By Mark Edward Nero
APM Terminals said May 13 that it has signed a contract for the enlargement of 10 STS cranes, including the raising of the overall height, and extension of the crane boom, to accommodate Ultra-Large Container Ships (ULCS) of up to 20,000-TEU capacity.
The contract was signed at a ceremony held at the APM Terminals Pier 400 facility at the Port of Los Angeles by representatives of APM Terminals and Shanghai-based ZPMC, which has been selected to perform the crane modifications on the terminal’s existing Noell STS cranes.
After the modifications designed by the original crane manufacturer, Terex-Noell, the 10 STS cranes are expected to become the tallest in the US Another feature of the upgraded cranes will be the installation of light-emitting diode (LED) illumination, which is expected to improve visibility and accuracy of the cranes’ associated Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs, as well as reduce energy use by 60 percent compared with the previous conventional lighting system.
The contract signing came less than five months after the successful handling of the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin at Pier 400 last December. It was the first call of a vessel of that size to any North American port.
When the Benjamin Franklin arrived at Los Angeles in the last week of December 2015, containers were stacked seven levels-high on-deck, reducing the effective vessel capacity to 15,000 TEUs during that call. While docked at APM Terminals Pier 400 between the morning of Dec. 26 and the evening of Dec. 29, about 1,500 longshore workers spent 56 hours loading and unloading 11,229 containers while employing a record nine STS cranes on the vessel at the same time.
The previous record for the largest vessel to call at the terminal prior to the Benjamin Franklin was the 15,000-TEU Maersk Edmondo, which had arrived only four days prior.
There are currently 37 ULCS of 18,000 TEU or more capacity in service in the global fleet, with another 72 vessels of between 18,000 and 21,000 TEU capacity on order.