Atlantic Container Line (ACL) has chosen the Port of Liverpool as the UK port of call for its new five-strong fleet of ro-ro/container ships (CONROs), which are the world’s largest, after a review of schedules, market potential and opportunities for its North Atlantic Services. Liverpool owner Peel Ports Group retained the transatlantic services and will make a £10 million investment in Liverpool to widen the Seaforth Passage and create a dedicated car storage area capable of handling 70,000 vehicles per year.

ACL has been operating services connecting Liverpool with ports in North America and Europe since 1969, and has now agreed an extended ten-year contract with Peel Ports. ACL is expanding its Liverpool office to concentrate its commercial, marine and logistics operations work in the city.

ACL has the five new G4 CONRO vessels currently under construction in China, each with container capacity of 3,800TEU, compared with 1,850TEU for ACL’s five current G3 ships. The ships will also have 764TEU of ro-ro space against 525TEU now, and space on the car decks for 1,307 vehicles against 1,000.

They will be delivered from the middle of 2015, with the fifth and final vessel expected in service in early 2016. The vessels have been designed to go through Liverpool’s Gladstone lock, as the ro-ro operations are most efficiently managed on the flat water of the enclosed Seaforth Dock. They will not be using the new in-river berths currently under construction.

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