Pierre Vandammesluis

Impressive spectacle in the port of Zeebrugge

Today, at the port of Zeebrugge, we impressively reinstalled the second lock gate in the Pierre Vandamme Lock. One and a half years ago, in May 2020, our heavy lift vessel 'Gulliver' lifted the door from the lock for a thorough renovation on land at the inner port. Today, the smaller brother 'Rambiz' placed the lock gate back in its place. No mean feat: such a door weighs over 2300 tonnes and has the surface area of a quarter of a football pitch (60 m long, 24 m high and 11 m wide).

Weeks of preparation for a 13-hour lifting operation

“We have been preparing today's lifting operation for weeks, because restoring the lock gate to the lock chamber is a large-scale and complex operation. On top of that, we had to take the weather into account: enough visibility and little wind," says project manager Kenneth De Visch.

The floating sheerleg 'Rambiz', which can lift up to 3,300 tons, took 13 hours to execute this operation meticulously. Yesterday, the door was already transported horizontally over land: from the construction site to the quay.

As good as new

"We are carrying out this renovation in a temporary partnership with Algemene Ondernemingen Soetaert nv, Almex Metaal and Demako nv. "First we removed oysters and silt, then we replaced several mechanical parts and installed new technology, such as a compressor and airlift and six agitation screws," site manager, Wannes Marchand, explains. "In addition, we made several modifications to the steel structure, such as installing four new butterfly valves. Finally, the door was repainted and anodes added, to protect it from corrosion."

Continuous restoration

The Pierre Vandamme lock dates back to 1984 and consists of two gate chambers, each with two rolling gates and two movable bridges. We lifted the most seaward lock gate from the lock chambers in 2018 and reinstalled it in 2019 after renovation in the inner port. Now the same procedure was applied to the most landward door.

These works are commissioned by the Department of Mobility and Public Works and are part of the large-scale renovation of the Pierre Vandamme Lock, the crucial access to the inner port of Zeebrugge.


"The port of Zeebrugge is an important maritime crossroads and economic engine for Flanders. Today, the Pierre Vandamme Lock is the only access to the inner port of Zeebrugge. The Flemish government has to ensure the accessibility of the port.”

Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters

Photo credits: DMOW