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Career highpoints

Cover Story: Dave Rolton

Away from Heathrow, Rolton's recent highlights include the Brent Spar dismantling and some mammoth gantry crane lifts.

Brent Spar grabbed the headlines in 1999 when environmentalists wrangled over the obsolete oil rig's future. Eventually, the rig was dismantled in a Norwegian fjord - and it was Rolton who masterminded the dissection.

'The world's largest semi submersible barge was used to access it. A giant steel tray was lowered 132m down to support the whole rig from the base. This lifted the structure in sections and allowed it to be cut away in manageable 2,000t sections.'

This required a bespoke gantry system that was developed using standard towerlift components. 'And on top of the engineering challenge, there was the added pressure of having the eyes of the world on you.'

In terms of numbers, the world's largest gantry crane in Dalian, northern China, beggars belief. Images of the mammoth crane are proudly splattered across the walls of Rolton's office. He oversaw the 105m lifting of the main beam span and crab units. Total weight for this lift was a whopping 3,640t.

And the one that got away: 'I would have loved to have worked on the raising of the Kursk (the Russian nuclear submarine that was stranded on the bed of the Barents Sea in 2000).

'The amount of resources thrown at that job was unbelievable and as an engineering challenge it was truly monumental. That would have been a bit special.'

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