Berendrecht Lock


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The Berendrecht and Kieldrecht locks in the Port of Antwerp are the two biggest locks in the world. Both are 1,600 ft (1/2 km) long and 223 ft (68m) wide, and can accommodate post-Panamax ships. When completed in 1988, the 44-ft-deep (13.5 m) Berendrecht was the largest in the world until edged out by the 58-ft-deep (17.8m) Kieldrecht in 2016. The scale is incredible. To put this in perspective, these locks have six times the area of the huge lock through the Bonneville Dam along the Columbia River that measures 676 ft (206m) long by 85ft (26 m) wide.

The Kieldrecht provides access to the left-bank portion of the Port of Antwerp, while the Berendrecht opens into the right-bank portion. Adjacent to the Berendrecht is the Zandvliet lock, measuring 1,600ft (1/2 km) long, 187 ft (57m) wide and 44 ft (13.5 m) deep. It was the largest lock in the world when opened in 1967 and was superseded by the 36ft-wider (11m) Berendrecht lock.

We were keen to view these massive, world-record-sized locks and got an opportunity near the end of our stay in Antwerp. We spent a great few hours touring the port area and watching ships lock through.

Below are highlights from March 12th, 2020 in Antwerp, BE. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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Liefkenshoektunnel
Entering the Liefkenshoektunnel en route to visit the Berendrecht Lock. There wasn’t an easy way to reach the lock by public transit, so we took a taxi. The tunnel, completed in 1991, was built from eight preformed sections that were precisely sunk in place with ends sealed, and then unsealed to create the roadway.
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Lock Door
Looking along the retracting channel for sliding lock gate of the Berendrecht Lock, the largest lock in the world when completed in 1988 and now the second largest in the world. The closed gate is just visible at the far end of the channel—each gate is roughly 230 long, 75 ft deep and 36 ft wide (70 x 23 x 11m) and weighs about 2,000 tonnes.
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Berendrecht Lock
The 331-ft (101m) chemical tanker Tina Theresa exiting the Berendrecht Lock, viewed from the bridge across the inland end. Although the Berendrecht is the second largest lock in the world after the Kieldrecht Lock on the other side of the river, you couldn’t tell by looking at them. Both are 1,600 ft (1/2 km) long and 223 ft (68m) wide, but the Berendrecht Lock is “only” 44 ft deep (13.5 m) compared to the Kieldrecht’s 58-ft (17.8m) depth.

The scale is just immense—it’s hard to believe this basin is a single lock and that the ship at the other end is several hundred feet long. To put this in perspective, the Berendrecht and Kieldrecht locks have six times the area of the huge lock through the Bonneville Dam along the Columbia River that measures 676 ft (206m) long by 85ft (26 m) wide.

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AC/DC Thunderstruck
Scania 460 with an elaborate AC/DC Thunderstruck paint job. Those Scania truck owners sure are proud of their vehicles. Having spent a day at the Scania factory, and driven many of their vehicles, we know exactly why.
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Locking In
These hundred-foot-plus barges look tiny in the Berendrecht Lock.
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Cranes
Cranes at the Port of Antwerp, viewed from the western end of the Berendrecht Lock.
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Thalys
The 442-ft (135m) chemical barge Thalys exiting the Zandvliet lock adjacent to the Berendrecht lock. The Zandvliet lock is 1,600ft (1/2 km) long, 187 ft (57m) wide and 44 ft (13.5 m) deep and was the largest lock in the world when opened in 1967. It was superseded by the Berendrecht lock in 1988, that is 36ft (11m) wider.
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Bergse Diep
The 360-ft (110m) chemical barge Bergse Diep (green, at right) and other similar-sized ships don’t even come close to filling the basin of the Berendrecht Lock.
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Straddle Carriers
Straddle carriers at the Port of Antwerp, viewed as we walk south to Fort Lillo.
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Strail Crossing System
Railway tracks are super-dangerous for cyclists because the several-inch gap along each track can capture a bike wheel and cause the bike to flip. Strail level crossing systems look like a nice solution to that. The way the system works is a heavy rubber collar pushes snuggly up against the track on both sides, leaving an unbroken surface with nothing to catch a wheel. When a train passes through, the train wheel, under the weight of the train, pushes the rubber down out of the way. Its an innovative and effective solution. As well as being safer for bikes, its a far smoother crossing for cars.
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Monsanto
Passing the Monsanto Europe agricultural products chemical plant. Monsanto was a US company founded in 1901 that was one of the early pioneers in applying biotechnology to agriculture. Some of the products they produced generated much controversy for the company, including Agent Orange and the insecticide DDT. If this did impact the company’s value, it wasn’t permanent, as the Bayer purchased Monsanto in 2016 for US$66 billion.
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Doel Nuclear Power Station
A view to the cooling towers of the 2,923 MW Doel Nuclear Power Station that we passed on the way into Antwerp.
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Fort Lillo
At Fort Lillo, about an hour’s walk south of the Berendrecht Lock. The fort was built in the late 1500s to defend Antwerp and successfully held off a British attach in 1809 during the Napoleonic wars.
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Taverne ‘t Pleintje
Taverne ‘t Pleintje at Fort Lillo, where we stopped for a pint while waiting for our taxi back to Dirona.
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Katoen Latie
Passing Katoen Natie on our way back to Dirona by taxi. The company, headquartered in Antwerp, is an international logistics service provider and port operator founded in 1854 that currently has 12,000 employees world-wide.
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Andre and Oxana
Andre and Oxana de Weldige-Cremer, owners of Norhavn 6304 Casarca (ex True North), alternate between their home in Belgium and their boat, currently moored in the Canary Islands. They both are keenly interested in boating and Nordhavns—as part of Nordhavn Atlantic Passage 2017, they crossed the Atlantic to Europe the same year we did on their previous Nordhavn, the N55 Angela, and before that owned a Nordhavn 47. We really enjoyed spending time with them both.
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L’Officina
At L’Officina L’Officina da Franco & Giacomo in Antwerp for what would turn out to be our last restaurant meal for the foreseeable future. For a last meal, it was a good one—the food, wine and service were excellent. Here our server is preparing a pasta dish made by melting the inside of a cheese wheel and stirring pasta inside. It was fabulous.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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2 comments on “Berendrecht Lock
  1. John S. says:

    Fascinating to see the scope of ocean-borne commerce through the photos of the immense locks and many huge cranes in the port of Antwerp. When you think of many thousands of containers being unloaded in ports around the globe it becomes clear how hard it is to screen what comes into countries by ship.

    The $66 billion Bayer paid to acquire Monsanto was probably a terrible deal. There are thousands of lawsuits over cancer caused purportedly by Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup. Settlement talks are in the vicinity of $8 to $10 billion from what I’ve read, and I saw law firms advertising on TV all the time seeking to enroll cancer patients in class action lawsuits against Monsanto.

    Thanks for any posts possible — they help reduce boredom for many of us home-bound due to the virus.

    • Yes, containerization has made the world-wide logistics systems really cost effective and, as a consequence, it’s amazingly widely used. All good things but, as you said, it’s makes security a big challenge. Closely related, there have been several container ship fires recently from containers carrying dangerous good not accurately listed.

      Yes,I’ve been following the Roundup issue and it’s definitely going to be expensive to resolve.

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