The Port of Hamburg is an all-purpose port, offering handling facilities suitable for every type of cargo - from containerised general cargo to bulk cargo, from project and plant to liquids. There are special terminals for reusable waste products and recyclable materials. On an site covering over 71 square kilometres there are more than 50 handling facilities in operation, ensuring smooth handling of the most diverse goods. Some 290 berths offer space for ships of every size: especially large containerships and bulk cargo freighters, oil and chemicals tankers, ro-ro and break bulk carriers, feeders and inland waterway vessels. Highly qualified personnel and state-of-the-art handling technology facilitate fast and safe cargo handling.
Today more than 70 percent of all the bulk cargoes transported around the world are packed into containers. As Germany's largest and Europe's third largest container port Hamburg takes on an important distribution function for worldwide flows of goods. Four high performance container terminals make possible an annual handling capacity of some 12 million TEU (20-foot standard containers). Added to this is the capacity of the numerous multi-purpose terminals where alongside conventional general cargo containerised goods are handled. All container terminals are equipped with integrated rail terminals - that adds decisively to Hamburg's leading position among rail ports in Europe.
Today Hamburg has four modern container terminals. In addition, there are all-purpose terminals, which handle containers and conventional breakbulk and vehicles. The first handling facility to be extended to become a container terminal was Burchardkai in 1967. The first gantry cranes could handle 12 – 18 containers per hour, today they can handle up to twice as many. With one lift they can take two 40ft containers or four 20ft containers, a weight of 110 tons, that can be compared to 70 medium-sized cars. At HHLA Container Terminal Burchardkai alone, there are 30 of these giants, 18 of them are ultra-large vessel cranes. These can be used to load and discharge the largest container ships in the world. They have 80-metre booms that stretch over the containership, a width of almost 60 metres with 26 rows of containers side by side.
HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) has a worldwide reputation as one of the most modern of its type. With its high degree of automation, compact layout and specially developed work processes, this HHLA facility remains the trailblazer in container handling. Cutting-edge technology and innovative IT systems produce unsurpassed performance indices. Whether for quaywall or area productivity, box movements per gantry crane or hour of vessel lay time – CTA is far ahead. Equipped with two trolleys, semi-automatic container gantry cranes load and discharge the steel boxes at the waterside. As if by magic, unmanned vehicles (AGVs) then shift the containers between the cranes and container storage. Incorporating more than 17,000 transponders in the terminal surface, specially developed software seeks the fastest route. Software-controlled gantry cranes assist in sorting the boxes in the block storage area. Delivery for the final few metres on the shore side is supervised by control centre staff using joysticks and cameras to position the containers on trucks and chassis. CTA also operates Europe’s largest container rail terminal for intermodal transport. Block trains are cleared there along nine parallel about 700-metre tracks. I
Cargo that cannot be containerized, above all heavy goods, over-sized packing units, or cargo on wheels, are all handled at one of Hamburg's seven multi-purpose facilities. Here, project and plant cargo with single units weighing several hundred tons can be loaded and discharged using special equipment. In addition numerous facilities are specialised to handle various products groups such as vehicles, fruit, cocoa and other foodstuffs.
The Port of Hamburg has several multi-purpose terminals in operation. These have specialized in cargoes of very different types: project cargo, heavy cargo, out-of-gauge loads, RoRo cargo, metals, forestry products, and citrus fruits – with a suitable handling company for every type of cargo. With the strongest port cranes in the Port of Hamburg, Wallmann & Co., C. Steinweg (Süd-West Terminal) and Rhenus Midgard can handle unit loads of up to just over 400 tons. Projects are also frequently shipped as RoRo cargo, Unikai Lagerei- und Speditionsgesellschaft being the experts. Their facility, the largest in the Port of Hamburg specializing in wheeled cargoes handles state-of-the-art RoRo and ConRo vessels, annually totalling around 60,000 tons of general and project cargo, including extremely heavy loads. Along with its container gantries and crane capacities, the terminal operates two waterside RoRo ramps, across which vehicles, building equipment, trailers and other wheeled cargoes are handled.
In Hamburg over 25 different shipping companies are active in the conventional sea transport segment. The types of freight transported and the trade routes are varied, ranging from weekly fruit services from the Caribbean and vehicle transport services to West Africa to the eastbound multi-purpose services every two weeks. In addition, as required, Hamburg is called by project and heavy cargo tonnage for worldwide shipment of plant components. Around 15 percent of approx. 9,000 calls by ships in the Port of Hamburg are made by general or heavy cargo freighters or specialized units for wheeled or reefer cargo. The general cargo and project/plant shipping companies operating in Hamburg and handling this challenging freight are notable for special customer care, flexible capacities and close cooperation with terminal operators. Hamburg’s position as a general cargo port serving international transport chains is also boosted by the variety of its logistics and other services related to handling breakbulk cargo
Bulk cargo handling in Hamburg is of special importance for the trade. More than 40 million tons of bulk cargo is handled in Hamburg every year. This includes bulk goods such as building materials and fertilizer, suction cargo such as grain and animal feed, grab cargo such as iron ore and coal. Roofed-over handling facilities and storage areas guarantee safe handling for moisture-sensitive goods. Hamburg holds a leading position in Europe for suction cargo with silo capacity of a million tons. The ships can berth directly beside the large silos where high performance units carry out loading and discharging.
17 million tons of coal and ore (2019 total) are imported annually via Hamburg. The bulk of this dominates Hansaport, Germany’s largest seaport terminal for dry bulk cargoes, in gigantic stacks of coal and ore on a storage area covering 350,000 square metres. More than ten percent of Hamburg’s total seaborne cargo throughput is handled here. Hansaport offer two berths with a water depth of 15.4 metres for oceangoing vessels, as well as additional berths for coasters and inland waterway crafts. A very high degree of automation on the grab cranes, conveyor belts and rail handling equipment makes Hansaport an especially high-performance handling facility for grab cargoes on an international comparison. Depending on ship size and cargo type, Hansaport can discharge up to 110,000 tons in 24 hours. Transport of bulk cargoes inland is by rail or inland waterway vessel. Block trains are handled at a special loading terminal with 15 rail tracks.
A rising world population requires more and more food: Worldwide trade in agricultural products is growing to match. Among the ports of Northern Europe, Hamburg is the largest hub for such agricultural products as grain, oilseeds and feedstuffs. Three terminals in Hamburg cater for handling and storing wheat and other agricultural products. Totalling 255,000 tons, G.T.H. Getreide Terminal Hamburg has the largest agricultural product storage capacities in the Port of Hamburg. Another provider is Silo P. Kruse, with capacity of around 80,000 tons. This is the only agricultural terminal in Europe where ocean-going ships can be loaded and discharged simultaneously. ADM Hamburg operates silo capacities for 180,000 tons of feedstuffs, grain and oilseeds, plus a tank farm for 25,000 tons of sweet oils. Also on the site is Europe’s largest oilseed processing and refinery complex for rapeseeds and soya beans as elements for margarines and vegetable oils, bakery products, roasting applications, pharmaceutical glycerine and biodiesel. ADM is the leading biodiesel producer in Germany and Europe.
Hamburg is superbly equipped to handle the oil product segment of liquid cargoes. In liquid cargo handling such as Hamburg is excellently positioned for petroleum products. In 2021, the handling volume in this area was around 12 million tons. Oil product imports, especially, deserve special mention. Vopak Dupeg Terminal is one of Hamburg’s largest handling and storage facilities. Up to six million tons of oil products, chemicals, vegetable oils and gases can be handled, stored and processed there annually. Tank storage capacity totals approx. 700,000 cubic metres. Operating internationally, Oiltanking is a further terminal operator. With storage capacity of more than 870,000 cubic metres at its Hamburg facility, Oiltanking annually handles up to seven million tons of liquid cargoes.
Hamburg offers a variety of berths, its choice of terminals being just one indicator of the port’s flexibility and capacity as a cruise centre. The city offers downtown berths for day visits or overnight stops, as well as the appropriate infrastructure for effectively handling turnarounds. Ample parking is available near the ships. Hamburg is the starting point for world voyages, long-distance expeditions and transatlantic crossings. The city offers the complete portfolio, ranging from traditional cruises to others by resort or club ships or exclusive luxury liners. As a year-round destination, the port also receives regular calls during the winter months – not least thanks to its extremely popular Christmas markets. In addition, river cruises from Hamburg along the Elbe and far inland offer an abundance of scenic and cultural highlights.
The Port of Hamburg is one of the few anywhere in the world to offer shipping companies the opportunity of using alternative power supply systems. Either from road tankers or power barges, all three terminals offer Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). In addition, at Altona Cruise Terminal a shore power supply is available. The dimensions of the supply unit there are unique in Europe. This conforms to international technical standards and is designed to cater for all normal shipboard systems and ship sizes.