Great Yarmouth outer harbour tackles swell

Work will soon be under way on modifications to Great Yarmouth's outer harbour to address the swell problem which has dogged the port during its first year of operation.

The 200m wide entrance to the harbour is to be reduced by 50m by extending the breakwater arms, which will be densified and heightened with extra rock.

At the same time, work will continue on replacing hard rubber cone fenders designed for bigger ships with Yokohama airbag fenders.

Critics have blamed EastPort for the ongoing swell problem – which has prompted criticism from a ship's captain and led to one vessel leaving port early – because it made design changes to the original plan.

However, EastPort chief executive Eddie Freeman said the main issue was that smaller vessels were using the harbour than had been originally envisaged.

The modifications would accommodate the sort of vessels used in offshore windfarm construction which was a key market the port was targeting.

He said: 'Despite the deepest economic recession since the Great Depression, we are delighted to announce this further investment in the port infrastructure of Yarmouth to ensure our locational advantage and deep water facilities meet the needs of both existing and new customers.

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'Both of these projects will run for the rest of the year with the breakwater works commencing in the summer and expected to take three to four months to complete.'

He said it had been felt appropriate to await the departure of their tenant's container quay cranes before announcing their next steps in respect of their refocused business developments.

Mr Freeman insisted they were not closing out any type of business by narrowing the harbour entrance –simulations involving the pilots had been very positive and confirmed that even the largest ro-ro ferries could be accommodated.

Since the decision was taken to refocus its business, EastPort has announced the successful award of two major contracts for the offshore wind sector.

Eliza O'Toole, deputy chairman of EastPort's parent company International Port Holdings said: 'The ongoing support of our customers as we further invest in our facilities is a ringing endorsement of both their and our commitment to the port.'

stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk