4th Generation of VLCC
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4th Generation of VLCC


Stena Bulk ordered two Very large Crude Carrier (VLCC) newbuildings at South Korea's Hyundai Heavy Industries several weeks ago. These ships are rather out of the ordinary.
Compared to a standard current, third generation double hull VLCC, the most obvious difference is that the V-Max has two main engines with skeg-mounted propellers. There are significant safety advantages from having two propulsion systems but the basic reason for this arrangement is a commercial one. The ship is designed to get large cargoes of oil into relatively shallow ports. This can only be achieved by building longer or wider vessels. Practical considerations more or less rule out significantly longer ships than present-day VLCCs. So the V-Max is, at 70 meters beam, about 10 meters wider than standard ships. It is also incidentally relatively fast at over 16 knots loaded. Stena believes that the design could open up some 50 additional ports worldwide to VLCC-size cargoes. It is effectively a very large suezmax design.
The safety features of the new design are improved. As required by the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (Marpol), the design incorporates a double hull. Stena has enhanced the protection that gives by putting in hopper-style tanks at the bilges. Twin engines in themselves give added safety in case of technical failure, and also greatly enhance maneuverability. Stena has again taken this a step further by completely isolating the two propulsion and steering systems. A twin-engine design also allows the bunker tanks to be tucked away between the main engines. This is an important point because fuel oil is particularly obnoxious when spilt into the environment and often causes much more damage than crude oil cargoes.
Some expect that at least 50 such ships will be built and no doubt Hyundai will also be hoping that its current Stena Bulk newbuildings will be the forerunners of a lengthy series of near-standard ships.
More information : Shipping Times


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