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Much-Anticipated Arrival of Wilmington, NC Port Cranes Marred by Collision Damage

The long-anticipated arrival of four container cranes took an unexpected turn last Saturday when the vessel carrying the cranes collided with a dredge during the inbound transit. According to a Coast Guard press release, the motor vessel “Zen Hua 16” made contact with the dredge “Cherokee” in the Port of Wilmington at about 1715 hours on Saturday evening. As the 788-foot long heavy lift vessel made its final approach to the pier, the crane arms and the dredge collided. Both the dredge and the cranes sustained damage.

The four cranes, valued at more than $30 million, are part of $143 million expansion project at North Carolina’s largest marine port. A port of Wilmington press release said that the cranes were on schedule to be put into service on April 1, despite the damages suffered during the collision. Offloading, according to the port, remains on schedule and damage to the cranes was described as “minimal.” Repairs will probably be made on site.

The initial assessment of damages to the cranes was accomplished on Sunday, at which time the decision to proceed with the unloading of the cranes on schedule was made. Unloading operations were set to begin on Wednesday. Preliminary surveys indicate that all four cranes suffered some damage, one more seriously than the others, but port officials were confident that the cranes could be repaired on site.

The North Carolina Ports press release also maintains that the cranes remained the property of the supplier until they were offloaded onto the docks and questions related to total damage costs and insurance issues were referred to the crane’s suppliers. No estimate of the totals cost of the damages has yet been released. There were no reports of pollution or injuries, stemming for the incident and the Coast Guard is investigating the collision.

• ABOUT THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE PORTS AUTHORITY:

North Carolina's Ports in Wilmington and Morehead City, plus inland terminals in Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad in Greensboro, link the State's consumers, businesses and industry to world markets and serve as magnets to attract new business and industry. Port activities contribute statewide to 85,000 jobs and $299 million in annual tax revenues. Activities by one container shipping company alone at the Port of Wilmington annually contribute statewide to over 31,000 jobs and nearly $73.2 million in tax revenues. The proposed NC International Port and Port expansion projects in Morehead City and Wilmington will make North Carolina a key player in international trade, and multiply related jobs and economic impact in the state.