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Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Challenging crane cargo marks Felixstowe debut for AAL

Tue 23 Apr 2019 by Gavin Lipsith

Challenging crane cargo marks Felixstowe debut for AAL
Both main cranes were deployed to safely discharge the four rubber-tired gantry cranes from AAL Kobe

Multipurpose vessel AAL Kobe has performed a delicate discharge during its first Felixstowe call, delivering four gantry cranes for a new expansion of the port’s container operation.

The 31,000-DWT vessel used both of its main NMF cranes to discharge the 190-tonne rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes. Although the four cranes delivered were within the 350-tonne lifting capacity of each of the ship’s main cranes, both were needed to unload the irregular cargo.

Running both cranes meant that the ship drew power from two of its three 975-kW Wärtsilä Auxpax gensets, compared to the single generator usually deployed for port operations. During each of the 35-minute unloading operations AAL’s port captain took charge of the vessel’s anti-heeling system - which transfers water around ballast tanks to maintain stability - while the 35-m high cranes were discharged.

Built in 2012, AAL Kobe is part of the second-generation of A-class vessels built for the Singapore-based heavy lift company. The 193.9-m long vessel features five cargo holds with an intake of 40,000m3, two ‘tweendecks and a weatherdeck floorspace of 2,700m3. A further two cranes, fore and aft, have lifting capacities of 50 and 100 tonnes respectively.

As well as irregular project transport, dry bulk and breakbulk cargoes, AAL Kobe can also be used for container transport, carrying up to 910 TEU in its holds and 1,100 on deck. According to AAL senior marketing consultant John Pittalis the diverse capability reflects the demands of the heavy lift and project cargo market, in which companies aim to win transport projects and then establish short-term, liner-like services to maximise profitability on project routes.


AAL Kobe and its nine sister vessels are also bigger than many multipurpose vessels. This reflects an evolution in the market, said Mr Pittalis, with operators moving away from the idea that it is easier to make smaller vessels profitable.

The vessel was running on marine diesel oil while in the North Sea emission control area, including its onwards voyage to Dublin. It will burn 0.5% sulphur residual fuel when the IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap enters force.

The A-class were built from 2010 to replace the 30,000-DWT former D-class vessels, which were built from 2002 and subsequently sold to Rickmers Line. The 10 vessels form the core of AAL’s 21-strong MPV fleet, with a total tonnage of 602,699 DWT.

Along with a further four cranes to be delivered in the coming weeks, the Felixstowe RTGs will be deployed at an 18,000m2 expansion of the port’s container storage operation built on reclaimed land.

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