Dredging Exhibits At The National Maritime Museum Gdansk

Overview of the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk, Poland

Currently I am in Gdansk, Poland. Last week I had a CEDA event1 and next week I am at the Hydro 2018 Conference and Exhibition2. On both events I will report later. My colleague Saskia den Herder wrote a teaser for you3. Now, here, I had the weekend for myself and what better to do, than be a tourist, visit a maritime museum and write a blog about it. So, I will report you about interesting dredging exhibits I discovered at the National Maritime Museum in Gdansk4.

The National Maritime Museum comprises three major venues: the museum building itself5, the ‘SS Sołdek’6 and the old city ‘Crane’7. All equally interesting in their own way. Buy a combined ticket and you get the ferry between them for free. As general maritime museums go, they mainly focus on the history of shipping, shipbuilding and the interaction with the development of the city or country. Gdansk in itself has a very long history in shipbuilding, as the country was well forested for providing the building material for ships. In modern times, one might have heard of the ‘Lenin Shipyard’8, the birthplace of the free labour union ‘Solidarity’, which brought Poland out of the socialist led economy. And of course, where there is water, there are ships and where there are ships, there is Damen9,10.

Horse powered scoop ladder dredge

Between the many models and pictures I found some about dredges indeed. This one seems to be a very first attempt at mechanical dredging. The power was provided by two real horses. There were some sort of scoops or blades drawn over a chute. The wooden blades excavated the soil from the bottom. Water was expelled through holes in the blades. The drained material could be loaded in barges for further transportation. Only after translation later on, I learned that in fact this was an example of a Dutch dredge!

Picture and model of a steam powered bucket ladder dredge

I did find a picture and a model of a locally build dredge. It employs a German steam engine and was built on an oak hull. It already featured the classic iron buckets on a ladder. The development of the working principle did not change that much. The dredged material could be delivered to barges at the aft end for further transport.

Grab dredge ‘Homar’

Finally I came across this model. It is a grab dredge ‘Homar’11, built in 1971 and operated by PRCiP Sp.z o.o. (Dredging & Underwater Works Co Ltd) here in Gdansk12. OK, I don’t want to brag, but it looked vaguely similar to the one we saw when we were on a site visit with the CEDA to the Port of Gdansk13. We had a splendid view over the harbour from the port control tower. And there I already noticed they were doing some dredging works in the entrance channel. But for all what we could see, it could also have been its sister ship ‘Świdrak’. And that concludes a nice round up of dredging discoveries for the weekend.

Overview of the entrance channel as seen from the port control tower. Dredging works indicated.

References

  1. CEDA-MIG Joint Symposium on Advances in Dredging Technology 2018
  2. HYDRO 2018
  3. Dam maintenance – deep dredging, Saskia den Herder
  4. National Maritime Museum in Gdansk
  5. Granaries on Ołowianka Island, NMM
  6. Sołdek, NMM
  7. Crane, NMM
  8. Gdanks Shipyard (Lenin Shipyard), Wikipedia
  9. Damen Engineering Gdansk, Damen
  10. Damen Marine Components, Damen
  11. Homar, Dredgepoint
  12. PRCiP
  13. Port of Gdańsk

See also

Book Review: Moddergeuzen

Front cover Moddergeuzen by C. Baardman (Credit: JN Voorhoeve, Den Haag)

Summer is in full progress. People are already taking holidays. So, it is time for another book recommendation to take with you and pass your leisure time. Another favourite book from my dredging library is ‘Moddergeuzen’, or ‘Mud Beggars’, by C. Baardman1. However, the English translation doesn’t convey the right feeling about it. In Dutch the ‘Geuzen’ were patriotic nobleman, who fought against the Spanish oppression in the 80 year war2. Beggars sounds so derogatory.

In contrast to ‘Mannen van Sliedrecht’, from my previous review3, ‘Moddergeuzen’ is more describing the personal life of the crew on board the dredges, instead of the big historical picture. Baardman is able to bring all the crew members to life. At least to me. Either by reminding me of stories I heard from my family, or even by similar events I experienced personally. Still, there are some main characters. Most notably Leen Hoornaar and his son Jan. There are also other family ties between the crew members, as was and still is often the case on the Dutch dredges. Somehow, all those stories by and discussions with dad at the kitchen table do convey more knowledge insight and experience, than education at school does. (You need school! What your parents can tell you is your bonus to stand out from the crowd.)

That is also one of the topics Baardman addresses in his book. The old trade handed down from father to son, versus the new developments in culture, where education and knowledge gains momentum in the dredging industry. Another topic is the continuous inequality between the crew members on the one hand and the people from the office on the other hand. Regularly, socialistic thoughts are proclaimed by the crew members, but Baardman voices his idea about social improvement through the characters of Leen and Jan Hoornaar. They are the first glimmers of a work council in the industry. Another social phenomenon is the ever present religious group, that tends to be very conservative. Still, Baardman would rather identify himself as a religious writer. However, his concern to get the message across, but be careful not to look over zealous often made his books read like a regional novel4.

Well, regional is hardly applicable. Just as the dredging industry expanded all over the world, the stories in the book take place in all the now familiar dredging markets: China, Germany, Belgium, France, Rumania. Particularly the storyline in Hamburg was very interesting, as this is also the same time and region where my great grandfather has been working for some time (another story for later). The descriptions about how they must have travelled to and from the project where very illustrative.
Also the pranks they pulled on each other, or more precise on the youngest person on board where very familiar. I’ve heard the story of the coxswain being ordered to fry the cucumber, before. I don’t know if pranks are banned today. At least I don’t hear them so much anymore.

Paper model I received after building my first dredge

Times have changed. So, were the changes described at the story time in the book. Shure, there were a lot steam driven bucket ladder dredge in the adventures. And they do bring most of the exciting adventures. However, modern equipment was on the rise. Plain suction dredges and the first hopper dredges also feature in the book. Remember, hopper dredges at that time were still stationary. Free sailing trailing suction hoppers came much later. The dredge on the cover is a nice example of early twentieth century dredge design. As it happens, the National Dredging Museum in Sliedrecht has model, that looks very similar to the one depicted.

Suction hopper dredge ‘Nautilus II’ for Prins Aannemingsmaatschappij build by J&K Smit

References

  1. Moddergeuzen, Amazon
  2. Geuzen, Wikipedia
  3. Book Review: Mannen Van Sliedrecht, Discover Dredging
  4. C. Baardman: De schrijver en zijn werk, Historische Vereniging Hardinxveld-Giessendam

See also

A Visit to the Oresund Link with the CEDA Dredging Management Commission and 23 Years Ago with DOT

The CEDA Dredging Management Commission on site visit at the Oresund Link

Edit (11/08/2018): It appears, that my memory fails me on the details. It must have been late 1996 or early 1997.

This week, there was a meeting of the Dredging Management Commission of the CEDA. In this case, the venue was the offices of Femern A/S in Copenhagen1. The objective of the Dredging Management Commission is to provide expertise and guidelines to successfully manage dredging projects. A first publication was the ‘Checklist for Successful Dredging Management’ introduced at the CEDA Dredging Days last November. Currently I am involved in the Working Group on Innovative Dredging Technology2.
One of the items on the agenda was a visit to the artificial island of Peberholm. This island was reclaimed in 1995 during the Oresund Link Project, a tunnel and bridge connection that links Denmark and Sweden over the Oresund. A massive complex project, involving two countries, multiple contractors and numerous suppliers. Unlike most of the complex international government projects, the Oresund Link was delivered ahead of schedule and within budget3.

View from Peberholm on the Oresund Bridge and Sweden

At the time, I did my graduation thesis project with Skanska, one of the main contractors. There were also two other students working with Skanska. And as there were a lot of other Dutch contractors involved, the student club of Dredging and Offshore Technology organised a study tour to the project and have a first-hand experience with this landmark project. Returning to these sites with the CEDA was interesting to see the final product after it’s been working for several year in use.

Students of Dredging and Offshore Technology on study tour in 1995

On the Swedish side, a bridge was a good solution. On the Danish side, the link would be too close, to Copenhagen International Airport to build a bridge. It would interfere with the flight path of approaching planes. Therefore, a sunken section tunnel was chosen. Peberholm was created with fill material, dredged from this tunnel trench. Digging through hard limestone rock, the cutter suction dredge ‘Castor’4 consumed about 62,000 pick points. In the end, they had to exchange all the teeth every 15 minutes, sometimes too hot to handle.

Cutter head of the CSD ‘Castor’

Each pillar and the two pylons of the bridge have a foundation that reaches to the hard bedrock of the Oresund. For this dredging work, amongst others, the back-hoe dredge ‘Rocky’5 from Skanska was deployed. One of the contractual clauses was that turbidity had to be reduced to an absolute minimum, never seen before in any contract. Although protesting, the contractors complied and did a great job on reducing turbidity. The loose material from the bottom and the rubble from the bedrock created visual plumes anyway and Skanska had to modify their procedures and equipment to reach the stringent standards.

Left, Back hoe dredge ‘Rocky’. Middle, bucket of crushed limestone. Right, Spill plume.

It was fitting, that we visited the location of this impressive project as inspiration to advice how to successfully manage a dredging project. The next step to test the management skills of the Danish people will be the Fehmarn Belt Project6.

Panoramic view from Peberholm. Denmark left, Sweden right and Saltholm in the middle.

References

  1. Femern A/S
  2. CEDA Dredging Management Commission, CEDA
  3. Oresund on time and within budget, Øresundsbron
  4. Castor, Van Oord
  5. Rocky (after modification), Boskalis
  6. Fehmarn Belt Project, Wikipedia

See also