Cargo ships running into problems are a much more common event than most people may be aware of. Around 1,400 incidents happen per year, with varying degrees of severity and impact. Ever Given’s spectacular grounding kept the world riveted and entertained for days, however, the economic consequences are huge (CFG, 28MAR21). The knock-on effect and financial drain is dramatic for any shipowner in a similar position – such as for a recent Hellmann Marine Solutions customer.
Back in FEB21, a 260-meter, 4,250 TEU container freighter belonging to a London shipping company, ran aground off the Bahrain coast. An incident which led to its propeller shaft becoming distorted and no longer fit for purpose.
Time is money
Cargo that is not moving, causes compensation losses. Ships that are not moving, incur mooring costs. Containers that are not being returned result in demurrage fees. Not to mention, the image loss to the shipping company when accidents like these happen. Yet, what was to be done about the damaged 53-ton propeller shaft? Together with the Hellmann Marine Solutions team, the shipping company quickly evaluated the possibilities: arrange for the propeller shaft to be repaired by transporting it from Bahrain to Denmark, running the risk of finding out that it might be irreparable - and then bringing it back again? Time-consuming and tricky to arrange. Or organize a completely new propeller shaft. That was the decision finally taken, and the spare part was sourced to a manufacturer in Wuhan, China.
Flying a giant propeller
A 53-ton, 20-odd-meter long piece like that is best suited to sea freight, yet that would have taken too long. The solution, therefore, was an air cargo charter flight, on board the freighter workhorse used to such unusual shipment challenges: an Antonov 124. Working closely together with the Ukrainian loadmaster, a steel transport frame was developed in Wuhan and approved, to ensure the propeller shaft would be transported safely. Once the green light was given, Union Marine trucked the spare part from Wuhan to Shanghai Airport. Two cranes were used to unload the shipment and place it in storage for 48 hours whilst customs inspections and export customs clearance procedures were carried out.
Propeller in the air
Following careful loading into the AN-124 in Shanghai, the propeller set of for Bahrain, touching down in Almaty along the way for re-fueling and crew rest. It arrived at destination on 13FEB21, in the afternoon. Given the size of the shipment, trucking it to the shipyard was only permitted during the night. Police escorted the truck which left the airport at midnight, arriving at the shipyard at 02:30 the next morning, as planned and to the relief and delight of the Hellmann Marine Solutions team.
Words of praise
“We planned and executed a complex charter operation within a very short timeframe to minimize downtime costs for our client. This required smooth communication with all parties involved - in London, Wuhan, Shanghai, Ukraine, Dubai, and Bahrain. Without the know-how of our global team, the project would not have been possible in this form,” says Oliver Herdes, Specialist Hellmann Marine Solutions. Christian Reinhold, Global Vice President Hellmann Marine Solutions, added “The request from our customer came with a huge leap of faith. Our global team pulled out all the stops with great commitment to make this project shipment a masterpiece of logistics engineering. A great success for both sides - Hellmann Marine Solutions makes it possible!”
Hellmann’s new Middle Eastern locations
Speaking of Bahrain, Hellmann has also been busy expanding its footprint in the Middle East – a region it has been active in since 1999. Last summer, in JUL20, it opened a number of operational and administrative branches in Oman with the aim of establishing seamless supply chain services across Oman and the neighboring Gulf states. It recently also held a virtual inauguration ceremony, to welcome its first branch in Cairo, Egypt into the fold – the first of three for the country, since branches are also planned to go into operation in Port Sokhna and Alexandria this October. Madhav Kurup, Regional CEO MESA, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, explained: “In recent years, Hellmann has already established itself as a market leader in the MESA region, especially in the automotive and healthcare logistics sectors, but increasingly also in e-commerce business. The expansion into Egypt and Oman marks another decisive step for our growth path in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Words that are echoed by Reiner Heiken, Chief Executive Officer, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics: “The investments in Egypt and Oman clearly show the strategic importance of the region for Hellmann as a global company and the potential we see here.”
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