Harbouring a grand vision

Hanko describes itself as ‘a sun-city for those seeking light and well-being’. With its sandy beaches, unique natural scenery and vibrant culture it has become a historic spa resort popular with tourists, one that has at timed been referred to as the ‘Finnish Rivera’. Tourism aside, Hanko’s location as Finland’s most southerly town and its 130 kilometres of coastline has also made it a vital hub for the country’s import and export industries. Central to this is the Port of Hanko.

As the southernmost port in Finland, it offers the fastest connections to all the major European economies, including Germany, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia and UK. Traditionally specialising in the importing of motor vehicles and the export of forest industry products, the port has more recently seen its biggest source of growth originating from unitised cargo which, due to its geographic location, it is able to service efficiently and safely all year round.

“Since we last spoke in 2015, we have experienced a major increase in terms of the volume of cargo being handled, which equates to a rise of some 35 per cent over the course of the past two years,” begins Port of Hanko’s Chief Executive Officer, Anders Ahlvik. “This pattern of growth has coincided with that experienced by the Finnish economy in that time and it is a trend we expect to continue into 2018.”

The growth that Anders speaks of has seen the port receive 1592 vessel calls in the first ten months of 2017. Said vessels brought with them over four million tonnes of cargo into and out of Hanko, including 153,119 trucks and trailers of which was unitised cargo. This increase has also coincided with the decision taken in 2016 by Finnlines, one of the leading operators of ro-ro and passenger services in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, to reposition its traffic hub for Poland to Hanko, which in itself is a huge endorsement of the port’s capabilities.

“Our location, which gives us the fastest connections from Finland to anywhere in the world, is unquestionably our greatest strength,” Anders continues. “The result of this is that we have an exceptionally high frequency of vessels visiting the port on a daily basis. The fast liner traffic can also take comfort in the fact that Hanko is the only port in Finland that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. This ability to access our services at any time and in rapid fashion is hugely vital to the Finnish economy and for those businesses that rely on the supply of consumer goods, cargo and food stuffs.”

Across the Port of Hanko’s vast operation there are numerous examples of investment and development taking place. One of the most significant ongoing undertakings is the enlargement of its Western Harbour. The Harbour is primarily the epicentre of exports and for the flow of trailer and container traffic,with an estimated 1800 vessels visiting it each year. “The expansion of the Western Harbour is a project being carried out in conjunction with Finnlines and the Port of Rostock, and is the first major project to take place at Port of Hanko to have received financial backing from the EU Commission, Motorways of The Sea funding,” Anders states. “This large venture will see us reclaiming some five hectares of land from the sea, which will be used to store greater numbers of containers, lorries and trailers in the future. Work on the harbour commenced in the summer of 2017 and we expect it to be complete by the end of 2019.”

The work being carried out on the Western Harbour follows the successful expansion of the port’s Outer Harbour. This programme commenced in 2016, with the construction of a new 200 metre quay, with a depth of nine metres, being completed in July 2017. The addition of this new quay means that the Outer Harbour can now facilitate the needs of even the largest car carrying vessels present in the Baltic Sea.

It was also in 2015 that Port of Hanko officially took operation of Koverhar Harbour. An industrial area located near the village of Lappohja, Koverhar boasts a deep port of its own, one that is currently playing host to important developments involving the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline project that will transport natural gas from Russia into the European Union. “The port area within Koverhar is presently being used to store the large number of pipes that will eventually be transported out to their respective sites of construction,” Anders says. “At present, 100 per cent of the present port area is in use and will remain so until the project is complete, which is expected to be at some point in 2019/2020. In the meantime, we are also in the process of building a new 250 metre quay for the Koverhar port area, which we anticipate being ready by Spring 2018. This will represent a further step in the right direction to securing new business in the future.”

With the construction of the aforementioned quay, together with the expansion of the Western Harbour, and a number of other infrastructure and land reclamation projects well under way, the company’s slate for 2018 and 2019 is already busy. Efforts will not end there however, with provisional plans already in place for the reconstruction of one of the quays in the Western Harbour in the early 2020’s. “There are lots of opportunities for us to further develop the Port of Hanko in the years ahead in order to achieve further growth, meaning we have a lot to be very positive about,” Anders enthuses. “If one thing is for sure, we most definitely have the capacity, capability and potential to do a lot more.”

Port of Hanko
Finland’s southernmost port
Open 24/7, 365 days a year
Fast connections to Europe and beyond