On the Waterfront: ‘Towed into the Wear’

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South Dock-based Wear Dock and Engineering (part of the UK Docks Group) is working on its first contract for the Corporation of Trinity House – Trinity House Light Vessel (THLV) 22.

After being towed from the Corporation’s Harwich depot by the tender, THV Patricia, the lightship was towed into the Wear by two Svitzer harbour tugs on October 27.

Built in 1967 by Richards (Shipbuilders) Ltd at Lowestoft, the 390-tonne vessela is now undergoing refurbishment in dry dock.

Although this is the yard’s first successful quote for Trinity House work since reopening of Wear Dock in 2002, the company last year completed a major refit of the Northern Lighthouse Board buoy tender, Pole Star.

Trinity House lightships and tenders were regularly repaired at Sunderland during the 1980s, when the graving dock was operated by a predecessor, Wear Dockyard Ltd.

UK Docks managing director, Harry Wilson, said: “Wear Dock and Engineering Co employs a team of skilled painting and shot blasting personnel, who are all trained in the application of advanced paint systems and were chosen in the face of stiff competition to carry out the contract.

“As the vessel has not been dry-docked for 10 years, Trinity House decided to remove all existing paint from the ship’s hull, decks and automated lantern structure, before applying an advanced paint system to ensure that it will not require to dry dock for an estimated 10 years.”

Anodes will also be fitted to the lightship’s hull to help prevent underwater corrosion. Other areas requiring painting include the main and emergency battery rooms, lantern and machinery spaces and internal compartments.

Steel work is being carried out to the hull, deck areas and cable lockers, together with repairs to the ventilation system, valves, pipes and fire fighting equipment. The lantern is also to be refurbished.

Once work is completed, THLV 22 will return to the Trinity House fleet, which is stationed in the English Channel and its approaches, providing vital aids to navigation and acting as weather stations. Surviving lightships are now fully automated and unmanned, with less expensive light floats in service at many former light vessel stations.

As General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, Trinity House provides navigational aids to assist in the safe passage of shipping through some of the world’s most active sea routes. The Corporation also audits and inspects aids to navigation provided by local port and harbour authorities, including those at Sunderland.

Trinity House’s remit includes marking and dispersing wrecks, which are hazardous to navigation, providing deep sea pilotage services in Northern European waters and acting as a registered charity dedicated to the welfare, safe