Hapag-Lloyd kicks off retrofits of 100 ships with new propellers and bulbous bows

German liner company Hapag-Lloyd has launched the retrofitting program of 100 ships with new propellers and bulbous bows.

Image credit: Hapag-Lloyd

The move is aimed at reducing the ships’ greenhouse gas emissions and help Hapag-Lloyd meet the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) target of reducing CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008 levels.

The new propeller is slimmer, has fewer blades and the design is optimised for slow steaming that will help the ships lower fuel consumption and reduce emissions.

The retrofitting program will see the propellers delivered from Mecklenburger Metallguss (MMG) in Waren an der Müritz, Germany. Transporting these colossal ship parts from Waren to Hamburg has to be done by truck. From the port of Hamburg, the propellers are loaded onto ships and transported to locations where the company’s vessels are undergoing regular drydocks.

Related Article

“MMG has the tremendous advantage of being able to develop a new propeller design using only computers,” says Georg Eljardt, Director Fleet Analytics & Technical Optimization Fleet Upgrade Program. Using these models makes it unneces­sary to conduct a series of time-consuming physical tests while still resulting in a propeller that is precisely tailored to the individual ship’s hull and operational profile.

In the case of Ningbo Express that was Dubai where the ship sailed for its periodic class renewal and then gone into dry dock for two weeks.

“The replacements of the propeller and the bulbous bow had to be performed during this period, which means that we only had a narrow time frame in which to tackle a lot of challenges,” said Andrea Bachmann, Manager Project Coordination Fleet Upgrade Program.

Shipyards in other locations will also play a role as the Fleet Upgrade Program progresses. The plan calls for similar replacements to be performed in Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Oman, Singapore and China.

Hapag-Lloyd’s Fleet Upgrade Program evaluates the entire fleet to determine where efficiency improvements can be made.

There is also a lot of preparatory work involved. Namely, before the installation takes place the ships are measured using a 3-D scanner. The bulbous bows are then usu­ally fitted by the repair yard.

“We accept and approve the assembled components on site together with our Technical Inspectors,” Rainer Giertz, Manager Fleet Upgrade, says.

“Then the components receive a coat of paint on the inside to prevent corrosion. Once the installation on the bow is complete, we move on to apply a coat of paint to the hull of the entire vessel under the watchful eye of the Technical Fleet Management inspector, which allows us to ensure a uniform application over the entire hull, including antifouling.”

The propeller’s design, as well as its new rotational speed and different efficiency level, has a direct influence on the main engine. Therefore, the engine needs to be adjusted to the new parameters.

Hapag-Lloyd has made sure to keep costs low and have control over the entire process, from planning to execution by carrying out the transports within the Hapag-Loyd network. The company will have almost 100 breakbulk shipments to carry out for the project in the coming years.

The upgrade program will be unique in the history of Hapag-Lloyd in terms of its scope and impact on the entire fleet.

“According to prognoses, the retrofit will reduce our fuel consumption by about 10 per cent, which will be a huge step forward,” Captain Johan Schultz says.

“Measures such as LED lighting, radio-controlled cooling water pumps, and automatic on-demand fans in the engine room and holds will help to lower our energy requirements.”