A&P Tees ship repair yard has given another TV star a much-needed “makeover”.
The Middlesbrough yard is gaining a reputation for giving vessels which have appeared on the small screen a new lease of life.
Last year they restored the Tall Ship winner Christian Radich, star of the BBC TV series The Onedin Line and the movie Windjammer to her full glory.
Now the yard has brought the Arco Beck, which featured recently on the ITV detective series, Vera, starring award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn, back to life.
The 5891 deadweight tonne trailing suction hopper dredger, designed to extract sand and gravel from the seabed, was laid up in 2009 when the economic downturn kicked in.
The vessel’s owners, Hanson Aggregate Marine Ltd, had excess capacity in their nine-strong fleet of specialist aggregate dredgers and the Arco Beck was “mothballed” at Sunderland, until business improved.
Captain Jae (correct) Jones, Operations Manager of Southampton-based Hanson Aggregate Marine, said: “The Arco Beck was unfortunately the logical choice to be laid up because although she is a good ship she isn’t as flexible in her dredging and discharging capability as the other vessels of our fleet.
“But in that time she did become a TV star – she featured in an episode of the detective show Vera, there was a lot of action going with cars screeching up alongside her and actors running through the engine room. Some of our staff even appeared as extras!”
Now the 99.8 metre long vessel is needed back at work and was towed down to A&P Tees in mid-June for a major refit and overhaul.
A&P Tees Project Manager Mike Wappett said the Arco Beck had undergone the removal and renewal of 50 tonne of steel around the hopper, coamings and the main deck. The propeller shafts and hubs refitted were overhauled and refitted with new seals, the hull blasted clean and completely repainted.
Mr Wappett said: “The job went remarkably well, the steelwork was ahead of schedule but there were a few challenges placed upon everybody involved in bringing the ship back into service.”
All the cabins were refurbished with new carpets and curtains and the galley refitted. The crew of ten are aboard for three weeks at a time and in the near future the vessel will be operating in the River Thames area and in Belgium and France.
Captain Jones said: “Ours is a very specialist, niche industry because of the nature of the work involved and A&P Tees have developed the knowledge needed for these vessels.
“Because we have been coming here for a number of years we have built up a good working relationship with the yard, its staff and management. A lot of it is built on trust, personalities and familiarity with the vessels.
“We choose yards on the basis of quality of service, professionalism and safety – which is very important to us, and of course, price!
“This year we have sent a good proportion of our fleet to A&P Tees and have been very pleased with the results so it was logical that the Arco Beck refurbishment be carried out there.”
The Arco Beck has now sailed out of the River Tees to do some load tests off Humberside.