You are here:

Three questions to Bart and Henk about the bottom protection system for Zeesluis IJmuiden

A larger lock means bigger ships and more salt water. The locking process creates large volumes of fresh or salt water flowing into or out of the lock and water turbulence may scour out holes near the inner and outer lock heads, undermining them.

Special bottom protection layers are therefore applied at the inner and outer lock heads. Bart Broekman and Henk Vink of Combinatie BaggerIJ are in charge of the preparation and the application of the bottom protection layers. In this article they will answer three questions about bottom protection.

Why should the bottom near the lock heads be protected?

The locking process creates large volumes of fresh or salt water flowing into or out of the lock which may scour out holes near the inner and outer lock heads, undermining them. In order to reduce this effect, the bottom at the entrances of the lock near the inner lock head (canal side) and the outer lock head (seaward side) will receive extra protection layers. Also the area next to the outer approach wall up to the guard wall will receive a special protection layer. Without bottom protection layers along the lock walls, the scouring action of turbulent water could cause unwanted sand transport along these walls. This could have consequences for shipping traffic, as sand transport could cause changes in water depth in or near the lock. By applying bottom protection layers, we prevent this from happening. Extra attention must be paid to the connection of the protection layers to the lock walls.”

What does a bottom protection layer consist of?

“Our bottom protection method consists of applying two layers of material. The first layer of the bottom protection system is made of bundles of willow connected to a filter cloth. The bundles are tied together crosswise by hand in sections measuring 1 metre by 1 metre. The willow branches give strength to the filter cloth during the transport and the underwater installation and provide a solid first bottom protection layer. The filter cloth also ensures that no sand gets through the bottom protection layers. Due to the light weight of the willow bundles, the filter cloth can easily be lowered and positioned underwater next to the walls and lock heads. This first layer is also called the fascine mattress. The second layer of bottom protection is put on top of the filter cloth and the willow bundles. This second layer consists of rip-rap, loose stone used as ballast.“

How is bottom protection applied?

“In many places, the riprap layer is encased in concrete to ensure that it will not be swept away by water flows due to currents or ships’ propeller movements (wash). Each individual compartment of the fascine mattress on the bottom is covered by concrete by means of a grab which releases the concrete just above the bottom. We have tested this technique with divers and they have told us that it worked OK. After completion, the divers will carry out random checks to see whether every segment has been covered with enough concrete. To ensure that the sandy soil next to the lock walls will remain in place, the riprap along all the walls will be covered by a so-called colloidal concrete mix. This is a special type of concrete that does not dissolve during the pouring process and is not washed away by water currents. The gravel in this concrete comes from K3Deme, a company based in the port of Amsterdam.'

The bottom protection layers ultimately ensure that the bottom of the lock will continue to remain at the required depth and that the sand will not be swept away by water turbulence in the lock. This type of soil protection is expected to protect the bottom of the lock for more than 100 years.


Working together to train lock and VTS operators

Zeesluis IJmuiden will soon be ready for use. But first, staff will have to master the ins and outs of operating the lock. Mia Dröge is Strategic Advisor to the Harbour Master's Division of Port of Amsterdam. Together with a team, she will ensure that the lock can be operated safely.

This includes the training of the VTS operators and the lock operators who will soon be operating the new lock. Mia sees herself as a connector of the various parties within and outside Port of Amsterdam. She talks about her role and activities.

Port of Amsterdam has assigned a number of public tasks to the Harbour Master's Division. These tasks include the handling of shipping traffic. The Harbour Master's Division will ultimately be the organisation that will use the lock to give ships access to the ports in the North Sea Canal area. It is the Harbour Master's task to handle shipping traffic to and from the lock safely, smoothly and sustainably. Many steps will still have to be taken before that can be realised. Mia explained, “The putting into operational service of the new lock involves a lot of preparations. The process starts with a large amount of paperwork, such as the updating of regulations and the making of working agreements with Rijkswaterstaat, the owner of the lock. For example, we need to draw up a new regulation that controls combined lockages through Zeesluis IJmuiden and the parameters of this regulation must be integrated into Port of Amsterdam's digital system. The system will then inform the customers of the port that the lock exists ‘in digital form’. This enables them to send us the required notifications of their ships’ arrivals or departures and it enables us to make lock reservations for Zeesluis IJmuiden.”

The common interest is paramount

In order to make the best possible use of Zeesluis IJmuiden, Mia works together with many different parties. Relations between organisations are good and levels of engagement have increased over time. Mia added, “We work together with different departments of Rijkswaterstaat, with OpenIJ and with the nautical service providers such as the Pilot Organisation, the IJmuiden linesmen and the towing service. We have consultations every four weeks. During these consultations, we discuss the progress of the work. We have been working together for so long that I also call every week to see how things are going. The lines are very short.” Our cooperation, Mia is happy to say, is very pleasant and we can discuss everything. Mia added, “Despite the physical limitations of working from home, we can easily contact each other. I am not afraid to ask critical questions and raise subjects. Even ‘uncomfortable’ issues can be discussed. I look at the common interest of all parties and the willingness to cooperate and move towards a solution. That is a good basis from which to work.”

Working together for the same goal

The various different parties share the same goal: to put the lock into operation effectively and safely. The lock operators and the VTS operators are being trained to operate the new lock. Mia is busy with this. Mia said, “The process is focussed on the lock operators. They are the ones who will actually open and close the lock. The lock operators receive training through e-learning combined with simulations and training in practice. One of the reasons is that the technology of Zeesluis IJmuiden differs from that of the North Lock. The new sea lock is so large that there is no direct view of the moving parts of the lock (barriers and lock gates, for example) from the Lock Operation Centre. That is why cameras are used, so the lock is actually remotely controlled. The lock operators operate all the locks of the lock complex and Zeesluis IJmuiden will soon be added to their set of tasks. Once all the lock operators have mastered the technology of Zeesluis IJmuiden, the VTS operators and other nautical staff will be trained. Their training, though, is less extensive.

Practising with test scenarios

To make sure that everyone is ready for the lock being put into operational service, exercises will be held with Zeesluis IJmuiden this autumn. This will again be done in cooperation with Rijkswaterstaat and OpenIJ. Mia explained that for these exercises, real ships will be used for the lockage process. Mia added, “We are going to test the entire lock process of Zeesluis IJmuiden together with the lock operators, the pilots, the tugboats and the linesmen. We will do this with ships of various sizes, including ships that are already scheduled to call at one of the ports in the North Sea Canal area. We will ask these ships in advance if they are willing to participate in the lock process tests by passing through Zeesluis IJmuiden. During the test period, the other locks will also be operated of course. An increased number of staff will therefore be on duty then. The test period is the final test for all cooperating parties: the builder of the lock (OpenIJ), the owner of the lock (Rijkswaterstaat), the user of the lock (the Harbour Master's Division), and the nautical service providers who assist the ships passing through the lock. Ultimately, Zeesluis IJmuiden must be a safe place for everyone and we must be able to work safely together.’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

All the lock gates have been put into position

In March 2021, the last two lock gates on the canal side were successfully installed. The whole operation lasted four days. Edgar Breedveld and Victor Arnolds were involved in this milestone achievement. They directed the positioning process and ensured a good outcome.

They told us about their work and about the positioning process.

Manoeuvring the lock gates into position

The lock gates were towed from Amsterdam to IJmuiden by tugboats. Upon arrival, the lock gates were manoeuvred into the lock and moored there. Victor explained, “After that, the lock gates were installed with the help of winches and tugboats. A winch is a tool with a steel wire that can be used to lift or pull heavy objects. First, the winches were connected to the lock gate. After this, the lock gate was pulled towards the lock gate chamber. With the help of the tugboats, the gate was put into position. When the lock gate was in position, it was sunk by filling the special ballast tanks of the ballast system with water. Once the lock gate was at the correct depth in the inner head gate chamber, the gate itself was connected to the upper and lower wheel carriages.”

One lock gate in the dry dock

Victor explained, “In the same way as the inner gate was brought into the gate chamber, the spare lock gate was positioned into the dry dock next to it. The gate of this dry dock was closed on 13 April. If, in the future, one of the gates requires maintenance, the dry dock can provide easy access to it. The water can be pumped out of the dry dock to allow maintenance work being carried out to the spare gate.”

A tight schedule

The installation of the gates went well. Good preparation proved to be essential. Victor made checklists in advance, which were completed during the final preparations. The whole operation depended on the weather, the personnel and the equipment. Edgar added, “The last days before the scheduled positioning of the gates were hectic. The first series of weather forecasts were not so good, as the wind speeds were above the safety criteria. So we met every day to look at the weather forecast. In the end, the forecasts improved and 72 hours before the operations were programmed, we decided to go ahead with it.” On the day itself, a tight timetable was maintained. Victor explained, “We started the day with a kick-off meeting. In this meeting, we went over everything, such as the weather conditions, personnel involved, available facilities and a thorough check if everyone and everything was complete and ready for action. Then we wished everyone a good day and got to work.”

Points of attention during the positioning of the gates

The main focus for Victor and Edgar was safety for all. Edgar added, “We also had to keep an eye on our own safety because, as the saying goes: ‘out together, home together’.” The operation was successfully completed. Victor explained, “We had planned four days of work for the two lock gates. The first lock gate took 11 hours, the other one 10 hours, so everything went faster than expected. The positioning of the gates into the gate chamber was a daylight operation and the daylight determined when we had to start and stop. Edgar and Victor also had to take the shipping traffic into account. It appeared that ships were hardly affected by the operation. Edgar explained, “During the preliminary stages and the operation itself we kept Port of Amsterdam informed as accurately as possible. We also had applied for all transport permits for the lock gates well in advance. It so happened that there was a lock closure planned for the period of the positioning of the gates, so we had the North Sea Canal almost to ourselves. During the positioning of the gates in the gate chamber, we noticed small water movements due to ships passing the area, but it was not necessary to limit shipping traffic. As the positioning took place mainly in the lock and lock gate chamber itself, any inconvenience by water movements was limited.”

Now that all the lock gates are in position, a new testing period can begin.


The how, what and where of the site layout of Zeesluis IJmuiden

The construction of Zeesluis IJmuiden is almost completed. Now that all the lock gates have been put in position, the area around the new sea lock is being prepared for its future use. During the preparation of the area, everything will be made ready for the opening of the lock.

This includes the asphalting of the public road and cycle paths. Site manager Edwin Komdeur and Chief Planner Dirk Jorna, both of OpenIJ, supervise this process together.

Good cooperation is important

OpenIJ has been working on the design of the site layout for four years. Preparatory work on the area around the lock started at the end of 2018. Dirk gave an explanation, “We have invested more effort in the design over the past few years, so that we had time enough for research, answering questions and fine-tuning the design. The implementation is expected to be quite a puzzle, because some parts of the lock will be ready sooner than other parts. In addition, construction of the lock is still continuing, so we have to deal with many different parties.” Dirk and Edwin try to coordinate the work on the site as well as possible. That is quite a challenge. Edwin explained, “We hold consultations at all levels and try to get everyone on board as much as possible. Every day, we discuss our internal planning with the foremen. And even before that, we coordinate all the work with the planners. They make sure that everyone at work is informed of our activities.”

Tight planning

The preparation of the site will only come into play once the construction of the lock nears completion. Dirk and Edwin will have to face two difficult tasks during this phase. "In the preparation of the site, we face two major challenges, namely the number of different parties carrying out the work and the work planning itself. We work to a tight schedule and are dependent on the weather. Recently, scheduled work during a weekend could not be carried out due to strong winds. So then we had to change the schedule.”

Design of the site layout

Everything must be included in the design, such as asphalting, cycle paths, road paving, road markings, fences, railings, traffic lights, barriers and navigational markings. Edwin and Dirk and their team ensure that nothing will be forgotten. Edwin explained, “Basically, we follow the design and the construction drawing. But sometimes things may have been forgotten in the design or things turn out differently in practice, certain markings, for example. I discuss such things with Dirk and we try to find a solution. Any changes are corrected and updated in the design so that there will always be a correct version available not only for now but also for future use. Special measures for the Vletterlieden are taken on the platform of the lock. Dirk explained, “The Vletterlieden are the IJmuiden linesmen (or boatmen). They assist ships with mooring and unmooring in the locks and in the port and also provide other marine services. For them, we provide the lock platform with raised edges around the lock wall and apply navigational markings.” The site is mainly laid out with concrete, asphalt and grass.

Site layout of the lock platform

Ships passing through Zeesluis IJmuiden will notice little of the site layout. Something of the layout, such as navigational markings on the lock walls, will be visible on the lock platform itself. Edwin added, “We install navigational markings and stop markings on the lock platform. This way, ships can see how far they have to go before they will be in position for mooring. Pylons for orientation for the ships will be installed at the top and rear ends of the lock. Ships can use the pylons as a visual position and direction guidance system when approaching and entering the lock. In addition, traffic lights and traffic control installations will be installed on the inner and outer lock heads. Traffic lights regulate when ships are allowed to enter or leave the lock.”

Diving operations at Zeesluis IJmuiden

There are also divers at work for the construction of Zeesluis IJmuiden (the new sea lock). They are busy with underwater engineering and construction activities.

Max Schellenbach and Jan-Pieter Steunebrink of Boskalis are responsible for the Boskalis diving department and the execution of the work for OpenIJ. They told us about the work of their divers.

Inspect, repair and supervise

The divers carry out underwater work and assist with a variety of other activities, such as concrete pouring, inspecting and - where necessary - repairing diaphragm walls. Max explained, “Our divers recently inspected over 26,000 m2 of diaphragm walls and touched up joints in the walls.” The divers do not only carry out underwater work, they also assist during important phases in the construction. Jan-Pieter added, “The divers were also present when the lock gates were manoeuvred into position in the lock gate chambers. Approximately 8 to 10 divers were working simultaneously when the lock gates were positioned into the gate chambers. The divers were there to assist the underwater process and were in constant contact with the workers above water to tell them whether or not all was going well."

A wide variety of possible underwater work

Professional diving is a very special career. The work is exciting but also very demanding. Max explained, “Every project is different. Our divers are now diving at the new sea lock at IJmuiden, but may be in Denmark, Norway or even Mexico next month. The possibilities of working as a diver are endless.”

Safety under water

Divers have to take into account all kinds of regulations and legislation with regard to safety under water. Each diving team, for example, consists of at least three divers so that they can take turns. Jan-Pieter agreed and added, “The divers arrive at the pontoon in the morning and then start the day with a cup of coffee and the daily ‘toolbox meeting’. During this safety talk, we discuss what kind of activities can be expected and if there are any specific items of concern. Every dive is different. That is why we make a Last-Minute Risk Analysis before we start. This way, we can understand and keep track of any risks during our working day. I have a lot of contact with the divers during the day. All day long, they keep me fully informed of the diving operations they are carrying out.”

Efficient diving

The divers alternate in shifts of three or four divers to work as efficiently as possible. Max explained, “The total diving time a diver can work underwater depends on the working depth. Dive tables indicate how long a diver can safely remain underwater. In the lock, the divers have to dive deeper than usual. Sometimes they dive as deep as 20 metres in the waters outside the lock. Because of this depth, they cannot stay underwater as long as they would otherwise. To extend the diving time, we dive with special air, namely ‘nitrox’. Nitrox is a type of air with more oxygen than in 'normal' compressed air. The divers who are not diving remain on the pontoon. By using special communication devices and by observing the air bubbles, they know approximately the diver’s underwater position. If he needs tools, the divers on the pontoon lower them in the water by means of a rope or by using the crane. On average, each diver works approximately 50 hours a week, based on applicable Labour Legislation.”

Special circumstances

It is very dark underwater, so divers always use head torches and cameras. Jan-Pieter explained, “All diving operations can be followed with cameras and sound equipment. If visibility is very poor, due to dredging for example, then everything has to be done by touch. You have to get used to it, but it actually goes very well.” The average water temperature in winter is 5 degrees Celsius. So the divers take special measures to keep warm. Max added, “To keep warm, the divers dive with a special dry suit. No water gets through and the skin stays dry. Divers wear special thermal clothing under this suit. The thickness of the thermal clothing allows them to dress as warmly as they like. In winter we also install a heater on the pontoon and in summer an air conditioner.”

Port of Amsterdam wants to be the frontrunner in transition

The City of Amsterdam has recently approved Port of Amsterdam's new Strategic Plan 2021-2025. This plan sets out Port of Amsterdam's strategic choices for the next four years. The main objective: to be a leading European Sea port in the transition to a sustainable society.

In order to realise this ambition, Port of Amsterdam is pursuing seven concrete objectives divided over three strategic choices.

Port of Amsterdam enables customers, cargos and operations to grow more sustainably

This is accomplished by attracting new sustainable activities, but also by linking producers of sustainable energy to existing clients in the port, or by ensuring that one party's residual flow becomes another party's raw material. Port of Amsterdam's objectives include attracting more circular process industry and growing non-fossil turnover.

The shipping process will be smoother, safer and more transparent

To optimally process the flow of goods, information must be exchanged between port authorities, shipping companies, ships, agents, terminals and nautical service providers. In concrete terms, the aim is that at least 95 percent of shipping arrives and departs on time. By cooperating with other Dutch ports as well, the port authority innovates faster and thus strengthens its competitive position.

Port of Amsterdam developes a future-proof port complex

Its infrastructure is the foundation of the port. Port of Amsterdam is developing it with the new sea lock and stronger hinterland connections by water, road and rail. There is a need for sustainable infrastructure, such as shore-based power, hydrogen fueling stations and bunker facilities for new fuels. An energy infrastructure is also needed for the sustainable processing of residues and raw materials. Port of Amsterdam is working on the availability of (green) hydrogen, steam, CO2 and the reinforcement of the electricity network. All this requires the creation of sufficient physical and environmental space, and (external) safety contours.

Creating a better and sustainable port

Koen Overtoom, CEO Port of Amsterdam, 'The great thing about this strategy is that we developed it together with clients and other stakeholders. It has ambition and we are also taking our responsibility as a sustainable, economic engine for the region. After our coal decision in 2017, where we indicated that we no longer wish to tranship coal in the port after 2030, this strategic plan takes us a step further, by setting concrete goals for alternative fuels and non-fossil revenues. This way, we are actively steering towards a sustainable port complex with ever decreasing CO2 emissions. At the same time, this ensures we will remain a strong player in Europe, which connects us to the world and makes us an important economic factor. We are pleased with the support of the City of Amsterdam for this new strategy and are eager to work with our clients to make the port more sustainable and to improve it.'

Find out more on the strategic plan on this webpage.

The new sea lock (‘Zeesluis IJmuiden’) - what will happen in March and April 2021?

The contours of Zeesluis IJmuiden are now clearly visible and this means that the final phase of construction has now begun. In the coming months, OpenIJ will continue with the construction of the Loswal (quay) on the Zuidersluiseiland (number 1 in the picture);

The public road across the locks will open for pedestrians, cyclists and mopeds (number 2 in the picture); flood defence north will be tarmacked (number 3 in the picture); the future dyke of flood defence south will be raised to the correct height (number 4 in the picture); protection material will be applied to the bottom of the Nieuwe Zeesluis at the inner and the outer heads (number 5 in the picture); and there will be a lock gate replacement at the outer head of the Noordersluis (North Lock).

Construction of the Loswal (quay) on the Zuidersluiseiland

In the period from September 2020 to June 2021, OpenIJ will be building a new quay on the Zuidersluiseiland, next to the storehouse of the Heida company (number 1 in the picture). The new quay - also to be used as a car landing place for inland ships - will extend the facilities at the Zuidersluiseiland. In the period March and April 2021, work is being carried out to the earth-retaining structure and the embankment protection.

Opening of the public road across the locks

The public road across the IJmuiden lock complex will open on 29 March 2021. The road (number 2 in the picture) will only be open for mopeds, cyclists and pedestrians. The road will remain closed for car traffic until further notice. Cars cannot yet use the public road because there are still a number of construction and maintenance works ongoing at the lock complex. Until the end of 2021, mopeds, cyclists and pedestrians using the public road should therefore take into account extra delays that may occur due to (maintenance) works to the bridges of the Middle Lock (Middensluis) and the use of temporary pumps at the Small Lock (Kleine Sluis). The public road runs across the outer gate of the new sea lock. Testing operations of the outer gate of the new sea lock will be carried out on working days between 19.00 and 24.00 LT. During these periods, the public road will be closed for road for traffic.

Flood defence north

In March, the Middensluisweg near the flood defence north (number 3 in the picture) will be tarmacked. The Middensluisweg is part of the public road across the locks that will be open to mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians as from 29 March 2021. The Middensluisweg will be open to car traffic at a later stage.

Flood defence south

Flood defence south (number 4 in the picture) is where the OpenIJ concrete mixing plant previously stood. The concrete mixing plant has produced more than 300,000 m3 of concrete for the construction of the sea lock. In the coming weeks, the future dyke at this location will be raised to the required height after which OpenIJ will start the construction of the road on top of the dyke.

Protection material to the bottom of the lock at the inner head

On 15, 16 and 17 March (during the closures of the North Lock due to planned maintenance by technical service provider SPIE), OpenIJ will start with the application of protection material to the bottom of the Nieuwe Zeesluis at the inner head. Once the closures of the North Lock have ended, various works will take place in and near the inner and outer approach channels to the North Lock. Shipping traffic will be taken into account during these works. In week numbers 12-14 (22 March to 8 April 2021), OpenIJ will complete the application of protection material at the inner head of the Nieuwe Zeesluis.

Protection material to the bottom of the lock at the outer head and lock gate replacement

During the period from 12 to 14 April 2021, OpenIJ will start the application of protection material to the bottom of the Nieuwe Zeesluis at the outer head (number 5 in the picture). During the closures of the North Lock from 19 to 22 April 2021, OpenIJ will apply protection material to the bottom of the Nieuwe Zeesluis at the outer head. There will be a lock gate replacement of the North Lock on 21 April 2021. The closures of the North Lock have been mentioned in Announcement to Shipping No. 08/2021. In week numbers 17-21 (end of April to end of May 2021), the remaining protection material will be applied at the outer head of the Nieuwe Zeesluis. For this, no further lock closures of the North Lock will be necessary.


Port of Amsterdam welcomes new container service to Ireland

Press release

Samskip announced today that the company will start a new container service on the 25th of January, connecting the TMA Logistics terminal in the port of Amsterdam to the Irish port of Dublin.

Samskip TMA Amsterdam
Photo credits: Samskip

The service will start on fixed days, departing from Amsterdam on Monday and arriving in Dublin on Wednesday and returning to Amsterdam in the weekend. This expansion of the Samskip network is the latest in a series of its recent new connections via Amsterdam, including a direct rail service between Amsterdam – Duisburg and the addition of the Scottish port of Grangemouth to the UK connections this past summer/fall. It is another testament to the competitive position of the port of Amsterdam in the short sea and intermodal markets.

The service is launched at a time wherein direct connections between Ireland and the EU markets are of vital importance, as UK-routed cargo can run into Brexit related challenges. According to Thijs Goumans, Head of Ireland Trade Samskip, the service launch comes at a time when importers and exporters in Ireland-mainland Europe trades continue to weigh up options as the consequences of Brexit for supply chain management became clear. ‘The Ireland-North Continent freight market is in a dynamic phase, and fixed day container services to/from Amsterdam provide the certainty on which supply chain managers serving the Dutch and German markets can base business growth,’ said Goumans. Dependent on demand, Samskip will consider calls to connect other ports in Ireland to Amsterdam direct.

Michael van Toledo, General Manager TMA Amsterdam, also applauds the latest development. ‘This new service could have been custom-made for our ambitions to grow as a hub for shortsea container business in Amsterdam.’ It is the next step in our relationship with Samskip, targeting shippers’ greater appetite for direct container services between Ireland and the North Continent, post-Brexit, with TMA’s cross-docking services also winning over trailer operators in markets further south.’ Richard Archer, Regional Director Samskip Multimodal, confirms the attractiveness of the port, ‘Amsterdam is a high performance port connecting straight into the hinterland area and the entire Samskip Ireland team is delighted by this new commitment to pan-European transport.’

For Port of Amsterdam, the container service is another welcome addition to its short sea and intermodal network. Its strategic focus aims at leveraging its geographical position, hinterland connections, competitive advantages and strong commercial players into continued success in the short sea market. Koen Overtoom, CEO Port of Amsterdam, said, ‘We are very pleased with this expansion of the short sea network of the port of Amsterdam. It underlines the strength of the services TMA Logistics and Samskip offer, as well as the strategic position of our port. Ireland is a key market, and especially in these rapidly changing times a direct connection such as this presents tremendous opportunities. As Port of Amsterdam, we will continue to work with TMA, Samskip and our international partners to make this service a success.’

Significant decrease in transhipment in 2020 due to energy transition and coronavirus   

Press release

The port of Amsterdam experienced a decrease in transhipment in 2020 for the first time in a long time. While transhipment was at a record high in 2019 at 86.9 million tonnes, in 2020 this number was 74.3 million tonnes, a 14% decrease, for the port of Amsterdam.

Overslag Amsterdamse haven 2020
Photo by Machiel Kraaij

It wasn’t only the coronavirus that caused the reduced transhipment numbers; it was primarily the energy transition that resulted in a significant decrease of coal transhipment in 2020. The other ports in the North Sea Canal area primarily felt the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. The total transhipment in 2020 for the North Sea Canal ports (Beverwijk, IJmuiden, Zaanstad and Amsterdam) amounted to about 91 million tonnes compared to 105 million tonnes in 2019.

In IJmuiden, transhipment decreased by 4% to 16 million tonnes. Beverwijk also saw transhipment decrease, from 648,000 tonnes to around 472,000 tonnes. Zaanstad experienced a slight increase from 194,000 tonnes compared to 180,000 tonnes in 2019. This is according to the provisional transhipment figures published today. The final transhipment figures will be announced later this year.

Impact of the energy transition on coal transhipment

The energy transition had major repercussions for coal transhipment this past coronavirus year, which decreased by 52% to 7.5 million tonnes in 2020 in the port of Amsterdam. In 2019 coal transhipment was still 15.6 million tonnes. Direct causes of this steep decrease were the closure of the Hemweg power plant in December 2019, the fact that more sustainable energy resources were available and that the gas price was low last year, making coal comparatively more expensive.

Impact of the coronavirus

Mobility came to a halt in mid-March, resulting in less demand for transport fuel worldwide. Transhipment of liquid bulk (mostly refined oil products such as petrol and diesel) decreased by 7% to 46.6 million tonnes in 2020 compared to 50 million tonnes in 2019. General cargo also decreased in 2020. Container cargo decreased by 13% compared to 2019 and Ro-Ro also experienced a 23% drop compared to the preceding year.

Amsterdam did not welcome any sea cruise ships in 2020 (2019: 117 sea cruise ships). The port of Amsterdam did welcome a number of river cruise ships during the summer months. These numbered 195 during last year’s summer months when the coronavirus measures were temporarily relaxed, compared to 2,282 in 2019.

Allocations and a quay

In 2020, about 20 hectares of ground were allocated to Vollers (4.8 hectares) and Logistics Amsterdam Harbor (4.2 hectares), and a 2-hectare lot was purchased at HoogTij. The allocation to Amsterdam Logistic Cityhub was also completed. In addition, construction of the first bio-LNG plant in the Netherlands was started at Renewi Organics in cooperation with Nordsol and Shell. The cargo flow in construction products increased to almost 8 million tonnes.


Koen Overtoom, CEO of Port of Amsterdam: ‘The port and its customers were hard-hit by the coronavirus, and at the same time we are seeing that the energy transition is making its mark when looking at the major decrease in coal transhipment. I am proud of how the port and the various companies have continued to work, thereby proving how vital and crucial the port is. Core activities continued in 2020: energy was generated, waste was processed, water was purified, construction materials were delivered and the region was supplied with online orders by distribution centres located in the port. With a view to vaccination, I am hoping for a recovery over the course of 2021. Although it is difficult to predict transhipment developments due to the coronavirus at this time, we initiated our new four-year strategy on 1 January. This strategy is characterised by an acceleration of the energy transition through investment in the energy infrastructure and digitisation in order to become a future-proof port. Our efforts towards sustainability while simultaneously strengthening our role as a European seaport continue undiminished. With 7 billion added value and about 70,000 jobs, the North Sea Canal port creates many employment opportunities in the region and contributes to the Netherlands’ economic well-being.’

Port of Amsterdam appoints new CFO

Alexander Kousbroek has been appointed Port of Amsterdam’s new Chief Financial Officer (CFO) effective 1 January 2021. He will be succeeding Michiel de Brauw, who is resigning from his position on 31 December 2020.

Kousbroek (40) has been working at Port of Amsterdam since 2015, including as Head of Finance and Control since 2016, a role in which he acquired extensive knowledge of and experience in the Port, including with its financial operations. Kousbroek has been the Port’s acting CFO since 1 February 2020, having replaced Michiel de Brauw in the past year, who has been unable to perform his duties as CFO due to health reasons. De Brauw will remain employed at the Port, where he is set to undertake various projects.

Port of Amsterdam CEO Koen Overtoom: ‘Alexander has really proved his value in recent months, during a time significantly complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. He knows the company and our customers, and he is ambitious and results-driven. I look forward to continue working with him on a long-term basis.’

Port of Amsterdam Supervisory Board Chairman Koos van der Steenhoven: ‘In appointing Alexander, we are ensuring continuity within our Board of Directors and in our company finances during uncertain times. Alexander is up to speed on everything, knows the business well and, as our acting CFO over the past year, has demonstrated he is well up to the job.’

In his role as CFO, Alexander Kousbroek is in charge of managing several departments at the Port, including Finance & Control, Risk Management, Business Control, Information Technology, Purchasing, and Legal Affairs.

Prior to joining Port of Amsterdam, Kousbroek worked for many years as an accountant at Deloitte. accountant bij Deloitte.