Category: News

New British Built Pilot Boat for the Thames and Medway

Estuary Services Limited (ESL), a joint venture between the Port of London Authority (PLA) and Peel Ports London Medway, is continuing its fleet replacement plan and buying another new pilot boat for its pilot transfer operations serving the ports of London and Medway.

ESL currently has a fleet of six vessels including two 17.1 metre ORC class vessels that carry marine pilots from the Kent coast to board ships, in the Thames Estuary. The ships which are arriving from all over the world are then guided by the pilots up river to deliver their cargoes to terminals and jetties on the Thames and Medway.

The new vessel, which is currently in the early build stage, is a £1.3 million ORC 136.E. Designed by renowned French Naval Architects Pantocarene, the vessel is being built by Goodchild Marine Services in Great Yarmouth, who have 39 years’ boat building experience. The build of each of the new boats in the replacement programme is staggered to give ESL’s crew time to train and adjust as they replace the older vessels in the fleet.

The ORC has proven to be ESL’s most efficient pilot boat design with 24% fuel efficiency over the older vessels in the fleet. The most recent additions to the ESL fleet, Estuary Elan and Estuary Elite, are also ORCs, which like the new vessel feature a unique ‘beak’ bow design, which gives it unmatched all weather capability. The wheelhouse is quieter, vibration-free and more comfortable for crew and pilots.

ESL transfers pilots to more than 10,000 ships in the Thames’ southern approaches every year, including cruise ships, containers vessels, tankers and general cargo carriers. The main pilot boarding station is 8 miles from Ramsgate which the launches reach at a speed of 25 knots; their top speed is 28 knots.

Ian Lord, ESL general manager said “We know the ORCs are more fuel-efficient. They are also more comfortable for crews and pilots, ensuring all they arrive in the best possible condition to navigate ships on the Thames and Medway.”

Peter Steen, Port of London Authority director of marine operations and a director of ESL, said: “The ORCs have proven to be more efficient and reliable, so the new boat will certainly help us with our mission to provide the best service possible to customers moving trade through the Thames and Medway ports.”

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Minster for London: River Thames Central to London’s Growth

Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London is calling for greater integration of the River Thames in the growth of London.

The Minister joined Port of London Authority (PLA) chief executive Robin Mortimer to discuss how the Thames Vision, the 20 year growth plan for the river, will help connect communities with the river.

The river Thames is one of the world’s most recognised landmarks, and has greater capacity to be used to access leisure activities like walking the Thames Path, rowing and sailing, and for commuter services and moving freight.

London’s population is expected to grow to more than 11 million by 2050. With significant development expected in East London and the Thames Gateway, the river is ideally placed to play a key role in supplying construction materials, helping to take lorries off the road and improve air quality.

The PLA wants to see the river planned into developments from the start, with accessible waterfronts for walking and sports, combined with passenger piers and freight facilities.

Gavin Barwell MP said: “We need to be sure new developments connect us to the river, allowing people to walk unhindered along the Thames path, maintaining this wonderful open space and bringing greater access to everyone.

“We could also benefit from further infrastructure to allow our services like waste and construction materials to be transferred from the land to the water and piers for people to use the river to commute to work.”

Robin Mortimer said: “People love the river for its iconic open views, access to nature and sporting activities and it is important that as new houses and business space is built, we utilise this space to get the most out of it for everyone.”

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Two new themes launched for UK Seafarers Awareness Week (24-30 June 2017)

Announcing the themes ‘Maritime Jobs at Sea and Ashore’ and ‘Sea Ports for Prosperity’, Seafarers UK has launched this year’s Seafarers Awareness Week campaign, with the focus on promoting maritime career opportunities, both at sea and ashore, including in the UK’s thriving port industry.

More than 150 maritime professionals came together to celebrate the launch of the seventh Seafarers Awareness Week campaign, organised by the charity Seafarers UK. The week-long campaign will provide a platform for national and regional promotions and events intended to engage media and raise public awareness, with individuals, businesses and organisations working together to raise the profile of jobs within the whole UK maritime industry, including seafaring.

Addressing the official Seafarers Awareness Week launch event at sponsor Inmarsat’s London HQ, Commodore Barry Bryant CVO RN, Director General of Seafarers UK, underlined that despite recent reports by the Department for Transport about declining UK seafarer numbers, there was cause for optimism following the UK Maritime Growth Study recommendations and Maritime UK becoming the promotional body for the whole UK maritime industry, bringing together for the first time shipping, ports, marine and business service sectors.

Said Commodore Bryant: ‘Our island nation is dependent on a diverse range of seafarers:

Fishers, deep sea, offshore, and nowadays including those who take to the sea to farm fish.

Skilled workboat skippers and crews, whose services are in high demand in growth areas such as offshore wind power.

Maritime pilots and harbourmasters, providing an essential link between land and sea.

Merchant Navy Officers and Ratings on cruise ships, where the huge number of hospitality workers are now also counted as seafarers.

Superyacht captains and crew members, where our seafarers are a vital part of the UK’s success story in that most buoyant of maritime markets.

‘And finally let’s not forget that the UK and London in particular has a huge requirement for maritime professional expertise, in law, finance, broking and insurance. Those professions need high quality British Master Mariners.

‘So when we talk about promoting Maritime Jobs at Sea and Ashore, and Sea Ports for Prosperity, we see many diverse employment opportunities for men and women, especially talented young people, beyond our traditional Merchant Navy.’

Following presentations by David Dingle, Chairman, Maritime UK and Drew Brandy, Inmarsat Senior Vice President Market Strategy, Commodore Bryant continued by highlighting the importance of Seafarers Awareness Week:

‘We believe it is good for the whole UK maritime world to benefit from raised public awareness of the contribution we collectively make to the UK economy. To do this we will disseminate positive messages about newsworthy maritime activities, from public events and school visits to ports, to college open days and other sources of information about maritime and marine job opportunities.

‘Seafarers Awareness Week is a solid platform on which just about any positive news, campaign or PR activity can be promoted to a media audience that goes far beyond the maritime trade press.’

Maritime individuals, businesses and organisations were urged to support the week by sharing news, engaging on social media and organising events throughout the week.

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Port of London Authority Launches Tidal Thames App

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has launched a free app to provide everyone with an interest in navigating on the Thames with easy access to the latest information on the tidal river.

The PLA’s first ever app is aimed at making planning trips on the Thames easier. ‘Must have’ data is available instantly including live tidal data from twelve locations along the 95 mile tidal river and an alerts system for Notices to Mariners, which detail the latest information on events, engineering works and recent changes that users need to be aware of before setting off.

Unveiling the app at the PLA’s latest public meeting at London Rowing Club in Putney, Robin Mortimer, chief executive said:

“A number of river users, particularly those involved in sports and recreation, have asked for an app providing easier access to important river navigational information. We are excited to be launching the app today. Just go on to the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices to get the PLA Tidal Thames App. This is just the start though – we want to hear what more people want from the next evolution of the app, so now’s the time to try it and tell us what you think.”

The new app includes an events calendar covering planned rowing, sailing and paddling activities. For boaters it provides details of all the mooring locations along the river, including amenities at each location like mains electric, fuel, and pump out facilities, making it easier for visitors to pick moorings to suit their needs.

Bob Baker, PLA chief harbour master said: “We have over a million visits to our website each year as people seek out a variety of navigational information. The app means that we can offer the essential information instantly in a single location, which I hope will make it safe journey planning simpler.”

Feedback on the launch version of the app can be sent to:

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First Tidal Thames Environment & Heritage Conference Attracts Over 100 Delegates

A conference organised by the Port of London Authority (PLA) to discuss aspirations for the Thames environment and heritage attracted over 100 delegates, including representatives from environment and heritage groups, terminal and river operators, regulators and local authorities.

Held at the Museum of London, the conference featured presentations from the PLA, the Environment Agency, Museum of London Archaeology, Thames Landscape Strategy and Zoological Society of London. The four main subjects covered were improving water quality, biodiversity, the uptake of new and green technologies, and appreciation of the historic environment.

The conference was organised as part of the PLA’s work with a wide range of stakeholders to deliver the Thames Vision, the 20 year development framework for the tidal river. One of the Vision’s six goals is making the river the cleanest it has been since the Industrial Revolution, with improved habitats and awareness of heritage.

Tanya Ferry, PLA environment manager revealed the PLA is developing the first ever Thames air quality strategy. Last year’s announcement of a discount for ships performing to the highest environmental standard was an important first step.

“This first conference is really important, as we were aiming to bring everyone’s attention to some of the existing environment and heritage activities on the river,” she said.

“When we meet this time next year and subsequently, we hope the conference will be a focus for lots of organisations to showcase the progress they’re making towards achieving the Thames Vision environment and heritage goal.”

Katherine Riggs, PLA director of the Thames Vision project said: “The conference has been a great opportunity for us all to discuss the work we are collectively doing and to bring delivery of the Vision fully to life. It’s a good example of a wide range of organisations coming together to deliver the shared Vision for a cleaner Thames environment.

“Attendees where interested to learn how an increase in activities like freight and passenger transport on the river can be achieved while making the river cleaner.

“They were surprised with the role terminal, pier, and river operators are taking by increasing their uptake of solar and wind energy generation, use of low energy LED lighting, electric and hybrid technologies and consideration for the surrounding habitats.”

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Port of London Trade Jumps More Than 10% to 50 Million Tonnes

Trade in the Port of London in 2016 reached the highest this decade, rising 10% to top 50 million tonnes for the first time since 2008.

The strong performance reflects continued growth at terminals along the Thames. The volumes of oil, containers and building materials all rose markedly. Prior to 2016, port throughput had been increasing at between two to three percent, year-on-year.

PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer said:

“Our long term Vision is for 60 to 80 million tonnes of cargo to be traded every year through the Port of London – more than at any time in the Thames’ history. Passing 50 million tonnes in 2016 is a major milestone towards this goal.”

The tonnage of cargo handled at terminals on the Thames last year was 50.4 million tonnes, five million tonnes (or 11%) up on 2015. Growth was principally in oil trades which rose by 22% from 10.9 million tonnes in 2015 to 13.3 million tonnes in 2016. Containers and trailers (unitised traffic) was up 7% to 18 million tonnes; aggregates and cement increased again from 10.7 million tonnes (16%) up to 12.4 million tonnes. Cereal volumes also increased by 15% to one million tonnes.

2016 saw the first cargoes delivered to the Thames Oil Port, the former Coryton oil refinery site now redeveloped as a fuel terminal. At the Port of Tilbury, a new chilled store for NFT was opened and the acquisition of land for port expansion was completed. DP World London Gateway handled increasing numbers of ultra large container ships – operating between Asia and Europe – benefiting from its operational resilience in bad weather, as well as securing additional central and south American and Oceania services; testing of facilities on Berth Three at the deep-sea port also started at the end of 2016.

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Five new board members for the Thames Skills Academy

The Thames Skills Academy (TSA) has appointed five employer representatives to its board.

Kyle Haughton – City Cruises managing director, Sean Collins – managing director MBNA Thames Clippers, Chris Livett – Livett’s Group managing director, Andy Pike – Cory Environmental director of riverside resource recovery and Scott Neicho – Capital Pleasure Boats co-founder, have been appointed for their significant experience to represent fellow employee members across the passenger and freight industries operating on the river.

The TSA was launched this past summer as an employer-led organisation, to facilitate and broker marine and ports operations training, including marine apprenticeships, and to help create a coherent career path for people starting their working life on the Thames.

Richard Everitt, TSA chairman, said:

“One of the basic principles of the TSA is that it is employer led, so that the companies working on the river are able to drive the training their employees need for their business to succeed. We welcome our five new employee members to the board and look forward to them being involved in the TSA at the strategic level.”

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Success of London has planning and regeneration professionals looking to the Thames

Members of Future of London, the capital’s leading regeneration, housing, infrastructure and economic development network, took to the Thames recently to discuss how the river can add the greatest value for communities. (more…)

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East London wharf set for return to cargo handling

A strategically important protected wharf in East London is set to return to operation after its acquisition by the Port of London Authority (PLA). (more…)

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Two New Non-Executive Directors Join Port of London Authority Board

The Port of London Authority (PLA) announces two new non-executive directors have been appointed to the PLA board: Judith Armitt has been appointed by the Secretary of State for Transport (in accordance with the Port of London Act); and Darren James has been appointed by the PLA Board. (more…)

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