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Port of Tyne making the River even bigger 26 May 2011

A major dredging operation is underway at the Port of Tyne to deepen the river to accommodate even bigger ships at the Port's multi-functional berth, Riverside Quay.


The berth on the south bank and the main river channel will be deepened by almost one metre, creating 13 metres of deep water at the berth and 10 metres in the channel, setting a new record for the Port of Tyne with the river deeper than ever before.

The dredging is part of a £4 million investment in improving the Port's infrastructure which includes engineering work already carried out to strengthen Riverside Quay.

Ten weeks of almost constant dredging by a powerful Trailing Suction Hopper vessel will see around 700,000 cubic metres of silt removed from the river - enough to fill the Albert Hall nine times or to completely fill St. James's Park Stadium.

Andrew Moffat, Chief Executive Officer Port of Tyne, said: "The industry trend is for even bigger ships and these improvements for the quay and deepening the river will mean we can accommodate these vessels.

"It also significantly expands the Port's capacity, as the Panamax bulk cargo vessels will be able to carry around 6,000 tonnes more cargo on each visit. This increases efficiency for our customers and helps us maintain a competitive advantage for the Port of Tyne.
"It is good news for business across the North East region, as this further improvement to the Port's infrastructure will enable companies to get cargoes to their destination quicker and more efficiently."

From 1838 -1900 the Tyne Improvement Commissioners removed over 60 million tons of sediment from the Tyne, as well as deepening the river they removed whole islands and straightened the river. As a result the river requires constant dredging, as recently as the 1970s Port of Tyne operated its own fleet of dredgers and hoppers. After 43 years on the Tyne the last grab dredger was sold in 2010 to a developing Port in Africa. The £1.1 million new plough dredger is expected to arrive this August and will provide daily maintenance of river depths.

The Port of Tyne last undertook a major dredging campaign in 2007, removing some 300,000 cubic metres of sand, silt, clay and rock in the process. Prior to this the river had remained relatively unchanged since 1961, making the present campaign the largest in 50 years, and taking the river to its greatest ever depths.

Port of Tyne can now accommodate 80% of the world bulker carrier fleet. The biggest being panamax vessels, so called because they are of maximum dimensions to transit Panama Canal. These vessels are up to 250m long, 50,000 gross tons and can carry 70,000 tonnes of cargo. Placing Port of Tyne is in the Premier League in terms of the UK's deepest Ports. There are only 15 or so other ports in the UK that can handle ships of the same size and depth.

So far the operation has dredged up 100 tonnes of debris, comprising of fishing gear, (wires, ropes, nets) moorings, anchors and shopping trolleys. It is expected that dredging will be completed by early July.


For further information please contact

Lisa Donohoe, Assistant Marketing & Communications Manager

Tel: 0191 455 2671 Mobile: 07912 390 777 Email:

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