The importance of Intra-Asian trade routes continues to grow as the region's economies continue to expand. Asian container traffic, in particular, is projected to be the fastest growing sector in the world for the next several years. In response to this Germanischer Lloyd (GL) has developed a novel container vessel design concept for this region: the C-Dragon concept. GL unveiled this new concept with the international maritime community at Nor-Shipping 2013.
C-Dragon measures 211.9 meters in length between perpendiculars and 37.3 meters in width with a loading capacity of 3,736 TEU. The new concept targets the actual condition with short roundtrips and many port calls and is designed to outperform cascading older tonnage, which are now employed in this area, in terms of fuel efficiency, port turnaround and cargo intake.
"Intra-Asian container traffic is set to surge and vessels in this trade typically sail beneath their design speed and make frequent port calls - 13 on a typical north south trading route," said Dr Pierre C Sames, Senior Vice President, GL Research and Rule Development. "The C-Dragon concept has been designed to reflect this, while also filling the strong need for more energy efficient ships amid rising fuel prices and new IMO regulations."
C-Dragon has a high ratio of on-deck to total container TEU capacity (2,376 TEU vs. 3,736 TEU) and less number of bays, compared to reference vessels studied for the design. This particular vessel layout is instrumental in reducing port stay duration because the greater number of containers on deck reduces the need to remove hatch covers, while fewer bays result in fewer crane movements. Port efficiency simulations conducted using prototype software from GL, demonstrated that the average port stay was reduced from 15 to 14 hours for C-Dragon for each harbor stay.
"C-Dragon's faster port turnaround allows speed reductions in transit and therefore related fuel cost savings, without compromising any cargo transport capacity, in comparison to competing vessels," Dr. Sames explained. "The effect is more pronounced for vessels on short routes with many port calls." For C-Dragon, average transit speed is reduced from 15.5 knots to 15 knots.
To lower steaming speeds and fuel costs, C-Dragon's hull form has been optimized by FutureShip, GL's consulting subsidiary. This optimization and a reduced design speed delivers an EEDI value, lower than the IMO reference line for 2025, and fuel consumption 30% lower than that of the slow-streaming 4,250 Panamax existing reference vessel.
Furthermore, the wide beam hull adopted enables lower speeds and in most operating conditions eliminates the need for ballast water. With zero ballast water usage, C-Dragon offers best-in-class deadweight tonnage (DWT) utilization and outstanding cargo intake. For each TEU at 14 tons, it only needs 14.8 tons deadweight, almost 4 tons less than the current 4,250 TEU Panamax design, an additional potential for greater earnings.