AAL Shipping has supported port and terminal development projects in Vietnam and Australia, with the delivery of heavy lift cranes and related components.

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AAL Melbourne discharging four Liebherr cranes in Haiphong, Vietnam, from Shuaiba, Kuwait.

For the project in Vietnam, AAL moved four 439-tonne second-hand Liebherr shore cranes from Shuaiba in Kuwait to Haiphong for a new dry dock facility. The cranes were shipped onboard the 31,000 dwt heavy lift vessel AAL Melbourne.

Yahaya Sanusi, deputy head of transport engineering at AAL, said: “The lead time of this project was extremely short, as the client had been left stranded by another carrier, realising the operational parameters were beyond their scope. Three of the units were the LMH 500 series and the other an LMH 550. These are some of the biggest cranes in the series, each weighing more than 400 tonnes, 35 m tall and featuring a jib length of close to 55 m.

“The loading of cranes of different size and of an older age required detailed preparation, made more complicated by the fact that the delivered units were in far poorer condition than expected and documentation provided was inaccurate. This not only required on-site stowage plan adjustment by our attending CSI, but also the re-calibration of each jib’s centre of gravity to ensure lifting stability could be guaranteed. Furthermore, we had to drive the first three units around deck to optimise space before the fourth unit could be loaded, which involved building bridges to connect 4 m gaps between hatch covers with heavy load platforms and corresponding ramps. Due to the poor condition of the units, we dealt with burst crane tyres, crane engine malfunction and resulting delays – handled by our crew and attending team with grit and determination.”

Further challenges arose from the height of the cranes, which affected bridge visibility and required special permission from the flag state administration as well as further safety precautions, including the engagement of an additional safety officer on the bridge.

At the port of Haiphong, the four units had to be discharged to a barge that was not self-trimming, which meant AAL could only discharge one crane at a time and to specific areas of the vessel.

For the project in Australia, AAL is shipping six newbuild Kalmar Automated Stacking Cranes (ASC) from Taicang and Shanghai to Melbourne for Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) as part of an ongoing expansion programme for which AAL already shipped 20 ASC units in 2016.

Three ASCs, each measuring 35 m wide and weighing 215 tonnes, departed Taicang onboard the 31,000 dwt vessel AAL Hong Kong. A second sailing is planned using its sister vessel AAL Shanghai in early July to transport the remaining three units from Shanghai.