Port of Hamburg: The Largest Seaport in Germany: Port Report
The Port of Hamburg is a major international seaport in Germany, and is the third-busiest container port in all of Europe, behind only the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Belgium. Worldwide, the Port of Hamburg ranks 18th among the busiest container ports. Where is the Port of Hamburg? […]

by | Mar 1, 2024

The Port of Hamburg is a major international seaport in Germany, and is the third-busiest container port in all of Europe, behind only the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the Port of Antwerp-Bruges in Belgium. Worldwide, the Port of Hamburg ranks 18th among the busiest container ports.

Where is the Port of Hamburg?

Hamburg circled with red marker on map. Close up shot.
Hamburg circled with red marker on map. Close up shot.

The Port of Hamburg is an inland port located on Elbe river, Hamburg – Germany 110 km (69 km) south of its mouth. Its location between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea allow it to act as a leading foreign trade hub, connecting Germany with the globe.

Hamburg – Germany’s Gateway to the World

A fireworks display over the Elbe is one of many highlights at the Hamburg port anniversary.
A fireworks display over the Elbe is one of many highlights at the Hamburg port anniversary. © HHM / Peter Glaubitt

With a storied history, the Port of Hamburg helped the region blossom into a leading import and export hub for Central Europe thanks to its strategic location near the mouth of the river Elbe.

Hamburg has long enjoyed fame thanks to its relationship to the surrounding waterways. Crossed by hundreds of canals and with nearly 2500 bridges, the most in Europe, it’s no surprise that this scenic metropolis grew into an important seaport, a central starting point for goods being distributed throughout Northern Europe and Eastern Europe.

While a port did exist in Hamburg as early as the year 830, the Harbor, and thus the Port as we know it today, was founded by Frederick I on May 7, 1189. This date commemorates the issuance of a historic charter by the Emperor, which provided the inhabitants of Hamburg with the privilege of duty-free passage for their vessels on the Elbe River, from within the city limits all the way to the North Sea.

Today, Hamburg celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the Port each year at the beginning of May with the largest harbor festival in the world.

Free Port Establishment and Growth

Preparing the cargo harness for a project loading at the Buss Hansa Terminal.
Preparing the cargo harness for a project loading at the Buss Hansa Terminal. © HHM / Marc Ihle

Beginning in 1871, the Hamburg Port functioned as Germany’s principal trading port, with the Hamburg America Line growing to become the largest shipping company in the world. Shortly after, when Hamburg joined the German Customs Union, or Zollverein, the free port was established, allowing for duty-free storage of imported goods. Additionally, it facilitated the import of materials that were subsequently processed, repackaged, utilized in production, and then re-exported, all without the imposition of any customs charges.

In the same era, the Speicherstadt, the world’s largest warehouse district, was constructed to accommodate the increasing volume of goods stored in the port. Covering an area of 630,000 square meters, this ‘city of warehouses‘ is a unique complex that stands on timber-pile foundations and oak logs. Today, the Speicherstadt, together with the Kontorhaus district and Chilehaus, is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In light of the diminished economic significance of free ports in the context of free trade within the European Union, the free port operation was discontinued in 2013.

The Port of Hamburg Today – The Hamburg Port Authority

Ore and Coal are unloaded and loaded at the Hamburg Hansaport.
Ore and Coal are unloaded and loaded at the Hamburg Hansaport. © HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch

Today, the Port of Hamburg is managed by the Hamburg Port Authority, established in 2005 in a merger between the various authorities who managed port-related responsibilities. The port handles an annual throughput of 126 million tons, and a container throughput capacity of 8.5 million TEU, making it the country’s largest port.

How many bulk cargo berths are there in Port of Hamburg?

Large bulkers like the Berge Fjord can load more than 300,000 tons of bulk cargo.
Large bulkers like the Berge Fjord can load more than 300,000 tons of bulk cargo. © HHM / Dietmar Hasenpusch

The port flaunts 290 container ship berths with the capability to handle vessels of all sizes, from massive container ships to bulk cargo freighters. These berths can also accommodate oil and chemicals tankers, ro-ro and break bulk carriers, feeders and even inland waterway vessels.

Four terminals for containers, operated by HHLA and Eurogate, provide service to vessels arriving in the Hamburg Harbour. To load and unload the often-colossal cargo these container ships carry at the terminal, the Port of Hamburg utilizes over 30 gantry cranes designed precisely for this kind of heavy lifting. The cranes themselves can lift two 40ft containers or four 20ft containers, up to a weight of 110 tons– that’s about as heavy as a Blue Whale!

The port also has specialized terminals for goods that require specially designed handling. These include, but are not limited to:

Multi-Purpose Terminals

The block storage at the HHLA container terminal Altenwerder stacks and sorts the boxes fully automatically
The block storage at the HHLA container terminal Altenwerder stacks and sorts the boxes fully automatically. © HHM / Michael Lindner

The whole port area has seven multi-purpose terminals. These terminals are equipped to handle cargo that cannot be containerized, such as fresh goods or extra-large sized goods. Furthermore, they are also able to handle cargo on wheels and oversized packing units.

Liquid Terminals

In July 2014, the world’s largest gas turbine was loaded at the Buss Hansa Terminal. © HHM / Marc Ihle

Terminals designed for liquid cargo such as oil are another feature of Hamburg’s port. A volume of around 13 million tons of liquid cargo passes through the port every year, and these specialized terminals ensure safe handling.

Rail Connections in Hamburg

Aerial panorama of the railyard at Hamburg Harbor.
Aerial panorama of the railyard at Hamburg Harbor.

Another advantage the Port of Hamburg has is its extensive railway connections. Over 2,000 container trains travel to and from Hamburg on a weekly basis, connecting the area with the European hinterland, earning it the title of Europe’s No. 1 rail port. 90 percent of these shipments travel between Hamburg and the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary, in addition to 200 scheduled connections per week with the New Silk Road to China.

A Dual Commitment to Excellence

Feeder ships in Hamburg take over the onward transport and distribution of the containers to the North and Baltic Sea regions.
Feeder ships in Hamburg take over the onward transport and distribution of the containers to the North and Baltic Sea regions. © HHM / Michael Lindner

In conclusion, the Port of Hamburg stands as a testament to Germany’s rich maritime tradition and its pivotal role in global trade. With its extensive facilities, cutting-edge technology, port industry, and strategic geographical positioning, it not only serves as the country’s gateway to the world but also underscores the importance of efficient, versatile port operations in the modern logistics landscape.

Sumisho Global Logistics USA recognizes the Port of Hamburg as a key component in our comprehensive network, leveraging its capabilities to offer our clients seamless, efficient, and cost-effective freight solutions.

Our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction is mirrored in the meticulous operation and continual development of the Hamburg Port, ensuring it remains at the forefront of international trade and logistics.

Request a quote today to see how SGL can pass this efficiency on to your business!

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest News:

You may also like: