Maersk Line has given five of its vessels a “nose job,” to retrofit their bulbous bows to improve fuel consumption.
The Danish carrier said the change improves the performance of the vessels significantly, cutting fuel costs by about 8 percent in the current slow-steaming environment.
The vessels were too expensive to use because they were designed for high speed. Once retrofitted, however, Seago Line was interested in taking five vessels.
To complete the job on one of them, it even moved the new nose from Asia to Europe — on another container vessel, of course.
Four of these vessels had their “nose job” performed in Qingdao, China, and have now been delivered to Seago Line. But the last procedure proved a bigger challenge, as the ship was lying idle in Europe. The cost of bringing the Maersk Brownsville to Asia was too high, but so were the quotes offered by European yards for the operation.
The solution was simple in theory, but challenging in practice. “If we cannot bring the vessel here, let us take the bulbous bow there,” said Saurabh Khanna, senior technical project manager for Maersk Line Ship Management in Singapore.
Maersk said the potential cost savings justified the operation. Manufacturing the bulbous bow in Europe would cost $2.34 million, compared with $470,000 in China. Transporting the 200-ton bow from China would cost $550,000 on a bulk carrier, while installing it in Europe would cost $910,000. From this, the case for shipping it from Asia to Europe, but using a Maersk Line vessel instead of a bulk carrier would mean even further savings, amounting to total expected savings of $960,000.
As a result, Maersk shipped the new nose in five parts on one of the previously retrofitted vessels, the Maersk Baltimore (now the Seago Felixstowe), headed for Europe.
Once retrofitted, the Maersk Brownsville is entering service as the Seago Piraeus.