Joyriders used the Caterpillar 926 wheel-loader to destroy a fence bordering the river before driving it into the Tyne.

Ainscough brought in a Terex Demag AC350/6 mobile crane a few days after local transport company Albany Motors had secured the loader to begin the retrieval operation.

Contract lift manager Gary Davies was responsible for inspecting the site before planning the lift for Ainscough.

As the 22t loader was partially submerged in the Tyne there were some difficulties in slinging the load, Davies explained.

“When I went [to inspect the site] it was a higher tide than when we went back to do the job. We had a couple of hours when it was advised that we do it because of the low tide, but approximately just under half of it was submerged.”

This also meant that not all of the lifting points on the Caterpillar were accessible, resulting in a last minute change to the method statement to allow for a two-point lift instead of the four-point lift Davies was expecting.

“The [loader] was about 22t and was within a 26m radius, but I added a couple of metres extra just as a bit of an extra safety factor, and obviously a little bit more for the water. The crane at that radius is good for just shy of 30t, that was on full counterweight.”

The AC350/6 used featured a 40.7m boom and was used with its full complement of counterweight of 116.7t.