Emden readies for LNG RoRo ships

Hopper dredger Causeway at work as Emden invests in outer harbour deepening
Hopper dredger Causeway at work as Emden invests in outer harbour deepening
Filling the gap between Emspier and Emskai will create a new Emden terminal.
Filling the gap between Emspier and Emskai will create a new Emden terminal.
Industry Database

German vehicle handling port Emden has deepened its outer harbour and is expanding elsewhere to meet the challenge of bigger ships in 2020, Tom Todd reports.

Deepening of the port’s 400m long and 45m wide Emspier car handling basin in the Outer Harbour from 9.12m to 10.92m has just been completed. Officials at Niedersachsen Ports (NPorts), which owns the port, said that will enable the handling in future of ships drawing up to 10.3m. “In this way Niedersachsen Ports are responding to the development of ever bigger ships involved in the export and import of vehicles”, they said.

Emden is Germany’s westernmost seaport and Europe’s third largest vehicle port after Zeebrugge and Bremerhaven, handling 1.36 million vehicles in 2018. Total handling was over 5 million tons in 2017.

“By deepening the Emspier basin we are creating sufficient water depths for bigger ships with greater draughts and that strengthens our location on the Ems and in this region” said Holger Banik, Managing Director of NPorts.

The company said it had invested about a million Euros in deepening and that more than 50,000m3 of material were removed from the basin by the hopper dredger Causeway. Assisting in work closer to the quayside was a long-arm dredger mounted on a pontoon. Dredged material was deposited at special sites inland.

NPorts also reported that, over the past months, the administrative, legal, safety and inland shipping foundations for future operations had been laid. With immediate effect, LNG fuelled ships can now be tanked at the Emspier, the company said, noting this was a climate-friendly alternative to ships’ engines.

At the same time, however, NPorts spokeswoman Dörte Schmitz noted in comments to Maritime Journal in late November that legal complications concerning land conservation were holding up approval for a separate but associated project in the Outer Harbour. It concerns the filling in of the current gap between the Emspier and the adjacent Emskai - both located directly on the tidal Ems Estuary. That will create an 860m long quayside and a new berth capable of handling ships of 265m length as well as a new 22,600m2 terminal area. It will take about two years to build the new facility, which will cost an estimated €55 million.

Dörte Schmitz said that while the legal difficulties were being sorted out, preparations for the planned project were continuing. The area had already been surveyed for wartime ordinance she said – a regular port development procedure in this part of Germany. An operator for the new terminal had not been named as of November, but that was also “under preparation”, she told Maritime Journal.

NPorts said late last year that all was now in place in Emden for the expected arrival and handling in January of the first LNG-fuelled car carriers to use the German port’s revamped facilities.

The 200m long and 38m wide Siem Confucius – along with sister Siem Aristotle, expected in spring - are the first LNG ships of their type in the world. They are also described as the largest RoRo ships with LNG propulsion ever built, and the first to be deployed overseas. Although the same length as the conventionally powered ships they replace, they are almost six meters wider than the previous 32.5m car carriers.

The Chinese-built duo are on charter from Siem Car Carriers with major Emden vehicle transport customer Volkswagen. They replace the conventional ships currently used by VW on the Atlantic route between Emden and Mexico.

Drawing a reported 8.65m, the new VW ships in Emden should be quite at home in the deep new Emspier basin. Carrying about 4,700 vehicles on 13 decks they are powered by MAN B&W S60ME-gas injection, dual-fuel, two-stroke main engines delivering 12,600 kW and 16.5 knots in eco mode. Two tanks on each ship hold 1,800 m3 of LNG apiece and the ships also operate on biogas.

MAN says the L28/32DF auxiliary engines are the first to be approved for Tier III operation without SCR and the first of their type to be built in a 7-cylinder variant. Each ship is driven by a four-bladed MAN Alpha fixed pitch, Kappel design propeller of 6.95m diameter.

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