Midstream stevedoring by St.James Stevedoring provides the m
ost efficient transfer of bulk cargo between ocean vessel and river barge. This direct transloading of cargo provides 5 key benefits:
- Number of cranes can be increased or decreased to maximize available facility capacity.
- Minimizes cargo loss through a single “touch” of the product and sealed buckets.
- Greatly reduces or eliminates the possibility of contamination.
- Takes advantage of the inland waterway flexibility.
- Provides the lowest cost transfers available to shippers.
When a ship arrives in a St. James buoy system, a facility specific to that operation is created. The ship is primarily held on its anchors with lines to the head and stern buoys to position the vessel. Floating cranes are secured to the vessel with cables. The number of cranes placed alongside the vessel varies depending on the size of the ship and operational plans. To date we have never been able to fit more than four Gottwald cranes alongside. St. James works on both sides of the ship so the width of the vessel is not normally an issue. Because the cranes are floating and the boom heal pin is at 55 feet above the crane barge deck, the workable maximum air draft has never been an issue. The crane barge can move itself up and down the side of the ship.
River barges are brought to the outside of the crane and connected to a haulage system which allows the barges to be moved to the most efficient loading position. By placing a floating crane between the ocean going vessel and the river barge, St. James efficiently and quickly performs the inter-modal transfer with mechanical clamshell buckets, grapples, hooks, and spreader bars. Transfers include bulk products such as fertilizer, coal, iron ore, furnace coke, cement, grain, ferroalloys, steel, scrap, pig iron, minerals and ores, as well as products in super sack bags and heavy lifts.
St. James operates 5 primary ship-mooring sites. Three buoy sets are located in the Elmwood Fleet of AEP located at Mile 158 AHP (above the head of passes) in Convent, Louisiana. Two additional buoy sets are located in the Artco fleet at Mile 122 AHP in Destrehan, Louisiana. AEP River Operations and Artco provide fleeting and tug services at their respective locations and both fleets are obligated to handle any barge presented for a St. James stevedored ship. Moving cranes between locations and between ships means that operations are always flexible.
St. James operates a fleet of ten high-capacity Gottwald HPK floating cranes including four Model 8 cranes with the two latest coming online in September 2013. Gottwald cranes have a gross lift of 40 metric tons (88,000 pounds) up to 63 metric tons (138,891 lbs) in bucket work and 63 metric tons up to 100 metric tons in hook operations, at radius ranging from118 to 139 feet. All eight cranes have 164-foot long booms and we can reach all parts of the vessel hatch opening reducing the amount of tractor work in clean-up and speeding cargo operations.
Each St. James Gottwald crane is equipped with an array of digging buckets, hooks, spreader bars and grapples for the optimal attachment for the specific cargo being handled. With the new Model 8 cranes we offer bucket sizes 44- cubic yard, 54- cubic yard and 61- cubic yard general cargo bucket, 20- cubic yard and 25 cubic yard heavy ore bucket and 22-yard scrap grapples. Our 61 and 54 cubic yard buckets are the larges buckets currently being used on the inland river system. We have rubber sealed buckets to prevent spillage of fine products and our buckets are bowl shaped with covers to reduce dust and spillage over the top. With one minute cycle times, the Gottwalds are rated at 1200 tons per hour (dependant on cargo type). Our bag bars are designd to handle up to 18 one ton bags, the number which fits laterally in a barge.
Gottwald crane operators have an array of tools to assist in safe and efficient operations. They sit at 73 feet above the deck of the crane and have a good view of the cargo operations. Boom tip cameras provide a bird's eye view of the digging operation. Load cells protect against over loads and keep a tally of cargo production levels. An air-conditioned operator's cab with joy stick operation and captain's chair means that the operator is able to comfortably focus on the work at hand. Monitor screens provide data on crane operating systems and functions.