DISCOVER Magazine #7

S .Walsh & Sons
Anticipating growth on the river Thames

Published in category: Harbour & Terminal
Mark Robinson, marine director S. Walsh & Sons Mark Robinson
marine director
S. Walsh & Sons
Jon Fisher, chief executive GRS Group Jon Fisher
chief executive
GRS Group


“We expect the Thames to become a superhighway with anything from 60 to 80 million tonnes of cargo moving in and out of London each year. The acquisition of this multipurpose vessel is part of our long-term vision.” Jon Fisher, GRS group chief executive, is talking about how a new Multi Cat 1908 ordered from Damen will enable subsidiary company S. Walsh & Sons to respond to the anticipated increase in cargo movements on the River Thames in the coming decades.

Even at current figures, the River Thames is the UK’s busiest inland waterway, carrying the majority of all goods transported on the country’s inland waterway network. The growth to which Jon is referring is linked primarily to London’s predicted increase of population: reaching more than 11 million by 2050. The main reason behind the River Thames becoming a ‘superhighway’ is the fact that the vast majority of goods transported on the River Thames are related to this population increase: supplying materials for construction, civil engineering and transport infrastructure projects, for instance.

Such projects are the core business of S. Walsh & Sons, part of the GRS Group. The company delivers end-to-end materials handling services to the UK civil engineering and construction industries. Its services include excavation, freight (marine, rail and road), materials processing, environmental management, and land remediation. S. Walsh & Sons has more than 50 years of experience in civil engineering-related activities in and around London, working on high-profile projects such as Tilbury Docks, Crossrail, National Grid Power Tunnels, and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

More independence

After Damen finalised a number of modifications, S. Walsh & Sons took delivery of the 19-metre long vessel ten weeks after ordering. Equipped with a crane and a large deck space for her size, the new Multi Cat 1908 – called SWS Endurance – will serve as a true allrounder in the fleet. “We chose this vessel for its versatility – we can use it as a tug to push or pull barges loaded with construction materials,” continues Jon. “Or as a crane vessel working off the side – loading steel or placing cable, for example.”

“With these capabilities we can bid on contracts that we haven’t been able to bid on before. It’s also about gaining more independence – having a vessel like this in our own fleet means that we will not have to charter a comparable vessel any more. This will be a formidable addition to our expanding fleet on the River Thames.”

Try before you buy

Safety played a critical part in Walsh’s decision to order the Multi Cat 1908. The high wheelhouse with 360 degree visibility allows diverse vessels to be towed or manoeuvred safely and efficiently.

While S. Walsh & Sons has purchased a number of second-hand Damen vessels over the years, the SWS Endurance marks the company’s first new-build vessel.

“We were able to go out on sea trials before we placed the order. This ‘try before you buy’ idea is very attractive,” notes Mark Robinson, Marine Director of S. Walsh & Sons.

We are happy to be working with Damen again to deliver a diverse and safe working marine fleet for the future projects we will be involved in. Our ‘Damen experience’ has been absolutely fantastic throughout this whole process.

Contract Signing MuC 1908 for S Walsh & Sons

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