Three new, 155-foot cranes arrived at the S.C. Ports Authority’s Columbus Street Terminal with the sunrise this morning.
The new cranes, made by China-based Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., are eventually bound for the Wando Terminal in Mount Pleasant.
They are scheduled to pass under the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge to the Wando Terminal over the weekend. There, the cranes will be all be offloaded and erected one at a time, with the first slated to be operational in January. All three new cranes should be operational by May.
The ports authority previously had four new, 155-foot cranes and four existing cranes that it raised to that height. The first shipment of the taller cranes came in August 2016, and the most recent shipment arrived in March 2018.
Ed Stehmeyer, project manager at the ports authority, said the ports authority will eventually have 15 155-foot ship-to-shore cranes.
Stehmeyer said the larger locks in the Panama Canal mean ships carrying up to about 14,000 TEUs, an industry measurement equivalent to a 20-foot container, can pass through.
“For trade that’s coming through the Panama Canal, we need to be able to service those ships whenever they come to the East Coast,” Stehmeyer said. “And these cranes ... could pick up something 155 feet up, and it can also pick up something below the deck. We need to be able to handle something that high to be able to handle the ships because they’re just getting bigger.”
Several members of the S.C. Ports Authority took trips to China to design and oversee production of the cranes. The authority also sent several crane operators to China for training. From design to commissioning, production of the cranes took about 18 months; after that, the journey between China and Charleston Harbor took approximately 60 days.
Each crane costs between $10.5 million and $12 million, depending on the accessories the port decides to include in its order, putting today’s shipment at over $30 million worth of equipment.
The next shipment of four cranes, destined for the new Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston, are expected to arrive in May, followed by another shipment of four cranes arriving in July for the Wando and Leatherman terminals.
The cranes at the Leatherman Terminal will be the S.C. Ports Authority’s tallest cranes, standing at 169 feet.