Those cranes have to move SOMEtime
May 12, 2009 8:13 AM   Subscribe

When do the cranes in the Port of Oakland actually MOVE?

I pass the Oakland post-panamax cranes (the ones that are popularly, but not correctly, believed to have inspired the AT-ATs in Star Wars), and never see them move. I stare at them intently and they always seem COMPLETELY static. When do they move? Given how much comes through the port (I always see barges arriving with many shipping containers), wouldn't they have to be in operation many hours a day?

Now this question is particular to Oakland, CA, but I have never seen any of those giant cranes move.

The boring answer might be that they always operate at night, but I've observed them at all hours.
posted by k7lim to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
On the other hand, I've seen them moving plenty of times during the day. Being up close helps. Middle Harbor Shoreline Park is a great place to view them.
posted by Mountain Goatse at 8:44 AM on May 12, 2009

I used to work near the Port and have seen them move. I assumed they were moving when they were offloading things, but I can't be more specific than that - I worked M-F, 9ish to 5ish.
posted by rtha at 8:52 AM on May 12, 2009

It depends on what you mean by "move". They reposition the entire crane much less often than they bring cargo up and over. I've spent a couple hours watching the similar cranes in Seattle, and was amazed at how little wasted movement there is.

They don't bring a container all they way up, just high enough to get it over the side of the ship, and as soon as they've cleared the side, it's already coming down towards the waiting truck.

I've seen the most active operations at 6am on a Saturday morning, but I suspect that's due to the way the Seattle port requires the containers unloaded from the ship to cross a major weekday commute arterial, to get to the trains.
posted by nomisxid at 9:01 AM on May 12, 2009

Best answer: Former port employee... The boring answer is that they try to move them as little as possible to save time and money. Also the movments are fairly quick (faster than a brisk walk) and they aren't going far at all (few hundred yards tops) so you kinda have to be watching at just the right time. A crane might work a ship for 6 hours, but it might only take 10 minutes to get in position.
posted by anti social order at 9:10 AM on May 12, 2009

I used to think they never moved until I dated a longshoreman who worked at Oakland. Once I knew what to look out for I could see them working.
posted by poissonrouge at 10:21 AM on May 12, 2009

Best answer: a cool time lapse video of the cranes in Oakland
posted by ljesse at 7:02 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

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