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Introducing the ‘Special Ops’ of Bulk Shipping

News 9 February 2023 Global

Dealing with complexity is the speciality of Norvic Shipping’s recently launched Project Cargo division, headed by Kasper Bihlet. Here’s how the team navigated the transportation of one of their more unusual cargos – a shipment of 26 bus shells.

Loading bus shells onto a 32,000 dwt handysize vessel is tricky enough for any project cargo team. But the challenge is even greater when the load that needs transporting from Brazil to Mexico doubles days before the shipment is scheduled to depart.

Kasper Bihlet, chartering manager and head of Norvic Shipping’s Project Cargo division, faced this dilemma when asked to squeeze 26 rather than 13 bus shells, designed to fit over bus chassis, onto a vessel already carrying 26,000 tonnes of steel.

The biggest obstacle for Bihlet and his colleagues was working out how best to load the ship with more shells – each measuring 14.4 metres long, 2.6 metres wide and 4 metres high – than originally planned.

“We spent two to three days working out how to stow the additional shells close enough so they would fit on board without them damaging one another during the voyage, which could happen if the ship’s acceleration increased due to heavy seas,” Bihlet says. “We lashed them down extremely tightly and placed blow-up pillars between each one to avoid any damage to the cargo.”

Making sure the draught of the vessel did not increase when loading the bus shells was another concern. The calculations for the steel already onboard had to be precise, to ensure the vessel stayed within the draft limit once the shells were added. Bihlet and his team managed to fit everything onboard without affecting the draught by “being creative with the space” and with how the bus shells were placed.  

Such challenges are common for Bihlet, who joined Norvic to launch and run Project Cargo – a specialist division, which also includes a parcelling service, that transports atypical, out-of-gauge cargo such as windmill equipment, turbines and offshore components. He and his team will be asked to transport bus shells one day, and huge windmill blades, each measuring 82 metres in length, the next.

“A customer wants to maximize the space available by getting as much cargo as possible on a ship to get the best possible freights. The challenge for me and the team is to work out how to do that safely and securely,” says the Danish national who has lived in Texas, Houston, since 2001.

Having got the Project Cargo division off the ground and added port captains to the ranks, Bihlet is now focused on building his team further by hiring commercial and operations specialists in Houston, Copenhagen, Dubai, China, and Singapore.

“Our Project Cargo team is getting a great deal of enquiries, so hiring more experienced people who are natural problem solvers is my main objective for 2023,” he says. “That will then support Norvic’s ambitious growth targets for the coming year.”