September 13 - Hansa Heavy Lift (HHL) has transported two minehunters, each weighing 670 tonnes, between France and Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The two French Navy-owned ships, which measured 51.5 m x  8.9 m x  22 m, were loaded on board the HHL Fremantle in Brest and transported to the Middle East Gulf, before being brought back again on a second voyage, with both locations being military bases.

"Crews had to be especially vigilant when handling these two military ships due to the sensitivity of the cargo," said Walter Prosetti, director of global sales at HHL. "We were also faced with extreme weather issues, with high winds in France restricting our movements, as well as intense heat in the Middle East Gulf, which compelled us to install air conditioning onboard.

"Furthermore, as this operation took place on military bases, we had to comply with restricted access, coordination between varying authorities, and re-flagging requirements.

For the transport operation, adjustments were made to the loadspreading at the keel and cradle belting to avoid overloading the fibreglass hull.

Svilen Ivanov, project engineer at HHL, added: "Positioning the cradles under water when the wind was picking up was challenging, particularly when we needed to be precise to the centimetre and at the same time keep the hard edges away from the sensitive hull.

"In order to avoid calling at any ports with such sensitive materials onboard, we carried out a full bunker's replenishment on both occasions before loading."

In addition to providing accommodation modules for additional technicians from the charterer, who also travelled onboard, HHL purchased extra transformers to ensure the minehunters had an electrical connection for the duration of the journeys.

The contract was awarded by the French Navy to Compagnie Maritime Nantaise - MN, which in turn worked with HHL on the project.

A video of the project can be viewed here.