One prominent symbol of the power of Oakland, a pioneering city from the first days of the container-shipping era in the early '70s, will reach new heights and greater capacity next spring: Four of the Port's 33 cranes will be given taller legs to better accommodate the largest megaships seeking port in the United states. The renovated gantry cranes, as these behemoths that bestride a work area are known, will come at a cost of $13.95 million reports ABC7. Construction begins in April.
"The big ships come here on a regular basis," said maritime director John Driscoll in a release on the Port of Oakland's website. "This equips us to take on more of them as shipping lines continue to scale up." With the additional height, the Port can accept ships that carry as many as 14,000 20-foot containers.
Each of the four cranes currently weighs in at 1,380 tons. During the renovation, they'll be supported by temporary frames, one-by-one jacked up higher in the air while their legs are removed and replaced with longer ones created by a Shanghai-based manufacturer. After 10 to 12 weeks for that process, the cranes' elongated arms will be able to reach 141 feet above dock level.
Today, the Port of Oakland is the fifth largest container port in the country, loading and discharging more than 99 percent of the goods shipped via container — which is most of them — that pass into and out of Northern California. However, in events the Wall Street Journal characterizes as "unusual," the Port received just 70,697 loaded import containers this October marking a downturn of 3.3 percent year over year.
The Port's cranes have long been a vibrant symbol, though their role as inspiration for the AT-ATs, the elephantine walking ships in the Star Wars films, creator George Lucas has called "definitely a myth" in the Chronicle. But you know, the force of influence is strong, and just because Lucas says he wasn't thinking of them doesn't mean he really wasn't.