PORT of Sunderland is feeling the tides of change.
The North East port has recorded its busiest year since shipbuilding ended in December 1988 and the closure of the collieries.
Data showed that over the last year, traffic has increased into the docks by 84 per cent.
From April 2011 to March 2012, 450 commercial vessels arrived in Sunderland’s port, an increase from 245 vessels for the same period the previous year.
The figures, the port says, reflect a change in line with the launch of a growth plan and investment.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and chairman of the Port of Sunderland’s board, said that the increased traffic coming into the banks of the Wear was testament to the hard work of the port’s management team, who have set out a clear strategy for growth and development.
“The launch of the Sunderland Economic Masterplan in October 2010 set out our ambition to grow the port, and establish the city as a hub for offshore renewable energy and subsea engineering.
“Almost two years on, and the strategy put in place by our management team is really starting to herald results.
“Sunderland is growing its reputation as a flexible, forward-thinking port, and one that can work with its customers to meet their needs efficiently, and the increased activity we are seeing is a vote of confidence in what we do.”
Port director Matthew Hunt said the achievements were down to a clear growth plan that focuses on five key areas of business: bulk cargo, project and unitized cargo, ship repair and marine engineering, North Sea oil and gas industry support, and offshore renewable and subsea engineering.
He added: “Two years ago, we took a step back, and looked at the port and what the opportunities were for growth.
“We put time and resource into targeting markets that we believed would generate returns, working to understand the commercial opportunities that existed in each, and developing a clear picture of what would be attractive about Sunderland to each of these markets.
“Sunderland enjoys some fantastic natural assets and is making the most of them, but teaming this with exceptional service has been fundamental to the progress we have made at the port.
“This really is just the start for us, and we are confident that we can build upon the success we have seen to date and continue to establish the city as the first port of call for businesses across the country and further afield.”