HRH Princess Anne will visit Liverpool next week to christen the newest Atlantic Container Line (ACL) vessel, Atlantic Sea, at the city’s cruise line terminal, in what will be the most historic maritime spectacle on the Mersey since the visit of the three Cunard Queens in 2015.
The christening is the first by a member of the Royal Family on the Mersey for more than half a century, since Princess Alexandra launched the HMS Devonshire in 1960. It will take place starting at 12 noon on Thursday, October 20. Viewing will be available along Princes Parade and the Pier Head. Later in the day the ship will move into the Mersey for a fireworks display around 18:30 before she departs.
ACL UK Managing Director, Ian Higby(pictured right) said the event will mark a new era of investment by ACL in Liverpool and the UK, ACL has long ties with Liverpool, dating back to its founding in 1967
“This is an opportunity to champion Liverpool as a port city of the future and for ACL to thank Merseyside for all its support since the 1960s,” he said. “We are committed to the Port of Liverpool where we have operated two transatlantic vessel calls per week since 1969. We have constructed our brand new office building on Duke Street, which is the first shipping line headquarters built in the city since 1924. We have also centralised our back office functions here. In addition, ACL is investing in local people and we have doubled our workforce in the last three years to 168, including six apprentices. Liverpool people and the city know and understand the maritime business. It is in our DNA.”
Mr Higby added that Atlantic Sea is one of five new combination Container Roll-On/Roll-Off (CONRO) vessels that will double ACL’s capacity, transporting containers and roll-on roll-off cargo between the UK, North Europe and North America.
“The investment in five new vessels signals a ramping up of ACL’s operations,” he said. “The fourth generation (G4) CONROs are the world’s largest and most advanced vessels of their kind in the world, each with a gross tonnage in excess of 100,000 tons. Moreover, at least four of the vessels will proudly fly the Red Ensign, sailing under the UK Ship Registry. We would like to thank the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and its staff in Liverpool for understanding our requirements and supporting us. It is also fantastic to see Liverpool on the stern of the ship as its home port. Few ships have carried the city’s famous name in recent years and it is good to see it back where it belongs.
“Furthermore we would like to recognise Peel Ports for its support in widening the entry to the basin of Seaforth Dock ensuring our new ships can fit through the lock to their berth. The LEP, Liverpool City Council, Mersey Maritime, local MPs, the cruise line terminal, Network Space, ERDF and Chrysalis have also been hugely supportive of our operation and our new office building. We are grateful for the RGF support we received in our centralisation project.”