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LNG-bulker
The LNG-powered bulk carrier designed by Deltamarin will operate in the Baltic Sea.
The first DNV GL classification contract for an LNG-fuelled bulk carrier is progressing well, and demonstrate the benefits of the new DNV GL rule set – another milestone on the way to sustainable shipping.
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Sealing the deal: Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime (left), with Mikki Koskinen, Managing Director of ESL Shipping Ltd.
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Deltamarin’s Sales Director Ship Design Konstantinos Fakiolas

The establishment of emission control areas (ECAs) in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea is driving technological advances towards low-emission shipping. In the Baltic Sea in particular, early initiatives to establish an LNG refuelling infrastructure have encouraged owners to embrace LNG as ship fuel. DNV GL recently signed the first classification contract for a large LNG-powered bulk carrier – and the first vessel ever to be built to the new DNV GL class rules.

The project comprises two sister vessels which have been developed by the Finnish ship design and engineering group Deltamarin for the Finnish owner ESL Shipping Ltd., the leading carrier of dry bulk cargoes in the Baltic Sea region. Both companies cooperated closely on the concept development to make sure the ships meet the demanding trading requirements of the Baltic area. 

Mastering difficult climate conditions 

Deltamarin is using its proven B.Delta26LNG design with a highly optimized hull form as a basis for these extremely energy-efficient ships, which will be built at Sinotrans & CSC Qingshan Shipyard in China. They will begin operating in the Baltic Sea in early 2018, supplying raw material to heavy industry and power generating companies. The 25,600 dwt handysize bulkers will feature highly efficient cargo handling and cargo hold arrangements, enabling rapid loading and unloading. To ensure reliable year-round operation in the difficult climate conditions of the Baltic Sea, they will receive the additional class notation DNV GL Ice Class IA. 

Equipped with dual-fuel main and auxiliary machinery and 400 m3 type C LNG tanks, these vessels will be able to bunker LNG at several terminals in the Baltic region and meet all current emission requirements. Their CO2 emissions per cargo tonne transported will be reduced by over 50 per cent compared with present-generation vessels. The energy efficiency design index (EEDI) value will satisfy the International Maritime Organization (IMO) reference line requirements even in Phase 3 which will come into force in 2025. 

The bulk carriers will be built to the new DNV GL rules for general dry cargo ships. “It is fitting that the first vessels that will be constructed to the most forward-looking set of classification rules are themselves at the cutting edge of maritime innovation,” says Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. “We have created these rules to be ready for the future and we have long pioneered the use of LNG as a ship fuel. To see these two come together in a double first for the industry is a remarkable moment.” 

Ship designers have to account for increasingly complex requirements, resulting from stricter regulations and the need for optimal efficiency, which makes close cooperation with class more important than ever. Applying the new rule set for the first time was a journey into the unknown for the designers at Deltamarin. Konstantinos Fakiolas, Sales Director Ship Design at Deltamarin, reports: “The new rules are easier to handle than the old ones, and accessing them has become easier as well. 

Mikki Koskinen, Managing Director of ESL Shipping: “Our main trade in the Baltic Sea is very busy and demanding, not only due to winter ice conditions but also because of tight schedules and very short port calls. That is why we need a classification partner capable of delivering services promptly and effectively when required without affecting the schedules of vessels. We chose DNV GL because of our good experience from our last series of newbuilds and because we are convinced they have the required high level of knowledge of LNG systems and safety.” 

Optimized for varying sea conditions 

Konstantinos Fakiolas describes how Deltamarin approaches the project: “We first modified the B.Delta26LNG design to make the ship fit for its trading purpose, then optimized it further to reach the highest possible levels of IMO compliance and ensure her competitiveness throughout her lifetime. The cargo spaces have been specifically designed and arranged jointly with the owner to meet the requirements in terms of cargo flexibility, distribution and quantity. The proven hydrodynamic properties of the Delta Series have been maintained despite the necessary restrictive Ice Class features, and optimized further in terms of power requirement, engine economy and hull lines. Finding the perfect solution for operation in two different weather conditions – icy water and open water – and different sea states has been challenging, but I believe we have found it.” 

A trendsetting design 

For ESL, LNG was the preferred fuel option for the ships, says Mikki Koskinen: “In short-sea trades LNG is presently the best available large-scale energy solution, both operationally and from the environmental point of view. For us and our customers, LNG is a very good choice and will definitely be part of our future plans, despite the slow development of the LNG supply infrastructure, the large space requirement on board and the relatively high additional investment required.” 

Koskinen believes the new LNG powered bulkers are more than just state-of-the-art additions to ESL’s fleet. “The ship concept developed jointly by the experts from Deltamarin and ESL Shipping is a trendsetting design that brings the commodity transport segment into a new era of greener shipping. When completed these vessels will be among the most environment-friendly ships to sail in pollution-sensitive areas, such as the Baltic.” Fakiolas still sees additional optimization potential in ship design by expanding the range of parameters considered in the endeavour. “Future bulk carriers need to be operationally optimized further throughout their trade envelopes, accounting for various draughts and speeds while at the same time improving dynamically related performance characteristics, such as course-keeping at various sea states and wave angles, manoeuvrability in ports, and costefficient lifetime operation. 

The future ship must be designed ‘fit-for-trades’ instead of ‘fit-for-cargoes’. Traditionally ship fuel consumption has been optimized for only a few fixed operational points, and the improvement potential for these conditions is usually limited. New design tools and methods set a completely new baseline to fuel efficiency evaluation that corresponds to real-life operation.” Fakiolas is sure other ship types could benefit from the design improvements achieved with Deltamarin’s B.Delta26LNG type. 

ESL’s Mikki Koskinen agrees that his company’s new bulk carriers set the right course for ship design in general: “Shipping needs to be much more environmentally conscious and we must work hard in order to reduce our carbon footprint and other emissions. LNG helps us in achieving our ambitious goal of cutting our CO2 emissions in half. We believe the industry will follow, since sustainability and profitability in our business go perfectly hand in hand.”