Livett gives Rings a truly Olympian lift

Livett’s tug Steven B is seen manoeuvring the Olympic Rings on the River Thames Livett’s tug Steven B is seen manoeuvring the Olympic Rings on the River Thames
Industry Database

The set of Olympic rings might not have seemed truly huge when hanging from the upper central section of London’s Tower Bridge, but in fact they measured 25m long by 11m high.

Both the Olympic rings and the Agitos Paralympic symbol had a number of additional capabilities. For example, the rings had to be hinged, either hanging vertically or in an up position to sit flat against the lower face of the bridge. This is how they were kept both before the unveiling and when the famous bridge needed to open to let tall ships through.

All this added somewhat to the complexity and weight of the project, explained Matt Harris of Livett Launches. In fact, the rings weighed 3.9 tons, with the truss adding another 2.25 tons to the load.

The logo was installed ahead of time on the bridge a few weeks before its official unveiling,

being fastened onto a barge at Livett’s 23 Berth in the Port of Tilbury the previous evening, where it had been stored. The logo was towed down to St Georges Tier Stairs using the Steven B, a 10 ton bollard pull tug at around 2:00 am in order to gain the element of surprise, and to avoid both the river and road traffic.

It wasn’t straightforward. “The issue was, we had to spin this 31m barge on a right angle because the rings had to be located cross-wise to the river, said Matt Harris of Livett. “All this was kept to within half a metre tolerance, not easy when you have the Thames flow hitting you broadside.”

Assisted by the Eddie C, another small, 12m workboat which ran lines and acted as a safety vessel, the logo was positioned as carefully as possible underneath the bridge by lasers projected from above, where the barge put spuds down into the riverbed to keep it steady.

Wires suspended from the bridge were lowered to the barge where the rigging team caught them and clipped the wires to the truss. This then was lifted by electric winch, finally being fastened to the bridge by the riggers.

But it wasn’t just a one shot operation. “The change over was actually more complicated, continued Mr Harris. “The truss came down with the rings attached onto the floating barge pontoon. We then disconnected the Olympic rings and raised the truss again, and towed the rings back to Tilbury, changing them over for the Agitos logo, which again is sizeable, measuring 17.5m wide by 13m high. And then the next night we were back, putting the Paralympic symbol in place.”

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