Johnson Arabia executes yacht heavy-lift project 

Staff Report, November 15, 2021

UAE-based lifting services providers plans and performs challenging lifting tasks using its Terex crawlers and Grove mobile crane 

Johnson Arabia, the UAE-based equipment and crane rental company, and heavy lifting services provider, executed a prestigious heavy lift project for a luxury yacht owner, which involved three tandem lifts of 80t, 89t and the heaviest at 250t.

The project, which concluded recently, saw the company use three of its cranes – Terex 400t and 350t crawler and a Grove 130t mobile crane - for the job, assembling the cranes carefully on the dockside to lift yachts from the docking area to place them on the water.

The whole project took just under a weeks’ time with careful planning from the Johnson Arabia team lead by Mohammed Fareed Nasser, executive manager, and engineering managed by Sreethu Thulaseedharan. To begin with, the team tested the jetty that the yacht was to be lifted off only to find that it might not be able to support the weight of the yacht and crane together. To solve this issue, they used wooden pads underneath the cranes to enable them to perform the extremely heavy lift.

Furthermore, as there were various lifts - straight lifts with one crane and tandem lifts with two cranes – involved in this project, the crane capacities were precisely studied, and certain configurations were selected to have extra and sufficient safety margins while lifting the highest load. The cranes were also fully rigged on-site to ensure that any challenges encountered on the site would be solved using the site parameters and restrictions in mind.

“For a project with such heavy lifts, we have to be very vigilant about the safety of our team and the other equipment on the dock, and ensure our riggers do a thorough job at preparing the crane,” says Nasser.

“We also ensured that at any point, our team would be allowed to stop work if they questioned any safety protocols, to analyse and reset in order to mitigate any risks. I am happy to say that this job was completed with 100% success, thanks to the excellent work of our engineers, riggers, HSE team and crane operators.”

Once all preparations were in place, the yachts were lifted. And in a monumental moment for the team, everyone from the marine team to onlookers joined the Johnson Arabia people on site to see the extraordinary lifts performed.

“Having planned this for weeks and finally completing the lift, all of us were overjoyed at the success of this prestigious project,” Nasser says.

Rigging it right

For any heavy lift, such as the Johnson Arabia boat lifts, to take place safely and successfully, getting the rigging correct is of utmost importance. Rigging is a highly specialised skill set and involves the preparation of crane equipment, hoists and other machinery that is commonly used on construction sites, shipyards, oilfields and other such places, to assist with very heavy lifts.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the US body that monitors on-the-job safety, the construction industry worldwide sees many injuries, fatalities and delays on projects every year due to improper training, faulty equipment and failed rigging and there is a clear way to mitigate this by following some basic rules for rigging.

To begin with, all riggers on site must be well trained and qualified. Well experienced riggers are able to foresee an imminent rigging issue when they are well aware of the ground conditions, weight of the load and the capacities of the crane and rigging gear on the job. Once this is done, they must do full inspections and evaluations of all the safety aspects of the equipment, the site and even the weather conditions. Strong winds or the sandstorms in the Middle East can hamper a lift and lead to serious damages.

Another key aspect of rigging is having a well-qualified and observant spotter. Spotters are the people who act as a second set of eyes for riggers and operators on site as they have a higher vantage point and can immediately alert the riggers and crane operators using walkie talkies or hand signals of any issues. Having said that, spotters also need to be at a very safe distance from the equipment so as to not harm or injure themselves.

Finally, watch those toes and fingers! A lot of avoidable injuries to the limbs are caused due to split-second carelessness, where fingers, hands and even feet get trapped under equipment or get jammed in places like doors. Riggers, spotters and crane operators must be very careful about their own safety and be very aware of their surroundings because sometimes, in spite of every protocol and safety aspect being followed, smaller, fully avoidable injuries do happen. These may not be life threatening but they often cause delays in projects.