The long way round

23 November 2020

A ship-to-shore container crane from Sany has been delivered to its new owners in Latvia, after a monumental effort from the manufacturer’s team.

Baltic Container Terminal Ltd (BCT) has taken delivery of a Sany ship-to-shore container crane in Riga, the capital of Latvia, with a ceremony marking the occasion. The STS454701-model crane is the second large ship-to-shore crane purchased by BCT from China-based Sany since 2014. It has a lifting capacity of 45t under spreader, an outreach of 47m, and a lift above quay level of 34m.

The installation of the crane was made more challenging by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. A team of five senior engineers was assembled by Sany to oversee the installation, but under the European Union’s epidemic control policy in May, when the crane was first delivered to BCT, the team was unable to enter Latvia.

Sany therefore contacted the Latvian Embassy in China, with BCT contacting the Latvian Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of the Interior, and other national departments to apply for approval. After co-ordination between the parties, the Latvian Government granted special entry permits and the Embassy granted Schengen visas, making it possible for the engineers to travel to Latvia.

The next issue was how to reach Latvia: with no direct flights to Latvia from China, the team had to travel to Germany, then fly from Frankfurt to Riga. However, because of epidemic controls, the engineers could not pass through German customs and enter the transit zone. The solution therefore was for the team to arrive at Frankfurt airport and use the special route reserved for private jets.

The engineers arrived at Frankfurt airport in mid-May wearing full-body protective suits, goggles and masks, and found that they only had 20 minutes before the private jet was due to take off. The team therefore navigated Europe’s largest airport with impressive speed, taking an estimated five minutes to collect their luggage, eight minutes to change terminals, and four minutes to go through the security check once more. They reached the cabin door seconds from scheduled take-off.

On reaching the terminal, the Sany team spent four days unloading the cargo from the ship, before embarking on the process of installing and setting up the crane. After many days of effort, the crane was operational and was put through a 24-hour durability test on July 12th. On July 20th, the Latvian government acceptance officer conducted final checks on the equipment, to confirm that the equipment met the safety standards required. The following day, the acceptance certificate was signed.