ACL Orders Five Larger Ro-Ro/Container Ships

ACL Orders Five Larger Ro-Ro/Container Ships

Drawing of ACL G4. Image from ACL, courtesy of Knud E. Hansen A/S & Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd.

Atlantic Container Line has ordered five large combination container and roll-on, roll-off ships to replace existing ships in the carrier’s trans-Atlantic service.

The new ships will have capacity of 3,800 20-foot-equivalent units, capacity for 1,307 vehicles, and 28,900 square meters of ro-ro space. ACL’s existing ships have capacity of 1,850 TEUs and 1,000 vehicles, and 18,500 square meters of ro-ro space.

ACL said the ships will be the largest of their kind ever built. Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding in China will build the vessels. Delivery is scheduled in 2015.

The company did not disclose the ships’ price, but Andrew Abbott, president and CEO, said the company secured “a really good price,” much less than the $140 million apiece they might have cost a year ago.

“We were able to buy at the perfect time and got a first-class shipyard to help s create a new standard to which all future con-ros will be compared,” he said.

ACL, a subsidiary of Italy’s Grimaldi Group, will finance up to 40 percent of the price from its own cash resources.

The new ships will incorporate several innovative design features.

Using a design by International Maritime Advisors of Denmark, ACL’s new ships will put all ro-ro cargo midship and stow containers in cells fore and aft. The design will allow cargo to replace ballast, providing more efficient use of space.

Most container/ro-ro ships require extra ballast for stability because containers are stowed on deck and lighter ro-ro cargoes are carried below deck.

The new vessels also will be 10 percent faster than the current ones, which have 18-knot speed, but will cut per TEU fuel consumption by 50 percent. ACL’s current ships entered service in 1984 and 1985 and were renovated in 2004.

“The dramatic increase in efficiency is essential for our long-term competitiveness,” Abbott said. “We will have the equivalent of 6,500-TEU container ships in terms of earning power and economies of scale, but with far lower costs.”

Like the existing ships, the new vessels will have cell guides on deck, a feature ACL credited for a record of not losing a container overboard during the last 30 years.

The carrier said it is working on schedule “enhancements” that are expected to include dropping one or two traditional ACL port calls to make room for a new South Atlantic port.

Combining ro-ro and container cargo has proven successful for ACL. Bill Kearns, ACL’s executive vice president, said the added capacity will provide ACL with needed space. “We have been forced to put many of our loyal customers on allocations for many years because we were never able to grow with the market,” he said.

Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @josephbonney.

Image from ACL, courtesy of Knud E. Hansen A/S & Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd.