Detailed view for Maeslant Barrier

Storm surge barrier
Short description

Country: the Netherlands

Region: Zuid-Holland

City: Rotterdam


  • Land reclamation with a total of 2.000 ha of which 1.000 ha is business area
  • Total of 2250m of deep sea quay and 1000m barge/feeder quay
  • 7,5 km soft seawall
  • 3,5 km hard sea wall
  • 13 km road
  • 14 km rail
  • 240 million m³ of sand was used
  • 19.558 concrete blocks of 40.000 kilo’s each were used for the hard seawall
Progress status
First phase is completed. Maasvlakte 2 is open for shipping. The construction of the container terminals of APM Terminals and Rotterdam World Gateway is on schedule. Both terminals will be operational at the end of next year.
Cost estimation
2,9 billion Euros for the first phase.

Port of Rotterdam Authority 

Prime contractor

Koninklijke Boskalis Westminster B.V.

Van Oord 

Consortium work

Koninklijke Boskalis Westminster B.V.

Van Oord



PIANC References for this project

PIANC WG 137 – ‘Navigation Structures: Their Role within Flood Defence Systems – Resilience and Performance under Overloading Conditions’

Harbour Approach Channels – Design Guidelines - MarCom Working Group report 121

Use of Hydro/Meteo Information for Port Access and Operations - MarCom report 117 – 2012

Safety Aspects Affecting the Berthing Operations of Tankers to Oil and Gas Terminals - MarCom report 116 – 2012

Criteria for the (Un)loading of Container Vessels - MarCom report 115 – 2012

Recommandations relatives aux normes parasismiques pour les structures portuaires - MarCom rapport du GT 34 – 2005

Guidelines for the design of fenders systems - MarCom report of WG 33 - 2002


The Maeslant Barrier (known also as the New Waterway Barrier) is one of the two large storm surge barriers protecting the Dutch province of South Holland with its Rotterdam harbor against the intrusion of sea water.

The barrier consists of two hollow, semi-circular gates attached by means of steel truss arms to pivotal points on both banks. One of the advantages of the BMK design in relation to other competitors was the ease of maintenance, as the gates are positioned dry in the abutments under normal conditions (barrier opened). When the forecasted water level for Rotterdam exceeds 3.00 metres above NAP (New Amsterdam Sea Level), the Storm Surge Barrier in the New Waterway has to be closed.

The barrier computer - the Command and Support System (Dutch acronym: BOS) - instructs the Control System (BES) to shut the barrier. The BES executes then the BOS's commands. In case of a storm tide, the docks in the abutments are filled with water, so that the hollow gates begin to float and can be led into the New Waterway by a special locomobile drive.

Once the gates meet, the buoyancy tanks are filled with water until the gates touch the bottom, sealing off the 360 metre-wide opening. After the storm surge has passed, the gate tanks become emptied and the structure begins to float again. Once it is certain that the next surge will not cause a problem, the two gates return to their docks.

When the New Waterway is closed it is no longer possible for the ships to pass. The storm surge barrier shall, therefore, only be closed under extreme high water conditions, with a probability of exceeding of 10-1 (once in every ten years).

The test closures are conducted once a year in order to check the equipment. These closures are carried on when there is little navigation on the New Waterway.

While the sea level will rise in coming decades, the storm surge barrier will have to close more frequently - in 50 years time once every five years.

Documents to download
  • Maeslant Barrier - Maeslant Barrier
  • Storm Surge Barriers Alternative design - Storm Surge Barriers Alternative design