Earlier this year two Dutch companies were building a bridge of 726 m for the Simpson Bay Lagoon on the island of St Maarten in the Caribbean. This eye-catching bridge is a swing bridge of 68 m. But how do you get a bridge component of this size to the other side of the world? And that is where Wagenborg came in...

Wagenborg is always looking for the most innovative solutions for logistic challenges and this task certainly required them. Wagenborg Towage Project Engineer Wouter Siemerink explained: “After we made our offer, we were invited to explain our logistic solutions for this project. The customer was very excited about our idea and it didn’t take long before we were awarded this assignment.” The innovative idea of Wagenborg involved the m.v. Marietje Andrea from the family Danser-Van Gent. The bridge of 450 tonnes, with dimensions of 68 x 15.50 m, would be loaded on deck and set sail to St. Maarten.

Advantage of a ‘one-stop-shop company’

We divided the project in several phases because of the many disciplines involved. Every phase needed to be prepared and engineered separately due to the innovative character of our logistic solution,” continues Wouter. “We managed the entire project ourselves: from construction activities to purchasing and accompanying the subcontractors. That is why we were able to maintain the loading date, which was determined in an early stage. An advantage for our customer is that Wagenborg is a ‘one-stop-shop company’ - we have all knowledge and expertise under one roof to offer these kind of logistic solutions.”


Passing the Simpson Bay Bridge

After a transatlantic journey of 12 days the m.v. Marietje Andrea arrived at St Maarten with the huge swing bridge on deck. The new bridge, which had to be installed on the central pillar in the Simpson Bay Lagoon, first had to pass the narrow Simpson Bay Bridge. Due to the shallow depth and narrow passage before and after the bridge, there were two pontoons placed on spuds next to the sailing line. The m.v. Marietje Andrea moored on the first pontoon without any problems at all. It did not take much time before the bridge opened and the m.v. Marietje Andrea could slowly pass thanks to the steering skills of Captain Henk Danser. Meanwhile, hundreds of people arrived to watch the show. A vessel with these dimensions had never passed this bridge before!  The vessel was warmly welcomed by the crowd and the first success was there!


Positioning and installation

Once the m.v. Marietje Andrea arrived at the central pillar, preparations for the jacking and skidding operations were started. Unloading could begin the next day. During the skidding operations the vessel was held perfectly in a horizontal position by use of internal and external ballast pumps. After the accurate and successful skidding operation, the swing bridge was positioned on the central pillar. 

“In my opinion it is really special to skid the bridge from a vessel to her foundations and avoid the use of heavy cranes or sheerlegs. This saves a lot of costs, time and unnecessary risks. What we normally do with our pontoons, we now executed with a vessel,” explains Wouter.

The next morning the operation continued by removing the skidding equipment and starting to jack the bridge into its final position. With the aid of a specially designed structure, the bridge was accurately jacked down. A millimetre before touchdown the bridge was accurately positioned on the centre pillar. Another successful job completed by our Wagenborg crew!

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