A pair of LNG-fuelled container/roro ships had to meet US coastal emission requirements
Its environmental benefits were to the fore when Crowley Maritime Corp’s new LNG-fuelled container/roro ship El Coquí arrived for its maiden call in San Juan, Puerto Rico on 30 July.
It is the first LNG-powered, US-flagged, container/roro ship and it was essential to specify an environment-friendly ship for the route because it is operating in the emission control area along the eastern seaboard of the US. “Low emissions, reliability and appropriate transit speed were primary considerations,” according to its designer, Wärtsilä Ship Design (WSD).
Commenting on what makes the ship stand out, vice president of Crowley’s inhouse Global Ship Management division, Cole Cosgrove, said “the thing that separates it is the fact that we’re using a cleaner-burning fuel. [It has] a much better environmental impact [and] we’re excited to bring a much cleaner product to the Puerto Rican service.”
He was being interviewed for a corporate video on Crowley’s website in which he said the ship will “provide the next generation of logistics supply to the islands.”
Its chief officer, Jaime Torres, echoed those sentiments. The ship “will make it easier for the people of Puerto Rico to get their cargo quicker while at the same time protecting the environment,” he said.
The ships are fitted with a MAN Energy Solutions 8S70ME-C8.2-GI main engine and three of its 9L28/32 DF auxiliary engines, installed in a hull based on WSD’s CRV 2400 WB standard model. Wärtsilä also supplied its propeller, rudders, transverse thrusters and shaft line, along with its bearings and stern tube.
El Coquí was delivered on 20 July by VT Halter Marine, although this was later than planned: delivery was originally scheduled for the second half of 2017 with a second ship, Taíno, due in the first half of this year. That vessel is now expected to be delivered ‘later this year’, Crowley said in a statement when El Coquí was handed over.
That statement included comments by Shipbuilders Council of America president, Matthew Paxton, who said “evolutions in LNG technology are providing a historic opportunity for American yards and the supporting industrial base to design, build and outfit some of the most technically advanced and environmentally friendly vessels that are the envy of the world.”
They will operate from Jacksonville in Florida and have been specifically designed for the route, carrying a mix of up to 2,400 TEU, including 300 reefer boxes and about 400 cars and larger vehicles on enclosed, ventilated and weather-tight roro decks. They are 219.5 m long and have a deadweight of 26,500 tonnes.
• For full details of the ships’ design, download a 2014 paper presented by WSD engineers to the Royal Institution of Naval Architects.
Ship names reflect Puerto Rico’s heritage
Crowley’s choice of names for its two new ships – El Coquí and Taíno – reflect two of Puerto Rico’s traditional inhabitants. A coquí is a small frog that has been a cultural symbol of Puerto Rican history for centuries. According to the website Welcome to Puerto Rico, when Puerto Ricans want to express their nationality, they say “Soy de aquí como el coquí” (I’m as Puerto Rican as a coquí).
It features on stone carvings dating back hundreds of years, to the time of its native Taíno inhabitants. At the time of European contact with the island in the 15th century, the Taíno were the principal inhabitants of much of the Caribbean, including Cuba, Trinidad, and Jamaica, as well as Puerto Rico.
The ships have been termed the Commitment Class, which reflects a sentiment expressed by Crowley chairman and chief executive, Tom Crowley. “This delivery represents another milestone in our unwavering commitment to Puerto Rico,” he said when El Coquí was delivered. Crowley has been serving the islands for more than 60 years.
Autonomous box ship will cut ship and shore emissions
Fertiliser shipper Yara signed a Nkr250M (US$30M) deal in August with Vard shipyard to build the world’s first autonomous and electric container vessel. It will incorporate features designed to minimise its own environmental impact and its operation will cut vehicle emissions on a section of Norway’s road network.
Yara Birkeland’s hull will be built by Vard Braila in Romania and completed by Vard Brevik in Norway in Q1 2020. Once in service, it will gradually move from manned to unmanned remote operation by 2022, relying on technology from the Norwegian technology company Kongsberg. Its input includes the sensors and systems integration needed for remote and autonomous operations.
That transition will begin with tests during its first year of operation, Yara’s head of external and corporate communications Kristin Nordal told CST, while it has crew on board.
It will be powered from batteries that will be recharged during the vessel’s loading and unloading port calls using shore-supplied electricity generated by hydropower. This will help meet the project’s goal – announced in May last year – that it will be a zero-emissions ship.
Those batteries, along with other permanent loads, will form part of the ship’s ballast, giving it sufficient stability so that it does not need to take on or discharge ballast water, she said, removing the need for ballast pumps.
It is neither a large nor a fast vessel, being designed to carry fertiliser from Yara’s factory at Porsgrunn to ports in Brevik and Larvik where the company ships products to customers around the world. Exact details of its capacity were not provided when the contract was signed, but when the project was first publicised in July 2017 its container load was quoted as 100-150 TEU and its deadweight as 3,500-4,500 tonnes.
It will have a maximum speed of 10 knots and a service speed of 6 knots, drawing energy from 3.5-4.0 MWh of battery capacity. This will be enough to remove 40,000 truck journeys a year. Those journeys are each 40 km long and eliminating them will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and noise, improving the environment and road safety in a densely populated urban area.
Ms Nordal said there will be a saving of 700 tonnes of CO2 per year but what the local community will mostly notice is a reduction of dust, she said.
Speaking in August, Yara president and chief executive Svein Tore Holsether described the ship as “a game-changing vessel that will help us lower our emissions and contribute to feeding the world while protecting the planet.” At the same time, Vard chief executive and executive director Roy Reite viewed the contract as an “innovative and exciting project”.
Kongsberg chief executive Geir Håøy paid tribute to the Norwegian maritime cluster, which he said had “taken a leading position within technology, design, legislation, testing and all other aspects of the development.”
• Yara Birkeland has received Nkr133.6M (US$15.6M) from the Norwegian state enterprise Enova, which is owned by the Ministry of Climate and Environment to encourage effective use of Norway’s renewable energy resources. Prime Minister Erna Solberg was present for the contract signing at the shipyard in Brevik, Norway.
Modular scrubber concept aimed at box ships
A project to install a scrubber on a container ship has led to a new way of making and fitting these units on any ship type. But the new technique has particular benefits for box ships, according to the engineers behind its development, Wärtsilä Services.
Esa Häkkinen, audit services manager, and Peter Karanen, senior project manager, at the company told Container Ship Technology about their scheme, in which scrubbers will be installed in modules, with the work spread across two or three port calls so as not to delay the vessel.
Each module is sized to match container dimensions so that they can be mounted in the cargo area of a container ship alongside the uptake. But the modules weigh less than a container, Mr Häkkinen said, so the deck does not need strengthening and there is no change in the vessel’s stability or wind profile.
This arrangement will reduce cargo capacity slightly, he acknowledged, but said it would be no more than 1% and “it is quite seldom that vessels have sold more than 99% of their capacity,” he said.
On other ship types, such as tankers and bulk carriers, cargo loss would not be significant but their decks would need reinforcing. So there are pros and cons for different ship types, he said, but the benefits for all of them are the installation flexibility and reduced off-hire.
He described how the concept had been developed, saying it had evolved from a proposal for a large container vessel. On such ships, there is normally an area where there is no cargo hold below the upper deck because of the engineroom’s location, so the initial plan was to build a compartment on deck for the scrubber equipment. From there it was a short mental step to conceive of modules that could be prefabricated and lifted on board.
At first, the idea was based around large scrubbers, for engines of up to 6 MW, but by scaling these down for smaller vessels it has been possible to market them as a new product line. Their development has been rapid and simple, Mr Karanen said, since an initial design team meeting in November 2017.
They are based on Wärtsilä’s own scrubbers and orders are already being signed. The first installation – which will not be on a container ship – is expected in February or March 2019, Mr Karanen said.
Installation work would typically be done in two ports, with a third port call used to carry out the underwater work to complete the job. That aspect of the installation might include creating an additional sea chest because of the volume of water needed for the scrubber, which could be done by specialist underwater contractors such as Trident, which Wärtsilä acquired in January 2018.
Trident offers a wide range of underwater repair and maintenance work of the type that will be vital for these modular installations, Mr Karanen said, but its purchase was not related to the company’s plans to offer modular scrubber installations, he added.
Once orders grow in number, the regular routes followed by container ships will be a benefit to their installation, Mr Häkkinen said. Some locations might be identified as being specialised in particular tasks – such as the underwater work, or installing the dampers or the modules – which would make it possible to establish an assembly line approach to installations on successive ships.
Asian ports are the most likely locations where the work will be done, because of container trade routes, but “we can do it wherever we have a crane and divers, pipe fitters and electricians,” Mr Karanen said.
Portable power plant cuts port emissions
A portable generator unit fuelled by LNG has been tested in the port of Hamburg since the beginning of 2018. It makes it possible for large and very large container ships to stop their auxiliary diesel engines while they are alongside and take power from the containerised unit instead.
It consists of two 40-ft units, one containing a 1.5-MW generator plant while the other is a tank container of LNG that can fuel the generator for up to 30 hours. They are locked together and lowered into a ship’s container bays by a shoreside gantry crane. Once in place, the generator is connected to the ship’s power system and can supply the electricity needed for onboard operations while the ship is docked.
It has been developed by Becker Marine Systems and its subsidiary Hybrid Port Energy and has been dubbed the Becker LNG PowerPac. Those companies have partnered with Hapag-Lloyd and the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) – Hamburg port’s largest terminal operator – to test a prototype at HHLA’s Container Terminal Burchardkai.
In a statement issued in mid-August about the trials, HHLA said the unit had been used successfully many times with Hapag-Lloyd’s 20,000-TEU container ships. “Together with Hapag-Lloyd, HHLA is using the project to intensify its efforts to keep Hamburg’s air clean,” the statement said.
It quoted Becker Marine Systems managing director Dirk Lehmann, who said the pilot phase had been a complete success and described the Becker LNG PowerPac as “a straightforward solution for the reduction of harmful emissions in the port.” He is confident the system has an international market and reported conversations “with a variety of European and Chinese ports.”
Hapag-Lloyd executive board member for shipping Anthony Firmin was enthusiastic about the tests. “Shoreside power is an important component in our extensive efforts to make our business even more sustainable,” he said.
These tests mark the latest stage in the project, which began in early 2016. HHLA has been an expert partner and handling service provider for the project and it defined the technical and process-related requirements for both shipside and shoreside handling of the PowerPac. HHLA executive board member Jens Hansen said that, as a result of the tests, “PowerPac handling might well be integrated into our terminal processes.”
That would be welcomed by Hamburg’s senator for economic affairs, Frank Horch, who said using PowerPacs would make “a valuable contribution toward reducing harmful emissions in Hamburg”.
Its development was supported by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, which awarded a seven-figure-euro sum to the project as part of the government’s mobility and fuel strategy. Parliamentary state secretary for the federal minister of transport and digital infrastructure Enak Ferlemann said that air pollution control, especially in ports in densely populated areas, “is very important”.
• Watch a video of the PowerPac being loaded onto a ship..
Optimising cargo improves efficiency and cuts emissions
Emissions can be reduced simply by loading a container ship more effectively, believes the cargo technology specialist MacGregor. This makes it possible for ships to load more boxes and improve their emissions per TEU, the company said.
To achieve this, it offers its Cargo Boost service to help owners optimise their ships and Hapag-Lloyd’s seven C-class container vessels, each with a capacity of 9,300 TEU, have benefited from the service this year. They were brought into the fleet in 2014 when Chilean shipping company CSAV merged its container activities with Hapag-Lloyd.
MacGregor summarised the service by saying it will “rethink the cargo system so that it can be used to its maximum capacity on specific routes.” For example, since 2013, lashing rules include route-specific lashing, allowing ship operators to carry heavier containers higher in the stack than was previously possible when operating in calmer waters.
This provides a greater number of stowage options than might have been covered in a ship’s original cargo securing manual, the company suggests. There may also be engineering-based modifications that can be made to increase stack weight.
So it reviews those manuals, along with other aspects of the cargo handling system to look for opportunities to increase stack weights, revise lashing arrangements and lashing bridges and introduce mixed stowage arrangements.
For the Hapag-Lloyd project, the two companies “worked closely to identify the optimum solution for each cargo system and its implementation process,” said MacGregor senior vice president, cargo handling, Magnus Sjöberg in a statement. Their goal was to improve cargo system flexibility to allow for higher stack weights for 40-ft containers, which was a sector that had been identified as holding some revenue potential.
Work involved upgrading hardware, updating relevant documentation and co-ordinating loading computer revisions. All seven ships were upgraded between February and May 2018.
Speaking after the first three ships had been completed, Hapag-Lloyd director of technical fleet management Lutz-Michael Dyck said the work had to be done to a tight schedule because the ships could not be taken out of service for any length of time.