A linkspan has been installed at the new Victoria Terminal Four in Belfast in order to streamline the Stena HSS 1500 service.

Designed to minimize vessel turnaround times and reduce fuel consumption, the submerged tank linkspan, measuring 40m long by 40m wide and weighing over 1,000 tonnes, was originally designed for Stena Line’s now disbanded HSS fast ferry services between Harwich and Hoek van Holland.

The terminals became so integral to Stena’s shipping process that when the company decided to close down its Harwich–Hoek van Holland service, it approached TTS technical manager, Mikael Jimmerfors and project manager Klaes Lundberg, to come up with a way to move two of the linkspans for use on the Belfast–Stranraer route.

With the cranes originally used to install the linkspans unavailable, the TTS engineers decided that the best alternative was a skidding and jackup operation. Using a giant North Sea barge as the main jack-up platform and transport vehicle, the outer end of the linkspan was leveraged on to the barge, and then the pontoon was removed from the linkspan – essentially by cutting off its legs.

Once the barge reached the Harland and Wolff shipyard, one of the company’s two giant cranes was used to lift the linkspans off the barge, and put them into storage for the winter, during which time TTS carried out refurbishment work on them. In April, the team returned to Belfast to install one of the linkspans in the new Victoria Terminal Four in time for the 7 May completion date, Lloyd’s Register having made checks on the key components.

“This was a first class job, by all concerned,” said Billy Weekes of Stena Line Belfast.“I have nothing but praise for the very professional way everything was handled by TTS. To have the linkspan installed ahead of schedule was a huge boost for us and our first sailing from Victoria Terminal 4 sailed at 0735 hrs exactly on time.”