Super Steel loads, ships out locomotives headed to Africa

Eight locomotives assembled by Super Steel Corp. in Glenville are set to be shipped to Africa after
Port of Albany workers watch as one of 8 locomotives made by Super Steel in Rotterdam, is lowered into the cargo hold of the Jumbo Stellanova, bound for Africa at the Port of Albany Friday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Port of Albany workers watch as one of 8 locomotives made by Super Steel in Rotterdam, is lowered into the cargo hold of the Jumbo Stellanova, bound for Africa at the Port of Albany Friday.

Eight locomotives assembled by Super Steel Corp. in Glenville are set to be shipped to Africa after work crews finish loading the 1,200 horsepower units onto a ship today at the Port of Albany.

William Carr, the commercial manager for Super Steel, said about 30 workers assembled the locomotives over a period of five months from November 2007 to March 2008 after receiving contract from railroad manufacturing giant Electro-Motive Diesel.

“In this case, we filled the role of having the available capacity to kind of handle a special order like this, so they don’t have to disrupt their main production line,” Carr said.

The eight locomotives are four-axle GPL15Ts, a smaller type of locomotive with special modifications for desert travel. Carr said the batch was meant to be the same as a group of locomotives purchased 10 years ago by Electro-Motive Diesel’s client, French mining company Société Nationale Industielle et Minière, known as SNIM.

The eventual job of the locomotives will be carrying iron ore across the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, a country located in Northwestern Africa. The locomotives will transport the ore across the approximately 800-mile Mauritania Railway, which links the mining center of Zouerate with the port of Nouadhibou.

“Because they will operate in a desert environment they’ve got some special accommodations for that. There are valves on the air horns to keep them from sucking sand back into the system,” Carr said. “There are always plows on the front of a locomotive, but on [the wheel sets] themselves have independent air-operated plows to help clear sand from the rails.”

Super Steel Schenectady officials estimate the contract to assemble, paint and test the locomotives was about $1 million.

Car said Super Steel probably would not have gotten the contract to build the units had it not been for the easy access to a “deep water port” in Albany.

Port of Albany General Manager Frank Keane said his port is about 32 feet deep, more shallow than some ports but still deep enough for most ocean-going vessels to use.

“As a result, you can avoid any potential trans-shipping of the cargo. An inland port without much [depth] would have had to put the cargo on a barge to some harbor [where it would be] loaded aboard a ship, or it would have had to have been railed a longer, more significant distance to a deeper water port,” Keane said.

The ship the locomotives are being loaded onto today is the Stellanova, the sister ship to the Stellamare, a heavy-lift cargo ship that capsized while loading General Electric Co. generators at the port of Albany in December 2003, killing three Russian sailors.

Categories: Business

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