Merchant shipping

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Who here is interested in commercial shipping and maritime technology?

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I'm hugely interested in modern commercial shipping, especially operations associated with offshore oil/gas fields and container carriers, some serious marine engineering and naval architectural innovation and excellence there.

I am, but being quite the amateur have nothing to contribute myself :(

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14 years 7 months

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Unfortunately the world of commercial shipping seems overlooked by many and good books, magazines and info outside of specialised and expensive industrial and educational resources is thin on the ground :(

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Interested here. I work at a logistics company shuffling containers from europe to the US and Asia. But I do not work at a shipping company, just a company that buys containerspace from the shipper. So I do not have a lot of "inside information" or something.

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So many of what I'm sure most of us read are about naval vessels and sadly there's a dearth of good books on merchant shipping. I highly recommend Conway's History of the Ship series, specifically the "Shipping Revolution" as a good primer:

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0785812717.01._SS500_SCLZZZZZZZ_V1056487659_.jpg

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Gothenburg floating dock

This is the view I get about 100 yards away from my apartment . . .

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"The Shipping Revolution" in Conways history of the ship is a brilliant book, I fully agree with Route Pack 6 on his recommendation. In fact, the complete set of Conways history of the ship is a good investment for any ship enthusiast, a great set of books, it has a nice balance between good, hard information and analysis with easy accessibility.
Another of my favourite books is "Diesel Engined Ships and Machinery" by Christen Knak, pretty specialised and expensive but a brilliant book on the marine engineering of modern merchant vessels.
Another good publication is the Institute of Naval Architects significant ships annual.

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It's really too bad that merchant shipping isn't as well covered in the literature as naval warfare. There are so many more advances in merchant shipping that in many ways those ships are more technologically advanced and efficient than warships.

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It's really too bad that merchant shipping isn't as well covered in the literature as naval warfare. There are so many more advances in merchant shipping that in many ways those ships are more technologically advanced and efficient than warships.

Absolutely right, take the weapons and sensors out and for the last couple of decades it has been commercial shipping that has been pushing advances in marine engineering and naval architecture. A lot of it is driven by lean manning requirements (big 6000TEU box boats with a crew of 13, and some are pushing it lower still, the Ditlev Lauritzen, a huge pure reefer built in the early 90's was designed for a crew of 8) and partly the margins on shipping are so tight that a marginal increase in fuel efficiency from improved hull, propellor or machinery design is a big deal. Things like UMS, electronic charts, ARPA, integrated bridge suites, centralised automatic control of the power plant, dynamic positioning, waste heat recovery etc. have been used in commercial vessels for a long time before warships adopted them, and if you look on the bridge or in the engine room of a modern warship an awful lot of the actual ships (as opposed to fighting) equipment is lifted straight from standard commercial packages.

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Route pack,
There is a good reason to keep things silent on Merchant shipping and the companies (probably among the strongest financial and political companies in the world) are not really ready to open up things. They like to keep things as tight as possible as the market in shipping is pretty hard. If some company sees a commercial/technological "hole", they will try to fill it and avoid anyone else to benefit from their technology/ideas.

I'm interested too Turbinia ;) What do you want to know about the container vessels?
Here are some of my pictures onboard the MSC Lucy, 324m long, speed of 27kts with a 90,000hp engine, can take around 8,800TEU, although as you know they never really take that amount.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v609/Severodvinsk/MSCLucy2.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v609/Severodvinsk/MSCLucy.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v609/Severodvinsk/DeckLucy.jpg
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v609/Severodvinsk/Lashing.jpg
As you can see only the three lowest containers are secured to the deck with rods, everything above it is only attached to the container below and next to it. Not really safe. You can imagine what the result is when they stack them 8 high on the deck in bad weather... They run away easily :D

The muscle to move this thing:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v609/Severodvinsk/Lucyengine.jpg
And the CO2 room, all hatches are pretty well protected by this system with its sensors and gas, over 500 bottles:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v609/Severodvinsk/CO2chamber.jpg

Sailing them is NO fun at all. On navigation, they are too fast, you have to overtake all the others and that's pretty annoying (although it does give some action in your watch), they also became pretty large and hence overtaking is not an easy job when you're in Singapore Strait or other narrow passages.
The view is also very limited and manoeuvring such vessels on your own is out of the question, you always need a pilot, also because those ships have to be put very correctly in place in comparison to the cranes (can't use automatic mooring winches either as the ship will start to run around the quay and hence will again lose the correct position).

In the old days calculations on stability etc. were done onboard. Nowadays that became impossible. The main concerns of loading these beasts are:

a) stability
b) dangerous goods (separation/stowage)
c) easy acces, what has to go out first has to get in last

With 20 or 30 containers it's still possible, but not with 3,000!

Add to it that most of these big ships have a bunch of slots for refrigerated containers (also called reefers, taken from the old designation "reefer" as a refrigerated fruit carrier), and hence have to be taken in account too.
Another annoying point is that you hardly have a clue of what's onboard. Some guys succeed in putting a bulldozer or steel coils in containers without lashing it correctly. It's inside the container, so lashing isn't really your concern. Of course when the ship gets into bad weather these goods start moving and often just bang through the container side resulting in dangerous situations.

All in all it's a very high tech (and predominately fast and stressful) business and they have to send everything around. If a ship calls in on Shangai and afterwards heads to Rotterdam, they have to send the loading arrangement and requirements from Shangai to Rotterdam. Then they can see in Rotterdam which containers have to get moved and where they have to position the cranes to do this in the most efficient way. (this is also counts for short trades in which the ships are sometimes only hours away when the loading arrangement arrives, so they have to hurry to get everything fixed when the ship arrives)
The small straddle carriers ("elephants") are all guided by satellite and when they receive a container from the big crane, they know exactly where to move it on the terminal.

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Nice pics! I hear what you're saying about box boats, I used to chat with guys managing big box boats in head office and they always seemed very pressured people, all work and no fun, and that's just the superintendents :) The margins are so low that anything that makes a difference to operating costs is a big big deal, even though the box boat fleet was huge (I guess you know how big Maersk-Sealand is) in many years our little handful of jack ups, semi-sub drilling rigs and FPSO's was actually returning a significantly higher profit. Mind you, the engines on those things are impressive, I saw them lifting one of the engines for a big 6,600TEU boat into position in Odense once and it was VERY impressive, those things are real engines. I spent a lot of time of supply boats and AHTSS type vessels as a passenger going out to the fields and I always found those very impressive, small maybe but with some serious tech and I found the manouvering and DP systems very interesting.

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Here are some of my pictures onboard the MSC Lucy, 324m long, speed of 27kts with a 90,000hp engine, can take around 8,800TEU, although as you know they never really take that amount.

How big is the crew?

I also wonder about the operating economics of a 25-27kt ship compared to a 22-23kt ship? Does the timesensitive nature of the cargo offset the additional fuel consumption?

Then there is the big question for a naval aviation board:

How would one compare the acquisition and operating costs of an aircraft carrier converted from a 27kt container liner with the purpose designed 25kt CV-F?

Profile picture for user tenthije

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the MSC Lucy, [...] can take around 8,800TEU, although as you know they never really take that amount.
I'll remind the carrier of that when they refuse my containers again. :D

As you can see only the three lowest containers are secured to the deck with rods, everything above it is only attached to the container below and next to it. Not really safe. You can imagine what the result is when they stack them 8 high on the deck in bad weather... They run away easily :D
Well that is nice... I think I will NOT be saying that to my manager. He has enough stress as it is. :D :D

The muscle to move this thing:
Very nice!

Another annoying point is that you hardly have a clue of what's onboard. Some guys succeed in putting a bulldozer or steel coils in containers without lashing it correctly. It's inside the container, so lashing isn't really your concern. Of course when the ship gets into bad weather these goods start moving and often just bang through the container side resulting in dangerous situations.
I would like to point out I am innocent here. Only pallets and cartons in my containers. My collegue on the other hand.... He packs complete car production lines into containers. Only leaving the personnel behind. :D ;)
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TinWing,
officially she doesn't make 27kts. Only 25, but with current etc. in the Channel you can make 27. Same applies for any ship, including carriers and others, if the current and wind are with you or against you, it can make quite a difference in speed.
Fuel consumption often depends on what type of engines they use. When you have a 25-27kt ship, they sometimes use two engines, more reliable, as it can still reach 75-80% of its normal speed on one engine, but of course using two of them also causes a large increase in consumption.
A ship like this one can save a few days by sailing at such a high speed over a normal 23kt one. A few days is quite something in shipping business.
As for the carrier, it has been thought about for several times. Depends on what you need I guess. It won't replace a CVF, but it could however replace an Invincible with ease.

Crew is always dependant on what your company wants to spend. A vessel has a minimum crew requirement, including the educational (read: papers) they need for a certain voyage. Mostly ships of this size have a crew of about 25, but they often have space for over 30.

Tenthije, innocent yes of course, we all are innocent :D. Oh so the guys in the containers aren't the production guys??? Good to remember that next time when I find them.

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Neptune,
Thanks for the insights, do the twin screw big box boats use clutches or CPP to enable them to use one engine and run at high speed? I know CPP fitted vessels can do this easily, but I was involved with some large twin screw vessels using direct drive fixed pitch props and if they lost one engine their speed was not much about harbour manouvering speed due to the damage it'd do to the non operational engine and the drag effect of the prop not in use. They had no clutches between engine and shaft so they could not disengage the engines from the props even if they were not running.

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I don't really remember but I think it were clutches. Lucy has a single engine as the engines have gotten more powerful and new technologies allow for the creation of larger propellors. So the twin engine ones are generally older boats (MSC Sonia is one of them). It's mainly an idea taken from cruise liners where it is also important not to lose too much time with of course the difference that noise isn't a concern on merchant ships and hence the larger propellors and more reliable larger engines, when they became available, were adopted directly in the merchant. Lucy had an approx 10m diameter propellor. And of course the big engines with a single prop are direct drive ones.

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Yes, as a rule the larger the diameter and slower the rotational speed of a prop the more efficient it is, so ships go for large diameter slow turning props where possible. The other factor is that single screw stern designs tend to be more efficient which is a major factor, stern design is just as vital for hull efficiency as bow design. They must have been big clutches :)

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Indeed stern is often equally slim as the bow, something a lot of people don't know.

Here's a nice piece to show how much they are ahead of naval ships in terms of technology:

Steady as she goes for Evergreen
Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ever Steady, the latest in a series of ten 7,024 TEU S-type vessels being built for Evergreen in Japan, has taken to the water for the first time. It was launched at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ Kobe shipyard on August 22 at a ceremony hosted by Vice Group Chairman of Evergreen Group and Chairman of Evergreen Marine Corp, Chang Kuo-Cheng (K C Chang), and is due for delivery in December 2006, scheduled to enter service on the HTW service linking Southern China, Hong Kong and Taiwan with the West Coast of North America.
Ever Steady is the sixth vessel in this series. Four have already entered service with the Evergreen Group’s UK affiliate Hatsu Marine Ltd and the fifth, Ever Superb, is due for delivery at the end of this month.

The Evergreen Group is in the midst of taking delivery of 18 large post-Panamax containerships, the first of which was delivered in 2005. Eight 8,063 TEU C-types are already in service and the S-type series will complete in 2008.

The new S-type vessels are particularly noteworthy in that they incorporate many new environmental features that go well beyond the requirements of new and soon-to-be-introduced international requirements. They incorporate a double-skinned hull and all fuel tanks have been located within the transverse bulkhead spaces, thus minimising the risk of oil pollution or fire as a result of grounding or collision. A high capacity oily water separator enables the oil content of waste water to be reduced below 15 ppm while much larger separator bilge oil and bilge oil holding tanks provide more storage capacity than normal, enabling the vessels to avoid any discharge when sailing in sensitive areas and to maximise the amount of waste that can be held for ultimate disposal in specialised shore facilities.

Similar arrangements have been made for handling sewage and so-called grey water, including water from the cargo hold bilges, when the vessels are in port or close to shore.

The main engines and generators incorporate low NOx technology while the ships are also able to switch to low sulphur fuels when sailing in restricted areas such as the Baltic Sea.

‘Cold-ironing’, the ability to shut down all shipboard generators while in port, switching to shore-based electricity supplies, is also a feature of the S-class vessels. So far, only the Port of Los Angeles has initiated an Alternative Maritime Power (AMP) programme that requires ships to shut down their diesel generators while in port but Evergreen expects many more ports to follow LA’s lead. The Group estimates that the cost of meeting AMP requirements amounts to approximately $2m per vessel.

The latest tin-free anti-fouling systems are also being used for the underwater hull coatings of the S-types and are being applied to other vessels in the Evergreen fleet when they undergo routine drydockings. These new coatings are replacing systems that, although highly efficient and widely used globally, were found to have a negative impact on marine life.

Evergreen chose to class those S-class vessels allocated to Hatsu with Lloyd’s Register (LR) while those for operation by Evergreen Marine Corporation will be classed with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). It has obtained LR’s EP (environment protection) notation for the Hatsu ships and the equivalent ABS ES (environment safety) notation for the EIS vessels.

With an overall length of 300 m and a beam of 42.8 m, the S-class vessels are able to carry containers 17 rows across on deck and 15 rows across below deck. They have a deadweight of 78,700 tons on a service draft of 14.2 m. Each vessel has a single 10-cylinder Mitsubishi Sulzer 10RTA96C main engine developing 74,700bhp (54,900KW) to provide for a service speed of 25.3 knots.

The carriage of temperature-controlled containers, an increasingly important revenue source, is made possible with the provision of 839 reefer plugs

As for the clutch, indeed, pretty big, I remember their engine room was HUGE, nowadays such a construction would be herecy! They keep the engine room as tight as possible to take more containers. MSC Sonia was 261m long (beam 32.3m) and could only carry approx 1,800 TEU, something rediculous compared to current ships of that size. (for comparison APL Panama, same length approx 4,000TEU)

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Stern design is critical, and often you find a lot more effort put into improving the stern and propellor design than any other part of the hull, with things like asymetric stern design, grim vane props and stuff sometimes used. Space is money as you say, so are people, a lot of money goes into automated systems, although there is some debate over the long term cost/benefits of minimum crewing vs. higher crewing with increased continuous maintenance onboard. I think bigger ships try as far as possible to go with direct drive shaft systems, although in muti-screw ships or where manouvering is important you tend to see geared systems with clutches and CPP.
Interesting Evergreens new boats will run on shore power in port. I think the environmental lobby is catching up with shipping, the new Marpol annex on exhaust discharge and NOx limits is something industry on land has lived with for many years, actually far more stringent requirements than Marpols exhaust requirements.

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Hello Turbinia,
Here is something very interesting, the latest new big container vessel. As expected the container vessels are now growing larger than the tankers (in length, not in beam, depth and displacement).
The biggest one around now, 11,000 TEU Emma Maersk:

Emma Maersk, the world's largest container vessel will call Aarhus, Denmark, on Friday 25 August 2006 at 6 am.
Due to a draft of 16 m, the ship is too large to be located at Multiterminalenand will instead be located for fitting at the
new quay in extension of Containerterminal East. This is where the remaining tests and final preparations will take
place before the ship is expected to enter Maersk Line service from 7 September 2006.
It will not be possible for the public to go onboard the vessel during her stay in Aarhus and the quay area will be
sealed-off. Maersk has now issued a few more details on the ship:
Emma Maersk is a very large container ship built by Odense Steel Shipyard Ltd. for the A.P. Moller-- Maersk Group.
The ship has a capacity of about 11,000 twenty foot containers.
The main particulars are as follows: Length o.a. 397 m , Beam 56 m , Depth 30 m, Draft 16m

M/S Emma Maersk has been built applying the newest technology in design and equipment. The propulsion
machinery is a 14-cylinder Wartsila diesel engine from Doosan Engine Co. developing 110,000 BHP or 80,000 kW at
102 revolutions per minute.
To augment speed the propeller drive shaft is fitted with two electric motors. Five diesel generators with a combined
power of 20,700 kW and one combined gas/steam turbine generator of 8,500 kW driven by the main engine exhaust
are installed. A waste heat recovery system is installed to optimise the use of the energy produced.
The bunker fuel tanks are placed away from the outer part of the hull.
In the engine room and cargo holds 8,000 data signals are continuously monitored by an advanced, integrated
computer system. This ensures optimal operating conditions automatically giving guidance to ensure a well functioning
operation of the vessel.
The center for the integrated computer system is the engine control room. The system can also be remote-controlled
from the navigating bridge and from the cargo control room.
M/S Emma Maersk can carry 1,000 forty foot reefer containers. Quick and safe lashing of the containers on deck is
made possible through the yard patented lashing bridge.
The life-saving equipment consists of two 38 persons' lifeboats, six life rafts and one man-over-board boat.
Two bow and two stern thrusters, each with of 25 tons transverse thrust, are fitted to facilitate easy maneuvering in
port. Rolling in adverse weather conditions is reduced by two pairs of active stabilizer fins, thus adding an extra
dimension to cargo protection.
The latest radio, telex, telefax, and satellite telephone systems ensure efficient communication to the world.
An air conditioning system gives comfortable indoor temperatures regardless of outside weather. Combined with a low
level of noise and vibrations this ensures ideal conditions for both work and leisure.
M/S Emma Maersk is a rational and highly automated ship thoroughly monitored by advanced computer systems.
The ship can therefore be operated by a crew of 13 persons only.
Accommodations are arranged for 30 persons. M/S Emma Maersk is designed and built to meet the highest
demands for safe, precise, environmentally friendly and economic transportation of goods all over the world.

Only 13 persons as minimum crew, quite automated I guess... This is of course the minimum requirement. As I have mentioned before, mostly they have accomodation for more persons.

Here is something generally interesting:

Vinashin on Brisk Demand
Reports said that Viet Nam Industrial Shipbuilding Corporation (Vinashin) Expects to earn $500m from shipbuilding
contracts through next year, the Ministry of Trade reported. Export turnover from the shipbuilding industry stood at
$200 million last year. Vinashin has finished negotiating shipbuilding contracts with foreign buyers that would generate an estimated $1.5b in revenue through 2009. Vinashin estimates that with an investment of $3b over the next 10
years, it would reach a productivity of $3b per year. The corporation was currently implementing large shipyard
projects approved by the Government. The Ministry of Trade concurred that, by 2010, the domestic shipbuilding
industry could earn $1.7 billion from building and exporting ships.
Vinashin has beat out rivals in Asia, including from Japan, to win contracts. In 2004, Vinashin penetrated the European
market by signing contracts with the UK’s Graig which ordered cargo ships of 53,000 DWT. Last year, the corporation
got important orders including a contract to build a container ship with a capacity of 700 TEU for Germany’s MPC
Marine. The Singapore Business Times stated that Viet Nam was endeavoring to join the world’s leading shipbuilders
and that Vinashin was a comer in the industry. Despite a relative lack of experience, the newspaper said, the
corporation has two great advantages: low labour costs and quick delivery.
Vinashin is now building shipyards with a capacity to build ships of up to 100,000 DWT. The corporation has signed cooperative
agreements with foreign shipbuilding companies to provide and support hydraulic engines and high-capacity
diesel engines. Vinashin has established a joint venture with South Korea to build Hyundai-Vinashin, the largest
regional shipyard, capable of repairing ships of up to 100,000 DWT.
Vinashin said that the world shipbuilding industry was booming due to three factors. First, strict environmental
protection requirements of the International Maritime Organisation required countries to minimise the use of single-hull
oil tankers. As a result, many clients have sought to build new large ships before the regulation takes effect.
Second, China’s heated economic development and brisk maritime trading between Asian countries and the US have
spurred demand for ever-larger vessels capable of carrying 10,000 containers. Third, the thirst for oil and liquefied
natural gas (LNG) in such countries as China and India have driven up demand.

Vietnam rising! But the last general comment with the three points is very interesting.
Those stupid exhaust requirements are going to cost the landlubbers money. All extra costs for the environmental measures will be paid by the companies who want to transport their goods and all together they will just pass on the payment to their customers.

And finally the battle has begun:

Hanjin orders five 10,000 TEU containerships
Hanjin Shipping has become the first Korean carrier to place an order of five 10,000 TEU containerships.
At ceremonies in Seoul today Hanjin Shipping President & CEO Jung-won Park and Samsung Heavy Industries CEO
Jing-wan Kim signed the contract for the ships.
The five vessels ordered are scheduled for successive deployment from February of 2010 on Hanjin's trans-Pacific
trade and expected to provide better customer service and rationalize the company's fleet operation.
The order is in line with Hanjin's mid-to-long-term strategy to lead a global shipping market increasingly dominated by
large vessels.
A total of eight owned 6,500TEU vessels were ordered in 2003 through 2004 and started to be deployed on the Asia-
Europe trade from the second half of 2006. And large 8,000TEU containerships began to be deployed successively on
the trans-Pacific trade from the second half of 2005.
Currently operating 80 containerships on 60 lanes worldwide, Hanjin Shipping has and will continue to expand and
rationalize its fleet and strengthen ties with the CKYH Alliance. Furthermore, the Korea's largest ocean carrier will
remain committed to change and innovation as it struggles to become "the premier total logistics company most
trusted by customers worldwide."
The 349 m x 45.6 m 117,000 DWT ships will each have a container capacity of 9,954TEU, an engine output of 93,000
bhp and an operational speed of 25.7 knots