Aberdeen Harbour is moving closer to an expansion scheme which will bring historic changes to the nature of the port and its capacity.
Recent years have seen record activity with no lessening of demand either from oil exploration and development or general and liner trades. Overall vessel tonnage handled in 2012 increased by eight per cent to 28.19 million tonnes with a similar increase in cargo handled to a record 5.14 million tonnes.
A £27.37 million turnover in 2012 led to a profi t of £7.46 million and as a Trust Port all profits are invested in improvements, most recently including dredging and widening the navigation channel from 33 metres to 70 metres at a cost of £5.2 million and the infilling of Torry Dock with the reconstruction of deep-water quays there to cope with vessels of deeper draft and much greater power which can destabilise out-dated wharfage.
For all these improvements it is increasingly apparent that Aberdeen operations are nearing full capacity and feasibility studies are looking to expansion toward Nigg Bay to the south of the port’s Girdleness light. Here is being planned a second port focus for the city with access at all states of the tide. Landward it has proximity to the major industrial estates and main trunk roads in the city’s southern sector. Outline proposals show reclaimed land providing two new dock basins with vessels moored along 1500ms of deep water quays under the shelter of Girdleness Point. There is an entrance and turning basin to the south of the Bay with protection from easterlies by breakwaters north and south. Accessing the new port would seem quicker and easier than the existing harbour entrance and larger vessels should need less assistance from tugs with simpler manoeuvring. A heartening aspect of the project seems to be that there is much support for it from the community and as yet little overt objection. That has to be some sort of miracle these days.
Aberdonians have always taken pride and interest in things maritime and they will have hinterland must be a potentially prime destination for cruises and an easy access deep water jetty would be attractive to larger cruise vessels.
It is an exciting prospect and Aberdeen has proven it is extremely adaptable and not afraid of major change. This new port would indeed be the biggest change in the City’s maritime geography for hundreds of years. Aberdeen may foster innovation but it also shows remarkable stability in its services. Speaking of Sea-Cargo, their SC Aberdeen 4,234,’79 I first knew on the Aberdeen-Western Norway cargo link as the Astrea, a furrow she was to plough for over 20 years. I note that last year she was sold out to the Far East and I have tracked her down to the East China Sea which is certainly a change for her. She was replaced apparently seamlessly by the similarly versatile but larger newbuild Sea-Cargo Express 6,693,’12 In the way of globalised industry today she was delivered in India by the Bharati Shipbuilding Co.