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Traffic, ships, sea, and storms – How port’s Engineering Team keep crucial docks running

A crucial maintenance programme to overhaul ferry berth ED9 is underway in the port of Dover’s Eastern Docks to ensure the continued safe docking of ferries carrying up to 17% or £122 billion of the UK’s trade in goods.

Although regular maintenance is routinely carried out on the berths throughout the year, this additional £200,000 plus overhaul for berth ED9 will include the renovation of the vehicle and passenger bridges, inspection of the fenders and structural integrity of the pier, painting and weather-proofing of metal work and the servicing of navigation aids.

The Berth is in constant demand from the Spirit Class ferries and so a tight timescale has been set to complete the works most of which will take place in difficult to reach areas and in a sometimes inhospitable environment. The removal of the ‘Fingers’ (that join the vehicle bridges to the ship decks) alone is a specialised operation. Each one is cut from a solid piece of steel and weighs several tonnes. There is little headroom to lift the Fingers from the vehicle bridges as the footbridge is situated directly above and so considerable skill and extra care is required.

Once removed these undergo a rigorous service regime including replacements of bearings, cylinders and pins.

A skilled team of port of Dover Technicians led by James Morton and Marc Stanley will be working intensively to ensure that the work is finished to programme. Most of the berth equipment is serviced onsite in the port’s own workshops by the port’s Technicians, negating the need to outsource this therefore making the process quicker and more efficient to ensure freight and passenger movements continue to flow.

Following the overhaul of berth ED9, the team will then move on to overhaul berth ED8, followed by berth ED6 later on in the year.

Port of Dover General Manager of Engineering said: “The port of Dover’s skilled Engineering Team work tirelessly through the year efficiently maintaining the port’s infrastructure. All projects are planned to cause as little noticeable disruption to services as possible and so customers travelling through the port may not be aware of the extensive work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure the continued resilience and effective operation of Europe’s busiest ferry port.

“With 5 million vehicles travelling through the port of Dover annually it is vital for the entire pan-European trade corridor, as well as tourism, that our ferry berths are maintained in optimum condition. This extensive berth overhaul project will ensure continued safe and frictionless transit for all of our customers and the onward supply chain.”