Reception of the largest container ships possible thanks to official 16 meters draft in the Deurganck dock

Reception of the largest container ships possible thanks to official 16 meters draft in the Deurganck dock

Over the past three years, intensive efforts have been made to fully prepare the Antwerp port for the reception of container ships with a draft of 16 meters. This opens doors for Antwerp to be the first port of call for the largest ships. Achieving this milestone involved six meticulous test voyages, with the last one taking place on November 10, 2023, featuring the successful passage of MSC Raya in the Deurganck dock. Today, MSC Aurora becomes the first container ship to sail to Antwerp with a draft of 16 meters under normal admission policy, not as a trial run.

Previously, the draft was limited to 15.56 meters. The 16-meter draft represents a crucial step forward. The close collaboration between the shipping company MSC Belgium, the pilots and traffic controllers of the Maritime Services and Coast Agency (MDK), the Dutch pilots, the Joint Nautical Authority (GNA) and Port of Antwerp-Bruges made this impressive result possible.

The series of tests began on March 1, 2021, with the arrival of MSC Regulus with a draft of 15.7 meters, and MSC Rapallo also had a successful test voyage with a draft of 15.7 meters. This was followed by MSC Diletta on July 9, 2022, with a draft of 15.9 meters and MSC Isabella. On October 2, 2023, MSC Tessa successfully set the depth record of 16 meters upon arrival from Portugal in the Deurganck dock.

After the successful completion of the last test with MSC Raya, various procedures have been followed, and as of today, the 16-meter draft is officially in effect. The Antwerp port now has the capacity to welcome the world's largest ships. This additional 5 decimeters can yield approximately 1000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) gain. The increased draft of 16 meters applies exclusively to container ships sailing to the Deurganck dock.

Annick De Ridder, Vice-Mayor of the City of Antwerp and President of the board of directors of Port of Antwerp-Bruges: “For our global economic position, it is essential that we can continue to receive the largest container ships. A draft of 16m allows us to further profile ourselves in the Far East, where the largest ships sail. This strengthens our position as the first port of call. It gives us a competitive advantage and consolidates our position as a global port. After the first trial run in October, today was the turn of the MSC AURORA to perform the very first official '16m journey.' Our port achieves a new milestone. Congratulations!"
Marc Beerlandt, CEO of MSC Belgium: "I am pleased that a draft of 16 meters has been achieved in the Port of Antwerp. My sincere thanks go to the pilotage, Maritime Services and Coast (MDK), the Joint Nautical Authority (GNA), and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges for their dedicated efforts to achieve this impressive result. The sailing of MSC Aurora marks an important moment and confirms Antwerp as a global port for the largest container ships. This achievement reflects MSC's commitment and the pursuit of continuous progress in Antwerp."


MSC- Aurora - MPET - ©Malumax Photography
MSC- Aurora - MPET - ©Malumax Photography


Show in news overview
About Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With an overall throughput of 271 million tonnes per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. The port is a crucial link for the handling of containers, breakbulk and for the throughput of vehicles. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs and generates an added value of 21 billion euros.
The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is clear - to become the world's first port that reconciles economy, people and climate. As well as growing in a sustainable way, the Port also aims to focus on its unique position as a logistics, maritime and industrial centre and to take the lead in the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy. Together with the port community, customers and other partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is actively seeking innovative solutions for a sustainable future. High on the agenda is its responsibility for the environment and the surrounding society. 

The port sites of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are operated by the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority, a limited liability company of public law with the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges as its shareholders. The port employs 1,800 people. Vice-Mayor of Antwerp Annick De Ridder is President of the Board of Directors, the Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw is the Vice-President. Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the port’s day-to-day management.

The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to

Port of Antwerp-Bruges
Zaha Hadidplein 1
2030 Antwerp