Alloa man lends Forth expertise to commercial shipping efforts


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May 26, 2023

Alloa man lends Forth expertise to commercial shipping efforts

AN ALLOA man's knowledge of the Forth has supported the complex effort to

AN ALLOA man's knowledge of the Forth has supported the complex effort to deliver oversized cargo to the town by the river.

One of the few sailors left in Alloa, Murdoch McGregor has supported the planning for the operation which saw commercial shipping return to the Wee County after many decades.

As reported earlier, the unique vessel Terra Marique and her two tugs delivered a 187-tonne cold box on Wednesday, May 3, for an air separation plant in the town.

This has since been followed by more successful deliveries with the project now concluded, but operations would have been more difficult without Murdoch's input.

The 84-year-old worked with heavy haulage veteran Peter Wynn of Robert Wynn & Sons Ltd, who own the barge which is specifically designed to work on rivers.

No one had official "pilotage" experience or charts to transit upstream of the Kincardine and Clackmannanshire bridges as the ports in Alloa closed years ago.

Peter, who has decades of experience with complex operations, told the Advertiser: "We contacted the library at Alloa and spoke to the head librarian [Susan Yule] – tried to explain we haven't just landed from Mars and we are looking into this and we are trying to gather as much historical information that we could.

"Through those conversations we got in touch with Murdoch. We met, talked it all through and he thought it was possible.

"We made a good friend there, he is a spritely 84-year-old and it's been a pleasure to have Murdo with his experience of the area, which we took in helping to build the marine team that we needed to build."

A range of companies were involved in the complex operation.

The main contractor was Kestrel Liner Agencies, the principle contractor to Air Products who will operate the plant.

The marine team consisted of Robert Wynn & Sons as marine contractor, Class 1 Maritime, Forth Logistics and two tug companies, GSS based in Argyle and Coastworks from Largs.

Specialist haulier Mammoet carried out all roll on and off operations and were also working on site erection under a different contract.

Peter continued: "One of the major problems we identified early was that because there's no commercial traffic on the Firth of Forth upstream of Grangemouth, there would be no pilotage available so we needed to get marine advisors onboard to work out a passage plan.

"We retrieved all measurements for the two bridges and measured all the tide and the flows."

Murdoch recently celebrated his 84th birthday and got a tour of the barge in Rosyth with Provost Donald Balsillie last week.

He told the Advertiser: "At first I felt really quite flattered they would come to me.

"I found myself at the table down at Forth Ports with the harbour master and various other specialists – I was becoming quite bemused, yet respectful, that this was happening – it was four years ago."

As one of the few river users near Alloa, Murdoch was able to help the professionals with his knowledge of currents, the many sandbanks and a potential landing spot.

"It was an absolute thrill for me," he added. "I've known of Peter Wynn's reputation in the heavy haulage industry – he is totally a legend, a dream to meet."

Murdoch mused: "If Everest needed moved to Australia, they'd call Peter Wynn."

Peter, whose family have run the business for five generations since forming in 1863, and went from land to water, also spoke about the Terra Marique and her unique capabilities.

He said: "The Terra Marique was specifically designed to be able to have a low air draft [distance from water to highest point] and maximum ballasting capability.

"What's also unique about her is within her hold are three 600t capacity roadways that are stowed on the tank top, which is 2m above the keel, and can be hydraulically raised over 8m above the keel.

"The reason for that is to be able to work on the very high tidal ranges that we have in the UK, particularly around the south-west."

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