Thursday, January 5, 2017

Heavy Lift Specialists Transit the Northern Sea Route with Open Hatches

Race Against Time Meant a Hazardous First in Arctic Waters
Shipping News Feature
RUSSIA – Hansa Heavy Lift (HHL) has successfully transported the first-ever ship-to-shore (STS) cranes via the Northern Sea Route (NSR) which travels through the Arctic Sea along the northern shore of Russia, relocating them from the port of St Petersburg to the port of Vostochny, spanning both the European and Far East regions of Russia. The transit means that the HHL Valparaiso is the first vessel to sail open hatch through the Northern Sea Route, which is covered by thick ice for most of the year and has a limited window of about two months open to cargo voyages.

The two cranes, each weighing 820 tonnes and measuring 61 metres in height and 92 metres in width, had to be shipped partially above and below deck and the crews only had a few weeks to complete the voyage, as the cargo was loaded in October and had to be delivered to its destination by late November before the route was completely frozen over. Additionally, the cranes were not designed to be lifted, requiring careful planning from all parties involved in the move, as well as strong engineering expertise. Gleb Faldin, Commercial Manager at HLL said:

“The Northern Sea Route was the only viable option to complete this voyage in the required timeframe. In the Arctic there is no room for mistakes. During the passage, the vessel has limited connection and only a few points of shelter.”

Transiting these waters, particularly with hatches open to the elements, obviously presents a unique set of risks, and agreeing with his colleague Heinrich Nagrelli, the Project & Transport Engineer for HHL added:

“The Northern Sea Route is an important alternative that can save weeks from a voyage, but to be successful you need careful planning and engineering, the right equipment, capable vessels, and experienced crews.

“Due to the STS’s very high centre of gravity at 30 metres above deck and 70 metres air draft, as well as draft restriction of 7.7 metres, a careful and detailed plan was needed from the start. This included a load spreading design and a structural analysis of the hatch covers and lower hold, a lifting stability assessment, a lifting simulation, fulfilment of Flag State requirements (open hatch, visibility, arctic weather conditions, COLREGs), and the approval of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, as well as the arranging of ice breaker assistance.”