The pace of preparation is picking up for the arrival of the first calls by Grand Alliance ships in late June at the Port of Tacoma’s Washington United Terminal.
The Chinese heavy lift ship Zhen Hua 25 arrived in Commencement Bay on Monday night, bringing eight rubber-tired gantry cranes to equip the terminal for the increased container traffic being handled by the three shipping lines – Hapag Lloyd, NYK Line and OOCL – in the Grand Alliance.
The alliance announced in March that it would move its Puget Sound base of operations from the Port of Seattle to the Port of Tacoma in midsummer.
That announcement, which came later than the port or the operator of the terminal, Hyundai Merchant Marine, expected, has set off a scramble to equip the terminal for the increased traffic.
The gantry cranes will straddle large stacks of containers stored on the terminal, moving them from trucks to storage or to trains waiting to move the containers to the Midwest.
The cranes will allow the terminal operator to increase the terminal’s capacity by allowing the metal boxes to be stored in stacks several containers high and wide.
That denser configuration will maximize the use of the expensive real estate near the Blair Waterway wharf where the Grand Alliance ships will call.
The Zen Hua 25, whose voyage began in China, may move up the Blair Waterway from its anchorage in Commencement Bay today. Unloading of the cranes could begin either today or Thursday, said port spokeswoman Tara Mattina.
The new cranes meet strict environmental pollution rules that place new limits on emissions from their diesel engines.
Hyundai ordered the cranes, but it’s not yet clear whether the port or the terminal operator will own the cranes, said Mattina. That issue is likely to be worked out as part of the negotiation over the terminal operator’s amended lease with the port.
The crane’s delivery isn’t the first time a ship like Zen Hua 25 has called on the port. The 768-foot ship’s sister vessel, the Zen Hua 26, in 2009 delivered two super post-Panamax container cranes to the same terminal. Container cranes run on rails adjacent to the wharf’s face, removing containers from the ship or loading them aboard for export.
Container cranes are much larger and taller than the gantry cranes that move containers around the terminal.
Other new equipment is also scheduled to arrive soon to handle the flood of new business.
Washington United Terminals has ordered 24 yard trucks, one top pick container handler, four forklifts and three rail reachstackers to serve its operations.
The port has begun the process of building a marshaling area for trucks that arrive to pick up or leave containers at the terminal. That queueing area is on the west side of Port of Tacoma Road from the terminal. The new business is expected to generate thousands of new truck trips a year to and from the firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8663