10:40am Tuesday 28th February 2012
By Matt Smith
THE powerful Dubai boss of the 500 workers at Southampton's container port yesterday pledged further investment in the terminal as he paid a personal tribute to their record breaking efforts.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, 57, the one of world's most influential Arab businessmen, made the remarks as he congratulated workers who set a new individual crane productivity record for moving containers.
Mr Bin Sulayem, who was behind Dubai's luxury beachfront Palm and World developments and the purchase of the retired QE2 liner for $100m, met managers and staff at the terminal and pledged: “We will continue to invest in Southampton. We are committed to Southampton.”
The DP World owned Southampton terminal, which handles an estimated 1.5m twenty foot equivalent containers (TEUs) a year, claimed a 20 per cent rise in productivity last year.
DP World said its Southampton terminal can now turn around vessels faster than other UK competitors, such as it larger rival at Felixstowe.
A single crane working the OOCL Long Beach container ship earlier this month shifted a record breaking 565 boxes during a 12 hours shift.
Meeting members of the terminal's “A” team behind the record, Mr Bin Sulayem, told them: “This achievement is amazing and we are very proud of it.”
He said Southampton was now a “model example of productivity improvements” and had set a “new benchmark in the UK container industry.”
Under a port master plan drawn up by docks owners ABP, proposed new berths and dredging works, threatened by planning delays after a legal challenge from Felixstowe, would boost box handling capacity from two million to 2.7m TEUs.
It was Mr Bin Sulayem second visit to the port since state owned DP World bought a 51 per cent stake in Southampton's container terminal in 2006 though its acquisition of P&O ports.
The sultan earlier visited the site of DP World's new £1.5billion London Gateway port, which is set to open in late 2013 to “compliment” Southampton with a 1.6m TEU capacity.
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