Yokohama Bay Bridge too low for modern ships

The Voyager of the Seas sits alongside Daikoku Pier in Yokohama Port on Wednesday, with Yokohama Bay Bridge in the background.

YOKOHAMA, Japan - Some new large cruise ships are too tall to pass under the Yokohama Bay Bridge, and the Yokohama city government is concerned about problems this may cause at the port.

The city government, which manages Yokohama Port, is considering using Honmoku Pier, just outside the inner harbour, to accommodate such ships. It is normally used for cargo.

Sources in the city government and other entities said Wednesday that the city government has begun negotiations with the company managing the pier.

The Yokohama Bay Bridge is a notable Yokohama landmark, and stands about 55 meters above the water.

When it opened in 1989 it was built to be high enough for the Queen Elizabeth 2 at 70,327 tons, which was one of the world's largest ships, to pass under it.

Cruise ships up to about 100,000 tons can pass under the bridge, depending on the tide.

However, in recent years, cruise ships have become larger to reduce passenger fees, resulting in ships larger than 100,000 tons.

Until now, cruise ships unable to pass under the bridge were accommodated at the city-owned Daikoku Pier, which is located beyond the bridge. But the pier is far from the city centre and has proved unpopular among shipping companies and tourists.

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