Bulk Ship Unloader Replaces 50yo Cranes

Specialist heavy lift ship delivers one of the largest pieces of cargo to ever arrive in the Port of Newcastle

One of the largest single pieces of machinery to be brought into the Port of Newcastle arrived Sunday 16 May.

Vessel Happy Star arrives with new bulk ship unloader. Image Port of Newcastle.

At over 62 metres high and weighing 750 tonnes, the $35 million bulk ship unloader will be a prominent part of Newcastle’s maritime landscape as the port diversifies.

A specialist heavy lift ship, the 19,000-tonne HAPPY STAR, delivered the cargo in a carefully planned operation that transferred it onto Port of Newcastle’s K2 berth in the Bulk Precinct at Walsh Point.

HAPPY STAR is a 156-metre-long vessel featuring two 1,100 metric ton heavy lift mast cranes ideally suited to handling heavy project cargoes. The Big Lift vessel sailed for two weeks from Vietnam to deliver the crane to Port of Newcastle.

The bulk ship unloader is being installed at Newcastle Bulk Terminal and has capacity to unload bulk cargo – such as fertilisers, meals, mineral sands and various other bulk cargoes – at up to 1,200 tonnes per hour.

This unloading rate would be available as part of the second phase of the project, which includes conveyor infrastructure to link the berth directly to nearby customer storage and load-out facilities. This will be a significant increase on current discharge rates and vastly improve berth efficiency.

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said the arrival of the state-of-the-art unloader was a significant milestone in optimising bulk handling efficiencies at the Port.

The previous two unloaders were built in 1968 and were decommissioned in 2018 in order to be replaced with machinery that delivers the highest standards in safety and environmental management and a superior commercial outcome for customers,” Mr Carmody said.

This investment is part of Port of Newcastle’s commitment to providing the most efficient supply chain for internationally-trading businesses and, ultimately, support the Hunter’s economic growth.”

The new unloader is undergoing a commissioning phase, which includes rigorous testing and training for crane operators and maintenance teams. It is expected the ship unloader will operational in late 2021.


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