Special delivery to Bickerdike!

Bickerdike Terminal regularly receives unusual cargo.

That was the case last July when the German heavy-lifter M/V Lone dropped off six brand-spanking new red locomotives, made in Germany by Alstom, loaded at the Port of Bremen and en route to Ottawa. This type of “package” isn’t unloaded with a container crane or bulk crane. A whole armada was on hand to transship the locomotives from ship to shore, a delicate operation.

The M/V Lone is a vessel specially designed for oversized cargo. It has its own self-unloaders.





The six locomotives were lined up on two decks in the ship’s hold. Here are three of them. They are 42 metres long, close to 3 metres wide, and each weighs 69 metric tonnes.Talk about a heavy lift!


We start with secure harnessing. “Alstom sent us photos showing us how to install metal beams under the locomotives and attach the harnesses to them for lifting,” said Don Scardochio, Director of Operations at Empire Stevedoring. The locomotives are attached in three places to distribute their weight and keep them stable in the air.









This is a job that requires serious coordination between the ship’s crew of at least eight, the Empire Stevedoring team and longshoremen.

Once properly attached, the locomotive is slowly lifted and extricated from the ship.  M/V Lone crew members are operating the cranes installed aboard ship.

And they gently lower it onto the dock.

Here’s the show from dock level. The crane operators are in constant radio communication with the men on the ground.



What’s at stake is lowering it directly onto the rail tracks on the dock.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Here again, the crew members ensure that the wheels of the locomotive fit perfectly on the track.

Next, the locomotive is attached to a forklift…                                                                                    

… that will pull it and park it farther along the pier to make room for the next locomotive.

When finished, it’s simply a matter of repeating this operation five more times. All in all, the unloading took a full day.

Very special “packages” regularly pass through Bickerdike Terminal: hydroelectric turbines headed for projects overseas, huge wind turbine blades, and even parts to be assembled for building a factory. “Every project is unique and we handle them one at a time,” said Don Scardochio, Director of Operations at Empire Stevedoring.

In 1960, the Port of Montreal even received a giraffe named Berth, who arrived by ship then moved to Granby Zoo.