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Containerships Nord: pioneering LNG-fuelled feeder ship

Wed 29 May 2019 by Daniele Bottino, regional business development manager, ABS

<i>Containerships Nord</i>: pioneering LNG-fuelled feeder ship
The new vessel is part of an LNG-fuelled logistics chain that includes LNG-fuelled trucks

Delivered last December, Containerships Nord is among the first of a new class of LNG-fuelled feeder container ships to regularly serve northern European container ports

Built by China’s Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard, Containerships Nord is one a series of four vessels, each with an overall length of 170 m, beam of 27 m, with a capacity of 1,400 TEU, accommodating up to 639 units of 45-foot containers.

Flying the Cyprus flag, Containerships Nord is owned by Finland’s Containerships Oyj, a subsidiary of container shipping giant CMA CGM.

Containerships Nord and its three sister vessels, which will be delivered later this year, are part of a story that began in 2013, when the Finnish container ship owner decided to build the new environmentally friendly, LNG-powered vessels. At the time, LNG was a relatively new fuel source and these vessels will be the first newbuilds based on this technology to regularly serve European ports and trade.

Containerships Oyj is now investing in a logistics chain based on LNG and its clean-fuel concept covers sea and land. Its goal is to create a complete, LNG-based door-to-door supply chain in Europe.

In addition to LNG-powered vessels, the company is expanding its transport capacity for land logistics by investing in LNG-fuelled trucks. Containerships has 60 LNG trucks or LNG dual-fuel trucks in operation, with plans to grow its fleet to 200 by 2020. It is the first logistics chain entirely based on LNG power in the Baltic region.

Following the delivery of Containerships’ first three LNG-powered vessels, the company will offer its customers a service based fully on LNG-fuelled transport, with the support of CMA CGM, the first deep-sea shipping line to make a public commitment to LNG as fuel. It is building a series of nine 22,000-TEU LNG-fuelled container ships.

Containerships Oyj estimates that using LNG throughout the logistics supply chain saves up to 25% in greenhouse gas emissions over traditional multimodal transportation and up to 60% compared to traditional land transportation.

“Locating the fuel tanks and fuel gas supply systems to minimise the impact on the vessel’s cargo capacity and operations is important”

Class society ABS has been supporting the Containerships’ newbuild project. It has substantial experience in classing dual-fuelled LNG vessels and has leveraged that experience into assessing the application of LNG as fuel for mainstream cargo vessels.

For instance, the world’s first LNG-powered container ships, TOTE Maritime’s two Marlin class vessels built at General Dynamics’ NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California, were constructed to ABS class. Those 3,100-TEU boxships have been operating between Jacksonville, Florida and San Juan, Puerto Rico for almost four years.

The primary role of the ABS Global Gas Solutions team in the Containerships project is to assess whether the vessels are designed and built in accordance with its rule requirements as well as with statutory regulations.

This includes being involved in the risk assessments as required by the interim guidelines. The new feeder vessels for Containerships are designed and built in accordance with IMO resolution MSC.285(86) ‘Interim Guidelines on Safety for Natural Gas Fuelled Engine Installations in Ships’, which requires a risk assessment for each specific project.

ABS also participated in the Risk Assessments required for the LNG bunkering operation (Simultaneous Operations study SIMOPS and HAZOP for LNG bunkering process).

Making space for the tanks

Using LNG as fuel on non-gas carriers creates numerous challenges and for this series of containerships, the main ones included the location and arrangement of the LNG fuel tanks and the fuel gas supply system. Space on a small containership is at a premium so locating the fuel tanks and fuel gas supply systems to minimise the impact on the vessel’s cargo capacity and operations is important.

In this case, the vessel has been designed to transport containers holding numerous different types of cargo and the fleet will operate in the Baltic Sea, where Finnish and Swedish ice navigation guidelines are applicable.

Another challenge was that building a ship with LNG as a fuel was a new endeavour for the chosen shipyard. With interest in LNG as fuel growing, many yards have entered this sector with limited expertise in working with complex gas and cryogenic systems. For ABS, this required a more proactive approach than the typical supervisory role of class, helping the yard to understand the key design and construction challenges.

“Bunkering an LNG-fuelled vessel will be comparable to refuelling a traditional fuel-oil-burning vessel”

The vessel was designed with fuel gas handling room rather than the conventional tank connection space, with fabrication and welding completed onboard during the construction by the shipyard, under the supervision of the vendor’s service engineer.

Additional innovations on the Containerships vessels include a power-takeoff (PTO) shaft generator with a Wärtsilä controllable pitch propeller (CPP) to supply the ship’s power while the main engine is running.

The shaft generator is fitted at the output side of a low-speed WinGD dual-fuel 7RT-Flex50DF main engine, with an MCR of 10,080 kW at 124 rpm. As a result of this arrangement, the Wärtsilä PTO shaft generator can produce supplementary electrical power for onboard use whenever the main engine is driving the propulsion shafting. This minimises the use of the auxiliary engine, reducing overall fuel consumption and operating costs. Wärtsilä also supplied the six-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 20DF dual fuel four-stroke auxiliary engine.

Germany-based TGE Marine Gas Engineering GmbH supplied three vertical Type C foam-insulated gas tanks and the low-pressure fuel gas supply system for the two-stroke main engine and four-stroke dual-fuel auxiliary engine.

The hull was optimised with computational fluid dynamics and tank testing. Other energy saving measures include a Becker Marine full spade twisted rudder with a rudder bulb.

First bunkering and operations

Containerships Nord underwent its first marine LNG bunkering at the Port of Rotterdam in January 2019. Around 240 metric tonnes of marine LNG were bunkered to the vessel – an amount that can take the ship on a roundtrip from Rotterdam to St. Petersburg and back sailing through the Kiel canal twice.

This operation made Containerships the first container shipping line in Europe to perform ship-to-ship (STS) bunkering with LNG.

The first bunkering was carried out at lay berth in an STS LNG bunkering operation from Shell’s 6,500 m3 bunker vessel Cardissa; future bunkering will be carried out at a normal operational berth simultaneously with loading and discharging operations. This will mean that bunkering an LNG-fuelled vessel will be comparable to refuelling a traditional fuel-oil-burning vessel.

Bunkering procedures are based on detailed hazard identification and safety assessments. All vessel crew have undergone essential LNG bunkering-specific training, since safety is a priority throughout the bunkering operation.


CONTAINERSHIPS NORD

AT A GLANCE

Owner: Containerships Oyj

Builder: Wenchong Shipyard

Year built: 2018

Length overall: 170 m

Beam: 27 m

Capacity: 1,400 teu

Main engine: WinGD 7RT-Flex50DF

HP: 10,080 kW

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