CMA CGM Starts Upgrades of 100 Vessels at Damen to Improve Efficiency

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French shipping giant CMA CGM is the latest to plan upgrades applying a range of technologies to help it improve the efficiency of its ships. Damen Shipyards Group reports it has reached an agreement for a long-term cooperation that will result in significant modifications to around 100 of CMA CGM’s vessels, including several of the newest in the fleet.

Faced with increasing environmental regulations and financial pressures, shipowners are pursuing near-term upgrades to their in-service ship designs to help meet the first-tier industry goals for reduced emissions. Analysts believe that through the use of the available improvements to ships and technology such as routing and voyage planning systems the shipping industry will be able to meet the IMO’s goals for a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2030.

Damen highlights that up until now CMA CGM has been using shipyards in China and occasionally the Middle East. This project calls for the upgrades to take place at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque and Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam, marking the first time CMA CGM will use European yards for complex modifications.

A key part of the project will be the installation of new bulbs on the bow of the vessels. Damen reports the bulb refits will yield between a 5 and 10 percent savings in fuel consumption for CMA CGM.

The Amsterdam yard has completed the fabrication of the first 120-tonne bulb which will be fitted on the Containerships Polar, a 2019-built LNG-fueled feeder ship. At 20,257 dwt the vessel was built in China with a capacity of 1,380 TEU. She will be one of the first three vessels to be fitted with the blubs, followed by the CMA CGM Arctic (158,800 dwt) built in 2022 in Korea and with a capacity of 14,812 TEU. The Polar’s sistership Containerships Arctic will also be fitted with a new bow bulb.

Damen reports a total of nine vessels will be upgraded in 2024, five at Dunkerque and four in Amsterdam. In addition to the bulbs, three vessels will be equipped to access shore power.

CMA CGM is looking at other upgrades that can further contribute to vessel efficiency. Damen reports it is also offering packages that not only include the bow bulb, but also a propeller upgrade, modifications to the propeller nozzle, and silicone paint. Each of these upgrades Damen says will deliver additional fuel economies of between 2 and 5 percent.

Other major carriers have also announced plans for vessel upgrades. Hapag-Lloyd launched a 5-year program in 2022 calling for the upgrades of up to 150 vessels. They planned to optimize the propeller for energy efficiency on at least 86 vessels starting with the 7,500 TEU Ningbo Express. At the same time, they planned to add a flow-optimized bulbous bow to 36 vessels.

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