The Maersk Triple-E is the newest class of container ships. First built and delivered in 2013 (the first example being named the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller) there are 20 total units planned (as of January this year, there are 7 units) with planned complete production in June 2015.
In the hull, there’s some interesting technology (from Wikipedia):
One of the class’s main design features are the dual 32-megawatt (43,000 hp) ultra-long stroke two-stroke diesel engines, driving two propellers at a design speed of 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph). Slower than its predecessors, this class uses a strategy known as slow steaming, which is expected to lower fuel consumption by 37% and carbon dioxide emissions per container by 50%
Maersk Triples-Es are designed to be the world’s most efficient container ships by virtue of their hull and how they’re operated:
Unlike conventional single-engined container ships, the new class of ships has a twin-skeg design: It has twin diesel engines, each driving a separate propeller. Usually, a single engine is more efficient; but using two propellers allows a better distribution of pressure, increasing propeller efficiency more than the disadvantage of using two engines.
The engines have waste heat recovery (WHR) systems; these are also used in 20 other Mærsk vessels including the eight E-class ships. The name “Triple E class” highlights three design principles: “Economy of scale, energy efficient and environmentally improved“.
The twin-skeg principle also means that the engines can be lower and further back, allowing more room for cargo. Maersk requires ultra-long stroke two-stroke engines running at 80 rpm (versus 90 rpm in the E class); but this requires more propeller area for the same effect, and such a combination is only possible with two propellers due to the shallow water depth of the desired route.
A slower speed of 19 knots is targeted as the optimum, compared to the 23–26 knots of similar ships. The top speed would be 25 knots, but steaming at 20 knots would reduce fuel consumption by 37%, and at 17.5 knots fuel consumption would be halved. These slower speeds would add 2–6 days to journey times.
The various environmental features are expected to cost $30 million per ship, of which the WHR is to cost $10 million.Carbon dioxideemissions, per container, are expected to be 50% lower than emissions by typical ships on the Asia-Europe route and 20% lower than Emma Maersk. These are the most efficient containerships in the world, per TEU. A Cradle-to-cradle design principle was used to improve scrapping when the ships end their life.
As noted in the infographic the transit from the China to Europe takes 20 days. Maersk is hoping the increased fuel efficiency will offset the increased transit times.
It’s going to be interesting to see how these vessels will change the current maritime security environment.