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10 vessels that didn’t exist 10 years ago

With talk around disruption and change in the shipping industry, here are 10 vessels that prove shipping has not stayed still over the past decade.

Technologies that increase data output, analyse this data for us and facilitate better decision making maximises efficiency.  While the concepts behind the vessels of today are not always new, they have advanced in a way that has allowed them to be deployed in commercial operations for the first time.

Fathom-news takes a look at the past decade and some of the advances that have resulted in the development of vessels that did not exist 10 years ago.

Image courtesy of Fjord Line

Dedicated LNG powered ships

10 years ago ships were used to carry LNG fuel, but they were not powered by it. To reduce SOx, NOx and CO2 from shipping, ship engines have been developed to process LNG for propulsion.

In July 2013, Fjord Line’s MS Stavangerfjord became the first vessel to operate with a dedicated LNG engine by Rolls Royce. An identical ship began sailing in March 2014. These ferries, the first in the world to operate purely on LNG, operate today between Norway and Denmark.

Ships with dual-fuel engines

While LNG has been used as a marine fuel in gas carriers for decades, and in the first ferry as a fuel 17 years ago (the Norwegian ferry Glutra) it is only in the last decade that it has started to be used in a range of different vessel types. The first dual or multi fuel containerships, tankers, bulk vessels, large ferries, cruise ships as well as specialised vessels like cranes, dredgers and heavy lift vessels are all in service now or on order.

MF Glutra LNG Ferry, courtesy of Maritim Motor A/S

Added to this is the development of dual-fuel engines to use a growing range of fuel types. Methane is now being used and plans have already been made to test ethanol as a marine fuel. LPG has also been considered.

Ships powered by biofuel

Finnish shipping company, Meriaura Group was reportedly the first to own a cargo ship that can operate 100% on bio-oil. Built in 2012 by STX Finland, the multifunctional deck cargo carrier, Meri, uses raw bio-oil that has come from industry side streams and therefore does not compete against the food chain. The vessel operates using Wärtsilä engines.

As part of Meriaura’s sustainability strategy, the vessel has also been designed to recover up to 2,700m 3  of oil spilled. Meriaura also reported in March 2017 that a new VG EcoCoaster capable of operating on both biofuel and MGO will enter operation in the next couple of years.

MS Meri, courtesy of Meriaura Group


Vessels powered by hydrogen

Bristol hosts the first passenger vessel, Hydrogenesis, capable of using hydrogen to propel itself. It is powered by a 12kW fuel cell and carries just 12 passengers and two crew members.  The purpose of Hydrogenesis is to demonstrate the use of hydrogen fuel cells as a future method of ship propulsion.  In 2010, Bristol City Council supplied £225,000 towards the construction of the vessel, which was designed and built by Bristol Hydrogen Boats.

Bristol’s hydrogen powered ferry

Today the ferry operates six hours a day between Temple Quay and the SS Great Britain, allowing Bristol’s hydrogen powered ferry Hydrogenesis’ only source of waste is pure water.  The fuel cells used on this vessel only require ten minutes of charging to full recharge, compared with the traditional time of around five hours for conventional batteries.


Vessels powered by electricity

Norled AS, MF Ampere Ferry powered by Corvus Energy ESSs on both vessel and shore charging stations. Courtesy of Corvus

Just two years ago the first vessel to be powered totally by electricity was launched.  The car and passenger ferry, Ampere, uses lithium-ion energy storage systems by Corvus Energy and was developed in collaboration with Norled AS, Fjellstrand Shipyard, Siemens AS, and Corvus Energy.

Ampere operates in Western Norway between Lavik and Oppedal and carries 120 cars or 360 passengers.  According to Corvus, by operating on energy storage systems, the ferry is able to save over 1m litres of diesel a year, 2,680 tonnes of CO2 and 37 tonnes of NOx.

World’s first CNG carrier vessel

The Jayanti Baruna, courtesy of ABS

In January 2016, the compressed natural gas carrier, the Jayanti Baruna, was launched. Powered by gas using a Wärtsilä dual-fuel main engine, it carries natural gas of a very high pressure (200 bar) from East Java to the island of Lombok, Indonesia, where it is not possible for remote communities to obtain gas via pipeline.

The vessel was built by China’s Jiangsu Hantong shipyard and owned by Pelayaran Bahtera Adhiguna.


 Autonomous vessel systems
SeaRobotics’ HullBUG, courtesy of SeaRobotics

Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) have been used since 1957 to study diffusion, acoustic transmissions, and map deep-sea manganese nodule fields.  However, at this time the use of AUVs were unproven in the field and it was not until recently that the use of UAVs for hull cleaning, maintenance and even fire fighting onboard has been commercialised.

Today there are a number of underwater marine robots used for a range of purposes including vessel cleaning, such as SeaRobotics’ HullBUG launched in 2013.  Today there are a range of marine robotics by Kongsberg, Nautico and SeaRobotics that provide underwater assessment of vessel operations by retaining the ability to access difficult parts of a ship and operate in challenging environments.


Offshore decommissioning vessels

Pioneering Spirit, courtesy of Allseas

In February 2015, plans for the first purpose built decommissioning vessel for removing and disposing, or recycling, of the facilities from oil and gas fields. Pioneering Spirit, a heavy-lift vessel officially began operations in April 2017, removing topsides from the Brent platforms in the oilfield north-east of Shetland.

In just a single lift Pioneering Spirit can remove topsides of up to 48,000 tonnes and leftover platforms jackets up to 25,000 tonnes.


Wind turbine installation vessels

Built in 2013, the jack-up vessel Vole au Vent specifically installs offshore windparks, tidal current turbines, wave energy generators, net masts and oil & gas infrastructure. With a capacity of 1,500 tonnes, the Vole au Vent can lay down the heaviest foundations of offshore windparks.

The vessel has four legs, which enables it to stand stable above the sea level without being impacted by the waves. It can install all kinds of foundations in water depths up to 50 m.

Vole au Vent, courtesy of Jan De Nul Group



A barge or ship mounted fully integrated floating power plants is known as a Powership, the name is trademarked by Karadeniz Holding A.S since 2010.

These ships are built to deliver power plants, providing power directly into the transmission network from their onboard high voltage substation.  There are now nine ships in existence with over 1,500 MW of total installed power. According to Karadeniz, there is another 6,000 MW of Powerships under construction or in the pipeline.

The ships use HFO, natural gas or LNG with dual-fuel engines to generate 30-470 MW power.

Fatmagül Sultan Powership, courtesy of Karadeniz



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