A flagship contract for the has been won by Welsh boat building firm Mainstay Marine Solutions Ltd based in Pembroke Dock in Pembrokeshire. The contract will create another 20 jobs in the region bringing the workforce up to 100.
Established in 1859 the Cowes to East Cowes Floating Bridge is one of the few remaining that has not been replaced by a physical bridge. The service has been owned and operated by the Island’s local authority since 1901.
The replacement floating bridge is being funded by the Isle of Wight Council and the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership as part of the East Cowes Regeneration Project – a major regeneration scheme on the Isle of Wight to create a long term, sustainable vibrant community and better connections to and across the Isle of Wight.
Councillor Shirley Smart, Executive member for Public Transport, Tourism, Recreation and Heritage at the Isle of Wight commented: ‘The council recognises that the floating bridge provides an essential link between Cowes and East Cowes, and accordingly has allocated capital funding towards the project as well as working with the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership to obtain grant funding for its replacement. The proposed design is striking, yet practical, and I’m sure that users will see the benefits of this necessary investment and that the replacement bridge will ensure that this valuable service continues for the next 25-30 years’.
Operating 18hrs a day, 365 days a year, with a crossing time of no more than 2.5 minutes every 10–15 minutes, the ferry transports a total of around 1.5 million pedestrians and 400,000 vehicles annually.
Designed as a drive through, roll-on roll-off chain ferry with hydraulically operated loading and unloading ramps at each end of the vessel, the deck will have 4 lanes for vehicles with additional space for the stowage of motorbikes, scooters and bicycles.
Designed in accordance with the BV’s classification of Inland Navigation Vessels, the 37m long vessel will be capable of reaching up to 5 knots and will carry a total deadweight of no less than 52.65 tonnes.
The project is due for completion at the end of the year with trials and commissioning at Cowes January 2017.
Stewart Graves commented ‘We knew from the outset that this project has an extremely demanding timescale both in terms of design input and manufacturing, however, we pride ourselves in our ability to provide bespoke solutions to individual vessel designs so we knew this would fit our remit perfectly. We are delighted to have won the contract and truly see this as a flagship project which we will set the bar high in terms of proving our capabilities. We look forward to working with Isle of Wight Council to ensure that the bridge is delivered to time, within budget and to the highest of quality so that its users can enjoy its benefits for years to come’.
The company will be recruiting imminently for skilled workers in welding, fabrication and marine painting. The firm is now one of the largest employers in the area with continued growth expected in future years.
The news has been warmly welcomed by Welsh Economy Minister Edwina Hart who said: ‘This is really good news and I am delighted to hear how Mainstay Marine is expanding, winning significant new orders and creating highly skilled jobs in the area’.
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