The Hanse Eco shortsea vessel concept will be realised through construction in China (image courtesy of Rhenus). The Hanse Eco shortsea vessel concept will be realised through construction in China (image courtesy of Rhenus).

Signalling a vote of confidence in the European shortsea cargo trade and its future prospects, a German joint venture has ordered a flotilla of versatile newbuilds of high environmental standard in China, writes David Tinsley.

Dubbed the Hanse Eco Short Sea Coaster series, the 4,200dwt vessel design combines scope for project loads with bulk commodity and breakbulk cargoes, and has been engineered to comply with IMO Tier III NOx emission criteria and achieve significant reductions in CO2 and particulate matter(PM).

Contractual party Rhenus-Arkon-Shipinvest has entrusted DaYang Offshore Equipment Co(DYOE) with four newbuilds, and anticipates a start to construction in February 2020, with a view to deliveries being effected during the second half of 2021.

Rhenus-Arkon-Shipinvest was established in June 2017 after logistics group Rhenus secured a 40% shareholding in Arkon Shipping. Based in Haren-on-Ems, Arkon manages a fleet of more than 120 vessels in European coastal and feeder operations and global heavy-lift and project cargo shipping and provides a range of other marine services.

The remit of Rhenus-Arkon-Shipinvest is to enable expansion and renewal of the European shortsea fleet with flexible, state-of-the-art vessels attuned to the new era of digitalisation in shipping. The Hanse Eco concept and tonnage investment denotes the unfolding of that strategy.

The nascent Hanse Eco series is the result of an initiative launched by Torsten Westphal, one of the founding members of Arkon Shipping and managing shareholder of Rhenus-Arkon-Shipinvest. The development of a future-orientated shortsea fleet is seen as a sustainable solution for shipbuilding design to meet specific trading and economic objectives, and the work has been conducted by Arkon in partnership with Rhenus.

The new-generation coaster will be about 90m in length, providing a cargo capacity of at least 5,500m3 in a single hold. The bridge-forward configuration and offset funnel casing aft maximises the use of the hull envelope for cargo carrying and also ensures a clear view of deck loading procedures. The increased hull length and ‘open-top’ capability, allowing the ship to sail with the hatch covers open, provides the means of transporting large-volume and outsized items of freight, and to thereby serve new and emerging market segments as well as the gamut of general shortsea business.

The design features what is described as a hybrid propulsion system with an organic catalytic converter, support from an electrical motor, and a waste gas aftertreatment unit. The specified main engine will also allow the use of organic fuel. Onboard powering will be prepared for future use of batteries. Ballast water treatment will be adopted in the light of upcoming mandatory requirements.

“Our Hanse Eco fleet is pointing the way forwards so that we can meet climate protection requirements and also make sensible use of the mega trend of digitalisation,” affirmed Torsten Westphal. “We’re providing a high standard for ‘European Shipping 2.0’—from the planning stage until the vessels are put into service.”

“An integrated automation system and using the latest camera technology (will) simplify the operational processes on board and in ports, and reduce the administrative work needing to be completed by captains,” added Ralf Uebachs, managing director of Rhenus-Arkon-Shipinvest.

The concept design was prepared by Groot Ship Design of the Netherlands. The technical project has entailed inputs from DNV GL, HSVA in Hamburg, Dutch electrotechnical firm Eekels and cargo gear and access specialist Coops & Nieborg, and Ghent-based medium-speed engine maker ABC Engines. Groot Ship Design will supply the Chinese yard DYOE with all design information and a basic engineering package in accordance with the shipbuilding specification, rules and regulations, and latest technical developments.


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