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Largest Working Dry Dock in State to 'Close Again' in Dublin Port

8th February 2017
Replica famine-emigrant barque Jeanie Johnston is to become the last ever ship to be dry docked in Dublin Port (seen there in 2014) which is to close marking an end of an era in Irish maritime heritage Replica famine-emigrant barque Jeanie Johnston is to become the last ever ship to be dry docked in Dublin Port (seen there in 2014) which is to close marking an end of an era in Irish maritime heritage Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#DryDockClosure - The largest dry dock in the State and the last remaining working dry-dock (No. 2) in Dublin Port is to close marking an end of an era of our maritime heritage, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 200m dry dock is where the replica tallship Jeanie Johnston is undergoing work, however according to RTE the Dublin Port Company said the reason for the closure is due to ships on the Irish Sea are too big to fit in the dry dock. The port company also cited ships already are been repaired in UK yards, though Afloat has reported on Arklow Shipping using Cork Dockyard albeit a smaller dry-dock.  

DPC added they have expansion plans for the port which require infilling the dry dock as part of the €277m Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR) project, see below. This will represent phase one of the port’s Masterplan: 2012-2040 to meet growing demands of trade and port infrastructure capacity.

Afloat adds that dry-dock had actually been ‘temporarily reopened’ by the port company. This was to facilitate ongoing work of the timber built Dublin based famine emigrant floating museum-ship, Jeanie Johnston. The visitor attraction located at a berth on the River Liffey is scheduled to reopen on 17th February. 

The barque was last dry-docked at the same facility in 2014. So on this current occasion the Jeanie Johnston marks another chapter of Irish maritime marine engineering heritage as the last ever ship to dry-dock in the capital. 

In April 2016 the dry-dock closed having been run by Dublin Graving Docks Ltd 'under licence' from Dublin Port Company. The shiprepairer, maintenance, conversion engineering facility closed with the loss of a skilled workforce of 26 personnel. The last ship to use the dry-dock under the licence arrangement was Arklow Fame. Likwise of the tallship the cargoship is Irish flagged. 

A variety of vessels used the dry-dock mostly short-sea general cargoships, coasters, ro-ro freight ferries and supertrawlers.  In addition the dry dock was a customer of the ports-owned fleet of tugs and workboats.

Following the closure last Spring of Dubin Graving Docks, the Maritime Institute of Ireland expressed the closure would result in work being lost to Ireland “with the lamentable decision to close and in-fill the big Dublin Graving Dock No.2 which was in constant use by Arklow Shipping”.

The graving dry-dock was opened 60 years by President Sean T.O’Kelly where at the unveiling ceremony in 1957 the new facility was heralded as an “iconic State-funded enterprise”.

As previously highlighted the DPC are to infill the drydock to create more quay space in Alexandra Basin. This will enable considerably larger deep drafted cargoships to enter the port. In addition to accommodate giant cruiseships by berthing much closer to the city-centre near the 3Arena. The ABR project will also feature the port's first dedicated cruise terminal. This will have two berths. 

The rich maritime tradition of Dublin Port is however to become part of a new 'maritime industrial heritage' attraction site commented a port spokesperson. The site chosen will see DPC use a neighbouring disused dry-dock (No.1) which is much older. Afloat previously reported on the plans for dry dock dating to 1860’s. 

Ironically in order to create this new heritage site, the stone-cut listed dry dock is to be excavated having only been infilled during the Celtic Tiger. This was to meet the growing demands for hard-standing vehicle space associated with a nearby ro-ro ferry terminal. This been located next to the Tom Clarke (East-Link) toll-lift bridge. 

The disused dry-dock is also located beside the Port Centre, the headquarters of the Dublin Port Company. The site will be within a short walking distance of the new cruise terminal.

This area at the port entrance and headquarters is to be transformed as part of a ‘soft’ port remodelling of the architectural surroundings. Its purpose is to generate and engage a closer relationship between the port and the capital by bringing the public to interact between such spaces.

Published in Dublin Port
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Dublin Port Information

Dublin Port Company is currently investing about €277 million on its Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR), which is due to be complete by 2021. The redevelopment will improve the port's capacity for large ships by deepening and lengthening 3km of its 7km of berths. The ABR is part of a €1bn capital programme up to 2028, which will also include initial work on the Dublin Port’s MP2 Project - a major capital development project proposal for works within the existing port lands in the northeastern part of the port.

Dublin Port has also recently secured planning approval for the development of the next phase of its inland port near Dublin Airport. The latest stage of the inland port will include a site with capacity to store more than 2,000 shipping containers and infrastructure such as an ESB substation, an office building and gantry crane.

Dublin Port Company recently submitted a planning application for a €320 million project that aims to provide significant additional capacity at the facility within the port in order to cope with increases in trade up to 2040. The scheme will see a new roll-on/roll-off jetty built to handle ferries of up to 240 metres in length, as well as the redevelopment of an oil berth into a deep-water container berth.

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