Heavy-lift redefined

Heavy-lift redefined on MV "Beluga Sydney"

“Utmost care, best solutions” – Beluga transports a huge Siwertell shiploader under challenging conditions.

A weight of only 420 tons does not challenge the world market leader in the heavy-lift and project cargo segment – nothing could be more wrong. At least if the weight is spread so unevenly at a shiploader to be transported from Trieste, Italy to Paradip, India. The giant measuring 40 by 20 by 34 meters forms a sensitive framework with many protruding parts like antennas, beams and a loading nozzle. For Beluga Transport Engineer Yahaya Sanusi there are many reasons to classify this cargo as an “extraordinary heavy-lift”, although the weight did not break any record in the shipping business.

For the loading on December 17, 2010 he and his colleagues provided some creative solutions for the tricky parts of the lift and the subsequent lashing of the cargo. “The metacentric height during the lift indicating the stability of the vessel should be always at least a meter for heavy cargoes”, states Sanusi, “but in this case we stayed below this number.” Thus, Beluga combined the shipment of six 300-ton engines outbound from Trieste with this voyage of MV “Beluga Sydney”. Their weight in the hold improved the stability of the vessel. “On the other hand, this measure maxed out the available water depth at the pier as we had only half a meter clearance left below the keel which we consider the absolute minimum. To be on the safe side, we had sounded the exact water depth before and were able to set up the optimal loading conditions for this lift”, says Sanusi.

Several protruding parts made the shiploader a complicated item to move. ”During the lift we did not have more than half a meter of clearance between the cargo and the vessel’s cranes”, explains Sanusi. And there was another obstacle to take care of: A support tower erected on the hatch covers which the Beluga Transport Engineers created to brace the big horizontal boom of the shiploader during the voyage at sea. To construct it as safe as necessary but to keep it also as simple as possible, the crew built it up on site out of three ordinary 20-foot-containers and eight loading platforms stacked over each other.

Six hours were estimated for getting the cargo on board, four hours sufficed the experienced Beluga team. However, with approximately four days, fixing it took much longer. “We attached about 200 lashings and 30 stoppers to the shiploader to prepare it for the rolling and pitching of the vessel at sea”, says Tambek Jakson, responsible Cargo Superintendent for this lift. In addition, the cargo – which overlapped the vessel on portside by 5.6 meters and on starboard by even 12 meters – offered a lot of surface for the wind. As always, the inhouse meteorologists of Beluga supervised the routing, a valuable help for Captain Antonow and his crew.

They and the other members of the Beluga team made sure that the first 30 meters ashore of the approximately 6000 sea mile long voyage to Paradip in India remained the most difficult part of the journey. On this short distance from the construction yard to the pier in the port, a fence and a gate had to be dismantled to get the shiploader within the reach of the vessel’s cranes. They had to stretch up to 30 meters, their maximum in this case.

For the voyage, MV “Beluga Sydney” had to be equipped accordingly due to the cargo which significantly restrained visibility from the bridge. Additional radars, cameras and outlooks were arranged to restore the fully functional capability of the vessel. But these are only details in another completely tailored transport solution realized by Beluga. “A proper project management is critical. From the first meeting up to the final discharge on January 16 we provided for an open flow of information to all involved parties such as client, forwarder or manufacturer”, reports Sanusi. “A close cooperation is at least as important as the know-how and ability to transport challenging cargoes.”

And it was the discharge that one last time within this shipment proved the precise planning and project management of Beluga. “Only at low tide, exactly during the minimal water level, we could place the cargo on the quay”, resumes Jakson. “If we had missed this narrow time window or exceeded the assumed time for the discharge, the vessel would have hit the shiploader while rising up with the water. Parts of the giant like the big beam and the nozzle still reached over the deck area.” Thus, the procedure had to run like clockwork: The Beluga team started the lift at 9 am, had the cargo on the hook hanging over the ship’s side at 11 am, awaited the perfect moment and put down the shiploader at 1 pm. Only one hour later, the vessel had already set sail and cleared the pier – right in time not to endanger the valuable cargo. 

“The client in India wanted a fully assembled machine delivered directly to the port in Paradip. This possibility is most valuable for some of our clients since for various reasons it is not always possible to assemble on the dock at final site. Beluga did excellent preparations and found out the best solutions for the difficult lifting arrangement. Lifting and lashing as well as unloading in India was done with outmost care by the qualified crew”, says Bengt Svensson, Project Manager at Cargotec.

More information about MV “Beluga Sydney” and the P1-Series


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