An article by: Francesco Lovati

A record-breaking work that will double the maneuvering space for ships entering and leaving the port of the Ligurian capital.

In May, the work has started on the construction of a new breakwater in the port of Genoa. A record-breaking project that will double the maneuvering space for ships entering and leaving the port of the Ligurian capital and open up new opportunities for the transporting of goods between East and West, as well as between the Mediterranean south and north. Along with the Third Jovi Pass, this major work will strengthen the Rhine-Alps corridor of the TEN-T network.

The work is entrusted to the Pergenova Breakwater consortium, led by Webuild; an investment of about 1 billion euros is expected, partly funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The economic impact on the city will be immediate, given that 70 companies and 1,000 people are involved in the construction, and in the medium-term, Genoa should become a major logistics center for trade in Europe.

Thanks to the new dam, modern container ships up to 400 meters long will be able to moor in Genoa.

Unique Task and Opportunity for Italy and Europe

A breakwater is nothing more than an artificial barrier designed to protect the port from the movement of waves. However, the existing one is too close to the coast, preventing larger ships from reaching it. The new barrier will be moved approximately 400 meters offshore, increasing ship maneuvering space from 500 meters to 800 meters, enabling the arrival and docking of world-class cruise ships and the largest container ships in existence, which are up to 400 meters long and 60 meters wide.

Once the new breakwater is opened, ships from the eastern Mediterranean ports or the Suez Canal, which today sail around Europe and arrive in Rotterdam, the most important continental port, will be able to save time by stopping in Genoa.

The work is planned in two phases, the first will be completed in 2026, the second one in 2030.

Large Construction Site

How to build a 6 km dam on the seabed 50 m deep? First of all, it is necessary to compact the sandy and clay bottom, which is done by creating columns of gravel. This work has already begun, and 100,000 tons of gravel were laid on the seabed in the first month alone.

After that, 7 million tons of rock material will be laid to form the base of the dam. Placed above the base will be ready-built hollow caissons that will be flooded and then refilled with stone material, largely taken from the demolition of the old dam, and will form a barrier 6 km long and more than 60 meters high, which will rest on the deep seabed at a depth of 50 meters (a record) and face the task of canceling waves, thus ensuring the smooth operation of the port.

The work is planned in two stages. The first will be completed by 2026 and will include the construction of a new entrance from the east with a width of more than 300 meters, to which space for ships to maneuver will be added. The completion of the second phase that involves the expansion of the Sampierdarena canal to 400 meters will instead have to wait until 2030.

The materials from the old dam will be used in the construction of the new one

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact assessment was fundamental for the assignment of the task. First of all, attention was paid to the recycling of materials that make up the current dam and which will be reused for the construction of a new dam. Thus, in addition to a lower environmental impact during construction, the transportation and disposal of materials will be significantly reduced, which will drastically cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

During the construction phase, numerous precautions will also be taken to ensure the full functionality of the port, on the one hand, and to minimize the impact on the marine ecosystem, on the other, especially during the critical construction phase.


Francesco Lovati