MONSTER reefer vessels that measure up to 185m long are set to arrive at Portsmouth’s port soon.
Africa Express Line (AEL) operates a fleet of new generation ships and has just signed a new contract with MMD Ltd, the fruit handling specialists at Portsmouth International Port.
The reefer vessels are the biggest ever to unload at Portsmouth, but in turn will be dwarfed by the forthcoming Queen Elizabeth supercarrriers, which are 280m long.
The first AEL ship to arrive will be MV Cote D’Ivoirian Star, which is due to sail into Portsmouth Harbour on Saturday, February 14, laden with a cargo of about 2,500 tonnes of bananas and pineapples.
Each week one of four AEL vessels will bring a similar amount of the same fruits, with an additional 1,000 tonnes of other produce such as sweetcorn, tomatoes and vegetables.
All the produce being handled by MMD is destined for UK supermarkets and is loaded at ports along the West African coast; the ships call at Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Senegal along the route to Portsmouth.
It takes a month from leaving the first port in Africa before reaching the South Coast of England. The vessels then move on to Antwerp in Belgium where produce heading for the European market is unloaded.
Port manager Martin Putman said: ‘This is an important new contract for MMD, underlining how continued investment in new facilities helps to attract world class operators like AEL.’
Reefer vessels are traditionally used for transporting fresh produce.
The four AEL vessels operating the new route to Portsmouth International Port are: Cote D’Ivoirian Star, Colombian Star, Caribbean Star and Costa Rican Star.