Port of Rotterdam expands with new offshore hub - Start Dredging
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Port of Rotterdam expands with new offshore hub

Several dredging vessels have played a vital role in the creation of a new offshore facility in the Maasvlakte 2 project, not least one of the most powerful cutter suction dredgers in the industry.

In 2017, the Port of Rotterdam Authority (RPA) announced plans to create a new offshore centre within the Maasvlakte 2 project. The first of its kind in Europe, the centre will serve the offshore wind farm, decommissioning, and oil and gas sectors. It will allow companies in these sectors to cluster their activities and benefit from each other’s knowledge and proximity.

In line with the port’s strategy to reinforce its role in the offshore industry, the decision followed the completion of a new offshore terminal in another part of Maasvlakte 2. This is now used by Sif Group for the production and handling of monopiles and other tubular steel constructions for offshore wind farms.

The Offshore Center Rotterdam is located on the western side of the Prinses Alexiahaven, covering a total of 70 hectares and comprising a total length of 1,600 metres of new quay wall. In the first phase of the project (started and completed in 2017), 30 hectares of land had to be reclaimed and 600 metres of a heavy load deep-sea quay installed. This would enable the first offshore-related businesses to be installed and operational in 2019. The second phase involves 40 hectares of reclamation and the construction of 1,000 metres of quay wall.

RPA asked PUMA (a joint venture between Boskalis and Van Oord) to carry out the required land reclamation and dredging work for this project as part of the ongoing maintenance contract of Maasvlakte 2. PUMA was responsible for several activities, starting with the construction of underwater sand dams that would serve as an enclosure for the new reclamation area. Sand for these dams was dredged at sea.

In addition, sand needed to be dredged to deepen the fairway of Prinses Alexiahaven, as well as the pocket for the PIONEERING SPIRIT. The world’s largest offshore construction vessel, owned by Allseas, is based at Maasvlakte 2. The dredged sand from here was used in the land reclamation for the project. Finally, additional sand was dredged at sea to complete the reclamation. In total, seven million cubic metres of sand was dredged and used for this project.

To carry out these activities, PUMA deployed four dredging vessels. The underwater sand dams were constructed by two trailing suction hopper dredgers (TSHDs): STRANDWAY (owned by Boskalis, with a 4,500m3 hopper capacity) and VOLVOX OLYMPIA (owned by Van Oord, with a hopper capacity of 4,871m3).

HELIOS makes its debut
To deepen the harbour, Boskalis supplied its new mega cutter suction dredger (CSD) HELIOS to Maasvlakte 2. In its first project, the CSD pumped the dredged sand from the fairway and pocket directly into the reclamation area by means of a floating pipeline connected to a constellation of land lines.

Built by Royal IHC, HELIOS was delivered to Boskalis in July 2017. The self-propelled vessel is 152 metres long, has a breadth of 28 metres and is able to dredge in extremely hard ground at depths of between six and 35 metres. With a total installed power of almost 24,000kW, a total pumping capacity of 15,600kW, a maximum cutter power of 7,000kW, and the heaviest cutter ladder in the world (2,060 tonnes), it is one of the most powerful CSDs in the dredging industry.

Following its assignment at Maasvlakte 2, HELIOS was deployed to Oman, where it has been involved in dredging activities related to the development of the Port of Duqm. In the meantime, Boskalis has ordered a sister vessel, to be named KRIOS, which is expected to begin service in 2020.

The fourth dredger to be used by PUMA for the project was Van Oord’s 21,665m3 TSHD ROTTERDAM. This vessel dredged sand at sea to complete the reclamation.

Located directly on the North Sea, the Offshore Center Rotterdam is perfectly placed to play a leading role in the growing offshore market. Over the next few years, five of the largest wind farms in the world are expected to be constructed off the Dutch coast. The new hub also positions Rotterdam at the forefront of Europe’s offshore industry.

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