Jam-packed to the top: MV “Beluga Houston” utilizes full potential of the P-class

Jam-packed to the top: MV “Beluga Houston” utilizes full potential of the P-class

289 cargo pieces and 15 ports in a single voyage // “Impressed by the smooth load out”

A common suitcase features a volume of about 0.1 cubic meters. Packing it demands time and thoughts but – in spite of the relatively accessible size – often ends up in a mess, at the latest when one item from the bottom is needed. Packing a suitcase of incredible 26,337 cubic meters – and almost unlimited opportunities to place goods on the top – is a job for experts like the Beluga Transport Engineers. They tackle it every time they plan the cargo intake of a P-class vessel. However, though mixing generators with cranes, containers with jibs or reels with tug boats, no item interferes with another. Latest example: MV “Beluga Houston”. Between September and November 2010, the vessel loaded 289 pieces in eight ports.

“We want to offer highly efficient and cost effective transport solutions. Even for smaller cargoes we deliver a tailored port to port service, which saves the customer from chartering an own vessel. By intelligent planning and stowing, we are able to transport many cargo items on a single vessel which keeps the price for each individual shipment low”, explains Jan Fredrik Hammer, Branch Manager of Beluga Norway, about the complexity of such voyages.

Carousel and reel in Moss, Norway

In Moss, one of the ports along Norway’s Oslofjord, Beluga Cargo Superintendent Eduard Lopkov looked at still almost empty holds. Here – as before in Fos-sur-Mer, France, and Annaba, Algeria – his job was to supervise the cargo operations and to counsel the captain of MV “Beluga Houston”. At the third stop of the current voyage a 540-ton carousel and a reel with a ten meters diameter awaited their loading, amongst others. Yet the first cargo demanded a creative touch: “The lifting points of the carousel were in another position than expected which would have exceeded the outreach of our cranes as we could not berth directly at the pier for water depth reasons. We instantly improvised a rigging with the material available on site compensating the disadvantage. Its quality was even approved by officials being present in the port”, he explains.
He knows himself in accordance with the customer. “We were impressed by the smooth load out by MV Beluga Houston of our biggest umbilicals carousel ever. The preparation and cooperation by Beluga’s team of engineers was excellent and the challenges during loading were handled efficiently and to our satisfaction by the team from Beluga. We look forward to work with Beluga also for our future projects”, states Project Manager Bjørn Bækkedal from Umbilical Systems of Aker Solutions.

Tug boats in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Only four days later and 1000 sea miles further to the East a different scenario: Two 26 meters long tug boats were supposed to be lifted directly out of the turbid waters around Saint Petersburg, Russia. “We had to place four differently sized lifting belts with a tilt of exactly five degrees under the keel”, Lopkov describes the preparations of the single lift with only one crane. “Therefore, we designed an extremely light rigging to avoid running into the overload modus.”

While each lift was accomplished in only about an hour, the most crucial steps for a successful shipment happened before and after that. “Only the rigging and the placement of the belts took half a day. And the steadily blowing icy wind and snowfall did not exactly support the quick progress of the operations”, says Lopkov.

The two tug boats were stowed over each other: One down at the tank top reaching though the tweendeck levels, the other one on deck. “That saves space for extra cargo and keeps the boats always accessible while they do no block other areas of the vessel. We have to stay flexible as these items go to Vladivostok, the last port of discharge on this voyage. The principle ‘last in, first out’ cannot be followed always”, states the Cargo Superintendent.

Crane houses in Hamburg, Germany

The harsh weather conditions maintained their negative impact also in Hamburg, Germany, the next port of loading. In a way this job there stayed in family as MV “Beluga Houston” took in crane houses for her sister vessel “Beluga Tokyo” which is currently under construction in Shanghai, China. At the fifth port of loading, space for stowage already became scarce since the numerous lashings for cargo need a certain amount of space as well to be arranged properly. The Beluga team placed the two 224-ton items inverted next to the huge cargo reel loaded in Moss, Norway, before the vessel continued her voyage to Rotterdam (Netherlands), Saint Nazaire (France) and Bilbao (Spain), the last ports of loading. When the vessel left there, it accommodated 289 single pieces, from small drive shafts to complete tug boats. From now on, the process runs vice versa and the vessel spreads the massive intake step by step along the discharge route. She starts in Libreville (Gabon), goes further along the African coast to Richards Bay in South Africa and continues to Asia stopping at Singapore, Batam, Merak (both Indonesia), Shanghai (China) and finally Vladivostok (Russia) where MV “Beluga Houston” is expected end of December 2010.

Three continents, three months and twelve satisfied customers.

See more about the MV “Beluga Houston” and the P2-Series


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