Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding. MSC Gemma

MSC takes delivery of another sea behemoth, expanding the elite club of world’s largest ships

Chinese shipbuilder Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding Group, in collaboration with China Shipbuilding Trading Co., Ltd. (CSTC), hosted a naming and delivery ceremony for the 24,000 TEU container vessel, MSC Gemma.

Image credit: Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding

The colossal containership was officially handed over to ICBC Financial Leasing Co., Ltd., and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company.

MSC Gemma, designed by Hudong-Zhonghua with their self-developed expertise, stretches an impressive 399.99 meters in length, boasting a breadth of 61.5 meters and a depth of 33.2 meters. With a staggering load capacity of 24,116 standard containers, this vessel belongs to the 24K TEU+size of containerships which are the largest in the world based on their carrying capacity.

Classed by DNV, the mammoth vessel has also set new benchmarks in energy efficiency and sustainability. The vessel incorporates a range of innovative features that reduce its environmental impact while enhancing operational efficiency including a small bulbous bow, large diameter propellers, and energy-saving ducts. Furthermore, the giant containership is fitted with an air lubrication system that effectively minimizes drag on the hull.

Image credit: Hudong-Zhonghua

The air lubrication system creates a layer of bubbles between the ship’s hull and the surrounding water, significantly reducing friction and hydrodynamic resistance. Experts estimate that this technology alone will provide energy savings of three to four percent, leading to a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions.

The delivery of the sea giant follows the vessel’s completion of sea trials at the beginning of May.

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The sea trials encompassed a range of crucial tests, including the ALS (Automated Life-Saving) system, side thrust test, anchor test, main engine durability test, scrubber system, and unmanned cabin.

Among the key aspects evaluated during the sea trials was the inspection of the shaft generator.

This is the third ship of the same size being built at the yard on behalf of MSC. The container shipping company has taken delivery of five 24,000 TEU-class vessels since the beginning of this year.

Namely, Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding has already delivered the giant 24,116 TEU MSC Tessa and MSC Celestino Maresca to MSC.  The 24K vessels delivered to MSC also include MSC Raya, MSC Irina, and MSC Loreto.

MSC’s fleet build-up efforts have paved the way for the liner major to become the first ocean carrier to surpass a staggering 5 million TEU in fleet capacity.

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The liner major has effectively doubled the size of its fleet in just eight and a half years, solidifying its position as a prominent force within the maritime sector. Namely, MSC has purchased 306 containerships with a capacity of 1.2 million TEU since August 2020. what is more, the Swiss-based container shipping giant has the largest orderbook by far in the industry with around 130 containerships on order.

In January 2023 MSC placed an order for ten LNG-fuelled boxships with Zhoushan Changhong, a joint venture between privately-owned Jiangsu Xin Chang Jiang Group and state-owned China International Marine Containers Group (CIMC).

The ten 11,500 TEU vessels will have dual-fuel propulsion, enabling the vessels to run on both LNG and conventional fuel, and they will adopt an ammonia-ready design.

MSC is scheduled to receive a whopping 33 neopanamax and megamax ships this year. Presumably, MSC will try to channel much of its fleet growth into new standalone loops outside of the 2M as the carrier prepares for the end of the VSA with Maersk in late 2024, according to Alphaliner.

Data from the market analyst indicates that with around 127 ships with a capacity of 1.66 million TEU, MSC seems to be on a trajectory to hit 6.75 million TEU in two years, if no older tonnage is scrapped.

However, Alphaliner expects MSC to shrink its smaller tonnage under 8,000 TEU and stabilize at around 6 million TEU.

MSC seems to be adamant about exploring the potential of ammonia as the fuel of the future for the shipping industry. last week, the liner giant teamed up with industry majors MAN EnergySolutions, Lloyd’s Register (LR) and Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute (SDARI) for a design for the ammonia dual-fuel operation of an MSC container ship.

Under the MOU, a technical specification and the associated design documents will be developed for a variant of SDARI’s twin island 8,200 TEU container ship design for a vessel contracted to LR class by MSC.

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