In May 2023, XLP member Drewes Logistics moved 2 empty bilope tanks from Gijon in Spain to Sturgeon Bay in Michigan.
The tanks measured 45 meters in length, 16.8 meters in width, and 16.4 meters in height and weighed 519 metric tons each.
Drewes Logistics had been planning this shipment for over 2 years. The first challenge was that the delivery to the port by the supplier had to be timed exactly with the loading date of the vessel.
This was more challenging than it looked at first glance as due to the very limited draft at the load out quay of supplier there are only 2 windows of 5 days each month for a pontoon to berth during high tide, load out the tanks, and move them to the commercial port of Gijon before the tide drops.
The next and biggest challenge was that this load was the biggest ever to pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway into the Great Lakes. As there are certain airdraft restrictions in order to pass the many locks, raised bridges, power lines, and other overhead obstacles on this route Drewes had to do a maritime route survey outlining how the transport envelope of the vessel and cargo could move through each of the locks and below all obstacles. This involved passing some of the locks in the opposite direction of usual traffic, turning the cranes at many points to make the airdraft lower and tilting the vessel on other occasions. But finally, approval was granted and the bilope tanks safely arrived to Sturgeon Bay on 18th of May 2023.
Then started the next challenge: as the shipyard did not have strong enough cranes to handle these tanks, they had to be installed directly from the heavylift vessel into the newbuilding vessel with a tolerance of less than 1 cm in each direction. What is more, after a first test lowering the tanks had to be lowered onto mastic that will keep the tanks in place during their operational life. Mastic does stick big time right away and cures in a matter of hours. So there was no room for error on these lifts. But Drewes had also planned for that and with the assistance of some strategically placed braces both tanks were installed in the exact right position and to the satisfaction of the customer.