Ammonia-powered container ship design wins AiP

By Jack Burke26 July 2023

Seaspan, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping and Foreship presented the design

A concept design for a 15,000 TEU container vessel powered by ammonia has won an Approval in Principal (AiP) from the classification society American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

The design was presented by Seaspan Corp. and the Mærsk McKinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping (MMMCZCS) in collaboration with Foreship, an indepedent ship design and engineering company.

ABS said ammonia is a promising alternative marine fuel, but there are currently no ships capable of sailing on ammonia. In 2022, Seaspan and the MMMCZCS jointly initiated a project to better understand the challenges and opportunities of designing a large ammonia-fueled container vessel. A concept design for a 15,000 TEU container vessel was developed in close collaboration with ship designer Foreship and classification society ABS. The project included defining the safety objective, impact of ammonia as a fuel on vessel performance, completion of a hazard identification (HAZID) qualitative risk assessment and development of the concept design. Documentation included a fuel range and endurance analysis, ammonia tank and system location assessments, general arrangement, main machinery and electrical system design, and initial vessel stability calculations.

ABS presents Seaspan Corporation and Mærsk McKinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping with AiP for a Foreship-designed ammonia-fueled container vessel. Left to right: Shaun White, Managing Director UK, Foreship Ltd. James Cherrill, Principle Engineer, American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) Seb Brindley, Senior Naval Architect, Seaspan Corporation Thomas McKenney, Head of Ship Design, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping. (Image: ABS)

The project is connected to the Singapore Ammonia Bunkering Feasibility Study (SABRE) consortium, focusing on developing and demonstrating an ammonia supply chain in Singapore. Phase 1 performed an end-to-end technical and commercial feasibility study of ammonia bunkering in Singapore along with a preliminary ammonia bunkering vessel design. Phase 2 is investigating how to mature the commercial feasibility so that contractual terms across the supply chain are prepared and can be executed to establish an ammonia bunkering operation in Singapore. The 15,000 TEU vessel was designed as a potential receiver of ammonia fuel from bunker vessels currently under design and development.

“This is a very good example of industry collaboration, where leading maritime organizations are working together and taking tangible steps to decarbonize the maritime industry,” said Peter Jackson, senior vice president Assets & Technology at Seaspan. “Ammonia is a very promising future marine fuel and this project is a vital and significant step in the development and realization of ammonia powered containerships.”

Thomas McKenney, head of Ship Design at Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, said this project highlights the importance of collaborative design development and proper safety case integration as the ammonia fuel pathway matures for the maritime industry.

“This landmark vessel is an important step towards helping ship owners and operators benefit from ammonia’s zero-carbon tank-to-wake emissions profile. However, ABS recognizes that ammonia presents a specific set of safety and technology challenges, and we are committed to leading the industry in supporting its safe adoption at sea,” said Panos Koutsourakis, ABS vice president, Global Sustainability.

Shaun White, managing director UK at Foreship Ltd,  said his company has a clear strategy and focuses on decarbonization services and supporting the marine industry to achieve net zero targets.

“This innovative project demonstrates how Foreship works in collaboration with ship owners, classification societies and research organizations applying industry-leading naval architecture and marine engineering expertise to ship designs using promising alternative fuels,” White said.

A report detailing the concept design, how the ammonia safety case was developed and outcomes from the risk assessment will be published by MMMCZCS. The potential commercialization of the vessel design concept based on technology and shipyard readiness will be the focus of the next stage of this project.

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