Hapag-Lloyd to deploy first dual-fuel 23,500+ TEU ships in 2023
German container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd plans to deploy the first of its twelve new 23,500+ TEU vessels in 2023, Lutz-Michael Dyck, Senior Director Strategic Asset Projects at Hapag-Lloyd, confirmed.
In late 2020 and mid-2021, the European ocean carrier ordered a dozen of new ultra large container vessels (ULCVs) from South Korean shipyard Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME).
Once completed, the 400-meter-long and 61-meter-wide newbuilds will be among the largest ships in the world.
This month, the company published an interview with Dyck who provided more details on the process of building the giant ships.
“The ships are currently being built in South Korea, and we expect the first ships to already be ready for deployment in 2023,” Dyck said.
“The first ship is scheduled for delivery on 30 April 2023, and the last of the 12 vessels will be delivered to us on 31 December 2024.”
As informed by Lutz-Michael, the first steel plate for building the first ship was cut on 27 December 2021, and work has already started on building the so-called “blocks” that will later be used to assemble the ship.
The keel-laying of the first unit in the dry dock is planned for 22 August 2022.
Hapag-Lloyd unveils names of new boxships
The company has already chosen names for the first six units, Dyck said.
They will be the Singapore Express, the Manila Express, the Bangkok Express, the Mumbai Express, the Busan Express and the Hanoi Express.
The remaining six vessels are yet to be named.
With this order, Hapag-Lloyd joined its counterparts in ordering dual-fuel, environmentally friendly ULCVs.
The investment followed the company’s first conversion project of an LNG-ready ultra-large containership to LNG.
Speaking about the vessels dual-fuel capability, Dyck said:
“The ships are Hapag-Lloyd’s first newbuildings to be designed from the outset as dual-fuel vessels, meaning they can be operated with both conventional fuel oil and liquified natural gas (LNG). LNG can be used to operate not only the main engine, but also the auxiliary machinery and boilers.”
“Compared to conventional fuels, LNG places completely new demands on storage and handling, and we will need a lot of additional equipment. For example, the storage temperature of LNG in the tank is around -160°C (-256°C). The LNG must be vaporised to operate the machinery, and a high pressure of 300 bar is also required for the main engine.”
“There are also other safety-related issues, as the requirements are much higher for LNG systems. All of this is still new for us. However, thanks to the retrofitting of the “Brussels Express”, we have already gained some valuable experience with engines featuring dual-fuel technology. Even though the tank on that ship is different, its main engine is more or less the same: a MAN engine with a high-pressure system. We chose this type of engine because its so-called “methane slip” – meaning the unburned methane that escapes from engines into the atmosphere – is lower than with a low-pressure system. This will also enable us to meet the tightened environment-protection requirements better.”
“This is already a step in the right direction. In the future, however, we want to operate our ships increasingly with CO2-neutral SNG or bio gas,” Dyck revealed.
LNG tanks for the newbuilds
Unlike standard fuel tanks, the LNG tank isn’t part of the block method of construction. Instead, it is built in another location.
According to Dyck, more time was allotted for building the tanks of the first ship.
“This is a pilot project – and one that is the first of its kind in the world – because the Type B tank will be made of steel with a particularly high manganese content. This is why the welders will need special training. So 200 welders had to be trained first, which naturally required a certain amount of advance preparation.”
Despite this, the construction was able to start earlier than predicted.
Moreover, progress on building the ships for Hapag-Lloyd hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic yet. This is a result of South Korea’s low infection rate.
“The only thing that could present a hurdle is the delayed arrival of equipment from outside the country, but we haven’t had any problems with that yet, either.”
“What’s more, owing to the large number of deliveries that we will receive for several ships, we always have the possibility to react and reschedule – because they are all structurally identical. If the construction of the first ship goes smoothly, I’m very confident that there shouldn’t be any delays with the other ones, either,” the company’s Senior Director Strategic Asset Projects concluded.
Hapag-Lloyd has two other orders for 13,000 TEU ships, one for three and one for two, in South Korea and China. These units will not be equipped with dual-fuel engines. Instead, these will be five containerships with scrubbers. The first unit, under construction in South Korea, is slated for delivery on 31 August 2023.
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