14 March 2014

The Port’s in-house Engineering Team were presented with a testing challenge last week when problems were encountered with the Prince George (PG) Lock. The small but skilled and agile team were already fighting on several fronts to repair storm damage caused to port property and coast defences over recent weeks so were well equipped to take on another challenging task!

The standard procedure is to install the stop-logs (or dam plates) at one end of the lock and then wait for the water to be pumped out before erecting access scaffolding and carrying out the repairs. The scaffold, pumps and stop-logs then need to be removed before the lock can be re-commissioned. 

To keep the shut-down time to a minimum the team came up with the idea of bringing in a 90 tonne mobile crane to help support the gate during the work, whilst using the controlled water level inside the lock to allow two divers in suits to work at a convenient height on the bearings without the need for scaffolding and at no risk of falling.

Ryan Baker, having bravely plunged into the freezing water in his diving dry-suit, commented “I don’t mind getting cold and wet if it means the length of work is reduced and we can keep the Port operational.”

The result was that the lock was only out of action for five hours instead of five days, keeping the main Prince Philip (PP) Lock free of small fishing and leisure vessels for an increasingly busy commercial fleet.

Deputy Port Engineer, Brian Rousell said “In our ongoing efforts to improve the public experience of crossing the locks we had cleared several sections of fencing and disused bollards from the North West corner of the PG Lock. This helped with getting the large mobile crane into position, allowing us to do the work quickly and safely.”