The Forth Umpire was out yesterday collecting hazardous debris between Chatham and Peters bridge after the previous day’s tidal surge. Note that the majority of floating debris is sawn logs, believed to originate from tree lopping upstream on the non-tidal Medway.
Peel Ports have asked us to notify boaters that a recent near miss incident involving a small fishing boat and an LNG vessel has highlighted an issue surrounding the movement of such ships and the proximity of small boats. LNG vessel movements are extremely sensitive for a number of reasons; the size of the vessel, the level of tug assistance required, the complexity of the berthing/unberthing manoeuvre and the very nature of the cargo they carry. When an LNG ship is transiting the River Medway or in the process of manoeuvring on/off the berth at Isle of Grain all vessels are required to keep well clear and maintain a safe distance.
The chart above shows the potential turning circle of an LNG ship and indicates the amount of sea room that needs to be kept clear for the turning manoeuvre. The area highlighted may alter depending on the size of the vessel and if the adjacent LNG berth is occupied by another ship, however, the zone marked is based on the largest LNG vessels expected (345m). When the ship is fast alongside the established LNG berth exclusion zone and associated rules apply to all craft as per Medway NtoM 02 of 2020.
Network Rail have informed Peel Ports about planned maintenance taking place on Kingsferry Bridge from 26 November to 3 December 2020. The work will involve a 6 hour lockdown of all electrical power and will cause disruption from approximately LW-3hrs to LW +3hrs (see below).
Between the times stated on the dates below bridge lifts will not be possible: 26.11.2020 – 13:00 – 19:00 27.11.2020 – 13:30 – 19:30 30.11.2020 – 14:50 – 22:30 01.12.2020 – 16:30 – 22:30 02.12.2020 – 17:30 – 23:30 03.12.2020 – 18:00 – 00:00
Briggs Marine, working for Peel Ports, have cleared over 5 tons of debris from the river this week between Halling and Elmhaven Marina. A new purpose-built, electric “Waterwitch” vessel, that can pass under Aylesford Bridge, will soon be deployed to keep the upper reaches clear.
Peel Ports advise that television filming work is due to take place on and around the Kingsferry Bridge over the weekend of 24/25 October 2020. The filming will require navigational restrictions to be imposed on the river adjacent to and either side of the bridge for two specified periods. Whilst work is underway an exclusion zone will be established and policed by three GPS Marine vessels who will prevent any craft from entering the area. The GPS Vincia and crane barge RODMA will be stationed north of the bridge and the Felucca will be south side, both vessels will be assisted by a GPS Marine RIB, all craft will maintain a listening watch on VHF channel 74. Network Rail will also be conducting engineering work on the bridge from 00:01 to 12:00 on Sunday 25th October. Restrictions will be as follows: 24.10.2020 – 12:00 to 23:59 – No leisure craft access or transit through KFB, essential commercial vessel transits may be considered. 25.10.2020 – 00:01 to 23:59 – No leisure craft access or transit through KFB, essential commercial vessel transits may be considered.
Peel Ports advise that on 11 October 2020 from 0800 to 1800 there will be an inspection of the Rochester Rail Bridge structure which will cause some disruption to river traffic. The bridge investigation work will be carried out by rope access teams and will be completed in two stages. Span closures will be imposed whilst inspections are underway and two safety boats will be deployed beneath operational areas to police traffic, the safety craft will be monitoring VHF channel 74 at all times.
Peel Ports have been advised by Network Rail that Kingsferry Bridge has an issue (power failure) and cannot lift. The operator has said that engineers are on site but at present have no timescale for rectification.
Peel Ports have issued a reminder to observe the exclusion zones in relation to the Isle of Grain LNG Terminal Jetties in Saltpan Reach. Infringement of the exclusion zones may result in prosecution:
1. When there is no LNG vessel berthed at the LNG Terminal no vessel (including pleasure vessels, PWC’s, fishing boats etc.) shall navigate within that part of the River Medway which is within an arc measuring 150 metres in any direction from the cargo transfer arms at the LNG Terminals. The cargo transfer arms are located at the following approximate position: Terminal No.10 51° 25.9405’N 00° 42.5448’E Terminal No.8 51° 25.9309’N 00° 42.1760’E
2. When there is an LNG vessel moored at the LNG Terminal no vessel (including pleasure vessels, PWC’s, fishing boats etc.) other than those attending the LNG terminal which are authorised by the Harbour Master or the operator of the LNG Terminal, shall enter any part of the River Medway which is within an arc measuring 250 metres (berth exclusion zone) in any direction from the cargo transfer arms of the LNG Terminal.
3. When there is an LNG vessel moored at the LNG terminal, the speed of all passing vessels navigating outside of the berth exclusion zone should not exceed 7.5 knots through the water whilst transiting.
While we’ve all been horrified by the massive explosion that devastated Beirut, Tim Bell from Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club says that we have an even bigger disaster waiting to happen right on our doorstep.
On the wreck of the Richard Montgomery, just off Sheerness, there remain 3632 tons of ordnance, the equivalent of about 1400 tons of TNT. The 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate responsible for the Beirut explosion was as effective as about 1000 tons of TNT. This means that the wreck has considerably more explosive power than the dreadful explosion in Lebanon. It is also thought not all of the 2750 tons actually exploded.
Tim predicts that if one of the bombs from the Montgomery were to end up in the Medway Approach Channel, just yards away, where LNG tankers pass by with little water under their keels, the result could be horrific. He has proposed that the wreck should have a fog horn or a virtual AIS aid to navigation.