Queens Pier Improvement Project Given The Green Light At Portland Port. 2019 cruise season to bring economic boost to region

Portland Port  (Courtesy Portland Harbour Authority, UK)The nature of shipping at Portland Port is changing rapidly; as the cruise business continues to grow, the Port’s cargo customers are also seeing a significant growth in activities and there is an increased use of the port by military vessels.

These good news stories not only mean a growing number of vessels visiting the port, but they are increasing in size as well.

This growth in all areas has driven the need for significant investment in to the port’s infrastructure. The port undertook a major extension to its main cruise and cargo berth, which was opened in April 2017, and dredging is currently taking place to increase the water depth at this berth, Outer Coaling Pier (OCP), to 11 metres.

The dredging of OCP, which is nearly complete, will allow the port to accommodate fully laden Panamax bulk cargo vessels and tankers, as well as cruise vessels up to 350 metres in length.

To further support the port’s growth, the Board of Portland Port have approved in principle, the deepening of the seabed level either side of the Queens Pier outer arm, from 8 metres to 11 metres. Queen’s Pier was originally constructed in 1952 by A E Farr Ltd, using reinforced concrete piles that were manufactured locally as the berth extended seawards. In 1973 it was further extended using similar design parameters but supported on steel piles.

In 2011 two strong points and a new dolphin were built to accommodate the larger forces attributable to evolving vessels that would be accommodated on the berth.
To achieve the desired 11 metre depth, a major project must be undertaken to ensure the inherent strength of the berth is maintained. The project will involve sheet piling either side of the berth to maintain the historic context of the structure. Once the sheet piling is in place on either side of the berth, the dredging can then begin.

At the same time the berth will be extended by the construction of a new mooring dolphin, resulting in a facility for berthing vessels up to 230 metres long with drafts up to 10.5 metres. Once completed this will enable some of the vessels which currently have to be accommodated on OCP and Deep-Water Berth, to be berthed at Queen’s pier outer arm instead, thus increasing the port’s flexibility.

The project is due to begin in the New Year and has been subject to a full competitive tendering process. The successful tender came from CMP Thames Ltd, based in Ringwood. They have undertaken to design, manage and construct the installation by the end June 2019. The formal signing of contracts took place on 12th December 2018.

Julian Branford, Director at CMP Thames Ltd. said that ‘CMP Thames are delighted to be awarded this contract and it is a privilege to be working with Portland Ports who, from previous experience, are a pleasure to work with.’

Alex Hayes, General Manager Landside at Portland Port added that ‘It is great to be working with CMP Thames again after the successful completion of the OCP berth extension last year and to be part of the port’s continuous improvements.’

2019 cruise season to bring economic boost to region

As part of the ports improvement strategy, research has been undertaken over the last three years which has yielded some fantastic results for the local area.

The research has been based on the activities that cruise passengers undertake whilst in port and helps put to bed the myth that all cruise passengers visiting Portland Port go to Stonehenge. The data collected over the last three years shows a clear pattern that, on average, 40% of passengers go on official excursions that are arranged by the ship, leaving 60% using the free shuttle service provided by the port, staying on the ship or making their own arrangements.

Further analysis of the research shows that 80% of all passengers actually stay in Dorset itself. When combined with recent data released by the Cruise Lines International Association on the economic benefit of the cruise industry, the numbers make very positive reading. Cruise passengers spend an average of €80 per person during a port call, on excursions, on independent travel arrangements, on food and drink and in shops, making the input to the local economy significant. In addition, crew members spend on average, a further €35 per head.

When combined this means that in 2018 Portland Port’s cruise business generated around €3.4 million, while the forecast for 2019 means a further €5.8 million could be pumped into the local and regional economy. Overall, in 2017 alone, cruising contributed a staggering €10.4 billion to the UK economy.

2018’s cruise season has been a spectacular one for Portland Port; with the largest number of cruise calls and passengers to date, a record-breaking cruise ship, winning one local award and being selected as a finalist for another, 2018 has been very successful for the port.

It is with great excitement though that Portland Port can now announce that 2019 is going to be another record breaker, with a massive 38% increase in cruise calls compared to this year. The 44 calls are spread between April and October.
Meanwhile, a shift towards larger ships, as well as the increase in call numbers, sees the port expecting to handle more than 62,000 passengers during its 2019 season, compared to around 36,000 this year.

Over the last 10 years the number of cruise ships visiting Portland Port have grown substantially from just 4 calls and 2,000 passengers in 2009 to the record-breaking figures for 2018 and 2019. This is a trend that Portland Port is keen to continue.

(Portland Harbour Authority)

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