The Port of Bremerhaven is the southernmost port in Germany, lying to the east of the Weser estuary where the Weser and Geest Rivers meet.
In 888, Saxon King Arnulf gave Bremen the right to have a market, although it was already an important site for trade. In 1358, it joined the Hanseatic League, with Norway as a major trading partner. In 1541, Emperor V boosted trade when he gave Bremen stacking rights to Bremen, meaning that goods passing through it had to be unloaded and offered to local merchants.
In 1619, merchants began to construct Vegesack harbor, the first artificial harbor on the Weser, to overcome silting of the river. Though it was occupied by the French for a time, after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the Bremen Senate purchased 89 hectares to build a new port closer to the North Sea. That site evolved into today's Port of Bremerhaven.
In 1847, construction of New Harbour began to accommodate the larger steam ships that were replacing sailing ships. In 1860, the Weser railway station opened the Port of Bremerhaven to ship to rail transport. But silting of the Weser River continued to be a serious problem. In 1887, work began to correct this problem, and the Weser Channel that resulted is still in use today.
From that time forward, the Port of Bremerhaven has continued to pursue aggressive expansion. The Port of Bremerhaven was Germany's largest fishing port by 1830, and in 1857 in became the largest passenger port in the country. Over seven 7 million people have emigrated to North America through the Port of Bremerhaven since the early 19th Century. With the Weser Channel, its importance as a major port was ensured.
While the city was seriously damaged by World War II, the docks were relatively unscathed. In 1958, construction began on the Port of Bremerhaven's second passenger facility and, in 1968, the 765-yard quay was started for the port's first container terminal. In 1972, a second container terminal with over 1000 yards of riverside quay, and a roll-in/roll-off facility was opened. In 1977, the BLG Auto Terminal started operating.
In 1982, a modern grain facility opened. When the Container Terminal II was opened in 1983, the Port of Bremerhaven acquired the largest closed container facility on the continent. Ever since, new facilities regularly opened - cold storage, vehicle imports, space for larger container ships, a new industrial park, and a third container terminal. Aggressive expansion continues into the 21st Century.
The Columbus Cruise Center Bremerhaven was opened in 2003, and work began for a fourth container terminal in 2004. In 2005, a major effort began to provide more area for handling automobiles, involving new waterfront construction and deepening of the harbor basin.
Today, the Port of Bremerhaven is the 16th largest container port in the world and the 4th largest in Europe, with almost five million TEUs of cargo being handled there in 2007. Every year, more than 1.9 million cars are moved through the port, making the Port of Bremerhaven the second busiest automobile transport center in Europe. In 2008, the Port of Bremerhaven handled over 4.9 million TEUs, compared to 1.7 million in 1998, of containerized cargo. In 2006, the port handled over 174 million gross tons of cargo.
Cruising and Travel
Opened in 2003, the Columbus Cruise Center is one of the world's most modern passenger terminals. Passengers are treated to a modern waiting section and rest area, shops, restaurants, and a wonderful view of the Outer Weser River and North Sea. In 2008, almost 100 cruise vessels will transport over 130 thousand passengers into and out of the Port of Bremerhaven. You can find a schedule of cruise ship visits
on the Port of Bremerhaven website.