straddle carriers legs

Straddle Carriers.

Loaded Container Ship

Loaded Container Ship.


When the Auckland Harbour Board celebrated its centenary in 1971, its assets totalled $40 million, it had outstanding loans of over $22 million and an annual revenue of $7 million. It was also facing dramatic changes in the sea freight business. In the late 1960s the British line P&O was the first of the shipping companies to give the Board notice that it was going to begin to ship cargoes in containers - 20 by 8 by 8 foot (approximately 6.1 by 2.4 by 2.4 metre) steel boxes that fitted on to a truck back and were shipped in stern-door or side-loading vessels equipped with their own handling equipment.

For the shipping companies, containerisation offered economies of scale and service efficiency. For the harbour boards it was extremely expensive, requiring massive capital investment. Existing wharves did not have the load-bearing capacity or the cargo-handling equipment capable of lifting the significantly heavier containers (the new container cranes were able to handle 600 tonnes an hour, about 50 times more than the conventional ones). Large 'back-up' areas were needed adjacent to the wharves to hold cargo in transit: land requirements increased from approximately 1.2 to 9 hectares per berth.

Recognising a worldwide trend toward containerisation, the Board quickly built the deep-sea Fergusson Container Terminal (later renamed Axis Fergusson) at the eastern end of the commercial port. Although it was opened in 1971, the first container vessel did not arrive in Auckland until June 1973. After a slow start, a throughput of less than 10,000 containers in the first full year of operation had jumped to 126,293 TEUs ('20-foot equivalents') in 1983-84 (the same year the one-millionth container was handled at the port).

As the volumes increased in the 1970s, Bledisloe Wharf (renamed Axis Bledisloe) was redeveloped to handle containers. The enormous capital costs associated with containerisation meant that, in order to operate economically, the port had to make substantial changes to its traditional working methods and improve productivity.

To turn the ships and their cargoes around quickly, Auckland's container port began operating at night-time and over weekends. The mechanised cargo handling required a much smaller work force, most of whom operated machinery, as work in and around the port became increasing capital intensive. It was the start of a change which would progressively dominate the strategy and activity of the port, dictating an ever-increasing focus toward supply-chain optimisation.

"Ships used to come in at night and they would be brought in and anchored in the harbour. In the morning, if they were from overseas, the Customs officers would go out on one launch to check the paperwork, the doctor would go out on another launch to make sure they weren't diseased. It would be a very leisurely check up ... the ship would be allowed to berth ... and might be in port a week or ten days. ... [With containerisation] you couldn't just anchor a ship in the harbour and wait till morning. ... Everything had to happen 24 hours a day."

Ron McKenzie, former Harbourmaster

Container Terminal Container Terminal.

Straddle Carries Legs The straddle carriers legs. Unloading the Caitunhe Unloading the Caitunhe

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