The 185-tonne Endeavour replica is being hoisted over the Tees Barrage as it continues its journey from Stockton to Whitby, where it will form a permanent visitor attraction.
HM Bark Endeavour is one of only two life-size replicas in the world of the ship commanded by explorer Captain James Cook for his first voyage to Australia and New Zealand.
The ship was put up for auction last year and bought for £155,000 by a Whitby businessman, beating bids from Dubai, Portsmouth and London, which safeguarded the vessel’s future as a North East visitor attraction. Owner, ex Naval man Andrew Fiddler now intends bringing it back to the coastal town which is also where the original Endeavour was built in 1764.
However the Tees Barrage and the narrowness of the lock gates, which have effectively created a landlocked status for the vessel, need to be negotiated before it can continue its onward voyage.
As the Endeavour’s hull is three metres wider at the broadest part than the six-metre width of the lock gates, a team of contractors, engineers and divers are planning to lift the vessel five metres into the air at the Barrage’s lock to clear the gates before then slowly lowering it back onto the seaward side of the river.
To do this the team, led by global specialist ALE and working in partnership with the Barrage owners, the Canal & River Trust, have fitted lifting equipment and heavy straps under the hull of the ship.
A huge 750-tonne crane with a 63-metre boom is in position and over the course of four hours will lift the 183-tonne (de-ballasted weight) and 33-metre long Endeavour above the lock gates before being lowered.
From there, the Endeavour will be towed downstream to A&P Tees - a facility owned by global ship repair, conversion and marine specialist A&P Group. On arrival at A&P Tees, the Endeavour will be drydocked and will undergo a six-week refit and refurbishment programme including essential repairs to make it seaworthy.
Once the Endeavour has been transformed into a visitor attraction, the vessel will begin the final leg of the journey, a 40-mile tow by pilot boat following the North York Moors National Park coastline southwards to Whitby.
After a further short period of internal refurbishment, the Endeavour is scheduled to re-open as a visitor attraction and centre of learning for schools later this summer.