Port of Manitowoc


Giant crane in Manitowoc will lift submarines and cargo ships for the U.S. Navy

MANITOWOC – Konecranes, a branch of the international Port Cranes Co., is building a giant crane in Manitowoc that will be shipped through the Great Lakes and down the Atlantic Ocean to a coastal United States Navy station.

Konecranes at one time made nuclear power equipment. As that business slowed, the company branched into the manufacture and service of cranes and other lifting equipment made for industries handling heavy loads such as ports, intermodal terminals, shipyards and terminals.

Working with Broadwind Towers, Konecranes is building a $55 million, 140-ton crane that will be about 160 feet tall, according to Gregory Butts, manager of purchasing. It’s part of a larger contract Konecranes won through the U.S. Department of Defense to build cranes to lift submarines, cargo ships, warships and other naval vessels. It also has similar contracts with the Army Corps of Engineering to build several large cranes.

“We hope this is just the start of many projects we do up in Manitowoc,” Butts said. “We’re excited to work with Broadwind.”

Broadwind hired about 30 full-time workers. Konecranes also works with local electricians and ironworks companies, as well as sending a handful of its own employees to help with the project.

Manitowoc and the location of the Broadwind site make the partnership ideal, Butts said. Workers can manufacture the crane on a peninsula of land near Broadwind, then load the super tall crane onto a barge and steer it out to the Manitowoc port into Lake Michigan, where it can begin its long, watery journey to the East Coast.

“The cranes travel fully erect at 160 feet,” Butts said. “You’re not moving something that large on a highway or across land, so this is perfect. Our plan is to keep growing the industry up here.”

The collaboration was aided by a $2.2 million Harbor Assistance Program grant. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced the grant in late February, and said a new load out and rail platforms would be constructed at the City Centre property to handle oversize and overweight cranes.

“These harbor improvements provide double benefits,” Evers said in the news release. “The grant helps create new highly-skilled jobs in Wisconsin. It also helps contain transportation costs, making future manufacturing contracts even more attractive.”

The governor said the grant connects the dots between quality transportation infrastructure, the success of local business and building strong communities.

Konecranes hopes to deliver its first Manitowoc-built crane later this year, but that depends, in part, on how early the St. Lawrence Seaway freezes.

“If it freezes in October, that would put us on a different time frame,” Butts acknowledged.

Peter Wills, executive director for Progress Lakeshore, praised the project.

“This is great for the Lakeshore area,” he said. “These are exactly the kinds of partnerships we love to see for Manitowoc.”

Patti Zarling, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter