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Felixstowe Berth 9

The Port of Felixstowe is Britain's biggest and busiest container port, and one of the largest in Europe. Its owner, Hutchison Ports, needed to increase Felixstowe’s capacity to simultaneously berth two of the new generation of giant container ships and maintain its UK market leading position.


Their plan to achieve this spanned across two phases: Phase 1 consisted of constructing a 190m-long finger quay extension and Phase 2 involved reclaiming the 120,000m2 paved laydown and storage area behind it.

What we did

We built the phase one, finger quay extension between April 2014 and November 2015. Working from crane barges, we installed contiguous, combi-wall and sheet pile quay walls, before our joint venture partner dredged, backfilled, and compacted 620,000m3 of material behind the new walls, using hydraulic, dynamic, vibro, and conventional earthworks compaction techniques. We then installed copings, surfacing, new services, and dockside furniture.

We returned between September 2017 and July 2019 to reclaim the phase 2 container yard. We closed off the quay with a combi-wall, laid and compacted 251,000m3 of material, laid surfacing, and installed site-wide drainage, utilities, lighting and fencing.

We re-engineered the wet lean concrete and block-paving specifications, to a more durable pavement quality concrete surface. We trialled the alternative over a one-week period to ensure client satisfaction - our site trials were of such quality, that it was possible to incorporate these into the permanent works. This change saved three months and £3m. It also increased the design life by 60%.

Daily coordination meetings with port managers ensured traffic and pedestrians moved safely with no impact on ongoing operations. We eliminated 4,850 wagon movements through the port and saved £800k by incorporating crushed hardstanding into our concrete mix designs. 

Project successes

Berths 8 and 9, now with a combined length of 920m, were the first in the UK to handle the latest generation of giant container ships. The Phase 2 yard has added 18,000 containers of capacity to the 130,000 already available.

At the end of Phase 1, we met critical programme deadlines to accommodate the delivery of huge new cranes from China and the berthing of the world’s largest container ship. This was crucial in securing the trust of Hutchison Ports and securing the Phase 2 contract.