Monster machines paraded through Sunderland city centre at the start of a marathon journey to Central America.
The industrial reach stackers will soon be a familiar presence on the city’s streets following a new deal involving maritime crane manufacturer Liebherr, Sunderland City Council and the Port of Sunderland.
Liebherr, based at Ayres Quay, in the city’s Deptford area, now has permission to drive the 70,000kg-heavy vehicles the short distance to the port so they can be delivered direct to Guatemala by sea.
Production director Barry Barraclough said: “Previously we had to ship them from places like Immingham and Southampton.
“That meant we had to deassemble them and transport them by lorry.
“Now we can drive them direct to our port and they don’t have to be reassembled at the other end. It’s a case of straight off the boat and into action.”
The first two LRS 545 reach stackers, also known as container handling machines, made the short journey to the port via the city centre and East End on Monday morning. Three more will follow in similar fashion on Tuesday.
Another 15 will be built by the end of the year in batches of five with the 15ft-high vechicles to be used eventually by a port in Guatemala to stack containers.
Founded in Germany, Swiss-based Liebherr opened its Sunderland branch in 1989 and employs around 200 staff here as part of a 43,000 worldwide workforce.