150 years after the first works, the modernization of the Sulina Canal will be completed

150 years after the first works, the modernization of the Sulina Canal will be completed

In 1865, the European Commission of the Danube, based in Galaţi, started the modernization of the Canal and Barei Sulina under the direction of Sir Charles Hartley, also called the “Father of the Danube”.

The Romanian state has begun the final stage of modernizing the Sulina Canal after 154 years since the first works by the European Commission of the Danube. As in the case of the works, the final stage is being developed in the context of the growth of freight and passenger transport expected for the period 2030-2035, the Danube being one of Europe’s most important inland waterways.

By decision no. 884/2004 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe, the Danube has been designated Priority Axis no. 18 “Rhine / Meusse-Main-Danube”. The new project, entitled “Shore Defenses on the Sulina Channel – Final Stage”, has a value of more than 80.4 million euros, being deposited for European funding through the 2014-2020 POIM.

The main objectives of the investments are the recalibration of shore defenses on the Sulina Canal in order to increase the safety of navigation and also to protect the natural areas of the Danube Delta. Another goal of this project is to ensure better connectivity for the localities riparian to the Sulina Canal through the restoration of berths for passenger ships, given that cruise on the Danube and the Danube Delta has seen an unprecedented increase in recent years , bringing tens of thousands of tourists annually to the Delta.

The modernization of the Channel and Barea Sulina will be completed

A first modernization project on the Sulina Canal was launched in 2004, when the wreck of the Rostock ship, which occupies part of the waterway, was launched and a first step was taken to rehabilitate the Sulina Canal, affected by erosion caused by waves. Both situations were solved by the Romanian state through the Lower Danube River Administration (AFDJ) Galati, the national company that provides navigation conditions on the Romanian Danube sector. For both papers, Romania has borrowed from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The project “Sulina Channel Shores and Danube Topographic Surveillance System” project financed 50% of the EIB loan and 50% from the state budget. The total value of the project was 39.8 million euros. “In the first project, made with EIB funds, 15 km of shore defense was built. Now, on the new project, we will have shores for another 36.7 km. Six new escarpies, landing areas for AFDJ technical ships will also be built. They will be at Ceatal Ismail, where we have a semaphoretic station at Ceatal Sf. Gheorghe – the entrance to the Sulina Canal, Ilganii de Sus, Gorgova and Mila 2, where we have some technical points, as well as the Mud Sign on the Sulina Canal where the pilots hail.

There will also be rehabilitated five estacades from Partizani, Maliuc, Gorgova, Mila 18 and Crişan, where the passenger ships land in the Delta. These arrangements were needed to safely carry out embarkation and disembarkation operations, “said AFDJ Galati general manager Dorian Dumitru. The works also include the creation of a routing mole to protect access to Fortuna Lake and the consolidation of the landing dams at Bara Sulina.

The grain trade has developed the ports of Galati and Braila

The first works of modernization of the Sulina Canal took place after the end of the Crimean War and the establishment of the European Commission of the Danube, following the Paris Treaty of 1856. At that time, commercial transport on the Sulina Canal was chaotic, although there was an important development potential . According to the historian Corneliu Motoc, after the cessation of the Turkish monopoly on the export of grain from the Romanian Principalities, cereal exports from the Galaţi and Braila ports increased from 50,000 tons in 1837 to 210,000 tons in 1845.

Since the adoption of the free trade policy, English merchants have taken over trade in the area but faced navigational difficulties because their modern, high-capacity maritime vessels were too big in relation to the depths of the river and many they failed. The cereals were transported to Sulina with the barges, and there were transhipped in the seagoing ships.

Sir Charles Hartley, “Father of the Danube”

The modernization works at Bara Sulina were coordinated by the English engineer Sir Charles Augustus Hartley, also called the “Father of the Danube”. He was the chief engineer of the Danube European Commission, headquartered in Galati. Hartley regularized the Sulina Canal and secured the navigation conditions at Sulina Bara. For 50 years, he has coordinated, as chief engineer, then consultant, the Danube regularization works. In April 1857, he was invited to the European Commission of the Danube and was asked to examine the branch of Sulina, Sf. Gheorghe and Chilia and recommend one of them to be arranged. On Hartley’s recommendation in 1865, the Commission decided to start work on the Sulina Branch.

There have been some controversies that have jeopardized the continuation of the work, England and France intending at one point to stop them. Since the works had been started and carried out quickly, they were carried out under the new conditions set by the European Commission of the Danube: to be made at minimal costs, to last for 5 years and to bend the Sulina Bars by 60 cm. Hartley was the one who decided to build the “clovers” in the area of the Danube in the Great Danube, which is perpendicular to the seashore, extended to the sea. In 1861, the depth at the Sulina Bara was 5.2 meters, being increased by 1.8 meters, much more than the European Commission requested of the Danube.

In October 1862, Charles Hartley received the title of “Sir” from Queen Victoria. The Danube merchants offered Hartley a silver cup as a sign of their gratitude for the sailing on Bara Sulina safely and transport costs up to 5 times lower.

An Englishman dedicated to the modernization of Romania

Hartley was chief engineer of the Danube European Commission until 1872, and until 1907 he was a consultant to the Commission. In England, Hartley was awarded the prestigious “Albert Medal” award in 1903 as a sign of recognition of his contribution to the development of hydrotechnical engineering.

In Romania, Hartley provided engineering solutions for the modernization of the ports of Galati, Brăila and Constanţa, and the plans made by him in Constanţa Port formed the basis of Anghel Saligny’s modernization studies.

Hartley was a close friend of King Carol I and Queen Elizabeth, whom they often visit. One of the topics of discussion between Charles I and Charles Hartley was the king’s intention to modernize the Danube ports, from Cernavoda to Turnu Severin, to boost the Romanian grain exports.

Suggestive for the Romanian authorities’ gratitude for the contribution of Sir Charles Hartley to the modernization of Danube navigation is also the letter of Prime Minister Dimitrie Sturdza, in which he said: “We have to double the agricultural output to work your beautiful river, and we can always think gratefully to Sir Charles Hartley. ”

Source: Romanialibera

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