A ship carrying four massive cranes has made its way from Shanghai, China, to the Seagirt Marine Terminal of the Port of Baltimore after a two-month journey.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and port officials met at the terminal to welcome the new neo-Panamax container cranes just after they squeezed through the Francis Scott Key Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on Thursday.
"That vessel had quite a journey," Bill Doyle, the director of the Port of Baltimore, said at a press conference held as the ship arrived. "It started in Shanghai, went down around the Cape of Good Hope, through the Indian Ocean, headed over to the Caribbean," he said, but the ship had to maneuver around storms and come up the coast without going on the Atlantic due to Hurricane Ida.
"Now, it's here safely," he said, adding that the cranes will take some time to be unloaded and be set up, but should be fully operational by the end of the year.
The arrival of the cranes temporarily shut down the Bay and Key bridges for a short period to avoid distracting motorists as they passed under.
"Because of years of effort of dredging these ports out to 50 feet, so we can handle the biggest ships in the world, now we have these, the largest cranes, I think in the world," Hogan said. The cranes are about 25 feet taller than the cranes currently at the port.
Hogan also mentioned that when passing under the Bay Bridge, the cranes had about four feet of clearance, which is plenty of room, according to port officials. The clearance under the Key Bridge was about the same.
The new cranes are "the next phase here at the Port of Baltimore" as part of a $166 million project, according to Bayard Hogans, the VP of operations at PortsAmerica Chesapeake, the company which leases the port. The new cranes will assist with getting a higher volume of shipments out through the Howard Street Tunnel project, which is expected to break ground in the fall and allow trains to double stack through the city.
Older cranes at the port will still remain in service. The new cranes can give a little more reach than those, able to get across a ship that's 23 shipping containers wide. The new cranes are 450 feet tall and weight about 1,740 tons.
"These can just work some bigger ships," Hogans said. "They're about 25 feet higher, the booms on these are a little bit longer."