Debut for BG Freight Ireland Max series

A comprehensive mix of boxes can be carried by the 1,004 teu ‘BG Diamond’ (photo: MarineTraffic/Ria Maat) A comprehensive mix of boxes can be carried by the 1,004 teu ‘BG Diamond’ (photo: MarineTraffic/Ria Maat)

Expansion and upgrade of Irish Continental shortsea transport capacity has been set in train with the entry of the first of four Chinese-built, 1,004 teu boxships into BG Freight Line’s service network. David Tinsley reports.

Purpose-designed for the trade to set a new Ireland Max standard, the 13,250dwt BG Diamond marries the increased intake with substantial flexibility in container types and load permutations. The technical specification has been shaped by Emission Control Area (ECA) edicts, and also differs from its predecessors not only in scale but in the adoption of a two-stroke propulsion solution.

Arkon Shipping of Haren-on-Ems implemented the newbuild project on the strength of long-term charter commitments by Rotterdam-based BG Freight Line, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Peel Ports Group in the UK. Tailored to the charterer’s cargo handling requirements and the need to ensure year-round scheduling reliability in sea conditions around the British Isles, the design emanates from CIMC Ocean Engineering Design & Research Institute in Shanghai.

BG Diamond picked up her regular schedule in Rotterdam on January 18 following a positioning voyage from China, where construction had been entrusted to Zhoushan Changhong International. Second-of-class BG Jade was handed over in January, and is expected to arrive in Rotterdam during March, to be followed in the coming months by BG Sapphire and BG Emerald. While Arkon is responsible for the commercial management of the series, technical husbandry is under the aegis of another German company, Juengerhans Maritime Services.

The 1,004 slot capacity equating to 20ft units actually embraces the capability for a full load of 45ft short-sea containers in all positions, together with scope for all types of 40ft boxes, and includes up to 253 reefer units, whereby 136 can be carried in the hold plus 117 on deck. Additionally, various numbers of odd-sized containers can be stowed fast and securely. The container securing system with portable fittings was supplied by the Bremen firm German Lashing Robert Bock. Overall, the ship’s homogeneous load factor on the basis of 14t per unit is 770TEU.

The choice of main machinery is a six-cylinder model of the RT-flex50 type manufactured in China under licence from Winterthur Gas & Diesel (WinGD), driving a Schottel controllable pitch propeller and providing for comparatively swift speed of 17 knots. Exhaust emissions are treated by a wet scrubber system, achieving the requisite reduction in SOx and particulate matter (PM) to meet ECA requirements while allowing continued operation on fuel oil. Manoeuvring in tight confines and tideways is assisted by a Schottel bow thruster, and auxiliary power is afforded by three main gensets with D2842 prime movers from MAN Truck & Bus.

From its headquarters at Rotterdam Short-Sea Terminals, Europe’s largest intra-regional hub, and offices in the UK and Ireland, BG Freight Line deploys 23 full container vessels. The ships form part of an integrated logistics network, including door-to-door shipping, feedering, and quay-to-quay transport for all types of containerised cargo. The liner schedule covers 29 ports and terminals throughout Ireland, the UK and northwest Continent.


Length overall


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Gross tonnage




Container capacity


Main engine

WinGD 6RT-flex50







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