LARGER ships could soon be entering Portsmouth’s International Port.
An application has been made to the Marine Management Organisation for permission to extend berth two at the port by 165ft.
The plans, which The News first reported on late last year, are to help the port keep pace with cruise, ferry and container shipping firms’ ever-larger vessels.
If approved, it will mean the berth will be able to accommodate ships more than 680ft in length.
Port manager Martin Putman said: ‘This is less about business expansion at the moment, though it may help in the medium term, but more about keeping in step with the companies who use the port.
‘Cruise ships, ferries and container ships are all growing in size. We must offer them what they need.’
The extension work will see a new structure drilled into the sea bed and attached to the existing berth via a footbridge. It is scheduled to be completed by spring 2012. The scheme is expected to cost more than £1m.
Portsmouth City Council’s leader for economic development, Cllr Mike Hancock, also a member of the port board, said: ‘It’s worth it because this will help make sure we continue to attract and keep businesses which need extra space as their ship sizes increase.
‘It’s like buying some extra land because you know you might need some bigger offices in future.’
The berth was last extended in 1994, for the Pride of Bilbao ferry.
Since then, ships such as the 660ft Cap Finisterre have made the port an embarkation point.
The port’s berths three and four are long enough for larger ships, but a growing number of ferries, container ships and cruise vessels are now based there, or use it as a calling-point.
Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It’s good news for the port, which is a real success story.
‘Because we own it, its activity helps keep council tax levels down for residents of the city.’