A pair of super post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes, each as high as a 30-story building, reached over the Houston Ship Channel Friday morning. They are currently the largest container cranes in operation in the U.S.
The STS cranes will play a key role in helping the Port Authority gear up for the larger containerships set to arrive with the opening of the Panama Canal's new, wider lane next year. Houston is on track to move a record number of containers this year, about 2 million TEUs.
"This is a big milestone for us," said Paulo Soares, who managed the project to get the cranes for the Port Authority. "It's going to increase productivity, it's going to allow us to unload larger vessels. Just the ability to move boxes faster, overall these will contribute to a much more productive terminal."
The new cranes, which arrived in May from South Korea, are part of a set of four that cost $50 million. They dwarf the other 12 cranes along the dock. They extend 22 containers wide to load and unload
Photo credit: Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle
ships, compared to the 13 container-wide reach of the older cranes.
Though Houston isn't seeing ships of this size yet, the new cranes will be able to handle ships with 14,000 containers, Soares said. The biggest ships Barbours Cut gets now hold about 8,000 containers.
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