The leviathan shoved off from the east and lurched across the ocean. It rose more than 200 feet into the sky and dominated the horizon as it approached the mouth of the Cape Fear River.
The massive shipment that passed by Southport Tuesday morning was a barge laden with two cranes that collectively weigh more than 7 million pounds and, at full height, are twice as tall as the Oak Island Lighthouse.
The two cranes, which have been floating toward Brunswick County since they left South Korea on April 9, will be installed at the Army's Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal.
The brand-new cranes are part of a $27.5 million contract that will help Sunny Point get bombs and bullets loaded on ships faster.
MOTSU already completed a project to modernize the wharf, which was designed to make loading and unloading ammo more efficient, secure and safer. The terminal handles 90 percent of the ammunition that supplies deployed troops.
The installation of the two cranes will complete the modernization of the terminal's center wharf, said Don Parker, the deputy to the MOTSU commander.
MOTSU has two 38-year-old cranes on the south wharf. Those aging cranes are first-generation ship-to-shore cranes, Parker said. They still work, but they are getting harder to maintain.
The new cranes will get ships loaded faster, Parker said, which will be safer for personnel. But that won't mean the terminal needs fewer people. Parker said he sees the cranes as being "worker neutral."
Parker said MOTSU's new cranes are similar to cranes delivered to the Port of Wilmington in 2007. But the terminal's cranes will have a smaller footprint than the port's crane because of the width of the wharf, he said.
THE CRANES, BY THE NUMBERS
Weight: 3.7 million pounds, each
Height: 220 feet (boom down), 343 feet (boom up)
Reach: 173 feet out
Lifting capacity: 60 long tonsAt ease – if it was Godzilla you would have heard by now
Julian March: 343-2099