In pictures | Giant vessels arrive at Hinkley Point C

The operation is part of the offshore works required for Hinkley Point C’s water-cooling system (Image: Hinkley Point C)

Two huge jack up vessels have arrived off the coast of Hinkley Point C in Somerset during the move to the offshore work final stages.

The vessels, named ‘Neptune’ and ‘Sea Challenger’, will be used to install necessary components for the power station’s cooling water system.

The Sea Challenger has a helideck and both can accommodate up to 60 people onboard.

The Sea Challenger is 132 metres long and can lift 900 tonnes. The Neptune is 60 metres long and can lift 600 tonnes (Image: Hinkley Point C)

Six vertical shafts will be installed at a depth of more than 20 metres, marking the next stage in connecting the six miles of tunnels with the seabed.  

Once installed, miners will dig a horizontal connection between the bottom of the shaft and the tunnel.

This is the first part of linking the intake and outfall heads with the tunnels.

At 132 metres, the Sea Challenger is 132m long – longer than a football pitch (Image: Hinkley Point C)

These 5,000-tonne structures were lowered onto the seabed last summer and will circulate water to the two nuclear reactors.

The platforms’ cranes have a combined lifting capacity of 1,500 tonnes. They are often used to build offshore wind farms.

At 132 metres, the Sea Challenger is 132m long and Neptune is 60 metres long.

Each vessel uses its four ‘legs’ to elevate itself above sea level. These legs allow it to operate safely without being impacted by waves and currents.

Work to install the shafts will continue into the autumn (Image: Hinkley Point C)

Area delivery director, Jonathan Smith, said: “This is one of the final stages of our offshore operations, which will see teams from EDF, Balfour Beatty and New Wave Solutions working together to deliver yet another incredible feat of engineering.

“The cooling water system is critical to the power station – which will help Britain fight climate change and achieve stronger energy security.”

Hinkley Point C is the first new nuclear reactor for a British power station in more than 30 years.

It will start operating in June 2027 – a year later than originally planned. Estimates put the total cost of the plant at £25bn-£26bn.

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