January 2014

Work has begun in earnest.  The main contractor, R J Mcleod, have set up their portacabins on the pier and from Monday 13th January, machinery of all sorts descended on the pier including a couple of giant cranes.

Getting the Barge in Place
Week commencing 20 January – The barge provides a platform for the long reach digger which will carry out dredging at the Linkspan, removing 500 cubic metres of gravel to deepen the berth for the new ship.  The seabed off the end of the existing ferry pier will be levelled to a depth of 8m in preparation for building the foundation for the pier extension caisson. This requires the formation of a 2000 tonne rock bund using material from the local quarry prior to the installation of supporting beams and a 500mm concrete caisson foundation. View our gallery.

Caisson Construction Commences

21 January 2014 – RJ Macleod have started work on the construction of the main body of the pier extension which is being built in Inchgreen dry-dock on the river Clyde.  The 4000 tonne concrete and steel box will be built over a 12-week period prior to being floated and towed to Ullapool in May.  The pictures show how quickly the structure is taking shape.  Its base will be 500mm thick reinforced concrete which will be poured in a single day.  View Gallery.

Simultaneously Shearwater Marine Services Ltd have spent the week carrying out diving surveys and also burning off the old fender supports on the east side of the ferry pier.  The divers, using surface supply, head camera and an integral communication system, have been working at 9 metres for 3-hour stints with all activities viewed topside by the dive supervisor.  View our gallery.

Fender Removal
Week commencing 13 January – This week, the main jobs included removal of existing wave screens which are being gouged out by Loch Shell Engineering.  So far, 18 have been removed and will be cleaned and painted begore being reinstalled as temporary fenders.  The wave screen sections weigh 3.7 tonnes and have been in the water for 17 years – the seagulls had a field day cracking shells on the pier (hard hats definitely required for that!).

The east face timber fender piles are being replaced with steel beams.  The wood has been in situ for over 40 years, yet the subsea section is as good as new with the original fender numbers still visible.  View our gallery.

Piling Works

The area of pier immediately adjacent to the Linkspan is being strengthened with 14 metres of sheet-piling prior to the seabed being dredged to -6 metres.  The area is probed in the first instance, then the sheet-piles are positioned before being driven to a depth of -11 metres.  The huge crane on the pier lifts the 24 metre sheets into the air and lowers them in place.  Calm weather a must for this operation!  The sheet-piling is now complete and ready to be filled with concrete.  View Gallery.

Rock Bund Formation

Prior to the arrival of the Caisson, the area in front of the existing pier must be levelled.  This will be done using 3000 tonnes of rock, obtained from our local quarry.  The rock is transported to the pier and lifted onto a split hopper barge which accurately drops the load in position.  The second work barge digger has a GPS and sonar system installed on the end of the digger bucket.  The operator uses this to position the material and survey the end result.  This amazing equipment has an accuracy of 200mm.  View Gallery.