MacGregor-Navire System Centerpiece At Dartford 'Miniport'
The concept of creating a modern RO/RO terminal near the estuary of the River Thames became reality this fall when the first vessel to use the facility berthed at the Linkspan. The inaugural honor fell to Kent Line's 108-meterlong (about 354 feet) vessel Arroyofrio Uno of 5,080 dwt which loaded a cargo of trailers bound for Zeebrugge and by so doing commenced a new daily service that will run between Dartford and the Belgian port.
Centerpiece of the new "miniport" is the portable MacGregor-Navire (MGN)-designed pontoon and bridge ramp which, designed to cope with tidal extremes as high as 9.66 meters (about 31V2 feet), is the essential element enabling the horizontal loading of cargo—the pivot around which the project has revolved.
The Dartford linkspan, being T-shaped, is designed to service two RO/RO vessels simultaneously. Vessel lengths of 200 and 150 meters can be accommodated on the downstream and upstream berths, respectively.
Vessels of up to 23,000 dwt and 36-foot draft can use the facility and adjustable "landing" ramps at each end of the pontoon will enable ships having threshold heights of between 0.875 meters and 3.37 meters above water level to use the berths. The 2,6002 surface area of the pontoon and the 8 meter clear width of the bridge ramp is designed to provide ample room for turning traffic and for its transit to the hard- standing area ashore in two simultaneous lanes. The unit was design-appraised and built under the survey of Lloyd's Register and is classed as being suitable to withstand the most severe requirements laid down for road bridges.
The successful completion of the Dartford International Ferry Terminal (DIFT) represents a high level of technical and commercial achievement for all concerned. Certainly it is confirmation that MacGregor-Navire's extensive linkspan technology, harnessed to other factors such as the unrivalled road and rail transport links of the Dartford location, can make a major impact on the life of a region.
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