Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New RoRo plus Conventional Container Reefer Vessel Unveiled to Shippers at Logistics Event

Danish Design Could Change the Image of the 'Banana Boat'
Shipping News Feature

DENMARK – SWEDEN – SWITZERLAND – A collaboration between Stena RoRo and Swiss registered outfit Reefer Intel, has resulted in what is being called a revolutionary design of reefer vessel which is liable to change the image of a ‘banana boat’ for ever. The two turned to Danish naval architects Knud E. Hansen A/S to come up with a ship which would cut costs and improve turn round times and the result was unveiled at the recent Cool Logistics Global Conference in Rotterdam.

Although only at the concept stage the new vessel type is being offered to several Chinese yards for tender and Hansen have published a video, viewable here, showing their ideas for the vessel. Turning away from the current methods of stowage the design is intended to reduce time in port using a combination of handling techniques. The RoRo facility which is offered by multiple decks mean bulk pallets would be loaded to ‘cassettes’ which could be driven into position using all the deck area. The weather deck would contain reefer points to stow standard refrigerated containers giving the vessel a capacity of over 600,000 standard banana boxes.

The design has already come under fire from container line executives who deem the ship too small to compete but Birger Lindberg Skov, former President of Lauritzen Reefers A/S, and now owner of Reefer Intel, is confident there is a gap in the market, specifically the banana trade from Latin America where he says over 70% of the current traffic comes via ageing conventional vessels.

Having a RoRo system gives two major advantages, firstly the upper deck stowage can be underway even as the lower decks are being filled making for faster load and discharge times, and secondly, the deck layout makes the vessel an obvious candidate for automobile carriage whilst travelling across the oceans. With car assembly now taking place in many countries the ships would offer the chance of returning with a decent payload.

The certainty is that Stena, whose RoRo division would hardly have become involved if they thought the design didn’t have the legs, and Hansen, are quoting figures such as 45% more capacity than a conventional reefer, with port turn round times halved and ‘green technology’ systems and slow steaming options making for an attractive package. With the banana trade consisting of numerous medium sized suppliers as well as the larger groups, charter options for the new vessel, when we see a real example rather than a concept, may be a real possibility.