The 31,000dwt ‘mega-size’ heavy lift vessel, AAL Kobe, recently transported two heavy lift single-point mooring (SPM) Buoys along AAL Shipping’s (AAL) ‘Europe – Middle East / India – Asia Monthly Liner Service’ (EUMEIA), from Jebel Ali in Dubai to offshore anchorage in the Persian Gulf. The buoys each weighed 340 metric tonnes and measured 16.4 x 15.9 x 14 meters. They were transported on behalf of DHL Industrial Projects and enable offshore interconnection with tankers, loading or offloading gas and liquid products.
As well as the issues of an extremely tight delivery schedule, and offshore wind and visibility considerations at anchorage – when discharging the two buoys in open water – the cargo’s shape and size posed load-spreading challenges for AAL’s engineering team when planning safe stowage on the vessel’s 3,000 square meter weather deck space.
Yahaya Sanusi, Deputy Head of AAL’s Transport Engineering Department, explained, ‘Planning took six weeks. The operation demanded exacting stowage requirements, including extensive load-spreading calculations, strict protection of filling pipes protruding from the bottom of both units and pin-point positioning by the Master and his crew to ensure optimum load and discharge space. In solution, temporary platforms were designed and constructed onto which the buoys would sit, comprising 750mm tween deck panels, additional heavy load platforms (HLPs) and wooden blocks.
He added, ‘We originally planned to ship only one SPM Buoy, so our solution was completely re-designed at some point. Despite this, sea fastening and lifting of both units proved no issue at all and was possible with our ship’s equipment. However, COVID restrictions meant that none of the engineering team could attend discharge which put pressure on the AAL Kobe’s formidable crew – especially with a constant risk of bad weather offshore. The operation ultimately proved a success and strong collaboration between the engineering team in Singapore, our Project Engineer Monique Haehre at AAL Hamburg, and Columbia Shipmanagement colleagues manning the ‘Performance Optimisation Control Room’ (POCR) facility in Limassol – whose 24/7 weather routing calculations and prognoses significantly helped sailing efficiency and operational safety.
Andy Tite, Global Commercial Head, DHL Industrial Projects, concluded “The close partnerships DHL holds with our carriers is imperative to our safe and effective operational performance. In this instance AAL completed the operations to the highest standards, which is not only a requirement of DHL but also our clients. This was all the more impressive as we were placed under some quite considerable pressure due to restrictive timescales and the addition of twice as much cargo as originally booked, AAL responded in a positive and supportive manner. We appreciate greatly their approach technically and operationally as well as their overall professionalism.