Outer Harbour breakwater work

A PROJECT to modify the mouth of the Outer Harbour in a bid to solve a swell problem affecting small vessels is beginning to take shape.

Evidence of the decision to narrow the mouth from 200 metres to 150 metres can be seen at the harbour entrance where circular cassions are being constructed.

The work involves extending the breakwater arms, which will be densified and heightened with extra rock.

At the same time, work is ongoing to replace hard rubber cone fenders designed for bigger ships with Yokohama airbag fenders.

The project first began in July, with Eastport expecting to finish the work by late October.

Critics have blamed EastPort for the ongoing swell problem – which has prompted criticism from a ship’s captain and led to one vessel leaving port early – because it made design changes to the original plan.

However, EastPort chief executive Eddie Freeman said the main issue was that more smaller vessels were using the harbour than had been originally envisaged.

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He said: “The company has decided to narrow the gap between the mouth of the Outer Harbour, taking it down to 150 metres.

“What we have seen is that some of the smaller vessels have been getting discomfort from swell, so we have decided to change some of the fenders and narrow the heads in order to lessen the affects on these vessels.”

Mr Freeman said they were not closing out any type of business by narrowing the harbour entrance – simulations involving the pilots had been very positive, and confirmed that even the largest roll-on roll-off ferries could be accommodated.

Mr Freeman confirmed that the work was costing Eastport a significant sum of money.