Local Interest
12:07 am
Sun February 4, 2007

Cranes Arrive Almost Without A Hitch

Wilmington, NC – The Coast Guard is investigating the collision that damaged four massive cargo cranes that were making their way to the Port of Wilmington.

The cranes were on the last stretch of a long journey that started near Shanghai, when somewhere between the Port of Wilmington and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge the vessel carrying four massive cargo cranes collided with a dredging barge.

The Coast Guard says nobody was hurt and says it will conduct a customary drug and alcohol test for the crew aboard the vessel as part of its investigation.

The cranes were in the process of turning around when they hit the barge tower, damaging the cranes' catwalks.

The cargo cranes worth $33-million are part of a multi-million dollar upgrade to the Port of Wilmington.

The giant blue cranes are designed to handle what are known as post-Panamax ships - cargo vessels too large to fit through the Panama Canal, which make up an increasing portion of global shipping.

North Carolina Ports C-E-O Tom Eagar says he's already hearing from several shipping lines interested in Wilmington.

"You know, you can talk a good game, but unless you really deliver and show your commitment, for example, acquiring these cranes, that sends a very strong message."

Eagar says the larger cranes will elevate Wilmington from a secondary position to a "primary class port."

Although already at the port, the cranes will take more than a week to offload, and won't be ready operational until at least April.