Northern Ireland

Royal Breeze bulk ship brings Belfast 20 days of coal

Image caption The coal on the Royal Breeze will keep the power station running for 20 days

Belfast harbour has received its largest single shipment in its 400-year history, harbour management has said.

The bulk carrier Royal Breeze brought 56,000 tonnes of coal to the port, which will be taken to the AES power station at Kilroot in Carrickfergus.

Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour's Commercial Manager, said Victoria Channel had to be deepened.

"At 225m long and 32m wide the Royal Breeze is quite a sight to behold," he said.

"Prior to her arrival the largest single cargo to arrive in Belfast Harbour was a 41,000 tonne shipment.

"Capital expenditure by Belfast Harbour has given Belfast the longest deep water berth and largest dedicated bulk handling crane in Ireland, but such is the size of the Royal Breeze that - for the first time in 50 years - it was necessary to deepen the channel for its entire six-mile length to accommodate ships of this size."

The cargo of coal will last the power station 20 days. If the shipment were in the 25kg bags of coal available on garage forecourts it would amount to more than two million of them.