My girlfriend and I went to the World Port Days on Saturday.
There were lots of things to see and do in and around Rotterdam, such as demonstrations of the navy, port authority and fire department, and excursions to the “Van Brienenoord” bridge, the ECT container terminal, and a cruise ferry. Or you could make a helicopter flight to see the port from the sky, or a boat trip to see it from the water.

We visited a British aircraft carrier and were allowed to handle weapons (machine guns, cannons, a rocket launcher!) and take a look inside the helicopters on board. Very spectacular!

In the afternoon we visited the Maeslantkering, the final piece of the Deltaworks, a magnificent piece of craftmanship, and one of the many great works of the Dutch in their struggle against the water.
The barrier consists of two long arms, which turn into the river to block that, when high water has been predicted. It all happens automatically, even warning the ships, 8 hours before the barrier is to be closed. There’s no human intervention, because the chances of a human making a mistake are much higher than the chances of a computer error.
The barrier is built on the narrowest part of the river, where it is only about 360 meters wide. The two arms are 237 meters long each, with 22 meter high doors. The main tubes have a diameter of 1.8 meters and are made out of 9 centimeter thick steel. Welding two parts together was done in more than 100 layers, taking 160 hours per weld. The arms turn around a steel ball-joint, the largest in the world, with a diameter of 10 meters and a weight of 680 tonnes, which is funded in a concrete block of 52,000 tonnes. Yet, when the barrier is closed, the enormous pressure of 35,000 tonnes of water on each of the doors, makes the foundation move about 20 centimeters. It has been calculated that after 5 closings, the sand will have been compressed so much that the foundation will no longer move. But it will have been pushed backwards by about 33 centimeters by that time. There must also be enough room for free play, because the arms will vary in length some 20 centimeters, just under the influence of temperature changes, even though they have been covered in 300,000 liters of special reflecting paint.
Well, all in all it was very interesting, and certainly worth a visit, if you happen to be around. Take a look at the website for more information.

In the evening we had a great time having dinner with two friends in a nice restaurant, “Inn the picture”, at the Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam, and later that evening we met some more friends for the traditional fireworks on the river.

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Monday, September 8th, 2003 Leisure

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