This kind of break bulk is handled in the port of Rotterdam

The port of Rotterdam frequently has to deal with special shipments. Unique items that require ‘custom handling’ – due to their extraordinary shape, dimensions and weight. Rotterdam is happy to accommodate the demand for special transport facilities. Spacious port basins, outstanding service, specialised terminals and dedicated personnel mean that no cargo is too large, complex or heavy for Europe’s premier break bulk port. But what kind of cargo are we talking about then?

One of the most exceptional transports handled in the port of Rotterdam went as follows. On Friday 8 May 2016, the Dockwise Vanguard, a semi-submersible heavy lift ship, loaded a 245-m vessel on board. The Dockwise Vanguard is the largest and heaviest lift ship in the world. One of its most striking features is the absence of a bridge along the full width of the ship – which means that cargo loaded on the Vanguard can extend beyond the ship’s bow. This is the first time the port of Rotterdam handled a transport on such a massive scale.

Container cranes for the inland shipping sector

Over the past few years, a wide range of container cranes have been shipped to Rotterdam for the terminals at Maasvlakte 2. And this can occasionally pose a challenge. For example, when APMT wanted to add a third container crane for inland shipping to its fully-automated container terminal, the operator did not want the crane’s assembly to disrupt regular operations at the terminal. Which is why the terminal operator opted for the grounds of Broekman Logistics. On 16 June 2016, the completed crane was transported by pontoon to APMT’s location at Maasvlakte 2.


Storage tanks

A number of companies in the port of Rotterdam manufacture storage tanks for clients all over the world. On 3 February 2016, for example, this shipment of 13 storage tanks – with a total weight of no less than 900 tonnes – started on its voyage to Saudi Arabia. The tanks were first transported by pontoon from their production location in Ridderkerk to Broekman Logistics’ break bulk terminal in Waalhaven. The tanks were then loaded onto BigLift Shipping’s heavy lift ship Happy Delta, after which they went en route to the Jubail chemical terminal operated by Arabian Chemical Terminals (ACT).


Ship unloaders

A wide range of port equipment is produced in and around the port of Rotterdam. On 30 September 2015, these so-called cement unloaders were loaded on board BigLift Shipping’s Happy Dragon at the RHB Stevedoring terminal in Waalhaven – with New Zealand as their final destination. Manufactured by Van Aalst in Hazerswoude, the unloaders are intended to transfer cement from ships to tanker trucks.

cement unloader

Unique helicopter transport

A unique operation in every sense of the word. This Super Puma helicopter, manufactured by the Swiss company HeliSwiss, was used to perform maintenance on a cable car line in Venezuela. At the end of the project, the aircraft was disassembled and transported back to Europe over water by Nirint Shipping. After arriving in the port of Rotterdam on 21 July 2014, the aircraft was reassembled, after which it could immediately return to its home base in Switzerland.



In 2014, Damen Shipyards saw a strong increase in demand for new pontoons. After being shipped from China by manufacturer ZPMC, the pontoons were launched in Calandkanaal and transported to their storage locations. The largest pontoon that passed through the port of Rotterdam during this operation was 120 metres long and 32 metres wide.


Floating cranes

On 21 May 2012, Rolldock’s Rolldock Sea could be found at RHB Stevedoring, loading a Mammoet-owned floating crane. Thanks to the Rolldock vessel’s controlled submersion option, pontoons, vessels, floating cranes and submarines can be loaded onto the ship by water (float-on/float-off).

drijvende kraan

Ship loaders

On 22 March 2012, BigLift Shipping’s Happy River arrived at the EMO terminal with a ship loader. Ship loaders are used to transfer dry bulk on board deep-sea vessels.

ship unloader


On 7 March 2012, a stinger produced by Hollandia Kloos in Rotterdam was transferred to the RHB Stevedoring terminal on pontoons. From this location, the cargo was loaded onto SAL Heavy Lift’s MS Annette in three sections. A stinger is a special on-board device that guides cables and pipelines that are being lowered to the seabed in a controlled manner.


Break bulk in Rotterdam

Whether it concerns cars, project cargo and heavy lift, forest products, steel or non-ferrous metals: the port has specialised terminals for any type of break bulk cargo.

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