Wuhu Shipyard kicks off construction of SAL Heavy’s methanol-ready newbuilds

China’s Wuhu Shipyard has launched construction on SAL Heavy Lift’s first two carbon-neutral heavy lift ships, the shipbuilder revealed.

Courtesy of SAL Heavy Lift GmbH & Co. KG

The two 14,600 dwt vessels form part of a fleet of a total of six Orca-class vessels which will be equipped with dual-fuel engines able to run on methanol.

SAL Heavy Lift is working with its joint venture partner, Dutch company Jumbo Shipping, on its Orca Class newbuilding program.

In addition to the optimised hull design, the Orca vessels will have an innovative propulsion system consisting of compact and efficient main engines and a diesel-electric booster function.

The engine package will be provided by Wärtsilä, featuring the company’s 32 main engine capable of operating with methanol fuel. This will make these ships among the first to be prepared to operate on methanol. They will also be the first methanol-capable ships to employ a variable speed main engine.

If green methanol becomes available in key ports as anticipated towards the end of the decade, the Jumbo-SAL-Alliance said it will be able to offer its customers carbon-neutral transport solutions.

The hybrid system also includes energy storage, a PTO/PTI generator and motor, a multidrive converter, and the Wärtsilä Energy Management System for controlling and optimising the hybrid operations. The Energy Storage system will be based on Lithium-Titanium-Oxide (LTO) batteries, which can handle higher amounts of deep cycles than normal Lithium-Ion based systems.

Wärtsilä said that ESS will significantly reduce the fuel consumption and/or the necessary size of the port’s electric shore connection during crane operations while also providing fuel savings at sea by reducing Engine Load fluctuations in rough seas.

For each vessel, Wärtsilä will also supply the gearbox, the controllable pitch propeller (CPP), the bow and stern thrusters, air shaft seals, as well as the sterntube and bearings.

Each vessel will be fitted with two 800 t Liebherr cranes specifically designed for this ship type, and they can handle cargo items weighing up to 1,600 t in tandem.

Scheduled for delivery starting in mid-year 2024, the first two ships will be exclusively involved in the transportation of offshore wind turbine components in a long-term commitment with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy.