August 12, 2007

LIverpool's Race against time to be ready for QE2 visit

This from icliverpool about the forthcoming visit to the city:

"LIVERPOOL faces a race against time to have its multi-million cruise liner terminal ready for its official launch event with the QE2.

In what could be a new body blow following the Mathew Street Festival fiasco, the cruise liner landing stage – which had been due to receive its first visitor last month – has been towed to Wirral’s Cammell Laird shipyard for checks and any urgent last- minute work. There is now a battle to ensure the work is completed and the £19m stage in place for the start of September, when a procession of cruise liners are due to visit Liverpool.

But the biggest date is September 21 when the QE2 is to visit the Mersey for the official launch of the new stage as part of the famous vessel’s farewell tour.

It was unclear last night whether the stage would be completed and fully tested by then or by September 2, when the cruise liner Prinsendam is due to tie up alongside.
Last night, contractors Balfour Beatty, who built the terminal, said they were confident of meeting their contractual obligations.

Maritime sources in the city said last night that any problems with what is being billed as a showpiece event for Liverpool would be as catastrophic as the Mathew Street cancellation.
Liverpool City Council said last night it did not see any problems with the September 21 visit by the famous Cunarder, celebrating its 40th anniversary with a round-Britain tour.

The council said it was expected that the 1,000-ft long stage would be towed into place this weekend, but poor weather is already being predicted for Sunday, while Balfour Beatty predict an installation on Monday.

It will then have to be attached to a line of piles sunk into the river bed, and then the roadways linking the stage with the quayside will have to be lifted into place.

Trials and tests are expected to take several weeks, leaving little breathing space before the arrival of the first vessels.

One maritime organisation has posted a collection of photographs of the landing stage being towed from Liverpool’s Canada Dock to Cammell Laird in Birkenhead.

It is believed the stage was towed to Wirral in two phases during the weekend.
A spokeswoman for Balfour Beatty said: “The underwater surveys carried out afloat have proven inconclusive, due to visibility.

“Therefore, the pontoons have been transported to a local dry dock to enable these surveys to be carried out. While afloat in the dock and in the dry dock, construction works, including fitting out of the accommodation buildings and the works on and within the pontoons have and will continue apace.”

The spokeswoman said “last minute snagging” on major projects was normal, and was part of the contractual programme. The contract gives Balfour Beatty until September 4 to complete the project and last night the company said it was “on target” to meet that deadline."

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