Lifting of second lock gate of Pierre Vandammesluis in Port of Zeebrugge, Belgium; Credit: Jan De Nul Group

Jan De Nul Group, a maritime infrastructure service provider with its financial headquarters in Luxembourg, yesterday decoupled, lifted and transported by means of a floating crate a second gate from the Pierre Vandamme lock in Zeebrugge port (Belgium) towards the inner harbour for renovation.

The operation took place in the presence of the Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters, and the Port of Zeebrugge. The gate weighs more than 2,500 tonnes and has the surface of one quarter of a football field (60m x 10m x 24m). These works, commissioned by the Flemish Mobility and Public Works Department, formed part of a major renovation of the Pierre Vandamme lock, the crucial access point to the inner harbour of Zeebrugge.

The Pierre Vandamme lock dates from 1984 and consists of two lock gates, each with two rolling gates and two movable bridges. The wide side lock gate was lifted out of the gate chambers in 2018 and, after having been renovated in the inner harbour, replaced in 2019. The same will now be done with the most landward gate.

After six weeks of preliminary work to prepare the lock gate for lifting, the crane vessel "Gulliver" of Jan De Nul Group can now lift the gate out of its position. The Gulliver is a floating crane that can lift over 3,300 tonnes. The operation is a sequence of several partial operations that have been carefully planned and prepared. The works started at 03:00 and will take an estimated nineteen hours.

In March 2018, Jan De Nul Group decoupled and removed the first lock gate from its position for a similar renovation in the inner harbour. This lock gate was reinstalled in the summer of 2019. 

A consortium of Jan De Nul nv, Algemene Ondernemingen Soetaert nv, Almex Metaal and Demako nv will be responsible for renovating the lock gate in the inner harbour of Zeebrugge.

The lock gate was transported to the ICO terminal in the inner harbour yesterday. Once on land, a scaffold will be placed around the gate to remove oysters and sludge. The consortium will replace several mechanical parts and install new technologies such as a compressor and agitating propellers. In addition, the steel structure will be adapted, including the installation of four extra butterfly valves. The door will then be repainted to protect it against corrosion.

After the renovation works, the lock gate will be transported back to and mounted into the gate chamber. During the renovation of this lock gate, the Vandamme lock will remain operational thanks to the three remaining lock gates.

Flanders has invested a total of €120 million in this renovation.