The U.S. Navy Turns to Landstar’s “Elite Fleet” For A Super Solution
It would be impossible to haul an entire ship on a truck, even for the most experienced owner-operator with a super heavy duty truck, but Joe Donovan, Landstar business capacity owner (BCO), Million Mile Safe Driver and Roadstar® honoree, came close. He transported a 50-ton steel stern gate used by the U.S. Navy to build the newest ship in its fleet – the USS Fort Lauderdale.
After construction on the vessel began, Donovan got a call from Landstar Agent John Fraley about moving the ship’s stern gate to its final destination in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The stern gate superload, weighing 107,132 pounds and spanning 80 feet, at 6 feet high and more than 22 feet wide, called for the experience of a Landstar business capacity owner like Donovan, or what Fraley describes as the BCO “elite fleet.”
At his Florida-based agency, JTB Heavy Haul Inc., Fraley says his customers only trust Landstar BCOs with their high-value, oversized cargo. Meaning, the stern gate load for this high profile customer, a Georgia-based fabricator of marine systems, had to be covered by one of Landstar’s best.
“Landstar owner-operators are the most important part of our agency’s heavy haul operations, especially for moves like this when ultimately you are servicing the United States Navy,” says Fraley.
After winning the bid to haul the stern gate and participating in a series of meetings with his customer, Fraley asked Donovan to join him on a visit to the customer’s facility to strategize on the main challenges of the move: the loading operation and exit strategy.
“I actually drew pictures for the customer and its engineers so they could fully understand how much of a sweeping turn my truck would need in order to get out of the facility,” explains Donovan. “We needed to get very detailed with the customer so neither the freight nor my equipment were damaged during the process.”
Together, the customer, agent and BCO designed a plan to safely move the freight out of the facility. First, the customer created a new 30-foot-wide exit from the building, big enough for the truck and freight to fit through. Second, the gate manufacturer built a road by bulldozing the ground around the new exit and laying steel plates to support the weight of the truck and the 50 ton load, and to allow the truck to make the proper turn out of the customer’s facility.
“We had to get down to the fine details on this one. Every inch mattered when it came to loading the freight inside the facility and then moving it outside,” said Donovan. “The meeting eased the customer’s and our own concerns about the accommodations needed.”
Six months after planning began for the move, it was time to put the team’s exit strategy in motion. The giant stern gate was loaded via gantry crane onto Donovan’s XL specialized 120 low-profile extendable stepdeck trailer.
Shortly after the load was secured, Donovan’s heavy duty vocational tractor made that sweeping wide turn, hauling the superload out of the facility’s newly constructed exit and onto the steel plate-supported road. While Donovan acknowledges his expertise as a heavy/specialized owner-operator played a role in the move, he praises Landstar’s support team for making the haul happen.
“It is evident that the agent/business capacity owner network coupled with Landstar’s support makes big freight moves happen,” Donovan explains. With every heavy/specialized load, he counts on Landstar to arrange all the necessary permissions, permits and documentation for the move.
“Providing the tools BCOs and agents need for success is part of our commitment to safety at Landstar,” says Rusty Cody, Landstar Transportation Logistics vice president of specialized hauling and intermodal. “We communicate the important aspects about the oversized load to the proper law enforcement agencies, ensuring the laws specific to each state are addressed. The support we provide establishes public safety during these oversized hauls.”
For the 540-mile trip from Brunswick, Georgia, to Pascagoula, Mississippi, the stern gate move required:
- Permits in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi
- Three civilian vehicles, including certified contractors and escort cars
- Law enforcement coordination in each state
- Specific permission to move the freight through Florida and Alabama
In just three days of travel time, Donovan and his escorts made it to Pascagoula, Mississippi, for a successful delivery – one more delivery that Fraley says has paved a road for continued success at his independent Landstar agency.
“This service wouldn’t be possible without Landstar. The team effort on this load and the expertise of a Landstar BCO is what made the execution of this move flawless,” says Fraley. “We are looking forward to future business because of the success of the stern gate delivery.”
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