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Portland celebrates opening of £26m deep water berth

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Clockwise L-R: Knights Brown MD Kevin Valentine, Portland Port chief executive Bill Reeves, Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Angus Campbell and Portland Port chairman Christopher Langham at the opening ceremony; event guests; cruise ships moored at the new berth
Portland Port celebrated the official opening of its new £26m deep-water berth, which will allow the port on England’s south coast to handle two 350 metre-long ships simultaneously.

More than 150 people attended Friday’s festivities marking the largest investment in Portland’s 27-year history, including Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset Angus Campbell who unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of port employees, tenants, dignitaries and others. Guests attended a welcome reception, heard speeches, toured the new berth and were entertained at the ceremony co-hosted by managing contractor Knights Brown. 

‘This redevelopment is a tremendous vote of confidence in the port and the local economy,’ explained Bill Reeves, chief executive of Portland Port. ‘It is the largest single investment in Portland Port and its infrastructure in its history, and one of the largest redevelopment projects in the area in recent years. 

‘It sets the stage for significant further growth in the future at the port and for the local economy through jobs and local supply chain.’ 

He went on to thank partners and contractors for their support during the course of the redevelopment, including members of the local community, tenants at the port and neighbouring businesses, as well as its Knights Brown for its project delivery. ‘We’re also grateful to HSBC UK for its support with an eight-figure financial package to enable this work to go ahead,’ Reeves added.  

Portland recently held Cruise Britain’s annual summer event in Weymouth and Portland with Princess Cruises, where association members caught sight of the development. 

Record number of cruise passengers to visit 

The deep water berth became operational when MSC Virtuosa called in April carrying 5,000 passengers, but opened officially after final works were completed. Portland expects to receive 130,000 passengers over the coming cruise season - the highest number it has ever recorded.

Project completed ahead of schedule 

Work on the redevelopment with Knights Brown started last September and had to be completed against a strict deadline of April in time for the cruise season.

It involved removal of the existing deep water berth, and creation of a new, extended berth 250m in length with 12m of water depth alongside capable of handling cruise ships up to 350m long. 

In addition, the project delivered a 75m extension to the port's Outer Coaling Pier (OCP), used for the handling of dry bulk cargo and also used as a cruise berth, to a length of 250m and 11m water depth alongside. 

Overall, the works have provided 16,000 sq m of additional quayside space, meaning the port can handle two 350m long cruise ships alongside at the same time. 

Some 380,000t of locally sourced infill material and 4,800t of steel have been used in the process. 

‘I am delighted to see the berth fully operational having been delivered early and on budget,’ stated Kevin Valentine, MD, Knights Brown. ‘When we embarked on delivering this for the port there were many who thought that it couldn’t be delivered within the required timescale, cost and quality. However, through true collaboration between all partners on the project we have achieved everything that we set out to.’ 

He thanked all partners involved, ‘but in particular Portland Port who had the foresight to understand that true collaboration really does work.’ 

 £10m benefit to the local economy 

Portland's cruise industry contributes an estimated £10m to the local economy. Redevelopment of the deep water quays has also enhanced Portland’s cargo handling operations, as well as its service provision for vessels including those from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. 

TAGS: UK & Ireland