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Port of Belfast Tug by d.k.o.3, on Flickr

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£10m investment is just a drop in the ocean for port
1 July 2009
The Irish News

The Port of Belfast has splashed out £10 million to create a new deep-water berth it believes will further enhance the city's reputation as a world cruise destination.

And to coincide with yesterday's announcement, one of the world's biggest and most luxurious liners - the 950ft 113,000 tonne Crown Princess carrying 3,100 passengers - moored at the extended Stormont Wharf.

The wharf is more than a kilometre long - four times the length of the Titanic and longer than the Eiffel Tower is high.

It already operates as Belfast Port's main cruise ship berth, this year alone facilitating almost 40 liners carrying over 60,000 passengers.

But Belfast Harbour Commissioners insist the wharf will improve the port's chances of attracting even more cruise calls to the north in the future, as well as providing greater flexibility for trades related to the agri-food and construction sectors, which rely on imports from deep-water vessels.

Its chairman Len O'Hagan said Stormont Wharf was another piece in the jigsaw of the Harbour's ongoing investment plans.

"In the past two years we have completed or started new projects with a value of £60 million," he said.

"In the next 10 to 15 years our aim is to roll-out new quays, terminals and warehouses to ensure we offer users and the wider economy the best facilities possible and Stormont Wharf's extension is a cornerstone in those development plans."

Regional Development minister Conor Murphy, who unveiled a commemorative plaque yesterday to mark the opening, said: "Belfast is one of the island's key maritime gateways and the Stormont Wharf extension will ensure it maintains that position."

He said over the past 10 years Belfast Harbour Commissioners and the Cruise Belfast Initiative had developed Belfast's reputation into one of the most popular cruise destinations on the British Isles.

"Stormont Wharf will enable the Port to improve the welcome that visitors receive when they disembark," Mr Murphy said.

"Despite the current economic difficulties, I commend the Harbour Commissioners for their vision in continuing to take the long-term capital investment decisions that will secure the port's primary position as the leading logistics and distribution hub and trading gateway for the north of Ireland."

The new wharf will also be used to accommodate the growing trend for ever larger freight vessels which can deliver up to 40,000 tonnes of cargo during one visit to port.

The upgrade of Stormont Wharf, which involved building an additional 250 metres of quayside, will allow four deep-water vessels to berth simultaneously.
 
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