Design of world’s largest LNG carrier wins blessing from classification majors

The world’s four major classification societies American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), DNV, Lloyd’s register (LR), and Bureau Veritas (BV) have issued an approval in principle (AIP) to Hudong-Zhonghua (HZ) Shipyard for its new liquified natural gas (LNG) carrier design, currently the world’s largest with 271,000 cubic meters of cargo tank capacity.

Image credit ABS

The AIP award ceremonies took place at Gastech 2023, a dedicated exhibition and conference featuring the latest innovations in natural gas and LNG, hydrogen, low-carbon solutions, and climate technology, which is currently underway in Singapore.

The design features flexible dual-fuel propulsion and an air lubrication system for more sustainable operations. The synergy of a more efficient hull and the use of low-carbon fuel in the fuel-efficient engine is expected to translate to the lowering of the overall carbon footprint of the vessel.

The design is also equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) that should reduce its nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which will help the vessel comply with IMO Tier III controls even when in diesel mode.

The newly designed LNG tank is equipped with an enhanced cargo containment system together with a real-time sloshing monitoring system, and the vessel is equipped with a hull stress monitoring and an anti-collision system, features not normally found on LNG carriers. All of these measures are designed to improve the safety and reliability of the vessel.

The design of a 271,000cbm LNG carrier is part of a joint development project between both organizations. The AiP demonstrates that Hudong-Zhonghua can build such ships and offers shipowners an innovative concept to transport LNG more economically and efficiently, DNV said.

“LNG is an energy source that is becoming more important as we look to improve air quality and lower carbon emissions. DNV has been one of the leaders in maritime LNG technology for years, and I am delighted about our involvement in such an innovative project. With our global expertise and established Gas Carriers and Alternative Fuels expert team in China, we will continue to deepen our partnerships in China to help transition the maritime industry to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly,” DNV’s Regional Manager Norbert Kray said.

DNV’s AiP is based on classification rules with the following intended class notations: +1A Tanker for liquefied gas, BIS, BWM(T), Recyclable, Shaft align(1), COAT-PSPC(B), TMON(Oil lubricated), CSA(FLS1), NAUT(OC), LCS, CLEAN, E0.

The new LNG carrier design is 344m long, has a breadth (moulded) of 53.6m and has five cargo tanks. Despite its size, the vessel would be able to berth at more than 70 LNG terminals along the main trade route.

“As the world’s premier classification society for gas carriers, with more than 50 years of experience, we are proud to support this advanced new design from Hudong-Zhonghua. Vessels with larger capacities and modern, efficient propulsion systems will be integral to sustainably supporting future LNG needs around the world,” said John McDonald, ABS President and COO.

“BV has been very pleased to participate, and we sincerely thank CSSC Hudong-Zhonghua for their trust and commitment in this project and the very close cooperation we have enjoyed. Accordingly, I am delighted to issue the Approval in Principle to this landmark project, reflecting Hudong-Zhonghua’s LNG carrier leadership role in the Chinese shipbuilding industry,” Matthieu de Tugny, President of Bureau Veritas Marine & Offshore, said.

Image credit BV

“Hudong-Zhonghua is very honored to obtain this AIP for the Global Max type 271K LNGC, which brings a new, noticeable member of our G5 ever constant series family to worldwide customers,Song wei, Head of Technical Department, Hudong-Zhonghua, said.

“A Global Max type 271K LNGC will have a lower carbon intensity index (CII), about 23 percent lower than a conventional 174K LNGC, which will enable the vessel to get longer qualified service years free of operation limitations. We highly appreciate ABS’ great effort in the cooperation and development of a robust solution for the LNG shipping market.”

With the AIP secured, the 344-meter vessel design now enters additional design and analysis work before being presented to potential owners.

The LNG carrier is recognized as one of the most difficult ship types in the world to build, and is known as the “crown jewel” of the world’s shipbuilding industry. 

Hudong-Zhonghua is the first Chinese shipbuilder that developed independent design and construction capabilities for large LNG carriers and which has actual ship delivery performance. At present, the yard has nearly 50 orders for LNG ships in hand, and the yard’s current backlog will keep the company busy by 2028.