Logistics provider Cosmatos Shipping Services, member of the Worldwide Project Consortium (WWPC) for Greece, transported a project cargo of 82 units via sea from Greece to the UK earlier in July.

The cargo was loaded onto the Ocean7 heavy lift vessel Atlantic Dawn at the port of Thessaloniki. (Photo: WWPC)

The combined 963 tonnes of cargo included some of the largest individual loads with ever to move through Thessaloniki city centre, and one of the biggest to load at the port.

The work was undertaken for industrial plant specialist EKME.

The cargo was loaded onto the Ocean7 heavy lift vessel Atlantic Dawn at the port of Thessaloniki.

Vessel loading was limited to daylight hours. (Photo: WWPC)

The shipment was destined for the Technip hydrogen plant at Esso Petroleum Fawley in the UK.

Elisabeth Cosmatos, managing director at Cosmatos Group, said, “Even at the outset, it was clear that this project was going to create unique challenges, simply given the dimensions of the critical loads.”

These consisted of three main penthouse units weighing 180.4 tonnes, 123.8 tonnes and 40.8 tonnes, plus an 85 tonne valve structure. The largest penthouse measured 1830 mm x 1060 mm x 1010 mm.

Initiated in 2019, planning anticipated critical item movements by road from the EKME plant to the port being restricted to the early morning hours of the weekend and foresaw close cooperation with utilities to avoid disruption to local power and telecoms.

Lockdown challenges

Like many things planned that year, scheduling to ship in 2020-2021 proved futile in the face of covid restrictions.

With a subsequent and understandable slowdown in production and an untimely escalation in ship fuel prices, it was not until early in 2023 that the timing looked right to reschedule the load for shipment.

However, by the time of the scheme’s revival, other new and unforeseen challenges had emerged which had a direct bearing on the logistics operation.

“Conditions for transport had changed, with the logistics team needing to rethink,” said Elisabeth. “Upgrades were being made to some of the access roads on which the move would rely, including new bridge construction.”

When municipal road works were still blocking access through one bridge along an essential part of the route one month before the load was due to move, Cosmatos was assigned by ExxonMobil to find an alternative.

“A detailed route survey of civil works had established that backfill and levelling would be needed on part of the port road, which was done by contractors,” said Elisabeth.

SPMT (self-propelled modular transporter) type bogies were used during the transit, with the heaviest load needing support from 14+14 axles, working side by side.

Moving cables
SPMT (self-propelled modular transporter) type bogies were used during the transit. (Photo: WWPC)

After departing the EKME site under police escort, the transit needed to pause at the halfway point overnight to allow the public power company to lift high voltage overhead cables.

Vessel loading was also limited to daylight hours.

Cosmatos Group also took a coordinating role in handling arrangements at the port, pre-booking the berth for Atlantic Dawn, as well as the temporary cargo storage area and yard handling equipment, while also liaising with stevedores on loading risk assessments.

Tight clearances onboard the vessel demanded “rapid coordination of all parties to amend the stowage plan on spot as per actual needs of space,” said Elisabeth.

“The penthouse units also needed lifting frames, which of course added weight at the point of loading,” she added. “The ship’s own 150 tonne SWL cranes were used, with the heaviest load requiring a tandem lift.”

Following its sea voyage, the vessel arrived on time in Southampton.


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