Multi-role workboat for Port of Littlehampton
When the time came for the UK South Coast port of Littlehampton to replace its ageing Cheverton 27 Pilot boat, it needed a vessel that would fill more roles than ever before, says Tony Birr of Lochin Marine.
The Port of Littlehampton is managed by a Board of harbour commissioners and is run as a trust port with any surpluses in revenue being reinvested into port activities to the overall benefit of its wide and diverse range of stakeholders.
In the autumn of 2014 Lochin Marine International Ltd of Newhaven were invited in to discuss the replacement of their Cheverton 27 Pilot boat with a multirole vessel. As with all projects of this nature no matter how large or small the challenge is always to match the operational needs with the funds available. The key to the on-going success of Littlehampton Harbour is the process of income generation. Therefore the new vessel had to not only deliver on the operational needs as a Pilot Boat but also as an income generator.
On brokerage at the time with Lochin Marine international was a harbour workboat Erica built by Newbury Engineering also in Newhaven, identified as a vessel that was within the budget and met the operational requirements of the port. Substantial alterations were required such as side access, open stern, pilot boarding platform, Hiab, winch / capstan, uprated gear boxes, larger propellers and the installation of Kort nozzles to increase the bollard pull, plus the addition of an A-Frame and fabrication of dredging plough.
On completion of these alterations Erica went into service in May 2015, as a multi role harbour work boat and has been deployed on initiatives ranging from dredging within the harbour boundaries to providing support for the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm located some 8nm to the south of Worthing. She has been deployed from Southampton in the West to Newhaven in the East.
Some examples of the work Erica has performed over the last year:
- Testing, Installing and carriage of Saunders Energy Hydro Power generator
- Worthing Foreshore seasonal buoys deployed
- Full refurbishment of Arun Platform offshore weather station
- Used to dredge Harbour Board and Littlehampton Marina berths
- Employed by Partrac Ltd for servicing of all waverider buoys on the Rampion windfarm
- Towage of houseboats
- Acoustic noise measuring investigation for Piling hammers on Rampion Windfarm
- AWAC deployment with Partrac Ltd for tidal diamonds on Windfarm
- Pilot Boat duties
“The Harbour Master Billy Johnson and his team have worked tirelessly to seek out income generation opportunities and as a result the port is in profit,” said Philip Bush, Chairman of the Littlehampton Harbour Board.
“Any success this year has been down to the hard work and professionalism shown by my staff, particularly those crewing the Erica who have at times been unbelievably bus.,” added Billy Johnson, Harbour Master
The number of commercial ships visiting the port has reduced significantly over recent years however with the recent introduction of Erica the port has been able to accommodate larger cargo vessels which despite the lower number of visiting ships, the overall commercial shipping income (cargo dues, pilotage dues, harbour dues and marine services to commercial vessels) has not suffered to the extent it could have.
Prior to the 2017 summer season, and primarily as a result of above budget income due to the success of Erica the port was able to purchase a RIB which will be used to improve the LHB patrol presence on the river in the summer. The Patrol RIB will complement the Board’s enforceable General Directions passed in 2015 which apply to all vessels in the harbour and it is hoped will discourage the small minority of river users who behave irresponsibly from doing so.
The additional income has also generated sufficient income and workload for the Harbour Board to employ additional staff and increase the skill set throughout the team.
In 2017 saw the installation of a 10 pile scrubbing piles into the harbour, a requirement for many years, catering for all vessels within the port – again, thanks in part to revenue generated by Erica.
Simon Thomas, CEO Lochin Marine International commented: “We are always delighted to work with ports and harbours to help them achieve their operational needs and it is doubly rewarding when that involvement produces such visible financial success to the port as well.”
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