Zhen Hua 21

Four towering container cranes were shipped into Melbourne's port on Saturday, drawing a crowd of curious onlookers.

The giant "post-Panamax" cranes are destined for the Webb Dock container terminal in Port Melbourne, which is due to become operational at the end of the year.

The cranes were shipped from China on the deck of Zhen Hua 21, a St Vincent and Grenadines-flagged vessel that specialises in transporting heavy container cranes.  

Part of a $1.6 billion expansion of the capacity of the Port of Melbourne, the redevelopment of Webb Dock will see Philippine port operator ICTSI become the port's third stevedoring company.

One of the quay cranes is due to head back out through the heads of the bay next week, bound for the Port of Brisbane.

ICTSI won the tender to operate Webb Dock until 2040, but at much higher rental rates than the port's other stevedoring companies, Patrick and DP World, prompting the Port of Melbourne Corporation to try to increase the rent on Patrick and DP World by more than 750 per cent, before backing down.

Webb Dock is better able to handle large container vessels than Swanson Dock, where Patrick and DP World are based.

However, ICTSI has been barred from taking advantage of its superior berthing capacity at least until the Andrews government completes its long-term lease of the port.

Source: The Age