New class of barge for Tideway project

The first of the new barges make their way out of Holland
The first of the new barges make their way out of Holland
'Pheobe' ready for dispatch from Sliedrecht
'Pheobe' ready for dispatch from Sliedrecht
'Churchill's inaugural trip through Tower Bridge, March 18
'Churchill's inaugural trip through Tower Bridge, March 18

The sheer scale of the 25km Thames Tideway has sparked a new class of barge, the ‘Tideway’, designed by Bennett’s Barges in conjunction with Holland’s Baars BV. 

As there's approximately 789,000 tonnes of spoil to be removed from the 7km western length of the project (a BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty joint venture), the well-known London company needed to extend its fleet.

No less than eight of these new hopper barges are to be based at the Carnwath Road construction site: while all share the same 3.5m draft the pair of 1,600t barges, Apollo and Poseidon are 55m long, Hercules and Churchill (both 1,500t) come in at 50m and the two 1,000t Phoebe and Zeus are 38m long, with another pair of 1,500t barges due to arrive at time of writing.

Specially designed for the Thames, certified by RINA for 50nm from shore (and delivered by tug from the Netherlands), these Tideway barges also have a large intact buoyancy; plus they’re also pretty ruggedly built with 12mm bottom plates and chine, and a rubbing band made out of 20mm steel flatbar.

They also have a large deck space provided by an 11.4m beam, making them somewhat broader than previous versions. Bennett's explained the wider decks mean “improved safety and increased usability for the crew”.

While the Tideway design can be towed, it also yields pushability from either end, the pusher knees designed specifically to allow safe access for the crew from Bennett’s navtugs, Felix and Christian.

On deck the barges are fitted with a diesel-powered windlass, deploying a single Pool TW HHP anchor with a mass of 1,845kg with 60m of 32mm anchor chain.

There are also a pair of wire coupling winches situated forward and aft, used to moor the barges together, while the safety features include high comings, boat hook, life rings, fire extinguishers and rope baskets along with high visibility paint that outlines the danger areas.

All in all, it took around 12 weeks to manufacture each of the hulls and a further four weeks was taken with outfitting, painting, testing and inspection.

The hardware isn’t the only focus: Bennett’s Barges will also be employing and training up to 24 marine personnel, including a number of skippers, to operate its much-expanded fleet.

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