Development of shipbuilding technologies is obedient to commercial interests of the shipping industry. Bigger and more capacious vessels are constructed year after year; and every seafarer would like to get a job at sea on a new and famous vessel, or at least look through the largest ships in the world to see how engineers tame giant sizes and ensure their vessels are fast, economical and green.
The World’s Largest Container Ship Delivered
On Monday, the 19th of August 2019 the largest container vessel in the world, MSC Gülsün, has completed her maiden voyage from the northern China to Bremerhaven. The length of the new sea giant is 400 meters (1309 feet); the beam is 60 meters (197 feet). The deck space equals 4 soccer pitches put together and is bigger than the Empire State Building.
MSC Gülsün can carry 23 756 TEUs; which sets the new record. The vessel’s owner, MSC Mediterranean Shipping, claims that the one will need 1 358 Boeing 747 Airplanes or 14 000 heavy trucks to transport the same amount of cargo.
The vessel is a technical masterpiece as well. She has had a Hybrid Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS) installed to reduce CO2 emissions and has an option to switch to low-Sulphur or LNG fuel in order to comply with 2020 IMO Regulations. She has also been supplied with Samsung’s latest know-how, the Svessel system. This is a smart ship technology which analyses all navigational data to suggest the most appropriate sea route.
The giant containership has become the first in a class of 10 ultra-large container vessels (ULCVs) to be delivered to MSC. They will be built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea.
The Symphony of the Seas: the Largest Cruise Liner in the World today
As of 2019, the largest cruise ship in the world is the Symphony of the Seas owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International. Her construction was completed in the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France in March 2018; and she costs US $1.35 billion.
MV Symphony of the Seas is a truly amazing vessel. She measures 361 meters (1,184 ft) in length, 66 meters (217 ft) in beam, 72,5 meters in height (238 ft) and her DWT is 18 095 tonnes. There are 18 decks accommodating 6 680 passengers and 2200 crew members.
Being so huge, the liner has received an impressive propulsion system: 6 Wärtsilä engines (total power 45 000 hp) which have been installed by three in 2 separate engine rooms making the Symphony absolutely redundant and reliable. The azipod thrusters were supplied by ABB (3 × 20 MW (27,000 hp); while bow thrusters are made by Wärtsilä as well (4 × 5.5 MW (7,400 hp)). The latter also provided their NACOS Platinum navigation and DP system for the Bridge. Also, the cruise liner has had scrubbers inserted in order to meet the new SOx emission regulations.
As for the tourists’ attractions, the Symphony of the Seas has a lot of wonders in store. For instance, there is a real Central Park with live plants, alleys and cafés; an enormous 10-storey slide called an “Abyss”, a surf-simulator, an indoor ice skating rink and so on.
The Symphony made her maiden voyage in Mediterranean; and then sailed to Miami. Now her route also includes Western Caribbean, Mexico, Honduras and Bahamas.
The Fantastic Four: the Largest Oil Tankers in Operation
There will be a break in technological chest-thumping in this paragraph since the largest oil tankers now in operation have been constructed in distant 2001 – 03. However, the size of TI class supertankers still impresses. They are 380 meters (1 247 ft) long, 68 meters (223 ft) in beam; have a draught of 24,52 m (80,46 ft) and DWT 441 585 tons, so can carry 3 166 353 barrels of crude oil.
The name ‘TI class’ refers to VLCC Tanker Pool Operator ‘Tanker International LLC’. It includes four supertankers: TI Africa, TI Asia, TI Europe and TI Oceania. They were originally constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) for Hellespon shipping company. However, two vessels were sold to Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) just a year after the delivery; and another two tankers followed shortly after them.
In 2010, TI Africa and TI Asia were converted into FSOs (Floating Storage and Offloading Unit) and were stationed in the Persian Gulf. TI Europe and TI Oceania are still in operation as ULCC.
China is building the Largest LNG Carrier
Instead, efforts of shipbuilding engineers have been focused on constructing more capacious and efficient LNG carriers. We have described various Gas Containment Systems and best representatives of each class in our Tanker article, but China and Norway have recently signed an agreement to build the largest LNG Carrier ever existed.
DNV GL is responsible for the future giant’s project development while Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of China State Shipbuilding Corporation, will construct the vessel. The details have not been disclosed yet, but the new LNG carrier is expected to carry 270 000 m3 (9 534 960 cu ft) of gas. She will surpass the record set by Q-MAX LNG Carrier Mozah operated by Qatargas II. M/V Mozah (built 2008) is 345 meters (1132 ft) long, 53 m (184 ft) wide and can carry 266 000 m3 (9 393 701 cu ft) of LNG.
China’s interest in LNG tanker shipbuilding is understandable, though. Its import of natural gas has been growing dramatically. There was an increase of 42% in 2018; and Shanghai alone imported 600 million cubic meters of Liquefied Natural Gas in January 2019. Taking into account the state ‘protecting blue sky’ campaign, experts predict Chinese LNG import to exceed 100 million tons by 2030. In this light, we might witness the center of LNG shipbuilding moving from South Korea to China in the nearest future.
Valemax Bulk Carriers – on the Frontline of Competitive Struggle
The largest bulk carriers in the world today prove to be the Second-generation ore carriers built for the Brazilian mining company Vale S.A. The class has subsequently received the name Valemax; while vessels represent the balance between technical ingenuity and economical efficiency. There are 26 bulkers in service; delivered by Chinese shipyards starting from 2018; and 7 more VLOC (Very Large Ore Carriers) are currently under construction.
The 2nd-generation Valemax bulkers measure 362 m (1188 ft) in length which is 40 meters (131 ft) bigger than the Eiffel Tower. They are also 65-meters (213 ft) wide that is the standard width of a soccer pitch. But most importantly, they can carry 400 000 tons of iron ore with an average speed of 15 knots making a journey from Brazil to China (the largest importer in the world) in 45 days.
Development of bulk carriers is of paramount importance for Vale since Brazil competes in the Asian ore supplies market with Australia. Meanwhile, it takes 15 days only for Australian vessels to cover the distance from the mines to Chinese ports, so Valemax bulk carriers have to come up with some advantages to counterbalance chances in this competitive struggle. For instance:
- VLOC can transport more cargo per one trip;
- 16 000 tons of ore are loaded per hour;
- Offer competitive freight rates;
- Valemaxes are designed to sail for 30 years;
- VLOC have received Green Seal for releasing 35% less CO2 compared to standard Capesize Bulk Carrier.