Cape Town dry dock gets a major infrastructural upgrade

The existing caisson holding back a moored vessel undergoing repair work at Cape Town’s Sturrock Dry Dock.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has announced it will acquire a new caisson, a gated steel structure used to sub-divide dry dock levels, at a cost of R98 million.

In a statement the authority said the floating structure for the Port of Cape Town “will enable one of the biggest dry dock facilities in the southern hemisphere to double its productivity”.

The current caisson at Sturrock Dry Dock has been out of commission since December 2016 when it underwent refurbishment to the tune of R2.7 million.

Repair work included condition assessment and finite element analysis, as well as stabilisation of the old caisson prior to the new one being introduced.

Refurbing the existing caisson and the intended arrival of a new caisson for the 74-year-old Sturrock docks is said to be a significant part of the government’s oceans economy drive, Operation Phakisa.

Initial work on the current caisson involved timber-sealing water leaks that, once completed last August, was followed by replacing shut-off doors, sinking tank valves and adding ballast weights.

In addition to refurbishment of the existing caisson, the new structure “was not sinking sufficiently at high tide”, necessitating architectural reconfigurations and the involvement of sea-compatible sealants.

TNPA added that additional work to the dock included concrete repairs and the replacement of corroded piping as well as 29 capstans or rotating machines used to pull vessels into position.

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