A Liebherr LR 1200 crawler crane and a HS 895 HD duty cycle crawler crane are currently employed in the construction of an international airport on Saint Helena. The island’s seclusion poses a particular challenge for this project.
Saint Helena, known as Napolean’s last exile, is one of the oldest British colonies and is one of the most remote places on earth. Located more than 2,000 km from the African mainland in the South Atlantic Ocean, the British Overseas Territory Saint Helena has only been accessible by ship to date. For instance, starting from Cape Town (South Africa), the journey currently takes about five days. Since early 2012, an international airport has been under construction in order to improve the transport infrastructure to and from the island.
For this project two Liebherr cranes, belonging to the South African construction group Basil Read Ltd., were delivered to Saint Helena. The powerful LR 1200 crawler crane with a lifting capacity of 200 tons was shipped in 33 separate sections from the port of Walvis Bay, Namibia, to Saint Helena at the beginning of 2014. Only a few weeks later an HS 895 HD duty cycle crawler crane arrived on the island.
Not only was the distance challenging, but also the permissible transport weight proved to be an aggravating factor. The HS 895 HD had to be disassembled into single parts, each weighing less than 40 tons, in order to be loaded onto the ship. Therefore, the winch, the A-frame, the rear counterweight cylinder as well as the boom back stops had to be removed from the crane.
Construction of a wharf
Both cranes are currently being used for the construction of a permanent wharf at the island’s Rupert’s Bay. The wharf is a necessary infrastructural measure not only for the airport project and the delivery of required material but also for Saint Helena’s entire economy in the future. It will ensure that larger vessels will be able to call at the island’s port.
Since the LR 1200 in Saint Helena can also be used for limited clamshell operation the main task of both cranes in the first phase is the dredging of the bay. In the second phase they will install the precast concrete units on the outside of the breakwater as well as other precast concrete units which form the inside quay wall. Hence, the harbour basin will be stabilized.
Prestigious airport project
The airport is being built on Prosperous Bay Plain in the east of the island. This is one of the largest areas of relatively level ground on the mountainous island. The estimated building costs are approximately 270 million euros.
After the scheduled completion of the airport in 2016, it will be sufficient for the landing of most short and medium range aircrafts. This will not only boost the touristic ambitions and the economic development of the island but will also be of strategic importance for international air traffic as a stopover for airlines operating cross-Atlantic flight routes.