Jan De Nul shows some muscle by lifting gate out of lock in Zeebrugge

Jan De Nul Group used its heavy lift vessel Gulliver to disconnect, lift and transport the second lock gate from the Pierre Vandamme lock in Zeebrugge, Belgium, to the inner port for renovation. The gate weighs over 2500 tonnes and has the surface of one quarter of a football pitch (60 x 10 x 24 metres).

The operation on 25 May was carried out in the presence of the Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters. The works were commissioned by the Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works and are part of the large-scale renovation of the Pierre Vandamme lock, the crucial point of access to the inner port of Zeebrugge.

The Pierre Vandamme lock dates from 1984 and consists of two lock gates, each with two rolling gates and two movable bridges. The lock gate closest to the sea was lifted from the gate chambers by Jan De Nul in 2018 and, after having been renovated in the inner port, re-installed in the summer of 2019. Now, the same will be done with the most landward gate.

After six weeks of preparations to make the lock gate ready for lifting, heavy lift vessel Gulliver of Jan De Nul Group could now lift the door out of its position. The Gulliver is a pontoon derrick that can lift a weight of over 3300 tonnes. The whole operation is a sequence of several partial operations that were meticulously planned and prepared. The works started at 3 o’clock at night and took about nineteen hours.

Lock gate renovation

A consortium of Jan De Nul nv, Algemene Ondernemingen Soetaert nv, Almex Metaal and Demako nv will renovate the lock gate in the inner port of Zeebrugge.

The lock gate was transported to the ICO terminal in the inner port. Once on land, a scaffold is placed all around the gate to remove oysters and sludge. The consortium will replace several mechanical parts and install new technologies such as a compressor and agitation screws. Also, the steel structure will be taken on and adapted, including the installation of four extra butterfly valves. The door will be repainted to protect it against corrosion.

After the renovation works, the lock gate will be transported back and mounted into the gate chamber. During the renovation of this lock gate, the Vandamme lock will remain operational thanks to the three remaining lock gates.

Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters, is satisfied that the works on the Vandamme lock have been continued amidst the corona crisis, with due respect for the currently very strict safety and hygiene measures. ‘I want to thank the contractor and all partners involved for this. Zeebrugge is an important marine intersection as well as a motor for the Flemish economy. Every year, Zeebrugge welcomes about 8000 ships. The port offers employment to some 10,000 persons. Today, the Pierre Vandamme lock is the only point of access to Zeebrugge’s inner port. To warrant the accessibility of the port of Zeebrugge, Flanders invests a total sum of 120 million euro for this renovation.’

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.