Capital dredging and debris removal in the Portsmouth Naval Base, including the approaches, harbour entrance, turning basin and berth pocket, enabling the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers to operate from the port.

This high profile, nationally significant capital dredging project was undertaken utilising several divisions of the Boskalis group and deploying numerous specialist dredgers and other vessels from the extensive Boskalis fleet. The original major scope of the work was the deepening and widening of the approach channel, berths and turning circle requiring the dredging of approximately 3 million m³ of material. This comprised mainly of silt, sands and gravels with smaller quantities of clay and peat. The design of the dredged side slopes was carried out by Hydronamic, the Boskalis in-house engineering consultancy.

In addition to the dredging, a debris removal operation was required. During the project, the number of obstructions with the potential to both delay the dredging and possibly cause significant health and safety risk was found to be much greater than originally envisaged. A team of UXO (unexploded ordnance) detection and removal specialists from Boskalis Hirdes deployed to site using bespoke equipment fitted to a long reach excavator on our Stemat 87 barge. The multi-tool head on the excavator comprised an underwater camera, pump/jet and a grab. Objects detected from the Sub-Tem magnetometer survey were investigated and, once deemed safe, removed from the seabed. In the event UXOs were detected, operations were handed over to the Royal Navy bomb disposal teams who relocated them into safe water for detonation.

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