Specialist industry logistics firm Keith Elkington Transport carries out dozens of jobs each week, but few present the sort of challenges that arose when it was tasked to deliver thousands of pounds worth of new catering equipment to HMS Belfast recently.
The famous ship, which was built in 1936, is moored on the Thames between Tower Bridge and London Bridge.
But when its catering team recently ordered a range of new kit from Lockhart, the transport firm had to navigate various hurdles to successfully get it on board.
For start, the tide dictates the angle of the approach walkway, while KET also needed to account for the very busy schedule on board the ship given the high visitor numbers it receives.
Those weren’t the only things it had to contend with, reveals managing director Keith Elkington.
“Unloading of the delivery vehicle had to be carefully planned and permission sought from Southwark Crown Court due to the media attention that the Rolf Harris case was attracting,” he says. “Additionally, Radio 2 were going to be broadcasting live from the ship with Jeremy Vine, a cruise ship was due to dock alongside Belfast, and a German Navy Ship was also planned to arrive and stay for a number of days.”
All of this limited KET to a very small window of time to get all of the equipment on board and installed without getting in the way of the other parties.
“Working with and on behalf of two of our customers, Lockhart Catering Equipment and Winterhalter, we were tasked with siting two upright refrigerated cabinets, a three-door undercounter and a single-door undercounter unit and also a pass-through dishwasher,” he said, adding that the first items of kit went in at 7am on the day of the delivery.
“We also had to remove 11 old pieces of refrigeration that the ship had accumulated over the years, ranging from fridges, freezers, ice machines and water coolers. All the pieces caused problems in some form because of the arched-shaped doors and the ‘knee knockers’ — the 18-inch high stepovers to get through the doors, the low ceiling height and very tight corners.”
The Winterhalter dishwasher caused slightly different issues in that it had to be lifted up into a galley kitchen by removing the metal staircase and using specialist lifting equipment to remove the old unit and position the new one.
Despite the logistical challenges, everything was completed and up and running in time for the recent D-Day celebrations on board the ship.