Larger cranes designed to handle containers from bigger cargo ships

By Robert Alonso

Jacksonville, FL

They can lift up to 65 tons, cost nearly $40 million to build and took over two months to arrive from China on a ship.

Three new 100-gauge shipping cranes arrived at JAXPORT’s Blount Island Marine Terminal Friday morning, part of the Jacksonville Port Authority’s over $200 million plan to beef up its infrastructure in order to handle more cargo from larger ships.

Those cranes – which have 100 feet of distance between the legs and the rails on which they maneuver – were loaded in June onto the Zhen Hua 14, which then sailed over 17,000 miles to arrive in the Bold City from Shanghai.

To accommodate all three cranes, JAXPORT has installed a high-voltage electrical system at Berth 35 inside the Blount Island Marine Terminal, one that JPA officials say is more energy efficient than the old one. It’s expected to lead to fewer emissions compared to the smaller diesel-powered cranes already in place and be able to handle high-power LED lights for night operations.

In addition, the new cranes – similar to the 100-gauge ones already in place at the Dames Point Marine Terminal – should stretch farther into the ship to get cargo, something that JAXPORT says will be needed to handle the bigger ships expected to come in from the newly expanded Panama Canal.

The cranes – which will work on regenerative power – were paid in part through a $15 million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation. That means the cranes use power to lift the ship containers and then generate power as they go back down.

JAXPORT expects the cranes to be operational sometime in November, leading to more jobs and more economic growth in the short and long-term, according to CEO Brian Taylor.

“The jobs come from the extra cargo that we’re gonna start handling at this port as a result of our ability to handle larger vessels,” Taylor added.

Other recent improvements made at JAXPORT include the opening of the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility at Dames Point and ongoing harbor dredging work to allow access for bigger ships, much of which is also being covered through state funds.

Click here for more facts about the new cranes.