Giant cranes readied in Cork for voyage to Puerto Rico

Three 900-tonne cranes built by Liebherr first ever such cargo to leave Irish shores

The Albatross and cranes – it might sound like a birdwatcher's bonanza but anyone heading to Cork harbour this weekend is more likely to be treated to the sight of some impressive mechanical engineering than any ornithological extravaganza.

The three 900-tonne cranes, built by Liebherr of Killarney, are on board the specially converted overseas heavy transport vessel, Albatross which, moored at the Port of Cork's deepwater berth at Ringaskiddy, is finalising preparations for a transatlantic voyage.

The cranes were assembled at the Doyle Shipping Group's Cork Dockyard in Verolme over the past few months by an experienced team supervised by Liebherr engineers in what will be the first time that fully assembled container cranes have been exported from Ireland.

The cranes, about 65m tall, with an outreach of 40m and a capacity of 65 tons, were welded on to the deck of the Albatross at the Cork Dockyard for transport across the Atlantic to Puerto Rico in a voyage that is expected to take two weeks.


Built by Liebherr for Puerto Rican transport and logistics company Crowley, they are scheduled for delivery to Crowley Puerto Rico Services’ Isla Grande terminal in the capital, San Juan where they will be used in the company’s container traffic business.

Converted oil tanker

The 23-year-old Albatross, which is 264m long, was originally designed as an oil tanker but was converted into a crane carrier. The operation to ship the cranes to Puerto Rico involved careful planning, with the ship moving to Ringaskiddy for final bracing and taking on water ballast.

Port of Cork commercial manager Capt Michael McCarthy said each of the cranes weighed some 900 tonnes but that the weight was evenly distributed on the main deck of the Albatross with the cranes welded to the 42m wide deck to form a solid single composite unit.

“As a tier 1 port of national significance and a naturally deep water port, the Port of Cork is delighted to partner with Liebherr Cranes in selecting our Ringaskiddy Deepwater port to export their cranes to world markets,” he said.

“We have had an excellent relationship with Liebherr since the early 1990s when we commissioned two cranes for our facility in Ringaskiddy. Since then we have grown our relationship with the company and all our port cranes are manufactured by Liebherr.”

According to John Hourihan Jr, Crowley's senior vice president and general manager of Puerto Rico Services, the electric-powered cranes will be used to load and discharge containerised cargo being carried aboard Crowley's two new liquefied natural gas-powered, Commitment Class Con-Ro ships.

“With these state-of-the-art cranes now erected, we are taking another step toward the transformation of our terminal into the most modern and efficient port facility on the island of Puerto Rico. We eagerly await their arrival here,” he said.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times