Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Covid Regulations and Weather Complicated Already Challenging Heavy Lift Shipment

Unloading at Sea Added Yet Another Factor to Complex Middle Eastern Movement
Shipping News Feature

MIDDLE EAST – Heavy lift specialist AAL recently carried two giant single-point mooring (SPM) buoys, at 340 tonnes apiece, from Jebel Ali in Dubai to offshore anchorage in the Persian Gulf on behalf of DHL Industrial Projects.

The photograph can only give a faint idea of the size of the buoys, moved to enable offshore interconnection with tankers, loading or offloading gas, and liquid products, at 16.4 x 15.9 x 14 metres each. Easier to envisage when you realise the Liberian registered AAL Kobe on which they are pictured, is a shade short of 194 metres long herself.

As well as the issues of an extremely tight delivery schedule and offshore wind and visibility considerations at anchorage when discharging the two buoys in open water, the cargo’s shape and size posed load-spreading challenges for AAL’s engineering team when planning safe stowage on the vessel’s 3,000 square metre weather deck space. Yahaya Sanusi, Deputy Head of AAL’s Transport Engineering Department, explained:

“Planning took six weeks. The operation demanded exacting stowage requirements, including extensive load-spreading calculations, strict protection of filling pipes protruding from the bottom of both units and pin-point positioning by the Master and his crew to ensure optimum load and discharge space. In solution, temporary platforms were designed and constructed for the buoys to sit on, comprising 750mm thick tweendeck panels, additional heavy load platforms (HLPs), and wooden blocks.

“We originally planned to ship only one buoy, so our solution was completely re-designed at some point. Despite this, sea fastening and lifting of both units proved no issue at all and was possible with our ship’s equipment. However, Covid restrictions meant that none of the engineering team could attend discharge, which put pressure on the AAL Kobe’s formidable crew, especially with a constant risk of bad weather offshore.

”The operation ultimately proved a success and strong collaboration between the engineering team in Singapore, our Project Engineer Monique Haehre at AAL Hamburg, and Columbia Shipmanagement colleagues manning the ‘Performance Optimisation Control Room’ (POCR) facility in Cyprus, whose 24/7 weather routing calculations and prognoses significantly helped sailing efficiency and operational safety.”

The real judgement on this, or any logistics shipment, actually always lies with the end customer, and it was clear from the reaction of Andy Tite, Global Commercial Head at DHL Industrial Projects how well the movement had gone when he concluded:

“The close partnerships DHL holds with our carriers is imperative to our safe and effective operational performance. In this instance, AAL completed the operations to the highest standards, which is not only a requirement of DHL but also of our clients.

This was all the more impressive as we were placed under some quite considerable pressure due to restrictive timescales and the addition of twice as much cargo as originally booked, AAL responded in a positive and supportive manner. We appreciate greatly their approach technically and operationally, as well as their overall professionalism.”