Even for Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the world’s largest shipyard group, it was a remarkable occasion. In a quadruple naming ceremony at HHI’s Ulsan shipyard on July 2, Rickmers Group christened four ultra-large container ships (ULCS) of 13,100 TEU each.
Each of the four ships, Pearl Rickmers, Ruby Rickmers, Aqua Rickmers and Coconee Rickmers, has a service speed of 24.3 knots. They have been chartered longterm to Maersk Line and will join Maersk’s “E-class” as Maersk Edinburgh, Maersk Emden, Maersk Eindhoven and Maersk Essen.
The ships will be delivered one by one during July and August 2010, and phase in to Maersk’s new joint service with CMA CGM linking Asia and North Europe. As Maersk’s AE8 service, it will deploy ten ships of this size, each partner contributing five. The port rotation will be:
Ningbo – Shanghai – Yantian - Tanjung Pelepas - Port Kelang - Le Havre - Hamburg – Rotterdam – Zeebrugge - Port Kelang – Singapore - Ningbo.
A further four sister ships are due for delivery to the Rickmers Group in 2011, also for charter to Maersk Line. All have been fixed for 10-year periods with further options.
Under the eyes of Bertram R C Rickmers, Chairman of Rickmers Holding, and his senior management team, each ship was christened by its individual sponsor: Pearl Rickmers by Mrs Nina Ruge; Ruby Rickmers by Mrs Cecilia Eckelmann-Battistello; Aqua Rickmers by Mrs Vigga Schneider; and Coconee Rickmers by Mrs Marita Seidt.
The naming ceremonies were attended by more than 100 guests including Dr Wolfgang Reitzle, Chairman, Linde AG, spouse of Nina Ruge, Mr Thomas Eckelmann, Main Shareholder, EuroKai/Eurogate, spouse of Cecilia Eckelmann-Battistello, Mr Wolf Peter Schneider, Real Estate Developer/Architect, spouse of Vigga Schneider and Mr Hans-Ulrich Seidt, German Ambassador to South Korea, spouse of Marita Seidt.
Further present were amongst others Mr Claes Devantier, Vice President, Maersk Broker, Mr Morten Engelstoft, Senior Vice President & COO, Maersk Line, Mr BW Oh, President & CEO, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Mr OH Kim, Executive Vice President Shipbuilding Division & COO, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Mr Andreas Ostern, Vice President Shipping, DNBNor and Mr Torsten Temp, CEO, HSH Nordbank.
Commenting on the day’s events, Mr Rickmers reflected the growing confidence in the container market:
“With volumes out of Asia again starting to rise and rates holding, container lines’ confidence is growing. Given this scenario, the timing of the delivery of these Rickmers Group ships is looking much better than it might have done six to twelve months ago.”
“With two more sister ships coming in January and February 2011, a seventh at the end of May and the eighth and final ship in the series due for delivery in July 2011, we need the global economy to continue this positive trend. We wish our charterers Maersk Line well in their efforts to maintain a stable market. Too often we have seen container rates tumble despite strong volumes. No one needs this to happen again, even the shippers who provide the cargo.”
Describing the vessels, Mr Rickmers added: “The eight vessels are ideally suited for the current market, which is demanding the largest possible ships in order to reduce the cost per container carried. Although built to operate at over 24 knots, the ships are equally capable of slow steaming. This is an important requirement today and in the months and years to come.
“These ships will also be capable of transiting the Panama Canal following completion of ongoing expansion work. Larger locks and dredging will open up an important additional trade lane for so-called New Panamax (NPX) container ships from Asia to the US East Coast.”
Rickmers noted that were it possible to load all 13,100TEU onto a single train, the train would be approximately 100km long. Put another way, the locomotive would arrive in Kiel on the Baltic coast of Germany before the last railcar had left the shipping company’s home city of Hamburg.
All eight ships are being built by Hyundai Heavy Industries’ Ulsan shipyard. The principal dimensions are as follows:
Length (oa): 366 m
Length (bp): 350 m
Beam: 48.2 m
Depth: 29.85 m
Design draft: 14.5 m
Scantling draft: 15.5 m
Deadweight: 125,480 mt at 14.5m
140,580 mt at 15.5m
Containers are carried 17-wide below deck and 19-wide on the hatchcovers. The maximum capacity of each ship is 7,074TEU on deck and 6,018TEU below deck, making 13,092TEU in total. Based on a homogeneous container weight of 14 tonnes per TEU, the maximum capacity is approximately 9,080TEU. Reefer plugs are available for 800 x 40ft containers.
Each ship is powered by a single Hyundai-Wärtsilä 12RT-flex96C main engine weighing over 2,000 tonnes and developing 68,640 kW (MCR) at 102rpm and 61,776kW (NCR) at 98.5rpm. Five 2,700kw diesel generators are installed.
Although designed for a service speed of 24.3 knots, the flex-engines still achieve 21.5 knots at 60% of the engine’s normal output but can also slow steam as required under charterers’ current service patterns, generating substantial fuel savings. By having this substantial speed reserve, the ships can increase speed when necessary to maintain schedule integrity, an important factor in a service industry.
The ships will be managed by Rickmers Shipmanagement (Singapore) Pte Ltd (RSS), the Rickmers Group’s shipmanagement unit set up in Singapore to manage the fleets of shipping trust Rickmers Maritime and Rickmers Group shipowner Polaris Shipmanagement Company as well as third party vessels. Including the latest four 13,100TEU ships, RSS will be managing a young – average age two years - fleet of 27 mainly Panamax container vessels and Rickmers Group’s two new PCTCs delivered earlier this year. With the four 13,100TEU vessels, the total fleet of Rickmers Group counts 107 vessels, 78 of which are being managed by Rickmers Reederei in Hamburg.