New Recycled Shipping Container Signal Station for Guernsey

recycled shipping container signal station
Guernsey VTS’s brand new recycled shipping container signal station installed at St Peter Port and due to come into service in January 2022.

Guernsey Vessel Traffic Service has a brand new eco-friendly signal station on White Rock Pier in St Peter Port Harbour

The original building on the pier was demolished over 10 years ago. Since then Guernsey Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) have been operating out of a temporary portable cabin. Needless to say working conditions weren’t ideal. A VTS has a similar role to air traffic control so a good facilities are important. The new shipping container signal station will provide a first class state of the art working space for the officers and staff in charge of Guernsey harbours keeping everyone safe.

st peter port harbour

Guernsey Harbours

guernsey harbours logo vectorMaritime traffic operating in and out of St Peter Port and St Sampson’s harbours consists of a wide variety of vessels. Everything from small leisure craft up to the 14,000 tonne cross channel ferries and everything in between are managed and controlled by Guernsey VTS. Safety is paramount. Guernsey has four marinas, three of which are in St Peter Port, the fourth in St Sampsons. There are over 1,850 local berths and moorings, needless to say this equates to a high volume of traffic at busy times. Speed limits of between four and six knots are strictly enforced.

busy harbour st peter port
A busy harbour at St Peter Port requires a full-time VTS.

When the new recycled shipping container signal station opens, Guernsey VTS will monitor traffic in the harbours and wider areas surrounding the island using radar, AIS, VHF Radio and CCTV. A new radar tower will be installed at Longue Hougue along with new IALA vessel traffic control lighting. These state of the art systems will all be controlled from within the new signal station. Its eco-friendly too which is more important now than ever before. Using recycled building materials is better for the environment and will help keep down global temperatures.

captain david barker james way guernsey vts
Guernsey VTS team leaders; harbourmaster Captain David Barker left with assistant harbourmaster and Guernsey VTS manager James Way ( Photo courtesy of )

Guernsey Vessel Traffic Service

Guernsey VTS is in control of all maritime traffic on approach to the island and within St Peter Port and St Sampson’s harbours. Their duties include monitoring and managing vessel movement and providing important information to commercial and leisure mariners along with other crutial services that help maintain safety for seagoers. Seven VTS officers currently staff the station. They use various systems in their work including VHF radio, radar and AIS to deliver vessel traffic services, all from their base on White Rock Pier.

Why Recycled Shipping Containers?

The robust structure provided by recycled shipping containers is the perfect building material for such an important facility. The building will need to be secure and able to withstand extreme weather conditions at its exposed location on the pier. With a limited budget and quick turnaround needed, a recycled shipping container was deemed the best all round solution for Guernsey’s new VTS station.

exposed white rock pier guernsey vts st peter port
Located at the end of the Wite Rock Pier in St Peter Port Harbour, Guernsey VTS will be exposed to extreme weather conditions and therefore durability is a key requirement for this new building.

First Contact and Bidding

We were initially approached by Guernsey VTS in June 2021. A search online brought them to our website and following a review of the extensive services that we deliver in this field they completed one of our contact forms. We were delighted to hear from them and honoured to be considered for such a high-profile important project. We were invited to tender along with six other national manufacturers.

inbox projects installation team
The InBox Projects Installation team on-site in St Peter Port.

Contract Awarded

Our sales and technical teams worked hard on this project from the outset. From our initial sales calls with Guernsey VTS and our technical teams liaising with key stake holders right the way through to the final hand-over, out staff worked tirelessly. After the bidding process was complete we were the outright winners of the contract, which was awarded to us in August 2021. Our technical know-how, tenacity and ability to deliver on time, under budget using recycled eco-friendly materials won us the contract in the end.

shipping container structural test diagrams calculations
Just some of the many structural tests carried out by our technical team during the bidding process.

Design phase

To fulfil the space requirements, we proposed the use of four 40ft recycled shipping containers. The single use containers will be stacked to create a two storey facility. Internal walls will be removed to open up the space inside and the structure will be reinforced using steel beans. Two VTS operator positions will be located on the first floor with a server room, breakout space and welfare facilities on the ground floor.

A full manufactures drawing pack was produced and submitted to present building and detailing window positions and dimensions, floor plans and layout, electrical and plumbing installation locations. Given the nature of this design a structural calculation of the build was required. This would involve the production of manufacturing drawings that will be evaluated by our qualified technicians to determine the make-up of support steels and general arrangement.

shipping container design phase drawings
A small selection of the many drawings and diagrams produced during the design phase.

U-value calculations to demonstrate thermal performance were carried out and electrical NIC compliance certifications for emergency lighting electrical works were included.

Shipping Container Signal Station Designs Approved

Our design team worked closely with Guernsey VTS throughout the design phase. This enabled them to provide a detailed specification of the requirements to be met. Our designs were approved after some small changes we’re requested. This phase went perfectly to plan and schedule, which gave our production team a good start on the build.

isometric shipping container design illustraion
Four 40ft ISO Container Conversions isometric line drawings approved for production.

Build & Installation Phase

Work on the build phase was carried out in September and October. All went smoothly and to plan as our teams worked tirelessly to complete ahead of their target. Four single use 40ft containers were purchased for use as the base structure for the project. Preparation work was carried out to strip and clean each container prior cutting and shaping. Apertures were formed for windows and the personnel entrance door. Four inner walls on both floors were removed to open up the internal working and breakout spaces. Roof support was provided using steel beams and columns.

40ft shipping container wall removed
Temporary protective panelling installed for transportation is removed on-site at White Rock Pier.

CLS timber frames with vapour barriers, Rockwool, Xtratherm and decorative Mega Excel Gypsum board finish were fitted as per our recommendation. Underside insulation was applied in the form of Kingspan TP10 ThermaPitch. A U-Value of 0.17 w/m²k is achieved with this specification which meets regulation requirements. White wood joinery detail throughout was proposed and installed.

Shipping to, and Installation at St Peter Port

The build phase schedule included road transport from our production facility Liverpool to the quayside at Poole port. The containers were then loaded at the quay in Poole, shipped to St Peter Port and delivered to the pier just a few meters away ready for installation. We were on site for four days in total, arriving on Monday 8th and heading back home on Friday 12th.

shipping conteiner 3 crane lifted

A site survey was be carried out prior to delivery to ensure all logistical challenges have been agreed. We hired a port crane to offload the containers from the ship to the quayside. This part of the project was managed by Channel Seaways who were brilliant! Also a big thanks to the Guernsey VTS staff for ensuring the site was prepared as requested for the delivery of the four units.

Kitchen area

The kitchen area fit out comprised 40mm thick laminate worktop at 600mm width on two double base units with a stainless steel sink and drainer and mixer tap fitted and supplied by an under sink water heater. A low-level double wall unit was installed above electrical sockets adjacent to the window above the sink. Power points sockets were set at 300mm from the sink 150mm above the finished worktop.

W/C & Shower Room

Within both W/C areas, toilets, sinks, plumbing for waste and fresh water was all installed to the external north wall elevation. These rooms were insulated and lined with Whiterock panelling for water resistance and easy maintenance. An electric shower was installed on the ground floor with electric heater, lighting and switches.


Marine ply was fitted to all floor areas finished with Candy Blue carpet tiles in the breakout and working spaces and PolySafe Silver Oak vinyl in the kitchen area, W/C and shower rooms.

Electrical installation

A metal distribution board, lighting surface mount, light fittings and light switches, electric wall panel heaters and 16 x 240v double sockets including floor sockets were installed throughout.

External Painting

All four containers were shot blasted and coated with Jotun marine primer base coats. For the finishing top coats RAL Marine High Durability paint coatings were spray applied to the exterior walls. This system comes with a 5 year manufacturers maintenance free warranty.

Windows and doors

Double glazed toughened UPVc framed windows and doors were installed on the exterior with trickle vents offering half height throughout. Both tilted installation and window coating for improved visibility were specified and fitted. Steel security personnel doors were fitted externally while boomer timber doors were installed for the internal rooms.

white rock pier signal station lighthouse

Project Completion

We wrapped up and signed off the £320,000 project, on-budget and on schedule on Friday 12th November 2021. Capt David Barker and his team are now eager to move in to their new home. They will oversea installation of their new IT servers, radar systems, radio telephony and CCTV monitoring equipment. Their brand new recycled shipping container signal station should be fully operational in January 2022.

inbox projects installation team photo project complete
Completed on Friday 12th November 2021, our team are ready to head back to the mainland and on to their next project.

No reduction in the existing VTS service was experienced throughout the project and all key stakeholders have been very satisfied with the full service we provided.

Said James Way, assistant harbourmaster and VTS manager at Guernsey Ports;

VTS was the first point of contact for commercial and leisure vessels. VTSOs are on watch 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The new signal station will provide improved facilities and a modern and comfortable working environment for our staff, enabling them to focus on delivering an effective and professional traffic management service.

Said Capt David Barker, Guernsey’s harbourmaster;

Investment in this new signal station will allow Guernsey Ports to deliver a 21st century VTS service, which fully complies with international standards and is vital to maintain lifeline passenger and freight services to Guernsey and our outlying islands

st peter port harbour guernsey


This was yet again another amazing project to be involved with. We feel privileged to be goven the opportunity to work on such a wide variety of exciting projects. Providing first class customer care and delivering high quality products, on-time and on-budget continues to be our mission. Working with Guernsey VTS staff and all the other stakeholders involved was a pure pleasure.

Our stay in Guernsey was made even better by all the friendly and helpful people we met. Everybody from the harbour team and port staff, crane and transport crews through to the B&B staff and VTS personnel who all made our trip an experience we’ll remember for years. A big thank you to John Ross Photography too for shooting on-site throughout the week, I’m sure you’ll agree the photography looks amazing.

If you have a project you think would be a good fit for us, please reach out to our sales team on the contact form below or call 01606 272875, we’re looking forward to hearing from you!

white rock pier guernsey vts st peter port
Project complete, the new Guernsey VTS signal station is ready for radar and server fit-out.

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