On 26th September GPS Marine Equipment Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of GPS Marine Holdings Ltd) signed a contract to build 7 new 54m LoA x 1000 cubic metre / 1600 tonne dwcc drywell hopper barges with CMS Werf of Leeuwarden in Friesland (the Netherlands). In tonnage terms, this is probably the largest single order for new craft to work on the Thames to have been placed for the account of a Thames based freight operator in living memory. The craft, which are to be built in accordance with the rules of the IACS classification society RINA will be UK flag and constructed to comply with EU Directive 2006/87EC as well as the 2013 Thames Freight Standard. As such the new craft will be licenced to trade throughout the inland waterways of mainland Europe as well as in the UK and, specifically, on the River Thames. The new barges will have 20mm thick bottom shell and hopper bottom plating in addition to side shell and hopper side plating which is generally 10mm thick and increased to 20mm thick in way of areas of anticipated heavy contact. The bargesare intended mainly for pushing but have been designed to facilitate towing astern and working on the hip.
Delivery of the barges is scheduled to take place between March 2017 and April 2018.