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Ship and shore conversions smooth Channel traffic flows

MacGREGOR expertise in converting RoRo ships and shore terminals for new roles has been tapped in a project facilitating swift two-tier vehicle handling at the port of Dunkerque

Two 6,300 dwt high class RoPax carriers built by IZAR of Spain in 2000 for UK-based Cenargo International Midnight Merchant and Northern Merchant have been chartered to Norfolkline of The Netherlands for deployment between Dover, England, and the French port of Dunkerque. Cargo handling optimisation on the cross-Channel route called for both ships and an existing linkspan at Dunkerque to be converted by MacGREGOR.

The ship conversions in conjunction with MacGREGOR modification and modernisation of the associated two-tier linkspan at Dunkerque have fostered a reduction in loading/unloading times from two hours to around 30 minutes, allowing up to five return trips instead of three a day to be operated.

Drive-through vehicle handling was originally secured on the ships by a MacGREGOR RoRo access/transfer outfit based on 15m-long bow and stern ramp/doors serving the main deck, with hoistable ramps to the upper deck. The layout anticipated a later reconfiguration of the upper deck to facilitate access directly from the quay, thus allowing loading/unloading operations to be carried out simultaneously at both cargo deck levels.

The post-charter conversion project sought to effect this transformation, enabling two-tier linkspans at Dunkerque and Dover to feed traffic flows directly to the two deck levels and hence achieve a significantly faster vehicle handling time.

The project specification called for the removal of the original stern ramp at main vehicle deck level and the installation of a new two-panel sliding door. Extended hull structures (duck tails) were incorporated at the stern at main and upper vehicle deck levels, enabling landing of linkspan ramps.

At the bow, the front bulkhead on the upper vehicle deck was opened up and a driving passage for trailers created over the mooring deck, along with the provision of new side bulkheads, fixed slope structures and a nose extension. A new front door was also installed to close the new opening. All this bow area work dictated a rearrangement of the mooring system, including the installation of one new mooring winch and the repositioning of an existing winch.

MacGREGOR work on board the ships executed at sea and in port started in early February and pre-installation tasks were completed by Easter; the intervening period saw the installation of the new stern doors, the side bulkhead in the bow and slope constructions. The projects were then completed in 10 days (per ship) alongside at Dunkerque, where the original stern ramp was removed, the extensions installed, the new stern door installation completed, a new front door fitted and the mooring winches repositioned.

[midnightA.jpg:] Work at the bow included opening up the the front bulkhead on the upper vehicle deck and creating a driving passage for trailers over the mooring deck

[midnightB.jpg:] The original stern ramp at main vehicle deck level was removed, and a new two-panel sliding door installed

[midnightC.jpg:] Extended hull structures (duck tails) were added at main and upper vehicle deck levels, enabling landing of linkspan ramps

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