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Largest ever cargo ship at Tate & Lyle Refinery

Tate & Lyle, one of the longest standing users of the River Thames, recently celebrated the docking of its largest ever cargo ship.

The factory, whose origins on the site date back to 1878, is one of the world's largest cane refineries handling ,1.14 million tonnes of raw cane each year. On May 7, it welcomed the 190m-LOA (length overall), 32.26m-beam Tess 52, Fijian raw sugar transporter, Tai Hawk.

The occasion was marked with an on-board celebration attended by 24 dignitaries including members of the Fijian High Commission

Built in 2004, the vessel, which has a dead weight of 52,000 tonnes, docked at Thames refinery in the Royal Docks area of East London to offload 38,892 tonnes of raw cane sugar over an eight-day period.

Tom Folan, Tate and Lyle import operations manager, raw sugar, said the operation had been problem free - despite the size of the vessel:

"Around 50 ships a year dock at the refinery, and whereas we have had many ships as long, or as wide as The Tai Hawk before, we have never had one as large in all dimensions.

"There are shallower areas of the Thames which could have been problematic, but a Port of London Authority (PLA) Pilot, tugs and high tides ensured the ship's safe passage."

About the PLA

  • The Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for navigational safety and related matters on 95 miles of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington in west London
  • The PLA provides navigational, pilotage and other services for users of the Thames
  • London is the UK's second largest port, handling over 50 million tonnes of cargo each year
  • London also has a busy passenger boat trade for tourists and commuters and is a popular destination for international passenger cruise ships
  • The tidal Thames is also used widely by those with small recreational craft of many types.