The New Breakwater

The new breakwater
  • 06 Aug, 2021

Genoa, a moment of rebirth. At the crossroads of maritime trade between Europe, Africa and the Far East for over 2,000 years, the city is now set to play an increasingly important role on a global level. The new Breakwater, the maritime gateway to the Port of Genoa, is one of a range of major infrastructure projects currently underway, all of them challenges befitting the rightful ambition of a city projected towards the future

The project is strategic to the whole area: the regeneration of the city - at the apex of the Italian industrial triangle alongside Milan and Turin - is inextricably linked to the redevelopment of the port, the driving force behind the local economy which employs approximately 38,000 people. Genoa, Italy’s premier port and one of the leading ports in the Mediterranean, is firmly committed to boosting its international competitiveness and credibility.

Today, the Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority (Ports of Genoa), which groups together the Ports of Genova, Prà, Savona and Vado Ligure, is Italy’s premier port in terms of traffic volumes, product diversity and economic output. It is a multi-service port that boasts a wide selection of specialized terminals equipped to cater for all key commodity sectors: containers, general cargo, ro/ro, perishable goods, metals, timber, solid and liquid bulk and petroleum products. 
With over 150 scheduled liner services connected to over 500 ports worldwide, the Port of Genoa is one of Europe’s leading container gateway ports. It also ranks as Italy’s second cruise port and third ferry port.  

Economic Impact

According to a survey carried out by Prometeia on behalf of the Port Authority, the economic benefits of the implementation of the infrastructure programme underway are considerable.   

Across Italy, the Ports of Genoa investment programme is set to lead to an increased economic output of 7.6 billion euros, an added value of 3.2 billion euros, and in terms of employment to create over 55,000 new jobs. Specifically, most of the overall repercussions will reverberate across the construction industry. 

Genoa is a bridge between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe – and a gateway to the Rhine-Alpine corridor – and handles large volumes of cargo. However, in view of the limitations of today's navigation channel, only container ships of up to 14,000 TEUs can access the port’s Sampierdarena basin. Consequently, with current and future carrier upsizing, with lengths up to 400 metres and up to 450 metres in the medium term, the Port of Genoa is unable to play its rightful role to the full. 

The cost-benefit analysis, commissioned by the Port Authority ahead of the construction of the new breakwater, indicates that ultra-large ships will be deployed extensively along the trans-oceanic routes. 

The leading European ports, the Ports of Genoa’s competitors, are already equipped to accommodate the next generation of new Panamax and ULCVs (Ultra Large Container Vessel) ships. With the redevelopment of this strategic area, the Ports of Genoa is set to maintain Its leadership in the Italian port industry and consolidate its role in the Mediterranean and in Europe overall. The new breakwater becomes more vital than ever. 

A participatory process

In November 2018 Invitalia, the Italian Ministry of Economy’s agency for inward investment and economic development, issued a tender notice for the assignment of the technical and economic feasibility planning study for the new Genoa breakwater on AdSP’s behalf. In November 2019 the tender was won by a consortium of eight companies led by Technital SpA., and in February 2021 the planning service was set in motion. 

After initial screening, the Port Authority and the planners charged with the task identified three alternative scenarios for the building of the new breakwater, beginning a conversation with the city and the stakeholders, and submitting proposals for the public debate procedure. The project was presented to citizens through meetings and discussions and comments were also collected on the project’s many technical aspects and its most significant effects on the local area and economy. 

The approval procedure for the final and executive projects will conclude in 2021, while 2022 will see the commencement of work on the breakwater. The first phase will be completed in 2026, the total project in 2028.


The Project
The new breakwater is designed to guarantee direct access and a wide turning basin for ultra-large container ships (400 m long and 60-65 m wide) to manoeuvre in full safety: to/from port areas, in the outer harbour, to/from the terminal facilities and across the navigation channel. The breakwater must also ensure the simultaneous loading/unloading operations at port terminals and the docking of ships, by protecting the internal port areas from the waves.
To achieve these objectives, the project foresees the partial demolition of the existing breakwater and the construction of a new outer breakwater to guarantee easy access on the part of the latest generation of container vessels to the various terminals.
The project provides for a new entrance from the east for all ships bound for the terminals. Unlike today, container ships and cruise ships will take two separate lanes according to the final destination: the former will sail towards the Bettolo container terminal and the Sampierdarena docks, whilst the latter will call at the Porto Antico. 
Entrance to the Porto Antico is dependent upon the demolition of a section of the existing breakwater near the Bettolo container terminal to leave a 400-metre wide passage across which large cruise ships will be able to manoeuvre more easily. 
This solution, which allows for extra room for manoeuvre, hence greater safety, and for the simultaneous entry of cargo and cruise ships by separating the trade lanes, is designed to ensure maximum operational flexibility
The new breakwater will consist of cellular reinforced concrete caissons filled with granular material set on a rock basement. 
Companies involved 
The project development is conducted across a participatory process in which local public authorities, the port authority and local stakeholders actively join forces. The tender for the technical and financial feasibility study was awarded to a consortium led by Technital and comprises Epf Elettrotecnica, Modimar, Studio Ballerini ingegneri associati, Alberto Albert, Hr Wallingford, Dimms Control and Sener Ingenieria Y Sistemas. 
The total cost of the first phase of the project is 950 million euros. Details on the main sources of funding are currently being finalised with the specific public authorities:
600 million euros from the Complementary Fund established by the Decree for “Urgent measures relative to the fund, complementary to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and other urgent investment measures”, issued by the Italian government on April 21 2021;
100 million euros from regional and local public funds;
250 million euros from the Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority the resources through the taking out of a loan with the European Investment Bank, the paperwork for which is underway and close to completion.
Total tender: approximately 1.3 billion euros. The first phase of the project: 950 million euros.