In the autumn of 2011, Panalpina asked BigLift to study the possibilities for two shipments comprising major parts destined for a refurbished coal production plant. The modules had to be transported from Lubeck, Germany to their end destination in Clairton, Pennsylvania.
BigLift had to ship the modules to Mobile, Alabama and then they would be barged all the way up to Pennsylvania. The cargoes were booked on Happy Diamond and Happy Dover and in July, the project was completed successfully. Although BigLift regularly ships factory parts, this particular project involved some specific challenges.
Protected under deck
In order to refurbish an existing coke plant in Pennsylvania, Thyssen Krupp Uhde GmnH (Uhde) was contracted to build the machinery that moves coal through the various stages of a Coke Oven.
In order to save commissioning time at the plant in the USA, Uhde designed the machines in modular form, so they are ready to ‘plug and play’ once installed. Because of the many sensitive parts the machines had to be loaded below deck to protect them from the North Atlantic weather conditions. Two sets of identical parts had to be moved, whereby the pusher machine, with a maximum width of 17.60 metres just fitted inside the 17.80 metre hold, with only centimetres to spare on each side.
Lifting point challenge
In the winter before transportation was due, BigLift inspected the cargo when it was still under construction at the LMG yard in Lubeck. However, it was then discovered that the lifting lugs for the modules had been located so far inside the modules, that access with BigLift’s usual grommets and shackles was impossible. But together with Uhde, the BigLift operational and CAD departments worked out a number of innovative solutions to solve the problem.
Overcoming shallow water
The water depth at the LMG factory was too shallow to moor a large Happy-D vessel directly alongside the quay, so a clever solution was required here too.
BigLift arranged a sounding of the berth and the surrounding river area. This showed that the water depth near the middle of the river was more favourable but still not deep enough. Therefore, a decision was taken that both Happy-D vessels should temporarily discharge nearly all their tweendecks at another location, before berthing at LMG. This reduced the vessels’ draught sufficiently to guarantee a safe clearance between the river bottom and the keel.
To keep the vessel positioned in the middle of the river, Panalpina arranged spacer barges between the Happy-D and the quay. However, all this meant that the required outreach to lift the cargo from the quay increased by 14 metres to a staggering 21 metres! But with the large lifting height and capacity of the ships’ cranes even the largest and heaviest module (the 325 mton pusher machine) could be lifted on board straight off the quay.
As the VOSTA LMG yard is situated close to the city centre on the River Trave and because the Happy-D vessels had to berth in almost the middle of the river, the waterway for commercial traffic going in and out of Lubeck’s centre was temporarily blocked. Of course, the local authorities had been contacted well in advance for the required approval for this unusual berthing method.