New port cranes up and running

NEW cranes which narrowly escaped disaster when they arrived at Britain's biggest port are finally up and running.

Richard Cornwell

NEW cranes which narrowly escaped disaster when they arrived at Britain's biggest port are finally up and running.

The three cranes, some of the biggest in the world, will increase capacity at the Port of Felixstowe to help keep it ahead of its rivals.

When the cranes arrived in March on the Zhen Hua 23, the vessel was ripped from its moorings by gales and the cranes on board smashed into and destroyed two others on the quay.

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Landguard Terminal was then closed for weeks as contractors cut up the cranes to be taken away, and other cranes had to be moved across the port to replace the wrecked ones.

Damage was caused to one of the cranes on board the vessel, but the three destined for Felixstowe were unscathed.

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Since then the new quayside cranes have been undergoing tests and have just become fully operational.

With the ability to extend over 22 containers across, the three ship-to-shore gantry cranes have a twin-lift capability and heavy lift capacity of 85 tonnes.

Chris Lewis, chief executive officer of Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited, which owns the Port of Felixstowe, said: “The commissioning of these new cranes consolidates our position as the premier gateway for UK deep-sea container traffic.

“As well as the most modern container-handling equipment, Felixstowe has an unrivalled location adjacent to the major shipping lanes, and the deepest approach channel of any UK container port.

“We are already capable of accommodating the largest container ships currently on order, and with further investment in state-of-the-art container-handling equipment, Felixstowe will be able to offer the operators of these ships even greater flexibility in the future.”

Construction has just started on a £250 million expansion scheme at the port which will see the Dock Basin and Landguard Terminal turned into a deepsea terminal.

The first phase is due to open in April 2010.

Two more ship-to-shore cranes are due in the next few months, part of a consignment this year worth a total of about £20 million from ZPMC in China.

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