Big ships have dominated the shipping news this year.
The first in a series of 20 18,000-TEU ships was scheduled to be delivered to Maersk Line at the end of June; China Shipping this spring placed an order for even larger, 18,500-TEU ships; and there have been reports that United Arab Shipping Corp. is ordering similar leviathans.
But the container shipping industry is also thinking about the future of small ships.
The classification society Germanischer Lloyd (GL) recently wrote about expected demand for small ships, focusing on the intra-Asian trade where it expects volume to grow from 57 million TEUs last year to 75 million TEUs in 2016.
GL has created a new design for a 3,736-TEU ship, C-Dragon, that it says is aimed at optimizing efficiency for regional carriers.
The ship features more containers on deck, which translates to less need to move hatch covers; fewer bays, which mean cranes need to be moved less often; and low variability of container slots on deck, which allows cranes to have a more uniform workload.
GL said the shipbroker Clarkson estimated the price of building the ship at $40 million.
An economic analysis found that compared to a 4,250-TEU Panamax ship cascaded into Asia as a feeder, the new design “compares favorably with competitive older tonnage.”
With faster port turnarounds, the C-Dragon could spend more of its operating hours at sea, but burn 30-percent less fuel because of an optimized hull design, GL said.
Don’t be surprised if carriers begin to place more orders for small ships, as well the giants that are already dominating headlines. If fuel costs remain high, new vessels may prove themselves a better deal than ships cascaded from other routes, even if they were built a few years ago.
We’ll send it to you!
Register now and get the free AS Daily.