Portsmouth cruise development

Signage at Portsmouth International Port Cruise signage at Portsmouth International Port

The UK’s Portsmouth International Port is making a long talked about move towards creaming off some of near neighbour Southampton’s considerable cruise traffic thanks to a berth extension project.

Hampshire based company Knights Brown will level and extend the cruise berth so the Port will be able to handle ships up to 255m in length and enable it to welcome 150,000 cruise passengers annually.

Bryan Kennedy, divisional director for Knights Brown, said: “These works are a fantastic opportunity for us to take on an exciting and challenging engineering project within Hampshire where we are based.

"Our local people have extensive knowledge of working along the south coast and in busy port environments so it’s a great fit for our expertise. We’re looking forward to getting underway.”

Portsmouth City Council's transport and environment service will be overseeing the construction phase. The current cruise berth has a sloped level making it particularly challenging for accessing certain ships, the essential levelling work and creation of an additional dolphin  - a fixed, permanent structure, separate to the berth, which acts as an extension for mooring - will mean ships up to 255m will be safely, and conveniently, handled at the Port.

Anisa Koci, Portsmouth City Council's project manager said: "What appears to be a fairly straightforward engineering project is in fact incredibly complex.

"Managing construction within a marine environment is challenging but combined with a busy port and frequent ship movements, means we've appointed Knights Brown who have experience in delivering major engineering projects.

"The work involves making structural alterations to the existing quay, whilst developing options to extend, all within a time frame that accommodates the scheduled cruise vessels."

Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port's director said: "Portsmouth is in an enviable location for cruises, with world famous attractions and a dramatic waterfront, there are plenty of opportunities to grow the city's share of the market.

"More passengers will also drive demand for additional hotels, an increased spend in shops and restaurants, not to mention putting Portsmouth on the international map.

"With the recent arrival of the Normandy veterans aboard Fred Olsen's Boudicca, for D-Day 75 commemorations, proves we have a high-profile position as a UK port.”

Increasing the length of ships the port can manage up to 255m opens-up more of the cruise market for the city, making the possibility of visits from the major lines such as Silverseas, Crystal, Fred Olsen, Saga, CMV, a regular occurrence.

Ian Diaper Portsmouth International Port's head of operations said: "Being in a position where we can accommodate the size of ships major lines have in their fleet, means we're in a great place to attract over 100 calls in the small, mid-size luxury and expedition cruise sector.

"The cruise market is rapidly growing, with lines looking to diversify and attract a broader share of potential customers. Many cruise lines are also increasing their fleet with new vessels on order, so we have a real opportunity to accommodate demand.

"Once the cruise berth extension is complete we'll then turn our attention to transforming the current terminal building in anticipation for an upsurge in passengers. We'll be looking to accommodate up to 2,000 cruise guests, which will mean additional check-in desks, security and lounge facilities, plus a baggage hall able to handle the passenger volumes expected.”

The work starts in November 2019 and is set to be complete by the Spring 2020.

Recent work undertaken by Knights Brown in the coastal and maritime sector have included:

1.            North Portsea Island Coastal Defences, where Knights Brown was appointed to carry out Phase 2 of the 10-year project to improve the coastal defences at Milton Common and demolish Great Salterns Quay.

2.            Later, Knights Brown was appointed to complete Phase 3 of these works, to include a reinforced concrete seawall comprising large areas of encasement and sheet pile installation along the entire frontage of Tipner Lake to provide a continuous defence and protection against flood events.

3.            Mamhead slipway in Devon is another Knights Brown coastal construction project, which now includes a 40m x 16m area off the public highway for vehicles and trailers to manoeuvre and prepare for launching.

By Jake Frith

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