The Port of Zeebrugge was the scene of a spectacular operation on Monday the 25th of May. The second gate of the Pierre Vandammelock was decoupled, lifted out of the water, and brought to the inner harbour to be renovated. Weighing 2500 tonnes and measuring 60m x 10m x 24m, moving this lock gate is a remarkable piece of engineering.
These renovation works are part of the larger renovation project of the Pierre Vandammelock, which is the crucial access point to the inner port of Zeebrugge. The Pierre Vandammelock was built in 1984, in 2018 the first lock gate was renovated, and put back into place in 2019.
After six weeks of preparations to make the lock gate ready to be transported, the heavy lift vessel ‘Gulliver’ lifted the gate out of the water. The ‘Gulliver’ transported the gate to the ICO-terminal in the inner-harbour where the necessary renovations will take place. It is estimated that the amount of oysters on the gate weighs 750 tonnes, these will be removed as well. After this, the gate will be repainted as a protection against corrosion, and be put back into its original place in 2021. During these renovations, the lock will remain operational thanks to the three remaining lock gates.
The whole operation took approximately 19 hours and was meticulously planned. Strict safety measures were in place, and specific attention was given to social distancing regulations concerning Covid-19. Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters, came to witness this impressive operation. “Zeebrugge is an important maritime crossroads and the engine of the Flemish economy. Each year Zeebrugge welcomes approximately 8.000 ships. As a result, the port brings about 10.000 jobs. The Pierre Vandammelock is currently the only access point to the inner port of Zeebrugge. To ensure this accessibility, Flanders invests 120 million euros in total for this renovation!” Minister Lydia Peeters explains.