Video: MSC Orders LNG Boxships as Newest ULCV Completes Sea Trials

MSC ultra large containership
MSC Irina, among the world's largest containerships, heading to sea for her first trials

Published Feb 17, 2023 1:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is continuing with its ship construction orders working with Chinese shipbuilders as it also prepares for the launch of its new fleet of ultra large container vessels. The company has not officially announced the start date for service on its newest class of ships, each of which will have a capacity exceeding 24,000 TEU, but several of the vessels appear ready for delivery. At the same time, MSC which has lagged behind some of its peers in the adoption of new technologies is now moving quickly ordering additional LNG-fueled vessels.

The Zhoushan Changhong International Shipyard is confirming that it received an order for 10 new LNG-fueled boxships to be operated by MSC. The yard is a joint venture in part owned by CIMC Xinde Leasing which reports the new vessels will be designed by CIMC Ocean Engineering Design and Research Institute (ORIC). The ships will have a capacity of 11,500 TEU with analysts estimating the contract value at over $1 billion.

According to Yin Xunbin, general manager of CIMC ORIC, this series of container ships has a very forward-looking technology. It not only adopts dual power propulsion for LNG but will also be an ammonia fuel ready design. CIMC said MSC placed challenging requirements for the vessels, including a larger load capacity, if part achieved by a unique double-island design, as well as a faster speed and lower fuel consumption. They are reporting the design for the 1,099-foot long vessels will incorporate shaft regenerators, shore power capabilities, energy-saving conduits, and an energy-efficient monitoring system. They will also have the largest C-type LNG tank in their class, making it possible to complete a roundtrip between China and Europe or North America without refueling. 

Model of the new LNG-fueled, ammonia-ready 11,500 TEU boxships (CIMC)


News of this order comes as the line’s new giant vessel, the MSC Irina, which is reported to be possibly the world’s largest containership, completed sea trials. Reports indicate that the vessel is 240,000 dwt with a record capacity of 24,346 TEUs. She is being built by the Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group along with a sister ship the MSC Loreto. Both vessels were floated out from the dry dock at the end of October 2022 after construction had begun in November 2021.

While the class of ultra large vessels is being built at multiple shipyards in China, they share basic dimensions of 1,312 feet in length and a 201-foot beam like all the vessels in the 24,000 TEU class. However, the different Chinese shipyards are producing slight differences in the arrangements for stacking containers causing the announced capacity to range between 24,116 TEU for the MSC Tessa building at China’s Hudong Zhonghua shipyard and the larger capacity for the two vessels built by Yangzijiang. Reports indicate that the boxes will be stacked up to 25 layers, while the cargo hold is nearly 110 feet in depth.



The Taicang Maritime Safety Administration cleared the MSC Irina, still officially known as Xinfu 102, to depart the shipyard on February 10 for up to 8-days of sea trials. She was expected to move out into the East China Sea for a series of tests and verifications of her systems, maneuverability, stability, and related performance. Under the orders of the local authority, the behemoth was required to notify other vessels in the vicinity, not undertake any tests while in the Yangtze River, and return to either the anchorage or berth as soon as possible if they encountered bad weather or poor visibility.

In addition to being the largest ships in MSC’s fleet, they will also be among the first containerships the company operates with an air lubrication system to reduce drag on the hull. MSC placed a record 30-unit order for Silverstream Technologies' air lubrication system in September 2021. The Chinese designers have also worked to optimize the shape of the hull and propellor to improve operating efficiency.

No delivery date was announced for the MSC Irina. Alphaliner had previously reported that the class would be kicked off by the MSC Tessa due to enter service this month.