|Herman the German lifts the Spruce Goose in 1980.|
An icon on the Port of Long Beach's skyline for nearly 50 years was the floating crane YD-171, located at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard. The crane was, of course, much better known by its unofficial nickname, "Herman the German" and it made its home at the Port from 1948 until 1996.
The nearly 375-foot-tall crane came by its "German" moniker honestly; it was one of three giant floating cranes seized by the Allies from the Nazis at the end of World War II. The Russians and British each had sister cranes but were unable to transport them successfully to their home countries.
The Navy carefully dismantled Herman and shipped it to Long Beach via the Panama Canal, reconstructing it in Long Beach at a cost of $350,000 (about $3.2 million today). The crane was erected here in January 1948 and after extensive testing put into operation on New Year's Eve, 1948.
Some interesting facts about YD-171: its hoisting capacity was 386 tons (but tests took that up to 425 tons), it used 11,681 feet of wire rope and its three 900-horsepower diesel engines at full load used 144 gallons of fuel per hour at 100% load.
Herman lifted ships, parts of ships, and even other cranes, but one of its most notable lifting jobs was in the early 1980s, when the crane was used to lift the Spruce Goose in preparation for its move to the dome next to the Queen Mary.
After the closure of the Naval Shipyard in the early 1990s, it was decided that Herman was no longer needed at the Port of Long Beach (its diesel emissions were a concern as well) and the crane was shipped in 1996 to Panama, where it is still in operation at the Canal. No longer "Herman the German," now the crane is "la Titan."
Read an article on Herman's move from Long Beach to Panama
Herman the German photo gallery