Six months after arriving from China aboard a container ship anchored briefly in Commencement Bay, the first of four super-post-Panamax cranes was put into operation earlier this month at the Husky Terminal along the Port of Tacoma’s Blair Waterway.

NWSA, cranes

The new super-post-Panamax cranes (right). Courtesy Northwest Seaport Alliance via Facebook.

According to Port of Tacoma and Northwest Seaport Alliance officials, the coral blue cranes were manufactured by Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. (ZPMC), a market-leader in the construction of super-sized cranes, and a company that manufactures this equipment at its facility on Changxing Island, in Shanghai, China.

At any given time, workers at ZPMC’s 275-acre manufacturing facility, which has come to be known as ‘Crane Island,’ are assembling as many as 100 cranes. Annually, ZPMC produces about 200 cranes using parts sourced throughout the world, according to Northwest Seaport Alliance officials.

Local longshore workers and Port of Tacoma officials have made trips to China to inspect the construction process and offer input on the design and functionality of the cranes, particularly the operator cabs.

In total, ZPMC is building eight super-post-Panamax cranes for the Northwest Seaport Alliance: the four cranes that arrived in February and went into operation this month; and another four cranes that are scheduled to arrive next year.

While many of the cranes at the Port of Tacoma measure approximately 135 feet tall, these new cranes are 50 feet taller, with booms that can reach across the wider vessels that increasing comprise the shipping industry’s fleet. The new cranes have an outreach of 24 containers, and a lift height of 165 feet above the pier deck.