One of the vessels on the River Tyne ferry crossing has been withdrawn while it gets a much needed facelift and health check.
The iconic Pride of the Tyne ferry is one of two owned and operated by Nexus which carry nearly 400,000 passengers a year between the north and south sides of the river.
But the 29-year-old ferry built at the Swan Hunter yard in Wallsend is currently receiving its annual paint job as well as an engine overhaul. The paint work usually takes two weeks, but the boat’s time on shore has been extended to eight weeks this year so her two propulsion units can be sent back to the manufacturer for work.
Nexus says there will be no disruption to timetables with the Pride of the Tyne expected to be back in operation sometime around mid-May and the other ferry in the fleet, Spirit of the Tyne, currently running the service.
The Pride of the Tyne, which takes around seven minutes to cross the river between North Shields and South Shields, will be treated with 180 litres of new paint – from her mast down to her hull. Nexus is also taking the opportunity to invest in the propulsion units to ensure they are up to speed for many more years of service on the River Tyne.
The work is part of the vessel’s annual survey by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which needs to be carried out to ensure that she remains sea-worthy and can continue with a license to carry passengers.
The bulk of the work has been carried out at the UK Docks Marine Services Ltd yard on River Drive in South Shields.
Marine Fitter at Nexus, Mark Elsy, said: “The annual hull survey has to be carried out every year so that we get our MCA certification to carry passengers. It’s a detailed inspection of the vessel which requires her to go into a dry dock.
“We are also having the Pride’s two Voith propulsion units completely refurbished so that they can operate for many more years to come. The hull has been cleaned and she’s been given a new coat of paint from top to bottom.
“We always get these works done at this time of year so that she’s good to go for the summer, when the Shields Ferry is busier.”
Yard Manager at UK Docks, Ian Paolozzi, added: “The work we carry out is effectively like an MOT for the vessel. We raise the vessel out of the water into a special dry dock so we can re-paint her right down from the mast to the hull.
“We refurbish all the sea valves and on this occasion the propulsion units have been taken out for a refit. They were taken out and have been sent away to the manufacturer for that work.
“It’s vital work to ensure the boat is sea-worthy and that all of her safety systems are all operating correctly.”