Drifting container ship destroys crane at Port of Antwerp

Site of destroyed crane after a container ship that went adrift collided with the crane on the Antwerp Gateway (DP World) on the Deurganck dock at the Port of Antwerp. Credit: JONAS ROOSENS/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

A 9,326-TEU container ship that broke free of its moorings at the Port of Antwerp has crashed into a DP World STS gantry crane. The crane’s dramatic collapse caused damage to the ship and quay.

The 2014-built APL Mexico City was drifting in the Deurganck dock area in the Waasland harbour of the Port of Antwerp on 9 December. Because the container was moored, it was not under Vessel Traffic Service guidance. However, as soon as the container ship started to drift, multiple tugs were dispatched to bring the vessel under control. Unfortunately, the vessel continued to drift and struck the outstretched crane, causing it to collapse.

At 130 m high when fully extended, the crane was located at the quay of container handling company PSA’s terminal. Following the incident, the zone was evacuated. Luckily, the crane was unoccupied, and no one was injured.

Videos taken by port workers show the dramatic unfolding of the crane collapse and the damage to the quay. Part of the crane remains in the water and the damaged APL Mexico City will remain moored at the port until further notice.

Weather reports for the area at the time of the incident predicted high winds and videos posted to social media show crashing waves and stormy conditions at the port.

In January 2019, the boom of a container crane dislodged and fell on Evergreen boxship Ever Summit at the port of Vancouver. Reports at the time of the incident suggested that the vessel snagged the crane when docking at the GCT Vanterm terminal, situated in Vancouver’s inner harbour, dislodging the stowed boom and causing it to smash into the top row of containers at the aft end of the ship. A number of containers were damaged as a result.