Thanks to the virtually airborne photographer, Andy Mahon [Das Boot], in his occasional eyrie in the Clock Tower at Birkenhead Priory, a quarter of a mile away from the Cammell Laird wetbasin, we are getting regular updates on the progress the shipbuilder is making in the completion of the two new Western Ferries‘ boats.
Work is tramping on. The major focus of activity seems to be on the Sound of Seil – which was the first to be slipped and looks as if she is also destined to be the first to be completed. Her AIS has also been active for a while where Soay’s is not yet in evidence.
Work on Sound of Soay is proceeding steadily but without the great bustle that seems to be evident around Sound of Seil.
As of Wednesday 21st August, Soay still had her bridge windows covered [top] and Seil was a hive of activity, with bodies darting about all at all levels.
Western will be pleased that Lairds are clearly putting the pressure on to get the job finished.
With the amount of scaffolding around the vessel, Seil was clearly not going into the river for engine and manoeuverability trials in the past week – but may do so in this coming week.
Another indication that engine trials for the Western Boats were not imminent in this past week was the berthing of Irish Sea Pioneer across the entrance to No 5 dry dock – not so dry just now. The notes below on decoding the content of the photographs will make this position clear.
Irish Sea Pioneer is a fascinating vessel – the first of a new class of giant liftboats, built in the USA and used to hoist offshore wind turbine towers, blades, nacelles and hubs etc into place on their platforms. She’s self-elevating, with an electrically- driven jacking system that raises and lowers four, 240-ft. [73.2m] legs to the sea floor, then raises the vessel to the desired working height. The leg housing is built into her hull, giving much greater safety and stability than previous generations of her type.
She left the Mersey just before 15.00 yesterday, 23rd August and is now out at the Lennox Platform in the Irish Sea, at the northern part of Liverpool Bay, off Southport.
Decoding the photographs
In the photographs of the ongoing work on Sound of Seil, above, the background is the pale grey corrugated back wall of the wetbasin – with dark ‘things’ we cannot identity. Some appear to be work lights. Some may be staying points. Some may be no more than wear and tear marks.
In the photograph of the Irish Sea Pioneer, if you look to the left of the top section of the yellow crane on her deck, you will see a long, level pale grey building projecting into the skyline. That is the end wall of the wetbasin. If you follow the right hand side of this building to the ground, you will see the red-hulled Sound of Seil at the far right of the basin. Soay is at right angles to her, along the back quayside and just about hidden by the almost indiscernible grey hull of the Royal Navy’s RFA Fort Rosalie. The photograph gives you the geography of this area and a sense of the relative scale of things.