the Degree Confluence Project


9.3 km (5.8 miles) WNW of Hoek van Holland, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Approx. altitude: 0 m (0 ft)
([?] maps: Google MapQuest OpenStreeMap ConfluenceNavigator)
Antipode: 52°S 176°W

Accuracy: 171 m (561 ft)
Quality: good

Click on any of the images for the full-sized picture.

#2: Map #3: GPS #4: the development of the Port of Rotterdam #5: Hofplein #6: Hoek van Holland seen from the Confluence #7: A ULCC - Ultra Large Crude Oil Carrier - discharging at Rotterdam's Maasvlakte #8: Maasmond, Maasvlakte and Europoort Region seen on the radar from nearby the Confluence

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  52°N 4°E (visit #1) (incomplete) 

#1: the Maasvlakte seen from the Confluence

(visited by Captain Peter and Dimitriy Peysakhov)

09-Oct-2002 -- After having discharged a part of our citrus fruits from Argentina and Uruguay at Antwerp (Belgium), we continued for the short voyage to the next discharging port: Rotterdam.

At the entrance of the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway), the so-called Maasmond (Mouth of River Maas), there is 52N4E.

At 4 a.m., about 2 nautical miles (3,7 km) off the Maasmond we took the pilot who had to bring us to our assigned dock. Due to outbound traffic we were forced to keep our ship a little bit South of the confluence, and so this visit is an attempt only.

The city of Rotterdam is officially in existence since 1328, when count Willem III. granted "city rights" for the town that had been growing around a dam in the river Rotte. (Hence the name: Rotte-dam.) It slowly grew, but on the whole it remained a town of very little significance, especially when compared to its main competitors Delft and Dordrecht, which were much more important in trade and industry in those days. But Dordrecht suffered severe damage from the St. Elisabeth-flood of 1421, while Delft failed to excavate the larger harbor it needed to support the trade, mostly as a result of internal political machinations.

Rotterdam had no such problems: its position near to deep water was much better than that of its competitors, and it had a readily accessible harbor. Trade flourished, and many goods started to pass through Rotterdam on their way to and from the ships that frequented her harbor.

In 1488, the bands of Frans van Breederoode did severe damage to the city, looting and burning large parts of Rotterdam. Fortifications were built, and he city became slightly smaller in order to become more defendable. In the 1570s, during the war with Spain, Rotterdam managed to fortify its position as a port of trade, when it became one of the few ports open to the sea. Antwerp and Amsterdam were being blocked due of the war. The city expanded, the walls around it were torn down as soon as the dangers of war diminuished, and new harbors were excavated, especially during the 17th century. Rotterdam embraced the industrial revolution of the 19th century. Steam power and mechanization boosted the capacity of the port enormously.

The Nieuwe Waterweg ("New Waterway") was completed in 1872, which gave Rotterdam a direct, high-capacity connection to the North Sea. This process continued well into the 20th century.

On 10 May 1940, the Wehrmacht (German Army) attacked the Netherlands. Part of the German "Blitzkrieg" strategy was an extensive bombardment on the heart of Rotterdam, the "Hofplein", on 14 May 1940. Blockbusters and firebombs laid the heard of the city to waste. The Dutch government was forced to capitulate after only five days of war in order to prevent further bloodshed. Five years of German occupation followed, and of all Dutch cities none suffered as greatly as Rotterdam did. The heart of the city was gone completely.

After the German capitulation in 1945, the process of rebuilding the city began. Disastrous as the 1940 bombardment has been, it did provide architects with a truly unique opportunity: the chance to reconstruct the heart of a large city from scratch. And that is exactly what they did.

Compare Hofplein, with the 1940 picture after the bombardment and with this of today!

After the flood in 1953 a large project was initiated to prevent such floodings in the future. This project, the so-called "Delta Plan", involved stronger and higher dikes and numerous flood barriers. The latest of those flood barriers to be completed was the storm surge barrier in the Nieuwe Waterweg near Hoek van Holland. Two enormous doors mounted on swing arms can be used to close off the Nieuwe Waterweg, should storm and high water require so in order to protect the country from flooding.

The development of Europoort ("Euro gate") started in 1957. A large complex of ports and industrial areas was created between Rotterdam and the entry to the North Sea. When more space was needed, the Maasvlakte ("Maas Flats") was created. By means of dikes, dams and sand deposits the coast line was altered to include many square kilometers of newly created land.

The deepest ports are of course the ones closest to the coast. The largest one is the 8ste Petroleumhaven (8th Petrol Harbor), which is in fact located already outside the Dutch coastline. This is where supertankers, mostly from the Arabian Gulf, are unloaded. Another huge artificial port is the Missisippihaven, where a very large ore terminal is located. At the EECV terminal in the Caland channel the largest bulk carriers of the world can be serviced. The Europoort region is the most important mass goods transfer location in Europe. The largest terminals here are primarily dedicated to the handling of ore and coal. The coal terminal is not only used to forward coal inland, but also to provide the Maasvlakte power station with fuel. An underground conveyor belt transports coal straight from the ships into the bunkers of the power plant. The bulk of the incoming ore and coal is transferred into smaller ships, barges and trains, which take care of further transport into Europe. Much of the ore goes to the Ruhr region in Germany to feed the smelters of the German steel industry.

Apart from fluid and dry bulk goods, containers have become more and more important, since containers can be shipped much more efficiently than separate goods. Containers come in two standard sizes, 20 and 40 ft., which makes it possible for container ships to be be stowed without wasting any space at all. Most of the containers are transferred at Europe Combined Terminals (ECT), The large ECT Maasvlakte plant services the largest ships and forwards a staggering amount of containers each year. Large parts of the plant have been automated. Driverless lorries move containers around under the command of computer systems.

The ports further inland are somewhat smaller. Most of the chemical industry around Rotterdam is located in this area. The five large petrochemical companies (Shell, BP, Esso, Kuwait Petroleum and Texaco) have refineries here, and over 20 large chemical companies have their various processing plants in all shapes and sizes. These companies are fully dependent upon the port of Rotterdam to provide them with raw material (crude oil) and upon the logistics of the entire sector to distribute semi-finished and end products between plants and companies. Extensive piping systems transfer the chemicals from plant to plant, so that one installation can take in crude oil and produce derivatives, and then pipe those directly into the next plant where they are processed further into end products.

All this shipping, transferring, storaging and forwarding are in operation 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Needless to say that both roads and railways in the area must be expanded regularly to cope with the growing need for transportation.

Be it dry bulk or fluid, containers or cars, cocoa, coffee or tropical fruit - the port of Rotterdam can handle it all.

The enormous amount of goods that passes through this port (some 300 million tons a year) truly make the port of Rotterdam live up to its reputation:


If you like to see the Maasvlakte live, go to http://www.port.rotterdam.nl/webcam/wcvcb/index.html the webcam will point for you to any direction you choose!

Pictures of Hofplein and Map of the Port of Rotterdam taken from the official website of Rotterdam. The picture of the tanker has been taken during a former visit to this port.

 All pictures
#1: the Maasvlakte seen from the Confluence
#2: Map
#3: GPS
#4: the development of the Port of Rotterdam
#5: Hofplein
#6: Hoek van Holland seen from the Confluence
#7: A ULCC - Ultra Large Crude Oil Carrier - discharging at Rotterdam's Maasvlakte
#8: Maasmond, Maasvlakte and Europoort Region seen on the radar from nearby the Confluence
ALL: All pictures on one page
In the North Sea, 2.2 km from land.