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Tender issued for repair work on Liverpool’s floating cruise berth

Liverpool's cruise facility is formed of four floating pontoons alongside which visiting ships berth in the River Mersey.
Essential repairs are needed to ensure Liverpool’s cruise berth is open for business in 2017.

The west coast UK port’s facility is formed of four floating pontoons alongside which visiting ships berth in the River Mersey. Bespoke hinge mechanisms link the four concrete sections together and allow each to move in tidal and other prevailing conditions.

A report approved by the facility’s owners, Liverpool City Council, states: ‘The spigot hinges bind the pontoons together and provide greater stability when the berth is subjected to sea swell and tidal movement.’

It adds: ‘Currently, out of the six spigot hinges, only one spigot is in good condition and functioning but under greater stress and pressure due to additional load bearing placed on it. Three spigots have become detached from the pontoons and the other two spigots are subject to damage and require continued extensive remedial repairs.’

The Council has now issued a tender for the repair work to be undertaken before April 2017.

Liverpool cruise and operations manager Angie Redhead told Seatrade Cruise News: ‘As Liverpool Cruise Terminal enters its 10th year of operation, a window of opportunity during the quiet winter season has been identified to inspect and overhaul the spigot hinges which join the four pontoons together. The work to improve the function of the spigot hinges is currently out to tender. The spigot refurbishment will ensure the life span of the pontoons as Liverpool’s burgeoning cruise business grows to become an all year-round operation.’

The pontoons were installed and connected in 2007 in time for the facility to be opened by HRH the Duke of Kent during a call by former Cunard flagship Queen Elizabeth 2. Weeks after the official launch, a link span bridge connecting the pontoons to the quayside was lifted out of place and a pontoon was dismantled and returned to dry dock.

The Council report reveals: ‘Routine maintenance inspections have identified that two pontoons require major repair/refurbishment work as the spigot hinges and the nuts and bolts that secure the interconnected pontoons have fractured or come loose. Initial repairs could not be carried out over last winter due to lack of available options for dry dock at appropriate cost levels.’

No budget for the work has been disclosed and the contract is expected to last four months.

‘It is imperative that the existing pontoons are fit for purpose and ensure the lifespan of the existing cruise terminal will continue to generate income for the city until a new Cruise Liner Terminal is constructed in order to retain business and maintain reputation,’ the report states. ‘It is essential that the repair or replacements of the spigots are progressed without delay in order to ensure optimum operation for the next season.’ the report concludes.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson says the city is still actively exploring development options for a new facility.

‘I am determined that we find solutions to continue the huge growth in cruise ships that we have seen over the last few years.

‘We know there is a lot of interest from cruise companies in coming to Liverpool but what is holding us back at the moment is the limited space we have in the existing facility.

‘To deliver on our ambitions, we would need to invest in a new terminal building which will bring bigger liners carrying more passengers, meaning a bigger boost for the local economy.

‘We have various options of funding the scheme which we will be exploring, but the figures speak for themselves in terms of the jobs that are supported and created by passengers and crew spending money while they are in the city.’

Meanwhile, the planned repairs to the pontoon system remain a priority.