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DEME and Van Oord celebrate opening of Fairway in Poland

DEME and Van Oord are extremely proud to have accomplished the deepening of the Świnoujście-Szczecin Fairway, one of the most important dredging projects in Poland’s history.

Together with the Ministry of Transport and the Maritime Office of Szczecin, the joint venture partners celebrated the official opening of the 65 km Fairway today (May 9).

Providing access from the Baltic Sea, the Fairway runs between the city of Świnoujście and the Port of Szczecin. With more approximately 24 million m3 of material dredged, the channel has been deepened by 2 m to -12.5 m, which enables the Port of Szczecin to handle the next generation of vessels.

Despite exceptional challenges, including carrying out most of the work during the pandemic and the presence of large amounts of unexploded ordnance, as well as thick ice in winter, the ambitious Design & Build project was completed on time, highlighting the tremendous efforts of the JV team. DEME’s cutter suction dredger ‘Amazone’ even mobilised at the very beginning of the pandemic, although there were lockdowns in both Poland and Belgium. When the project was nearing completion, it was hit by two heavy storms leading to a fresh build-up of sedimentation, which meant the team had to remobilise again to dredge to the target depth.

The enormous scale of this project is reflected in the numbers. More than 2,000 people were employed over its duration. The joint venture partners focused on working with local parties as much as possible and the non-dredging works were largely executed by Polish companies. Ten main dredging units were deployed along the Fairway, including DEME’s dual fuel trailing suction hopper dredger ‘Scheldt River’, DEME’s ‘Meuse River’ and Van Oord’s ‘Vox Amalia’ and ‘HAM317’. These next generation dredgers are all able to pump material over long distances – up to 8 km in this case – without the need of a booster station.

This mammoth project also included the construction of two artificial islands in the lagoon, which in line with the JV partners’ sustainable, circular-economy solutions, are created from dredged material. One of the islands is established as a new nature habitat above and below the waterline and is attracting a diverse range of birds, even rare species that are on the EU’s endangered list. The rock revetments below the water are also proving popular with marine life. Additionally, over 9,000 trees and bushes have been planted as part of the greenery works to create new habitats for the wildlife.

Other green initiatives included DEME’s TSHD ‘Scheldt River’ operating on LNG during the project, hybrid earthmoving machinery, and the use of solar panels at the Trzebiez marina.

Safety, as always, is paramount and the project has a remarkable LTI-free safety record, with more than 2.5 million manhours worked. Further highlighting the focus on health and safety, more than 10,000 Covid tests were also performed on site.

In the largest UXO campaign in DEME and Van Oord’s history, the JV managed to successfully clean the channel, which had been subject to heavy bombardments in World War Two. An unexploded, five-tonne ‘Tallboy’ bomb was amongst the discoveries. After a year of research and preparations, the Tallboy was safely detonated in situ by the Polish Navy.

As well as the deepening works and the new islands, the JV partners carried out shore protection works, underwater reinforcements, installed cables and navigational aids.

Eric Tancré, Managing Director Activity Line Dredging at DEME Group, says: “This is an exciting day. DEME is so proud of this incredible project and completing it on time. This was DEME’s first major project in Poland and indeed, the first Design & Build dredging project in the country and it had to be carried out while adhering to stringent safety and environmental standards. However, we managed to successfully achieve this complex project although we faced unprecedented challenges – the pandemic, a large-scale UXO campaign, severe winter storms – and we did this by working closely together with our JV partner. The project team’s determination and versatility enabled us to overcome these challenges. This is a fantastic example of true teamwork, where we pooled our joint expertise, and the dedication of all the parties involved, as well as being the result of our strong collaboration with the Maritime Office in Szczecin, the Polish Government, the regional authorities and the local community. Succeeding, and succeeding to finish this large-scale public project on time is exceptional. This is indeed a very proud day for DEME and Van Oord!”

Govert van Oord, Managing Director Dredging at Van Oord, says: “We look back with pride and great satisfaction at being able to deliver this challenging project in Poland in line with our company purpose: to create a better world for future generations by delivering marine ingenuity. Delivering world-class infrastructure whilst co-creating two new islands of natural habitat that allows nature and wildlife to flourish is an example of what our company does best and how we play an important role in adding value to society. A big thankyou to all people involved in the project: your craftmanship, dedication and teamwork made the difference! This project has demonstrated that immense challenges can be overcome through a positive spirit of cooperation with all stakeholders involved. We congratulate the people of Poland on this landmark achievement!”