Coming full circle: Giant gas turbine makes return voyage from New Zealand to Berlin

Siemens and freight forwarder F.H. Bertling have shipped a giant gas turbine from New Zealand back to the German factory where it was first built – a journey that’s been 20 years in the making. Ben Hargreaves finds out more.

Siemens giant gas turbine 1

What goes around comes around – or so the saying goes. And some 20 years after first being delivered by WW Ocean to Auckland, New Zealand, an outsize gas turbine has made the return trip to Siemens’ factory in Berlin, Germany.

The turbine had been sitting idle in New Zealand, where it was being used as a back-up for the main turbine at Otahuhu Power Station in Otara, Auckland. Siemens decided to ship it back to Germany from New Zealand in April for maintenance and overhaul, using the services of freight forwarder F. H. Bertling. Parts of the turbine are then due to be shipped to a new buyer in Qatar.

Breaking the mould: An unusual direction of travel for breakbulk

While it’s common to ship generators from Europe to Oceania, this was the first time cargo of this size had been loaded in New Zealand for transport to Europe, explains Per Wallmark, breakbulk project manager, Asia, WW Ocean.

“Traditionally, we’ve made these types of shipment from the European Union to the US and Oceania, not the other way around,” explains Per. “As of now, we’re shipping this type of cargo out of Asia and from Oceania, where normally LoLo carriers would have been the default choice for shippers.”

Siemens giant gas turbine 2

The turbine had been sitting idle in New Zealand, where it was being used as a back-up for the main turbine at Otahuhu Power Station in Otara, Auckland.

Siemens giant gas turbine 3

The turbine was loaded into MV Tønsberg using blocks and beams.

Siemens giant gas turbine 4

The Mark V series are the only vessels with enough ramp capacity to handle this type of cargo.

Siemens giant gas turbine 5

The turbine was delivered to the port in the middle of the night.

So why is RoRo such a good solution for heavyweight manufacturers?

Weighing in at 333 tonnes, the gas turbine was transported by RoRo because container carriers are unable to handle this kind of weight. Furthermore, LoLo vessels don’t feature a liner service and would take longer to transport the cargo, explains Per.

Special equipment was used by WW Ocean to load the cargo onboard. “For this type of weight, we used blocks and beams,” Per says. “We also used pairs of jack-up trailers and special fabricated crossbeams to accommodate the width of the turbine.”

WW Ocean vessel Tønsberg – which has a cargo capacity equivalent to eight soccer pitches or 6,000 cars – was chosen for the job. “The Mark V series are the only vessels with enough ramp capacity to handle this type of cargo,” explains Per. “The total weight of cargo and equipment was close to the maximum capacity of the ramp, which is 505 tonnes.”

Giving the gas turbine a new lease of life

The turbine was delivered in just over two months – a short timeframe considering the distance between the two ports – more or less on opposite sides of the world. For Hauke Weidemann, commercial manager, Germany, at F.H. Bertling, the project also meant the chance to catch up with industry counterparts who had worked on the original shipment of the cargo from Germany to New Zealand. That shipment (from Hamburg to Auckland) took place in 1998 aboard the Wallenius Wilhelmsen-owned MV Tampa, a vessel built back in 1986.

Thanks to the long-term relationship with F.H. Bertling Logistics and the capacity of WW Ocean’s Mark V fleet, the giant gas turbine equipment has now been given a new lease of life – many miles from its German home and two decades after the original shipment to New Zealand.

Fast facts

Siemens' turbine in numbers

  • Turbine dimensions: 10976 x 5198 x 4861 mm
  • Weight: 333 tonnes

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