The Town Cut would have to be twice its current size to fit larger cruise ships. *Photo from the study of Bermuda’s shipping channels
The Town Cut would have to be twice its current size to fit larger cruise ships. *Photo from the study of Bermuda’s shipping channels

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: Widening the Town Cut to accommodate the next generation of cruise ships could cost up to $70million and involve the virtual demolition of three islands.

The St George’s shipping channel would have to be widened to at least double its current size.

The dredging work could cost between $48 and $71 million and would not be completed until 2017 at the earliest, according to a new Government report obtained by the Bermuda Sun.

The modifications would also mean the likely loss of Higgs, Hen and Horseshoe Islands.

The study of Bermuda’s Shipping Channels, commissioned by the Ministry of Transport, also recommends widening of Two Rock Passage at a cost of just under $60million to allow larger cruise ships into Hamilton Harbour.

It highlights the economic impact faced by the two towns because of the loss of a regular cruise ship.

St George’s gets 100 times less tourists than it did four years ago, according to statistics in the report.

The report states: “The alternatives under consideration for deepening and widening the Town Cut channel involve dredging to 11-12m and widening up to 165m.

“Widening to the south will require excavation on Horseshoe, Higgs and Hen Islands for all schemes.”

At present Town Cut is 70 metres across from side to side and it has an average depth of 10 metres.

The study looked into 14 alternative ways of improving access to St George’s Harbour that ranged from widening the Cut by just 30 meters to creating a new 130-metre channel through the St George’s Channel.

A series of simulation tests were also conducted between May 9 and May 12 to see how the various options worked for different sized ships.

Three preferred options were highlighted for St George’s all of which involved more than doubling the size of the Cut.

The report adds: “The return of cruise operations to St George’s by implementing modifications to Town Cut are expected to help reverse the recent decline in business and overall community vitality.”