The new Columbus Quay will be 20 metres wider than before. This means that the new boarding bridges that are now being built have to be longer and will soar across the quay over a length of 56 metres. They will be able to accommodate 1850 passengers per hour and therefore cope with today’s large cruise vessels. The dimensions of the new Pegasus passenger boarding bridges will make them the largest ever built.
Like their predecessors, the new boarding bridges will come from Spain, as the specialist company Adelte has proved to be the best partner anywhere in Europe for this project. Adelte is the world’s leading specialist for the design and manufacture of passenger boarding bridges for cruise and ferry terminals at seaports and airports.
Adelte is a familiar name at German cruise terminals as the company has already installed three passenger boarding bridges in Kiel and another three in Hamburg. Despite the adverse conditions caused by the pandemic, Adelte has nevertheless delivered a total of eighteen boarding bridges over the last few months to various cruise and ferry terminals all over the world: to the USA (Miami and Boston), the United Arab Emirates (Dubai), to Australia (Brisbane), France (Calais) and Japan (Kobe).
bremenports Managing Director Robert Howe is pleased with the cooperation with Adelte. “Construction of the new quay will not only improve access to the ships for cruise passengers,” says Howe. “The new boarding bridges are attractive to look at and feature state-of-the-art technology, an unmistakable sign that Bremerhaven offers cruise vessels top conditions.”
Electromechanical elevation systems in the columns allow the bridges to reach a boarding height of 16 metres above sea level. The three new bridges can move longitudinally along the quay, as they run on two rails and additionally have rubber wheels on the side nearest the River Weser. Passengers can thus board from any of the glass doors in the cruise terminal building. The bridges are also designed and built to resist flooding, facilitate maintenance work and also have special corrosion protection.
Ralf Wendorff supervises the bridge construction on behalf of bremenports. He has a special qualification as inspector of welding seams and coatings. He has already flown to Spain twice with his colleagues to inspect the production on site, check the construction company’s documentation, measure the coating thickness and inspect the welding seams. A third visit is scheduled for 12 December. “Our standards are high,” says Wendorff. “After production or respectively before the sandblasting stage, the steel has to be non-porous and grease-free and all edges and corners have to be rounded so that rust does not stand a chance.”
Despite Adelte’s years in business and international experience, the extremely strict corrosion-protection standards that the boarding bridges in Bremerhaven have to satisfy are higher than in any other country to which the company has delivered products in the past. This is because the sea fog and salt spray in Bremerhaven mean that the quay belongs to corrosion category “C5 – high”, the second-highest level in the DIN standard. Only the offshore sector imposes more stringent demands on corrosion protection.
bremenports employee Ralf Wendorff shares his expertise with the Spanish partner and inspects every single centimetre himself. He makes sure, for instance, that the building parts at the terminal are so well covered in protective coating that they can withstand the sea fog and salt spray that occur at the North Sea coast. Humidity, salt content, steel construction and corrosion protection are his special areas of expertise. He surveyed the construction of the Kaiserschleuse lock gates in Danzig and was already involved in the construction of the old passenger boarding bridges 20 years ago. “Thorough acceptance procedures save us high maintenance costs at a later date,” says Wendorff.
Before the 15 trucks carrying the first passenger boarding bridge set off for Bremerhaven in January, they have to pass a final test: the glass tunnel undergoes a factory acceptance test at the manufacturer’s plant. The tunnel is completely wired up and then all possible movements, inclusive of the corresponding reporting processes, are simulated. Only when it has successfully completed that test will the tunnel begin its journey to Bremerhaven.
According to the plans, around 15 trucks carrying the first of the three bridges will set off from the Mediterranean shortly after Christmas. Bridge No. 1 is scheduled to arrive at the River Weser on 10 January. By that time, the construction team at the port has to have completed a roughly 60-metre section of the new quay to such an extent that it can be used as a site for assembly of the bridge, which is expected to take around one and a half months. “The long glass tunnel, which will complete testing in January 2023, will then be installed in one piece,” says Wendorff. The first steps on the first boarding bridge could be taken at the end of March and Columbus Cruise Center plans to put the first building section into operation in April. The second and third bridges are to be delivered in May.
In the meantime, the 20-year-old passenger boarding bridges at the Columbus Quay have ended their working lives. Over the last two two decades, more than a million passengers, crew members and public officials have used them to embark and disembark. When they were last used on 20 October, the cruise passengers from the “Amera” operated by Phönix Reisen were the last people to cross over the old bridges. Passenger boarding bridges 2 and 3 at the Columbus Cruise Center Bremerhaven have now successfully been dismantled. Because of the specific demands imposed by individual ports, there is no second-hand market for them, so that the 190 tons of steel will be taken to the southern end of Columbus Quay and broken up manually ready for disposal.