Two new 55 meter (180 foot) tall container cranes for Fraser Surrey Docks were carried majestically up the Fraser River, towering high above the deck of the heavy lift ship DOCK EXPRESS 10, on April 1, 2005.

Even though the passage up the river was scheduled to take advantage of the tide, the semi-submersible heavy lift ship had to take on more water ballast between the George Massey Tunnel and Annacis Island. This lowered the ship in the river until the lower deck was awash and permitted the DOCK EXPRESS 10 and its expensive cargo of cranes to duck below a 230,000 volt power line, squeeze under the Alex Fraser Bridge and finally pass below a 60,000 volt power line. Throughout this delicate phase of the voyage, two Smit Harbour Towage tugs, and the Fraser River Port Authority patrol boat, PORT FRASER, escorted the ship.

The twin cranes had just meters of room to spare between the tips of the cranes and bottom of the highest point on the Alex Fraser Bridge, which carries Highway 91 across the Fraser River. Clearances under the power lines were equally tight and the ship had to maneuver carefully within the shipping channel to safely pass under them.

Once clear of overhead obstacles, the ship was docked at Fraser Surrey Docks, where the cranes will be thoroughly inspected and the lashing removed, before the delicate unloading procedure begins. After a couple of days’ preparation ensuring everything is set to go, the big ship will swing out so that its stern is against Berth 9 while its two 20-meter long outriggers extend back over the dock. The first crane will then be carefully and slowly rolled along the deck of the ship and join FSD’s existing container cranes on their 80-foot wide rails on the dock. It is expected to take roughly nine hours for the 1,000-ton crane to be unloaded. The ship will then swing back parallel to the Berth, and the whole pattern repeated to unload the second crane. The entire process will take a week to complete.

“These new gantry cranes are one of the most visible elements of an extensive $190 million upgrade of Fraser Surrey Docks developed jointly by Fraser Surrey Docks, the Fraser River Port Authority, and IDC Distribution Services Ltd.,” said Captain Peter Jaskiewicz, CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks.

The new “Panamax-size” cranes are worth approximately $10 million each, and are roughly the height of an 18-story building. They were purchased from Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction Company Ltd. in Korea, where they left on March 9. Once in place at the container terminal, the cranes will undergo roughly one month of preparatory work in electrical installations and testing before entering service.

“The arrival of these impressive cranes really helps to highlight to the community and to the country just how important a role Fraser River Port plays in Canada’s full-service Pacific Gateway,” said Captain Allen Domaas, president and CEO of Fraser River Port Authority. “That role continues to grow as reflected in the record growth the port is seeing in cargo traffic, especially where containers are concerned.”

Following an extensive testing and training period, the new cranes will join an existing “Hanjung” container crane, delivered by barge in February 2000, and two 1974-vintage “Paceco” container cranes. This will bring the total number of cranes at Fraser Surrey Docks to five, until one of the older Paceco cranes, scheduled for decommissioning later this year, is removed.

Fraser Surrey Docks is the container and general cargo terminal at Fraser River Port, and is a key logistics hub in the Greater Vancouver Gateway. Fraser River Port is Canada’s second busiest port based on total cargo volume.