Portcities Southampton
UK * Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton
*
You are here: PortCities Southampton > Life of a Port > How a port comes to life > Ports Today > Ports today
* Text only * About this site * Site Map * Feedback
*
*
*
Explore this site
Start Here
About Us
Partners And Collections
Timeline
Get Interactive!
Help
Galleries
Image galleries
Biographies
Southampton
The Docks
River Itchen
Southampton at war
Flying Boats
Titanic
Finding Out More
Southampton speaks
Street Directories
Historic Buildings Survey
Registers and Records
Lloyd's Register
Official Sources
Other Records
Finding Out More
Wrecks and Accidents
Why accidents happen
Investigations
Improving Safety at Sea
Finding Out More
Wreck Reports
Life of a Port
How a port comes to life
At work in a port
Ports at play
Trade - lifeblood of a port
Finding Out More
On the Line
Company growth and development
Shipping lines
Transatlantic travel
Preparing a liner
Finding Out More
Sea People
Life at sea
Jobs at sea
Travelling by sea
Starting a new life by sea
Women and the sea
Finding Out More
Diversity of Ships
The variety of ships
What drives the ship?
Ships of ancient times
Ships in the age of sail
Ships of the steam age
Ships of today

Ports Today


Ports today

Ports today work in a very competitive environment. There are many reasons for this. The ports are chasing fewer ships: a single container ship in 2003 does the work that in the 1960s required a dozen conventional cargo ships. Because the ships are bigger, ports need to deepen their water access and provide bigger facilities. Many ports have lost their traditional trade, such as exporting coal, and have to compete for other cargoes. Owners and shippers expect their ships to be turned round in the shortest possible time.

UK ports also face competition from Europe. A container unloaded from an ocean-going ship in Rotterdam can be hoisted onto a smaller ship or onto a train or truck and be in the UK next day. The motorway network means that goods can be carried very quickly, so a shipper does not necessarily use his nearest port.

`Seven Seas Bridge` container ship at Southampton Container Terminal

Magnifying glass`Seven Seas Bridge` container ship at Southampton Container Terminal

The British ports that have been most successful in competing for container traffic are Southampton and Felixstowe. They have had to continually expand to provide deeper water and bigger berths for container ships, which continue to grow in size. This has required expensive dredging of the approach channels. Extra quay space is needed to store containers because the ships cannot be kept waiting.

Plans for expansion have brought ports into conflict with bodies concerned about protecting the environment. For instance, it is argued that dredging may mean birds lose feeding grounds on mud banks. The port might respond by providing other areas for birds to feed, perhaps on what once were fields. There are also concerns about pollution. With more ships using the port, the chance of oil or dangerous cargo being spilt increases. On the other hand, water transport is easily the least harmful to the environment. It is very fuel efficient, reducing use of fossil fuel and minimising emission of greenhouse gases. Often, it falls to the government to make the difficult decision about letting port development go ahead.

Ports have a fascinating history, linked closely with trade, geography, inland transport and industry. They have a vital role in the country`s economy, and invariably become particularly important at times of war. They also have an exciting future, although not without controversy about their expansion.

*
Search

Advanced Search
*
*
*
Southampton City Council New Opportunities Fund Lloyd's Register London Metropolitan Archives National Maritime Museum World Ship Society  
Legal & Copyright * Partner sites: Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton * Text only * About this site * Feedback