Dry dock nearly done

2015-05-09 08:25
The Prince Edward Graving Dry Dock, the only such facility in Durban, is currently operating below capacity. The ability to lift ships out of the water in Durban is limited to the dry dock and two floating docks that are privately owned, with a third

The Prince Edward Graving Dry Dock, the only such facility in Durban, is currently operating below capacity. The ability to lift ships out of the water in Durban is limited to the dry dock and two floating docks that are privately owned, with a third (Supplied)

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DURBAN’S only dry dock is expected to be fully repaired in six months, ending a nearly three-year wait that has cost the local shipbuilding industry a reported R500 million in revenue.

The Prince Edward Graving Dry Dock has been operating at below par capacity since July 2013 due to a faulty gate.

While the South African Association of Shipbuilders would not be drawn into any comment on how the hobbled service may have affected their business, sources in the industry have put the value of lost ship repair and building work at R500 million. According to Transnet, the dock is currently operating at 90% capacity and is undergoing ­several upgrades.

The graving dock can be ­divided into two compartments of 206 m and 139 m, or used as one.

Durban port manager Moshe Motlohi said the outer caisson (gate) — a 900-ton, 35-metre structure at the west end of the Prince Edward Graving Dock — has been out of service, reducing the capacity of the dock by 10%.

“Our first and second phases of a comprehensive repair programme have been completed, and the third and final phase is due to kick off later this year.”

A caisson acts like a gate and allows the dry dock to be emptied of water and refilled.

There are two caissons in the Prince Edward dock. Currently only one vessel can undergo work at a time until the caisson is repaired.

Motlohi said once the ­repaired caisson was commissioned, the dock would resume operating at full capacity.

“The expected date for the contractor to be on site is July 2015, with a four-month projected time frame until expected commissioning in November 2015.”

Ships recently serviced include the bulk carrier MV Silver Star, which arrived on April 25.

Motlohi said Transnet did not envisage any retrenchments within the ship repair business unit.

Association of Shipbuilders chairperson Rob Dean said issues with “facilities operated by the TNPA are dealt with directly between the ship repair industry and the TNPA [Transnet National Ports Authority]” and would not comment further.

SA Maritime Safety Authority Durban head Hopewell Mkhize said the smooth ­running of the dry dock was “important for the stability of jobs” and that it boosted the “local economy”

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