Photo of the week: Lock and load
A 2,500-ton lock gate has been hoisted out of the water in the port of Zeebrugge so that technicians can carry out major renovation
The works on the gate are part of major renovations at the Pierre Vandamme lock, the crucial access point to Zeebrugge’s inner harbour. It was removed by the Gulliver, a floating crane vessel that can lift several thousand tons. The operation took six weeks of planning and lasted 19 hours, beginning at 3.00 on Monday morning.
Technicians will remove molluscs, silt and other material from the surface of the gate. Several mechanical parts will be replaced, new fixtures will be installed and it will be repainted to prevent corrosion. The repairs are expected to take more than a year, with the gate due to be reinstalled in September 2021. In the meantime, the lock remains operational thanks to the remaining three gates that make up the lock system.
Work was carried out under strict security measures in light of the coronavirus. Shipping traffic was interrupted and no road traffic was able to use the bridges over the lock. “It’s fantastic that these works have not been delayed by coronavirus and that the operation could take place today,” said Lydia Peeters, Flemish minister for mobility and public works.
The government of Flanders is investing a total of €120 million in the renovation. Every year, around 8,000 ships pass through Zeebrugge and the port accounts for 10,000 jobs.
Photo: Belga/Kurt Desplenter
Port of Zeebrugge
major port expansion works
direct and indirect port jobs
tonnes of freight handled annually