Huge cranes for Thames port

London Gateway, Britain's new deep-sea container port, will take delivery of three giant quay cranes today.

The cranes are the biggest ever to be delivered to the UK and have been on a three month voyage from China.

A new gateway to London

They're more than twice the height of Nelson's Column - they've come halfway round the world - and they signal the latest stage of work on a project which will create 12,000 jobs.

Three cranes, the biggest ever seen in Britain, arrived from China this morning at the London Gateway in Essex.Our Political Correspondent Simon Harris explains exactly why they are here.

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Meridian

New photos of 138 metre cranes from China on Thames

Three cranes
Huge new cranes arrive at The London Gateway Credit: Derek Johnson

Three new giant cranes have arrived from China into the new deep-sea port in the Thames Estuary. The site is near Stanford le-Hope in Essex. The quay cranes which are taller than the London Eye measure 138 metres in height - two and a half times the height of Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square.

The cranes will be used to lift containers from big ships onto the shore. The LOndon Gateway is due to open at the end of 2013. When complete, its owners say it could bring 36,000 jobs to the economy.

London Gateway cranes
Three new cranes close up Credit: Derek Johnson
Artist's impression of the completed London Gateway
Artist's impression of the completed London Gateway Credit: London Gateway

First sight of cranes

A traditional welcome for the quayside container cranes Credit: Port of London Authority

Manufactured in Shanghai by ZPMC, the cranes are semi-automated for quick and efficient handling. They will be connected directly to the Terminal Operating System, which tracks the containers and sends work orders to the crane operator.

Ship "Zhen Hua 26" coming alongside The London Gateway Credit: Port of London Authority

The cranes have also already been put through their paces – they were fully pre-commissioned and moving boxes in Shanghai. “All the testing was done, and then they were disconnected ready for shipping,” says London Gateway engineering director Andrew Bowen.

"Meanwhile, we are already training our crane operators on our unique simulator, so they will be more than ready to step up to the job.”

Two more cranes are on their way.

First 3 of 20 cranes heading to London Gateway

The three 138 metre tall cranes set sail Credit: DP World

How large?

The cranes are taller than the London Eye, weigh 1,848 tons each, will reach across 25 rows of containers on a vessel and can lift up to 80 tons at a time.

Why so large?

London Gateway will be handling the world’s largest container ships, operated by shipping lines to provide economies of scale and reduce environmental impact on the main shipping trade lanes. That means lower cost and lower carbon supply chains for retailers and other cargo owners.

And the future?

The 25-box outreach takes the cranes beyond the width of the world’s largest container ship. “The size of the cranes future-proofs the port, allowing London Gateway to handle the next generation of ultra large container ships,” says London Gateway operations director Tim Halhead.

Cranes are 138 metres tall

CGI of the Gateway

The massive cranes are 138 metres tall - two and a half times the height of Nelson's Column - and have been upright on the ship for the whole trip. Weighing 2,000 tonnes, it would be possible to roll the London Eye under the lifting arm.

These will be just the first quay cranes destined for London Gateway. A further twenty one will be delivered once construction on the six main berths is completed. The quay itself - where the cranes will sit - will be over 2.5 km in length once the port is fully operational.

The site in 2011

London Gateway is set to create around 12,000 jobs once its fully complete, and the developers claim it will help to save around 65 million road miles each year as businesses in the south east can save on transporting goods.

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