Mr. Ron M J Gardner, MSc, CEng FICE, who is a regular at ICE India Reviews these days (this time involved in reviewing in Mumbai and Bangalore), was invited by the ICE Kolkata Local Association (LA) members to deliver a technical talk on “Challenges of Dredging for Port & Harbour: Development in the UK and its relevance to Indian Conditions” at Lake Club on 20th of April from 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
Mr. Gardner was introduced by the ICE Kolkata Rep Dr. Ayanangshu Dey to the audience as a retired civil engineer with over 50 years varied experience in the field of maritime design and construction in different countries. He had worked in the prestigious “Transmanche Link” between England and France and the “Oresund Crossing” connecting Denmark and Sweden. Mr. Gardner also worked with Port authorities, Consulting Engineers, and in International Contracting. In retirement, he is a senior examiner for the ICE and a Panel Vice Chairman.
Mr. Gardner presented the lecture topic in three separate sections. He initiated his talk by sharing the very first assignment as a junior design engineer with Dover Port Authority (located in the Southern part of UK and having direct ferry and trade connections with France, Holland, and other EU countries). He demonstrated by pictures the extent and magnitude of development and modification project undertaken where he was involved. He explained the various technical issues related to assess and carry out dredging inside the existing port and further development works to enhance its ferry traffic and commercial cargo handling capacities. Mr. Gardner emphasized the positive effects of such works on the local community in terms of job creation and betterment of economic condition and contribution of trades. Following this, he indicated the ongoing military development in Portsmouth Harbour to accommodate the new Royal Navy 65,000 Tonne Aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. Mr. Gardner stressed on the importance of excavating debris and salvaging materials of archaeological importance to clear a designated area to increase the draft required for the huge ship to be anchored inside the port. He mentioned the story of HMS Ganges whose wreckage was found inside the port and the way it was salvaged and preserved in a local maritime museum. Lastly, Mr. Gardner presented the ongoing works and possible future projects being undertaken by his present contracting firm along the long Indian coastal line stretching from its furthest western part and deep inside the Bay of Bengal in the east. He touched upon the relevance of use of various dredging equipment and techniques in dealing with the varying contours, locations, and types of geological deposits across the Indian coastline.
During the questions and answers session, while responding to the questions Mr. Gardner emphasized that dredging in any port waters should be done with careful attention being given to make such activity sustainable for natural ecosystem and job creation for local community. He briefly explained various means of safeguarding such dredging activities against the local flora and fauna. Mr. Gardner indicated the difference between intricacies of working in contracts with private clients and defence authorities. Through his lecture, the local members could get a rare glimpse of a somewhat different facet of civil engineering: port and maritime engineering; specially the student members recognizing such future opportunities.
The vote of thanks was given by Srirup Mitra, honorary secretary of ICE Kolkata local association. A token of appreciation was presented to the guest speaker by the ICE Kolkata LA Chairman Mr. Parthajit Patra for his time and sharing of experience with the local members. About 15 ICE members of various categories attended this event.
Dinner was served at the end of the session where members got an opportunity to informally and directly interact with the invited speaker and discuss about possibilities including organising a technical tour to the Kolkata Port Trust.