A couple of giants arrived at the Port of Brownsville last month, and now they’ve been put to work on the docks.
The Brownsville Navigation District in June put in an order for two German-built Konecranes Gottwald Model 6 mobile harbor cranes to deal with higher cargo volumes at the port. The 125-metric-ton wheeled behemoths arrived in mid-January aboard a specialized cargo vessel and were put into service about two weeks ago after a period of preparation and testing.
On Monday, the two new cranes helped lift massive wind turbine blades from one cargo vessel and 30-ton steel slabs from another vessel. The new diesel-electric cranes, each with 28 wheels, 14 axles and a height of 150 feet when fully extended, service cargo docks No. 15 and 16 along with the port’s older, 100-metric-ton Gottwald crane.
Harbormaster Michael Davis said it was the first time all three cranes were being operated at the same time. The two new machines were necessary in part because Ternium, the port’s largest steel customer, is seeing a substantial increase in volume, he said. The company brings in slab, scrap and coil steel, most of it from Brazil, for shipment to manufacturers in Mexico.
Also, wind turbine nacelles weigh around 110 tons. Before the new cranes went into service, stevedores were forced to bring in another crane from outside the port to handle nacelles, Davis said.
“It makes it more efficient for our stevedores to not have to go through all those gyrations and the extra expense to handle this cargo,” he said.
Gottwald Model 6’s typically cost in the range of $3.5 million to $4 million, though the port’s deal involved a trade-in of a smaller crane, he said. The machines can be fitted with two types of bucket attachments for handling bulk cargo, Davis noted.
“They’re very versatile,” he said. “They’re terrific machines. They really are.”
The cranes can also be fitted with an attachment for handling containerized cargo — a new line of business the port is anticipating, Davis said.
“We’ve had several feelers out,” he said. “It hasn’t panned out yet, but now we’re getting on the map for it.”
John Reed, chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District, said the cranes are one of the port’s latest investments to meet the needs of port tenants and a growing client list.
“The BND is committed to maintaining and expanding the infrastructure capabilities of the Port of Brownsville to keep the Rio Grande Valley competitive in the global market,” he said.