Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners has announced a capital investment of £2.2 million in the purchase of a 76 metre dredger as part of their new 5 year strategy for future growth and development. LPHC chairman, Mr Garvan O’Doherty says the new strategy focuses on “developing the port’s core marine skills, services and infrastructure”.

“This £2.2m investment is the latest signal of the Harbour Commissioners’ ongoing commitment to sustainable growth for the port to the benefit of the wider regional economy”.

Mr O’Doherty says the Port has a two-fold responsibility – to fulfil the conservancy duties of the harbour and generate a commercial return on the assets.

“For the future our conservancy responsibilities will drive forward our commercial profitability rather than being a drain on our resources. Investing in our own dredger allows us to do this by saving us money and by enhancing our ability to maintain the Foyle channel for our customers.”

LPHC chief executive Mr Brian McGrath says the port had been spending considerable amounts per year on dredging but that “the growing worldwide demand for these services could have caused us potential problems in the future. Now we can carry out our own dredging in-house, as we do with all our other core marine services, and offer a commercial service to other ports”.

Harbour Master Captain Bill McCann says acquiring the dredger

“now allows us to carry out all our conservancy duties ourselves, rather than being at the vagaries of the market due to international demand. In addition, there is the potential to open up new avenues of trade by leasing the dredger for use by other small ports in Ireland and Britain.”

Captain McCann says the new dredger is to be called the “Lough Foyle”, it is 76m long and it can carry 1,500 tonnes of dredge spoil. “We have now taken delivery of the vessel and put it immediately to work on the Foyle.”