Maersk’s First Large, Methanol-Fueled Containership is Floated Out
The first of Maersk’s large, ocean-going methanol-fueled containerships was floated out of the building dock over in South Korea. The carrier is hailing it as a key milestone in its plans to introduce 24 methanol-fueled containerships between 2024 and 2027.
Construction of the first of these large ships began in December 2022 at the Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea with the first steel cut. The hull was launched on October 6 and the vessel is due to enter service in early 2024.
The ship is the first of a series of 12 ships, each of which will have a capacity of 16,200 TEU. They will be 1,148 feet in length and 175 in width and Maersk previously reported they would be approximately 178,000 dwt. The original order was announced in August 2021 and valued by Hyundai at $1.4 billion and later expanded when Maersk exercised an option for four additional vessels. The first eight are each due for delivery in 2024 with the additional four scheduled for 2025.
In addition to being the first large methanol-fueled containerships, Maersk highlights that they have a unique design to enhance operating efficiency. The company said it spent nearly five years studying operations and developing the new layout. The design reportedly allows for a 20 percent improved energy efficiency per transported container when compared to the average for vessels of a similar size. The new ships also will be approximately 10 percent more efficient than Maersk’s 15,000 TEU Hong Kong class.
Among the changes is the relocation of the accommodation block to the front of the ship. The funnel is also offset to the aft port corner. According to Maersk, these elements will improve the vessel’s capacity and efficiency in the handling of containers. The vessel will use MAN dual-fuel engines and is being equipped with a 16,000 cbm tank to give it the capability of completing a roundtrip between Europe and Asia without refueling.
The design changes also created new challenges. They had to develop a new means of stiffening the hull to compensate for moving the accommodation block. They also had to change the placement of the navigational light and the arrangement for lifeboats.
The float out of this vessel comes as Maersk is completing the introductory tour of the new Laura Maersk, the first methanol-fueled containership. After being named in Copenhagen, the vessel has been doing port visits including Felixstowe in the UK before its entry into service in the Baltic this month. The smaller feeder vessel will provide Maersk and its crews with experience operating methanol-fueled containerships.
Maersk as part of its policy to only order new, owned vessels that come with a green fuel option, ordered in October 2022 a further six vessels from Hyundai with an expanded capacity of 17,000 TEU. These ships are expected to be delivered in 2025. In June 2023, Maersk also confirmed an order for six mid-sized dual-fuel methanol container vessels from China’s Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group. These vessels, which will have a capacity of 9,000 TEU, are scheduled for delivery in 2026 and 2027.
Maersk is currently rumored to be preparing another order for methanol-fueled containerships. So far, Maersk has said the vessels are all slated as replacements for existing ships as the company pursues its decarbonization transition.