Greek Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroumblis (front) speaks during a ceremony for the welcome of the maiden call of China's COSCO Shipping Taurus and the inauguration of the 3rd berth for 20,000 plus twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessels at Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT) of Piraeus port, Greece, Feb. 26, 2018. Piraeus port, the largest harbor in Greece, entered a new era of handling 20,000 plus TEU vessels on Monday when China's COSCO Shipping Taurus giga container vessel, one of the biggest worldwide, docked here. The 400 m Taurus is the largest vessel to berth at PCT, opening a new chapter in the history of the port. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
ATHENS, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Piraeus port, the largest harbor in Greece, entered a new era of handling 20,000 plus twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) vessels on Monday when China's COSCO Shipping Taurus giga container vessel, one of the biggest worldwide, docked here.
The 400 m Taurus is the largest vessel to berth at Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), opening a new chapter in the history of the port.
Several officials and shipping industry representatives attended a ceremony for the welcome of the maiden call of the ship -- which set sail from China with a final destination of Rotterdam -- and the inauguration of the 3rd berth for 20,000 plus TEU vessels at PCT.
Piraeus port, where the modern maritime Silk Road connects with the land route, has changed impressively since the COSCO Shipping Corporation subsidiary PCT took over the management of the site eight years ago for a span of 35 years.
The terminal has been extended and upgraded with new infrastructure projects. It has been linked with the Greek railways since 2013, and new gigantic cranes have been installed, while efforts are underway to transform the wider area into a major logistics centre as well.
Two years ago, following an international tender, COSCO also took over the management of Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), pledging to further invest in the Greek port and Sino-Greek win-win cooperation.
As part of the Belt and Road initiative, the port is being transformed into a significant transit hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Europe.
"It is evidence that the Silk Road, which links the two countries and consequently China to Europe, is progressing and marks the dynamic development of cooperation between the two nations in many sectors," Greek Shipping Minister Panayiotis Kouroumblis said addressing the event.
"Today is a big day for PCT Piraeus port and the Greek shipping industry. It is a very clear signal to prove that Piraeus is a port for world trade," Zhang Anming, PCT managing director, told Xinhua.
Built in China and delivered to COSCO in January, Taurus boasts a length of about five Airbus A380 and maximum speed of 22.5 knots (41 kmh).
The Greek port welcomed her at the newly constructed western third berth of PCT which is about 800 meters long. Sea depth here reaches up to 19.5 meters, allowing the docking of giga carriers.
Currently, PCT can service in parallel three such gigantic vessels at berths 2 and 3.
The works are part of the 230 million euro (283 million U.S. dollars) investment project PCT undertook. PPA has committed to invest another 300 million euros at the port by 2021.
PPA CEO Fu Chengqiu, while delivering a speech during the event, stated China COSCO Shipping intends to make Piraeus the top port in the Mediterranean in the next two to three years and one of the 30 largest worldwide.
Currently Piraeus is the 6th largest port in Europe and the third in the Mediterranean.
In 2010 when PCT took over from the Greeks the management of Piers II and III at PCT, roughly 900,000 containers passed through the terminal.
In 2016, the number had reached 3.7 million containers and last year over 4.1 million TEUs. An additional one million containers pass through Pier I which is managed by PPA.
COSCO Shipping wants to boost the port's overall container traffic to over 6 million TEUs by 2019.
With all these that have been going on here in the past few years, Piraeus has shot up world rankings of container ports to 38 in 2017 from 44 in 2015 and 93 in 2010, according to Lloyd's List.
"With the container business booming, the call of COSCO Shipping Taurus will bring more business to Piraeus port. The dream of becoming one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean with 10 million TEU annual capacity will come true soon," Fu said.