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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have not really had any interest in container ships until following up a couple of recent photos posted in the gallery - I guess they are one of those things that we all take for granted if not directly involved with them.

One of the photos showed an Indian ship piled high with boxes, which to me looked unsafe - but Patalavaca (Rick) explained that the loading plan would place heavy boxes low down and the empties high up and it was quite safe. Obvious if you know but I didn't.

What I am getting round to is to ask for a bit more information about loading/unloading practices. I watched a box ship in Zeebrugge on Thursday while waiting for my ferry to leave for Hull. In my ignorance I thought that a box ship would have all the boxes taken off first, then the new set of boxes loaded. From what I could see, a row of boxes across the vessel were being unloaded and loaded with new cargo simultaneously (actually at least three rows at once as there were multiple rigs at work loading and unloading). I presume by looking at the loading gear that the ship would then be moved fore or aft to allow access to the next rows.

Can someone who knows about the loading/unloading practices clarify how this works please - did I get the right or wrong end of the stick? Are there reasons why you would not completely unload first - is it just about the capabilties of the loading gear or are there other reasons?

I have to admit that I was very impressed by all the activity - it reminded my of an ant's nest!

Regards,

Brian
 

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In my ignorance I thought that a box ship would have all the boxes taken off first, then the new set of boxes loaded. From what I could see, a row of boxes across the vessel were being unloaded and loaded with new cargo simultaneously (actually at least three rows at once as there were multiple rigs at work loading and unloading).

Ships normally carry cargo for several ports simultaneously therefore the ship you saw would be discharging cargo for Zeebrugge and loading for other ports at the same time.
Much of the operation is computerised these days, stowage plans for the ship are worked out in advance and the locations of the containers within the terminal are also controlled by computer. In some of the large container ports the carriers which transport the containers to and from the ship's side are also automated.


I presume by looking at the loading gear that the ship would then be moved fore or aft to allow access to the next rows.

The ship remains in position and the gantry cranes move up and down the berth to access the various cargo bays on the vessel.

Have a look at the following url for some more details on the operations. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portainer

In addition, have a look at this url which gives some of the technical details of how the automated operation at ECT Rotterdam was achieved. http://www.ti.com/rfid/docs/news/news_releases/2000/rel7-30-00.shtml
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the info Ray.

I didn't realise that those cranes could move sideways - looking at them you would think they are fixed - but I was some way from them so missed this point.

The information about automation at Rotterdam is interesting. My company does a lot of work with RFIDs though I don't have any personal experience of devices using them. It must be very odd to see the machinery loading and unloading automatically.

Regards,

Brian
 

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Brian,
Never experienced the automated systems personally. It was all done handraulically when I was on 'box boats.'
 

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Container ships are indeed discharged and loaded at the same time.
This is mostly not a problem re stability but can be if not watched carefully.

See my earlier posting when as ch.mate on the Asiafreighter in the early
70's , I had to stop the operation twice. One crane was loading full 20'on
deck while the other was discharging heavy boxes from the lower 3 layers
underdeck. This was in Le Havre ,Ray , and if you remember Le Havre was the
port where you worked with minimum bunkers. At one stage , a 20 'box was loaded
on bay 13 and the ship heeled over to about 10 deg. Stopped the operation until
the loading sequence was sorted out.

Having sailed on box boats in the 70's then having run , operated , planned and
loaded them in the 80's and 90's , it all starts with the terminal and booking lists
where you try to stack by weight,destination,commodity imco class etc.
This cuts down extra moves. Preplan given to the mate to check all is OK re
trim stability imco separation etc.
Same when discharging, discharge plan given to the mate for approval and containers
discharged and stacked on terminal with regards to next movement - rail , feeder,
road or unstuffing shed.
Our terminal was automated to the extent that we could trace any box but this
was still dependent on the checker under the crane , the straddle driver who stacked
the box and the guy who entered all this in the computer.

JC
 

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I am not a Boxman either.
However i often get the chance to nip down the wharf for a quick gander at whats going on.
Quite surprised recently to see an old reefer with the cable and derick boom cranes loading containers on the the already loaded ship (bananas). I would have thought these old type derick cranes were a bit hard pressed to hoist a container aboard, even an empty one. some of the later day ships that come in here have the modern hydraulic cranes fitted and i can understand their capability to be able to hoist a container.
 

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I was on the Vancouver Forrest (converted bulky with deck cranes) many years ago; it was on a Europe - Gulf run. In the gulf they were struggling to get a container off our deck and on to the jetty. The hydraulic pressure by pass valves on the crane were screwed shut and the cranes just managed to lift the bloody thing, everyone was screaming at the poor crane engineer to fix his cranes, and it wasn’t his fault. The people who had filled the container had lied about the weight and it had been loaded with a portainer crane which was stronger than our puny cranes.
Ron
 

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Brian,
that's what makes box-running interesting;you are never empty. Worked only feeders, but it's more or less the same. The terminal makes in most cases a priliminary loading plan, the vessel checks it mainly for stability reasons, and in most cases you aren't allowed to change it anymore. Clear as mud, but very seldom it works quite like that.
Used to visit regulary the CTA containerterminal in Hamburg , which is automated. There is a craneoperator still, and a couple of dockers on board, but the handling from the ship's side futher on goes by "robots". These trailers moves along lanes, there must be sensors built in somewhere. It look spooky when they move, they even blink when they turn, and the lights goes on when it is dark enough.
The real problem with container ops these days are the empties. You allways have to try and fill up with them.
To give you a picture of it we were passing Ushant TSS and á Maersk boxship overtook us, reorted to Ushant trafic like everybody is supposed to. When the french operator asked about his cargo he answerd: "no cargo. only 6500 empty containers" !!
 

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Watched a programe on National Geographic Channel last night about the container terminal in Singapore.
Was very enlightening and now makes me realise that I did in fact spend the best years to be a sailor (abeit that at times it was not too great).
What kind of life do the crews on these monsters have, no walking up and down the deck in pleasant weather or picking upthe flying fish of the deck to have for breakfast and most importantly not really being able to see where you are going. UGH
 

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Re: "Pineapples".

I was only ever in one boxboat,the US Lines "American Islander" feeder ,c. 2800dwt ,for 2 trips from NYC/Bermuda and latterly HK/Manila, in the late 70s.

The longshoremen at the Staten Island terminal used to place "pineapples" (so called as the steel items looked a little like them)between the lower and upper tiers of the deck-borne containers to link them, before the lashings went onto the upper tier. From pics I see on here of boxboats, there now appear to be a twist-lock device in those locations at the container corners-- anyone know, are the pineapples now redundant? I loved the term-- so appropriate, so "Noo Yokk".
 

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John,

From what I can remember (I am an Engineer), the twist locks are Bottle Locks. There are also Penguins and Butterflies to fix the containers. I wonder if even the lashings have been automated in some way? The longshoremen would have a variety of extended tools to install the lashings. I went fishing off the sea wall at La Guaira once and the Locals wanted to steal my shoes. The only spanish i knew then was a suggestion of things to do to members of your family! Accordingly, I was chased and the dockers on board threw bottle locks at me as I dashed for the ladder! This was during the Falklands and UK was no OK in many places.

Rgds.

Dave R.
 
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