Storm waves batter South Shields coast

Waves battering South Shields coast.
Waves battering South Shields coast.

Storm waves have been battering the South Shields coast, but dedicated staff at the Port of Tyne have battled the elements to remain open.

The severe weather caused by the 'beast from the east' has seen South Shields and the North East coastline hit by huge waves.

The Port of Tyne has battled the elements to remain open.

The Port of Tyne has battled the elements to remain open.

These striking images from Port of Tyne show the extent of what their staff have been facing to remain operational, with people working around the clock to keep disruption to a minimum.

The Port has had three gritting vehicles out spreading 16 tonnes of salt a day to keep the its 620 acre estate clear of snow and ice.

Despite the disruption caused by the freezing conditions, the Port of Tyne has remained open and container operations, rail services, car handling, marine and passenger operations are continuing.

The weather warnings and poor road conditions meant the impact of the Siberian winds and heavy snow was felt most across the Port’s distribution network, with a few orders rebooked at the request of customers and deliveries to Scotland temporarily suspended.

Stormy weather hits the Groyne in South Shields.

Stormy weather hits the Groyne in South Shields.

The Port’s agility also helped one customer Smulders based in Wallsend bring a 30 metre tug into the river with winds gusting to 55 knots (Force 10), where other local ports were unable to provide assistance.

Graeme Hardie, Port of Tyne Head of Operations, said: “Our main concern is to minimise the impact of the weather to our normal operations while continuing to make health and safety our top priority.

“The Port was well prepared and overall we have continued with a huge effort from all of our teams.

"We worked through the snow last night to discharge a container ship on time and the team at the International Passenger Terminal cleared snow and ice from walkways to ensure the safety of passengers on the DFDS Ferry, which has continued to operate to schedule.

"Across our marine services, rail network and road transport we have managed to keep the impact for our customers to a minimum.”

The Port’s pilotage service, which provides harbour pilots on board vessels arriving and departing from the River Tyne, has remained operating to guide ships in and out of the river safely, despite a six metre swell at the mouth of the river and the gale force winds.

The pilots board and disembark ships at sea, outside the piers of the Tyne, if it is safe to do so, climbing from the pilot cutter to the ship via a ladder.

On the outbound journeys, if they can’t get back on to the cutter, they have to stay on board to wherever the ship’s next port of call is.

Steven Clapperton, Port of Tyne Harbour Master and Director of Health & Safety and Environment, said: “Marine Services are working around the clock with shipping agents to keep arrivals and departures on time.

"Our pilots always keep their passports on them just in case they are forced to travel with the ship - though we try as far as possible to prevent this from happening and so far it’s not been necessary.”