The combination of a vessel or barge with one or more cranes is quite a regular sight within Royal Wagenborg; the A-series of Wagenborg Shipping are equipped with three deck-cranes and the sheerleg Triton of Wagenborg Towage is the perfect example of large crane capacity on a barge. But this time the combination of lifting power and buoyancy was not all that regular.
After 10 years of active duty on the quay of the Amsterdam Container Terminal, four Ship-To-Shore container cranes had to be relocated to two different Spanish ports. Wagenborg Towage, with support from Wagenborg Nedlift, took care of the complete scope of this relocation. After finishing all the engineering and preparations, the job could start with structurally reinforcing the cranes, each of them weighing around 1,450 tonnes. At the same time Wagenborg Barge 9 and tugs ‘Waterstraat’ and ‘Waterstad’ were mobilised to IJmuiden, together with a number of self-propelled modular trailers, mobile cranes, fork-lifts, cherry pickers, heavy duty winches, pumps and a wide range of auxiliary equipment to ensure a smooth operation.
One by one the cranes were loaded onto Wagenborg Barge 9 through a RORO operation, with the crew on the barge ensuring the stability by means of the internal ballasting system. Once all four cranes had been transported onto the barge and the required lashing and securing had been taken care of, the journey to the new home ports of the cranes could start. Or so we thought... It was not until some days later that we could finally leave, as we first had to wait for the weather conditions to improve. But then, one early Saturday morning, the weather improved and the tug with Wagenborg Barge 9 could leave Amsterdam, through the North-Sea channel into the open waters.
Arrival in Vigo…
After a 7 day journey Wagenborg Barge 9 was towed into the waters of Vigo in the northwest of Spain without any delays. Already before arriving at the berth, seven Wagenborg Towage employees had embarked the barge in order to prepare the upcoming arrival; winches had to be prepared, wires to be run and pumps to be set ready to get started. Directly after the vessel was safely moored to the Spanish quay, the preparations to unload one of the four cranes could proceed and the first crane was unlashed. The next high tide allowed us to place the self-propelled modular trailers on-board. Given that in Vigo roro-operations were only possible at high-tide, we only had the possibility until the next high tide to position the SPMTs and lifting beams. Within one hour, and with the local population following every move, we managed to unload the first crane safely onto the shore in Vigo. In that same hour the pumps on the barge moved around 3.5 million litres of ballast water in order to ensure the barge remained stable and in the correct position, not to disturb the on-going operations.
…and then to Tenerife
Vigo was not the last stop of this journey as this was the destination for only one of the four cranes. With again some delays due to weather conditions, even leading to the transport combination having to shelter in Cádiz, Spain, everyone and everything arrived safely in the port of Santa Crúz de Tenerife. Since the self-propelled modular trailers had remained on board the barge the cranes could be unlashed directly after arrival in the port and at first high water the first of the remaining three cranes was unloaded. Then two more cranes in two more days and the job was finished to the satisfaction of our customer…