German container line Hapag-Lloyd will fit 24 of its largest vessels with new bulbous bows by 2016, and some will also be fitted with optimized propellers in an effort to reduce fuel consumption and produce fewer emissions.
The bulbous bows are as high as a truck and weigh about 250 tonnes.
The bulbous bow – the nose of the ship – displaces water in a manner that minimizes or even completely eliminates a bow wave. The lower the water resistance on the hull, the less fuel a ship needs in order to travel at the same speed.
This distinctive part of the vessel is now being retrofitted in four of Hapag-Lloyd’s biggest ship classes. One by one, the 13,200 TEU ships in the “Hamburg Express” class and the 8,750 TEU vessels in the “Colombo Express,” “Prague Express” and “Vienna Express” classes are heading into the docks of two shipyards in Shanghai.
There will also be changes to the stern of the ships in the “Hamburg Express” class. In addition to the nose at the bow, the propellers at the rear will be replaced.
With a diameter of 9.20 meters, the new propellers are slightly larger than the old ones (9 metres) – but also about 11 tonnes lighter. Furthermore, there are now five instead of just four blades attached to the hub.
Experts at Hapag-Lloyd anticipate that the optimization measures will lead to fuel savings of roughly 10 per cent for the 13,200 TEU vessels alone.