Located approximately 1 900 km at its nearest point from the continent of Africa, 3 000 km from Cape Town, and Ascension Island as its nearest neighbour over 1 000 km away, the island of St Helena, measuring 16 by 8 km, is one of the world’s most remote locations, and UK’s second-oldest overseas territory. With a population of just over 4 000, the island’s only lifeline to the outside world has been the RMS St Helena, the only regular ship to call at St Helena. The transport service is the pensionable Royal Mail Ship which docks once a month from South Africa. The RMS is due to retire around 2015, by this time Basil Read is expected to have finished the airport and be in full operation phase of the agreement, ensuring an alternative, efficient transport means to visitors and the ‘Saints’ community.
Whilst the delivery of equipment aboard the RMS St Helena is already a familiar sight to residents, preparation on the island reached fever pitch ahead of the Basil Read ship’s arrival with its first batch of major heavy equipment. A temporary jetty was constructed, despite rough sea conditions, and pneumatic fenders were brought in to dock the ship safely. Basil Read successfully docked the craft NP Glory 4, named the ’Basil Read Ship‘ after the project, alongside the jetty in Rupert’s Bay on the morning of 11 July, to cheering from the local community in anticipation of the reveal of each phase and shipment.
The bow of the NP Glory 4 was opened onto the temporary wharf to unload 700 tonnes of cargo consisting of heavy plant, equipment, fuel and twelve containers. It was a historical event in itself to have a cargo ship of any size, let alone a 78 m carrier, to dock at the port of Rupert’s Bay for the first time ever on the island.
The delivery consisted of a Volvo G940B grader as well as the colossal 70 tonne new Volvo EC700 C-Series crawler excavator, featuring improved main pump, slew motor, bearing and track rollers delivering up to 80 tonne class standards. World renowned Volvo articulated dumpers were aboard, including an A30E and brand new A40F with 30 and 40 tonne payload respectively, to perform more rigorous and heavy duty site work, as well as the necessary land reclamation, restoration and landscaping at the lowest cost and most efficient manner.
Previous shipments by the RMS St Helena of Volvo Construction Equipment supplied by Babcock have included a EW140C wheeled excavator, a BL61B backhoe loader and a DD24 2.5 tonne double-drum vibration compactor. Other equipment has included a high discharge 2 tonne Winget site dumper and a hydraulically-operated, heavy-duty Winget concrete mixer. These machines have already been extensively used in the bay and for site preparation.
Babcock service personnel have been based on the Island since April and consist of an efficient team of 2 qualified Volvo technicians, parts personnel and product support technician Gordon Schmidt supervising the team on site.
With the temporary haul road from the quarry to the ‘Shears’ airport site finished, Basil Read is now in the final stages of completing the mobilisation phase of the project, and the works will shortly be entering the full and intensive construction phase.
Engineers are now faced with the challenge of filling in a huge crater at the base site; however, the machinery supplied is up to the task. The scope of upcoming work entails approximately 8 million m³ of rock fill embankment, divided by a 750 m long reinforced concrete drain, a 1,950 m quality concrete runway with taxiway and apron to cater for aircrafts up to the size of an Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800, an airport terminal building of 3 500 m² with support infrastructure, air traffic control and safety, bulk fuel storage installation for 6 million litres of diesel and aviation fuel, and a 14 km airport access road with all related logistics, which has and will be the agenda of Basil Read’s +/-250 employees dedicated to the St Helena project.
With the heavy equipment on land, Basil Read expects to see even more rapid progress in the months ahead. The haul trucks will be making about 40 round trips a day to the site as restricted by controlled working hours and noise control. The supply to date marks the beginning of what is to be rapid progress of the airport’s construction, as well as the future transport and logistics services for the island’s residents and tourists.
The partnership between Basil Read and Babcock spans across projects in Sierra Leone, to a water pipe laying expansion project in Lesotho which included the order of three new Volvo PL4608 technologically-advanced pipe layers, a recent addition to the Volvo range. Babcock will supply and maintain the Volvo construction equipment and offer all the resources required to complete the construction work as part of the agreement with Basil Read, as well as assist with running and maintaining the equipment throughout the duration of the 48 month projected completion date.
The next shipment of Volvo Construction Equipment, adding to the growing Babcock/Volvo fleet on the island, will consist of 15 x A40F articulated dumpers, 3 x EC700C excavator crawlers, as well as 3 x SD200DX compaction rollers, expected to arrive in August from Walvis Bay.
After years of uncertainty regarding the airport, local residents can finally look forward to commercial flights becoming being a reality by 2015.
For further information, please contact:
David Vaughan – Sales Director
Babcock International Group | Africa Division | Equipment
Tel: int +27 11 230 7300
Off loading cargo on St Helena island
The Basil Read ship in Cape Town