500 meters sea lock Ymuiden ready this summer, in use next year

The construction of the sea lock at IJmuiden will be completed this summer. Rijkswaterstaat will then have the lock completed and a period of testing will begin. The lock can then be put into use at the beginning of next year. Construction started in 2016.

In the coming period, the builders of the lock, construction companies BAM and Volker Wessels, will be busy testing all the systems. If the lock is working properly, it will be completed. This is followed by a period of testing for the people who have to work with the lock, such as the lock keepers, pilots and boatmen. The latter are people who moor the ships in the lock. Sea-going vessels will also be used for these tests, which are planned for the autumn.

Originally, the new lock should have been put into operation at the end of 2019. However, construction was delayed due to a construction error. Fixing that mistake cost BAM and VolkerWessels hundreds of millions of euros.

The new lock, which was named Zeesluis IJmuiden after a competition, will be the largest in the world with a length of 500 meters. The lock is to replace the current Noordersluis, which was built in 1929 and will reach the end of its technical life in 2029. Moreover, the lock has become too small for some of the current seagoing vessels.

The total costs were estimated at €848 million. The central government, the province of Noord-Holland and the municipality of Amsterdam will all contribute financially to the project, but approximately 65% will be paid by the central government. Mind you that province and Amsterdam also exist on taxpayers money as well, so the score is in reality 100%.

There is a lot criticism about spending so much taxpayer money. In Rotterdam there are no costly delays due to the lock and extra costs for sea and canal pilots. Rotterdam is only 40 km away from Amsterdam. It all seems to be a matter of egos. The number of sea going ships arriving in Amsterdam is about 7.500 and inland waterway ships about 40.000. For Rotterdam the figures are 30.000 and 100.000.


Seagoing vessels are getting bigger and bigger. In order to be able to carry more cargo, they are becoming especially wider and higher also because draft and maneuverability are limited in many ports. That is another reason that they do not grow in depth and length, but in width and height. They want to carry a lot of cargo without going deep.

Cruise ships are expected to develop to a maximum width of 49 meters. They are getting longer though. A turning circle has been dredged in the IJ, but it is already on the tight side.

Port facilities are being constructed offshore, such as the Maasvlakte and the Tweede Maasvlakte. Container ships are getting so big that they prefer not to enter ports anymore. They are unloaded and loaded close to the high seas. Port facilities are being constructed offshore, such as the Maasvlakte and the Tweede Maasvlakte. Rotterdam and the major ports in Asia have set that trend.

Container companies left the harbor of Amsterdam because of all the obstacles and restrictions. A 95 million container terminal lies unused. The entire North Sea Canal is too shallow and too narrow. Because you can build a lock that is 18 meters deep, but what good is that if there are various thresholds on the bottom further down the North Sea Canal? Ships that protrude deeper than 13.80 meters are not allowed to enter the canal.

The new generation of container ship have a draft of more than 15 meters. The North Sea Canal is also too narrow. The waterway is 250 meters from one bank to the other, but under water the slope slopes downwards. The channel is approximately 150 meters wide. When the wind dies down, two ships 50 meters wide can pass each other safely. This is impossible with some wind when the windage affects the steering and passing under these conditions is then unsafe.