Futurist looks at 50,000-TEUers and says it can be done
TALK of 50,000-TEU ships, prompted by a recent speculative McKinsey Report, have sparked much ribald ridicule, but also some serious thought.
One man who can see such things ahead is shipping futurist Harry Valentine, a mechanical engineer in thermaldynamics, writing in Fort Lauderdale's Marine Executive magazine.
"The increasing demand for greater carrying capacity could lead to the development of articulated ocean going ships," he said, clearly referring to 50,000-TEUers .
"While lengthening ships incurs greater stress on the hull, the installation of articulation couplings between short sections of ship promises to reduce this on extended-length ships.
"Articulated tug-barge vessels carry bulk freight in American coastal waters. Research has been undertaken on future coupled ships," said Mr Valentine.
"Today, there is scope to build single-units of up to 28,000 TEU that could become available after the twinning of the Suez Canal. The design could form the basis of extended length articulated versions.
"Terminals able to accommodate the 18-metre draft of such ships are under development in Southern India, Southern US and Eastern Canada.
"The larger ship could sail between Southern India and North America. There may be scope for innovative crane technology to accommodate the additional 10 metre height by 7.5 metre width of the larger vessel," Mr Valentine said.
"The Port of Vizhinjam would serve as the transshipment terminal for smaller ships that connect to ports elsewhere around India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, western Thailand, western Malaysia, western Indonesia and western Australia.
"Melford Terminal in Nova Scotia would connect to ports located along the American east coast as well as along the St Lawrence River and Seaway, extending to the Great Lakes."
Louisiana would connect to the American inland waterway system as well as to ports in Western Florida, Texas, Eastern Mexico, several Caribbean ports.
Such traffic "could warrant the development of five mega ships that would sail at 19 knots over the 7,700 nautical mile distance within 17 days on weekly departures".
"Mega ships sailing at just over 20 knots between southern India and the southern US. Such ships could cover the 9,720 nautical mile distance within 20 days, allowing a fleet of six vessels to provide weekly departures including 24-hour layovers.
"American designers have offered designs of articulated ship that include a single coupling and also multiple couplings.
"The design of the articulation coupling could provide both relative vertical movement and relative roll between a 350-metre forward section and 200-metre rear section.
"Computer controlled bow thruster and side thruster placed near the coupling would assist stern rudder and stern propeller to maintain directional control."
The American Sea Snake design involves a multi-section, ocean capable concept ship with couplings designed to allow relative roll among up to five sections of 150 metres to 200 metres each, he said.