Jan De Nul lifts second lock gate out of the Pierre Vandamme lock in the Port of Zeebrugge

A spectacular operation

In the presence of the Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters and the Port of Zeebrugge, Jan De Nul Group disconnected, lifted and transported by means of a heavy lift vessel the second lock gate from the Pierre Vandamme lock to the inner port for renovation. A spectacular operation because such a gate weighs over 2,500 tonnes and has the surface of one quarter of a football pitch (60m x 10m x 24m). These works are commissioned by the Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works and are part of the large-scale renovation of the Pierre Vandamme lock, the crucial point of access to the inner port of Zeebrugge.

Operation of 19 hours

The Pierre Vandamme lock dates from 1984 and consists of 2 lock gates, each with 2 rolling gates and 2 movable bridges. The lock gate closest to the sea was lifted from the gate chambers in 2018 and, after having been renovated in the inner port, re-installed in 2019. Now, the same will be done with the most landward gate.

After six weeks of preparations to make the lock gate ready for lifting, the heavy lift vessel ‘Gulliver’ of Jan De Nul Group can now lift the door out of its position. The ‘Gulliver’ is a pontoon derrick that can lift up to 4,000 tonnes. The whole operation is a sequence of several partial operations that have been meticulously planned and prepared. The works started at 3 o’ clock at night and will take an estimated 19 hours.

In March 2018, Jan De Nul Group removed the first lock gate from its position for the same renovation in the inner port. This lock gate was reinstalled in the summer of 2019.

Thorough renovation in inner port

A consortium of Jan De Nul nv, Algemene Ondernemingen Soetaert nv, Almex Metaal and Demako nv will renovate the lock gate in the inner port of Zeebrugge.

The lock gate is transported to the ICO terminal in the inner port today. Once on land, a scaffold is placed all around the gate to remove oysters and sludge. The consortium will replace several mechanical parts and install new technologies such as a compressor and agitation screws. Also the steel structure will be taken on and adapted, including the installation of 4 extra butterfly valves. The door will be repainted to protect it against corrosion.

After the renovation works, the lock gate will be transported back to and mounted into the gate chamber. During the renovation of this lock gate, the Vandamme lock will remain perfectly operational thanks to the three remaining lock gates.

Renovation of 120 million euro

Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters, is satisfied that the works on the Vandamme lock have been continued amidst the corona crisis, with due respect for the currently very strict safety and hygiene measures. “I want to thank the contractor and all partners involved for this. Zeebrugge is an important marine intersection as well as a motor for the Flemish economy. Every year, Zeebrugge welcomes about 8,000 ships. The port offers employment to some 10,000 persons. Today, the Pierre Vandamme lock is the only point of access to Zeebrugge’s inner port. To warrant the accessibility of the port of Zeebrugge, Flanders invests a total sum of 120 million euro for this renovation!”

Cooperation between public and private partners

Since 2010, structural renovation works to the Pierre Vandamme lock have been executed almost incessantly, commissioned by the Mobility and Public Works Department. It concerns large-scale and highly complex operations, which are only possible thanks to the close cooperation between different partners. The Mobility and Public Works Department is the Client. Within the Temporary Trade Association Jan De Nul – Soetaert – Almex – Demarko, Jan De Nul Group is responsible for the renovation works on this lock gate. Other stakeholders are: several divisions of the Mobility and Public Works Department and multiple external parties such as the engineering office SBE, SECO, the port authority Zeebrugge (MBZ) and ‘De Vlaamse Waterweg’.

Lifting the second lock door of the Pierre Vandamme lock in Zeebrugge