Bulk Material Port’s new dock: a concrete giant with multiple service capabilities

Found on the Web !!! © Corpus Christi Caller-Times / Bulk Material

Sunday, Sep. 27, 1998
Bulk Material
Port’s new dock is a concrete giant with multiple service capabilities

Staff Writer

(click here for the jobstory)

It will hold the largest crane of its kind in North America, an equilibrium crane capable of lifting 35 tons, the equivalent of about 17 four-wheel-drive Ford Explorers, in one payload.
Enough concrete went into the dock to provide foundations for 160, 2,250-square-foot single-family homes, or 10,000 cubic yards of concrete. It has 2.5 million tons of reinforcing steel, enough for 540 home slabs.
“(Berry Dock West) is a commitment that was made by the family and company to grow and expand in Corpus Christi,” said Ed Martin, president and chief executive officer of the family-owned company Berry GP Inc., often known as Berry Contracting, which is the parent of other Berry companies such as Bay Ltd. and Berry Fabricators.
“It’s an exciting time and part of an expanded business effort,” Martin said.
Berry has partnered with Qualitech Steel Corp. to use a portion of the dock to provide iron ore to Qualitech’s nearby iron carbide plant, which Bay also built, Berry officials said. Berry Group Ltd. owns the dock. Bay Ltd. built and operates it.
The first shipment of iron ore is due in a matter of days, officials said.
The dock, unlike any others in the Port of Corpus Christi, has three capabilities consolidated in one area — bulk materials, heavy lift and a roll-on, roll-off or RO/RO ramp, said project director Michael Berry, a nephew of company founder Marvin Berry.
The dock represents a significant investment for the company, said Bob Blair, vice president of business development for Bay Ltd.
“We are building a world-class dock facility that will be serviced by the largest equilibrium crane ever built for North American service,” Blair said.
Berry officials would not disclose how much the dock cost.
For comparison, the port’s Cargo Dock 8, the public structure most similar to the Berry Dock West, cost about $17 million, port officials said. But that was in the early 1990s, and Cargo Dock 8 does not have many of the abilities of Berry Dock West.
Berry Dock West is the largest dockside investment since the port built Cargo Dock 8, said John LaRue, the port’s executive director. And that was a public port project, not a private investment by one company.
One of the reasons Berry was able to attract Qualitech was its willingness to build the infrastructure to support Qualitech, Blair said.
One of the more important features is the dock’s 45-foot draft, an advantage for shippers, who want to be able to fill their ships, Michael Berry said. The port’s general Cargo Dock 8 has a 45-foot draft and so does Bulk Dock 2, which loads ships, port officials said.
But Bulk Dock 1, which unloads ships, has only a 34-foot draft and the port’s roll-on, roll-off dock has only a 37-foot draft, port officials said.
Draft limitation is something shippers face at every port, LaRue said. Vessels will frequently ship at less than capacity, depending on the depth of the facilities.
It costs about as much in fuel and crew time to ship a half-loaded ship as a full ship, Michael Berry said. Qualitech, for example, designed its project around a 45-foot draft.
The dock will handle about 1 million tons a year of iron ore for Qualitech, which converts it to iron carbide, an ingredient in electric furnace steel making.
The dock is permitted to handle up to 10 millions tons a year of bulk materials, Michael Berry said.
That leaves plenty of room to grow the business and ship other bulk materials such as coal or limestone, Blair said.
A portion of the dock is reinforced to support one of Bay’s heavy lift cranes, capable of lifting up to 1,000 tons. The heavy lift cranes will be brought in on an as-needed basis, Michael Berry said.
For example, Bay officials are talking to a potential customer from Europe that needs to deliver heavy machinery to a job site in the Americas. The ocean-going barges that would ferry the equipment across the Atlantic are too big to enter the shallow work site, Michael Berry said.
What the Berry Dock West can do is provide a trans-shipping point, he said. The machinery can be shipped to the dock on large barges, unloaded and staged until it is needed at the work site. Then it can be transferred to a smaller barge capable of reaching the work site, he said.
The roll-on, roll-off ramp is built to accommodate barges or ships with ramps on their bows or sterns, Michael Berry said.
That means the multipurpose dock can support other functions of the Berry companies, a diversified heavy and industrial contractor.
One of the Bay divisions makes modular process units for the oil and gas industry, Blair said. The roll-on, roll-off ramp is another facility to load and unload the units, which are built in Corpus Christi and shipped all over the world, he said.
The dock’s bulk materials unloading system is designed to reduce the time, and thereby costs, that the shippers spend in port, Michael Berry said.
The equilibrium crane will be able to move up and down the dock, so it can unload the ships without having to move them, a time-saver, Michael Berry said.
The equilibrium crane has some advantages over a conventional crane, Berry said. Conventional cranes can pick up less material the farther away they are from their base, he said. But an equilibrium crane can pick up the same amount of material on the near side of the ship as it can fully extended to the far side of the ship — 174 feet from the edge of the dock, Michael Berry said.
Equilibrium cranes have a counter weight on the opposite side of the payload. The counter weight moves as the payload moves to keep the two sides in balance.
The dock also has a conveyor and hopper system that will help move the bulk materials easily from the dock to storage facilities, Michael Berry said.
And the dock will be served by road and rail access.
To be successful in the bulk materials business, shippers have to be able to trans-ship, or move products between modes of transportation, such as ship, rail and truck, easily, Blair said.
Berry Dock West is a significant dock at the port and complements the other infrastructure, said Greg Brubeck, deputy director of engineering for the Port of Corpus Christi.
The dock is the longest individual dock in the port, he said. Most of the oil docks are about 800 feet long or less, he said. And the closest single port dock in length is general Cargo Dock 8, which is 1,060 feet, he said.
“It is just another asset to our local economy that is a welcome addition to the Port of Corpus Christi.”


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