The Port of Southampton completes channel widening programme

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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.

Boskalis’ backhoe dredger, Magnor, loading an attendant barge with sediment ready for safe disposal.

The Port of Southampton has completed a significant navigation channel widening programme in the Western Docks, enabling the largest container vessels to pass the biggest cruise ships berthed in the Port. This is the first significant channel-widening project in the Port in ten years. The works involved the removal of 900,000m3 of predominately clay based material over a 2 kilometre stretch of the channel, widening it by 30 – 65 metres.

The project was two years in the making and managed by ABP Southampton’s Engineering and Marine Teams. Along with extensive navigation simulation exercises to determine the scope of work, comprehensive geotechnical surveys allowed the team to assess the nature of the material to be removed and the type of dredging equipment to be used during the work. Diver operations assessed the seabed for historical unexploded ordnance and safely recovered marine debris such as anchors and tyres from the seabed. Archaeological sampling was completed before the dredging programme commenced. The timeframe to complete the dredge was restricted to the winter months to ensure the activity did not impact the salmon migration to the River Test.

Andrew Hallam, ABP Southampton Programme Lead, said: “This project is a considerable investment enabling the World’s largest vessels to enter the Port and support the UK’s import and export markets. It has been a very complex and challenging project to navigate due to the number of stakeholders and consenting requirements, as well as delivering the project through the winter with several significant weather events.”

Steve Masters, Southampton Harbour Master, said: “The container vessels coming into Southampton are the largest in the World, carrying up to 24,000 containers. This programme enables the safe navigation of these huge vessels and supports the UK container handling capability. Our thanks are extended to all those involved in the project.”

The Port is the UK’s number one hub for deep-sea trade and a critical link in supply chains serving businesses and manufacturers throughout the nation.