The Port of London Authority (PLA) has placed a £6 million order for a Mooring Maintenance Vessel (MMV), with MPI Services (UK) Limited, trading as Manor Marine.
The contract for the MMV is the PLA’s largest single investment in over 20 years. The vessel will replace the PLA’s two salvage ships, Crossness and Hookness, which have been in operation along the tidal Thames for over 40 years. The PLA oversees navigational safety on the tidal river, which is home to the UK’s second largest port, busiest inland waterway and rowing, yachting and other sporting activities all the way from Teddington Lock to the estuary.
The PLA’s marine management team and crew of the current salvage craft started developing the specification for the new vessel some eighteen months ago, in conjunction with MacDuff Ship Design, who won the design competition. Subsequently, MacDuff worked up detailed plans for the ship, spending time onboard with the salvage vessel crews during operations, to understand fully the PLA’s needs. During the ship’s build, MacDuff will support the PLA with on-site supervision. The ship’s plans for this innovative design are being approved by Lloyd’s Register, who will also provide classification survey and certification.
Manor Marine, based at Portland Port on the Dorset coast, was chosen to build the vessel after a competitive tender amongst yards in the UK and continental Europe. Construction of the vessel is expected to start this April, with delivery in the first quarter of 2014.
PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt, explained about the vessel design:
“We look after 95 miles of busy river and estuary. The length and changing nature of the river we look after means that we have very specific requirements for this vessel. It has to be able to work at Richmond Lock and Weir, through central London and all the way out to the estuary. Operations in the outer estuary require the vessel to be classified as a sea-going ship, while the need to fit under the bridges in London restricts the air draught to just 6.4m, very low for a ship of this size.
“Clearly an ‘off the shelf’ design wouldn’t meet these needs so the input of the crew, the management team and MacDuff to develop the right vessel for us was essential.
”This investment is about making sure that we have the right equipment for the job today and the challenges we expect in the future. Our goal is to equip our people with the right equipment for the job so that we can be as safe and efficient as possible while ensuring that our operational costs remain competitive.”
The MMV will be used for much of the PLA’s work on the river: marking navigation channels, placing moorings and removing obstructions. In addition the MMV will be able to remove old piles/anchors, support diving operations, load/offload machinery for salvage operations and plough dredge.
Manor Marine’s Managing Director, John Tye, said:
“We are really proud to have won this order which is great news for Manor Marine and the 70 people we employ. It is a really positive marker for ship building in Britain. The PLA ship is very much a ‘one-off’ that will draw on the resources and skills of the team here. We’re looking forward to getting work underway with the first steel cutting in April. The order gives us a secure workload and we hope, as a demonstration of this work and the skills Manor Marine has to offer, it will attract further business for the future.”
As a self-financing authority any profits the PLA makes are re-invested in the business to ensure that it continues to have modern, cost effective equipment to do its work, helping sustain the safe and competitive operation of the port. In recent years investments have been made in: radar bases, upgrading Port Control systems and four new harbour launches.
Dredging Today Staff, April 2, 2012; Images: pla