By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— Technology, timing and the right tide all came into play as four enormous cranes made their way up the bay to Baltimore. The trip included two close encounters with bridges.

Alex DeMetrick has been following the journey.

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The ship carrying four cranes left China two months ago. The final leg demanded the most finesse as it approached the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The cranes were partially dismantled or they would be too tall to pass under. The ship took on extra ballast water to ride lower. Special instruments installed by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration measured the clearance.

“Over six minute intervals, the data was updated, calculated and re-provided to the ship’s operator so they could safely navigate,” said Linda Austin, NOAA Spokesperson.

And the sight brought spectators to Sandy Point State Park to watch bay pilots and tugs maneuver.

“I think he must be very nervous,” said one observer.

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The clearance looked greater than the four feet that had been projected for cranes that will be the largest ever at the Port of Baltimore.

“They’ll be able to handle the biggest ships that are being built today,” said Port Administrator Jim White.

The cranes used now do not have the reach needed to keep pace with the next generation of cargo ships. The new cranes that slipped under the Bay Bridge will leave only Baltimore and Virginia with the hardware to do it on the East Coast.

It will take most of the summer to install the cranes and get them up and running.

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The four cranes are a $40 million investment made by Ports America Chesapeake, the private company which operates the port for the state.