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AAL LIFTS SUNKEN TUGS FROM MERSEY RIVER

AAL Shipping (AAL) has undertaken a salvage operation to remove two tugs from the Mersey River in Devonport on the north-west coast of Tasmania that had been sunk by a cement carrier in January. Chosen for the job was the 31,000DWT 700 tonne heavy lift vessel, the AAL Melbourne, and involved the lifting of the tugs and their onward shipment along the East Coast to Brisbane. New South Wales based emergency response, salvage and environmental support specialist, United Salvage, engaged AAL to supply a vessel from its longstanding ‘Asia to Australia East Coast Liner Service’.

The first tug, the 420 tonne York Cove was carefully pulled out of the Mersey on Sunday 7th August by the AAL Melbourne using her two port-mounted cranes working in tandem – the tug having had large holes cut into her hull to allow trapped water and sediment to drain. The second tug, the 455 tonne Campbell Cove, was recovered and loaded onto the AAL Melbourne a few days later. Both tugs were securely lashed to the weather deck of the ‘mega size’ vessel in preparation for their onward shipment to Brisbane and utilising specifically designed cradles loaded previously in Burnie.

Chris Yabsley, Chartering Manager at AAL Australia commented, ‘United Salvage originally planned to use a floating crane and barge to recover these tugs. However, once we demonstrated that our A-Class vessel could not only recover the tugs but also transport them back up the East Coast for delivery to Brisbane, it was clear that AAL would be the perfect partner.’

Nicola Pacifico, Head of Transport Engineering at AAL, explained, ‘The recovery was carefully planned and modelled over several months and involved collaboration with several key stakeholders including United Salvage, TasPorts and cargo insurers. Even the Australia Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) was required to confirm our calculations with our ship’s class (DNV).

Chris Yabsley
Chartering Manager
(AAL Australia)

DISASSEMBLED BERTH INFRASTRUCTURE OPERATION IN AUS

AAL Shipping (AAL) successfully collaborated on the disassembly of Berth 2 at Hay Point Coal Terminal in Queensland and its subsequent shipment to Henderson, Western Australia for disposal. Comprising seven packages with a total weight of 1,412MT / 8,929CBM, the cargo was moved in a single sailing onboard the 19,000 deadweight S-Class 700 tonne max heavy lift vessel, the AAL Fremantle, for global logistics provider, Geodis Australia.

Nicola Pacifico, Head of Transport Engineering at AAL explained, ‘All aspects of the loading operation were extensively evaluated and planned – starting with the mooring of the AAL Fremantle to the old Berth itself where she was heavily exposed to wind, waves, current, tide and vessel motion. These conditions needed to be factored into the lifting methodology along with load spreading and cargo sea fastening. Having multiple contractors and authorities working simultaneously required the development of complex risk assessments and mitigation, emergency procedures and a coordination matrix to ensure that every stage was delivered to highest safety standards.’

‘Due to the complex nature of the lifting operation, we sent a Project Engineer and Cargo Superintendent from Singapore to oversee the loading and stowage operation – monitoring works throughout the unpredictable weather conditions we faced. The level of engineering and operational oversight that AAL provided was not only crucial to reducing risk, down-time, and operational costs, but provided our customer and stakeholders a high level of reassurance of a positive outcome – which we ultimately delivered.’

Ben Williams, Project Manager of Project Logistics at Geodis Australia, added, ‘This was a complex and demanding project shipment and required a huge effort from Geodis and AAL’s team, collaborating to execute safely and efficiently. Transporting heavy lift berth and shiploader components from Hay Point to Henderson required regular pre-planning meetings – not to mention constant onsite dialogue with AAL representatives who travelled from Singapore to oversee works. It was the first time that a heavy lift vessel had performed such an operation there and AAL’s solution was executed flawlessly.’

FLEET EXPANSION DELIVERS 90% CONTROL OF AAL FLEET

First photo: 25,800 dwt ‘G-Class’ vessel.
Second photo: 33,000 dwt ‘W-Class’ vessel.

AAL Shipping (AAL) has added further vessels to its owned multipurpose cargo vessel (MPV) fleet. This month saw the delivery of the 2010 ‘AAL Gunsan’ (ex-BBC America) and her sister vessel, the 2009 ‘AAL Geelong’ (ex-BBC Valparaiso) – the latter taken over a few months ago. These are the last of four 25,800 deadweight (DWT) multipurpose heavy lift sister vessels (classified by AAL as G-class) secured through an acquisition transaction penned back in 2021 by AAL / Schoeller Holdings Group.

During the Summer, the AAL / Schoeller Holdings Group further acquired the ‘AAL Moon’ – a 33,000 DWT multipurpose vessel built in 2010 (classified by AAL as W-Class) and having previously served within the AAL fleet under commercial management since 2017.

Kyriacos Panayides, CEO of AAL, explained, ‘These acquisitions are perfectly in line with our continued fleet strategy to employ large MPVs which, through their significant cargo intake volumes, offer our shippers greater economies of scale on every sailing. Indeed, AAL is one of the leading ‘large tonnage’ MPV operators in the market.’

He added, ‘They also expand our multipurpose operating fleet to 864,800dwt, of which 90% is now fully controlled by AAL / Schoeller Holdings Group. This authority that AAL has over its operating fleet is important to the long-term sustainable expansion and deployment of our vessels; the strengthening of our global service model; and the frequency and flexibility demanded by our diverse global customer base. The vessels are being positioned across the world, in service of our monthly liner, regular trade lane and tramp chartering operations.’

Despite a challenging 18 months of global market upheaval due to COVID, the container boom and geo-political unrest, AAL has remained steadfast in support of its traditional breakbulk and multipurpose cargo customers – adding tonnage to, and improving frequency on, its core global trade lanes between the Americas, Africa, Europe, Middle East, India, Asia, and Oceania. In 2022, AAL has been recognized for its service by the multipurpose shipping community through two prestigious global carrier awards – ‘Ship Operator of the Year 2022’ at the Heavy Lift Awards and ‘Best Shipping Line – Project Cargo’ at the AFLAS Awards.

AAL AMERICAS BOOSTS TEAM & LOCAL SERVICE

AAL is strengthening its Americas division with several appointments to key positions over the past few months. These comprise the promotion of Henrik Hansen to General Manager; recruitment of highly experienced local MPP commercial executive, Jacqueline Berry to Sales Manager; elevation of Christian Johnson to Regional Operations Manager and hiring of Texas A&M University Maritime Administration graduate, Grant Leal, as Voyage Operator. These latest appointments will boost the US team’s service capability, as it handles regular sailings and cargoes through the region.

Newly appointed General Manager, Henrik Hansen, explained, ‘The Americas is an important market for AAL and our global customer base, and we have had a presence in the region for almost a decade. Today, we are operating regular sailings between the US, Europe and Asia and the reputation of AAL amongst local customers who represent multiple industry sectors has grown exponentially, and we have repaid their trust with a consistent multipurpose cargo service through the region, despite all market challenges.’

Felix Schoeller, Commercial Director of AAL added, ‘Having one of the most advanced fleets in the breakbulk and project heavy lift sector is all well and good, but it needs to be managed and operated by top people at every level. This year, AAL has won the sector’s top global carrier awards – given primarily by our peers for unrelenting commitment to service. Our excellent US team reflects that charter, to being the very best we can be and going the extra mile for our customers and partners.’

He concluded, ‘Only last month, we attended Breakbulk Americas 2022 in Houston and were delighted to engage with so many of our customers and contacts. We are committed to the region for the long term and are looking forward to developing this market further.’