MUSCAT: Port of Salalah announced on Thursday the arrival of an initial batch of high-tech Ship-to-Shore (STS) cranes that, upon their installation and commissioning, will enable the handling of the latest generation of Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) at Oman’s leading transshipment hub.
Four container cranes, billed as the largest of their kind in the world, arrived on board the Zhen Hua 25, a large specialized heavy load carrier vessel owned by Chinese based ZPMC, one of the world’s leading crane manufacturers. The vessel received a water cannon salute from a tugboat as it entered the harbour.
Commenting on the size and capabilities of the new cranes, Port of Salalah said: “With an outreach exceeding the length of an Airbus A380 airliner and a similar total hoist height, once commissioned these cranes will enable the Port of Salalah to efficiently manage the world’s largest container vessels.”
The arrival of the giant cranes marks the start of an upgrade of the port’s Container Terminal aimed at attracting mega containerships to use the maritime gateway. The upgrade, first announced in October 2022, entails an investment of $66 million towards the construction of civil infrastructure necessary to support the installation of special cranes to handle Ultra Large Container Vessels (ULCVs) that are expected to begin arriving at the port starting from 2025.
A total of 10 cranes are proposed to be installed at the Container Port under lease from APM Terminals, one of the world’s largest port operating companies, which also owns a 30 per cent stake in Salalah Port Services (SPS).
At the same time, global shipping and logistics giant Maersk has pledged to channel large volumes of containers to Salalah Port by routing its mega containerships via the Omani hub. A mega containership is typically 366 metres long and capable of carrying over 14,500 containers.
According to Salalah Port officials, the Container Terminal upgrade alongside the pact with Maersk are key to sustaining the port’s competitiveness in the region. Last June, Salalah was named the second most efficient container port in the world for the second year in a row, based on rankings compiled by the World Bank and S&P Global as part of the 2022 Container Ports Performance Index (CPPI). The Port of Salalah also claimed the first position for the West Central and South Asia region.