The Port of London Authority's biggest investment for 20 years, the maintenance vessel London Titan, is taking shape in a Dorset shipyard.

The £7 million vessel, designed for a variety of tasks from clearing wreckage to laying buoys, is due to be launched in the Spring and will start work on the Thames in late 2014.

London Titan, the most expensive vessel commissioned by the PLA, is being built to a design allowing it to work in shallow stretches of the Thames yet able to get under London's bridges - both able to work upstream as far as Richmond and tough enough for the estuary too.

The 36 metre vessel, gross tonnage 420 tons, will have two large cranes each capable of lifting up to 25 tons but designed to be folded down on the deck, plus 120-ton winches. It is powered by three 1,000 hp turbo-diesel engines and has three rudders and a bow thruster.

Manor Marine at Portland beat off competion from overseas shipyards to land the contract. Scottish naval archtitects MacDuff spent time on the river with PLA staff before design started. The hull and superstructure have been completed and the engines are currently being fitted.

Pic: PLA

The PLA'S project manager Dave Fallows said: "It is designed for a variety of work including laying and maintaining moorings, and working on riverbank structures where needed. The reason it has to get upstream as far as Richmond is to maintain the lock and weir."

Its multi-task roles as part of the PLA's core responsibilities of ensuring safe navigation on the river include salvage, handling diving operations, dealing with obstructions like driftwood, and the dredging of hazardous sand bars that form in the Thames.


PLA's Dave Fallows with one of the three engines.

Peter Steen, PLA Director of Marine Operations, said: "This vessel has been specially designed to work on the Thames and will give us the flexibility of doing everything we need to do with just one vessel and we will do it more efficiently."

London Titan replaces two smaller 1960s vessels, one of which is pictured below right, which are being sold off.

Watch PLA video of the vessel HERE

Story dated Nov 25th 2013

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