The UK’s Portland Port has officially opened a new deepwater berth as part of a £26 mill development project.
Redevelopment of the deepwater quays at the port has enhanced its cruise and cargo handling operations, as well as its service provision for vessels, including those from the UK’s Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA).
It enables the port to meet rising demand and keep ahead of the trend for increasing sizes of cruise ships, including those of up to 350 m in length, the port said.
This investment is the largest in the port’s 27-year history and comes as it welcomes a record 130,000 pax over the coming cruise season.
Bill Reeves, Portland Port CEO, said: “This redevelopment is a tremendous vote of confidence in the port and the local economy.
“It is the largest single investment in Portland Port and its infrastructure in its history, and one of the large redevelopment projects in the area in recent years.
“It sets the stage for significant further growth in the future at the port and for the local economy through jobs and local supply chain.
“I wish to thank all of our partners and contractors for their support during the course of the redevelopment, including members of the local community, our tenants at the port and neighbouring businesses as well as our managing contractor Knights Brown for their exceptional project delivery.
“We’re also grateful to HSBC UK for its support with an eight-figure financial package to enable this work to go ahead,” he said.
Work on the redevelopment undertaken by Knights Brown started last September and had to be completed against a strict April deadline in time for this year’s cruise season.
It involved removing the existing deepwater berth, and creating a new, extended berth of 250 m in length with 12 m of water depth alongside capable of handling cruise ships up to 350 m long.
In addition, a 75 m extension to the port’s Outer Coaling Pier (OCP), used for the handling of drybulk cargo and also used as a cruise berth, to a length of 250 m and 11 m water depth alongside, was built.
Overall, the project provided 16,000 sq m of additional quayside space, which means that the port can handle two 350 m long cruise ships alongside simultaneously.
Kevin Valentine, Knights Brown’s Managing Director, said: “I am delighted to see the berth fully operational having been delivered early and on budget.
“When we embarked on delivering this for the port there were many who thought that it couldn’t be delivered within the required time scale, cost and quality.
“However, through true collaboration between all partners on the project we have achieved everything that we set out to. I would like to thank all of the partners involved in the success of this scheme but in particular Portland Port who had to foresight to understand that true collaboration really does work,” he said.
The deepwater berth became operational when ‘MSC Virtuosa’ arrived in April with a port record of 5,000 pax but it was officially opened following final works being carried out.
A total of 130,000 pax are due to arrive on cruise ships at Portland this year, the most for any season thus far.
The port’s cruise business contributes an estimated £10 mill to the local economy. It recently held trade association Cruise Britain’s annual summer event in Weymouth and Portland, together with Princess Cruises.