Meeting Requirement 2 – Port Opening

The purpose of Requirement 1 is to understand a port environment and build a series of work packages to repair and/or augment an existing port, some of that could be done in response to a natural disaster or defence requirement, and some would be done as part of the overseas development remit of DFiD using local contractors.

In the defence and HADR context, access to local contractors may not be assured, so therefore, a defence capability to deliver on the port opening and operating requirement would be needed.

At this point it is worth restating that Requirement 2 is not designed to replace the services offered by civilian marine salvage and construction companies. Anything it does will be completed in a short time period and mostly temporary in character at a much more modest scale. Even a cursory glance at any images of port construction or marine salvage will reveal specialist equipment on a simply massive scale.

None of this will be replicated because Requirement 2 must be limited in scope, it also must be limited in volume and weight because although most would be transported by sea, some might even be flown in as a lead element or advance party.

Organisation and Personnel

As described above, the natural organisational home for any capability to meet Requirement 2 is within the British Army’s 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, as part of 104 Logistic Support Brigade.

The Regiment consists of two Port Squadrons (51 (Work Boat) and 52 (Mexeflote)), a Port Enabling and Headquarters Squadron (53), and attached REME Workshop. It also has a paired Army Reserve regiment, 165.

A separate Port Enabling squadron would established, moving the capability out of the existing HQ Squadron whilst increasing personnel and equipment holdings.

The attached REME workshop provides Equipment Support for the Regiment but given the expansion of equipment to support, and the need to repair/maintain port equipment, additional capacity and capability is required.

5 Force Support Battalion provides Equipment Support for 104 Logistic Support Brigade (and therefore 17 Port and Maritime) but adding additional requirements without providing additional resources simply means one capability is robbing from another.

Whether an additional REME Field Company is established within 5 Force Support Battalion, the existing 17 Port and Maritime attached workshop greatly expanded, or a larger than normal REME capability attached to the Royal Engineers (described below) would be subject to discussion, but in any case, the REME capacity must be significantly improved.

Again, as described above, 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group, Royal Engineers, would be the natural place to expand. In meeting Requirement 1, this would have happened. However, 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group tends to relatively small teams of specialist works engineers, and not implementation capacity.

For this, they draw from units within the wider Corps of Royal Engineers. The Close Support Engineer Regiments would be ill equipped for Requirement 2 and yet again, taking resources from others, like 21 Engineer Regiment and 26 Engineer Regiment is not acceptable.

39 Engineer Regiment is an interesting model to replicate.

It is a construction centric Regiment that provides aviation Force Support engineering to the British Army and Royal Air Force. Comprising three Field Squadrons, a Field Support Squadron, and a HQ and Support Squadron, it combines combat engineering and artisan trades.

The proposal would therefore be to establish a new Engineer Regiment, based loosely on 39 Engineer Regiment, but instead of being aviation centric, it would be port centric. Whether 3 Field Squadrons plus Field Support Squadron would be needed would be subject to analysis, perhaps 2 Field Squadrons might be sufficient.

Whether personnel are Regular, Reserve, FTRS or attached contractors would also be subject to analysis and discussion but there must be sufficient mass to maintain the readiness profile whilst conducting port augmentation operations on a BAU basis, home or away. The Troop organisation within Field and Field Support Squadrons, whether specialised or general, would also be subject to analysis.

Funding, as per Requirement 1, significantly from the Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) budget.

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Explosive Ordnance Clearance and Force Protection

As per Requirement 1, any explosive ordnance clearance in or around the port, above or below water, is fundamental to many scenarios, but not others.

Because existing capabilities would be mobilised it sits outside of the means to meet Requirement 2 but is included here for completeness.

It is unlikely that major combat operations would be ongoing at the same time as port augmentation for theatre entry or disaster relief but there may be harassing indirect fire or simply heightened tension as a result of the existing security environment. Pilfering from the local population may also be an issue, especially for fuel and other valuable commodities.

Personnel, stores, fuel, vehicles and other equipment will therefore need protection after initial clearance operations have concluded. Once a safe area has been cleared, the first task will be to create a protected compound for equipment and personnel involved with the operation. There may be existing fenced off or secure areas and these would generally be first choice but if not, a temporary solution will be needed.

If there are empty ISO containers available they would be easy to reposition and use as barriers. They could be augmented with HESCO barriers or simple solutions such as Heras Readyfence or Ready Hoard, whatever is most appropriate and easiest to implement. Heras panels can be fitted with a cheap and effective fence mounted detection system or the wireless intrusion sensors like the Heras Sentor (there are many more alternatives available).

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Heras readyfence

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Heras hoarding

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Defencell, is an alternative product to HESCO with some key differences, and if additional physical security over and above lightweight fencing is needed, either would be suitable.

It should also be noted that in some instances, especially those of a well found port is being augmented in some way, there may be no requirement at all for protected compounds, additional work spaces or other facilities.

Timings, Transport and Tonnage

The majority of Requirement 2 capabilities will be deployed by sea and the most likely host vessel would be one of the Bay class LSD(A)’s. As described above, they are versatile and capable vessels.

To recap on their capacities;

Capacity includes 1,150 lane meters for vehicles and containers, 2,000 tonne cargo capacity and accommodation for between 350 and 700 personnel depending on overload conditions. This is enough to accommodate the engineering and logistics personnel described above, and most likely, all the stores and equipment needed. Smaller landing craft or work boats can be carried on deck and lifted to the surface by the 30 tonne capacity deck cranes. Mexeflotes are side loaded, one on either side of the hull and with a single LCU Mk10, the ship to shore transport capacity is high. This allows stores, vehicles, plant and personnel to be transferred into the target port in a relatively short time.

Because the port augmentation operation has relatively little need for aviation the extremely large flight deck could be used to carry extra stores and vehicles.

A single LSD(A) is therefore likely to be enough for most of Requirement 2 tasks.

We should note that in loading a Bay LSD(A) with port opening stores, any amphibious or other operation would be denied the capacity.

This is a trade-off we must make, or, seek alternatives.

Those alternatives are unlikely to include buying another, but might mean utilising the Strategic RORO vessels or increasing the readiness/expanding the fleet back to the original six. At a relatively modest cost, significant transport capacity would be made available to HMG for use by the MoD, DFiD, allies and other partners.

It is also likely that in all but a rapid response mission there would be one of the Echo class survey vessels and MCM vessels as required. The survey, dive support and mine clearance personnel and equipment could be hosted on these vessels, there would be no need for demountable systems.

Once in place, the planning team will need to balance the needs of establishing enough engineering capability onshore with the need to get the port open or ready for additional shipping. The use of lighterage such as landing craft and Mexeflotes should be kept to a minimum because it is a fundamentally inefficient means of transferring anything from a ship to shore. This might result in a minimum use of such lighterage in order to offload just enough equipment to effect a repair, for example, to allow the LSD(A) to dock and unload using normal means.

Each situation will be different.

Most port environments will have a small slip way or beach that will allow the LCU and Mexeflote to offload. Equipment may then need to be driven off the beach or slipway and into the port.


From the requirements section there are a number of activities to carry out, some more complex than others, some likely to take longer than others, some sequential, some completed in parallel, and some possibly not needed at all.

They all need stores and equipment though.

Constructions Plant and Salvage Equipment

There are two types of debris; that which exists on the land part of the port, and that which is floating or sunken. Above water debris can be pushed, pulled or lifted out of the way and collected in-situ or removed to a central point for classification and recycling. Some of this debris may be toxic or hazardous in some other way and therefore any removal capability must reflect this. Debris could be collapsed buildings, steelwork, containers, machinery or organic matter.

Where it can be pushed out of the way the ideal solution will be to use in service bulldozers, the Cat D5 (Tractor Caterpillar D5N) and DEUCE (Tractor Med Combat Air Portable Cat 3030) for example.

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Tractor Caterpillar D5N

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Tractor Med Combat Airportable Cat 3030 DEUCE
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Containers could be pushed or lifted out of the way. Because they are unlikely to be arranged neatly and aligned with the ground so that container lifters or large fork lifts can use their lifting spreaders and attachments, the most practical method would be to use a crane, especially if the containers are filled.

The in service Terex AC35 and AC55L mobile cranes would provide vertical lift for debris removal from all areas of a port ad their deployment would likely be a high priority because they can be used for many other tasks.

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CRANE - Medium Crane Truck MTD 2030T Terex AC35 08

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Terex AC55

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Where the debris might need more effort is if it is fixed in place such as large blocks of reinforced concrete or structural components, if it needs to be moved some distance (depending where it is) or if it needs reducing in size in situ before clearance.

If the debris is on the surface and simply needs moving a greater distance than is feasible with a crawler tractor the combination of wheeled and tracked loaders and a dump truck is an effective one, moving the debris to a designated dumping area.

In service with the British Army, via the ALC C Vehicle PFI, is the Medium Dump Truck and Self Loading Dump Truck, both based on the Iveco Trakker AD380T chassis with a Thomson Loadmaster Tipper Body that has a 16 tonne payload.

British Army Iveco Trakker

These are in service vehicles and would, therefore, carry no additional cost but if a greater payload was considered desirable or if the dumper is likely to be used in marginal terrain such as a beach or shoreline then a larger articulated dump truck would be a better choice.

There are a wide variety of manufacturers but to maintain manufacturer consistency with other in service equipment, Volvo and Caterpillar would be on the shortlist. Although they each have many models, typically, they can carry double the payload or more when compared to the Trakker. Because they would not need to travel any great distances they would not need a dedicated low loader and could simply be driven directly off the LCU or Mexeflote and into the port area. With double the payload, a given load total could be moved in half the time or with half the personnel and half the number of vehicles in the same time.

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Excavators and loaders, wheeled or tracked, are used to load the dump trucks.

In service with the British Army is equipment from Volvo and JCB, with a number of items of Caterpillar protected plant purchased as UOR’s for Afghanistan. These types of wheeled and tracked loaders and excavators are versatile and useful, and already in service in quantity.

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Volvo Excavators British Army

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Excavator Ancils 1

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Excavator Ancils 2

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JCB Loaders

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They can also be fitted with specialist ancillaries like hydraulic breakers, sweepers, shears and grapples.

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Where the debris might need more effort is if it is fixed in place such as large blocks of reinforced concrete or structural components, if it needs to be moved some distance (depending where it is) or if it needs reducing in size in-situ before clearance.

The hydraulic attachments show above such as grapple and shears could be supplemented with specialist demolition equipment such as pulverisers, drum cutters, demolition grabs and rippers for greater efficiency. Because the debris might be timber or wooden piles excavator mounted saws would also be very useful.

If there is any floating debris such as insulated containers, logs or small craft they can be pulled out of the way using workboats and ground based winches. The in service CAT D5N can be equipped with a winch, useful for such applications.

Hydraulic and compressed air hand tools, found as standard in Royal Engineers squadron stores, can also be used to facilitate debris removal.

The safe demolition and removal of obstacles may also be facilitated by explosive cutting charges. Most of the in service equipment is supplied by Chemring Energetics including SABREX linear cutting charge for example. General purpose explosives like PE8 might also find some use in demolition and debris removal.

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Except the specialist hydraulic attachments, all this equipment is in service.

With the wide range of plant and machinery already available in service with the Royal Engineers there should be no obstacles or debris in the port that cannot be quickly cleared, at least on land.

Removal of underwater debris and wreckage presents a more difficult problem because of the environment and potential size of debris and wreckage. It will also require the purchase and maintenance of certain specialist items of equipment as is the first element of Requirement 2 that might need additional equipment investment.

There has to be a recognition of the limits of capability embodied in Requirement 2, it is not envisaged that it will replace large-scale commercial salvage organisations that can move sunken super tankers but simply implement a capability that can remove small to medium sized underwater debris and wreckage, simply moving it out of the way is the order of the day.

Underwater salvage is a specialist task and whilst the US Navy has a handful of salvage vessels it is not proposed that the UK follows suite. Instead, a small amount of specialist equipment could be used to push or pull small wrecks and other large debris out of the way to enable port access. Distances are likely to be small and vertical lift not needed. The Cat D5N has a winch but where this is not suitable, a dedicated chain puller or static winch may be used. They can also be deployed in parallel to increase power.

Whether using a chain puller or ground winch, both will need a range of anchoring equipment, chains and shackles. The work platforms and divers will be used to install lifting points on the wreckage or debris and cranes and wheeled loaders used for handling the chains and other equipment on shore, the 300 tonne chain puller shown below, from TGS in the Netherlands, weighs 12 tonnes and can pull at approximately 2m per minute. Both the chain puller and its hydraulic power pack and ancillaries can be carried in a single ISO container. The video below also shows chain pullers in action but to be clear, Requirement 2 will only have two chain pullers and the size of the wreckage dictated by the ability of the two.

TMS make a rigging and winch vehicle for use with the chain pullers.

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Chain Puller
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Concrete and tarmac repair products are widely available and can be used for small areas but where large areas need repair a graded fill material will be needed. If rubble is available and has been converted to graded granular fill material it can be recycled and reused for this purpose. Dredged sand can be recycled although if settling lagoons are used it might not be in a suitable form for several days. Otherwise, local purchase may be the only practical alternative.

The in service rollers and vibratory compacters such as the snappily titled compact Roller Motorised Smooth Drum SPT Tandem Vib DSL Wacker RD27-100 or Compactor Plate Pedal Remote Control DSL Wacker DPU7060SC would form standard components of any Royal Engineers port repair squadron.

The in service Class 30 or 70 Trackway may also be used but alternative products such as fibreglass and composite road mats may be more applicable as the underlying surface is still load bearing and are now widely available, very easy to use, lightweight and have a low scrap value meaning they are less likely to be stolen.

Rolatrac i-TracMatrax HD and Oxford Plastics Roadplate are representative products.

Aggregate and infill materials would be transported by the Iveco Medium Dump Trucks described above although if available, smaller Terex TA3, or Dumper Ultra Light, might also be used for smaller loads. Excavator mounted hydraulic compacter plates could be used if the roller and vibratory compacters were not available. It is a swings and roundabouts decision, less to deploy but when the excavator is compacting it is not excavating.

The ubiquitous JCB 4CX or tractor Wheeled Light would no doubt find a role in general repair work.

Bomb cratering or damage as a result of earthquakes will produce holes and cracks that need filling (stop giggling at the back!). In order to operate fork lift trucks, reach stackers and container handlers, port roads and storage areas must be ‘relatively’ flat.

Rubble Processing, Sheet Piling and Concrete Works

Over and above general engineering plant and equipment, a number of tasks within Requirement 2 would be made significantly faster using specialist equipment, equipment that is not currently in service.

If there is significant rubble volume in the port, it will eventually need to be processed, but if the construction tasks need graded fill material then this rubble becomes a valuable commodity.

Processing concrete, rock and masonry rubble into graded fill avoids having to ship it in or purchase locally.

For small gap filling requirements rubble can be processed in-situ using a combination of bucket crushers and rotating sorters. These are attachments for existing excavators widely available from a number of manufacturers such VTN Europe and MB Crusher. By processing in-situ stockpiling and transport is reduced.

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If larger quantities are needed then the excavator mounted devices will not have the capacity so a dedicated unit might be more appropriate. Concrete recycling equipment can vary in size from mini units designed for domestic applications that fit through a doorway right up to large semi-permanent units with high throughput. A typical medium sized unit is the RM 70GO! from Rubblemaster that can process up to 120 tonnes per hour with variable output sizes.

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Quaysides may need temporary repair or reinforcement, piles and mooring fixtures can also be damaged to an extent that stops the port being of use. Any repairs need only be ‘good enough’ for the duration of the operation and so temporary measures are perfectly good enough. Decks are often mounted on concrete, steel or timber piles and if these are damaged or degraded their ability to withstand berthing forces and mechanical handling equipment greatly compromised.

Traditional pile repair techniques involved dewatering the surrounding area but new methods have long since replaced those and the most common method now used involves creating a temporary jacket using fibreglass or fabric forms and filling the cavity with marine repair epoxy, after removing friable or rotten material. There are a number of British, European and International standards that can be referenced and modern systems tend to comply with the provisions of all of them.

Marine Pile Repair

Most of the commercial systems are designed for permanent repair and require all friable, corroded or rotten materials removed using high pressure water or physical abrasion before applying the jacket but given the time constraints involved with Requirement 2 tasks this may not always be possible.

Traditional marine cement can take many days to achieve full cure strength, again, not likely suited to the Requirement 2 mission.

Structural steel pile repair systems are available but they require considerable installation time, probably more than traditional concrete systems.

Pilejax from the Australian company Joinlox is a relatively new system that combines ease of installation with low cost. Available in a number of lengths and diameters it uses an innovative locking mechanism and seal combined with flat pack FRP sheet forms. It is therefore space efficient and lightweight, making it attractive for Requirement 2.

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A stock of Pilejax could be held in a single container, together with a stock of marine epoxy repair compound and appropriate hoses, pump and mixing equipment such as those from Putzmeister.

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Putzmeister Marine Grout Pump

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Temporary repairs to deck piers can also be made with filled ISO containers, gabions such as Defencell and Hesco, shoring with any available steel girders that could be cut or salvaged from other areas or using temporary bridge supports as long as the bottom could support the load. Combinations of these methods could also be used, Hesco filled with rubble and marine grout as temporary foundations for bridge supports or prop systems for example.

Pile supported decks are a challenge because the entire weight of the deck, any equipment or cargo on that deck and berthing forces are transmitted through the piles. This generally makes them large and sturdy structures that are both difficult to repair or reinforce and equally difficult to create any sort of temporary work around where time is of the essence.

Non pile supported piers and other port structures use sheet piling. The sheet piles are driven into the ground, secured using tie backs and soldier beams and then back filled.

Sheet Piling

The sheet piles are then capped, usually using concrete.

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Because they are so strong and bulky, any damage is likely to be very difficult to repair although sheet piling will remain a valuable capability within any port repair context.

For smaller areas of damage simply installing additional sheet piles in front of the damage and backfilling without tie rods may provide sufficient robustness for the short term. Backfill material could be processed rubble.

A more recent alternative is open cell bulkhead construction that uses sheet piles but arranges them in a multiple U shapes to eliminate tie backs and anchors. A Y shaped pile connector is used to form the U shape. This technique may also prove to be useful for smaller installations, extensions and repairs.

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Open Cell Bulkhead 1

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Open Cell Bulkhead 2

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Open Cell Bulkhead 3

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Open Cell Bulkhead 4

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Z and U shaped sheet piling continues to evolve but they are poor at dealing with vertical loads and so combination or high modulus walls incorporate sheet piling reinforced with tubular or box section piles. Concrete diaphragm walls are low maintenance and long life for deep draughts but require extensive construction excavation using equipment such as Hydrofaise cutters.

When driving sheet piles from the land side, the surface has to have sufficient bearing strength to support the pile driving equipment, this may not be present in the case of damaged areas and so driving from the floating platform may be the only choice available. This may require the use of a driving alignment frame, especially for crane supported devices.

Vibratory pile drivers liquefy the soil which allows the pile to be easily driven into the ground. They also reduce any transmitted vibration to neighbouring vulnerable structures, particularly where damage exists. For small repairs a sheet piling attachment can be used with existing excavators although a dedicated leader rig would yield faster results at the expense of higher cost and transportability requirements.

Typical of the dedicated hydraulic leader rig is the RG16T from RTG Rammtechnik GmbH. It has a telescopic leader and variable vibration for increased versatility and can install pairs of sheet piles up to 15m long. Setup times are usually less than 30 minutes once unloaded and their work rate is impressive. An auger attachments can be used to pre-loosen very hard soils.

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A typical excavator mounted vibratory pile driver is the Movax Modular Side Grip attachment that can install piles up to 12m in length.

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Corrosion free PVC and composite sheet piles are used for smaller height walls or where soil conditions allow.

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As the Haiti earthquake showed, a simple ramp can allow the large landing craft and ships with ramps to access the port which provided a significant uplift in throughput from the smaller military style landing craft. Many ports will already have a number of these access ramps for boat launch and RORO ships but where they do not, or have been damaged, construction will be needed.

Traditional construction techniques usually require a watertight cofferdam to be built with sheet piling, sandbags or demountable barriers and dewatered. When the area has been dewatered concrete formwork and reinforcing are installed and infilled with poured concrete. When the concrete has cured the barriers are removed. This makes for a sturdy installation but is time consuming, a luxury Requirement 2 does not have.

Boat Ramp Construction

Purely in the interests of speed, alternative methods will be required.

Harbour walls or quaysides may be too high for a ramp and will therefore require some form of demolition before installing the ramp. This may seem counter-intuitive but if the port environment does not have a ramp, its ability to accommodate a variety of smaller craft will be limited.

The long reach excavator may prove invaluable in this task.

Building the ramp gradient could involve a number of techniques, used together or alone.

Pipe fascine bundles, Class 30 or 70 trackway and Hesco or Defencecell gabbions are in service or in the defence supply chain and well suited to this type of temporary construction.

Marine grout is a special type of cement that is resistant to washout and able to cure in direct contact with water. Mixed with sand or small aggregate it can be pumped into fabric bags or multi cell mattresses and this type of installation is often used for scour protection and bank erosion control. Because the fabric and concrete conforms to the underwater and surface undulations and obstructions it would make an excellent ‘concrete carpet’ for landing craft and ships.

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The problems with using cement and concrete, as detailed in the pile repair section, is that it needs specialist mixing and pumping equipment, storage/transport of cements and sand/aggregates and time to achieve the required hardness after fill. Quick curing marine grouts are available but might not be suitable for this application and still unable to achieve the required hardness in a reasonable time.

Pre-cast segmented concrete mattresses are widely used in the subsea installation sector for pipeline and scour protection and subsea ROV platforms. They use individual cast concrete blocks connected with polypropylene rope.

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The only downside to these subsea concrete mattress products is their heftiness and weight, they are perhaps too heavy duty for the application. Lighter alternatives are available that are more commonly used in inshore erosion control such as Flexamat.

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The innovative Concrete Canvas could also be used. Concrete Canvas is a relatively new British product that is a concrete impregnated fabric on rolls of various lengths and widths. It is unfurled, secured using staples where required and hydrated. It can be hydrated by spraying with fresh or salt water, or simply immersed. After hydration it is achieves 80% strength in less than 24 hours. Although Concrete Canvas has many excellent properties it is relatively thin and so may not be durable enough for repeated trafficking, multiple layers may be needed but it is very easy to install so this would not be a significant barrier to use.

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Finally, there are a couple of geotextile products that would be worthy of investigation for temporary ramp construction; Tencate Geotube and Tele Textiles Teletube.

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Geotubes are flexible synthetic tubular containers that are hydraulically filled with sand and water, under pressure. The sand is usually dredged from the surrounding area. Residual internal pressure forces the water out through the material leaving what is in effect, a gigantic sand bag. They have been used for a wide range of marine construction and shoreline protection projects.

Most of the equipment in this section is not in service, so would need purchasing and a logistic support pipeline established.

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Diver Support and Work Platforms

Operating some of the equipment above will need divers to work underwater and other personnel to work on the water. Existing RE/RLC dive equipment is perfectly suited for the port environment but there might be some equipment available to enhance safety or improve efficiency.

Some of the lead diver support elements may have been deployed during the survey task and in the same manner, underwater clearance needs to proceed in a range of temperatures and in the presence of pollutants.

The Royal Navy and British Army have considerable diving expertise and capabilities so Requirement 2 may not need much in the way of new equipment, the tasks will be completed at relatively shallow depth and therefore, not require saturation diving techniques, most will be conducted using surface supplied equipment.

The subsurface environment is complex and especially dangerous in ports so the full range of rescue and standby equipment will be needed.

In many scenarios, the divers can use facilities onboard RN vessels that will be in the area but in others, only general purpose may be available and so a deployable 10 and 20 foot containerised system would be optimal, such that it can be demounted from a transport vehicle, and used at the quayside or from a work platform. These are available from a number of suppliers such as Divex and SMP and contain equipment storage, compressors, control equipment and other machinery. 10 foot dive control and machinery containers would be best suited as they can be easily lifted onto floating work platforms with the larger 20ft container used for workshops and diver decompression chambers. These containers should also contain hot water systems for use in cold water environments.

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Underwater cutting equipment and power tools are in service including Broco cutting torches and Stanley underwater hydraulic diamond chainsaws for example. These should be augmented with additional specialist equipment such as steel wire rope and rebar cutters.

[tabs] [tab title=”Broco Exo-Thermic Cutter”]

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[/tab] [tab title=”Underwater Chainsaw”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Underwater Rock Breaker”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

A diver ‘cage’ would be a useful addition to the equipment pack, used from a wheeled excavator or mobile crane as described above.

Divers Access

In addition to portable ladders and other access equipment the divers will need a floating work platform. This platform can also be used for many other tasks.

As part of the survey team equipment a small workboat will be available to the follow on dive team but more are always useful. Traditionally this would be a Combat Support Boat and if they are available, would be ideal. There are other options available that could be used for other tasks in addition to diver support.

The easiest way to provide a floating temporary work platform in relatively sheltered water is to use one of the many modular pontoons available in the commercial market, steel or plastic.

Modular Docking Cube Components

HDPE modular pontoons are cheap, easy to deploy, adaptable, maintenance free and available from many suppliers such as Airfloat, EZ Dock, Pontoon Works, Versadock and Aqua Dock, to name but a few.

[tabs] [tab title = “Transport and Deployment”] Modular Docking Cube Transport and Deployment
[/tab] [tab title = “Applications 1”] Modular Docking Cube Applications 2
[/tab] [tab title = “Applications 2”] Modular Docking Cube Applications 1
[/tab] [tab title=”Pontoon Works 1″]

[/tab] [/tabs]

They can be fitted with a range of accessories such as cleats, rails, deck covers, utility connectors and connecting modules. Surprisingly robust, when assembled they can be used as work platforms, temporary bridges, jetties, drive on boat docks and docking interfaces.

Work Boats and Pontoons

To support heavy plant a more robust solution than the plastic pontoon would be needed, deeper and with stronger connecting mechanisms. The principle of modular pontoons is the same but steel ISO container sized units are obviously much stronger and able to support greater loads.

The first option would be to simply obtain dunnage and spud jacks for the existing Mexeflote pontoon but this might create a situation where these always in high demand units are required elsewhere and so a dedicated solution is needed.

Again, there are many commercial off the shelf solutions and in specifying a modular steel pontoon solution for use as a strong work platform for debris removal and minor salvage tasks there is a recognition that their inherent versatility can be used for other tasks in Requirement 2.

Modular steel pontoons are incredibly versatile, they can be used as work platforms, dredgers, ferries, jetties, rafts, causeways and linkspans.

Damen Modular Pontoon

Manufacturers include Volker Brooks, Janson Bridging, Damen, Hann Ocean, Robishaw Engineering, Combifloat, Modular Pontoon Systems, Intermarine, Innovo, Baars, Poseidon Barge and Ravenstein

All similar, generally ISO container sized steel boxes with a range of accessories such as lifting spuds, rails, decking, bollards, fairleads, ramps and connectors. They are transported to the work area, lifted into the water using cranes and connected together using various locking mechanisms, pins and other connectors. They can be towed, pushed or propelled using Thrustmaster type units, as found on the Mexeflote, the OD15N in particular. Spud legs are used to stabilise the platform and resist turning and pushing forces when using excavators and other equipment.

[tabs] [tab title=”Baars Confloat”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Damen”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Hann Ocean”]

[/tab] [tab title=”MPSV”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Thrustmaster”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

No more than a dozen should be needed as a work platform for the debris and wreckage removal task, complete with a range of ramps, bollards and spud leg systems.

Moving ships in turning basins and mooring areas requires the use of tugs. some ships are equipped with bow thrusters and other propulsion systems that allow precise positioning without the use of tugs but this would cut down on potential shipping that can use the port. Yet again, getting any tugs that are already part of the ports facilities working is the easiest option but if none exist, or those that exist are beyond practical repair, a deployable tug pair will be needed.

The RLC Army Workboat’s can be used as tugs but not perhaps for the larger ships.

Conventional harbour tugs are powerful but heavy, usually in excess of 300 tonnes, even for a small design like the Damen ASD Tug 2009, used by Serco and the MoD. The reason the weight is important because it has to be able to be lifted from an LSD(A) deck, either that or transported inside or on a FLOFLO or heavy lift ship. It is a trade-off, large bollard pull rating allows fewer tugs to be used (within sensible limits) but means big and heavy vessels and resultant poor deployability.

Drop down to smaller bollard pulls and you need more, including more skilled operators, although deployability is easier. Going to a smaller bollard pull would allow the use of containerised tugs that can be easily transported and lifted from ship to the water’s surface.


Within the confines of a port and its approach lanes there are normally two methods of achieving a desired depth, depending on soil conditions, both usually mounted on a pontoon of some sort.

Trailing arm cutter suction dredgers use a rotary cutting head that is lowered into the soil and as it cuts, the debris is removed to a settling lagoon or barge using a suction pump. Backhoe dredgers employ a large hydraulic excavator and standard bucket with the spoils loaded onto a barge for removal.

With a long reach excavator, some dredging might also be carried out from land. Backhoe dredgers can use integral excavators or a land based excavator driven on for the duration of the dredging activity. They are most suitable for unconsolidated soils containing pebbles, clay and sand, and friable or crumbly rock.

Both types use a pontoon that employs spud legs in order to counter the dredging forces, especially for excavators.

It would make logistical sense to maximise use of the modular pontoon work platform described above. This could be augmented with spud leg modules (all of the proposed pontoons can be fitted with spud modules) but the Baars Confloat range can make use of a travelling spud leg carrier which increases work rate significantly as it reduces the number of spud movements for a given dredged area.

Detailed information on suction cutter dredgers and backhoe dredgers can be found here and here respectively.

For Requirement 2 tasks, the most likely requirement is to dredge to an already established depth after siltation from neglect. However, some dredging may be required to expand the depth of an existing port and so equipment should be available to dredge to a depth of 12-15m.

There are many manufactures of modular pontoon cutter suction dredging pontoon but a typical example is the IHC Beaver 50. It can dredge to a depth of 14m and can also be fitted with a walking spud carriage system. The system is containerised for transport and comes with a range of options for pumping equipment, hoses and different types of cutting head.

[tabs] [tab title=”IHC Beaver 50 Video 1″]

[/tab] [tab title=”IHC Beaver 50 Video 2″]

[/tab] [tab title=”IHC Beaver 50 Video 3″]

[/tab] [tab title=”Confloat Spud Carrier”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Excavator Dredger”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Submersible Dredge Pump”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

Excavators can also be fitted with dredging pumps.

To cover both options, the long reach excavator and work platform pontoon could be combined with a dedicated modular cutter suction system.

A long reach excavator is no different to any other, it simply has a longer articulated arm, and thus, it not especially specialised. A small number could be added to the existing ALC C Vehicle PFI, using the same Volvo EC210 chassis that are in service.

[tabs] [tab title=”Long Reach 1″]

Volvo EC210 Long Reach Excavator working in a port[/tab] [tab title=”Long Reach 2″]

Long Reach Excavator 04

[/tab] [tab title=”Long Reach 3″]

Long Reach Excavator 05[/tab] [tab title=”Long Reach 4″]

Long Reach Excavator 08[/tab] [tab title=”Long Reach 5″]

Long Reach Excavator 07[/tab] [tab title=”Long Reach 6″]

Long Reach Excavator 06[/tab] [/tabs]

The reason long reach equipment is so useful in port clearance operations is because they can be used from the quayside or a floating work platform and achieve useful depths for the manipulation or reduction of underwater debris and wreckage using their bucket, as a lifting device, or with specialist equipment like demolition shears and hammers.

The standard excavator bucket and chain hook should be sufficient for most simple removal tasks but for extra speed a set of specialist underwater hydraulic shears, grabs, drum cutters and pulverisers would be useful.

Equipment Repair and Artisan Trades

It may be quicker to repair harbour machinery such as cranes, container handlers, fork lift trucks and generators than land it from expeditionary shipping, and some equipment such as large container cranes would not be practical to deploy in any case, so repair is the only short term option.

It would be impractical to carry spares in the Requirement 2 stores, ready to go, for every different manufacturer of fork lift trucks or harbour cranes but call off contracts and online documentation and manuals would be feasible for the major equipment manufacturers. The initial survey and standing port data will also provide insight into equipment held in the port.

The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, together with specialist elements from the Royal Logistic Corps and Royal Engineers will deliver the equipment repair task. It might also be assumed that locally employed civilians would play a key role and the ability to pay the local personnel and suppliers should be incorporated into the port operations and management capability.

The deployed equipment will also need maintenance and first line repair tasks and naturally, this will also be carried out by the engineering team.

The Deployable Engineer Workshop, supplied by G3 Systems, supports Royal Engineer artisan trades such as carpenters, fabricators, welders, fitter machinist’s, builders, structural finishers, electricians, utilities engineers and petroleum engineers. All the containers and shelters are supplied by Ably Shelters (Denholm Defence), the RACU and EXTENDA being specific examples.

Other deployable shelters include Deployable Machine Shops and the Fitter Section in a Box (FIASB).

[tabs] [tab title=”Deployable Engineer Workshop 1″]

Deployable Engineer Workshop 01

[/tab] [tab title=”Deployable Engineer Workshop 2″]

Deployable Engineer Workshop 2

[/tab] [tab title=”Deployable Machine Shop”]

Deployable Engineer Workshop[/tab] [tab title=”Fitter Section in a Box”]

Fitter Section in a Box

[/tab] [/tabs]

Not all RE artisan trades would need to be supported, and there may be specific requirements for the REME trades, especially given the likely vehicles and engineering plant used, and so a hybrid of DEW/FIASB/DEW would need to be developed, together with appropriate raw materials, consumables and spares holdings.

Mooring Fixtures

There are a number of different types of mooring bollard with selection depending upon factors such as mooring angles, number of lines and required load strength.

Mooring Bollards

Installation generally uses cast in or through deck bolts and resin anchors are used for retrofit applications. For Requirement 2, holding a small number of cast mooring bollards and resin anchors would be available, and installed as necessary.

Aids to Navigation

Aids to navigation such as marker buoys may have drifted out of position or not be present. With a small stock of marker buoys and navigation lights it should not be a difficult task to install or reinstate existing devices.

[tabs] [tab title=”Hydrosphere Navigation Buoys”]

Navigation Buoys

[/tab] [tab title=”Hydrosphere Video 1″]

[/tab] [tab title=”Hydrosphere Video 2″]

[/tab] [/tabs]

Hydrosphere are the main supplier to the MoD for harbour lights, buoys and other aids to navigation and the buoy maintenance contract is held by Briggs Marine subcontracted to Serco Marine via the Future Provision of Marine Services PFI. Briggs Marine are responsible for some 220 aids to navigation and 110 moorings in the UK, Cyprus and Gibraltar and together with the Serco diver support team and associated services provide an effective capability for the MoD.

As part of the wider PFI Damen supplied 29 new vessels to Serco;

Serco Damen

This has been expanded and changed since contract commencement.

Included in the new fleet was a pair of Multi Cat 2510’s equipped for buoy/mooring handling and trials support. The SD Navigator is the name of the mooring and buoy handing Multi Cat 2510, and is an ideal workboat for Requirement 2, equipped for buoy and mooring maintenance with winches and a 9 tonne at 7m outreach crane.

[tabs] [tab title=”SD Navigator”]

SD Navigator, Serco, off the coast of Isle of Portland, Dorset[/tab] [tab title=”SD Navigator Video”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

A Damen Multicat 2510 would be an ideal general workboat but because they are wide (for stability) they are too wide for easy road transportation or loading inside the LSD(A) well dock. If the existing Army Workboats could be fitted with a hydraulic jib and maintain their stability this would be the obvious solution but if not, a dedicated vessel for buoy replacement might be needed. In some conditions one of the LSD(A)’s could lift buoys into place using their deck crane but closer inshore this might be a problem.

Again, taking the modular pontoon approach allows the creation of multiple vessel types. Simply carrying a couple of extra pontoons and adding a wheelhouse and deck crane would provide the necessary stability and reach for buoy handling.

Using two modules wide creates the 1205 and three wide, the 1908.

[tabs] [tab title=”Damen 1205″]

Damen Modular Workboat 1[/tab] [tab title=”Damen 1908″]

Damen Modular Workboat 2[/tab] [tab title=”Damen 1908 Video”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

It would seem an obvious equipment choice, expanding on the work platform used for in port dredging and work platforms.

With a suitable service vessel, a stock of buoys, sinkers, swivels, shackles and chains should fit into one or two ISO containers. They can be used for lateral and cardinal marks, danger marks and wreck markers. The Hydrosphere Mobilis ES1700, T1200 and Jet 2000 would provide a reasonable spread of equipment capability.

Together with a stock of navigation lights, again from Hydrosphere, this will allow the reinstatement of aids to navigation, at least to a minimum level.

Power, Lighting and Shelters

Existing port buildings such as warehousing and refrigerated warehousing may be well found, non-existent or completely destroyed so in order to provide some shelter for stores and materials a temporary shelter of sort would be a useful addition to Requirement 2.

The MoD has a well-established relationship with Rubb UK, fabric building specialists. Rubb produce a number of different products for port warehousing and their specialist military range, the EFASS (Expeditionary Forces Aircraft Shelter System). EFASS can be used for storage, as a hangar for aircraft or temperature controlled maintenance space. It is available in 11.1m, 20.4m and 25 m spans with typical lengths up to 100m.

[tabs] [tab title=”EFASS Warehouse”]

Warehouses (25m x 100m)

[/tab] [tab title=”EFASS Transport”]

Rubb EFASS Warehouse Container

[/tab] [tab title=”EFASS Video”]

[/tab] [tab title=”EFASS Container Packing Video”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

Power, heating and cooling options are available, as are a range of doors, double skin fabrics and other ancillaries. They are quick to erect, with a 25m x 100m shelter built in 13 days, and not overly expensive.

Daytime operations are a given but if ships are to use the facility in the hours of darkness, lighting will be required in any area that is being used. The port will more likely have these facilities in place so may well have been addressed in the repair task. If those repairs need spare parts that are not available a quick portable solution will be needed.

Modern ports and harbours now have computer controlled lighting systems that are designed to minimise electricity use by coordinating crane and ship movements with the hour of day and season, security sensors and access control. The control circuits are often wireless and able to be reprogrammed remotely, all very clever stuff.

In line with the ‘just enough and no more’ philosophy of Requirement 2, any deployed solution should provide lighting for the working locations in support of the operation and very quick to set up, consequently, the level of sophistication must be kept to a level that is supportable with the intended timescales and deployment resource.

With recent legal judgements any port area that is used for UK personnel will likely need to comply with relevant Health and safety legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Dock Regulations 1988 and the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989. This might not be as onerous as imagined because any equipment on the market will be in compliance with current regulation and BS 12464-2007.

Light pollution when operating at night may well impact key ship’s crew and pilots night vision, it is not sufficient to simply flood an area with light (see what I did there!)

For most applications, where accurate colour rendering is not needed Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium are normally used although LED technology is now making headway in the market. Lighting level requirements vary between 5 and 50 lux depending on area, working or storage for example need differing levels. To achieve these levels the only practical solution is a portable type, lighting towers and mobile generators but the demanding operating environment of a port needs careful equipment selection.

Power consumption is an important factor for a deployable solution because every lux will need powering from self-contained generators, each needing fuel that must be landed or taken from existing finite supplies. Although low energy lighting has a higher capital cost the running cost and operational advantages would point to a low energy solution such as available from HolophaneCU Phosco and Prismalence. As an example, a 70w Prismalence Ceramic Discharge Metal Halide unit outputs the same light as a 1000w Halogen unit.

Portable lighting towers are available through the C Vehicle PFI with ALC but they are mostly designed for site use and may not be high enough although the C Vehicle PFI would be an ideal commercial provision solution.

Combining a low energy lighting solution like the Prismalence Stella with a self-contained semi mobile lighting tower such as the 11m Maxi Tower or 15m TI15 from Towerlight would provide good coverage at low energy use. Deploying them around the port area should be a simple task for any of the wheeled loaders and wheeled tractors described above.

[tabs] [tab title=”Towerlight VT11″]

Lighting Tower[/tab] [tab title=”Towerlight Video”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

If the common 11-15m solutions do not elevate the lights to sufficient height to clear container stacks and other obstructions without needing many units a greater height might be needed, this means moving away from conventional solutions and to those that use elevating lattice towers like those currently in use in Afghanistan for the Base-ISTAR observation towers from Floatograph and Will Burt.

A quick check using a light meter will confirm the correct levels, obviously, some leeway and an application of common sense is needed. Floodlighting for work and storage areas will need to be deployed in addition to harbour navigation lamps.

RORO Linkspan and Buffer Pontoon

As described above, a link span for use with large stern ramp RORO ships can allow them to unload in ports without RORO facilities, of which there are many.

Linkspan 1

The arrival of the two buffer pontoons in Haiti created a step change in cargo offload rates, making the JLOTS capability more or less redundant, they are still there today. FIPASS at Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands is another example, again, still there.

A buffer pontoon extends the wharf into deeper water and allows the spanning of damaged sections.

Buffer Pontoon 2

The solution to both requirements will have a number of common features; a large platform onto which a RORO ships ramp can be landed that is large and sturdy enough for MLC 120 trailer and tractor loads to turn, some means of securing the platform in place and an access ramp that can accommodate the height differential between the platform and quayside. A buffer pontoon will also require mooring fixtures and space for cranes to enable it to offload non RORO vessels.

The platform can be either a modular pontoon or single piece unpowered barge, the former described above and the latter, commonly used in the offshore energy, heavy lift and salvage industries. There are pros and cons for either approach. A single piece barge will be quicker to install than a modular pontoon but pose more difficulties in transportation.

When the pontoon or barge moored is placed in close proximity to the quayside it will need securing. In locations where there is seabed scour protection close in to the quayside a spud leg might not be suitable so it will require cleats for attaching mooring lines.

In some locations there will be a height differential between the modular platform and quayside or pier deck. Without some form of ramp or roadway, vehicles will not be able to be offloaded so the solution must also have some form of adjustable ramp that can also accommodate the same MLC 120 loads as the landing platform. It will also require an interface for both the platform and quayside that prevents slippage and adjusts for differing angles as the tide changes.

This connecting ramp could be constructed using BR90 or Logistic Support Bridge components but this would remove from use a relatively expensive and uncommon item of equipment from the wider campaign so a dedicated ramp is preferable. There will be a number of cranes available within the port environment so as long as it fits within the weight and reach envelope of a Terex AC55 it should be quick and easy to lift into place. The connecting pieces for pontoon and quayside may require some bespoke design and fabrication.

[tabs] [tab title=”Linkspan 1″]

Linkspan 3[/tab] [tab title=”Linkspan 2″]

Linkspan 5

[/tab] [tab title=”Linkspan with Modular Bridging”]

Linkspan 4 [/tab] [tab title=”Buffer Pontoon 1″]

Buffer Pontoon 1[/tab] [tab title=”Buffer Pontoon 2″]

Buffer Pontoon 3[/tab] [tab title=”Buffer Pontoon 3″]

Buffer Pontoon 4

[/tab] [/tabs]

Investing in an amount of larger modular pontoons, spud legs and connecting ramps would provide a significant uplift to operations throughput for RORO vessels in ports without existing RORO facilities.

Materials Handling

Fork lift trucks, reach stackers, MAFI trailers/tractors, telehandlers, container mobilisers, straddle carriers, rubber tire gantry cranes and harbour cranes make up the working machinery of most ports. A port will also have, and may need more of, storage facilities that need protection from the weather and even refrigerated storage.

Already in service are JCB Telehandlers, various fork lift trucks, DROP/EPLS trucks, Kalmar Rough Terrain Container Handlers, cranes and other mobile plant that could easily be used for moving pallets and containers around a port.

[tabs] [tab title=”RTCH 1″]

LIFT TRUCK - Kalmar RT 240 RTCH 10[/tab] [tab title=”RTCH 2″]

LIFT TRUCK - Kalmar RT 240 RTCH 07

[/tab] [tab title=”RTCH Video”]

[/tab] [tab title=”JCB 524/5-50″]

LIFT-TRUCK-Telehandler-JCB-524-50-SS-W-01[/tab] [tab title=”JCB 541-70″]

LIFT-TRUCK-Telehandler-JCB-541-70-W[/tab] [tab title=”JCB 4CX WW”]

LOADER WHEELED - JCB 4CX Sitemaster (WWAP) Backhoe Loader[/tab] [tab title=”JCB Video”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

Where the in service equipment is less suited is to offloading ships, especially the larger container and general cargo ships. Some of these ships have their own cranes to lift cargo from their holds and onto the quayside or awaiting vehicles. Most civilian container ships, even the smaller feeder ships, do not have their own cranes and this therefore, leaves a potential capability gap should neither the ship nor port have offloading equipment in good working order.

Fixed cranes are generally less complex but in order to access the full width or length of a ships hold they need long reach and if the crane is going to be used in the construction of the shore linking causeway (as I intend to propose) before being used to offload ships mobility is a key requirement

Any crane must be able to span the full width of expected ship types but in this scenario, heavy lift capacity is not needed. If it is accepted that heavy vehicles will drive off a RORO ship the most common item is in the region of 40 tonnes and usually it would be much less.

When selecting cranes there are many trade-offs and specification touch points so I am going to show three examples, one from each category. It must be said however, that these are products available from a number of manufacturers so readily available.

Lattice or telescopic boom crawler cranes are common in the heavy lift and construction sector, they combine a large tracked chassis with an equally large counterweight and long boom. A typical example is the Link Belt TCC-750, with a tracked carriage it can traverse difficult terrain and the 4 part boom with lattice extension allows it to lift out to a maximum reach of over 50m.

[tabs] [tab title=”Link Belt TC 750″]

Link Belt TCC 750

[/tab] [tab title=”TCC 750 Video Overview”]

[/tab] [tab title=”TCC 750 with Platform”]

[/tab] [tab title=”TCC 750 Transportability”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

Other crawler cranes use multi-section lattice booms rather than telescoping types. This is a general purpose heavy lift crane and more transportable than might be imagined because they are designed for frequent road carriage to and from work sites.

The mobile harbour crane is a more specialised design than the crawler crane that whilst not as deployable has a number of design features that allow it to access the top container stack on container vessels or the bottom of bulk carrier holds. Automatic spreader assemblies allow the rapid attachment and lifting of ISO containers so containerised cargo offload rates are potentially much higher that with general purpose crawler cranes. At the lower end of the size scale is the Liebherr LHM 180. At 20m outreach it can lift containers weighing between 25-32 tonnes depending on whether a semi or fully automatic spreader is used. With a turnover of up to 35 cycles per hour, total throughput for an 18 hour operating window would be in excess of 630 containers or over 15,000 tonnes if those containers contained 25 tonnes of material. Actual throughput would of course be lower depending upon many factors such as truck capacity, operator skill, light availability, weather conditions, operator rest periods and ship configuration etc., but this is still an impressive piece of equipment, even at half the theoretical throughput. Move up the model list and the larger LHM 280 can still do the same number of cycles but from much larger container vessels (between Handymax and Panamax) and two 20ft containers (TEU) at a time, in effect, doubling the maximum throughput.

[tabs] [tab title=”Liebherr LHM 180″]

Liebherr LHM 180[/tab] [tab title=”Liebherr LHM Overview Video”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Liebherr LHM Transportability”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Liebherr LHM Container Handling”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Automatic Spreader”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

The major problem with these large mobile harbour cranes is their deployability, they need a reasonably heavy lift crane to offload onto the quayside and assembly time is not short.

The final type of crane to consider is technically speaking, not a crane, as it does not use a winch cable. Materials handlers are used to access cargo that does not extend above cargo ship holds, or if it does, not by much. They are generally used for bulk cargo such as metal scrap, timber and minerals but can be fitted with an automatic container spreader. Although they cannot access the top stacks of traditional container vessels or lift heavy 40ft containers, their direct action allows a very higher number of cycles to be achieved. The Mantsinen 200 is typical of the type and can offload 45 20ft ISO containers (TEU) per hour, or over 800 TEU per 18 hour period.

[tabs] [tab title=”Mantsinen 200″]

Mantsinen 200 1 [/tab] [tab title=”Mantsinen 200 Video”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Mantsinen 200 Container Handling Video”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Mantsinen 200 Trasport”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

It would certainly be a challenge to get either the Liebherr or Mantsinen into a damaged port and would take several days to build, so the crawler crane option might be a better balance of capability and time into service.

If we can achieve high ship offload rates using specialist equipment like a harbour crane or RORO linkspan there is potential for movement within the port and onward to create a bottleneck that undoes the effort expended on the quayside. Cargo needs to get away from the port and to the point of use as fast as possible (accepting some stockpiling and palletisation may be a requirement).

For RORO cargo the main requirement is space for turning and parking, one of the main engineer and construction tasks would be to make sure suitable space is available.

For pallets and containers, the in service equipment should generally be sufficient.

The Kalmar Rough Terrain Container Handler (RTCH) is an impressive piece of equipment but with less than 20 in service relatively uncommon.


For use where the all-terrain features are not required, the MoD has a number of Hyster container handlers

Although they are not necessarily classed as deployable equipment an extra small purchase for use in Requirement 2 deployments would provide a useful uplift without costing a great deal.

DROPS (if any are left in service), the newer Enhanced Palletized Load System (EPLS) and whatever is chosen for the non Articulated Vehicle Programme (NAVP) can be used for container transport in and around the port and beyond. EPLS can lift ISO containers without first placing them on a flatrack but in most other respects, EPLS is broadly similar to DROPS. The H Frame or Container Handling system uses ISO locks and can lift 8’0″, 8’6″ and 9’0″ containers with an optional kit for 4’0″ and 3’3″ half height containers. The MAN SV Recovery Vehicle can lift 15 tonnes and the Iveco Truck Mounted Loader, 5.3 tonnes, useful for shifting pallets and smaller or unloaded containers.

Where situations dictate the use of non-specialised container lifting equipment a spreader frame increases speed and safety. The twistlocks are activated by pulling a toggle which eliminates the need for personnel to climb on top of the container.

Bottom lug lifters are also available to avoid working at height.

[tabs] [tab title=”20ft auto”]

[/tab] [tab title=”10ft Spreader”]

10ft spreader[/tab] [tab title=”Bottom Lift”]

Bottom Lift Spreader[/tab] [/tabs]

Not everything has to be powered and simple mechanical equipment still has utility, especially in rapid response situations where the heavy lift equipment might be in follow on offload. Recotech in Sweden make the 17 tonne capacity Wing LiftAnga in Poland and Haacon in Germany also make similar equipment that can be used for limited road moves and aircraft/vehicle loading.

[tabs] [tab title=”Recotech”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Anga”]

Anga container lifter[/tab] [tab title=”Haacon 1″]

Haacon Container Lifter 5[/tab] [tab title=”Haacon 2″]

[/tab] [/tabs]

These manual systems can be slow and have a lower lift weight but the advantage of not needing power is obvious, especially for the wheeled lifting jacks. They also allow containers to be loaded and unloaded from vehicles without any MHE.

Although manual systems are cheap and easy to use they often lack speed and lifting capacity. Moving containers around port storage areas is usually done by equipment like container forklifts or the Kalmar but as mentioned above, are difficult to deploy, expensive and few in number. Other powered systems might not have the reach or stacking capacity of the Kalmar but are much lower cost and easier to deploy. The simplest type is like the manual systems above, corner jacks and hoists, but of course, powered.

[tabs] [tab title=”Bison Jacks”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Joloda”]

[/tab] [tab title=”Joloda Bump Test”]

[/tab] [/tabs]

Container mobilisers are similar in concept to the large shuttle and straddle carriers seen in container terminals. They are much easier to transport although may require some assembly in theatre, can operate on moderate to poor surfaces and can be easily used indoors or where space is tight due to a low height and small footprint.

Best of all, compared to the Kalmars of this world, as cheap as chips!

CombiliftISO LoaderMeclift and Mobicon are notable manufacturers in this space, the latter selected by the US Navy for moving containers on and off LCS. The Combilift is delivered in two 20ft containers and takes about a day to build, ideal for Requirement 2. The Mobicon straddle carrier uses two lifting frames that operate together rather than the rigid frame of the combilift. Mobicon also make a soft terrain version that because of the low container height are not vulnerable to tipping over should a soft patch or hole be encountered, they are more or less tip proof.

The Meclift is intended for use on storage yards.

[tabs] [tab title=”Combilift”]

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Many ports will also have a number of Mafi trailers and tractors, where these are not available, damaged or beyond repair, the equipment described above would be provide a good alternative.

Any of these relatively cheap systems would be an ideal addition to the Requirement 2 package, relatively cheap, easy to operate, efficient, widely available and likely to deliver meaningful uplift in throughput without taking too much in service equipment away from other operational tasks.

Port Operations Management

The final part of Requirement 2 is port operations management, fundamentally, two elements. In addition to maintaining security and utilities, they are traffic management and the administration of port activities.

Traffic management in and out of the port is an administrative task not unlike air traffic management, although obviously not as fast. The people best placed to deliver this would be the personnel normally employed at the port, managers, pilots and controllers. In some scenarios, simply turning up with a pile of cash and paying the existing staff can cut through any administrative issues and get people working.

This is an important and not to be overlooked element of augmenting or ‘repairing’ a port; its people are every bit as important as the built environment and mobile plant.

A small administration cell that can manage port movements and small scale local employment has great potential to leverage investment in Requirement 2.

This admin cell could use any of the many Operational Portable Office’s already in service as long as they are equipped with sufficient people and cash management equipment, computers and software.


As with the existing capabilities for Requirement 1, the UK has the majority of the means of meeting Requirement 2.

Building on the port design, port operating, civil engineering, salvage and technical capabilities found within the MoD (e.g. SALMO), the MoD’s contractors, Royal Engineers, Engineering and Logistic Staff Corps, Royal Logistic Corps and the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, this proposal simply takes those, pulls them together into a focussed organisation, expands their capabilities with selected equipment and consumable purchases, and establishes a long term strategy to sustain mass.

Out of this mass, the ability to rapidly respond to disaster or defence requirements can me offered to the Government, NATO, and other allies.

There is a question of ambition inherent in the equipment and organisation choices described above; should we establish a new Royal Engineers regiment, or simply attach a squadron to 17 Port and Maritime RLC, what level of spares holdings for target port cargo handling equipment is appropriate, should we use a dedicated piling rig or accept the lower capacities of an excavator attachment, and many more.

But what binds these discussions is a recognition that port engineering, salvage and operation, at a level that is ‘good enough’ has significant defence advantages, especially in support of Strike Brigade deployment.

Underpinning the defence aspect, is that of building stability overseas through development of coastal economies and an ability to respond to natural disasters.

All this is a Good ThingTM

To make it happen, we have to use public funds sensibly, with both Defence and Overseas Development Assistance, acting in a concerned and coordinated ‘joined up’ manner.




The Changing Coastline and Port Environment

The Defence and Overseas Development Context

Defining the Requirement

Requirement 1 – Design, Contract Management and Rapid Response Survey

Meeting Requirement 1 – Port Survey and Design

Requirement 2 – Port Opening

Meeting Requirement 2 – Port Opening

Requirement 3 – Enhanced Coastline Access

Meeting Requirement 3 – Part A

Meeting Requirement 3 – Part B

Meeting Requirement 3 – Part C

Final Thoughts

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