Darn big cranes arrive at Port of Tacoma

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The first set of four cranes arrived from China over the weekend and are now being offloaded at the Port of Tacoma’s Pier 4 terminal on the Blair Waterway.

The 295-foot tall cranes tower to 434 feet when the booms are extended. That’s taller than Tacoma’s Wells Fargo Plaza building, but shorter than the Space Needle. The port points out that the cranes stand taller than city-crushing monster Godzilla.

They are the largest on the West Coast and part of an improvement effort at the South Harbor terminal to allow for the offloading of larger container vessels. Another set of four cranes is set to arrive early next year and will allow the port to handle some of the largest ships in the world well into the future. The terminal is operated by Husky Terminal and Stevedoring through at least 2046.

For comparison, the largest ship to call in Tacoma is the Zim Djibouti, which has a capacity of 10,000 cargo containers, known as TEUs or 20-foot equivalent units. The retooling along the South Harbor will create one contiguous berth that could simultaneously serve two, super-post-Panamax container ships that have the capacity of 18,000 containers each. The new cranes can lift containers 165 feet above the pier and reach out to a span of 24 containers. The current cranes only have an outreach of 18 containers.

The cranes were manufactured from European components at Shanghai’s Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. through a competitive bid process. No container cranes are currently manufactured in the United States.  They arrived Friday afternoon on the Zhen Hua 28, a specially retooled former tanker. The cranes were wielded to the ship’s frame to safely cross the Pacific Ocean with such a high center of gravity.

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