In Philadelphia, 2 Giant Cranes Soar into the Future

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TWO GIGANTIC cranes arrived from China last Saturday to help the Port of Philadelphia handle new superfreighters traveling through the enlarged Panama Canal. These tools can transform our economy. City of Philadelphia fireboat Marine One shot off spectacular sprays of water to welcome the vessel that brought them. Photo by Joe Stivala

The first visual affirmation of a new era of growth arrived at The Port of Philadelphia last Saturday.

PhilaPort received its first two super post-Panamax cranes at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal after a 90-day journey from Shanghai, China. Manufactured by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries, the new cranes will be 13 feet taller than the neighboring Walt Whitman Bridge with its boom in the upwards position.

PhilaPort, along with Packer Avenue Marine Terminal’s operator – Astro Holdings, Inc. (a Holt Logistics affiliate) – have purchased the cranes as part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s $300 million Port Development Plan to increase cargo-handling capacity and efficiency.

The new POST-Panamax cranes are taller than a 32-story building. Photo by Wendell Douglas

In the past decade, vessel size has grown exponentially, creating a new class of container ships known as ULCVs with a 10,000- to 20,000-container capacity. Even before the arrival of the cranes, this past winter PhilaPort saw the largest container ship that ever called the port, the M/V MSC Shuba B, a 12,200-TEU vessel. These new container gantry cranes will be capable of discharging containers from these new larger vessels and have a cost of $12 million each.

“For over a year, we have been working hard to prepare the terminal for these cranes and it is great to see them here,” said Jeff Theobald, executive director and CEO of PhilaPort. “Last year, we hit an East Coast record of 19% container growth. To sustain that type of growth, these new cranes are a necessity.”

GREETING the new cranes at the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal were, L-R, Jerry Sweeney, chairman of the board of PhilaPort; John Haye, president of Haye Construction Services; and State Rep. Bill Keller, a veteran advocate for the port’s renewal and growth. Photo by Wendell Douglas

“The arrival of the cranes is a perfect example of public/private investment into the State’s critical infrastructure,” said Wolf. “Every transportation professional knows how important speed to market is to logistics. These new cranes will ensure that we keep pace with other U.S. seaports and allow PhilaPort to load and discharge cargo with state-of-the-art equipment.”

In November 2016, the governor announced a $300 Port Development Plan. As part of the plan, the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal operator, Astro Holdings, agreed to purchase one crane, as well as undertake other planned improvements to the facility.

“The port has a huge impact on the economy of the entire region, and these new cranes are another sign that the port is building a very bright future,” said Tom Holt, Jr., president of Astro Holdings, the Packer Avenue terminal operator. “The cranes allow us to handle more cargo from bigger ships, and since we’re already setting records for cargo growth at Packer, the cranes are arriving not a moment too soon.”

In the first quarter of 2019, PhilaPort will be adding another two identical cranes and Astro Holdings another one crane at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal; bringing the total number of cranes at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal to seven.

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