LONDON Gateway welcomed the biggest ship to ever enter the Thames.

The Maersk Gudrun, which can carry 8,500 containers and was the biggest in the world when it first came into use in 2005, stopped at the port last Wednesday when it was forced to divert because of high winds and rain.

It was en-route to Folkestone from East Asia but with London Gateway better equipped to operate in high-winds, the ship docked at the new port and unloaded all goods bound for the UK.

From London Gateway, the ship headed for Le Havre, in France, and is now making its way to the Moroccan capital Tangiers.

London Gateway has been built to accommodate some of the biggest ships in the world and the Thames is now capable of welcoming these ships after 29million cubic metres of material was dredged from the river bed.

The Maersk Gudrun, which is 376 metres-long, was eclipsed in size by a new type of E-class ship in 2006. 

London Gateway, which opened on November 7, hopes one day to welcome the Maersk EEE which can hold 18,000 containers, more than twice what the Gudrun can.