GL Container Ship Forum: From Stowage to Steel and Everything in Between

By MarEx 2013-03-07 09:59:00

A comprehensive programme awaited the
attendees at Germanischer Lloyd's (GL) latest forum in Hamburg. The Forum
looked at a broad spectrum of topics concerning container shipping
including: stowage and lashing, the potential for LNG vessels and bunkering,
trends in the liner markets, high tensile steel and thick materials for ship
building, pilotage and manoeuvring XXL container ships in the Hamburg
harbour and the advantages of having an Emergency Response Service.

Some 50 representatives from the container industry met with GL experts at
the Container Ship Forum, to hear the presentations and participate in
informal discussions. The speakers were introduced by GL's Hans-Günther
Albers, who also moderated the Forum and the discussion.

Leading off, Marcus Ihms, GL's Ship Type Expert for Container Vessels,
examined some of the new and incoming regulations impacting container
shipping. The new Annex 14 to the IMO Code of Safe Practice for Cargo
Stowage and Securing (CSS Code) will be important for newbuildings and
existing vessels, he said, and applies to ships specifically designed and
fitted for the purpose of carrying containers on deck, both containerships
and vessels with the GL class notation "equipped for carriage of
containers." The space requirements in the Annex 14 regulations for the
Design of Lashing Positions could have an impact on the length of new
container vessels, adding up to 2 metres to a typical 14,000 TEU container
vessel. GL has developed interpretations of the rules to provide clear
guidance to owners, yards and suppliers.

The Ballast Water Convention, adopted by the IMO in 2004, only requires the
ratification of countries representing 4% of global gross tonnage to enter
into force, said Mr Ihms. When that occurs, all trading vessels over 400GT
will need to comply with the regulations. This would require intensive and
detailed preparation for measures to meet the required Ballast Water
Management (BWM) performance standard ("D2"), he noted. GL's latest tool to
help prepare owners for the changes is the BWM D2 Due Date Calculator, which
enables owners to easily calculate the due date of compliance with the D2
treatment standard for any vessel. This is based on the construction date
and the size of vessel (measured by ballast water capacity) and covers both
vessels in service and newbuildings. The calculation requires only a minimal
amount of input and produces a clear illustration of a vessel's individual
timeline for compliance, suitable for fleet records. The calculator is
available online on the GL website:

Mathias Galle, GL's Deputy Chief Surveyor, looked at the experience gained
from the extended dry docking (EDD) programme, which has been running since
2010. GL was the first class society to implement EDD in their rules and
some 140 vessels were currently using the service, he said. During the EED
period class renewal could be conducted by in water survey, with dry docking
shifted to every seven and a half years over the first 15 years of a
vessel's lifecycle.

The shipping industry has faced tough economic times over the last several
years, but Jeffrey van der Gugten, from GL's Global Sales & Business
Development team, set out some grounds for guarded optimism in the container
sector. Agencies were predicting overall growth of four to six percent he
said, but as in the past this would most likely be unevenly distributed.
With intra Asian routes looking at stronger growth, while others lagged
behind. Ever larger boxships were entering the market, with new tonnage
concentrated in the 12000 TEU sector. This was pushing smaller vessels out
of the main Europe to Asia trade route, he noted, which led to a "cascade"
effect whereby displaced larger tonnage moved into smaller markets and so on
down the line. GL prepares a quarterly trend report which provides a compact
overview regarding demand & supply as well as prices and charter rates and
can be obtained by contacting GL directly.

Jan-Olaf Probst, GL's Global Ship Type Director, showed how GL would soon be
able to offer containership operators more flexibility in on-deck container
stowage - without compromising safety. Based on long-term statistical data
on wave conditions, GL has developed a new class notation for Route Specific
Container Stowage RSCS, he said, which is due for release in May. The new
scheme accounts for the fact that sea conditions vary from sea region to sea
region. The RSCS notation will take this into account. On suitable routes,
ship operators will be able to place heavier boxes on the upper tiers of
deck stacks, more units on outside stacks and even an additional tier of
empty containers where the line of sight is not affected. This could result
in as much as ten percent more cargo carried on deck, depending on vessel
size and route. As part of the route specific container stowage scheme GL
offers container lines a tailor-made stowage and loading plan for individual
vessels and routes. The new notation requires the use of lashing software.

As container vessels have steadily grown in size, so too has the use of high
tensile steel and thick materials. In his presentation, Dr Olaf Doerk, from
GL's consulting subsidiary FutureShip, assessed the effect of the upcoming
IACS unified requirements (UR) on GL's rules in this area. New URs for the
application of HT47 steel and the use of extreme thick steel plates will
come into force in January 2014. So GL, in cooperation with a steel mill and
ship yards, decided to undertake two joint development projects (JDPs), to
investigate both the fatigue strength and fracture mechanic properties of
HT47 welded joints. The JDPs examined butt welds as well as longitudinal
stiffener attachments and block joints. The extensive testing generally
confirmed GL's procedures and rules, but also gave some indications for
areas of adjustment.

Donatus Kulisch, from the Hamburg Harbour Pilots' Association
(Hafenlotsenbrüderschaft Hamburg), talked about the pilotage and manoeuvring
of container ships over 330m in Hamburg harbour. Dealing with these so
called XXL ships has required a great deal of creativity from the Hamburg
pilots, he said. Using radar images and time-lapse films, he illustrated the
innovative ways used by the pilots to bring these vessels into the terminal.
To assist the vessels and pilots, portable pilot information units have been
deployed on the vessels which aid moving these massive vessels.

Benjamin Scholz, GL's Ship Type Expert for Gas Carriers, discussed the
latest developments in LNG as ship fuel. He looked at the many LNG projects
ongoing at GL, which examine the technology's use in vessels, the regulatory
and technical requirements for safe bunkering, supply and port operations,
and the potential economic and ecological benefits of LNG as ship fuel.

Finally, Kai Ahlens Head of GL's Emergency Response Service (ERS) team gave
an overview of the work of his department. 1275 vessels are currently in the
service, 95 percent of which are GL classed. The 11 strong team was involved
in 11 incidents over 2012, he said, and had conducted some 32 exercises.
Three experts are on shift around the clock and have access to a pre-defined
calculation model of any vessel in the service. This enables the team to
give extremely reliable technical advice, as quickly as possible. Mr Ahlers
examined some of the ERS service's emergency cases of 2012 in detail, such
as the fire on the MSC Flaminia, along with several other emergency
situations the ERS team has previously handled. The ERS team has access to
all the GL class files, he said, and had a computer based contingency
planning system for discharge, on-board transfer of cargo and/or ballast.

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