TONNES of clay, sand and gravel is soon to be shifted from the bottom of Portsmouth Harbour as a £31m deal was today announced for dredging works.
The Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which manages Ministry of Defence land, has picked Fareham-based firm Boskalis Westminster to carry out the work in preparation for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
Around three million cubic metres of clay, sand a gravel will be removed from the harbour.
The work is planned to start in the autumn.
Giant vessels – including a backhoe dredger and a vessel called a trailing suction hopper dredger – will be used in the job.
Paul Simmonds, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) project manager in Portsmouth, said: ‘This is a good example of DIO delivering for defence.
This contract forms part of a £100m investment to transform Portsmouth Harbour into a state-of-the-art home for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of WalesPaul Simmonds
‘DIO is delivering vital infrastructure to prepare for the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth carriers in Portsmouth.
‘This work helps provide the armed forces with the capabilities they need to maintain Britain’s security in an ever-changing world.’
The Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) carriers are larger than any warship that has previously used Portsmouth Harbour, so the approach channel, inner harbour area and berth area need to be made deeper and wider to accommodate the ships.
The DIO said the work would have to adhere to strict environmental regulations.
Mr Simmonds added: ‘DIO has worked closely with our Royal Navy customers to ensure this work will be carried out in the most cost-effective way, taking into account the local marine environment, without impacting on the existing operations at Portsmouth Naval Base.
‘Along with the £51m jetty upgrade works we announced earlier this year, provision of high-voltage power for the ships when berthed, installation of navigational aids within the channel and the design and production of QEC-specific gangways, this contract forms part of a £100m investment to transform Portsmouth Harbour into a state-of-the-art home for HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.’