Monster cranes invade London

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 2 March 2013

Dubai has been breaking records again, but this time, 5,500 kilometres away, in London.  Yes, the largest cranes ever built have sailed all the way from Shanghai to DP World’s newest port – the London Gateway. They’ve just arrived and will be a spectular addition to the English capital’s skyline, as Noni Edwards reports.

They’ve been dubbed giant cranes, monster cranes, mega-cranes and how else would you describe the biggest cranes ever built?

Taller than the London Eye, they almost challenge logic, being sailed into British waters.

The engineering rationale for their sheer size is simple. According to Andrew Bowen,  the engineering director for Dubai Ports’ London Gateway, as container ships get bigger, so must the cranes that are required to load and unload their cargo.

“These cranes are very important, they are the largest cranes ever built in the world and they are here to unload the ships, which are then delivering the products into our container stacks, and then onto trucks and out into the consumer market,” he says.

Worth USD 10 million and weighing 2,000 tonnes each, they’ve come from China on board the Zhen Hua 26. These three cranes form the first shipment of 24, destined for the Thames Estuary, 20 miles from the capital, for the multi-billion dollar deep-sea port project.

London Gateway’s CEO is proud to be bringing their port “back home”, where Simon Moore says it should be.

“It’s a deep sea hub port to serve the whole of the UK, it is also Europe’s biggest logistics park. Zero cost to the UK tax payer, this is 100 per cent private investment by DP World,” says Moore.

The port is being built on new land in the county of Essex, using 27 million cubic meters of sand and gravel taken from the river, which is enough to fill the city’s Olympic Stadium 65-times over.

The delivery of the cranes marks a significant milestone for London’s new port.

“This is very important, we’ve got the quay behind us which is built and now we have the equipment which we can offload from the vessel, then start our commissioning and training programme to enable us to open in the later part of this year,” Bowen explains.

With this project, the port’s management are hoping to achieve nothing less than restoring London’s status as a premier center of global trade.

“London Gateway is a massive infrastructure project in the UK,” says Moore. “It is the biggest job creation project in the UK. 36,000 new jobs here, we are very very big, we are 3 times the City of London”

Once complete and at running at maximum efficiency, the 2.5 kilometre port will be processing around 3.5 million containers of freight each year and will be able to accommodate ships that are nearly half a kilometre long.

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