A £7 million maintenance vessel for the the River Thames has been launched to help ensure it is fit to accommodate increasing freight use.
The Port of London Authority (PLA) has launched the multi-purpose London Titan to keep the river clear of obstructions in response to record levels of freight and passengers.
The London Titan has been specially built to be capable of working from Richmond in west London to the Thames estuary. It will be used for mooring maintenance, laying and recovering navigation buoys, hauling wreckage from the riverbed, supporting diving and civil engineering operations and dredging operations.
The vessel is the latest in a series of investments on the Thames, including two new MBNA Thames Clippers ferries, a new pier at Plantation Wharf, Battersea, and an extension to Bankside pier.
Shipping minister Robert Goodwill said the investment would help ensure that the UK’s maritime sector continued to thrive, and it was part of the government’s long-term economic plan to create jobs and growth.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, who named the vessel, said that the river played a vital role in the Thurrock economy, and the Port of London was a key part of the economic infrastructure of London and the South East.
“Many people forget that the Thames is a major shipping channel,” she said. “Thurrock is home to the major operations at the Port of Tilbury, Cobelfret and Vopak. In fact, more cargo is landed at the terminals in Thurrock than comes in via Felixstowe or Dover.”
Robin Mortimer, PLA chief executive, said the river was getting busier and the world’s largest container ships were using it. Five million tonnes of freight, including construction materials and rubbish, pass along it each year and there are 10 million passenger trips annually.
“We’ve got to keep the Thames fit and ready for all these vessels and with over 40,000 jobs depending on the Thames, London Titan is a vital upgrade to our fleet,” said Mortimer.
London Titan has been designed to work along virtually all of the PLA’s 95 miles of the tidal Thames. It was designed by naval architects MacDuff Ship Design, working with PLA marine engineers, masters and crews.