Heavy lift ship

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Stellanova with a mast crane (250 t SWL) and a heavy lift boom (250 t SWL)
The Trina with three tower cranes (2 × 700 t SWL and 1 × 350 t SWL)
The lone ; the ship, equipped with two 1000 t cranes and DP 2 , is currently the most powerful heavy lift ship in the world.
The Happy Buccaneer was the most powerful heavy lift ship in the world from 1984 until the Jumbo Javelin was commissioned in 2004

Heavy cargo ships are general cargo ships for the transport of extremely heavy cargo . Nowadays such ships are mostly assigned to multi-purpose carriers . The term often used is Heavy Lift Multi Purpose Dry Cargo Vessel, strengthened for heavy cargoes . In most cases, these ships are equipped with appropriately dimensioned heavy lift booms or cranes that enable such heavy cargo to be loaded and unloaded . The capacity of these cranes is currently 1000 tons ( SWL ) (manufacturer NMF ) for tower cranes and 1500 tons (SWL) (manufacturer Huisman ) for mast cranes . If necessary, two cranes are used in "tandem", which results in double the lifting capacity.

Heavy lift ships have particularly powerful ballast pumps in order to be able to quickly compensate for heels that occur during cargo work . In order to have a sufficiently good view from the bridge even with high heavy goods loaded on deck, the deck superstructures of heavy goods ships are sometimes arranged at the front. This also has the advantage that the deck superstructures can act as protection for the often sensitive deck load.

On heavy lift ships, very high demands are still placed on classic seamanship today: Since the cargo is not standardized, it has to be laboriously calculated and lashed according to the requirements .


The beginnings

In 1918, Christen Smith, a former officer in the Norwegian Navy, founded the shipping company Belships , the first two ships of which were launched in 1921 in the wake of the shipping crisis . In the early 1920s, locomotives and railroad cars from Europe and the United States that were shipped to South America and Asia increased. At the time, locomotives were dismantled into their component parts again after they had been built, so that they could be reassembled in the country of destination after shipping by sea. Shortly after the end of the First World War, the British company Armstrong, Whitworth & Company received an order to supply 200 heavy tank locomotives for the Belgian State Railways . Smith saw a niche in the freight market in the loading of complete locomotives and then had the two laid-up ships Belgot and Belfri converted into heavy lift ships with two large hatches and powerful heavy lift gear. In this way, locomotives could be ready for operation about a day after being put ashore.

The Beldis

Soon after, Smith received the order to ship a large number of locomotives for the British Indian railway network, which was being expanded . He first traveled to Bombay to investigate the local conditions and then ordered the first newly constructed ship specially designed for heavy goods transport from the renowned Newcastle shipyard Armstrong, Whitworth & Company. The design of the Beldis went one step further than that of the Belgot and Belfri , and had three cargo holds with large hatches and a reinforced tank ceiling, nine heavy lift booms and eight winches. The motor ship with a carrying capacity of 3400 tons was also prepared for the transport of extremely heavy or particularly bulky loads on deck. In the Anglo-Saxon-speaking world, the term "Belship" was synonymous with heavy lift ships during the 1930s and 1940s.

The first German heavy lift ships

The first German shipping company to respond to the increased volume of heavy cargo was DDG Hansa . She developed the first German heavy lift ship, the Lichtenfels class with four ships. All ships of the class were built by Deschimag, Werk AG Weser and put into service between 1929 and 1930. These ships had, among other things, in the common lower space of hatches II and III railroad tracks and a transfer platform . The biggest innovation, however, was the heavy lift boom, which can lift up to 120 tons, which made these ships completely independent of any land or sea-based facilities for heavy lift handling.

In 1953, Hansa set new standards again when they put the first heavy lift ship with crockery into service. This harness was developed by the Stülcken shipyard . With the conversion of the MS  Trifels in 1978 to a heavy lift carrier with 2 × 320 t it reached its climax and conclusion, because in 1979 the DDG Hansa went bankrupt.

After that, apart from Condock, there was no longer any significant heavy lift shipping company in Germany until the early 1990s. Their ships are primarily dock ships. The market was now mainly served by two Dutch shipping companies, namely Jumbo Shipping and Mammoet (later Biglift). At the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s SAL began building the Sietas Type 132 with the construction of a heavy lift fleet. From the mid-1990s onwards, several shipping companies in Germany entered the heavy lift business. The shipping company Rickmers is a special case here, as it already owned heavy lift ships before it was sold to Hapag-Lloyd. After Bertram Rickmers bought back Rickmers Reederei , he began to build a heavy lift fleet for a liner service to Asia.

Load securing

Chain lashing and stopper plates

In most cases, a combination of form-fitting and force-fitting processes is used to secure the load . If possible, so-called stopper plates are welded directly to the deck of the ship, which rest against the cargo (but mostly not firmly connected to it) in order to prevent it from slipping. With the help of wire and chain lashings, the load is lashed down and secured against slipping at appropriate angles.

Lashing straps are also used . However, these are mainly used for smaller loads and then mostly below deck, since the tensioners of the belts rust quickly on contact with seawater and the belts themselves do not tolerate the UV radiation of the sun particularly well. When stowing and lashing the load, a lot of dunnage is used, which is placed under the load parts in order to increase friction . In addition, dunnage is used to secure the load by pounding (propping) it against other parts of the load or against the ship's side. In general, securing with chains, belts and piling with wood is mainly used for lighter cargo units, while wire lashings and the welding of stopper plates or beams are used exclusively for heavy cargo items.

When lashing you have to secure the cargo against slipping in the transverse direction as well as in the longitudinal direction. Furthermore you have to secure the load against tipping. The forces that arise when the ship rotates around the fore and aft axis can easily  reach the simple acceleration due to gravity (g) and more, although the simple acceleration due to gravity is usually assumed when securing the load.

Part of the load securing is carried out by the friction of the cargo part on the dunnage and its friction with the ship's deck. The remaining forces are absorbed by the lashings.

Modern heavy lift equipment

Liebherr heavy lift crane with 240 t SWL
Hook of an NMF 700 t ship crane (overall height: 5.16 m)
  • Crockery or similar see heavy-lift crockery article

Modern heavy lift ships are mostly equipped with tower cranes. There are also mast cranes, which are used in particular for the large cranes, which the Dutch shipping companies in particular rely on. In addition, many older ships are still operating around the world with conventional dishes.

The mast cranes have advantages especially in the offshore area. So you are able to set up winches and compensators in the hold and guide the runner into the crane through a hole in the crane column. This is not possible with tower cranes because their winches are located above the slewing ring in the crane house. The expansion joints and the longer runner are needed for installations that are to be carried out in the water. Usually you can only lower the hook to the top of the tank, then the runner is over.

Tower cranes

Tower cranes are currently being built up to a lifting capacity of 1000 t. The largest heavy lift ships with tower cranes are currently the ships of the Schiffahrtkontor Altes Land (SAL). The two sister ships of the type 183 were built by the JJ Sietas shipyard ( Svenja was delivered in December 2010, Lone in March 2011). These ships have two NMF cranes with a load capacity of 1000 t SWL each (2000 t SWL in tandem).

Mast cranes

Jumbo Shipping and Biglift Shipping rely on mast cranes from Huisman. These cranes differ from tower cranes in that they have a fixed mast around which a slewing ring that supports the jib runs. The largest cranes of this type with a SWL of 1500 t are currently installed on board the K3000 class from Jumbo Shipping .

These cranes are characterized by a low center of gravity (the winches are under the mast) and by the high outrigger. This is illustrated by the following comparison:

Huisman 900 t crane
  • 900 t 6.5–25 m SWL
  • 800 t 28 m SWL
  • 570 t 35 m SWL
NMF 1000 t crane
  • 1000 t, 16 m SWL
  • 800 t, 25 m SWL
  • 500 t, 38 m SWL

Auxiliary strokes

The bigger the cranes, the slower the main lift becomes. The handling speed suffers as a result. To counteract this, a much smaller hub, called an auxiliary hub, is installed at the top of the boom. Its load capacity is between 5 and 60 t, standard is 40 t. This auxiliary lift is significantly faster than the main lift and is used for handling light items of cargo.

Large heavy lift cranes are usually equipped with several auxiliary lifts. Usually a normal 40 to 60 t auxiliary hoist at the end of the boom for handling light loads. A second, much smaller auxiliary lift is installed as close as possible to the main lift. It only has a lifting capacity of a few tons and is used for handling grommets . The Huisman cranes and the 700 t cranes from NMF also have a trolley that runs along the outside of the boom. It is also used for handling light loads and has the advantage that the boom does not have to be topped up and down with every move.

Normally, auxiliary lifts are installed on cranes from 250 t, in some cases also on cranes with 150 t.

Crane manufacturer

Tower cranes

Mast cranes

Modern heavy lift ships

MPP heavy lift ship Scan Finlandia with two Liebherr cranes (150 t SWL each)
MPP heavy lift ship with two cranes (150 t SWL each)

Up to 500 t lifting capacity

This is where the transition from the MPP (multipurpose) ship to the heavy lift ship takes place. It is dominated by ships that are designed as multi-purpose ships. This means that they have not been specially developed for the transport of heavy goods. They are suitable for transporting all kinds of dry goods. They have a box-shaped cargo space, a height-adjustable intermediate deck, a reinforced tank top and cranes from 60 t. In terms of numbers and tonnage, most ships with heavy lift gear can be found in this area.

The crane's SWL runs in jumps: 60 t, 80 t, 100 t, 120 t, 150 t, 200 t and 250 t. Cranes with capacities in between are also built, but they are rather the exception.

The size of these ships ranges from very small ships of only a few thousand dwt to mostly around 15,000 dwt. The larger ships have three cranes. The larger units usually have two cranes with a higher SWL than the others. These large MPP ships are designed more for the transport of breakbulk, bulk, containers and general cargo.

While the majority of ships have cranes in the 60 t to 150 t range, the number of ships with cranes around 250 t has increased significantly in recent years. As the crane capacity increases, so does the specialization of the ships. More and more emphasis is being placed on the ability to load and stow heavy cargo. This is then at the expense of other skills. This reduces the load-bearing capacity because more steel has to be processed and fixed ballast may be necessary. In these ships, too, the superstructure begins to move from aft to fore.

Ship types in this category

Up to 1000 t lifting capacity

This area has so far been dominated by ships with cranes with a lifting capacity of around 350 t. In the meantime, however, the trend is clearly towards cranes around 450 t. There is very little between these and the 250 t cranes.

While DDG Hansa already owned a ship with the Trifels at the end of the 1970s, whose two cantilever booms each lifted 320 t, this area was reserved for the Dutch after the bankruptcy of DDG Hansa. It was not until 2000 that a German shipping company, SAL, put ships with a lifting capacity of 640 t into service for the first time. The Dutch shipping companies Jumbo and Biglift (then Mammoet) built ships that could lift 1000 t as early as the 1980s.

The ships in this area are characterized by ever more specialization. The ships are increasingly being built with the superstructures in front. This has the advantage of an unrestricted view, which enables particularly high deck cargo to be transported. In this way, the superstructures also protect the cargo against impact from the sea. Another advantage is the large deck area that results behind the superstructure. Since the cargo is often too high or too wide for the hold, a large weather deck is an important criterion for heavy lift ships. The decks (tank top, tween deck and weather deck) are also particularly reinforced.

For the comfort of the crew, however, deckhouses in the front are disadvantageous, since pitching movements and bumps can be felt much more strongly in the sea than in the case of the arrangement behind. The designs are also problematic with regard to particularly large individual waves ( monster waves ).

For the necessary stability when loading and unloading heavy cargo, a pontoon is increasingly being used on these ships. This is not used on all ships and is sometimes used on ships with less lifting capacity.

This area has seen enormous construction activity in recent years (see diagram).

Ship types in this category

The Frauke in the Port of Hamburg (2 × 700 t + 1 × 350 t SWL)
Development of the heavy lift fleet with a lifting capacity of over 1000 t SWL
Use of a stability pontoon to increase the stability of the ship during heavy lift operations

Over 1000 t lifting capacity & offshore


After the commissioning of the first heavy lift ship in 1984 with a lifting capacity of over 1000 t, the Happy Buccaneer (Biglift) with two mast cranes of 550 t each, nothing happened in this area for twenty years. It was not until the Jumbo Javelin (Jumbo), which was also equipped with mast cranes, was commissioned in 2004 with two mast cranes of 900 t each, that further development took place.


Recently, the heavy lift shipping trend has been moving towards offshore . The company Jumbo Shipping has two ships that are able to carry out offshore installations in the oil and gas sector with the help of their cranes and with the aid of dynamic positioning. The same ship that loads and ships the units is then used to install them. So far these tasks have been distributed. A floating crane lifts the units onto a pontoon, which is towed by a tug to a special ship, from which they are then installed.

The two Jumbo Shipping ships equipped for deep water installations (Jumbo Javelin and Fairplayer) are able to carry out installations in the following water depths:

  • 1000 t to 900 m water depth
  • 660 t to 1500 m
  • 280 t to 2000 m
  • 200 t to 3000 m

These water depths are reached by external winch systems that are not housed in the crane column itself, but in the hold. If necessary, these can also be equipped with a compensator that compensates for the vertical movements of the ship.

The Blue Giant ex Combidock I is the heavy lift ship that has been designed or modified most widely for offshore to date. However, it does not operate in the free market, but is chartered to a Mexican oil company. Extensive modifications were carried out at the shipyard even before it was commissioned. The ship received a moon pool , the crane column of crane No. 2 was raised, a helicopter landing platform was installed in front of the superstructure above the forecastle, and supply connections for the additional living containers were installed behind the superstructures. DP 2 was also installed. Since this was not planned when the ship was planned, power packs had to be installed on deck to supply power to the additional transverse thrusters.

Heavy lift ships with a lifting capacity of more than 1000 t SWL

Construction year Type ship number Length in m Width in m Max. Draft in m Dishes (descending) Crane manufacturer tdw Shipyard Shipping company status
2015 Jumbo Kinetic 2 152.6 27.4 8.1 2 × 1500 t; in tandem 3000 t Huisman Itrec 14,000 Brodosplit / CR Jumbo Shipping / NL in motion
2010-11 Svenja .
Type 183
2 159.8 27.5 ?? 2 × 1000 t; in tandem 2000 t NMF 15,200 JJ Sietas / DE SAL / DE in motion
2004-09 Jumbo javelin 4th 144.21 26.7 8.1 2 × 900 t; in tandem 1800 t Huisman Itrec 12,922 Damen Shipyards , Galati Jumbo Shipping / NL in motion
2013-2018 Happy Sky 3 154.8 26.5 9.5 2 × 900 t; in tandem 1800 t Huisman Itrec 18,680 Ouhua Shipyard, China Biglift Shipping / NL in progress / construction
1984 Happy buccaneer 1 145.89 28.3 8.24 2 × 700 t; in tandem 1400 t Huisman Itrec 13,740 Hitachi Zosen, Innoshima Biglift Shipping / NL in motion
2008-09 Frauke
type 176
4th 159.8 24.3 9.1 2 × 700 t; in tandem 1400 t NMF 11,941 JJ Sietas / DE SAL / DE in motion
2010-13 Beluga Bremen 6th 168.65 25.2 9.5 2 × 700 t; in tandem 1400 t NMF 19,400 Hudong Shipyard / China Hansa Heavy Lift / DE in motion

Status: August 2016

Heavy lift ships with Dynamic Positioning (DP)

Construction year Surname number Length in m Width in m Max. Draft in m Dishes (descending) * Crane manufacturer tdw Shipyard Shipping company status DP
2010-11 Svenja , Lone 2 159.8 27.5 ?? 2 × 1000 t normal, offshore ???? t NMF 15,200 JJ Sietas / DE SAL / DE in motion Svenja DP 1, Lone DP 2
2004-08 Jumbo Javelin , fair player 2 144.21 26.7 8.1 2 × 900 t normal, offshore 1000 t Huisman Itrec 12,922 Damen Shipyards , Galati Jumbo Shipping / NL in motion DP 2
2010 OIG Giant II 1 179.06 25.4 6.6 2 × 350 t normal, offshore ??? t Liebherr 11,000 Lloyd shipyard , Bremerhaven OIG / NOR in motion DP 2
2008 Blue Giant 1 180.0 25.4 5.6 2 × 350 t normal, offshore ??? t Liebherr 11,000 Lloyd shipyard , Bremerhaven OIG / NOR in motion DP 2
1986 OIG Mini Monster 1 104.0 24.5 4.9 2 × 200 t normal, offshore 300 t Huisman Itrec 6,000 ??? OIG / NOR in motion DP 2

Status: August 2016

  • “Normal” means that the ship works “inside”, that is, in protected waters such as in the harbor, in roadstead, etc., “Offshore” means that the ship carries out heavy lift operations on the open sea. In this case, other SWLs apply for reasons of stability and strength. As offshore, the greatest possible lifting capacity with both cranes is always specified.

Line freighter with heavy lift gear

Conventional general cargo liner with two cambered heavy lift trees
Modern MPP liner of the Superflex Heavy MPC type with four heavy lift cranes

In addition to ships that were specially built for heavy cargo transport, there are also MPP liner carriers that are equipped with heavy lift gear. These ships are usually around 30,000 tdw. In contrast to the pure heavy cargo carriers, they have several holds and are not specially designed for the transport of heavy cargo. You are more likely to transport break bulk , general cargo , bulk cargo , project cargo designed and containers and carrying heavy loads, so to speak only in passing. They are mostly used in the line trip and less in tramp travel. However, this line trip is usually more flexible than the container trip. If there is enough cargo, other ports are called that were not originally intended. These ships usually have four cranes, two of which are heavy lift cranes and two others that move in the range of 40–80 t SWL.

One reason why these ships are often fitted with high-performance heavy lift gear is their size. In terms of stability, they can cope with the large cranes very well. The bigger the cranes, the heavier the whole crane becomes. This has a particular effect on the boom. Since this is moved during cargo handling, small ships with heavy jibs tend to heel relatively strongly. This affects the speed of cargo handling. This doesn't really have any effect on large ships.

Ship types in this category

  • Superflex Heavy MPC (Rickmers shipping company)
  • Superflex Mumbai Max (Rickmers shipping company)
  • Kuwana Type (NYK Hinode)
  • "A" Class (Austral Asia Line)
  • "S" Class (Austral Asia Line)

Shipping companies or operators who operate MPP liner services

Dockships (semi-submersible)

Lowerable heavy lift ship Xiang Rui Kou of the shipping company COSCO with cargo

Lowerable heavy lift ships are ships that can be lowered to pick up cargo so that the cargo can then be floated into the hold. A distinction can be made between two types: on the one hand, ships without a hold that only have a large deck area (e.g. Dockwise ), on the other hand, ships that have a hold ( Condock , Combilift and Rolldock ).

Dockships with hold

The dock ship Condock V with a sailing ship as cargo

With the exception of military ships, these ships have their origins in the bargecarriors (baco -liners ). However, since this concept could not prevail, the condock ships designed as feeders for the large barge carriers were soon used as heavy lift ships for particularly heavy rolling or floating cargo.

The fleet of dock ships is very manageable. There are currently six ships in service, two of which are of an age that it is likely that they will be scrapped in the next few years. New building activity in this sector is also quite manageable, although, relative to the fleet in operation, many ships are under construction (two ships under construction, as of May 2013).

No dock ships were built for years until the first dock ship for Combilift was delivered by Lloyd Werft at the beginning of 2008 .

Technical brief description

Condock ships

Since ships that were built for Condock, sometimes very different. More information under " Condock ".

Combidock type

The Combi Dock I and her three sisters, which were delivered by the end of 2010, are able to carry floating cargo with a draft of max. 4.5 m and a maximum width of 18 m. Since these ships are allowed to sail with an open stern ramp and an open hatch, they can also transport cargo that exceeds the dimensions of the hold, which is 132 m × 18 m × 9.4 m in length and height. The stern ramp is 12 m long and can be loaded with 700 t. The ships also have three Liebherr cranes with a load capacity of 2 × 350 t (700 t SWL in tandem) and 1 × 200 t SWL. The ships are prepared for DP 1 (dynamic positioning). DP 2 has been retrofitted to Combi Dock I.

RollDock ships

The stern ramp of these ships, which is 19 m × 9.5 m in size and has a load capacity of 1,600 t, is adjustable, which allows a maximum of 4,000 tonnes of RoRo cargo to be carried on board. In contrast to the combidock ships, this ramp can be brought into six different positions vertically. These ships can also sail with open hatches and an open ramp. The hold is 116.2 m × 19.0 m × 8.1 m in size, the maximum draft for floating cargo is 6 m, the maximum width 19 m. These ships are also equipped with two 350 t SWL cranes from Liebherr.


A total of ten dock ships are in service with two shipping companies. There are currently none under construction (as of February 2014).

Harren & Partner

Harren & Partner is the largest owner of dock ships to date. This shipping company owns a total of seven dock ships, which are divided as follows:

  • The subsidiary Condock owns three dock ships built in the 1980s. These ships are at the end of their service life. One of the four former ships has already been scrapped, the last one at the end of 2010. The third Condock ship, the Condock II, was only bought in 2008, but was also built in the 1980s.
  • In addition, H&P owns four other dock ships, the so-called combidock ships. These were built in 2008–2010 at the Lloyd shipyard in Bremerhaven and are all chartered out to Combilift. Combidock I was converted in the shipyard for use in the offshore area and drives for a Mexican oil company.

RollDock originally ordered six S-Class ships in India, of which only two were delivered with a long delay. RollDock canceled the other four and instead ordered two in Germany from the FSG shipyard.

Dock ships without cargo space

See Dockwise article

Heavy cargo acceptance

Takeover of a submarine by “Gretje”, which has a lifting capacity of 640 t SWL

Before the heavy cargo item can be loaded, the required sling gear must first be put together. Since there are a wide variety of options there, only the slings in the adjacent picture are exemplified. The harness there consists of grummets, shackles and a "bone". A bone is used as a spreader.


Grummets are used from the hook to the bone, the lengths of which are chosen so that the permissible angle is not exceeded, but again as short as possible in order to gain hot altitude. The smaller the angle, the lower the load on the grummets. The required SWL of the grummets results from the load weight, the weight of the sling itself and the angle. The grummets are connected to the bone with shackles. The selection of the shackle depends on the required SWL, the diameter of the hole (after all, the bolt from the shackle must fit through) and the required jaw opening. Shackles are again used under the bone to connect the grummets, which are connected to the cargo, or, as in this case, are pulled through underneath, to the bone. The part of the sling that hangs under the bone must be reassembled for each different load. Apparently two grummets and three shackles were used here. A grump was struck on each side of the bone. One longer, the other shorter. A shackle has been attached to the shorter one. The longer one was pulled under the submarine and then connected to the other with the shackle.


As soon as the load is attached, the cranes are aligned. Once they have been aligned, nothing can be changed on the list of the ship. Otherwise, once the cargo clears the ground, it will move not only upwards but also to the side. The lifting itself is done by moving weight within the ship. This happens mainly by pumping the corresponding amounts of water through a heeling system or ballast system or by turning another crane (same effect, but it is faster).


Global heavy lift fleet January 2011

In contrast to the bulk shipping markets ( container , bulk and tanker ), there are almost no publications on the freight deals in the project and heavy lift market and thus of course no index, such as B. the Baltic Dry Index for bulk carriers . It is therefore difficult to understand where the freight rates are currently. Only the general situation is occasionally described in the media by insiders.

Traditionally, the project and heavy lift market does not suffer from such strong fluctuations as the other markets, since almost only capital goods are transported that are part of long-term projects, such as B. a construction of a power plant are bound. Therefore, if the economy collapses, as happened in 2008, the market does not immediately plummet, but remains relatively stable. Due to the lead time of the projects that were initiated when the economy grew, the market always only reacts with a lag of one to two years. However, due to the lead-up to such large projects, it also takes a few years after initiation until the charge for these projects actually has to be removed.

Many studies that analyze this niche market speak of a strong aging of the fleet. This is only partially correct, as the fleet is very inhomogeneous. There are, in turn, many small niches within this niche market. So z. For example, the Type 183 from SAL can lift anything up to 2000 t, while the P1 class ships from Beluga built in the same year can only be active up to 800 t. Now there are other differences between these two ships, but it can be seen that the 183 can lift anything that the P1 ships can lift, but the P1 ships by no means all of the 183. Furthermore, the ships in the 25+ age group are no longer active in the upper segment, as they have long been over the age limit that many companies demand. Exceptions here are ships from Jumbo and Biglift. The old ships are very different from the more modern ones, so they often do not have an open hatch (that is, the hatch opening does not extend over the entire width and length of the hold), have outdated loading gear and are slower. As can be seen from the table opposite, most of the ships that can lift 500 t or more are ten years old or younger. So there can be no question of an aging population in this sector. On the other hand, the situation is different for ships that have smaller crockery and are assigned to the pure MPP sector. There is indeed an obsolescence in these ships.

When it comes to growth of 7%, it is unfortunately not specified in which sector. With container ships, it's easy: a TEU is a TEU. The same container can be transported on a 200 TEU ship or a 13,000 TEU ship. But if you now say that the annual transport volume in heavy lift and project trips is growing by 7%, you also have to say what exactly is increasing. Because an increase of 300 t can mean that 300 boxes of 1 t more are shipped or B. a transformer with 300 t. Now these boxes can be transported by every MPP ship, whether small or large, whether a 3-ton boom or a 900-ton crane, but the transformer can by far not be transported with every ship.

So while the market was stable in 2008 and 2009, it collapsed in 2010. However, this was largely due to the very strong growth in the fleet. While the heavy lift fleet has stagnated since the mid-1980s, a construction boom set in after the turn of the millennium (see the statistics here on the right). The heavy lift fleet, with a crockery over 500 t lifting capacity, is expected to grow by almost 80% in 2011.

This market slump has so far led to the bankruptcy of two heavy lift shipping companies: in October 2010 SCANSCOT and in March 2011 Beluga . The circumstances of Beluga's bankruptcy are the subject of public prosecution investigations.

Differences from other shipping markets

Heavy lift versus bulk carrier market

The market for heavy lift ships differs from most of the other markets in one particular respect (containers, bulk cargo, tankers, etc.): Heavy lift ships do not carry consumer goods, but capital goods. The diagram opposite should clarify this. It is for illustrative purposes only and the values ​​in it have nothing to do with reality. The assumption is that it takes three years to build a power plant and that a heavy lift ship is required to transport the relevant parts. As soon as the power plant is completed, it will need two bulk carriers to supply it with coal. With the ten power plants that are being built there, once three power plants are under construction, the need for heavy lift ships will no longer rise, whereas the need for bulk carriers will steadily increase until it has peaked at 20 ships. These 20 ships are now needed until the power plants are shut down. In contrast, the heavy lift ships are no longer needed after the last power plant has been completed.

Heavy lift shipyards



While construction activity at German shipyards has been quite brisk in recent years and a large number of heavy lift ships have been built, there are currently no heavy lift ships under construction at German shipyards. Status: Nov 2014

Sietas shipyard

The " JJ Sietas " shipyard has been building heavy lift ships since the late 1980s, de facto exclusively for SAL . With the Type 183, the largest heavy lift ships in the world were built here.

Built types

Peene shipyard

The Peene shipyard has been building heavy lift ships since the mid-1990s, mainly for SCANSCOT, but also for Harren & Partner.

Built types

Volkswerft Stralsund
  • Combidock (heavily modified for offshore use)
Lloyd shipyard

The Lloyd shipyard has so far built four dock ships with heavy lift cranes for Harren & Partner.

Built types

  • Combidock
Flensburg shipbuilding company
  • S-Class for Rolldock


Stülcken shipyard

The Stülcken shipyard built heavy lift ships for the DDG Hansa and developed the Stülcken heavy lift tree together with Hansa .

Built types

Jansen shipyard

Built types

Flender shipyard

The Flender shipyard built heavy lift ships for DDG Hansa.

Built types

AG Weser

The AG Weser built for the DDG Hansa Heavy Lift

Built types

Lürssen shipyard

The Fr. Lürssen Werft built a single heavy lift ship for DDG Hansa in 1976/77.

foreign countries


  • Taizhou Kouan Shipbuilding, Taizhou
  • Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding
  • Sainty Marine, Yangzhou



  • Damen Shipyards, Galați

Heavy lift shipping companies (selection)


  • Austral Asia Line


  • Combilift


Former shipping companies


  • NYK Hinode



  • OIG Offshore Installation Group


  • Belships (no longer operates heavy lift vessels)
  • Giant Marine (only active as an agency)


  • Chipolbrok (a joint venture between Poland and China)


  • SE Shipping

South Korea

United States

People's Republic of China

  • Hanssy Shipping
  • HongFa Shipping Co., Ltd.


  • Hans Georg Prager: DDG Hansa - From liner service to special shipping . Koehlers Verlagsgesellschaft, Herford 1976, ISBN 3-7822-0105-1 .
  • Peter Kiehlmann, Holger Patzer: The cargo ships of the DDG Hansa . HM Hauschild, Bremen 2000, ISBN 3-931785-02-5 .
  • Reinhold Thiel: The history of the DDG Hansa . Volume 1: 1881-1918. HM Hauschild, Bremen 2010.

Web links

Commons : Heavy-lift ships  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Technical data Jumbo Javelin , Jumbo (PDF, 700 kB; English), accessed on June 15, 2018.
  2. Technical data type 183 (PDF; English) accessed January 14, 2011
  3. a b Technical data Sietas Type 183. (PDF; German) sal-shipping.com; accessed September 1, 2009
  4. Technical data Happy Sky.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; English) accessed September 1, 2009@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.bigliftshipping.com  
  5. Technical data Happy Buccaneer.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; English) accessed September 1, 2009@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.bigliftshipping.com  
  6. Vessels in Class. ( Memento of the original from August 26, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.iacs.org.uk archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. International Association of Classification Societies (IACS), as of July 30, 2010. Accessed August 3, 2010.
  7. Beluga P2 series. Beluga Shipping, Bremen June 15, 2010, beluga-group.com  ( page can no longer be accessed , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 1.27 MB; English).@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.beluga-group.com  
  8. Infos J1800 , Jumbo, accessed on June 15, 2018.
  9. a b c Technical data OIG Giant. ( Memento of the original from June 19, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. oig-offshore.com (English) accessed January 15, 2011 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.oig-offshore.com
  10. The Combi Dock I .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. miramarshipindex (English) accessed May 26, 2009 2009@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.miramarshipindex.org.nz  
  11. a b Beluga crisis is not a mirror of the market ( Memento from April 4, 2011 in the Internet Archive ), THB - Deutsche Schiffahrts-Zeitung, March 31, 2011.
  12. Only shipping companies that operate several heavy lift vessels are listed here. There are other shipping companies that only have one or two ships.