ACL receives first of five innovative con-ro ships

ACL receives first of five innovative con-ro ships

Atlantic Container Line has taken delivery of the first of five new container/roll-on, roll-off ships that are the largest of their type ever built and that will expand ACL’s unique trans-Atlantic niche.

The Atlantic Star will join ACL’s trans-Atlantic service in December. Its sister ships will be delivered in the first half of 2016, and will replace ships that ACL currently operates between the U.S. East Coast and Northern Europe.

The new G4-class vessels feature an innovative design that uses placement of ballast tanks and other features to provide a substantial increase in capacity over that of ACL’s existing vessels without significantly changing the ships’ dimensions.

For decades, ACL has operated in the trans-Atlantic with container/ro-ro ships that carry vehicles and other ro-ro cargo, and have container capacity of 1,850 20-foot-equivalent units.

The dual-purpose ships allow ACL, owned by Italy’s Grimaldi Group, to target higher-paying cargo in both the container and ro-ro segments, and to hedge its exposure to the vagaries of the trans-Atlantic container market. Eastbound container spot rates in the trans-Atlantic have tumbled in recent weeks, prompting several container lines to cancel sailings.

ACL’s new ships will have container capacity of more than 3,800 20-foot-equivalent units, more than double that of ACLs current vessels, in addition to 28,900 square meters of ro-ro space and car capacity of more than 1,300 vehicles.

The ramps are wider and shallower than those of ACL’s current vessels, and the ro-ro decks are higher (up to 7.4 meters) with fewer columns to get in the way of oversized cargo. ACL said the ships’ emissions will be 65 percent less than the carrier’s existing fleet.

The Atlantic Star will sail from China on Saturday and will be christened in Liverpool and registered in the United Kingdom.

Like ACL’s existing container/ro-ro ships, the new vessels will use cell guides for on-deck container stowage, instead of the manual lashing that most ships use. ACL said it has not lost a container overboard during the last 30 years.

ACL has five transatlantic sailings a week, and also handles the Grimaldi Lines’ service between the U.S. and West Africa and the Grimaldi EuroMed service between North America and the Mediterranean. The Company also offers service for non‐containerizable cargo to the Middle East, South Africa, Australia and the Far East.

Contact Joseph Bonney at and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney.