By John Blight
In 2007 a better and cheaper option for dredging was needed for Rye. The Dutch had the monopoly on this throughout the UK, but about 10 years previously I had drawn up a system to fit to an existing vessel, then never got around to fitting it.
I went to see Rod Chapman at the wharf who had a small 9 metre boat. We renamed it “Wight Silt” and retro fitted the dredging system to the stern.. I applied for patents which over the years have been granted and other vessels have been fitted with my system. Two years ago some very good and prestigious contracts were gained one of which was the seven year contract for British Waterways who have now turned into the charity Canals and Rivers Trust.
Hoops of fire had to be jumped through to qualify for these contracts, meeting strict environmental measures and water quality monitoring so that the environment has the maximum protection whilst the dredging is completed.
The dredgers now work all over the UK, having completed campaigns in the river Thames for HMRC and dredging for the Royal Navy when HMS Argyle came to Chatham. Works in the Bristol channel in extreme tidal conditions, where other systems have failed to complete the task have also been successfully finished with repeat work ordered.
I am now quoting for work as far afield as Indonesia, India and Australia. Because of the manor in which contracts are awarded in the UK is very hard for small businesses. as only the large contractors can enter the bidding. For this reason I have now teamed up with a successful Chatham based Company GPS Marine to take the company on to bigger and better things with a new vessel able to dredge to 30 metres being constructed for working on the new Thames Gateway project where larger ships will be mooring.
It has been a long hard battle to win contracts and retain them in the face of serious opposition but I am pleased to report that ours is one Rye businesses that has driven through the economic blizzard and come out in a strong position. I should like to express my thanks for the help and support given by Rod Chapman, especially when the system was untried and untested.