“K” Line said it will build four "next generation" car carrier vessels that will be so wide they will not fit through the current locks in the Panama Canal.
"We have spent considerable length of time studying and investigating
the most suitable next generation car carrier with shipyards. We have
appointed two shipyards and are adopting state of the art design in
terms of top-notch fuel efficiency and flexibility on cargo handling
that will be far better than our existing fleet," announced Yoshiyuki Aoki, executive managing officer for the car carrier sector at "K" Line.
"These vessels will be
the widest beam ever built, around 37-38 meters with 7,500-unit
capacity. Length of the vessel is kept at 200 meters, considering
ability to call at any port," he explained.
The dimensions of the current Panama Canal locks are 33.53-meters (110-feet) wide by 304.8-meters (1,000-feet) long. The maximum dimensions for ships that can transit the canal are 32.3 meters (106 feet) in beam; 294.3-meters (965-feet) long (depending on the type of vessel); and 12 meters (39.5 feet) of draft (depth reach) in tropical fresh water. The new locks under construction by the Panama Canal will be 427-meters long and 55-meters wide.
In June, Wallenius Wilhelmsen also announced its owners will build new pure car truck carriers that are larger than Panamax-size car carriers
Two shipyards, Shin Kurushima Dockyard Co. Ltd. and Japan Marine United Corp., will each build two vessels for "K" Line
Aoki said the "37-38 meter beam has come as a result of a series of simulation tests, exploring both better stability of the vessel and better fuel efficiency at the same time. Thanks to full support from the shipyard, we are confident that we will have success in optimizing those two factors."
He also said the ships will be built to "mitigate wind pressure for optimum fuel consumption. Another technical point being addressed with these new ships is cargo loading equipment inside of the cargo hold and loading ramp as well in order to be best suited for not only passenger cars but also other ro/ro cargoes."
"K" Line plans to use the four new ships to replace aging tonnage. "It is our estimation that the car transport market and ro/ro cargo market will steadily grow, so we will continue to develop our fleet to deliver value added efficiency and capability of handling an even wider variety of cargo mix to assure our services successfully meet the needs of our valued customers,” Aoki said.
Delivery of the new ships is scheduled for 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. - Chris Dupin