The landscape of HM Naval Base Portsmouth is set to transform with work beginning on its newest and tallest structure.
It’s part of a £15 million package for 14 Dock which will be ready to take on major warship maintenance next year and will increase the number of dry docks available to the base.
A new gantry crane will reach 68 metres and enable heavy lifting from Type 45 destroyers, or any other class of frigates or destroyers given deep maintenance at Portsmouth in the future.
Lower down, 14 Dock has been drained for the first time in 15 years, 13,500m² of dock surface cleaned, a new caisson fitted and a sonar pit installed to accommodate vessels with hull-mounted domes.
Captain Iain Greenlees, Head of Infrastructure at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, said: “The project to bring a Deep Maintenance Centre of Specialisation for Type 45 destroyers to full operational capability at Portsmouth Naval Base has passed a number of milestones but this is going to be the most visible sign yet of the large investment the Royal Navy has made in modernising our facilities here.”
The crane was built in Holland by Van Haagen Special Cranes and will be erected over six weeks with the Royal Navy’s partner within the base, BAE Systems, managing the project.
Once complete it is set to dominate the skyline; at 68 metres it will not only become the highest point in the base, but once the cantilever section of the crane is installed later this year the structure will also extend over 15 Dock for work there.
A delivery barge brought the enormous components to the harbour. Sections will be moved outside core working hours to minimise disruption to naval operations, with potentially 80 tonnes on any load moving across the heart of the base.
The project is a key part of the Portsmouth 2030 Programme which aims to capitalise on the choice of Portsmouth Naval Base at home port for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
This has brought new facilities for training apprentices, a combined heat and power plant to energize the carriers when they are alongside, refurbishment of 15 Dock and these major enhancements for 14 Dock.
This latest investment at Portsmouth also complements £18 million spent during 2018 modernising the adjacent central workshops in the base’s deep maintenance complex.