#FORMER DUNDALK DREDGER – The former Dundalk Port Company owned dredger Hebble Sand (1963/757grt) departed the dry-dock in Dublin Port last week in readiness for her new owners Abco Marine Ltd, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Last October the vessel was sold by Dublin Port Company to Abco. The marine plant company based in Hillsborough Co. Down specialises in support services in the construction, engineering and dredging projects in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
The self-propelled grab-hopper dredger currently remains berthed at Alexandra Basin in Dublin Port, awaiting her delivery voyage. Despite nearing half a century, the veteran vessel remains in excellent condition considering the rough and tumble associated with dredging.
She last sailed into Dublin Port in July last year following the transfer of the Dundalk Port Company assets, liabilities and operations to Dublin Port Company by an order of statutory instruments.
Against this background, Dublin Port Company decided to divest in dredging business resulting in placing the Dundalk registered ship on the market for sale. The small ship at first glance resembles the last of the Guinness ships, The Lady Patricia and the world's first custom built liquid-bulk (pumped on board) stout tanker Miranda Guinness.
Unfortunately these vessels with such strong and unique histories were not saved from the breakers-torch whereas the humble Hebble Sand continues as a working ship. She is a testament to her builders Richard (Shipbuilders) of Lowestoft who built her for British Dredging and subsequent owners spanning a career at a shave off fifty years.
#DUBLIN PORT-The former Dundalk Port Company grab-hopper dredger Hebble Sand (1963/757grt), which has been laid-up in Dublin since last Summer, was sold to new owners a month ago, writes Jehan Ashmore.
She remains berthed at the Bulk Jetty, Alexandra Basin, where she arrived from the Co. Louth port on 14 July, two days after the assets, liabilities and operations of Dundalk Port Company were transferred to Dublin Port Company by an order of statutory instrument. Against this background, Dublin Port Company decided to divest in the business of dredging resulting in placing the veteran vessel for sale.
During her career in Drogheda, she was the only dredger to be operated and owned by a port company apart from the suction-trailer dredger Lough Foyle (1979/868grt) operated by Londonderry Port & Harbour Commissioners.
Hebble Sand, registered in Dundalk has retained her original name since her launch from Richard (Shipbuilders) of Lowestoft for British Dredging. She has been kept in good condition considering a career nearing five decades. To read some of her last contracts undetaken outside her homeport, click HERE.
From a distance some people have mistaken Hebble Sand (PHOTO) to the last of the 'Guinness ships, as she bores a resemblance to the final custom-built stout tanker Miranda Guinness ( PHOTO), taken on her farewell sailing. The vessels shared a similar red funnel and black funnel, a roomy sized superstructure painted in cream above and a dark blue hull. To read more about the last of the brewery tanker-fleet click HERE.
The smallest of the tugs for sale is the 17-tonnes bollard pull Ben Eadar (1972/198grt) which was built by Richard Dunston (Hessle) Ltd. She is berthed elsewhere in the port alongside the former Dundalk Port Company owned dredger Hebble Sand, which too has been recently put up for sale. For more information about the grab-hopper dredger click HERE.
Ben Eadar was decommissioned in 2009 and her 35-tonnes bollard-pull fleetmates Cluain Tarbh (1991/268grt) built by McTay Marine of Bromborough and Deilginis (1996/335grt) remained in service until late last year.
Of the trio Deilginis is the last tug commissioned by the Dublin Port & Docks Board (DP&DB) and the 30m tug is also the last to carry a traditional naming theme based on Dublin Bay coastal suburbs spelt in Irish. Deilginis is the Irish for Dalkey, Cluain Tarbh is for Clontarf and Ben Eadar is a translation for Howth.
Deilginis was launched from Astilleros Zamakona S.A. in Bilbao, the same Spanish shipyard that was commissioned by the Dublin Port Company to build two 50-tonnes bollard pull tractor tug sisters. The first newbuild Shackleton entered service late last year and she was followed by Beaufort in early 2010. In March of that year the tugs that cost €6m each to build were officially named in a joint ceremony.
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The Dublin Port Company has sought expressions from interested parties in undertaking the remaining activities of the port on an exclusive basis.
The Dundalk registered dredger arrived to the capital port on 14 July where she remains berthed at the Bulk Jetty in Alexandra Basin. Her previous owners, the Dundalk Port Company were unique in that they were the only port company to own and operate a dredger in the Republic. For many years the 757-tonnes dredger has carried out numerous contract assignments in ports throughout the island of Ireland including work on the Samuel Beckett swing-bridge and the most project was at Queens Quay, Belfast on the Lagan close to the city-centre.
Hebble Sand was launched by Richard (Shipbuilders) of Lowestoft for British Dredging and later used by Associated British Ports to serve a network of UK ports. Despite her age, the near fifty-year-old veteran vessel has been kept in excellent condition and this was evident during a rather unusual appearance for a ship of her type when attending the Dublin Docklands Maritime Festival in 2009.
She was made open for the public amongst the tall-ships that lined the Liffey Quays. Such an initiative was inspiring as it provided a rare opportunity for the public to access such a dredger which otherwise is not familiar compared to the popularity of visiting tall-ships and naval vessels.
The only other port to operate their own dredger is Londonderry Harbour Commissioners, whose Lough Foyle has worked on projects outside her homeport. This has included work at the new £40m Stena Line ferryport terminal on Loch Ryan close to Cairnryan and is due to open in November.
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"In order to ensure the orderly management of the company's affairs, I have decided that the best course of action is to transfer responsibility for the port to Dublin Port Company. I would be hopeful that port activities will continue at Dundalk following the transfer.
He added, once the current difficulties are overcome, it may be the case that Dundalk Port can return to local control, in cooperation with the local authority and private sector operators.
To amalgamate the two port companies a Transfer Order will be made under the Harbours Act 1996. In addition a draft order has to be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas before being signed into law which is expected to take place within the coming weeks.
The Co. Louth port which is equidistant between Dublin and Belfast, has shown to have a long history as an independent seaport. However the recession has had a significant impact making trading conditions particularly difficult for the company. At its peak in 2006 there were over 220 vessels calling at the port but dropped to just over 60 vessels last year. Figures for 2011 show no signs of improvement.
Vessels of up to 3,500 dwt and 106m in length can be handled at the port's six berths. Unusally for an Irish port vessels can be seen resting on the mudbank subject to the state of the tide. The port is some 8kms from the open sea and is reached along a narrow channel which requires the compulsory use of a pilot.
Dundalk Port Company
The Port is owned by Dundalk Port Company and is located on the North East coast of Ireland. It is ideally located as a gateway between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The Port, situated almost exactly halfway between the cities of Belfast and Dublin, enjoys major road connections to both cities via the N1 national primary road. This enables easy transportation of goods to both cities from Dundalk in about an hour.
The port offers a range of services including general cargo handling, pilotage, customs, etc.
Pilotage – Dundalk Port Company also provide a compulsory pilotage service which leads ships up the 8km stretch from the open sea. The Port is serve by a main pilot boat and an auxiliary boat.
Facilities – Ships of up to 3,500 dwt and 106m in length can be handled. Five 30-tonne crawler cranes at minimum radius are capable of discharging up to 160 tonnes per hour each. Ships of upto 3000 tons can be discharged in 12 hours.
About Dundalk Port
Dundalk Port has a long tradition of shipbuilding and registration.
The Port also has a long history of trading in different products with traffic through the port having consisted of gypsum, perlite, sand, peat, salt, scrap, pit props, cattle, fertilizers, machinery, paper, wood and general cargo to name a few.
The First vessel recorded as trading to Dundalk was the Trinitic which sailed from Liverpool to Dundalk in March, 1580. The year 1646 saw a grant of 'perfect freedom of trade' to Dundalk.
The harbour was naturally shallow and was left to its own devices until, in 1721 Lord Limerick, who at that time was high sheriff of Co. Louth, made a deal with the corporation to construct a harbour.
In 1740 he set about the construction of a quay in the form of a pier, extending into the river upstream from the present harbour. In 1767 the Irish Parliament voted £2000 and £400 yearly to improve the harbour. This sum was paid for 8 years and amounted in all to £5,200.
Early in the year 1800 Lord Roden appointed a harbour master and claimed authority over the harbour works. In 1803 the new Custom House was built and there was a military guard placed where goods were stored at the quays.
In 1840 an Act 'for regulating, preserving, improving and maintaining the river, port and harbour of Dundalk"'was passed. Under this act, 27 commissioners were appointed who had certain shipping and property qualifications.
In August 1848 a contract was signed and accepted for the construction of the pile lighthouse. The lighthouse was completed in June 1855. Soon after, in November 1860, a fog signal bell came into operation.
In 1967 work began to convert the lighthouse to electric and unwatched. The new light was exhibited on 17th December, 1968 with an increased intensity to 187,000 candle power in the white sectors. The fog horn signal was established on 25th June 1969.
In 1968 the B&I ended its Dundalk–Newry–Liverpool service. The last four ships on this service were MV Dundalk, MV Inniscarra, MV Wicklow and MV Kilkenny. The B&I compound was sold to the McGinnty family who used the premises for grain warehousing. This premises is now in the hands of Lockingtons Shipping, a subsidiary of Dundalk Port Company.
Towards the latter end of the 20th century, extensive work was carried out on the quays to repair, maintain and extend them to their current status. 220 metres of the current 400 metres of quay wall were just recently constructed in 1992.
In response to the steady rise in port traffic, 2 separate quays were linked with a new 25 metre stretch to form a single long, linear quay.
In 2002 Dundalk Port became a semi state limited company owned by the state. Captain Frank Allen is Chief Executive of Dundalk Port Company.
For a location map, please click here