TWO new container cranes are operating at the Port of Tilbury's container terminal.

The first of two new panamax cranes serviced Samskip ship Henrike Schepers this week.

Spanish company, Paceco Espana S.A., were awarded the contract to build and deliver two cranes in 2013.

The cranes are designed and purpose built to handle feeder vessels - smaller ships capable of carrying up to around 500 containers. Those containers then loaded onto bigger ships at container terminals like the one at Tilbury.

With a clearance of 17 metres between the legs, the cranes can efficiently handle 45 foot containers which weigh anything up to 57 tonnes.

The cranes also boast numerous state-of-the-art technology features, including the latest electronic controls with fault finding diagnostics, anti-collision systems and overload and weighing systems.

The cranes have been bought and installed as part of £20million of investment by Forth Ports at the London Container Terminal - topped up with funds from the Motorway of the Sea grant, awarded to the Port of Tilbury and Port of Bilbao in 2012.

Perry Glading, Chief Operating Officer of Forth Ports, said: "It’s great to see our new Paceco ship to shore cranes fully operational this week and already delivering an excellent service for our customers in the short sea and Mediterranean markets.

"With this investment we continue to secure Tilbury’s position as a key shipping and distribution location with unrivalled access to London and the South East of England."