Thursday, January 14, 2021

New Linkspan to Accommodate Latest Freight and Passenger Ferries

RoRo Landing Facilities Improved on Key Route
Shipping News Feature

UK – Ferry landing points often throw up a myriad of hitherto unseen problems. As RoRo ships change routes and find themselves in different harbours, so the anomalies can prove both costly and time consuming.

Linkspans, seen as the answer to many such problems, can themselves be the cause of delays, and even accidents, so for those freight drivers crossing between Belfast and Birkenhead, there is good news with the completion of a £15 million redevelopment of the Victoria Terminal 2 (VT2) ferry terminal ramp in Belfast Harbour.

The existing berth has been upgraded to handle the next generation of Stena Line’s new E-Flexer series of RoRo ferries. The project, by civil engineering specialist contractor GRAHAM, involved the installation of a new double deck linkspan that allows vehicles to be loaded or discharged simultaneously over two decks of the ferry. This investment will allow Stena Line to increase capacity, reduce turnaround times and enhance connectivity to one of Northern Ireland’s key markets.

As part of the works, GRAHAM’s project team also constructed new berthing infrastructure including dolphins, walkways and automatic mooring system, and a new approach ramp to the linkspan upper deck. To increase the efficiency of piling operations during the scheme, the project team designed and fabricated a hydraulic piling gate that was utilised on a floating crane barge on site, reducing the time taken to complete the piling works. Thomas Craven, Contracts Manager for GRAHAM, said:

“We’re delighted to have been part of this important infrastructure project for Northern Ireland, which will unlock further potential for freight capacity between Belfast and Liverpool. Our team called upon its vast expertise in port and marine engineering to deliver this first class terminal and associated infrastructure. The facilities will provide major benefits to Northern Ireland’s importers and exporters, improving the customer experience as well as enhancing capacity on the route.”

Throughout the works materials were procured through the local supply chain and GRAHAM also recruited a new engineering apprentice to work on the scheme. The project forms part of Belfast Harbour’s long-term investment strategy in Port infrastructure and future proofs Belfast’s ferry facilities.

The new E-Flexer ships, which entered service earlier this year, will enhance freight capacity by 40%. At 215 metres long, the new ships will have a freight capacity of 3,100 lane metres and space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers and crew. They will also utilise the most modern marine technology available and be the most sustainable vessels operating in the Irish Sea. Director Infrastructure and Business Transformation at Belfast Harbour, Trevor Anderson, said:

“The upgrade of the Victoria Terminal 2 ferry terminal represents another significant investment by Belfast Harbour in Northern Ireland’s transport infrastructure and will provide world class facilities for Northern Ireland’s importers and exporters.

“The project is an important step in our ambition to become the World’s Best Regional Port. By supporting the introduction of larger vessels the investment also future proofs Belfast Harbour’s ferry facilities and strengthens our long-term partnership with Stena Line.”