Ship crashes into new £4m crane

AN INVESTIGATION is under way after a container ship crashed at Felixstowe port, putting a multi-million pound new crane out of action.The port's new ship-to-shore gantry crane (SSGC), which cost about £4million and was being prepared for use, suffered “significant” damage in the accident at about 3am yesterday.

By Jonathan Barnes

AN INVESTIGATION is under way after a container ship crashed at Felixstowe port, putting a multi-million pound new crane out of action.

The port's new ship-to-shore gantry crane (SSGC), which cost about £4million and was being prepared for use, suffered “significant” damage in the accident at about 3am yesterday.

The collision happened when the vessel, the 367m long Gunvor Maersk, lost power as she left the dock and drifted into the quayside.


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No-one was hurt in the incident but port officials were left counting the cost after plans to put the hi-tech equipment into use suffered a major setback.

The crane, which stands at more than 100ft high, arrived at the port in November after being transported fully-erected by sea from China – a journey that took nine weeks.

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It was in the process of commissioning and due to be operational in the near future, but engineers are now examining the crash damage.

Paul Davey, port spokesman, said: “The ship was sailing off berth and it appears to have suffered a mechanical failure. An investigation is taking place.

“The crane had arrived at the end of last year and it hadn't yet been commissioned. It was due to be put into use in the next few weeks, and that will now be delayed.”

A spokesman for the ship's operator Maersk Line said: “We can confirm the Gunvor Maersk, a container vessel, was involved in an incident at Felixstowe port.

“The vessel's main engine malfunctioned when departing and it drifted into a crane. No-one was injured in the incident and damage is currently being assessed. The vessel has now left the port under her own power.”

The giant crane was delivered with nine rubber-tyred gantry cranes from the Zhenhua Port Machinery Company, of Shanghai.

It brought the number of SSGCs at Trinity Terminal to 25 and was due to be able to handle containers stowed 22 wide and twin lift containers up to a weight of 85 tonnes.

Taking delivering of the equipment, Richard Pearson, managing director of Hutchison Ports UK, which runs Felixstowe port, said: “We are committed to investing in the latest equipment to ensure that we maintain high-levels of customer service and productivity.

“It is due to this commitment that we are able to handle the biggest container vessels in service today.”

The Port of Felixstowe is the largest container port in the UK and has recently been given the go-ahead for a major expansion project that will increase its capacity to 5.2million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) a year.

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