January 4 - Hansa Heavy Lift claims to have transported, for the first time, ship-to-shore (STS) cranes via the Northern Sea Route (NSR).

Hansa Heavy Lift relocated the cranes from the Sea Port of Saint Petersburg (SP SPb) to the Port of Vostochny, spanning both the European and Far East regions of Russia.

The German line claimed that HHL Valparaiso is the first vessel to sail open hatch through the NSR, which is covered by thick ice for most of the year and has a limited window of about two months open to cargo voyages.

This allowed the two cranes, each weighing 820 tonnes and measuring 61 m in height and 92 m in width, to be shipped partially above and below deck.

"The NSR was the only viable option to complete this voyage in the required timeframe," said Gleb Faldin, commercial manager, Hansa Heavy Lift. "In the Arctic there is no room for mistakes. During the passage, the vessel has limited connection and only a few points of shelter.

To navigate the NSR, Faldin explains that it is necessary "to plan carefully, to be prepared for the unexpected, and most importantly to have the right team on board the vessel and in the office."

Faldin added that a delay in the cargo being ready meant that HHL Valparaiso had to be repositioned for the voyage, which was originally planned for HHL Tokyo.

HHL Valparaiso travelled from Qingdao, China to St Petersburg via the NSR to load the cranes, and then went back through the NSR a second time to complete the mission, which according to Hansa Heavy Lift was accomplished in record time.

Crews had limited time to complete the voyage, as the cargo was loaded in October and had to be delivered by late November before the route completely froze over.

Other challenges included limited space aboard the HHL Valparaiso, which holds Ice Class E3 equivalent to Russian Arc.4 (Finnish- Swedish Ice Class 1A).

Heinrich Nagrelli, project and transport engineer at Hansa Heavy Lift stated: "Due to the STS's very high centre of gravity at 30 m above deck and 70 m air draft, as well as draft restriction of 7.7 m, a careful and detailed plan was needed from the start.

"This included a load spreading design and a structural analysis of the hatch covers and lower hold, a lifting stability assessment, a lifting simulation, fulfillment of flag state requirements (open hatch, visibility, arctic weather conditions, COLREGs), and the approval of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, as well as the arranging of ice breaker assistance."

ZAO SMM was charterer of the HHL Valparaiso and in charge of overall project management as well as the transportation of the two STS cranes. Mikhail Skripchenko, project manager at ZAO SMM said the "good mutual cooperation with Hansa Heavy Lift ensured the successful and timely implementation of this project."