New cargo cranes floated under Lions Gate Bridge at low tide

An unusual-looking ship carrying several large cargo cranes anchored in English Bay for the past few days has now traversed the First Narrows channel, slipping beneath the Lions Gate Bridge with just a few metres to spare.

“We needed the right tide cycle for the cranes to come under the Lions Gate Bridge,” said Marko Dekovic, Global Container Terminal’s head of public affairs. “So the booms were lowered, and with the right tide, and obviously with B.C. coast pilots and a tug assist, it came safely under the bridge.”

A pair of the 82-metre tall cranes from Shanghai will be installed at Global Container Terminal’s Vanterm berth on the south shore of Burrard Inlet in East Vancouver, with the rest of the cranes on the ship bound for a competing west coast port in Oakland, Calif.

In January of last year, a cargo ship crashed into one of the cranes at Vanterm as a local pilot attempted to pull the ship into berth.

The crane was knocked off its rails and the boom collapsed onto the cargo containers on the ship.

A Transportation Safety Board investigation found human error to blame for the crane collapse, but also raised concerns about the increasing size of container ships and the need to upgrade port infrastructure to safely handle them.

GCT said plans for the two new cranes were already in the works before the accident.

“They are super post-panamax cranes, able to service the larger ships, vessels, that will be going to our terminal,” said Dekovic.

"Post-panamax" refers to ships that are too large to use the Panama Canal.

It will take a few days to offload the cranes from the ship to the dock and another four months to completely install and test them before they will begin handling cargo containers.