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Handling Specialty’s ship comes in…again

The shell of Harmony of the Seas’ inner workings mid-construction.

By Mike Williscraft

At a time when any news is good news in today’s business climate, Grimsby Handling Specialty (HS)got some stellar news last week when they closed a $30 million contract with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Handling has worked its way to the top of the entertainment world heap over the last 25-plus years when it comes to creating hydraulic lifts to allow for some amazing special effects.

If you have been to Las Vegas and taken in O by Cirque du Soleil at The Bellagio you will have seen some of the Handling team’s handiwork.

A rendering of the Oasis of the Seas’ amphitheatre at the ship’s stern.

The contract with RCC will include:

• Seven underwater stage lifts;
• Two diving board tilters;
• A system hydraulic power unit, and;
• All controls for operation and safety, installation, sea trials and hand over.

“All of this work will be completed by Handling Specialty pay-rolled staff. As well, local suppliers are part of our supply chain and are a major contributor to our success, including companies right here in Grimsby,” said Tom Beach, Handling Specialty’s president.

Like many of the intricate projects which Handling has undertaken over the years, the announcement of this deal last week was the culmination of years of background work.

“This was two-and-a-half years of work from concept to contract signing,” said Beach.

“And the truly unique thing is I have never met this client in person. All drawings, proposals and meetings were completed using digital technology. To this day, we have not met our customer in person.”

Handling is currently working through another RCC contract to develop aquatic features.

“The Oasis series has been terrific. That particular theatre is at the stern of the vessel with amphitheatre seating, then it reaches up balconies and bars where people can watch the show. Fundamentally, you’re seeing the ‘prop chop’, the moonlight, the coloured lights flashing. It’s pretty spectacular. It is the absolute Number One ticket draw on every cruise ship. We are going to do similar underwater features, many more lifts, more travel, faster, so it’s got more “wow” to it,” said Beach.

While the vessels themselves will be built in a shipyard located in Turku, Finland, work on the pool components will be done in Grimsby.

Once all the work is completed in 2026, Handling will have completed nine aqua theatres for RCC.

The new theatres will be on top of the ships under glass domes.

While Beach recognizes he gets to make the announcements, it is the team behind him which makes it all happen.

“We’ve been fortunate to have hired really terrific people. They are now empowered to run things,” said Beach.

“We’re a team. We just get it done.”

For more details, check: for our Handling podcast.

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