12 December 2014

The big Prince Philip lock at Shoreham Port is one of our critical assets. The lock is the front door as far as our shipping customers are concerned and without it we couldn’t handle the ships of up to 6,000 tonnes that transport all of our imports and exports around Europe. The lock is equipped with a pair of lock gates at each end and we keep a third ‘spare’ pair so we can swap out the gates at either end every ten years or so to allow us to refurbish them.

We last swapped out a pair three years ago and these have now been lovingly restored to tip-top condition on our Outer Lay-by Terminal. However, terminal storage space these days is at a premium because the Port is so busy and we decided to create a new permanent home for the restored gates in the Engineering compound just to the south side of the Prince Philip lock where they won’t get in the way. Added advantages of this location are that the gates can be lifted very quickly straight into the lock for installation at either end in an emergency and they are close at hand to the engineering workshops and staff when we want to work on them.

The lock gates are ten metres square and weigh sixty tonnes each, so they can’t be moved by road but they are actually built as steel boxes and can be made water-tight so that they float. On a cold and overcast Friday last week, the gates were lifted into the water by a giant 250 tonne mobile crane and towed into the Prince Philip lock by our workboat Antares. A 250 tonne crane is very big indeed and isn’t really quite as instantly ‘mobile’ as its title suggests but, nevertheless, some four hours later the crane had been reassembled in the Engineering compound and lifted the gates out onto their beautiful new concrete plinth.

Tony Parker, Director of Engineering said “A job well done all round with expert planning and execution by the Port Engineer, Brian Rousell and the whole of the Engineering Team, who were ably assisted by the Marine Department in an expert tow of the gates.”