COLUMBIA, S.C. — The broken bearing atop South Carolina’s Capitol flag pole spun wildly, tangling the national and state symbols that fly above. Neither flag could be raised or lowered. Enter Southern Crane, which came to the rescue at the Columbia Capitol building recently when Capitol officials realized the flags atop the 186-foot pole could not be moved.
The need for repair was urgent as flags are lowered at half-staff to honor South Carolina soldiers killed in the line of duty. Sadly, three soldiers were killed in June. This was a job for Southern Crane’s Liebherr LTM 1160-5.1, dubbed “The Bear,” whose powerful 203-feet of main boom and 141-foot jib could easily reach the 190-foot radius needed to lift crews to the flagpole’s peak at 186 feet.
“That was a dark cloud week for me,” said Capitol Facilities Manager David Martin. “I was relieved to find Southern Crane and its ‘Bear’ could so quickly help us restore the flagpole.”
Replacing the broken bearing wasn’t the only challenge facing Southern Crane’s workers. Federal law requires flags to fly 24 hours a day unless they are being exchanged for new flags. Crews created a unique solution to keep the colors flying: they tied the flags to the crane lines as they installed the new bearing.
“That way when the crane was in the air, the flag would be flying as much as possible,” said Kenneth Mullens, Southern Crane’s Columbia branch manager.
With the flags back in place, The Bear’s job was done. Or so they thought.
A few days later, Martin called Southern Crane with another urgent problem: the pre-fabricated flagpole cable had broken and the flags were lying on the roof of the State House.
“A storm blew by and destroyed that cable,” Martin said. “That’s a day that’s going in my journal. To have something go wrong twice in a row sent us all into a panic. When I called Southern Crane, they were very accommodating and rushed right back to the rescue.”
The Bear was on its way back to North Carolina, but crews quickly returned to Columbia to rescue the flags once again. They started work on a Tuesday morning, and within a few hours the flags were back in position, flying high above the Capitol.
About Southern Crane
Southern Crane is among the Southeast’s most comprehensive crane and rigging service providers. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Industrial Constructors, one of the largest private employers in North Carolina. Southern Crane operates in Raleigh, Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C., and Columbia, S.C. The company is a passionate advocate nationally for industry safety standards requiring its crane operators to be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO). All Southern Crane operators have been awarded NCCCO certification. http://www.southern-crane.com