Giant Liebherr crane comes down the Wear in Sunderland

A barge carrying the parts of a new crane for an offshore rig on it's way from the Liebherr Sunderland Works at Deptford.'The rig is being built at the Hadrian yard at Wallsend.

A barge carrying the parts of a new crane for an offshore rig on it's way from the Liebherr Sunderland Works at Deptford.'The rig is being built at the Hadrian yard at Wallsend.

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A COLOSSAL Wearside-built crane is carried down the Wear by barge.

The offshore crane was dispatched from Liebherr Sunderland Works in Deptford, destined for the North Sea.

A barge carrying the parts of a new crane for an offshore rig on it's way from the Liebherr Sunderland Works at Deptford.'The rig is being built at the Hadrian yard at Wallsend.

A barge carrying the parts of a new crane for an offshore rig on it's way from the Liebherr Sunderland Works at Deptford.'The rig is being built at the Hadrian yard at Wallsend.

The crane was ordered by oil and exploration company Apache in conjunction with an oil rig that is under construction at Offshore Group in Newcastle.

Ralph Saelzer, managing director at Liebherr Sunderland Works Ltd, said: “The process has ran smoothly and according to plan as far as I can see.

“The crane will move out to Newcastle, but I don’t think it will actually be out there in the North Sea working until some time next year.”

The crane was broken down into its main components and had to be loaded in a two-hour period leaving no room for error.

Mr Saelzer said: “Every step has to be precisely pre-planned, the weight of the main component alone, the slewing platform, is 70 tonnes.”

The production of the crane took 7,000 hours over six months and Mr Saelzer estimates that more than 40 staff have worked on the crane throughout the entire process.

He added: “I think 40 to 50 people would have worked on the crane throughout the process, nearly everybody here on the yard really.”

Cranes like this are normally shipped by lorry with up to 30 lorries full of parts, but due to the final destination of the crane, Liebherr opted to use the barge.

Mr Saelzer said: “It’s much easier doing it this way if it makes sense. This crane is for the North Sea. It makes sense and it saves lots of time using the barges.”

The successful completion of the crane is another achievement for Liebherr and Mr Saelzer hopes it will pave the way for future contracts at the manufacturing plant.

“We expect we are the preferred supplier for Apache but we have to be the best to get the order in the first place,” he added.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho