FOR decades the last port of call for emigrants setting off for a new life in the United States, the seaside town Cobh will next week see an altogether more welcome, and distinctly impressive, departure from its waters.
On Friday work commenced at Rushbrooke’s Verolme Dockyard on loading the first of three massive partially assembled ‘megamax’ ship-to-shore (STS) container cranes onto the aptly named ‘Big Lift Baffin’ specialist heavy cargo transport ship for a 10-day voyage across the Atlantic.
Designed and built at the Liebherr plant in Killarney the main components of the cranes, which are among the largest in the world, were initially transported by road to Fenit and onwards to Cobh by sea where assembly began earlier this year.
Liebherr secured the order for the cranes in 2021 and since then their expert teams of engineers and designers have been working to bring the project to completion.
Described by Eoin O’Sullivan of the Cobh-based Doyle Shipping Group (DSG) who are handling the cranes’ transport as being “the largest single objects ever engineered in Ireland to be shipped out of the country”, the cranes are destined for the Maher Terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest ocean container terminal in North America.
The partial assembly of the cranes was done to reduce their overall height during the voyage and allow the ship and its towering cargo clearance under the Bayonne Bridge, which links Staten Island in New York and Bayonne in New Jersey.
Once the cranes pass under the bridge they will be fully assembled before going into service alongside the eight Liebherr STS cranes already operating at Maher.
Mr O’Sullivan said months of exhaustive planning had gone on between DSG, Liebherr and the Port of Cork to ensure the smooth running of the massive operation.
He said Cork had been selected as the departure point as it has the capacity to cater for the Big Life Baffin and there are no drafts and therefore cables or bridges to impede transportation.
“Once you leave the terminal here, there is direct access to the open Atlantic,” he said.