– As the global market leader in logistics, DHL looks back at its five most unusual deliveries worldwide in 2023
– The shipments range from manatees to locomotives and a key that saved a bird
Auckland, December 14, 2023: Parcels and pallets, plane loads and packed shipping containers – these are what people naturally associate with DHL Group, the world’s leading logistics provider. But that only scratches the surface of the company’s capabilities. Some shipments are much more unusual. Here are just five of the most extraordinary shipping highlights that the global market leader in logistics carried out in 2023:
Rescue journey across the United States for three manatees
Special arrangements to help “Soleil”, “Calliope” and “Piccolina”: In October 2023, DHL flew three manatees in the U.S. more than 1,000 miles from Cincinnati in Ohio, U.S., to Orlando in the state of Florida. From there, they were transported by truck to the city of Tampa. The animals weighed around 750 to 1,000 pounds. State wildlife officials had rescued the three as tiny, orphaned calves in Florida in 2021. The zoos in Cincinnati and Tampa cooperated in looking after them: While the Cincinnati Zoo helped them gain weight and grow big enough to be returned to the wild, ZooTampa is now taking care of their final stage of rehabilitation. Early next year, they will be released back into Florida’s waters. To ensure the manatees arrived in Tampa as quickly and safely as possible, DHL transported them in custom-built containers on a specially scheduled cargo plane. A veterinarian monitored the animals’ condition throughout the flight. The containers included 8-inch-thick foam beds and blankets to keep the manatees warm. In addition, to ensure that their bodies stayed moist, they were constantly misted with water.
Five locomotives from the United States to Peru
Heavy load on the high seas: In September 2023, DHL transported five pre-owned locomotives by ship about 3,000 miles from the U.S. city of Houston to Callao in Peru. Purchased by a Peruvian railway company, each locomotive was over 20 meters long and weighed 186 tons. In an intricate operation, they were all carefully placed on a vessel using the ship’s cranes. A team of experts spent about two months meticulously planning every step, calculating processes, creating blueprints, checking materials, and weighing up possible routes. The ship was underway for twelve days – through the Gulf of Mexico and the Panama Canal to the Peruvian coast.
Life-saving key from Tunisia to Germany
Fast delivery for a feathered friend: In April 2023, DHL made a last-minute rescue possible for a small bird in need. A man from Germany had locked his apartment and accidentally taken the key with him on a trip to Tunisia. In the apartment, the little bird was in urgent need of food and water, so the man had to get the key back to his home country immediately. Within just a few hours, DHL flew the key some 1,200 miles from Tunis Airport to the DHL Hub in Leipzig. A DHL service team quickly located the key amid the many other shipments from Tunisia. The traveler’s partner picked up the key directly at the Leipzig Hub. Later, she sent DHL a thank you letter, confirming a happy outcome:
She was able to get to the bird in time – without breaking down the door.
21 bobsleds from Germany to China
Ready to go for gold: In October 2023, DHL delivered 21 bobsleds from Cologne, Germany, to Yanqing in China. They belonged to athletes from several European nations who needed them for the start of the IBSF Bobsleigh World Cup. Each sled was about four meters long. DHL picked the equipment up from the national bobsleigh federations and first brought it to Cologne. The next stop was Luxembourg, from where DHL flew all the sleds about 5,000 miles to Beijing. Two trucks finally took them to the Olympic sliding track in Yanqing. As many athletes trained until the last minute, the transport was very time critical, leaving no room at all for delays. At the same time, professional bobsleds are finely tuned precision machines, accurately adjusted and calibrated to their respective pilots. Therefore, they must be handled very carefully.
Three wind turbine blades from the United States to Turkey
Exceptionally long cargo: In August 2023, DHL shipped three blades for wind turbines from Houston, U.S., about 7,500 miles to Izmir in Turkey. Each blade was 50 meters long and weighed about 14 tons. An American company arranged the shipment to replace damaged blades on a Turkey-based wind energy farm. For the one-month journey of the new blades, DHL used a special vessel fitted with heavy-lift cranes that could manage the cargo safely and quickly. Upon arrival in Izmir, extendable trailers transported the new blades to their final destination.