From racing boats to steel pipelines, windmill blades to massive hydraulic hammers, Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS) says its personnel in the Middle East can move just about anything, anywhere.
Last summer, WSS was contracted to source ocean transportation options for the return of offshore marine equipment from the United Arab Emirates to Germany. The cargo consisted of 10 packages of pile driving accessories for onshore and offshore installation, including 13 meters long, 123 metric ton hydraulic hammer.
According to Niju Joseph John, Sales Development Manager for WSS in Abu Dhabi, the project represented a challenge: “The massive weight and huge dimensions of these components required a very specialized set of skills that few of our competitors can manage.”
John explained that WSS is able to combine its ship’s agency and maritime logistics competencies for complex projects such as this. He noted that many logistics providers tend to specialize in different segments, such as agricultural equipment
, automobiles, military hardware or rolling stock, but WSS’ history in the region has given the company experience moving a broad range of equipment and goods of varying sizes and complexities.
“Moving specialized equipment requires detailed planning and coordination between the loading site, transporters, customs officials, port officials and the cargo owner,” he said. “It also requires engineering competence. Anyone can offload a bulldozer from a trailer, but moving a 123 [metric ton] hydraulic hammer safely from a manmade island in the Gulf to a workshop in Hamburg takes a different set of skills.”
For specialized equipment, no two jobs are the same, John noted.
“On this project, a mechanical failure on a crane forced our team to change the offloading sequence and due to some performance issues, we had to replace the initial ocean carrier hired for the job,” he said. “We noticed that some of the gears arranged by the carrier for lifting certain heavy pieces from trailer to vessel did not match the lifting points, but we worked it out and the process went smoothly.”
Another challenge familiar to all cargo owners in the region is navigating overlapping regulatory and documentation issues. “In some ways, the most difficult part of a job like this is managing documentation,” John said. “In this case, the equipment arrived in Abu Dhabi on temporary basis, leaving us to manage the documentation process for export. Fortunately, our experienced operations team was able to anticipate and complete documentation requirements to get the job done, with time to spare.”
John added that since the client was based in Europe, WSS teamed up with colleagues in Germany to support the effort and secure a part-charter for the ocean leg back to Hamburg.
Christer Bonde, Regional Maritime Logistics Director for WSS in the region, said that Wilhelmsen has been in Dubai for almost 40 years, so it knows the specific logistical and regulatory challenges of operating successfully in the Middle East.
“The pace of economic development in the region has allowed us to get involved in some interesting projects,” Bonde said. “We’ve moved everything from Formula One powerboats to mega yachts, massive steel pipelines to windmill towers and blades.”
Bonde said that the company is also recognized as a preferred logistics provider to the oil and gas industry, especially offshore. “We are teaming up with ship owners and operators that can provide articulated tugs and modular barges suitable for the ocean transportation of oilfield equipment,” he said. “That allows owners to transport large modules from supply locations in the Far East
and Europe directly
to the installation, thus avoiding transshipping via local ports.”
While WSS is capable of performing complex jobs, the company said most of its business is providing affordable and comprehensive logistics and warehousing services for more manageable goods, such as timber, steel, aluminum and all kinds of bagged cargo. “Being recognized as quality logistics provider doesn’t mean we only move specialized equipment,” Bonde explained. “It means we offer all our customers seamless logistic services that are more flexible and cost-effective than the competition – no matter what the cargo.”