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Gaverland Flatbed Barge, Wreck Recovery, Southern Breakwater, Dover Harbour, Kent, UK

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John Latter on July 10, 2010

The Gaverland, owned by Herbosch Kiere Marine Contractors, is a 60 by 22 metre flatbed barge carrying a CAT crane made by the Caterpillar Tractor Company.

The Gaverland and the Waasland (another sea barge/flat pontoon) are in Dover Harbour to remove the wreck of the First World War blockship, the 450-feet long Spanish Prince (see Blockship info below).

The barge is shown above the bow end of the Spanish Prince whose seabed location and orientationcan can be seen in this detailed multi-beam sonar image.

The Gaverland and the Waasland are often moored together, but at the time this zoomed photo was taken (4.53 pm on Thursday, 1st July 2010, from the Admiralty Pier) the Waasland was nearer the stern (marked by the North Cardinal Wreck Buoy) and engaged in recovering Rusty remains of the Spanish Prince.

The Gaverland is 400 yards from where I was standing: there are three people standing to the left of the CAT, one of whom is in a red jump-suit which will give some idea of the crane's size (because the crane boom/jib is prone, I'll upload another photo sometime showing the crane in use). Note the red marker buoy defining the work area.

The far (eastern) end of the Southern Breakwater behind the barge is a mile away, to the left of which is the Eastern Entrance to the English Channel. Click to see a panoramic view of the wreck site (from bow to stern).

This is the third of a 10-12 week operation. On the occasions I have been down the beach to see what's going on, I get the impression the crane on the Gaverland is being used for cutting and breaking up the wreck, while the crane on the Waasland is used for recovery. A CAT excavator on a Waasland side pontoon then transfers the remains to containers on the Haven Seaford flat top barge. Once the containers are full, the Sarah Grey workboat pushes the Haven Seaford to and from the Jetfoil Basin in the Western Docks where another crane lifts the containers onto the dockside.

Click to see all photos relating to the Spanish Prince.

Gaverland details (1):

Type: Flatbed barge

Length: 60.00m

Breadth: 22.00m

Depth: 4.00m

Draught: empty 0.75m

Maximum draught: 3.20m

Loading capacity: 3,200 ton

Accommodation: N/A

Spuds Number: 2

Spud Length: 28m

Spud Weight: 28 t

Spud Diameter: 1.22m

Number of spud guides: 3

The Dover Harbour Blockships:

Two cargoships, the Spanish Prince and Livonian, were scuttled at right-angles on each side of the Western Entrance in 1915 during the First World War. Before being put in place, the ships had their superstructures replaced with gantries (metal lattice-works) to which anti-torpedo and anti-submarine nets could then be attached (see Anti-Submarine Nets, North Entrance, Western Heights 1 and Anti-Submarine Nets, North Entrance, Western Heights 2). (2)

The Livonian was subsequently removed in the 1930s, but the Spanish Prince was left in a slightly altered position in order to reduce tidal flow in the harbour.

Other blockships were used during the Second World War, one of which was the RFA War Sepoy whose "front half" once occupied the disturbed area adjacent to the right-hand side of the Spanish Prince's stern shown in the multi-beam sonar image (more about the War Sepoy below).

The Spanish Prince was built in 1894 by Charles Connell and Company at Glasgow with a tonnage of 6505grt, a length of 450ft, a beam of 52ft 2in and a service speed of 11 knots. She was launched on Wednesday, 6th June 1894, and completed in the following August as the Knight Batchelor for Greenshields, Cowie & Co. of Liverpool, a company whose history goes back to 1795. (2)

On Monday, 26th April 1897, during a voyage from Cardiff to Norfolk, she hit an iceberg and limped into Halifax four days later with 30 feet of her bow missing. Repairs cost 30,000 dollars. She was acquired by Prince Line in 1907 for 35,000 pounds and, as the Spanish Prince, was the company's largest ship and remained so until 1918. (3)

On Sunday, 5th October 1914, whilst in St. Nazaire Roads, she sustained damage to her hull when her anchor chain broke and she grounded. She was subsequently acquired by the Admiralty. (4)

The Spanish Prince was Newcastle registered.

The War Sepoy was built by William. Gray of Hartlepool, and launched on Thursday, 5 December 1918, War Sepoy was completed on Thursday, 6 February 1919 for Shipping Controller, and managed by Anglo-Mexican Petroleum Products Company, London. (4)

In 1921 she was transferred to Admiralty, and in 1936 the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. War Sepoy was damaged and burnt out during a Stuka air attack at Dover on Friday, 19 July 1940. She was filled with concrete, towed into position within the Western Entrance, and sunk as a blockship (in three parts) on Saturday, 7 September 1940. Disposal commenced on Tuesday, 2 May 1950, and the entrance was opened again on Sunday, 26 April 1964. (4)

Click to see all Boats photos (related tags: Ships, Ferries, Cruise Ship)

(1) Herbosch Kiere Marine Contractors factsheet (2) From Ships in the Port of Dover, Western Entrance Blockships. (3) From The Red Duster website: Prince Line. (4) Forces Geneaology: RFA War Sepoy

John Latter / Jorolat

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 9, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/07/01 16:53:52
    • Exposure: 0.003s (1/400)
    • Focal Length: 200.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash