Kiel Canal lock gate repair contract in sight
German officials are now hoping to sign a contract this year covering the long-delayed repair of a giant Kiel Canal lock gate damaged in a spectacular ship accident last year, writes Tom Todd.
An EU wide invitation to tender for the multi-million Euro repair job was issued earlier this year, reportedly with a late May deadline.
Claudia Thoma, spokeswoman for Germany’s Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) central office in Bonn, told Maritime Journal “the aim is to award the contract before the end of this year”.
The more than 1,000 ton gate was almost cut in two in February 2018 by the 848 teu, 13,713dwt container feeder Akacia. After entering the south lock of the Kiel Canal’s lock complex in Kiel-Holtenau following a journey through the waterway, the Portuguese-flag Akacia did not slow and ploughed through the closed lock gate at the other end.
Several months of complex recovery work after the accident involved specialist divers and heavy equipment. The giant gate was cut into two halves and transported by pontoon to German Naval Yards in nearby Kiel where it has since been in dry dock.
A reserve lock gate has meanwhile taken its place in Kiel-Holtenau but Kiel Canal officials are reported anxious to have a reserve gate available again as soon as possible. That’s because of regular lock gate replacement and maintenance and the ever-present danger of further accidents on the 98kms long Kiel Canal - the world’s busiest man-made waterway and used by more than 30,000 ships a year.
Experts studied and discussed the issue for more than a year after the Akacia accident before deciding to repair the damaged lock gate rather than scrap the more than 100 year old unit and build a new one.
Thoma told this correspondent a repair was expected to take one and a half to two years to complete. By contrast, reports have said it would take at least a year longer than that to get tenders in and commission and build a new lock gate.
According to Claudia Thoma the repair of the damaged lock gate will cost more than €10 million. Other reports however have quoted officials as saying it could be higher than that and possibly between about €15 and €20 million.
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