A £500,000 investment by Berwick Harbour Commission has enabled Tweed Dock to welcome its biggest ever cargo ship.
The 4,507-tonne Odertal, carrying 2,000 tonnes of bagged compound fertiliser from Kaliningrad in Russia, arrived at high tide on Sunday.
However, it is the purchase of a brand new £400,000 crane that has enabled the port to handle such a large vessel.
Alan Irving, harbour commission chief executive, said: “We could always take this size of ship but we had a problem in that at high tide our old machinery could not get up and over into the ship to unload cargo.”
The Sennebogen 835S, bought from E H Hassell & Son Ltd of Stoke, is 72 tonnes total weight - significantly larger than any previous cranes. Mounted on a three metre high pylon it has a total reach of 22 metres.
“This is the first time the harbour has invested in a new crane,” revealed Mr Irving. “Ships are becoming larger all the time and the harbour commission needed to invest in a crane capable of accessing cargo in ships hold at all states of the tide.
“It is a state-of-the-art machine with integral cameras, lights and many built in safety features,” he added.
The additional puchase of a new forklift truck fleet earlier this year takes the total investment over £500,000.
“I think this demonstrates our real commitment to the future of Berwick port,” said Mr Irving. “The new crane is a piece of machinery that we hope will last 20 years or more.
“We also hope this investment will attract new business,” he explained.
“In the past some businesses could maybe argue that we weren’t capable of handling their cargo but that’s not the case now.”
The Odertal, registered in Antigua, can carry over 4,000 tonnes. Half of its load had been discharged in Fraserburgh prior to its arrival in Berwick. The fertiliser was received by Frontier Agriculture. It was due to leave port yesterday.
Berwick Harbour Commission hopes to make further investments over the next 12 months.
“We’re keen to increase our warehouse capacity but we also have to make sure we can walk before we can run,” stressed Mr Irving.