THE Port of Sunderland is back in profit after seeing the number of commercial vessels increase by some 84% in 2011/12, compared with a year earlier.
Last year saw a growing number of firms, including some major players operating in the offshore field, choosing Port of Sunderland as their base.
December saw a spike in the number of vessels coming into the city’s quays, including a 13-day stay from a giant offshore installation vessel, the second of its kind to dock in Sunderland over the past few months.
Matthew Hunt, port director, said that across the month, more than 30 ships had sailed into the Wear, bringing to a close what was a strong year for the council-run port.
“Last year was an exceptional year for us in a number of ways,” he said. “We moved into the second quarter of 2012 having seen an 84% increase in the number of vessels using the port during the previous financial year compared with the last, and we are seeing more and more evidence that the work we have done to position Sunderland as a prime location for firms in the offshore renewable energy and subsea engineering fields is working.
“All the signs are there that Port of Sunderland is growing its reputation as a location of choice for all kinds of vessels, requiring a range of services, so we have entered 2013 on a really optimistic note after a great December.”
For the period April 1, 2011, to March 31, 2012, 450 commercial vessels arrived at the port, an increase from the 245 vessels welcomed during the same period in the previous year.
The port said its increased activity shows the success of its growth plan which was launched three years ago.
Sales manager Mark Hassan said the achievements of the port were down to its key areas of business – bulk cargo, project and unitised cargo, ship repair and marine engineering, North Sea oil and gas industry support, and offshore renewable and subsea engineering.
The strategy has seen the port attract business from clients that are involved with existing offshore renewable projects and that are likely to be involved in greater-scale projects in the future.
Hassan added: “The 84% rise in shipping activity last year is down to the port going on a campaign to widen its profile. Not much had been done in previous years, and for the first time in a lot of years, the port recorded profit.
“December is traditionally a very bad month for ports because the North Sea is too rough to work on. However, we picked up a fair bit of lay-up traffic due to bad weather conditions.
“We’ve welcomed a lot of pre-survey traffic on the back of the Dogger Bank wind farm development as well as providing long-term storage facilities for other wind farm and subsea engineering projects.
“Having had offshore vessels docked at Port of Sunderland over the past few months is a sign that we’re now being recognised as a destination of choice for shipping businesses right across the country.”