Two main construction projects in the Marseille harbour area of French port Marseille Fos are nearing completion, following the final stage in works costing almost EUR 64 million (USD 70.8 million) that will cater for mega cruise ships.
Within the construction project, the Passe Nord port entrance will be enlarged and the drydock No. 10 recommissioned.
The port authority approved the scheme in June 2012 and is contributing almost half the EUR 32.7 million cost alongside state and regional funding. The works are to enlarge the entrance from 190 to 240 meters and enhance turning space for the new-generation vessels.
The drydock has been flooded for the first time since the work started in January 2014 to enable flotation of a new 9,100-ton dock gate and three 4,500-ton caissons that will form the remodelled ends of sea walls guarding the harbour entrance. 23,000 tonnes of concrete was used in the various structures, according to the port authority.
“Renovation of drydock 10, third largest in the world after Lisbon and Dubai at 465 x 85 metres, was mainly inspired by the growing world fleet of mega-cruiseships – 65% of which operate in the Mediterranean – but will also provide a minimal-deviation repair and maintenance option for giant container, gas and bulk carriers as well as offshore platforms,” the port authority said.
Currently 12 metres tall, the caissons are being towed to the Passe Nord site one by one in a phase lasting until October, when afloat construction taking them to a height of 22 metres is due to end. The 15-metre diameter, 30-metre long units will then be sunk on to platforms 18 metres below sea level and injected with up to 10,000 tonnes of concrete, with project completion scheduled by the year-end.
The EUR 31.1 million recommissioning initiative includes overhaul of the pumps and electrical network in addition to the new gate, which will be moored on site for fitting out and testing when the dock is handed over to operator Chantier Naval Marseille (CNM) in September, Marseille Fos port authority said.
During this period, the original gate which is currently being renovated, will be in place.
Last year, the port handled more than 170 vessels over 300 meters long and is now braced for regular calls from cruise ships exceeding 360 meters such as the Harmony of the Seas.