The Dover Strait – Busiest shipping lane in the world

The Dover Strait – Busiest shipping lane in the world

The Dover Strait – Busiest shipping lane in the world
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Last updated on January 9th, 2024 at 02:59 pm

Dover Strait is historically known as Dover Narrows (French: Pas de Calais),

The Dover Strait is the narrowest water passage that separates Great Britain from France and being the narrowest part of the English Channel, it connects the English Channel with the North Sea. The shortest distance across the strait is approximately 21 miles from Dover in an English Country to Cap Gris Nez near Calais in France.

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The Dover Strait has a width ranging from 18 to 25 miles and an average depth of 150 feet (46 m). The Strait was assumed to be the result of erosion of a land bridge that connected Weald (in Great Britain) to Pas de Calais (in France). This erosion helped create the most famous White Cliffs of Dover in the UK and the Cap Blanc Nez in France. On any clear day, it is even possible to see the coastline from France to Britain and vice versa with naked eyes.

As per the Guinness World Record, the Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the busiest shipping lane in the world. It is the most prominently used International seaway which is frequented by 500-600 ships a day.

Avoiding the long and more dangerous route around the North of Scotland, most maritime traffic use the Strait of Dover to pass between the Atlantic Ocean and The North Sea. It proved useful for transporting different cargoes including oil from the Middle East to the various European ports as well as many other goods to European customers from North and South America. In addition to linking the North-East to South-West traffic, the strait also connects North-West to South-East through the high-speed ferries by directly linking Dover to Calais and Dunkirk. This was the only accessible route across the strait till 1994 (except for the air transport) but since then, a 50.46 km long English Tunnel provides an alternate route. This tunnel is beneath the strait at a depth of around 45m below the seabed.

HM Coastguard and the Maritime Gendarmerie assure a 24-hour watch over the strait and have regulated strict regimes for the maritime traffic in the shipping lanes. The strict laws have been enforced to maintain the huge maritime traffic in the strait. 

It first happened in 1999, when 62,500 vessels carried 1.4 billion tons of bulk through the Strait of Dover. Many more Straits are believed to handle many more vessels but not the bulk. Thus, since then, the Dover Strait proves to be one of the best seaways and of course, the busiest shipping lane in the world.

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