Hansa Heavy Lift (HHL) has successfully transported the first-ever ship-to-shore (STS) cranes via the Northern Sea Route (NSR), relocating them from the port of St. Petersburg to the port of Vostochny, spanning both the European and Far East regions of Russia.
HHL Valparaiso is the first vessel to sail open hatch through the Northern Sea Route, which is covered by thick ice for most of the year and has a limited two month window open to cargo voyages. The two cranes, each weighing 820 metric tonnes and measuring 61 metres in height and 92 metres in width, were shipped partially above and below deck. The vessel traveled from Qingdao, China to St Petersburg via the NSR to load the cranes, and then went back through the NSR a second time to complete the delivery in record time.
“The Northern Sea Route was the only viable option to complete this voyage in the required time-frame,” said Gleb Faldin, Commercial Manager, Hansa Heavy Lift. “In the Arctic there is no room for mistakes. During the passage, the vessel has limited connection and only a few points of shelter. It is important to understand the legal framework to navigate the NSR, to plan carefully, to be prepared for the unexpected, and most importantly to have the right team on board the vessel and in the office.”
Crews had only a few weeks to complete the voyage, as the cargo was loaded in October and had to be delivered to its destination by late November before the route completely froze over. Other challenges included limited space aboard the HHL Valparaiso, which holds Ice Class E3 equivalent to Russian Arc.4 (Finnish- Swedish Ice Class 1A). Additionally, the cranes were not designed to be lifted, requiring careful planning from all parties involved in the move, as well as strong engineering expertise.
“The Northern Sea Route is an important alternative that can save weeks from a voyage, but to be successful you need careful planning and engineering, the right equipment, capable vessels, and experienced crews,” said Heinrich Nagrelli, Project & Transport Engineer, Hansa Heavy Lift. “Due to the STS’s very high centre of gravity at 30 metres above deck and 70 metres air draft, as well as draft restriction of 7.7 metres, a careful and detailed plan was needed from the start. This included a load spreading design and a structural analysis of the hatch covers and lower hold, a lifting stability assessment, a lifting simulation, fulfillment of Flag State requirements (open hatch, visibility, arctic weather conditions), and the approval of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, as well as the arranging of ice breaker assistance.”