PUMA, a partnership between Van Oord and Boskalis, has been contracted by the Port of Rotterdam Authority to construct the first part of Maasvlakte 2 – the expansion of the port – between 2008 and 2013. The aim of the project is to improve the port’s competitiveness as a world-class logistical node and industrial complex.
Design, construction and maintenance
PUMA was awarded the contract for constructing Maasvlakte 2 in preference to international competitors that also tendered. The contract covers design, construction and maintenance. It involves not only construction of the new port but also maintenance of the seawall and quay walls. The Programme of Requirements therefore provided full scope for optimising the design and making it better and smarter. Because PUMA was able to influence what it ultimately needed to construct and maintain, the plan for Maasvlakte 2 also became PUMA’s plan.
The first phase involved creating a new port area covering 700 ha. Drawing up the plan took more than two years. PUMA deepened the harbour basins down to -20 m so that they can accommodate even the biggest container ships. The project also involved constructing the whole seawall; this is some 11 km long, with both a hard and soft section. PUMA’s work also included constructing the quay walls, roads, railways, and cycle paths.
For land reclamation, PUMA is deployed a number of trailing suction hopper dredgers. These shifted more than 200 million m³ of sand from the extraction area out at sea to the reclamation site. Cutter suction dredgers deepened the harbour basin down to ‑20 m so that even the biggest container ships can be accommodated. This made some 40 million m3 of sand available for the project.
An important part of the project involved construction of the whole 11-km seawall. The hard seawall is about 3.5 km long and is made up of a stone-covered dune with a pebble beach, with a low dam constructed of concrete blocks on a foundation of several layers of marine building stone in front. It was PUMA that came up with the innovative idea of using a dynamic pebble beach as a seawall. This is the first time this method has been used in the Netherlands. For the hard seawall, a total of 19,558 concrete blocks – each weighing 40 tonnes – and 2 million tonnes of quarry stone were recycled from the existing Maasvlakte seawall. Construction of the hard seawall and the pebble beach required 7 million tonnes of quarry stone. The 5 million tonnes that was required in addition to the recycled material is purchased in northern and western Europe. The soft seawall was constructed largely of Pleistocene sand.
Closing the seawall
On July 11, 2012 at slack water, when there was minimal current, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix gave the starting signal for closing the gap in the eleven kilometer seawall. From that moment 2,000 hectares of new Netherlands is well protected against the sea. In November 2012 the temporary dike between Yangtzehaven and the new harbour basin was being dredged down to create a controlled break through. This new passage makes Maasvlakte 2 accessible for shipping. PUMA completed Maasvlakte 2 in April 2013 and will be responsible for the maintenance of the seawall for a further ten years. The port of Rotterdam grows by 20%, the Netherlands becomes 2,000 hectares larger, and the coastline is 3.5 km further in the sea. The first container terminals will be operational in 2014.