Portsmouth invests in new mooring system

Mon, 17 March 2014

Portsmouth International Port is currently upgrading the mooring systems on two of its ferry berths, aimed at making the arrival and departure process faster and safer.

The UK south coast port has recently taken delivery of fourteen automatic quick release mooring hooks to be installed on Berths 3 and 4, mainly used by cross-channel ferries. At a total cost of £400,000 the new mooring system, described as a “major investment in new infrastructure” will greatly reduce the need for port staff to handle heavy mooring ropes. The new system will also result in port staff spending less time on exposed areas of the dock, in turn reducing the risk of back injuries from heavy lifting. Similar technology from Australia was first installed at Portsmouth International Port in 2012.

The quick release hooks are being supplied by Strainstall, part of the James Fisher Plc group.  Strainstall is located just a short distance across the Solent at Cowes on the Isle of Wight and provides a wide range of jetty and berth management solutions, including: docking systems, intelligent fenders, mooring load monitoring, loading arm position monitoring and jetty management systems. The company particularly caters for the requirements of mooring systems in hazardous environments.  The mooring hooks, due to be operational early this year, are a mixture of single and double hook machines, designed to withstand harsh marine environments. Strainstall hooks are commonly used at oil and gas terminals to provide a quick release system for tankers and gas carriers in the event of a fire. They can be released remotely with no requirement for personnel at the location of the hooks. The system is also useful in a port that has numerous vessels berthing and sailing at peak times.

This investment is the latest in a series of developments at Portsmouth. In 2012, Berth 3 was extended to allow vessels up to 240m length to safely berth, a move that allowed larger cruise vessels to call at the port. In 2013 further flexibility was provided with provision of a wider turning circle at the entrance to the port. This was achieved by moving the Royal Navy training ship HMS Bristol to a new purpose built pontoon, allowing larger ships to have easier access to all of the port’s berths.

Martin Putman, port manager of Portsmouth International Port said: “The Strainstall system will really modernise our operations, an investment that helps to further protect the safety of our workforce. I’m personally delighted the most competitive tender for the best system came from a company on the Isle of Wight. That means money stays in the local economy, helping to protect jobs. It also guarantees us a high level of service, with maintenance and spare parts just a short ferry ride away.”


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