In the early 1970’s, 1.8 million tonnes of Torridonian Sandstone was blasted out of the mountainside to create the dry dock and Howard Doris Ltd started to build the Ninian Central oil platform in August 1975 for Chevron Petroleum (UK) Ltd.
Over 3,000 people were employed to construct the concrete platform. They were locally called the “Kishorn Commandos” and lived in a camp on the site. Due to planning and travel constraints, the location was considered an island so all materials and employees were brought in by sea or air.
The 140 metre diameter concrete base weighed 157,000 tonnes when it was floated out into Loch Kishorn in September 1976. Each concrete caisson gate is 84 metres wide and weighs 11,000 tonnes empty and 30,000 tonne when flooded.
The completed height of the concrete base was 156 metres and it was built to stand in a water depth of 136 metres in the harsh conditions of the North Sea east of the Shetland Isles.
In May 1978, the 600 tonne concrete platform was towed by a total of 8 tugs to east of Shetland. It took 11.5 days and is still in operation today.
For further information on the Ninian Central project you can watch the short film titled ‘NINIAN CENTRAL PLATFORM’ at the Scottish Screen Archive: http://ssa.nls.uk/film.cfm?fid=5973