Monday, May 15, 2006

The Terminal

At first sight, the ship appeared to be an apparition from the past. A tall ship in the distance, perhaps, with rigging and masts silhouetted in the distant glare of morning.

But this was no ghost ship, but a freighter from the Orient, traveling halfway around the world to deliver its outsized cargo.

The Zhen Hua11 glided into the Bayport Terminal this morning under a brassy sun, with the latest technology in cargo cranes welded to her deck: Four gargantuan , quayside container cranes from the Shanghai Zenhua Port Machinery Company, each weighing 1,600-tons, and costing $7.5-million apiece.

It takes a lot of pull to get this much pull, and these will be the largest such cranes in operation on the US Gulf Coast when the Bayport facility becomes operational.

As the stately vessel plied its way against the wind towards the wharf, the Fireboat Howard Telepsen heralded its arrival with patriotic streams of red, white, and blue spray from its fire hoses. And just in case the neighbors hadn’t noticed, the Zhen Hua11 let off a few blasts of its ship’s horn as it passed the site where the cranes would be installed.

Three tug boats assisted the ship as it ran up to a turning basin from which it would re-approach and dock with the terminal wharf. It will take workers four more days to cut the cranes loose and position them correctly on the dock.

The neighbors won’t really notice.
These cranes will operate with a noise level around 80-decibels, slightly louder than a conversation with your office buddy, but less obtrusive than a passing automobile. At night the terminal will operate under the illumination of specially-designed lights that will all but eliminate reflected glow.

There’s been a lot of negative spin about this project from environmentalists, but the rare, brown pelicans flocking to watch today’s parade didn’t seem to mind. The Bayport Terminal will have a buffer zone around its perimeter, including a 20-foot tall, landscaped berm to block the sights and sounds of commerce clashing with the surrounding environment.

The ZPMC Cranes are 240-tall, and 100-feet across at the bottom. If needed, another 20-foot extension can be added to the arms of the cranes for those hard-to-get places on any cargo ship.

Once cargo has been off-loaded from the ships, Rubber-Tired Gantry cranes will load the containers on to trucks for land transport.

There are 12 Kone RTG’s planned for Bayport Terminal #1, which are now being assembled on site from parts shipped to the dock.

Don’t you just hate that…spend $1.2-million for a piece of new equipment, get it home, and the instructions say, “some assembly required.”

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