Portland Port in Dorset, UK has officially opened a new deep-water berth as part of a record £26m development project.

The port says that redevelopment of the deep water quays at the port has improved its cruise and cargo handling operations as well as its service provision for vessels, including those from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

Portland Port says that the new deep-water berth means it can meet higher demand and keep ahead of the growing sizes of cruise ships. The new berth has the capacity for liners of up to 350 metres in length.

The £26m investment is the largest in the port’s 27-year history and comes as it prepares to welcome a record 130,000 passengers over the coming cruise season.

“This redevelopment is a tremendous vote of confidence in the port and the local economy. It is the largest single investment in Portland Port and its infrastructure in its history, and one of the large redevelopment projects in the area in recent years,” said Portland Port, CEO Bill Reeves.

“It sets the stage for significant further growth in the future at the port and for the local economy through jobs and local supply chain.”

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The opening ceremony was attended by left are Kevin Valentine, Knights Brown managing director (L), Portland Port CEO Bill Reeves (LC), Lord Lieutenant of Dorset Angus Campbell (RC) and Portland Port chairman Christopher Langham (R).

Work on the redevelopment with managing contractor Knights Brown started last September and had to be completed against a strict deadline of April in time for the cruise season.

In addition, the project delivered a 75-metre extension to the port’s Outer Coaling Pier (OCP), used for the handling of dry bulk cargo and also used as a cruise berth, to a length of 250 metres and 11-metre water depth alongside.

Overall, the project has provided 16,000 square metres of additional quayside space, which means the port can handle two 350-metre long cruise ships alongside at the same time. 

“I am delighted to see the berth fully operational having been delivered early and on budget. When we embarked on delivering this for the port there were many who thought that it couldn’t be delivered within the required timescale, cost and quality,” said Kevin Valentine, managing director at Knights Brown.

“I would like to thank all of the partners involved in the success of this scheme but in particular Portland Port who had to foresight to understand that true collaboration really does work.”

The deep water berth became operational when the MSC Virtuosa visited in April but it has now become officially open following final works.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Dorset Angus Campbell unveiled a commemorative plaque in front of port employees, tenants, dignitaries, and other invitees to mark the occasion.