Heavy lift carrier AAL Shipping has handled a series of five project cargo shipments from China to eastern Australia for a major brownfield coal project in Mackay, Queensland.


The cargoes were delivered using several of AAL’s 19,000 dwt S-class vessels on its Asia to Australia East and West Coast liner service. The shipments were moved from Shanghai on behalf of Geodis Australia.

The project involves the disassembly and replacement of a berth and shiploader. The site is located within the lease boundaries of the Hay Point Coal Terminal, approximately 38 km south of Mackay.

The first shipment included heavy lift components to facilitate the onsite installation of new berth modules. The cargo comprised temporary steelworks including walkways, platforms, huts and piles – the latter between 2 m and 53 m in length.

Other shipments included equipment to support preparatory works as well as 86 frames and walkways.

Nicola Pacifico, global head of engineering at AAL, speaking on behalf of the engineering team at AAL Shanghai that planned most of the shipments into Mackay, said components were loaded in Shanghai from barge, truck and wharf – depending on their unit size. These were secured on deck in tiers up to four units high to ensure as much cargo as possible could be safely stowed on each sailing.

“Local Covid-19 restrictions in China meant that our cargo superintendent could not physically attend loading, instead we monitored activity via live video feed and online comms with our master and crew. Before the pandemic, remote supervision of such operations was rare. Today, it is a fact of life and all our teams have been extensively cross-trained to execute work under these forced conditions,” he explained.

Frank Mueller, general manager of AAL Australia, added: “The Australian market has been experiencing significant terminal congestion issues, extended waiting times and increased port charges. The success of our operations involves the careful handling of these challenges – either mitigation of potential port congestion and detention charges, or schedule optimisation by remaining flexible and having the ability to add inducement ports, when required.”