Similar to container vessels, bulk carriers and cruise ships, car carriers are rapidly growing in size. A new series of the world’s largest pure car and truck carriers sets a new standard for this segment.
The final two vessels in a series of six New Horizon Class pure car and truck carriers (PCTC) were delivered on schedule at the Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry yard in September and December 2016, respectively. Ordered by Norwegian shipping company Höegh Autoliners, the New Horizon Class vessels have a carrying capacity of 8,500 units, and are able to accommodate nearly 15 per cent more cars than ships of same size and type. The 200 m long and 36.5 m wide vessels have a deck area of 71,400 m2, divided over 14 decks. This makes them some of the world’s largest PCTCs by capacity.
“We worked very closely with Deltamarin OY, the Finnish designer, Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry, as well as DNV GL concerning class approval,” says Jan Rune Mørken, Head of Newbuilding – Höegh Autoliners. “There are several reasons why we wanted to give these vessels a wider beam rather than increasing the length. For example, the expansion of the Panama Canal gave us more freedom to increase capacity. In addition, we aim to reduce the carbon footprint of each vehicle we transport. Creating a new vessel standard with a capacity for 8,500 vehicles makes a big difference,” he explains. Making the vessels longer was not an option. “A maximum length of 200 metres is common for many PCTC berths,” says Mørken.
The final design was fully optimized to make these vessels as green as possible, with a new hull shape and a very efficient propeller. “These PCTCs only emit half the amount of CO2 per car transported compared to standard car carriers, and they consume a lot less fuel oil per day. Certification to the DNV GL CLEAN and BWM-T (Ballast Water Management) notations demonstrates the sustainability of the design and its preparedness for future requirements,” says Li Zhenjun, Chairman of Xiamen Shipbuilding Industry (XSI). “We are proud to have worked on this vessel series. We are committed to developing our expertise in the car carrier segment; through these projects and our cooperation with shipowners and DNV GL, we have grown to be a leading yard in this field.”A milestone for Höegh
Increasing the beam presented significant design challenges. Höegh and DNV GL carried out extensive studies looking at the impact of the wider beam on stability. “Our fleet uses the ‘two pillar support principle’. This means the deck is like a football pitch and we can utilize the entire deck from port to starboard. DNV GL was the first classification society to approve such a flexible design with an open deck, so we knew it had a good track record and competence with this type of design,” Mørken explains. “Installing the complex ro-ro system including the doors, hoistable decks, stern ramp and side ramps was also a challenge we had to overcome,” says Li.
The new vessels have 14 cargo decks and five liftable car decks, and a higher door opening than Höegh Autoliners’ current vessels, enabling cargo up to 6.5 metres high and twelve metres wide to be loaded. Extra ramp strength allows for cargo weighing up to 375 tonnes to be loaded over the stern ramp and 22 tonnes over the side ramp.
“It is fascinating for us to be involved in such an ambitious project,” says Chi Shaoguang, DNV GL Newbuilding Manager for Area South China. “The cooperation between all the partners has been excellent and the progress on the construction site is a testament to the high level of expertise XSI holds in building these complex vessels.”
“Indeed this is a milestone for our company,” says Mørken. “It is a very proud moment and it is great to see that we have had very positive feedback from those who work on and operate these vessels.”