Demolition and Disposal of an STS Quay Crane

The Port of Bridgetown is a multipurpose seaport where trade and logistics, transport and technology, people and passion come together in a vibrant hub. It’s strategic location in the South East Caribbean, coupled with its focus on efficiency, reliability and exemplary customer service, make it the perfect gateway for moving people and cargo. The Port of Bridgetown is the major point of entry for approximately 90% of the goods used in the manufacturing and retail sectors in Barbados, and is dedicated to supporting businesses in the export trade.

The Port of Bridgetown, whereby comparison is a small port, but more important than its size is the diversity of their portfolio. All major cruise lines have chosen the Port of Bridgetown as a port of call and from among them, an impressive listing have chosen it for homeporting operations. The cruise terminal operated by Barbados Ports Inc is of the utmost importance to the Republic of Barbados’ economy accounting for 600,000 visitors annually, over 55% of all tourists entering the island. The tourism industry represents 33% of GDP within Barbados.

Recognized as one of the best run ports in the Caribbean, efforts are now being concentrated on drafting a new master plan inclusive of berth expansion, infrastructural improvements and green technologies to support continued growth of the two core business lines, cargo and cruise. State of the art cargo handling facilities, equipment and technologies play an important role within the master plan.

The disposal of legacy equipment to make way for the redevelopment is a key phase of the master plan, and the disposal of the oldest STS crane is a part of Barbados Port Inc.’s continuing equipment and fleet renewal programme. The 32-year-old Liebherr Ship to Shore Gantry Crane (G1) at the Port of Bridgetown was to be removed from service, having reached the end of its useful life.

Initially Barbados Ports Inc had envisaged a disposal of the redundant QC by way of a piecemeal dismantling procedure as this was the only method known to the engineering team. Following a robust investigation into the piecemeal dismantling method, it became clear to Barbados Ports Inc that no contractor within the Caribbean region had the ability to execute the works, nor was there any suitably size mobile cranes within Barbados. As a result, the practicalities and costs of this method were prohibitive.

To find a solution, Barbados Ports Inc turned to one of the biggest and most well-known names within the port and construction equipment industry, Liebherr. Immediately, Liebherr contacted and introduced Barbados Ports Inc to O’Brien Specialist Crane Services as the worlds leading crane disposal contactor. O’Brien SCS were tasked to develop a proposal for the disposal of STS crane IR1404 that would be commercially viable, ensure minimal disruption to the critical cruise terminal, all the while favouring the use of local equipment and resources where possible.

From an early stage the O’Brien SCS team recognised that a controlled collapse method would overcome many of the logistic problems faced by the client’s project team. The O’Brien engineers completed a detailed structural analysis on crane IR1404 to design a pre-weakening procedure which would allow for the controlled collapse demolition. Following this O’Brien Specialist Crane Services submitted a comprehensive proposal for a full turnkey disposal package which exceeded all expectations of Barbados Ports Inc, leading to the swift awarding of the contract.

One of the biggest challenges to face both O’Brien SCS and Barbados Ports Inc was to identify a suitable time of year in which to carry out the demolition works. Barbados has a hurricane season which runs from June to November, during which time wind speeds could reach 85mph, introducing significant potential risks to the demolition team. Outside of the hurricane season, what is referred to as dry season, brings an influx of tourists with as many as 15,000 people per week disembarking cruise liners within the port. As IR1404 shared a quay with the berthing cruise vessels, it was clearly not practical for the demolition to take place during peak tourist season.

Following extensive discussions with all stakeholders, a short window of just 4 weeks was identified in which time the whole project was to be complete. This window fell at the overlap between the end of the hurricane season and start of the tourist season, this meant that the risk of adverse weather was still present, while contending with up to 3 berthing cruise liners per week. Detailed planning was of significant importance to ensure total safety of all persons involved in the works along with members of the public accessing the port. Project specific risk mitigation was implemented while working hand in hand with the client to coordinate the day to day activities to reflect the cruise terminal operations.

The actual date and time of the controlled collapse demolition was carefully selected based on a lull in both cargo and cruise operations, despite this being a quiet period of port operations Barbados Ports Inc continued to service two cargo vessels and the cruise ship MSC Meraviglia, which were on berth at the time of the controlled collapse.

The complete removal of all crane components was undertaken by O’Brien SCS, but due to the lack of specialist remote demolition equipment on the island of Barbados, all scrap processing had to be carried out by hand using oxygen and propane cutting equipment. This unearthed a further hurdle for the O’Brien SCS team to overcome. As there is almost zero industrial demolition or heavy scrap industry in Barbados, the supply of compressed gasses was extremely limited with all local suppliers unable to meet the required demands. Working closely with one of the largest global industrial gas suppliers along with our logistic partners, O’Brien SCS developed a solution which saw oxygen cylinders being shipped from the UK to meet the project demands.

In addition, as there was almost zero scrap metal market in Barbados or the wider Caribbean Region, O’Brien SCS had no option but to export all demolition arisings overseas within 20ft containers, shipping directly to both India and Pakistan. The rationale behind this is to ensure maximum reuse and recycling rates are achieved, while maximising the return to the client for the credit value of the scrap mental. The project achieved a >99% recycling rate with a 100% non-hazardous waste diversion from landfill. The project featured many risks including close proximity to the public, working at heights, structural pre-weakening, operation of heavy plant, working in a live port, and working over/near water. However, the project was seamlessly completed to the total satisfaction of Barbados Ports Inc and other key stakeholders, with zero health, safety, or environmental incidents.

The O’Brien SCS team carried out all aspects of this project in-house including;

  • Initial site survey & feasibility study,
  • Provision of a ground impact study,
  • Designing of STS controlled collapse procedure,
  • Stability and C of G calculations for each stage of the pre-weakening operation,
  • Design & installation of quay deck protection,
  • Design & installation of temporary bracing systems,
  • Provision of risk analysis,
  • Implementation of environmental control measures,
  • All onsite workings required to demolish and disposal of all redundant equipment,
  • Planning, supervision and execution of all works,

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