Simon Says Humber Sea Terminal

Engineers are lifted to work on pilings for the Berth 4 restraint dolphins last month. Note the operational approach bridge to Berths 1, 2 and 3 and the spur to Berth 4.
Engineers are lifted to work on pilings for the Berth 4 restraint dolphins last month. Note the operational approach bridge to Berths 1, 2 and 3 and the spur to Berth 4.
Fender sleeves are installed directly from the delivery coaster in finger pier works last autumn.
Fender sleeves are installed directly from the delivery coaster in finger pier works last autumn.
Piling works underway for the Berth 4 turning dolphin. Note the tidal race.
Piling works underway for the Berth 4 turning dolphin. Note the tidal race.
Industry Database

The London based Simon Group demonstrated prescient vision when in the late 1990s it set in motion planning for a deepwater ro-ro terminal in the River Humber.

Seeking to transform itself into an integrated transport, storage and ports business, Simon saw the potential for a facility free from tidal restraints and lock systems, capable of handling the new generation of wider, deeper draft ferries entering service on the North Sea.

The vision for a Humber Sea Terminal would also create an alternative British gateway port capable of tempting European container traffic away from the chronic road congestion affecting freight into and out of ports to the south. The more direct link to Continental ports such as Rotterdam would replace long road miles with fewer and cheaper sea miles, simultaneously giving lorry drivers an opportunity to rest and replenish their tachograph hours.

In July 1998, Edmund Nuttall Ltd was asked to tender for the marine works based on a design produced by the consultants then known as Posford Duvivier.

In addition to the conforming bid, Nuttall submitted alternative detail for the six monopile mooring/berthing dolphins and four monopile pontoon restraint dolphins. The alternative proposed was a piled jetty structure comprised of a composite concrete deck supported on steel tubular piles with raking piles at fender positions.

Following lengthy and detailed negotiations, Nuttall was awarded a total design and construct package in June 1999 and set to work the next month. A separate contract for landside facilities was awarded to Clark Construction.

Initial works undertaken by Nuttall for Phase One, Berths 1 and 2 comprised the construction of a piled jetty structure 143m long with a composite concrete deck supported on 50 1067 mm diameter steel tubular piles.

Some of these were up to 48m long and driven 20m into chalk.

An isolated berthing dolphin 50m beyond the end of the berthing jetty was comprised of a composite concrete deck supported on piles with a steel access walkway from the berthing jetty. Fentek torsion arm fender systems were chosen for their ability to effectively absorb loadings into the structure.

Central to HST is a massive 10,000 tonne cellular concrete pontoon measuring 80m by 40m, fabricated at Pallion Dry Dock in Sunderland and towed 125 miles to the site, where it was placed parallel to the river bank in the Humber's deep water channel.

Two pontoon restraint dolphins which secure the pontoon in currents which reach 4.5 knots were designed to achieve the required stiffness with a composite pile guide of 1067 mm diameter driven into the chalk and sleeved with a 1700 mm diameter pile, with the annulus filled with concrete.

The works also included a 227m long approach bridge from shore comprised of 54 No1067 mm diameter vertical and raking tubular steel piles, precast concrete pile caps, crossheads and beams, and a concrete slab deck. An 80m long by 10m wide fabricated steel linkspan connects the approach bridge to the pontoon. A causeway and earth bund on the existing river foreshore were constructed leaving overlying silts in place.

Phase One of Humber Sea Terminal opened in June 2000, with the Netherlands based Stena Line signing a 10 year agreement to operate daily sailings between HST and the Hook of Holland.

Simon Group's own Seawheel container transport company transferred some of its Humber traffic to HST and also used the new service provided by Stena.

The facility has no container cranes. Loading and unloading are conducted by specially built 125 tonne capacity MAFI trailers which carry double stacked boxes and are pulled by rubber tyred tractors accessing the sterns of ro-ro container ships.

A mix of traffic also includes self-driven rigs and trailers only.

Soon after its opening, Phase One reached its handling capacity for 14 sailings per week and approximately 90,000 boxes per year. Simon Group's intention to expand HST in market-driven stages saw them looking in 2002 at options for adding Berths 3 and 4. Subsidiary company Humber Sea Terminal Limited was by then established and acting as client. Hedging their bets on ro-ro demand and not knowing who the customer would be, Simon initially called for a design offering the flexibility of another ro-ro Berth 3 loading and unloading from the original pontoon and a lo-lo operation with bulk cranes working from an enlarged finger pier for Berth 4. Berth 4 would be accessed by a spur off the original approach bridge leading to a new approach bridge to the enlarged finger pier.

However, having tendered for the ro-ro/lo-lo combination, Simon reconsidered and decided to build a single additional ro-ro Berth 3 and retain the option to take Berth 4 either ro-ro or lo-lo.

That Berth 4 is now going ahead as a ro-ro is a result of the Belgian shipping company Cobelfret signing a 20 year agreement with HST which also calls for the extensive landside developments now underway.

In any case, Nuttall was again the preferred bidder with Posfords' (now Posford Haskoning) Newcastle office contracted as Nuttall's designer while Posfords' Peterborough office was the client's designer.

Nuttall's project manager Simon Tanner and Posford Haskoning Newcastle's designer Tom Rea saw humour in the unusual arrangement when MJ visited HST last month but agreed the project had benefitted from a less confrontational approach on both sides which reduced delays.

Construction of the approach bridge spur began in May 2003 and was completed in February 2004 to initially become a permanent load out platform, as there could be no disruption to shipping using the existing Berths 1 and 2. Adding the spur required, amongst other things, strengthening of an edge section of the existing approach bridge slab. This was achieved by fitting the longest carbon fibre plates ever supplied in the UK by Sika Ltd.

The 240m long finger pier, which remains 13m wide now that Berth 4 is to be ro-ro, is comprised of a suspended deck supported on 94 steel tubular piles with the deck poured from a concrete pump on a flat-top barge moored alongside, again to avoid disruption to existing shipping operations. A 6m 3truckmixer accessed the concrete pump via a temporary steel bridge from the pontoon onto the flat-top barge.

The piles, which varied in length from 35 to 42m, are protected with an impressed current cathodic protection system. They were driven with a S200 hammer also working from the Marlin .UK Dredging's trailing suction hopper dredger UKD Marlin dredged the area to 9.35m below chart datum. Allowing for the 8m tidal range on the Humber, vessels calling at Berth 3 have 17m alongside at high tide. Berth 3 opened in March of this year with a design capacity for 35,000gt vessels up to 200m long.

Work on Berth 4 continues, with completion scheduled for September 2004. Due to navigational restrictions the size of vessel calling will be limited to 28,000gt. The scope of works calls for a berthing/turning dolphin extended from the end of the finger pier, two restraint dolphins, an 80m long by 9.8m wide linkspan bridge which will accommodate two-way traffic, and a 40m by 35m by 4m @3m freeboard steel cellular construction pontoon being fabricated in Holland by Ravestein.

When the dust has settled in the autumn, £9.5m will have been spent on Berth 3, £8m on Berth 4, and £14.5m on the extensive groundworks now underway over an area of 60 acres. On this occasion, the cement bound matrial works are subcontracted to Clark Construction by Edmund Nuttall, which is doing the majority of the groundworks itself.

Will Humber Sea Terminal then be complete? Not likely.

Serious discussions are already underway regarding Berths 5 and 6, which could go forward as early as next year.

MJ Information No: 19548

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