For the first time in over 25 years the dry dock facility at Kishorn Port near Lochcarron in Wester Ross has been fully opened to the sea to allow a shipping vessel into the dock. This marks the start of a new chapter in the life of the dry dock, one of the largest in Europe.
In the early hours of Tuesday 5th May 2020, one of the 13,000 tonne dry dock gates was gently eased from its base and towed out into Loch Kishorn for temporary mooring.
The operation was completed following a week of detailed preparatory work to ready the gate for its move. This included removing the large gate seals which keep the dock dry; flooding the dock and pumping of water from inside the gate structure itself to allow it to float.
Weather and tidal conditions were ideal for floating and moving the gate. Smoke drifting over Loch Kishorn from a wildfire on the hillsides above Auchintraid provided an atmospheric backdrop to the operation.
Alasdair Ferguson, Director of Kishorn Port Limited said: ‘This is an important milestone in bringing Kishorn dry dock back into use. It follows over 18 months of investment in the dock by Kishorn Port Limited supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Decommissioning Challenge Fund. We’re extremely grateful for the assistance we’ve had from those bodies and others which has made this possible and also the support from the local community and the Applecross Trust. The port team and our contractors have worked around the clock to prepare the dock whilst observing social distancing and other measures required in the current crisis.’
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has invested more than £700,000 in Kishorn in recent years. This contributed towards the costs of overhauling the dock gates, cleaning the site, creating a new access road, and buying and installing dry dock gate anchors.
Alastair Nicolson, HIE’s interim area manager for Lochaber, Skye and Wester Ross, said: “Kishorn dock is a unique facility for all marine industries such as construction of concrete structures for offshore wind but particularly decommissioning and dismantling projects such as this. It’s great to see this project arrive, demonstrating the area’s competitiveness in this market and helping to sustain valuable jobs, which contribute significantly to both economic and community growth in a rural part of the area.”