AAL Shipping has transported two single-point mooring (SPM) buoys from from Jebel Ali in Dubai to an offshore anchorage in the Persian Gulf on behalf of DHL Industrial Projects.

AAL buoys-November

The 340-tonne buoys measured 16.4 m x 15.9 m x 14 m and were shipped onboard the heavy lift vessel AAL Kobe, which was operating on the shipping line’s Europe – Middle East / India – Asia (EUMEIA) monthly liner service.

AAL had to contend with a tight delivery schedule as well as offshore wind and visibility considerations at anchorage during the discharge operations. The cargo’s shape and size, meanwhile, posed load-spreading challenges for AAL’s engineering team when planning safe stowage on the vessel’s 3,000 sq m weather deck space.

Yahaya Sanusi, deputy head of AAL’s transport engineering department, explained: “Planning took six weeks. The operation demanded exacting stowage requirements, including extensive load-spreading calculations, strict protection of filling pipes protruding from the bottom of both units and pin-point positioning by the master and his crew to ensure optimum load and discharge space. In solution, temporary platforms were designed and constructed for the buoys to sit on, comprising 750 mm thick tweendeck panels, additional heavy load platforms (HLPs), and wooden blocks.

“We originally planned to ship only one buoy, so our solution was completely redesigned at some point. Despite this, seafastening and lifting of both units proved no issue at all and was possible with our ship’s equipment. However, Covid-19 restrictions meant that none of the engineering team could attend discharge, which put pressure on the AAL Kobe’s formidable crew – especially with a constant risk of bad weather offshore.

“The operation ultimately proved a success and strong collaboration between the engineering team in Singapore, our project engineer Monique Haehre at AAL Hamburg, and Columbia Shipmanagement colleagues manning the performance optimisation control room (POCR) facility in Cyprus –whose 24/7 weather routing calculations and prognoses significantly helped sailing efficiency and operational safety.”