Date 08 August 2018
Port Houston is continuing to amass enormous cranes, with its latest batch standing 270 feet tall with booms capable of unloading vessels some 22 containers wide.
Three of these cranes, totaling $35 million, were delivered Tuesday in spectacular style — standing upright on the deck of a vessel with booms held high. These deliveries tend to draw a crowd.
“It never gets old watching these cranes come in,” Port Houston executive director Roger Guenther said.
Port Houston has received several shipments of the “super post-panamax cranes” in recent years, but Tuesday’s shipment had a new element. One of the cranes can be operated remotely, potentially becoming a pilot program to see if relocating the operator from the cab enhances safety and efficiency.
“We’re just adding to the ability to handle the growth in cargo that we have here at the port,” Guenther said.
It’s the latest in a multiyear initiative to handle increased container business at Port Houston, which reported 2.46 million of the 20-foot-equivalent containers last year.
The expanded Panama Canal allows larger container ships to travel between Houston and Asia. Local population growth is spurring the need for imported goods. And the export of plastic resins will continue to ramp up as more petrochemical facilities come online.
That has prompted several investments into Port Houston’s container business. Last month, Port Houston and the West Gulf Maritime Association officially unveiled two simulators to help train crane operators.
The three cranes delivered Tuesday will be installed on the recently completed, roughly $35 million Wharf 2 at Bayport Container Terminal. The new wharf, which received a $10 million federal grant to help with construction, adds about 700 feet of dock at the container terminal.
On the tail of these massive ship-to-shore cranes will be a delivery of five rubber-tired gantry cranes, used to stack containers within the terminal, expected later this week. That will bring the operational crane totals to 26 and 85, respectively, at Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals.
Of the 26 ship-to-shore cranes, 13 are the super post-panamax cranes capable of loading and unloading the larger ships that can now come through the expanded Panama Canal.
Five more rubber-tired gantry cranes are expected later this year.
Source Houston Chronicle
Photo: Karen Warren, Staff Photographer / Houston Chronicle