An epicenter of the world’s petrochemical, offshore energy exploration, industrial and power industries, the U.S. Gulf Coast region provides a throng of heavy and specialized rigging, lifting and transportation challenges. The region is also Berard Transportation’s “oyster,” providing amazing projects that involve handling huge vessels, modules and components.

Recently Berard was tasked with finding the fastest and most cost-effective method to transport two 155-ton steel refinery vessels from the fabricator in northern Mississippi to a refinery near New Orleans.

The Berard team decided the best way to get the huge vessels to the refinery was an eight-day barge trip via the Tombigbee River to Mobile, AL, then the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway through New Orleans to Amelia, LA.

“We loaded out onto the Berard-owned BTI 1945 deck barge using an 8-axle line Goldhofer PST-SLE transporter directly at the fabricator’s yard,” said Brett Berard, vice president and project manager. “The vessels were then secured for inland transit and barged to the Berard waterfront Roll- on Roll-off facility near Morgan City, LA.”

Lashing plan

Berard worked with the client to develop a lashing plan, including supporting calculations, for both modes of transport, barge and highway transporter. The client identified lashing points on the cargo that were sufficient to obtain the restraint to meet requirements for the move.

The Goldhofer 8 axle PST-SLE transporter was again used to roll-off of the barge and stage on stands. The Berard team self-loaded the vessels from the stands onto a 10-axle line Faymonville DualMAX trailer. The vessels were then transported 90 miles to the project site.

“Berard operates a waterfront Ro-Ro site near Morgan City, LA,” Berard explained. “The site is improved and ready for heavy transport projects, so no job specific improvements were required.”

The saddles were custom built to Berard’s recommended specifications, Berard explained. They were 22 feet wide, allowing for self-loading using the 10-axle line Faymonville DualMAX trailer. Once loaded on the trailer, the saddles ends were unbolted to reduce travel width. At the destination, the saddles were reattached by the Berard team for self-offloading.

Berard used its Grove RT880E at the barge Ro-Ro site to set barge ramps and ballast pumps, and for transport equipment assembly.

Overall dimensions of the vessels were 196 feet long, 17 feet wide and 18 feet tall. The gross weight of each vessel was 596,550 pounds.

The duration of the entire project was 15 days, with the last three days making the 90-mile over-the-road trip from the barge dock to the refinery. The vessels were transported one after the other using the Faymonville DualMAX transport system.

The haul required superload permitting from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LA DOTD). The heavy haul required two Louisiana state police escorts and three civilian escorts.

Obstacle course

Obstacles along the route included low oak trees, power lines, traffic signals and pipe racks in the refinery. The full convoy included 11 vehicles, including state police escorts, bucket trucks, LA DOTD vehicles, Berard escort vehicles and two prime movers. The pull tractor is a Peterbilt 357, Cummins engine, with planetary drive, the push truck is a Kenworth C500, Cummins engine, with planetary drive.

With Berard’s expert planning, the job went off without a hitch.

“We encountered some rain for load-out in Mississippi, but no major weather events for the transport,” said Berard.

Berard said one of the biggest challenges of the project was convincing the client they had the best transportation plan.

“The fabricator is water served, so barging directly to the Mississippi River-accessible refinery seemed to be the first option,” Berard said. “However, barge offloading on the river can be difficult due to the permitting process to cross the levee system. Corps of Engineers permits may take over six months to obtain, and the river level could affect when cargo can be offloaded.”

The first alternate was to put the vessels on trucks to haul the vessels directly to the refinery, which would take months of permitting and surveying.

“Our plan involved the best of both worlds, barging to a roll-off site that required no permitting, and a tested route that could handle the weight and dimensions of this cargo,” Berard said. “Once awarded, the route was surveyed and approved by LA DOTD in less than 40 days.”

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