Panamax containerships are difficult to employ in today’s competitive market.
To ensure and extend the profitable operation of these ships, Reederei NSB developed a concept to widen a containership rather than lengthen it. Widening, the first of its kind worldwide, increases the teu capacity by more than 20%, and the resulting IMO Energy Efficiency Design Index will equal that of a newbuilding. The ship can carry more cargo and has greater stability while operating costs remain the same.
MSC Geneva was the first of three ships that have been selected for widening at the HRDD shipyard in China. On 20 April, the ship was floated out and hauled to the shipyard’s fitting-out berth for the remaining work.
Reederei NSB says widening offers shipping companies and investors more options. “Apart from converting ships of existing fleets, purchasing a used ship and having it widened is less costly than ordering a new one.”
Depending on the original vessel, two to four rows of containers can be added. MSC Geneva’s capacity has been increased from 4,860 teu to more than 6,300 teu.
Apart from the technical expertise and planning, REEDEREI NSB offers support in managing a widening project for other owners.
Reederei NSB first had the idea to widen Panamax containerships in the summer of 2013. Together with the engineering office, Technolog, the then-CTO Lutz Müller, CEO Helmut Ponath, and senior executive advisor Bozidar Petrovic analysed the idea’s feasibility from a technical and economic perspective. “We all quickly realised that what we had there was a one-of-a-kind concept,” Müller said. “A central element of our innovation is that we cut the ship in low-use areas. The widening significantly increases both the load-carrying capacity and the transverse stability. In addition, sustainability – an aspect that is getting evermore important in shipping – is increased too. Carbon emissions per ton of cargo will be substantially reduced. Moreover, converting a ship instead of scrapping it will be less harmful to the environment than building a new ship.”
The conversion of the first ship took about four months. The experience and know-how gained should help decrease the time for subsequent ship-widening efforts. After MSC Geneva, the HRDD shipyard will start working on Buxhai and MSC Carouge. “Candidates for the widening are Panamax ships delivered after 2005. We believe that the market potential is big. The enquiries we received in the past months indicate the special know-how we have acquired is very much in demand,” said Petrovic, who heads and supports the first widening project at HRDD.