Klaipeda is a Baltic Sea port and city in western Lithuania, ranked by population (around 150,000, metro over 205,00) Lithuania's 3rd largest (after the capital Vilnius, and Kaunas). The nearby Palanga is a picturesque seaside resort town with a 11-km long sandy beach, backed by pine woods and dunes.
The settlement dates back from 7th century AD, but in 1252 was destroyed by the Teutonic Knights, who then constructed the Memelburg fortress. Held briefly by Sweden (1629-1635) and Prussia (1635-1919), the town became Memel's (East Prussia's) capital in 1920. In 1923, it was passed to Lithuania and renamed from Memel to Klaipeda. In 1939 it was occupied by Germany, and in 1945 incorporated into USSR's Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. Since 1991, it is part of Lithuania.
In 2019, Port Klaipeda handled 53 cruise ship calls and 75,000+ passengers. For 2020 were booked 65 ship calls and expedted ~90,000 cruise tourists.
Klaipeda is Lithuania's largest seaport. It is located at the mouth of Akmena-Dane River, and have great importance as one of the few Baltic Sea ports that are ice-free the whole year-round. Klaipeda is also popular as call port for Northern Europe-based cruise ships, as well as major cargo and ferry port. Regularly scheduled ferries (run by TT Line and DFDS Seaways) connect Lithuania (via Klaipeda) with Germany (Kiel, Travemunde) and Sweden (Karlshamn, Trelleborg).
Following country's independence from Russia (1991) was founded the managing company "Klaipėda State Seaport Authority", responsible for seaport's infrastructure maintenance, development and modernisation. However, cargo and passenger shipping operations are managed by separate terminal operators. Port's land and infrastructure are state-owned, with partial privatisization underway.
Port Klaipeda (officially "Klaipeda State Seaport") has capacity to handle vessels with LOA length up to 250 m (820 ft), max draft 13,5 m (44 ft) and is served by two railway stations, plus highways connecting to Moscow Russia (via Kaunas-Vilnius and Minsk Belarus). Port's annual capacity in 2010 was over 31 million tons (cargo) and around 321,000 international ferry passengers shipped to/from Germany (Kiel, Mukran), Sweden (Åhus) and Denmark (Copenhagen, Fredericia). In 2011, the port handled 382,000 TEUs (containers) carried on boxships.
In recent years, the port authority company started to make investments (EU-funded) in major infrastructure works, including breakwaters (rehabilitation and extensions), channel entrance dredging (widening and deepening), installing new monitoring fenders and steel moorings, current monitoring system, plus privatization of services.
In September 2018 was constructed a new coastal protection wall and were completed soil dredging from dock pits and quay reconstruction (SC Western Shipyard's quay berths 137A, 138A, 139). New railways were also added. These quays are used for ship repairs and also cargo handling. In 2018, SC Western Shipyard acquired (for EUR 27,1 million) new drydock where can be repaired some of world's largest vessels - from icebreakers to oil platforms (offshore drilling rigs).
In early-November 2018 were launched large-scale infrastructure development projects, among the first being dredging (entrance channel, also in Malku Bay). The dredging project included the excavation of approx 1,5 million m3 of soil in Malku Bay. The contractor was the Rotterdam-based Dutch company "Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors BV". The entire Malku Bay dredging and protection project (EUR 15,63 million) was partially funded by EU Cohesion Fund. Since July 2020, port's max draft / permitted draught gauge is 15 m (49 ft) - increased from 13,8 m (45 ft). Channel deepening works are planned to start in 2021.
Klaipeda Port's largest vessel (so far) docked on December 19, 2018. The ULCV (Ultra Large Container Vessel) "MSC Ingy" has capacity 19462 TEUs, LOA length 400 m (1312 ft), width 59 m (194 ft) and is owned by world's second-largest shipping company MSC. MSC Ingy docked at JSSC Klaipedos Smelte terminal. The terminal serves mainly smaller boxships (with max capacity 6000 TEUs), the majority of which are feeders (medium-size cargo ships) connecting to neighbouring Baltic Sea ports (in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Russia and other countries).
In May 2018, Klaipedos Smelte started a EUR 65 million terminal expansion and upgrade project (2018-2020) for constructing new storage facilities and purchasing 12 new Konecranes-made gantry cranes. By this project, port's annual cargo capacity will be increased from 800.000 to 1,2 million TEUs.
On January 10, 2019, the vessel Kairos (2018-built LNG tanker) started LNG bunkering services at Port Klaipeda. The ship is chartered by "Blue LNG" - a joint venture (90/10) of the companies Nauticor (Bomin Linde LNG GmbH, Hamburg-based supplier) and Klaipedos Nafta (Klaipeda Oil Terminal's operator). The tanker ship has max LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) capacity 7500 m3 and is also used for loading LNG from the LNG Terminal to the reloading station at port's entrance. Kairos is planned to enter Port Klaipėda at least once per 2 months. For the remaining time, it is used by Nauticor to supply LNG to private customers and seaports in Northern Europe. The ship is owned by Babcock Schulte Energy and is ranked world’s largest LNG bunker supply vessel.
On September 20, 2019, Port Klaipeda received its largest floating dock (with capacity to serve Post-Panamax vessels). It was acquired in 2016 (from Adriatic Shipyard Bijela, Montenegro). The 235-m long (45-m wide) floating drydock is currently Baltic Sea's largest. The facility is owned by BLRT Grupp and was reconstructed at Naantali Shipyard (Finland). As of 2020, BLRT Grupp owns 3 shipyards - Tallinn Shipyard (Estonia), Western Shiprepair (Lithuania) and Turku Repair Yard (Finland).
In mid-January 2021, Klaipeda Seaport Authority signed with Rohde Nielsen AS (Copenhagen Denmark-based dredging company) a contract for dredging the shipping canal (up to Malku Bay) from max-depth 13,8 m (45 ft) to 15 m (50 ft). The EUR 17,3 million project was EU-funded. Rohde Nielsen was also contracted for the canal's deepening in 2011-2013.
Klaipeda cruise terminal
Cruise ships and ferries in Klaipeda are served at Pempininkai Quay's Cruise Vessel Terminal. The facility (Central Klaipeda Terminal) is managed by UAB “Baltijos pervezimai", has address "40 Baltijos av. 93270 Klaipeda. Lithuania", and is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
As cruise port, Klaipeda offers several ship docking options/berths that can handle vessels with max LOA length 315 m (1034 ft) and max draught 8,5 m (29 ft). Such liners can dock right in downtown (at Pempininkai Quay). Larger cruise liners anchor in the harbor and ferry their passengers via the ship's tender boats.
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