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Giuseppe Lecce interview

Giuseppe Lecce, Head of Operations for the AdSP Ionian Sea - Port of Taranto

The city and the port

The relationship between the city and the port has always been one of our fundamental concerns since it was founded.

This is because the city of Taranto was established around the port.

In the event, the relationship has developed in a slightly different way.

The port has developed in various phases.

The first is what I like to call the historic merchant port, and this is where there is the connection with the city, it lies right next to the old city.

Until a few years ago, this is where the frozen tuna arrived in ships’ holds at minus 25 (degrees C).

There were workers who went down with a crowbar, they would physically prise the tuna from the block of ice that had formed and carry it, transfer it.

This is the part of the merchant port that has a fundamental characteristic of being extremely flexible in its usability.

It has one major limitation today, however, which is that of output, i.e. the productivity, of this type of transportation.

The development of the industrial port

Going from east to west, the port has developed over the years with different characteristics: from the historic merchant port, we move on to what is known as the industrial port.

It was created in the 1960s and 70s, serving the large steel industry and the oil refining industry.

What is the main characteristic of the industrial port?

It is that of having large cranes that are connected to each other via a conveyor belt that brings the goods directly into the industrial plant, while for incoming goods, on the other hand, we have a rail system inside the steel plant that takes the semi-finished products, which are coils, sheet metal, slabs and so on, and takes them back to the port to be loaded and shipped.

Key feature: high productivity.

The development of the container terminal

Continuing westwards, the harbour continues into the tertiary port.

What is the key characteristic of the third sector, of the container terminal?

It is that of combining the productivity of the industrial sector, meaning the large equipment, the specificity of the equipment, with the flexibility, i.e. any type of goods.

How is this done?

Not by considering the goods being handled, but by taking into account the form in which they are being transported, and here the containers are always identical.

They are international standard, not only designed to use the same equipment worldwide, but also to carry the same goods via several different modes of transport.

The complexity of container ship transportation

What causes the complexity?

We have ships, like the one that blocked the Suez Canal, that have 20 thousand containers, 20 thousand different products, each with a recipient and a stakeholder.

The complexity of this business is that there are 20 thousand owners, 20 thousand different goods and destinations.

Imagine what it means to get anything wrong or mixed up, it essentially means ruining your own business.

Many things and all very large

Very often the port does not give the sense of the scale of things.

This is due to a lack of points of reference.

There are the cranes that are positioned on the industrial section that have a height… the highest point is 55 metres.

Now to get an idea, one floor of a normal building is three and a half to four metres at most, so 55 metres means that we are talking about a building that is taller than 11, 12, 13 floors.

We have a quay, which is the one on the fourth jetty where the goods arriving at the plant are unloaded, that has hosted one of the largest ships in the world that carries bulk cargo, which are the raw materials the steelworks need for production.

This ship was 350 to 400 metres in length, when you consider that a football pitch is about 90 metres, that’s three to four football pitches on a ship.

But what is important for you to grasp what kind of work is being done, is to think that at that point, that quay has a seabed 25-metres deep.

It accommodates ships with a draught of 24m-24.5m metres, so when this ship is emptied it rises seven to eight storeys.

Now it’s not technically like that because then for balancing reasons it is ballasted, but let’s imagine this seven-storey lift.

A length of 350 – 400 metres is not a building.

A building is between 50 and 60 metres long; it is a series of blocks that are raised from the sea and transported from the quay to the plant.

In one week this activity is carried out systematically without any kind of hitch.

The development of the container terminal

The port lies within a well-protected harbour, however this creates a very delicate environment from an ecological point of view, with little capacity to recover by itself and generates the necessity to avoid forms of pollution.

For this reason, the port of Taranto has always taken steps to ensure the safety of the mooring phase, and thus the obligation to use tugboats – be aware, the tug service exists in all ports, Here it is compulsory for almost all ships that moor in the port of Taranto.

Another specific feature is the environmental protection service, which is a service that includes the provision, when handling polluting materials, of a series of measures that serve to limit the possible spread of these products, essentially we are talking about petroleum products.

This is also a compulsory service in the port of Taranto.

This, I want to say, is to make it clear how much attention is paid to the environment.

*** Automatically generated subtitles ***


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