Effective management of commercial and recreational traffic movement on the Haven, and the protection of the marine environment, remains at the heart of the Port’s operations. 2017 saw cargo activity decrease to 32.1m tonnes from 34.9m tonnes in 2016. This was due to fewer ships calling at the terminals than expected, in particular LNG vessels.
As part of the Port’s ongoing commitment to safe operations, a Tier Two oil pollution clean-up multi-agency exercise was held with Valero in October. The exercise, which brought together fifty representatives from twelve agencies, tested cooperation on the water and the critical associated shore-side command and control functions. The Port’s new simulator suite modelled the slick during the exercise, as well as co-ordinating traffic response and management, creating a very ‘real’ exercise. The event tested inter-agency teamwork and dialogue and key outputs have been taken forward to help shape the Port’s emergency response processes. The Port also conducted a Port Control Emergency Evacuation Exercise to prove the efficiency of re-locating to its back-up facility without any impact on operations on the Haven.
In late October ex-hurricane Ophelia caused damage to the navigational aids in both the East and West channels. Temporary corrective measures reopened the West Channel swiftly with final rectification work completed shortly thereafter, enabling both channels to return to full operational use. The rough weather also resulted in lock gate damage at Milford Marina and several mooring failures for the leisure community, resulting in damage to boats on the Waterway. With increasing adverse weather conditions, the need for a clear stakeholder engagement focus on this issue will be progressed.
A new rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) was brought into service to enhance the current operational capacity of the Water Ranger. Front and rear cameras will aid in its patrolling capacity, and the enviro-beneficial engine technology will increase fuel efficiency and reduce associated emissions. The RHIB was effectively deployed throughout a busy, incident free leisure season assisting with key events such as the P1 powerboat racing.
Unfortunately, a second incident occurred on one of the new Saint Class pilot launches. While there were no injuries or damage, the Saint Class vessels are now subject to restricted operations, to allow for full investigation. This action underlines the Port’s commitment to safety while also maintaining full operational capability.
A trial vessel, Portunus, was purchased by the Port in 2008 to test its operational potential as an additional pilot vessel. With limited capacity beyond St Ann’s Head and a new fleet coming online, the vessel was sold to Cookmarine of Hartlepool in August.
Towards the end of the year, Mike Ryan joined the Port as the new Harbourmaster and Marine Director, taking over from Bill Hirst on his retirement. Mike’s background with the Royal Navy brings extensive experience to this role. Bill leaves a strong legacy having been instrumental in the safe arrival of LNG to the Waterway, amongst other key developments.
The simulator suite, launched in 2016, is building a strong reputation for delivering accurate and precise training scenarios. As the suite’s client base grows, the focus will be to demonstrate its wider potential in supporting a diverse range of applications. Its situation modelling capacity can help de-risk activity in civil marine energy projects, as well as conducting risk and incident reviews for the legal and insurance sectors. Its application in this year’s multi-agency exercise is a case in point and enabled a port-wide modelling and training exercise. The simulator was shortlisted for an industry Innovation Award.
2017 saw revenue growth for cargo handling. Animal feed has become a strong cargo at the Port with revenues increasing by almost 40% compared to the previous year. The transfer of the decommissioned Murco refinery was a major focus for 2017 with over 3,240 tonnes being stored and moved through the site.
The Port’s capacity to hold and manage heavy lift cargoes ensured a convenient departure point and enabled efficient movement of the parts to Pakistan. Transfers will continue throughout 2018 and into 2019. Pembroke Port also became the transportation hub for the supply of armoured rock to Hinkley Point. Over 14,000 tonnes was transferred over the quay in 2017.
The Waste to Energy cargo was affected as a result of the operator’s license suspension by Natural Resources Wales. Landfill charges are at an all-time high and this is driving the need to identify a solution and re-establish this effective cargo route.
For cargo, the Port will continue to support its existing relationships while looking to attract new bulk cargoes. The Port will also look towards the excellence of its stopover (both planned and emergency) and operational base proposition. Its western coast location combined with the strength of doorstep services and supply chain create an attractive temporary or permanent base for shipping operators. A major review of Pembroke Port’s capacity and pricing structure was undertaken in 2017. This reflects the strength of offer while also recognising the needs of the industry to maintain maximum cost efficiency. Pembroke Port will remain focused on exploiting this new approach to attract new business.
Pembroke Dock Ferry Terminal (PDFT)
While 2016 performance was particularly strong for PDFT, 2017 saw reduced volumes with numbers more aligned with PDFT’s traditional growth rate. During the course of the year, plans to enhance the current service offered by the Port were shared with Irish Ferries. The plans have been positively received and implemented and the Port's relationship with Irish Ferries remains strong.
While few in number, and reflective of the experience across the UK ferry industry, some cancellations due to weather were experienced. The Port enjoyed continued fast turnaround times ensuring the ferry and its users reached their destination quickly and efficiently.
Pembroke Dock Ferry Terminal is South Wales’ largest ferry port, handling around 70,000 freight units and 340,000 passenger movements each year. For traffic using the south Wales corridor, Pembroke Dock Ferry Terminal is by far the busiest and most accessible sea-trade route to Ireland for international commercial traffic. The Common Travel Area agreement with Ireland and the free movement of goods across the Irish-UK border is of vital importance to the ferry services. Swift processing of goods and passengers at the Port is important and helps to contribute to a competitive and efficient economy - from border security, customs procedures, HGV safety enforcement to animal and plant health checks. The Port is closely observing the ongoing Brexit negotiations relating to trade between the UK and Ireland as the outcome could have a very significant impact on these ferry services.