Höegh Signs LOI for Ammonia-Ready Car Carriers

largest car carriers yet built, ammonia ready capability
Höegh is moving forward with plans for the largest car carriers yet built (Höegh)

Published Oct 1, 2021 5:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Höegh Autoliners, one of the largest providers of RoRo transportation services, took another step forward on its plan to introduce an innovative class of new car carriers. The vessels, which would be the largest car carriers yet built are also being promoted as the “most environmentally friendly car carrier ever built.”

The company has entered into a Letter of Intent (LoI) with China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd. (CMHI) to build a series of its multi-fuel and ammonia ready Aurora class vessels. Under the terms of the agreement, the first two vessels, each designed to carry up to 9,100 cars will be delivered already in the second half of 2024.

“We are excited to have secured delivery of the first Aurora class vessel by 2024,” said Andreas Enger, Höegh Autoliners CEO. “It will be the first ammonia-ready vessel in its segment and the largest car carrier ever built. The Aurora class will bring cargo efficiency to a new level and put us in the forefront of sustainable shipping.”

Höegh announced plans for the new Aurora class in the spring of 2021 saying it was working with long-term partner Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry and hoped to launch the class by the end of 2023. The company has said that its plans call for up to 12 Aurora class vessels.

Recently, the car carrier segment has been moving forward aggressively with the adoption of LNG for its propulsion. The leading Japanese car carrier operators have each announced plans to launch new classes of PCTCs. NYK, for example, announced in June that it was ordering 12 LNG-fueled vessels each capable of transporting approximately 7,000 vehicles. K-Line also recently announced the order of eight LNG-fueled vessels carrying about 7,000 units.

The Aurora class became the first in the category to receive an ammonia ready notation from DNV. According to Höegh, the Aurora Class’ multi-fuel engine can run on various biofuel and conventional fuels, including LNG. With minor modifications it can transition to use future zero-carbon fuels, including green ammonia. Since 2008, Höegh Autoliners reports it has achieved a reduced carbon intensity of 37 percent across its fleet and the company’s ambition is to reach a net-zero emissions target by 2040.

The new class of vessel the company said is designed to transport the cargo of the future. Its strengthened decks and enhanced internal ramp systems, enable Electric Vehicles on all decks and provides more flexibility for heavier project cargo.

China Merchant Industry has been expanding its shipbuilding business over the past two years and now reports that it is the largest PCTC builder and the fourth largest shipbuilding group in China. China Merchant Industry owns Deltamarin, which has been tasked by Höegh Autoliners to design the new Aurora Class.