Dawn of a new era – 24,000 TEU container ships

5_triple-eFormer Head of Germanischer Lloyd and one of the first in the world to predict the arrival of 18,000 TEU ships, anticipates that container ships will eventually exceed 400m in length and will go beyond 19,000 TEU. “There is no technical limitation,” said Dr. Klein . But first, the ports need to be ready to handle the next generation of container ships. Although ship designers have been talking about vessels with a capacity up to 24,000 TEU, indications are that shipping lines were not looking beyond 19,000 TEU vessels as at present.

According to Ocean Shipping Consultants (OSC), a British firm of shipping consultants, preparations for 24,000-TEU sized ships are already underway and the first could be on the building blocks as early as 2016. Ships of this capacity, which is 5,000 TEU bigger than the Triple-E class, would be 430m in length and 62m in width but with a draught not exceeding 16m. OSC says that technical feasibility studies show that at-sea costs for a 24,000 TEU vessel would be 23.1% lower than that of a 12,500 TEU vessel and 17.4% lower than that of a 16,000 TEU vessel.

As reported by Ports & Ships, the appearance of these supersized ships will herald a surge in transshipment activity, which will have a detrimental effect on port terminal operators and ports alike which would have to cope with sudden increases in container activity. This would compound onto road and rail activity as well, placing further burdens on already creaking logistical systems. According to Transnet capital projects Marc Descoins, project director for the new Durban Dig Out Port, calculations that include ships of up to 22,000-TEU capacity have been factored in.

“Ships of this capacity won’t immediately be coming to South African ports,” he told Ports & Ships this week, adding that in consultation with Drewry, Transnet was advised that eventually the Triple-E class would cascade down onto North-South routes and that it would be wise to factor these in. “Our planning includes the likelihood that eventually ships of up to 22,000-TEU can be expected, so the new port will cater for this.”

Further afield – Remote-controlled ships: Can they be the future? Visualise a cargo ship with no crew and no bridge, operated remotely by a captain from a cabin on dry land. It could happen within a decade, believes the Vice President of Innovation in Marine Engineering and Technology at Rolls-Royce Holdings LLC. The technology solutions aren’t in place yet, but all the pieces are there. It is a matter of developing the technology and putting it together into systems. Rolls-Royce has been working on designs for remote-controlled cargo vessels as a first step toward overcoming widespread industry scepticism.

The European Union is funding a $ 4.8 million research project to study the feasibility of a ship operating autonomously until it nears port and a crew is taken aboard. The project, Maritime Unmanned Navigation through Intelligence in Networks, has the acronym MUNIN. In Nordic mythology, Munin was the raven sent out daily to fly around the world to gather information or the God Odin. For now though, remote-controlled cargo ships remain for beyond the horizon, unmanned ships may be technically possible, but they don’t fit a legal and regulatory environment that’s taken centuries to develop and would take years to change. Source: Ports & Ships and the Financial Times


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