Mediterranean Shipping Company’s (MSC’s) Olympic Series Ultra Large Container Ships

By April 18, 2015 Article, Technology No Comments

MSC Oscar: The New Heavyweight
Barely months after the delivery of MSC Oscar to the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) Shipyard in Busan, South Korea inaugurated the MSC Oliver, the second of the six-ship Olympic Series. DNV GL will class all vessels of the Olympic series.

MSC Oscar is the largest container ship in the world with a capacity of 19,224 TEU vis-à-vis 19,000 TEU capacity of the previous champion CSCL Globe. MSC Oliver also possesses the same capacity. Total investment cost for building the MSC Oscar is $140 million.

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By the time the remaining ships of the Olympic Series are delivered in November 2015, MSC could be the largest container shipping line in the world. MSC Oscar and MSC Oliver are part of MSC’s fleet of twenty 19,000-plus TEU vessels scheduled for delivery before end-2015.

MSC Oliver will ply between Asia and Europe for the Albatross Service. MSC Oscar completed its maiden voyage in March this year. With a Route Specific Container Stowage (RSCS) class notation, the MSC Oscar can use cargo space efficiently and take on extra containers on certain routes without cutting back on safety.

Expanding Evolution of Container Vessels
In order to reduce CO2 emissions from its ships, MSC is looking to expand the size of its vessels and lower the total number of vessels in operation. For the same reason, MSC decided to apply antifouling technology viz. Jotun’s patented SeaQuantun X200 Hull Performance Solutions (HPS) on the MSC Oscar and eleven more vessels.

Expanding Sizes of Container Ships
Capacity of container ships has more than tripled over the past two decades. Economies of Scale are at play in the capacity of ships. Larger vessels carry greater load and emit lesser pollutants for the same amount of fuel burned. This is because:

  • Larger ships are usually more stable and therefore require less ballast water. This transforms into lower fuel consumption
  • A single large ship with the same cargo capacity as two smaller ships weighs less than the two smaller ships and has lesser hull-area in contact with water. This lowers resistance and thereby the fuel consumption and emissions

However, the sizes of ships are limited by practical factors such as the sizes of transit canals viz. Suez Canal and Panama Canal, capacity of port cargo handling equipment, and harbor depth.

Any further reduction of fuel use and emissions comes only with better hull designs, innovative hull coatings, and the use of a larger number of smaller marine diesel engines that operate efficiently over a wider range of speeds.

Technical & Other Details
MSC Oscar was expanded from its initial specification of 18,000 TEU to 19,224 TEU during construction through the addition of an extra tier above decks. The ship can transport dangerous cargo in holds and 1,800 reefer i.e.

 Technical Specifications

Technical Specifications

refrigerated containers.

This cutting edge vessel has unique design features such as torsion box, wide beam, and hatch coaming plates with 100mm thick steel plates. MSC Oscar has a U-shaped double hull. Its bulbous bow is designed for greater fuel efficiency.

Class agency DNV GL has developed the Route Specific Container Stowage (RSCS) notation in order to enable better utilization of cargo space by ships without lowering their safety levels. This transforms into larger container capacity of ships for the same cargo area and greater profits.

Conventional standards for lashing and stacking containers on ships are based on stormy and rough weather conditions in North Atlantic. This prevents ships from making optimum use of cargo space while sailing in other oceans.

A 13,100 TEU vessel on the Europe-Asia route for example can load 750 additional containers weighing 14 tons on the 4th tier as compared to 5 tons allowed under the previous standards. Advantages of RSCS include:

  • greater nominal capacity at outer stacks and higher tiers
  • better response to short notice loading requests
  • fewer movements of gantry crane for loading operations
  • simple implementation procedures for under-construction and operational ships

International shipping discourse focuses a lot on the need to make ships more fuel efficient and less polluting. Already Emission Control Areas (ECAs) prohibit the use of fuel with over 0.1% sulphur. By 2020 or 2025, a fuel sulphur cap of 0.5% will be applicable over all ocean routes. We therefore require more ships like MSC Oscar.