Crane vessel

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Wind Lift I at the harbor in Emden, Germany

A crane vessel, crane ship or floating crane is a ship with a crane specialized in lifting heavy loads. The largest crane vessels are used for offshore construction. Conventional monohulls are used, but the largest crane vessels are often catamaran or semi-submersible types as they have increased stability. On a sheerleg crane, the crane is fixed and cannot rotate, and the vessel therefore is manoeuvered to place loads.


In medieval Europe, crane vessels which could be flexibly deployed in the whole port basin were introduced as early as the 14th century.[1]

During the age of sail, the sheer hulk was used extensively as a floating crane for tasks that required heavy lift. At the time, the heaviest single components of ships were the main masts, and sheer hulks were essential for removing and replacing them, but they were also used for other purposes.

USS Kearsarge as Crane Ship No. 1

In 1920, the 1898-built battleship USS Kearsarge was converted to a crane ship when a crane with a capacity of 250 tons was installed. Later it was renamed Crane Ship No. 1.[2] It was used, amongst other things, to place guns and other heavy items on other battleships under construction. Another remarkable feat was the raising of the submarine USS Squalus in 1939.

In 1942, the crane ships a.k.a. "Heavy Lift Ships" SS Empire Elgar (PQ16), SS Empire Bard (PQ15), and SS Empire Purcell (PQ16) were sent to the Russian Arctic ports of Archangel, Murmansk and Molotovsk (since renamed Sererodvinsk). Their role was to enable the unloading of the Arctic convoys where port installations were either destroyed by German bombers or were non existent (as at Bakaritsa quay Archangel).[3][4][5]

In 1949, J. Ray McDermott had Derrick Barge Four built, a barge that was outfitted with a revolving crane capable of lifting 150 tons. The arrival of this type of vessel changed the direction of the offshore construction industry. Instead of constructing oil platforms in parts, jackets and decks could be built onshore as modules. For use in the shallow part of the Gulf of Mexico, the cradle of the offshore industry, these barges sufficed.

In 1963, Heerema converted a Norwegian tanker, Sunnaas, into a crane vessel with a capacity of 300 tons, the first one in the offshore industry that was ship-shaped. It was renamed Global Adventurer. This type of crane vessel was better adapted to the harsh environment of the North Sea.

SSCV Thialf in a Norwegian fjord

Semi-submersible giants[edit]

In 1978, Heerema had two semi-submersible crane vessels built, Hermod and Balder, each with one 2,000 ton and one 3,000 ton crane. Later both were upgraded to a higher capacity. This type of crane vessel was much less sensitive to sea swell, so that it was possible to operate on the North Sea during the winter months. The high stability also allowed for heavier lifts than was possible with a monohull. The larger capacity of the cranes reduced the installation time of a platform from a whole season to a few weeks. Inspired by this success similar vessels were built. In 1985 DB-102 was launched for McDermott, with two cranes with a capacity of 6,000 tons each. Micoperi ordered M7000 in 1986, designed with two cranes of 7,000 tons each.

However, due to a oil glut in the mid 1980s, the boom in the offshore industry was over, resulting in collaborations. In 1988, a joint venture between Heerema and McDermott was formed, HeereMac. In 1990 Micoperi had to apply for bankruptcy. Saipem – in the beginning of the 1970s a large heavy lift contractor, but only a small player in this field at the end of the 1980s – acquired M7000 from Micoperi in 1995, later renaming it Saipem 7000. In 1997 Heerema took over DB-102 from McDermott after discontinuation of their joint venture.[6] The ship was renamed Thialf and, after an upgrade in 2000 to twice 7,100 tons, it is now the largest crane vessel in the world.

Thialf can use both cranes to lift 14,200 t (14,000 long tons; 15,700 short tons) at a radius of 31.2 m (102 ft); in comparison, Saipem 7000 can use both cranes to lift a smaller load of 14,000 t (14,000 long tons; 15,000 short tons) at a wider radius of 41 m (135 ft).[7]

Lifting records[edit]

A heaviest single lift record was set in 2000 by Thialf for lifting the 11,883 t (11,695-long-ton; 13,099-short-ton) Shearwater topsides for Shell.[8][9] Saipem 7000 set a new record in October 2004 for the 12,150 t (11,960-long-ton; 13,390-short-ton) lift of Sabratha Deck.[10][11]

Under dynamic positioning, Saipem 7000 set another record in 2010 by lifting the 11,600 t (11,400-long-ton; 12,800-short-ton) BP Valhall Production topsides.[11]

Heavy lift vessels[edit]

Heavy Lift Vessels, sorted by capacity[12][13]
Vessel nameCompanyBuiltFlagLifting capacity (t)TypeIdentifierImage
ThialfHeerema Marine Contractors1985Panama14,200[14] (7,100 + 7,100 tandem, revolving)Semi-submersibleIMO number8757740KOGA , THIALF , SMIT SCHELDE & SMIT SEINE (13823134403).jpg
Saipem 7000Saipem1987The Bahamas14,000[15] (7,000 + 7,000 tandem, revolving)Semi-submersibleIMO number8501567Saipem 7000 - Hundvåg, Norway - 28 May 2010.jpg
Hyundai-10000Hyundai Heavy Industries2015South Korea10,000[16]Sheerleg MonohullMMSI number: 440680000
SvanenVan Oord1991The Bahamas8,700[17]Sheerleg CatamaranIMO number9007453HLV Svanen at Belwind.jpg
HermodHeerema Marine Contractors1978Panama8,100[18] (4,500 + 3,600 tandem; 4,500 + 2,700 revolving)Semi-submersible (scrapped)IMO number7710214Hermod leaving Calland canal.jpg
Lan JingCNOOC1990Hong Kong7,500[19] (4,000 revolving)MonohullIMO number8907527
VB-10,000Versabar Inc.2010United States6,800[20]CatamaranMMSI number: 367490050SP-57 A to WD-89 (11442548985).jpg
BalderHeerema Marine Contractors1978Panama6,300[21] (3,600 + 2,700 tandem; 3,000 + 2,000 revolving)Semi-submersibleIMO number7710226Balder off Trinidad.JPG
Asian Hercules IIIAsian Lift (Keppel Fels/Smit International JV)2015Singapore5,000[22]Sheerleg MonohullIMO number9660396
Seven BorealisSubsea 72012The Bahamas5,000[23]MonohullIMO number9452787SEVEN BOREALIS (14384338597).jpg
Oleg StrashnovSeaway Heavy Lifting2011Cyprus5,000[24]MonohullIMO number9452701Oleg Strashnov (ship, 2011) 003.jpg
HL 5000Deep Offshore Technology?Iran4,500[25]Sheerleg Barge
Oceanic 5000Oceanic Marine Contractors2011Barbados4,400[26]MonohullIMO number9559145
Yorigami Maritime Construction Co., Ltd.?Japan4,100[27]Sheerleg BargeFloating Crane - Kobe, Japan - March 2003.jpg
Aegir[28][29]Heerema Marine Contractors2012Panama4,000[30]MonohullIMO number9605396Aegir, IMO 9605396 pic4.JPG
GulliverScaldis2018Luxembourg4,000[31] (2,000 + 2,000 tandem)Sheerleg BargeIMO number9774094GULLIVER (39694070275).jpg
Yorigami Maritime Construction Co., Ltd.?Japan4,000[32]Sheerleg BargeCrane vessel 洋翔 02 (15803673221).jpg
DB 50J. Ray McDermott1986Panama3,800[33] (3,200 revolving)MonohullIMO number8503539
Lan JiangCNOOC2001China3,800[34] (2,500 revolving)MonohullIMO number9245641
Swiber Kaizen 4000Swiber Offshore2012Panama3,800[35]MonohullMMSI number: 357978000
MusashiFukada Salvage & Marine Works Co., Ltd.1974Japan3,700[36]Sheerleg BargeTokyo-ko Rinkai Bridge construction 1005162.jpg
Yoshida No. 50
Yoshida Gumi, Ltd.?Japan3,700[37]Sheerleg BargeConstruction of Tokyo Gate Bridge 6.jpg
L 3601Sembcorp Marine2012Singapore3,600[38]Sheerleg Barge
OOS GrethaOOS International2012Marshall Islands3,600[39] (1,800 + 1,800 tandem)Semi-submersibleIMO number9650963
Samho 4000Samho Ind. Co. Ltd2009South Korea3,600[40]Sheerleg BargeMMSI number: 440111280
RambizScaldis1976Belgium3,300[41] (1,700 + 1,600 tandem)Sheerleg BargeIMO number9136199Rambiz-d.jpg
Asian Hercules IIAsian Lift (Keppel Fels/Smit International JV)1985Singapore3,200[42]Sheerleg MonohullIMO number8639297
DB 101 (ex-Narwhal)J. Ray McDermott1978Saint Kitts and Nevis3,200[12]Semi-submersible (scrapped)IMO number7709069McDermott DB 101, IMO 7709069.jpg
Saipem ConstellationSaipem2014Panama3,000[43]MonohullIMO number9629756Lewek Constellation and Ceona Amazon - Wiltonhaven Schiedam - 9 Jan. 2014.jpg
FujiFukada Salvage & Marine Works Co., Ltd.?Japan3,000[36]Sheerleg Barge
Yoshida No. 28
Yoshida Gumi, Ltd.?Japan3,000[44]Sheerleg Barge
Swiber PJW3000Swiber Offshore2010Panama3,000[35]BargeMMSI number: 370210000
Wei LiShanghai Salvage2010China3,000[45]MonohullIMO number9597628Crane ship - Kraanschip - Wei Li - Nieuwe Waterweg - Hoek van Holland - Port of Rotterdam (21219259898).jpg
SADAF 3000Darya Fan Qeshm Industries Company1985Iran3,000[46]Sheerleg BargeIMO number8415512
Samho 3000Samho Ind. Co. Ltd?South Korea3,000[47]Sheerleg BargeMMSI number: 440121590
Bokalift 1Boskalis2018Cyprus3,000[48]MonohullIMO number9592850BOKALIFT 1 (40451998542).jpg
DB 30J. Ray McDermott1999Panama2,794[49] (2,223 revolving)MonohullMMSI number: 356011000
LTS 3000L&T-SapuraCrest JV[50]2010India2,722[51]MonohullIMO number9446843LTS3000 Forward Portside view.JPG
Sapura 3000SapuraAcergy2008Malaysia2,722[52]MonohullIMO number9391270Sapura 3000 BC Module 02 - Rong Doi field.jpg
Stanislav YudinSeaway Heavy Lifting1985Cyprus2,500[53]MonohullIMO number8219463Crane ship Stanislav Yudin - IMO 8219463 - Maasmond - Rotterdam - 24 Jan. 2015.jpg
Lewek ChampionEMAS Chiyoda Subsea2007Singapore2,200[54]MonohullIMO number9377377
SurugaFukada Salvage & Marine Works Co., Ltd.?Japan2,200[36]Sheerleg Barge
Taklift 4Smit International1981Netherlands2,200[13]Sheerleg BargeIMO number8010506TAKLIFT 4 IMO 8010506 Floating Sheerleg, Port of Rotterdam pic3.jpg
Saipem 3000Saipem1984The Bahamas2,177[55] revolvingMonohullIMO number8309165Saipem 3000 (13692582943).jpg
DB 27J. Ray McDermott1974Panama2,177[56] (1,270 revolving)BargeIMO number8757685
KongoFukada Salvage & Marine Works Co., Ltd.?Japan2,050[36]Sheerleg Barge
Quippo PrakashMDL/Quippo/Sapura JV2010?2,000[57]Monohull
NOR GoliathCoastline Maritime2009Marshall Islands2,000[58]MonohullIMO number9396933Hanse Sail 2009 - Rostock-Warnemünde - Osa Goliath bei Liebherr (3799222114).jpg
SampsonCoastline Maritime2010Panama2,000[58]MonohullIMO number9429455OSA Sampson.JPG
Kumyong No.2200Kum Yong Development Co., Ltd2009South Korea2,000[59]Sheerleg BargeMMSI number: 440011970
HuastecoGrupo Protexa1960Mexico1,800[60]MonohullIMO number5377953Huasteco IMO 5377953.jpg
ToltecaCAMSA1955Mexico1,800[61]MonohullIMO number5320522
Matador 3Bonn Mees2002Netherlands1,800[62]Sheerleg BargeIMO number9272137Matador 3 IMO 9272137 Port of Rotterdam.JPG
Samho 2000Samho Ind. Co. Ltd??1,800[63]Sheerleg Barge
Left Coast LifterFluor/American Bridge/Granite/Traylor Brothers JV2009United States1,699[64]Sheerleg BargeLeft Coast Lifter - Truss Install (D137).jpg
Asian HerculesAsian Lift (Keppel Fels/Smit International JV)1985Singapore1,600[65]Sheerleg BargeMMSI number: 563314000Asian hercules on duty MMHE.jpg
DLB1600Valentine Maritime Gulf2013Panama1,600[66] (1,200 revolving)BargeIMO number9681651
Yorigami Maritime Construction Co., Ltd.?Japan1,600[67]MonohullYorigami Maritime Construction SHINSHO-1600.JPG
Planned / Under Construction
Vessel nameCompanyYearLifting capacityType
OOS ZeelandiaOOS International202224,000[68] (12,000 + 12,000 tandem)Semi-submersible
SleipnirHeerema Marine Contractors201920,000[69] (10,000 + 10,000 tandem)Semi-submersible
OOS SerooskerkeOOS InternationalQ2 20194,400[70] (2,200 + 2,200 tandem)Semi-submersible
OOS WalcherenOOS InternationalQ4 20194,400[71] (2,200 + 2,200 tandem)Semi-submersible

See also[edit]


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  9. ^ Liu, Gengshen; Li, Huajun (2017). "1: Offshore Platform Topsides and Substructure". Offhsore Platform Integration and Floatover Technology. Beijing: Science Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-7-03-051206-2. Retrieved 21 March 2018. 
  10. ^ Beckman, Jeremy (1 February 2005). "Libya gas export project sets records". Offshore. Retrieved 21 March 2018. In the event, the deck sailed out of Ulsan on Sept. 28, 2004, weighing 12,100 tonnes, including rigging, having been skidded onto the Dockwise transportation vessel Transshelf using hydraulic and strand jacks.

    On Oct. 30, the Transshelf arrived at the offshore site, following a four-week voyage via the Suez Canal. Two days later, the Saipem 7000 mated the deck to the jacket in a four-hour operation. Certifying authority Lloyd’s Register confirmed the weight as a world record for a single lift offshore. However, Saipem should top its own achievement later this year when the same vessel lifts the Piltun platform topsides into place offshore Sakhalin Island.
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External links[edit]

  • A Gigantic Muscle of Steel: it picks up a sunken tugboat from the harbor bottom as easily as you'd lift ten pounds off the floor, Popular Science monthly, February 1919, page 67, Scanned by Google Books