Wanted: Two huge cranes for port

PORT chiefs are today desperately trying to find two cranes to bring to Felixstowe to replace those destroyed in an accident.But while that search goes on, bosses at Felixstowe port are hoping it will be possible to unload three new cranes over the next few days - as long as winds stay light.

PORT chiefs are today desperately trying to find two cranes to bring to Felixstowe to replace those destroyed in an accident.

But while that search goes on, bosses at Felixstowe port are hoping it will be possible to unload three new cranes over the next few days - as long as winds stay light.

The Zhen Hua 23 has been stuck at Felixstowe for two weeks since arriving with new cranes and then being involved in an accident in which two huge quayside ship-to-shore cranes were destroyed when the vessel was ripped from its moorings by gales and dragged along the quay.

Since then visits by engineers checking the damage and insurance assessors have delayed any movement of the ship, and the strong winds of the past few days have meant it had to stay put.

Paul Davey, head of corporate affairs at the port, said the three cranes on board for the Suffolk container terminal had escaped unscathed in the accident.

“We are hoping to be able to move the ship across to Trinity Terminal any day and take off the Felixstowe cranes and then the ship can carry on its journey to Thamesport,” he said.

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“Once we have done that we can reopen Landguard Terminal on a limited basis for customers.

“At the moment we are exploring how to get additional cranes for Landguard and are making inquiries. We have a number of options at the moment but there are cost and timing implications.

“We are continuing to work up our contingency plans and we need to make a decision fairly quickly on the best solution.”

Because of the phasing on the £250million redevelopment of Landguard Terminal - with the Dock Basin and old roll-on roll-off berths to be worked on first - Landguard could still be up and running for two to four years.

While there are plenty of cranes at Trinity Terminal, unfortunately all of these - including the three new ones - are too big for Landguard and their wheels are a much wider gauge than the narrow lines on the southern terminal.

When work will start to cut up and take away the old cranes - now just a mangled heap of metal on the quay - is not known and is in the hands of insurance assessors and loss adjustors.

It is understood the crane bound for Thamesport, which has just returned to the UK from China after being damaged in a previous accident at Felixstowe, was not damaged, but the crane bound for Sweden suffered a bent jib.

Did you see the cranes crash to the ground? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk