After all, it was common practice in sailing ship days, and that was without the benefit of modern weather forecasting. With sound planning and preparation, such operations today should be efficient and predictable. Robert Wynn and Sons heavy transport operators are confirming this is a reality using their versatile specialist barge Terra Marique. The 2,211 dwt barge is towed between ports but is self-propelled for working in the confined and shallow waters where she docks.
In her brief life (she was completed in the Ukraine in ‘04) she is already recorded as the largest vessel to reach upriver to Isleworth on the Thames, where she loaded Concorde, and to the wharf at Cottam on the River Trent, where power station heavy equipment has been landed.
In recent months she has been delivering electrical plant from Ellesmere Port to Heysham, Lowestoft and to Torness on the North East Coast in East Lothian. Even more significantly, she is a crucial link in a series of heavy loads being delivered to the beach alongside the nuclear complex at Sellafield. Some six voyages to this exposed Cumbrian beach were completed in 2011, with more scheduled for this year. The barge is beached, then at low tide the barge’s ramp is lowered and a prepared roadway connects the wheeled loads from the beach to the nuclear site.
Quite the most breathtaking delivery I’ve noted, was last March to central Preston using the extremely tidal River Ribble, upstream of the Dock, where a vessel of any kind cannot have been for over a century. Here Wynn’s barge successfully delivered two 270 ton ‘Quad Boosters’ loaded at Ellesmere Port and destined for an electricity substation approximately 5 miles from the Preston transhipment point.
It had taken many months of planning, due largely to the large tidal range of the Ribble. Under her own power, the 80m long vessel had to carefully manoeuvre across the river, almost bridging it, so that the gross 500 ton load could be rolled off on to the river bank. It took 4 hours and I break into a sweat just looking at the photographs.
Intelligent and enterprising – and not a little brave – well done all concerned!