Rickmers Antwerp, the sixth of nine new Superflex Heavy Multi-Purpose Container (MPC) vessels being built in China for Rickmers-Linie, the Hamburg-based global project liner and heavy lift specialist, was officially named in Antwerp, her name-sake city on 16 June 2003.
The vessel, which is now operating within the company’s newly inaugurated Pearl String Service, was christened by Mrs Beb Van Mechelen, the wife of Mr Dirk Van Mechelen, the Flemish Minister for Finance and Budget, Innovation, the Media, Town and Country Planning.
Bertram Rickmers and Jan Boje Steffens, CEO of Rickmers-Linie, met international business partners, officials and international journalists with a warm welcome to this event.
Speaking after the naming ceremony
, Mr Steffens explained that customers’ initial reactions to the new vessels had been very positive:
“We have finally realised our vision of the Pearl String Service which offers sailings at fixed 14-day intervals whilst retaining the flexibility to call at intermediate ports on inducement.
“We are particularly pleased to have concluded this project within a very suitable time scale and we are now able to provide our customers with a whole new standard for project liner shipping.”
Paul Rickmers, head of the Rickmers organisation in Antwerp, added:
“Antwerp is an important port of call for Rickmers-Linie and we have had our own office here since 1992. The port serves the areas of Benelux, northern France and western Germany whilst also acting as a hub for cargo from the UK.”
Following the naming ceremony, guests were able to inspect Rickmers Antwerp which loaded approximately 11,000 freight tons of cargo in Antwerp consisting of machinery, plant components and steel.
Due to the flexibility offered by the adjustable tweendecks, Rickmers-Linie notes it has been able to accept bookings for major steel shipments to be loaded onboard Rickmers Antwerp even at the final ports on the European schedule. After her departure from North Europe, Rickmers Antwerp will make two calls in Italy before she proceeds under the command of Captain Davor Brozicevic to South East Asia, China and South Korea
Although they have a nominal container capacity of 1888TEU, Rickmers Antwerp and her sisterships have been designed primarily with project cargo in mind. The ships are self-sustaining, having been fitted with four large cranes, the two heaviest of which can be twinned for a lifting capacity of up to 640 tons. The main hatches are 32m in length to allow long loads to be accommodated below deck. Meanwhile, adjustable tweendecks allow for variations in cargo height. The vessels have a service speed of 19.5 knots. A dehumidifying system controls the air in all holds, protecting cargo from moisture damage.
The Pearl String Service provides sailings every 14 days eastbound around the world linking Europe, Asia and North America
. It includes regular calls at the ports of Hamburg, Antwerp and Genoa, Jakarta, Singapore, Map Ta Phut, Haiphong, Hong Kong and Shanghai, Xingang and Dalian, Kobe or Yokohama, Houston and New Orleans. The service provides its customers with unique flexibility by catering for project shipments that often involve complex loading programmes and special calls at ports not normally featured on the schedule.