HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It's one thing to see the cranes from the shore. It's entirely different to see them up close on the water. So early Tuesday morning we boarded a Houston Pilot boat and motored out into the Gulf with the people who are guiding the the cranes through the Ship Channel.
"These cranes that are coming in are the largest ones we've cranes we've ever seen," explained the pilots' presiding officer Michael Morris. He said it takes hours of preparation to navigate such a top heavy ship 35 miles up the channel. "Are there concern with how fast the ship can start a turn? because of it's weight. What is the actual height and what can meet it?"
Ten miles out into the Gulf we met the container ship that left South Korea 73 days ago and we climbed aboard. The captain and his crew were ready for the final leg of their journey delivering a key piece of Houston's economic future.
Why are these faster working, more robust cranes needed? Because the Panama Canal is expanding. An enormous, multi-year project is almost complete. It will allow much larger ships to head straight for the Gulf and the Port of Houston. Those larger ships need larger cranes.
"We're equipping ourselves," said Roger Guenther, the Port of Houston's Executive Director, "Equipping our terminals to stay ahead of the demand."
"It's a great," added Paulo Soares, with PHA's operations team. "It gives the ability to handle larger vessels, to bring in more goods to the Houston region, which we all know has been growing. So this is a great time."
Bigger cranes equal bigger ships, more jobs, more money. That is easy enough to see from shore.
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