Construction of Deurganckdock, Antwerp

Construction of the Deurganckdock in Antwerp

Source: adapted from Vandamme, M., Bernaers, G., Aerts, F., Construction of the Deurganckdok in the Port of Antwerp, Belgium.

After the completion in 1996 of two container terminals (Europaterminal and Noordzeeterminal) situated on the river Scheldt in the port of Antwerp, new container handling capacity was needed to accommodate the fast-growing container traffic in the port. A new tidal dock (Deurganckdock) was constructed, consisting of about 5 km of new quay walls at the left bank of the river Scheldt, surrounded by 300 ha of terminal area. The first terminals were officially opened in 2005. At present, the dock is home to two terminals: MPET (PSA/MSC) and Antwerp Gateway (operated by DP World), which combined handle a large part of the port’s total container throughput.

The quay walls were constructed as a large L-shaped reinforced concrete wall with a height of 30m, fully constructed in a dry excavation. The water depth taken into account during the design was 17m at the mean low water level. A draining system was incorporated to prevent excessive water pressure behind the quay wall. In front of the quay wall, erosion protection was installed to prevent erosion of the harbor bottom.

The construction took place in several phases:

  • Lowering the groundwater level at the construction area by 26m.
  • Large excavation to make it possible to build the quay wall in a dry way. The sand that was excavated from the deeper layers was later used to refill the excavation behind completed parts of the quay wall.
  • Sheet piling to prevent erosion due to piping beneath the quay wall and prevent sliding of the quay wall.
  • Continued excavation continued between the sheet piles until the foundation level of the quay wall was reached.
  • Construction in reinforced concrete of the foundation base of the L-shaped quay wall (width of 24 to 26m). The concrete part of the quay wall was made in modular parts 20m wide.
  • Placement of rubber joint strips to prevent loss of sand through the joints.
  • Construction of the vertical part of the quay wall on top of the foundation also in parts with a length of 20m. Concrete was made by a concrete plant at the construction site.
  • Refilling of excavation behind the finished parts of the quay wall.
  • Construction of the top phase of the wall and the installation of the necessary mooring equipment are included (bollards, fenders).
  • Installations of provisions for the waterside crane rail.
  • After finishing the quay walls, dredging started. During the first phase of the dredging works, the embankment between the river and the dock was kept untouched (see picture). The dredged material was used for the hydraulic landfill at the future terminal areas and to fill up part of the existing Doeldok.