MSC Gülsün has energy-efficient features including a bulbous bow and an exhaust gas economiser
By Rebecca Moore
MSC Gülsün is not only the world’s largest container ship, it also has a huge focus on green and energy-efficient technology
The world’s largest container ship has been launched – MSC Gülsün is the first of a new class of 23,000+ TEU vessels to be added to MSC’s fleet in 2019-2020.
Built at the Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI) Geoje shipyard in South Korea, MSC says “MSC Gülsün sets a new standard in container shipping, in particular in terms of environmental performance.”
At 400 m long and more than 60 m wide, MSC Gülsün has a record capacity for a container ship: 23,756 TEU. Bigger ships generally emit less CO2 per container carried, helping companies that move goods on MSC’s services between Asia and Europe to lower the carbon footprint of their supply chains.
The vessel is equipped with more than 2,000 refrigerated containers, boosting the trade of food, drink, pharmaceutical and other chilled and frozen items between Asia and Europe. MSC said in a statement that this new class has been designed with a wide range of environmental, efficiency, stability and safety matters in mind.
MSC says: “MSC Gülsün features a remarkable approach to energy efficiency with the shape of the bow designed to enhance energy efficiency by reducing hull resistance. State-of-the-art engineering minimises wind resistance, resulting in lower fuel consumption.”
MSC Gülsün’s improved energy efficiency and fuel economy ensure MSC is on track to meet international 2030 environmental policy targets set by IMO ahead of time, building on a 13% improvement in CO2 emissions per tonne of cargo moved already achieved across the MSC fleet between 2015 and 2018.
Specific achievements in lowering carbon emissions include:
7.49 grams of CO2 emissions to move one tonne of cargo one nautical mile
Shore power connection enabled to tap local power sources in port
Innovative engineering features: bulbous bow, optimised rudder-bulb, minimised ship-side wind resistance, exhaust gas economiser for auxiliary engines
The ship is equipped with a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system and has the option of switching to low-sulphur fuel, or to be adapted for LNG in the future. MSC says that this new class of ships is equipped with double hull protection around the engine, as well as a 3D hull condition assessment program.
A dual-tower fire-fighting system with high-capacity pumps has been installed to further enhance the safety of seafarers on board and protect cargo carried across the whole deck of the ship.
MSC Gülsün and its 10 sister ships are all designed to meet the next steps in digital shipping. Enabling fast data transmission to shore and connection for smart containers helps make the shipping experience more transparent, safe and reliable for MSC’s customers.
SHI will deliver six of the new class of ships, while Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering is constructing the other five, also in South Korea.
Cargo handling: a ‘textbook’ example
The importance of early collaboration between the cargo system developer and container-ship owner is illustrated by MSC Gülsün, says MacGregor, which designed the cargo-handling system.
MacGregor director of customer solutions Tommi Keskilohko says a cargo system needs to be looked at holistically, rather than looked at in terms of individual elements. “So, we need to look at a combination of different cargo-system elements: hatch covers, lashing bridges and lashing systems.”
He continues: “What we have been trying to promote is that when a shipowner buys a new ship, they should think about the intended trade the vessel will be deployed on and use that trade as a basis for defining the cargo system to get the best possible system, while being flexible enough to shift to other trades.”
Crucial to achieving this goal is the ability of the cargo system developer and container-ship operator/owner to work together on the system to be used at an early stage. Mr Keskilohko singles out MSC Gülsün is a good example of this. MacGregor designed the cargo system. Mr Keskilohko says: “MSCGülsün is a good example of how we worked with [the owner] and understood [its] needs and made a cargo system that fitted with its needs. I think that it is a textbook example of how we should work together with owners, as collaboration started with MSC at an early stage of the project. We made different studies with them. It is a [good] example of the importance of early involvement, good discussion and making the specification together so that it fulfils the operator’s/owner’s criteria.”
While the ship is the largest box ship in the world, it was not such a leap for MacGregor. It previously worked with ships as large of 20,000 TEU, so there was “not a big change” for 23,000 TEU. Mr Keskilohko says: “From the technical point of view it was not that big a deal. It was more about processes and how we got there, working together and looking into different alternatives for technical solutions and finding a way to have nominal and actual carrying capacity as close as possible to each other.
“We cannot give exact figures, but the nominal capacity and what the vessel can actually carry are quite close to each other. It gives an opportunity for a liner to do good business and carry a different mix of cargo, as the ship is flexible and not just designed for 20 ft or 40 ft containers, but a mix of 20 ft and 40 ft, high cube and reefer containers, and containers of different weight categories.”
The cargo-system design, combined with a 24-container-wide ship design, takes MSC Gülsün’s total container capacity to 23,756 TEU, which is 1,500 TEU more than the largest container ships have previously carried. Clearly, a consideration of the cargo mix is important when it comes to planning the cargo-carrying systems of container ships. Mr Keskilohko says: “Together with the shipowner, we take existing information on the trade that the ship will be operating and look at what cargo they will be carrying, whether it be reefer, TEU or FEU, and so we get a cargo mix of what it is typically carrying on the trade.”
MacGregor then uses a tool to simulate the cargo system, using various models to identify the best solution.
The size of MSCGülsün means that there is an impact on the infrastructure of the ports that it calls at. They have been preparing with new cranes to achieve optimum loading and unloading efficiency. For example, ultra-large cranes are being used by DCT Gdansk port to handle MSC Gülsün. Liebherr Container Cranes provided an ultra-large container crane to the DCT terminal. The new crane, which is identical to two previous cranes supplied earlier this year, has an outreach of 72 m, a back reach of 15 m and a lift height over rail of 50 m. The cranes are capable of handling vessels with 25 rows of containers across deck. The port now has eight Liebherr ship-to-shore cranes capable of handling ultra-large container vessels.
Explaining the impact of ultra-large box ships on cranes, Liebherr Container Cranes marketing manager Trevor O’Donoghue says: “Thirty years ago, the largest Liebherr STS crane had an outreach of 37 m. Today that outreach has almost doubled to cater for the latest and future generations of ultra-large container vessels. Liebherr STS cranes with outreaches of 73 m are operational, and designs with outreaches of 75 m are expected.”