The Port of Hull accommodates traffic of 100,000 shipping containers each year, and can facilitate storage over an expanse of 7.5 hectares.
The container terminal at Hull, allows ships of up to 30,000 tonnes to dock for loading and unloading. The equipment at the port for this task is three gantry cranes. In late 2011 the cranes at the container terminal were realigned to increase the speed at which the port can process vessels. The two larger 35 tonne gantry cranes were placed side by side, enabling them to work in tandem, each of which can load or unload 20 shipping containers per hour. This new configuration will maximise operational capacity at Hull.
The port of Hull is a major UK distributor into Europe, and they have daily shipping to Rotterdam, along with sailings to the Baltic States and Scandinavia.
The loading and unloading of shipping containers is a time consuming job, but this process has been speeded up by the crane configuration at the Hull container terminal. This is still a difficult and complex operation. Shipping containers cannot just be lifted off from a ship in any order, due to the stability of the ship itself, and when loading, many considerations need to be thought out first. The heaviest containers need to be loaded first, so that they sit below deck level, but at the same time, those that will be unloaded first needs to be taken into account. Then there are the refrigerated containers and the heated containers. These need to be located near to power points on the ship when loaded. Many shipping containers also carry hazardous cargo, such as explosives or chemicals. These cannot be loaded with the refrigerated containers, due to risk of explosion.
When the containers are loaded onto ships, they need to be secured to the structure of the ship. Below deck level, shipping containers are loaded between cell guides. These stop the containers from moving about while in transit. Once the lower level is loaded and full, large pontoon hatches are loaded and secures to the ship. With the pontoons in place, the shipping containers can then be loaded onto these, and can be piled up to six containers high. The lower tiers of containers, two or three high, are secured by attaching strong bars, which are then attached to the pontoons with bottle screws. The top tiers of containers are then loaded and secured with either twistlocks or conlocks. These special devices lock each corner of the shipping container to the one below.