So far, so good. The operation to move three large ship-to-shore cranes from Baltimore to Tampa, Florida is off to a strong start. A 400-foot barge carrying the three blue cranes passed uneventfully under two bridges to leave the Port of Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal on Saturday. As of Tuesday night, it was off the coast of the Outer Banks, North Carolina.
Before exiting the Chesapeake Bay, the barge and cranes had to pass under the Key Bridge, which spans the Patapsco River, and the Bay Bridge. Both were temporarily closed to vehicle traffic so that drivers wouldn’t be distracted by the cranes looming below.
The tow operation made it under both bridges without incident, and without any major traffic impacts. The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) shared this video of the cranes’ passage under the Bay Bridge (Note: the video has been speed up to 4x):
The three cranes aren’t needed at Seagirt anymore, since the terminal got an upgrade in the form of four gigantic new cranes delivered in September 2021 all the way from China. They are 25 feet taller and 190 tons heavier than the terminal’s previous-largest cranes, these have expanded capacity to handle increased container volumes.
When the 450-foot-tall new cranes came up the Bay 18 months ago, onlookers near the Bay Bridge held their breath knowing there there was only four feet of clearance at the bridge’s highest point and no room for error.
That wasn’t the case this time around. Photographer David Sites was out on his boat and followed the crane tow (at a safe distance) from Baltimore to the Bay Bridge. He shared photos with us.
“Although it looks pretty tight,” he says, “they had plenty of room under the bridge. The mighty [tugboat] M/V Finn Falgout made it look like a walk in the park.”
Port Tampa Bay, a smaller port, will receive the cranes to expand its Ports America terminal to add extra capacity.
In a similar deal, the Port of Virginia upgraded to supersized cranes and sold its old cranes at auction to a port in the Dominican Republic last October.
The barge carrying Baltimore’s old cranes and the Finn Falgout are expected to arrive in Tampa on March 28.
-Meg Walburn Viviano