The Future of Dry Bulk Carriers
As a full-service maritime and offshore procurement company that services all South African ports, the Link Ship Chandlers team takes great interest in emerging technologies that support the development of sustainable shipping practices. As such, we have our ear to the ground at all times. Here are a few of the exciting future-proof trends in dry bulk carrying that have been mentioned quite frequently around the watercooler of late:
Sails Are Back!
Remember the sail-powered vessels of old? Well, they’re back! Sort of… Towing kites for ships offer bulk carrier operators the opportunity to retrofit new and secondhand ships with low-tech propulsion systems that reduce the carbon emissions of their fleets by as much as 30% on average, depending on wind conditions. In fact, these systems have a maximum propulsion power of the equivalent of 2700 horsepower, which is what a ship’s engine produces. Best of all? No additional personnel is needed to operate this technology, as the system is fully automatic.
Liquefied Natural Gas as Fuel
LNG fuels, short for liquefied natural gas fuels, is another hopeful trend that has become a reality. The first dry bulk carrier to be fueled exclusively by LNG fuel, the cleanest burning fossil fuel available, was launched from the Ferus Smit Westerbroek Yard in the Netherlands in October 2015 in a joint venture between Erik Thun AB and KG Jebsen Cement. The cement carrier met with the highest emission standard criteria and featured a variety of other future-proof systems that contributes to the sustainable use thereof as well.
New Shipping Routes = Shorter Travel Distances
Global warming is a sad and unrelenting sign of our times, but there may be a little good that comes of it. The lowering of water levels in the Arctic Ses has made the Northwest Passage navigable. This passage in the Arctic ocean has the potential to shorten the distances vessels have to travel between the North Pacific and Northern Europe. It first became passable in 2007, but heavy climatic conditions stymied exploration of the route until 2013 when the Nordic Orion (a bulker operated by Nordic Bulk Carriers) traversed it successfully between the port of Vancouver and Finnish port of Pori. This shortened route cuts down on transit time, fuel usage and, ultimately, CO2 emissions.
It’s innovations like these that keep us excited and optimistic for the future of the shipping trade. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months as we share more exciting news and insider insight on all things shipping in South Africa and further afield. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with a member of the Link Ship Chandlers team if you would like to learn more about the services we provide from the port in Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay.