On 27 September 2016 Kiel marked 25 years of ferry services to Russian ports. To celebrate the anniversary the Port of Kiel, the shipping company DFDS and the firm of CIS Cargo, which specialises in transport between western and eastern Europe, hosted a ports evening in St Petersburg.

On 22 September, as part of that event, a memorandum of understanding providing for closer co-operation between their two ports was signed by Dr Dirk Claus, the Managing Director of the Port of Kiel, and Mikhail Talanenko, the General Director of the Sea Commercial Port of Ust-Luga.

“The current trade restrictions between the EU and Russia will not last for ever”, said Dirk Claus. “The exchange of goods will pick up with time.” The agreement between the two ports provides for the promotion of goods exchange and for joint marketing activities. Beyond that the intention is to exchange know-how on port development, ship handling and on the expansion of inland goods traffic.

Ferry services with Russia were inaugurated in July 1991 when Anna Karenina of the former Baltic Line berthed in Kiel after sailing from St Petersburg for the first time. Dirk Claus said: “From the outset, we also targeted ferry traffic with eastern Europe. In the meantime Kiel has developed a long tradition in this area.”

Over the years Kaliningrad and Vyborg were added to St Petersburg as ports of call. Since 2011 there has been a weekly service between Kiel and Ust-Luga operated by DFDS, which is being operated from this year as part of a slot charter agreement with Finnlines.

Departures from the Ostuferhafen are on Saturdays at 23.59, with arrivals in Ust-Luga on Mondays at 1900. Trucks, trailers, and containers as well as agricultural and construction machinery can all be carried along with export cars and project loads. Deadline for loading is six hours before the ship departs.

Dirk Claus: “Compared to the long trucking routes, transport by sea across the Baltic is economically and ecologically advantageous. Intermodal transport chains via Kiel and Ust-Luga also have potential.”

Since 2001 services to Russia and the Baltic states from Kiel have been concentrated on the Ostuferhafen, the port’s freight and logistical centre. Ro-Pax ferries of DFDS Kiel link Kiel and Klaipeda in Lithuania on a daily basis. St Petersburg and Ust-Luga are served weekly by a Ro-Ro service with Russia.

Goods shipped via Ust-Luga are transported on to Moscow and into western Russia, as well as to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and even China and Afghanistan. Prominent among goods moving in the opposite direction out of Russia are forestry product imports which are handled in Kiel.