Globe-trotting dredger cleans up

Harbour dredging continues on Monday July 30.
Harbour dredging continues on Monday July 30.

ARBROATH harbour often has well-travelled ships in harbour, but it’s not often the barge carrying out emergency dredging work can say the same!

Recently we reported on the decision by Angus Council to authorise funding for emergency dredging work to be carried out on the harbour. The removal of around 3,000 cubic metres of silt from the mouth of the outer harbour and the RNLI slipway would allow the inshore lifeboat to launch without impediment.

Following a meeting of the executive sub-committee of the infrastructures services committee it was agreed that a tender by firm Open Water Dredging should be accepted at a cost of £86,000.

On Thursday evening, ‘Red Fighter’, a 299 tonne barge belonging to Open Water Dredging arrived at Arbroath under the command of bargemaster Ollie Byrne.

Operating the 87 tonne excavator mounted on the aft section of the barge was Kevin Norris. The barge is braced by 20 metre ‘spud’ legs and and the four cubic metre capacity of the excavator’s bucket allows them to shift 200 cubic emtres of silt every 30 minutes.

Bargemaster Byrne said: “It is a big piece of equipment, yes, but for the job we do it’s not so big, we have much bigger ones.”

Ollie has been bargemaster for the last three years and explained how the harbour was cleared. He said: “We got here on Thursday night and started work on Friday. We’ve been working the tides.

“It takes about half an hour to fill up and then an hour to get to the dump site one nautical mile to the south east of Arbroath and back. We’ve been working since Friday morning and we finished last night (Tuesday). We’ve shifted 3,000 cubic metres of silt.

“The whole job is finished, we are demobbing the dredger and it will be leaving at high water in the morning, weather permitting.”

The crew of ‘Red Fighter’ can look forward to some down time however, as the barge is destined for a job somewhere a little bit more exotic than Arbroath!

Ollie explained: “We are going to take some free time while the barge is being towed from here to Estonia.

“I won’t say we work all over the world, but we have been working all over Europe and we have been working in Morrocco and Algeria and we have dredgers in Spain.

“This one is a Swedish dredger, it had a job in Finland and then it came from Gotland to Great Yarmouth and to here.”