The Isle of Wight Council is trialling an independent drive wheel operation system on the troubled Cowes Floating Bridge in a bid to improve the service during all tides.
Island Echo is told that the brand new system, which effectively acts as a method of steering, is being installed following drawings from SEC Marine – subcontractors of Wight Shipyard. The East Cowes-based Wight Shipyard Co was appointed by the Council in July 2018 to work towards resolving the issues faced by Floating Bridge No.6 since entering service in May 2017.
The new system allows each chain to be individually braked, giving much more control over the vessel’s direction and chain depth.
It is hoped that the independent drive wheel operation will allow the Council to do away with the £194-an-hour tug boat that is used to push the floating bridge during spring tides.
A spokesperson for the Isle of Wight Council has said:
“As part of investigating ways of improving the clearance over the floating bridge chains at all states of the tides, one option being considered is an independent drive wheel operation. This is currently in the process of being installed and trialled.
“This option has been designed by an accredited firm of naval architects, and will be assessed following the completion of the trial.
“At this stage a completion date for the trial has not yet been finalised.”