level. The lock gates will each be 58 meters long, 25 meters high and 9 meters wide.

The lock itself will have a length of 427 meters and a width of 55 meters. The objective is to provide access to the canal area from Terneuzen to Ghent to considerably larger ships. The largest will be of the 'post-panamax' type, i.e. the same size as the ships that pass through the new locks on the Panama Canal. This means: up to 366 meters long and up to 49 meters wide. When the sea channel is deepened as well, they will be able to extend up to 15 meters deep into the water.

First ship in spring 2023

The Nieuwe Sluis will mark the beginning of a new chapter in port operations in the North Sea Port area. The companies in the canal zone will benefit from additional growth opportunities. Larger ships will allow more goods to be shipped, which will lower logistics costs and improve their competitive position. The increasingly busy sea and inland shipping traffic will be able to pass more efficiently through the lock complex in Terneuzen as more lock capacity is available. The risk of the failing lock gates of the Westsluis blocking the operation of the canal zone will be eliminated.

North Sea Port is therefore looking forward to the first ship to pass through the new lock. This will all be in the spring of 2023.