2021-10-01

Zeebrugge call optimises Grimaldi Group's Belgium-Ireland route

Grimaldi Group's roll-on/roll-off vessel Eurocargo Bari entered the port of Zeebrugge for the first time on 24 July 2021. It was the start of a rather unusual service, as the ship came directly from the port of Antwerp. Eurocargo Bari connects our two Belgian ports with the Irish port of Cork.

We are talking about a connection with Ireland, not the United Kingdom, and yet Brexit is not far off. Indeed, in January 2021, the start of the post-Brexit era, several direct shortsea cargo routes were immediately launched between European continental ports (such as Cherbourg and Dunkerque) and Ireland. A direct connection avoids the so-called landbridge via Great Britain.

 

In the port of Zeebrugge, shipping company CLdN provided several fully loaded services to and from Ireland long before Brexit. In January another capacity increase was implemented on the destinations Cork and Dublin. The number of sailings between Ireland and the Zeebrugge port went up very quickly.

Afvaarten tussen Ierland en België met Grimaldi Group

Line manager Antonio Raimo of Grimaldi Group explains in a telephone interview why it was a logical step to adapt a service specifically to the need for Irish connections. "In fact, Grimaldi Group has been operating in Ireland for almost 25 years. Thanks to its successful cooperation with Port of Cork Company, our company has a regular roll-on roll-off and container service that connects Cork directly to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean and, via transshipment in Antwerp, to destinations in North and South America, West Africa and Russia."

 

With a capacity of 3,810 lane metres, the 'Eurocargo Bari' is one of the larger short-sea roro vessels connecting the continent with Ireland. "Especially after the Brexit, it was necessary to upgrade our network, due to an increasing demand for direct routes between Ireland and the European continent. There was a growth in the shortsea trailer and container market," says Antonio Raimo. "The shortage in chauffeurs is creating a stronger demand for direct routes. Forwarders want to use their drivers as efficiently as possible."

 

That is why in May Grimaldi Group introduced the roro vessel Eurocargo Bari on the route between Grimaldi's hub in Antwerp and its fully equipped terminal in Ringaskiddy, Cork (through its subsidiary Euromed Ireland Logistics Ltd).

Zeebrugge as roro hub

Less than three months after the introduction of Eurocargo Bari on Antwerp - Cork, it was decided to add Zeebrugge as a port of call.

 

"The demand came from our customers. Zeebrugge is a leading roll-on roll-off port with excellent intermodal services, and Antwerp also has a strong geographical position. Both are very complementary to each other," says Antonio Raimo.

For this service Grimaldi Group has an agreement with P&O Ferries, who are the stevedoring partners in Zeebrugge. Antonio Raimo explains that a commercial cooperation is on the agenda, but in general terms he prefers to say that "we support each other, whatever comes our way in the future".

 

"Depending on the market development, there will be more roro capacity and frequency. Of course, there is also a need for infrastructure on the Irish side. Dublin, for example, has congestion problems, but the good news is that all stakeholders are working to solve this in the near future," says Mr Raimo.

Grimaldi Group heeft een overeenkomst met P&O Ferries

With its subsidiary Finnlines, Grimaldi Group has been a customer of Zeebrugge for many years and operates services to the Baltic States, the United Kingdom and Spain. Finnlines' ships use the PSA Zeebrugge terminal for loading and unloading roro cargo and containers.

Antwerpen-Zeebrugge-Cork

ShipEurocargo Bari
Length200 m
Speed23 knots
Capaciteit3,850 linear metres of roll-on roll-off cargo, and space for 200 cars on the hangar decks

Two departures per week from Zeebrugge to Cork, of which one also calls at Antwerp.

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