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BERTH PLAN THWARTED

Strong winds thwarted hopes of berthing the mammoth vessel Bonga at its purposebuilt berth on the Tyne over the weekend. The gargantuan 300,000 tonne, 300m long vessel - the largest ever to ply the Tyne - was due to arrive on Saturday, ahead of a £300M refit. Arrival was to coincide with neap tides when the difference between high and low water levels is lowest, minimising tidal currents. Port of Tyne officials said that weather conditions had been suitable until last Friday with wind speeds up to 10 knots but worsened on Saturday.

Attempts to berth on Tuesday were abandoned when winds exceeded 30 knots. The vessel, currently around 10km offshore, is travelling to a new berthing facility designed by consultant Mott MacDonald and completed in time last week by contractor Harbour & General at Amec's Wallsend works (NCE last week). Optimum tidal conditions are not expected for another fortnight, although attempts to bring the Bonga upriver may be made by the end of the week.

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