February 2021 - Zeebrugge is an important maritime hub, with approximately 8,000 vessels calling at the port every year. The Pierre Vandamme lock is the only way to access to the Zeebrugge inner port, which provides jobs for 10,000 people.
The lock dates from 1984 and it consists of two lock heads, each with two roller doors and two movable bridges. The most seaward lock gate was overhauled in 2018 and the gate in the most landward location will be tackled next.
During the overhaul of this lock gate, the Vandamme lock can continue to operate without a hitch using the other three lock gates.
After six weeks of preparation, Jan De Nul Group's lifting vessel 'Gulliver' removed the gate on 21 May 2020 and took it to the inner port for the overhaul.
That was a spectacular operation because a gate of this kind weighs more than 2,500 tonnes and it is as large as a quarter of a football pitch (60 m x 10 m x 24 m).
After the gate had been taken to the rear port, scaffolding was first placed around it and oysters and sludge were removed. A consortium including, among others, Jan De Nul Group and Almex Metaal then started on a thorough overhaul of the lock gate.
The consortium will replace several mechanical parts and install new technologies such as a compressor and agitation screws. The steel structure will be adapted, including the installation of four extra butterfly valves.
For the replacement of the various steel structural elements in the gate, De Boer Snijbedrijf cut 36 tonnes of sheet steel S355J2 N to size and delivered it to Almex Metaal. Almex Metaal is welding the cut steel plates to the right places in the gate.
After the overhaul is completed in 2021, the lock gate will be transported back and mounted into the gate chamber so that it can operate again for many years into the future.
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