The world's largest multipurpose heavy lift vessel, the Pilecki, debuted on Thursday, transporting Chinese vaccine production equipment from Shanghai to Morocco to assist Africa in battling COVID-19.
The mission is a joint project of the Chinese-Polish Joint Stock Shipping Company, the owner of Pilecki, and vaccine production line provider Morimatsu Group of China.
It will enable the production of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa, including three with annual output serving more than 60 percent of demand on the continent.
The Pilecki was designed and manufactured during the COVID-19 pandemic, and all parties, including staff members at the shipyard and the wharf, made every effort to ensure a timely delivery amid the lingering epidemic in Shanghai.
The giant vessel has a deadweight of approximately 62,000 tonnes, with five giant storage areas and a flight deck of nearly 5,000 square meters.
Zhu Dezhang, the Chinese head office managing director of the shipping company, told China Media Group (CMG) that the Pilecki is the third in a series of four ships and was approved for service through a "cloud handover" on April 20, three months ahead of schedule.
'Perfect' vessel for long-distance shipment
Ji Jiang, a port captain at the shipping company, said, "Because the production equipment's total volume is close to 40,000 cubic meters, the requirements for shipment are relatively high, especially as they have to transport the entire vaccine factory to the destination port in a single trip. So, our ship is very suitable for this shipment."
Raised by four hull-based cranes, the 118 large-scale modules of the vaccine factory were loaded into the ship in an orderly manner, and the ship's mega scale makes it an ideal choice for the operation.
Just hours after the ship left the shipyard, it berthed at Shanghai Luojing Wharf for loading.
Shanghai Wusong customs has also introduced preferential measures for a seamless connection between logistics and customs clearance and to realize the highest possible speed for transportation from the port to the project operation site via direct unloading and delivery.
Li Daoquan, deputy general manager of Morimatsu Group, said, "It took our company about six months to complete this project – two months for the overall planning, including conceptual design and detailed design, and four months for manufacturing. And it will take about another two months for final assembly, commissioning and verification after arriving at the site."