Aberdeen Harbor has welcomed the largest ever vessel to the port after the completion of a £5.2 million program to improve access and deepen the Navigation Channel.
The improvements – designed to open the harbor to larger vessels and new markets – were completed five weeks ahead of schedule.
The two recent visits of the diving support vessel, Skandi Arctic, were perfect demonstrations that the harbor has entered a new era. Measuring 27 metres in breadth and 156 metres in length, the Skandi Arctic is wider than any other vessel to have entered the port, and with a gross tonnage of 18,640 tonnes, it also broke the previously held record of 18,500 tonnes.
Aberdeen Harbor Board Chief Executive, Colin Parker said: “This dredging and improvement work was of critical importance in order to accommodate the larger vessels that are expected to use the port in the future. It is important that we target investment towards improvements and developments while maintaining existing traffic flows, but also to bring new business to Aberdeen and take advantage of new opportunities, particularly in the subsea and renewables sectors.
“Previously the Navigation Channel had a maximum designed width of 33.5 metres – today this stands at 70 metres, a significant operational improvement. Deepening the entrance by two metres should also go some way towards addressing the occasional disruption to traffic movements during periods of easterly gales.
“We are also pleased the work has been completed ahead of schedule and with minimal disruption to our existing customers during significant levels of activity.”
Carried out by Boskalis Westminster Limited – part of the Royal Boskalis Westminster Group – and licensed by Marine Scotland, the work involved a combination of dredging techniques.
Aberdeen Harbour Board continues to invest in its world-class facilities, with the second phase of development at Torry Quay still on track for completion in Spring 2013. This will add an additional 100 metres of deepwater quay to the 300 metres completed earlier this year. The work includes filling in the River Dee Dock before surfacing with reinforced concrete to create an additional 20,000 square metres of operational space.
In addition to this, the Board recently announced the commencement of a feasibility study into the potential expansion of facilities at the port.
The study is designed to explore the future requirements of present and potential port users while also assessing what could be physically provided in order that a comprehensive and clear business case can be considered. Initial findings are expected in the New Year.
The potential for expansion will be considered alongside specific criteria, with the need for efficient and effective access links being of prime importance.