East Coast's biggest ‘ship-to-shore’ cranes arrive with fanfare at the Port of Savannah
It's a daily occurrence for big cargo ships to sail past downtown Savannah's busy River Street en route to the bustling port upstream, but Thursday's vessel was different — and its haul, historic.
Four massive white cranes — transported by a yellow heavy load carrier named BigLift Baffin — dazzled hordes of onlookers along the riverfront, as the shipment neared its final destination a few miles upstream.
Known as “ship-to-shore” cranes — as they are tasked with lifting cargo from container ships to the port terminal — these 306-foot-tall behemoths are the largest cranes to be found at an East Coast port, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.
Manufactured by Finland-based Konecranes, each one is capable of lifting up to 72.8 tons, which should come in handy, as the Port of Savannah is the fourth-busiest in the U.S., and, on the East Coast, second only to the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Technically chartered under the flag of the Netherlands, BigLift Baffin showed its true colors in a huge University of Georgia flag billowing above the stern, just as big as the American flag hoisted above the bow.
Among the locals who turned out to behold the cranes was Duke Bertke: “I think this is amazing. It shows the development of the port and how much more this town's getting — just huge economic development. It's just pretty cool to see.”
Bertke brought along his grandson Sawyer, who was also impressed: “It's big. It's like the size of the river.”
Indeed, when the ship rounded a narrow riverbend, the river seemed barely big enough to contain its haul, as the cranes — jutting far out from the side of the ship — nearly grazed trees along the edge of Hutchinson Island.
Sawyer's favorite thing about the ship: “That it's got lots of helpers.”
In this case, that meant tugboats and even helicopters providing safe passage, ensuring a safe and smooth ride.