Lexington, KY – Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corporation of Salisbury, Maryland has been a builder and designer of commercial ships for over thirty years. Situated on the Wicomico River approximately 15 miles northeast of Chesapeake Bay, the company utilizes a long-time method for vessel launch: gravitational, longitudinal oiled slideways.

The purchase of a 130-ton (120-mt) Link-Belt RTC-80130 Series II rough terrain crane has improved the company’s setup by being able to quickly pick and carry launch ways for a vessel launch. The ways are 22,000 lbs. (9 979 kg) and 50 ft. (15.2 m) long and 9 ft. (2.7 m) tall. Once a ship is launched, the ways fall into the Wicomico River with the ship and the RTC-80130 Series II can retrieve.
According to John Romanchak, Senior Marine Engineer for Chesapeake Shipbuilding, “With the advent of the next generation of cruise ships, it is necessary for us to think and implement ‘bigger, better, and faster methods’ toward our equipment and land procedures to meet our clientele’s projections.”

After launching a boat, the RTC-80130 retrieves the upper slider way sections that go in the water with the vessel. Buoys are attached to the slider ways for easy relocation for lifting. The heaviest sliders weigh about 15,000 lbs. (6 803 kg) and are lifted at 85 ft. (25.9 m) radius. The RTC-80130 uses 115 ft. (35 m) of boom at a 45 degree boom angle.

“Since we are constrained by our covered building size, the other advantage of having this crane is to allow us to build up our ships taller and denser once launched in the water basin. In the past, we had to stage many piles of steel structure, and steel bulkheads by the boat. The crane would have to go to each one of those piles. It could only locally place those pieces of steel,” he explained.

“This crane will allow us to have one crane location, but many pile locations, both port (left) and starboard (right) of the boat and not have to reposition the crane all day. With 162 feet of boom available, it can just be flying steel, flying product, and flying outfitting material. During construction of a boat, it is very beneficial to start dropping outfitting material before the next deck goes on. We use a special ten-point magnet jig to place the 40 ft. by 10 ft. metal sheets. This 80130 can handle it, so it’s going to be a major time saver when they use it,” continued Romanchak.

Chesapeake Shipbuilders has 13 acres of property and two slideway launching sites. The working jobsite is gravel so a rough terrain crane was preferred for quick and easy pick and carry, as well as its maneuverability in tight working quarters.

“Once we got it here, we wanted to be able to set engines when we did tugboats. We needed it to lift an 18,000 lb. (8 164 kg) engine, 90 ft. (27.4 m) away, at a very shallow angle (40 – 42 degree). That was the one pick we wanted to be sure it could do. And the Link-Belt was definitely capable of that. The crane has given us a much broader range of use. We no longer need to rely on a crane rental for setting 18,000 lb. (8 164 kg) main engines in the boats far back in the buildings,” Romanchak concluded.

“I thought it was very easy to use and set up. I do like the LED lighting system. Starting work at 6 AM, particularly in the winter, the lights on the boom make it nice for me to see the crew when they are working on the top of the boat. The lights on the front of the cab by the ground are great and helpful when I have to move or pick something from the ground for the crew,” said Crane Operator, Max Taylor

“She is smooth and doesn’t have a lot of jerkiness to it. The hydraulic system allows it to swing smoothly if you just ease into it, but it also has the speed to where, if you have a long way to swing, you can do so quickly, so it works out,” he added.