Shipping company AAL has a range of equipment and technologies to maintain and improve the safety of its vessels, writes Valentin Gherciu, Operations Manager at AAL. Loading, stowing and discharging breakbulk, heavy lift and project cargo is a complex operation, requiring considerable technical and engineering expertise, as well as specialized hardware and equipment. To ensure that all cargo is handled safely and efficiently, AAL invests in and maintains specialized lifting equipment and the world’s finest training for its technical teams. AAL was the first shipping company to be issued 2015 certifications – ISO 9001 for Quality Management and ISO 14001 for Environ- mental Management – by DNV–GL, awarded simultaneously as ISO 50001:2011 for Energy Management and OHSAS 18001: 2007 for Occupational Health & Safety. These accreditations benchmark AAL’s operational performance against the highest standards of cargo care. To fortify this commitment to safety,AAL has one of the most comprehensive investment programmes to ensure that the attitudes, values, and working practices meet its customers’ expectations.

AAL’s representative offices and supporting agencies stretch from North Asia and Oceania to the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, and its clients’ geographies and cargoes are equally diverse. This means that on any given day it can be transporting process units for a major working the oil sands, windmill blades for a renewable energy project, heat recovery steam generators for an NOC’s power plant, cyclone vessels for a petrochemical refinery, or superyachts to customers in the Caribbean. But what they all have in common is a flexible and competitive solution that delivers value to customers great or small on every voyage. 

AAL continues to operate the sector’s youngest fleet of specialist MPP (multi- purpose) vessels and recently had a major fleet expansion, with the addition of seven 33,000dwt ‘W-Class’ ships. This makes AAL the market leader in the ‘megasize’ MPP segment, and forms an essential element of AAL’s total solution for breakbulk, heavy lift and project cargo transportation. Because of the company’s expertise in collecting and combining multiple cargo types and parcel sizes on regular scheduled sailings, it can also provide significant value and efficiencies for its customers in multiple industry sectors at the same time.

The technical knowledge of AAL’s in- house teams and many hundreds of years’ combined experience means that there’s rarely a cargo it hasn’t seen before. That said, AAL is particularly proud to recently handle a pair of very impressive projects.

At the end of 2017, it completed the transport and discharge of the replacement structure for the iconic Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria, British Columbia. At 42.7m in length, 18.6m wide, and 4.1m tall, the bridge section is the major component of the biggest single-leaf bascule bridge in Canada and one of the largest in the world. When the new bridge officially opens in March 2018 it will create a new historic structure and destination within Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The architect who designed the original Johnson Street Bridge, Joseph Strauss, would later go on to design the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

AAL also completed a major project in February 2018, delivering the longest-ever windmill blades into Australia. At 63 metres in length, the blades will power 58 turbines that will reduce CO2 emissions by 655,000 tonnes annually and produce enough power to maintain more than 137,000 Australian homes.

In recent weeks, AAL has also entered into an exciting global co-operation agreement with Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM). The co-operation will create a joint Far East–Middle East MPV Liner Service, served by four 30,100dwt 640- Class from HMM and one 31,000dwt A-Class from AAL) on a 15- and 30-day sailing rotation. By pooling resources with HMM, AAL will be able to offer a more comprehensive service portfolio with improved frequency, capacity, coverage, and economies of scale for all of its customers. In much of the MPV market today, the reality is that many of today’s cargo bookings are focused too heavily on cost alone. This is especially prevalent in the non-heavylift space, and for cargoes that require reduced engineering and operations expertise. However the bulkers, box ships and other vessels which are transporting project cargoes cannot provide the logistical insight, the technical knowhow, the specialist lifting and transportation equipment, or the years of experience required to safely and consistently shift complex consignments from A-to-B. It’s leading to a real loss of quality in the sector, and risks putting both crew and cargo in harm’s way.

In the coming years, AAL is hopeful that the dry bulk industry will become subject to stricter vetting requirements that will improve the standards and safety of the industry. AAL has seen how much success equally high standards in the tanker market have benefited all parties, and looks forward to safety, experience, quality and efficiency making the critical difference in freight earned.