MSC Ships 30-Meter Project Cargo Pieces Stuck in Mumbai


MSC India received a call to move three 30-meter asphalt vacuum distillation scrubbers from India to Iraq. Each of the scrubbers was 30 meters long and weighed 46 tons. They had been stuck at the Port of Mumbai for two months with no carrier ready to pick them up and time was running out to get the pieces to an asphalt production plant in Iraq where they were urgently needed. Rushing the job without due care was not an option, as replacing damaged items would take too long.

It’s a scenario in which the world’s top project cargo carriers face from time to time and MSC’s dedicated team stepped forward to solve the problem. With MSC recently expanded Falcon service which calls China, Sri Lanka, India, and Middle East ports, the three asphalt vacuum distillation scrubbers could be loaded at Nhava Sheva in India and delivered to Umm Qasr in Iraq with a transit time of 11 days. The MSC Project Cargo team quickly applied their skills to enable direct delivery from barge to the MSC Ajaccio.   

“Such long cargo means big challenges, especially when we consider the direct delivery requirement ex barge onto our vessel. There was also extra pressure from the knowledge that the specific project this cargo was needed for had been at risk of delay from previous difficulties, which were extra considerations and challenges that we can successfully overcome,” says Ben Collins, Global Project Cargo Manager at MSC, at the company’s Geneva headquarters.

“At MSC we think big and with a great passion for our work, we manage the whole process. While others were unable to help, MSC could handle the cargo because we have local project cargo experts based in the region, who understand local situations and requirements.”

Planning, precision, and care

Carrying unusual oversized freight with extraordinary dimensions, as in this case, brings a raft of challenges.

Direct delivery ex barge to vessel is complex by nature, and even more so when container cargo operations are continuing simultaneously. It requires careful planning to cover the cost implications and risk factors, including lashing, securing, locking, placement and overall safety. 

The lift must be completed safely and in good time without effecting the regular operations, MSC’s priority is always the safety of the cargo, vessel, and crew. Maneuvering the crane and lifting cargo this way requires timing, precision, patience, and care. In short, a lot of planning is needed to transport such breakbulk cargoes.

The actual loading is only part of the challenge, as permission from port authorities has to be secured before operations can start. In Mumbai, the MSC team was able to secure this based on their knowledge and experience of such unusual operations, convincing the port that MSC could handle the loading with complete safety.   

“Our operations and commercial teams work very closely with each other, and it is the combination of their skills and expertise that makes such impossible challenges possible,” says Captain Inderpal Singh, Senior VP Western Region, MSC India. “While we always endeavor to serve our customers to the greatest extent possible, our primary focus is always human safety – and handling this equipment requires acute vigilance and patience,” Captain Singh says.

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Ryan is the Digital Marketing and Content Creation Manager for Trade and Logistics Siam Ltd. He provides a creative flair to the team and his resourcefulness helps to bring an imaginative improvement to both literary archetypes and online content production. A writer by day and a rider by night, when he's not composing the latest logistics news update or creating compelling copy for our clients, Ryan spends his free time travelling Thailand by motorbike.