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ABP Property

Our property division brings together an unrivalled land bank spanning 21 multi-modal locations around the country, with 960 hectares of port-based development land.


Drawing on 60 years of experience, ABP Marine Environmental Research (ABPmer) provides specialist marine environmental research and consultancy services.

UK Dredging

UK Dredging (UKD) operates the largest British-owned dredging fleet and specialises in the provision of reliable and cost effective port maintenance dredging services.

Image Caption: One of ABP’s latest generation of ORC Pilot Launch craft from Goodchild Marine. Photo credit: David Lee Photography Ltd

Today (11th July 2024), Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s largest and leading ports operator, has announced an important programme of capability upgrades of its latest series of pilot launches. The launches, produced by UK-based vessel builder Goodchild Marine, are already highly capable assets but the upgrades – incorporating a number of suggestions from ABP’s own pilots and marine teams – take the safety, effectiveness and sustainability of the launches to the next level.

The capability enhancement programme includes increasing the number of larger vessels from three to five in the fleet. The new vessels replace those averaging around a 25-year vintage. The ORC pilot boat range with its beak bow planing-hull design has proven to deliver a significant improvement to seakeeping, crew safety, comfort, handling, fuel efficiency and emissions reduction in line with the latest regulations.

The launches, produced by UK-based vessel builder Goodchild Marine Services Limited, are highly capable assets, enhanced by additional suggestions from ABP’s own pilots and marine teams, demonstrating an innovative approach to vessel development with all stakeholders involved in the project.

Today’s news comes on top of a broader, significant programme of other marine improvements implemented by ABP with respect to Protection Equipment, Pilot Portable Units, new VTS facilities and new facilities at Grimsby and Barry.

Paul Bristowe, ABP’s Chief of Staff and senior executive responsible for marine and safety, said: “ABP’s marine capability is absolutely essential to fulfilling our mission of Keeping Britain Trading. Making sure that this capability is delivered in a way that continually improves safety, effectiveness and sustainability is key and today’s announcement is a further example of our commitment to doing just that.

“I’m particularly pleased that the package of upgrades we’ll be implementing includes the results of listening to men and women operating our fleet and that we are supporting UK shipbuilding through continuing our relationship with Goodchild Marine.”

Stephen Pierce, General Manager for Goodchild Marine Services Limited, said: “We’re delighted to be developing our partnership with ABP further. It’s exciting to be working on a program with this ambition for capability improvement. Cutting-edge design and proven vessel building and refit experience isn’t just good for orders here in the UK, it puts us in a good position to compete strongly for orders elsewhere.”

Gary Olden, Marine Services Manager for ABP, said: “It’s great that the crews using the early deliveries from the new ORC vessel fleet have been able to feedback their initial experience and that’s going to result in even better vessels to come. Changes include different coatings to improve visibility, positioning of AdBlue filters and adjustments to operating stations such as handrails and throttle height. All-round, it makes the vessels more comfortable and safer for the crews and Pilots.”

The capability upgrade programme is being applied to the £10+ million nine vessel fleet purchase of ORC craft from Goodchild Marine. The programme will see the fleet composition being upgraded from six 136 vessels and three larger 171 craft to four 136 and five 171 craft. The programme will also incorporate a range of practical improvements suggested by our Marine crews and pilots. 

Six vessels have already entered into service and proving their worth not just in the performance of the core pilotage role but also through delivering improved maritime safety.