“This is great for us, great for the port and great for Grimsby.”
They were the words of Martyn Boyers, Chief Executive of Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises, as he launched new company Grimsby Shipyard Services, where a 200-tonne capacity brand new boat hoist is the centre-piece.
The £1.85-million project to provide vital vessel maintenance facilities has been welcomed with open arms by those involved with the renewables industry, ensuring time lost is kept to a minimum when it comes to service and repair.
It should act as a magnet for the port, with little provision along the whole of the east coast for the new generation of work boats serving the ever increasing number of wind farms.
Mr Boyers, who is also a Director of the new entity, welcomed scores of high-visibility jacket-clad guests to the Faringdon Road facility, which has seen equipment from a bygone age replaced.
He told how the project first began eight years ago with a suggestion from the University of Hull, which was then modelled and worked up by technical consultants.
“This was a complete change of operation from the existing slipway and we were delighted to receive the support from around the dock and the town,” he said. “It is £1.85-million spent in this magnificent facility and we have had good buy-in from ship repairers, suppliers and the whole community.”
The British-built hoist lifted Turbine Transfer’s 24m, 75-tonne vessel Malltraeth Bay from the dock before the crowd, with the two-man operation underlining the flexibility to move her across the hard standing in minutes.
Cutting the ribbon on one of the twin 80m finger piers that extends into the dock, acting as a runway for the hoist, Charles Marr, Chairman of GFDE, said: “Help from North East Lincolnshire Council has been extraordinary from day one. They could see the wider requirement for this sort of facility within the Humber and have been enormously supportive in all sorts of manners, not least with grant assistance.”
A permanent team of two will staff Grimsby Shipyard Services, with eight to 10 men called upon when the remaining traditional slipway winch is required. That has a capacity of 450 tonnes.
Once on the hard-standing, vessel owners and operators can bring their own teams in to work on the boats, with Malltraeth Bay the 42nd lift since the November commissioning.
Pete Brewster, who has had six vessels out of the water at a winter peak, said: “There is massive opportunity here to put Grimsby back on the map for ship repairs.”
It is hoped a further phase could see engineering stations built at the roadside.
Leo Hambro, Director of Tidal Transit, another vessel operator, has already seen two of his fleet lifted out for fibre glass repair work and painting.
He said: “It has saved us a lot money as there are very limited options along the whole of the east coast. We are based in North Norfolk and it is cheaper and easier to come here than to go to Great Yarmouth, which is extremely busy.
“There are so many work boats operating from Grimsby now. There are already 25, that could be 30 to 35 in the summer. There will be times when two or three need work on, and without this we would be looking at a massive cost to the operator in lost time. This makes everything far more efficient.”
Mike Harrington, Managing Director of Stallingborough’s Larco Ltd and director at Grimsby Renewables Partnership, told how the family lubricants business he is now the fourth generation at the helm of, first supplied grease to the slipway runways in 1906.
Welcoming the latest investment, he said: “I think a lot of people don’t realise quite what is going on in Grimsby. Everything is now ready and in place to go forward, I think it is a very, very exciting time.”