24,000-TEU class HMM Algeciras, HMM Oslo and 10 others feature hybrid scrubbers
When HMM Algeciras docked at the Port of Southampton on 14 June, it signalled the arrival in the UK of the biggest container ship built so far. The 24,000-TEU container ship was the first of 12 such ships ordered by Hyundai Merchant Marine. The order was split between two South Korean shipbuilders, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME), which is building seven, and Samsung Heavy Indutries (SHI), building five.
In April, HMM joined THE Alliance consisting of Hapag-Lloyd, Ocean Network Express (One) and Yang Ming. The move was timed to coincide with the delivery of the new ships.
HMM Algeciras is currently performing its service on FE3 routes, one of the Asia-North Europe trade lanes of THE Alliance. Port rotation (FE3): Busan-Shanghai-Ningbo-Xiamen-Kaohsiung-Hong Kong-Yantian-(Suez Canal)-Rotterdam-Hamburg-Antwerp-London Gateway-(Suez Canal)-Jebel Ali-Singapore-Yantian-Hong Kong-Kaohsiung.
Built at DSME, 400-m HMM Algeciras was the first to steam out. The DSME ships are slightly larger than the SHI ships.
HMM Oslo, the first to steam out of SHI, called on Southampton port on 20 June. HMM Oslo is 400 m long and has a capacity of 23,820 TEU. The ships are Megamax-24 class, which are 24 boxes wide.
All 12 have been named after European ports. The remaining DSME ships are HMM Copenhagen, HMM Dublin, HMM Gdansk, HMM Hamburg, HMM Helsinki and HMM Le Havre; and SHI ships are HMM Rotterdam, HMM Southampton, HMM Stockholm and HMM St. Petersburg.
The 12 mega box ships represent a massive investment in a down market. HMM managing director Great Britain Peter Livey explains that the unit costs for running these eco-friendly vessels are much lower than normal vessels. “Market conditions are fairly unpredictable due to the pandemic and other political tensions, but 2020 for most carriers looks like a positive year economically. We are members of The Alliance, and these ships are an excellent fit on the Europe-Asia service, and improve overall environmental performance due to high utilisation,” he says.
HMM says the 24K-class container ships have been built to cope with the extremely harsh competition prevalent in the container shipping market and therefore provide a competitive edge. “Notwithstanding industry’s initial concern coupled with oversupplied capacity, the mega vessels are being effectively operated,” it says.
While being cautious, HMM sees encouraging signs of recovery in the container shipping market although knock-on effects of the pandemic still persist. Ever present geopolitical uncertainty and US-China trade tensions continue to dampen market sentiment, according to the company.
HMM Algeciras’s arrival in the UK concluded a voyage from China, via South Korea, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Some 3,500 vessels have called on Thames ports during the lockdown. London Gateway houses some of the largest logistics parks in Europe.
“These Megamax-24 ships are ground-breaking, not just in their size, but in world-leading environmental performance too. Their optimised hull design and highly energy-efficient MAN Mk 10.5-type engines make a significant leap forward in reducing CO2 and other emissions. It is all part of our long-term goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across our container fleet by 2050,” says Mr Livey.
All 12 ships feature hybrid scrubbers. Mr Livey says the fuel choice was between LNG which involves a high installation cost versus hybrid scrubbers and a low capital cost. Fuel availability was a key concern.
In HMM’s view, scrubbers continue to be a ’smart’ decision. “Even though the price spread between LSFO and HFO has significantly narrowed due to the record-breaking lower oil price and it is still hard to predict how it will be in future, the economic benefit and commercial viability of scrubbers still exist. Even now, many ships are waiting for their turn for a scrubber installation at shipyards,” says the company.
Some 70% of HMM’s fleet of container ships have been equipped with scrubbers as of June 2020. The shipping company is also exploring various types of carbon neutral fuels such as ammonia, hydrogen-powered systems and bio-fuels with other stakeholders.
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