Against a backdrop of three huge cranes towering over a containership laden with stacks of bright green containers, Capt. Y. T. Lin, Evergreen Marine Corp.'s executive vice president of operations, praised the port of Baltimore yesterday for building its new Seagirt Marine Terminal.
"We thank you for this facility," said Captain Lin, adding that his line was happy with Seagirt and predicting that the facility would allow his line and the port to provide better service to their customers.
Evergreen is one of two lines to have signed a lease to use Seagirt. Yesterday the first of Evergreen's ships to Seagirt was unloaded by three of the terminal's seven cranes, and representatives of the state and the line turned out to mark the event.
Evergreen handles more container cargo than any other steamship line in the world, and the line's decision to use Seagirt was a big boost for the Maryland Port Administration, which is marketing Seagirt and its cranes as the most productive facility in the country.
Port Administration Executive Director Brendan W. O'Malley, voicing appreciation for Evergreen's vote of confidence, declared, "We will struggle very, very hard to make sure we keep our promises."
One of those promises involves the productivity of the new cranes, especially the three dual-hoist machines, which are designed to move as many as 55 cargo containers an hour, about twice the production rate of earlier single-hoist designs.
The dual-hoist cranes, as their name implies, have two lifting devices. One lifts a container from the dock onto an intermediate platform, while the other lifts the container from the platform and lowers it onto the ship.
Yesterday all three dual-hoist cranes were in use on the Evergreen ship, the Ever Guard. However, only one of the three used both hoists. The other two operated with only the
To no one's surprise, the cranes did not set any records.
"The cranes performed as well as could be expected," said an Evergreen official. "I think they will be terrific very shortly."
During the morning, the three cranes moved about 200 containers in about four hours, or fewer than 17 per hour.
New cranes generally experience problems at the outset, both mechanical and human. Although yesterday's operators had practiced on the cranes, this was the first time they had used them on a ship.
Paul R. Torma, the MPA official in charge of crane maintenance, said that even though the cranes have been rigorously tested, there is no way to reproduce the actual experience of loading a ship. "There's no way to test a crane fully until you put it over a ship," he said.
As the operators gain experience and the MPA works out the mechanical and electrical bugs, he said, he expects the cranes will prove their worth in very short order.
"We don't have design problems, just fine-tune problems," he said, predicting that the machines will eventually exceed their designers' expectations.
"We're going to beat what they say," he said. "It won't happen in the first month. It will happen in the first year."