Fairlift was built in 1990, is 330 feet long and flies the flag of The Netherlands
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|The Fairlift is 330 feet long, with powerful cranes on board and a unique ballasting system that allows her to carry very heavy cargo. She is owned and operated by the Jumbo Company, a heavy-lift shipping company headquartered in Rotterdam.|
|The Fairlift arrived Duluth on June 28, 2007 to discharge a cargo of heavy industrial pieces onto rail cars for delivery to Alberta.|
|Some of the same Duluth iron workers who helped put the Aerial Lift bridge back together again last winter, worked on the Fairlift discharge. Here they are welding fittings onto the railcars that will carry the large pieces of equipment discharged from the Fairlift.|
|Finally, on June 30, the Fairlift departed Duluth, waving good bye as they sailed by.|
|The Stellanova was here in October, 2000 with the first load of heavy equipment built for an oil extraction construction project in northern Alberta, Canada. The Fairlift brought the last 136 pieces to Duluth in December, bringing them here from Japan.|
|Seven of the pieces weighed over 500 tons. Most of the cargo, and all of the heavier pieces, was discharged from the Fairlift onto sixteen special 12-axle railcars (below) that were brought to Duluth for this project. The remainder of the shipment was taken off the Fairlift and placed on trucks for over-the-road shipment to Alberta.|
|Fairlift Captain N.J.J. Sinnige explained to me some of the procedures they follow. First of all, there are two cranes (see below) on the deck of the Fairlift, one capable of lifting 250 tons, the other 400 tons. Neither could lift the 500 ton pieces alone. Together, such a feat is possible. He picked up his calculator and started punching some numbers to show me how it could be done. It was easier for me to look out the window of his office.|
|He also showed me some calculations he does regarding the pumping of ballast water in the ship while the cranes are moving cargo off the ship. One of the big pieces is slowly moved off the deck of the Fairlift. As the end of the crane moves out over one side of the ship, he needs to compensate for that movement lest the ship tip over on that side. (Notice below, the large cylinder is half way over the side of the boat, and the boat is still level.)|
|While the cranes slowly move cargo off one side of the ship, large pumps onboard pump great amounts of ballast water from tanks on that side of the ship to ballast tanks on the other side. This maintains the equilibrium of the ship. That is one reason why the process is so slow; they have to wait for that water to be pumped from one side of the ship to the other. The amount of water and speed of pumping is calculated beforehand, and is similar to the overall load calculations. If a 480-ton piece is being lifted out of a hold and off to one side of the ship, he told me about 430 tons of water would need to be pumped from that side of the ship to the other during the process.|
|This business is different than moving grain, coal and ore. This kind of cargo always varies with different shapes, sizes, and weights. Each shipment presents its own problems. The captain and crew need to have a wide background in heavy lifting. Deck hands on the sea become crane operators at the dock. The crane operators on the Fairlift have been doing this for a long time. And they all attended a school for crane operation in Holland.
Captain and crew also have to like traveling. The Fairlift departed Kobe, Japan on October 9 and arrived in Korea on the 11th. They loaded bridge girders and two transformers there. Four days later they began their trek across the Pacific Ocean. Stopping in Long Beach, California to discharge the Korean cargo, they then moved down the coast and over to the Panama Canal, the entryway to our side of the world. They arrived in Duluth on December 7th, almost sixty days after they left Kobe, Japan.
After eight days discharging cargo in Duluth, they departed empty, making their way to Halifax, Nova Scotia where they loaded fifteen 75-ton locomotives. Built by General Motors in Canada, they took that cargo to Algeria. They were going to come back to pick up power equipment in Newport News, Virginia, but that job was switched to the Fairlift’s sister ship, the Daniella.
Instead, the Fairlift sailed from Algeria to their homeport of Rotterdam where they loaded cargo for Dublin, Ireland. It seems the work of moving heavy equipment around the world never ends.