Three of the huge P&O car ferries that take millions of holidaymakers abroad every year have had their annual “MOT” at A&P Tyne ship repair yard.
And those interested in the engineering of such enormous vessels will be able to watch the work for themselves, as the refit of the 180 metre long Pride of Bruges is being filmed for a new TV series.
A crew from Lion TV – which produces Horrible Histories – was allowed into the yard to shoot the large-scale maintenance work needed each winter to enable the North Sea and Channel ferries to safely transport cars, freight and passengers overseas.
The series, with the working title “Inside the Machine”, is due to go out on BBC2 later this year.
Director Chris Mitchell said: “It’s a series of three one-hour long programmes looking at machines and how they work by getting inside them and taking them apart.
“We’re featuring a British Airways jumbo jet, a P&O ferry and an oil and gas rig.
“Most people have been on a ferry, most people have been on a plane but they don’t know what makes them work, they take them for granted. We’re talking about engineering and technology in a way the public can understand.
“There’s some substantial work going on at A&P involving propellers and the big end of the engine. We’ll be climbing inside the bowels of the ship, finding out how everything works and exploring parts in detail.”
The Hebburn yard has been busy since mid-January with a three ship deal with P&O to refit the cross-channel ferry the Pride of Canterbury and North Sea ferries, the Pride of York and the Pride of Bruges, which is the biggest project with a large quantity of steel renewal work required.
The work undertaken involved overhauls of sea valves, propulsion machinery, general essential underwater maintenance work, preparation and painting.
The Pride of Bruges, which can carry 850 cars, is due to leave the yard on March 10.
Sales & marketing manager at A&P Tyne, Martin Robertson, said: “It’s exciting to have the film crew here during the Pride of Bruges project. They’ll be looking at what it takes to keep the ferries in top condition and they’ll see the dedication of the workforce here to make that happen.
“A&P Tyne has been welcoming P&O Ferries to the yard for many years and as a result we have an intimate knowledge of them.
“It’s great to see the vessels coming into the yard, they’re so familiar to people – especially those of us who are used to travelling on them.”
A&P Tyne has the largest dry dock on England’s east coast and filming included the ferry being secured with large oak blocks while the A&P workforce, dwarfed by the 6748 deadweight tonne vessel, moved swiftly to repair the damage done by months at sea.
P&O spokesman Brian Rees added: “The filming gives a great opportunity to show what is it is easy to take for granted – the technical skill and experience that is vital for companies like A&P and P&O.
“There isn’t much glamour in a shipyard or ship’s engine room and it isn’t easy to convey the intricacies of some of what is going on to people with no technical background.
“Hopefully this series will fly the flag for those people the customer doesn’t get to see – those who keep the show on the road.”