Major refurbishment at East London dry dock

Princess Elizabeth dry dock. Credit: Southern Africa Shipping

The Princess Elizabeth dry dock at South Africa’s only river port, East London, is in the throes of a USD3.8 million facelift to support the sustainability of the region’s ship repair and boat building sectors. This includes a USD710,331 refurbishment of the dry dock’s main shut-off valves and a USD3.1 million caisson repair.

“We’ve been hard at work advancing these critical projects through Transnet’s governance and procurement processes, and are now pleased to be at the stage of actual execution of our refurbishment of the dry dock’s caisson, just a few weeks after we completed refurbishment of the facility’s main shut-off valves,” said Sharon Sijako, East London port manager.

The refurbished valves were commissioned at the end of June, and the work was completed towards the end of August. The project has significantly reduced the time required to flood the dock and improved its operational efficiency, she said.

The caisson refurbishment will rectify corrosion and leaks on the existing structure, reducing potential safety and operational risks, decreasing electricity consumption and operating costs, and increasing overall operational efficiency at the facility.

Sijako said the dock would be out of commission for seven weeks from 14 October to 3 December. The port authority has worked in close collaboration with the ship repair industry regarding the expected down time.

Durban-based ship repair company, Southern African Shipyards, will carry out the design while main works will be supported by site supervision consultant Lodemann Holdings. Other work already completed at the dry dock includes replacing electrical switch gears, crane rails, capstans, compressors, and the fire protection booster pump.

Transnet National Ports Authority is investing significantly to restore existing ship repair facilities with the intention of stimulating the repair sector and creating much needed jobs in the region, which is one of the poorest in the country, Sijako concluded.