Maersk feeders tailored to Russian trade

'Vistula Maersk' signals a major investment for the Russian market 'Vistula Maersk' signals a major investment for the Russian market

Claimed to be the world’s largest ice-classed containership, the 3,596 teu ‘Vistula Maersk’ has entered service on Maersk-owned Seago Line’s feeder connection between the Netherlands and Russian Baltic ports. David Tinsley reports.

Designed specifically by the Danish group’s Odense Maritime Technology (OMT) for operation in winter conditions down to -25°C, Vistula Maersk leads a series of seven contracted from COSCO Zhoushan Shipyard in China. She is set to be joined on the Russian link by the second newbuild, Volga Maersk.

The five subsequent vessels in the programme are due to be phased into a number of other Seago Line intra-regional routes on the North Sea and Baltic Sea over the coming months.

Vistula Maersk and Volga Maersk are intended to ensure consistency in tonnage and enhanced, year-round reliability, as well as afford much increased cargo capacity and flexibility, on the Russian feeder run. The itinerary entails calls at Rotterdam’s APM Terminals 1, Delta Container Terminal and APM Terminals Maasvlakte 2, before proceeding to the port of Ust-Luga and St Petersburg’s Petrolesport and First Container Terminal.


The new vessels achieve a significant efficiency improvement per cargo unit relative to the ships in the 1,400-1,700 teu range hitherto deployed on the service. The propeller and rudder design has been optimised for the lowest fuel consumption, and the MAN main engine will burn marine diesel fuel for compliance with IMO Emission Control Area (ECA) edicts. In addition to enclosed bridge wings, the ships incorporate a sheltered forecastle deck for improved working conditions in the eastern Baltic winter environment.

As well as the ice-hardened hull, straight stem, post-Panamax beam and comparatively shallow draught, the Vistula Maersk type is characterised by a high intake capability for refrigerated cargo, through the provision of 600 reefer sockets. Perishables form a key element of the Russian traffic, and include oranges and other citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes.  The Seago and Maersk business strategy includes consolidating a leading market position in the reefer cargo sector.

Constructed to Finnish/Swedish Ice Class 1A standard, the vessel has been built in accordance with Lloyd’s Register’s rules and regulations. The society worked intensively with Maersk, providing technical support in ECA compliance options, specification reviews and contract negotiations with the shipyard.


The Danish company DESMI has supplied the Zhoushan yard with a wide-ranging package of pumps plus two 500m3/h RayClean ballast water treatment systems for each of the seven newbuilds.

One of the Vistula Maersk series will provide a test platform for an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system under a contract signed by the A.P.Moller-Maersk Group with Boston-based Sea Machines Robotics to trial the US firm’s perception and situational awareness technology. The deal signals a milestone installation using computer vision, light detection and ranging (LiDAR)and perception software aboard a container vessel to upgrade transit operations.

Advanced sensors collect a continuous stream of information from the ship’s environmental surroundings, identify and track potential conflicts, and display the knowledge in the wheelhouse, to improve at-sea situational awareness, object identification and tracking.

Maersk’s goal in forging the collaboration is to prove that the technology can aid the mariners, remove the line-of-sight restriction from the bridge, and provide the infrastructure for a future autonomous collision avoidance system.


Length overall




Draught, maximum




Reefer plugs



c. 40,000t

Gross tonnage


Main engine

MAN two-stroke


Lloyd’s Register




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