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Back in 2014, the then independent UASC was at the forefront of container shipping innovation with the first LNG-ready ultra-large container vessel (ULCV).

The 15,000 teu Sajir (pictured) was the first in a series of 17 ULCVs of up to 18,800 teu, which the Middle East-based carrier proudly described as the “world’s most eco-efficient vessels”.

In early 2014, heavy fuel oil bunkers hit $630 a tonne and the use of LNG to dual-power the ships would, it was anticipated, give UASC a significant advantage over HFO-burning competitors.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Oil prices collapsed and the carrier’s secret weapon was gone. The rest is history, as they say: the carrier could not compete in a market of sub-economic rates and was eventually taken over by Hapag-Lloyd.

This article from our friends at Ship & Bunker focuses not only on the surprise order by CMA CGM for nine 22,000 teu ULCVs, but on the fact that they could be powered by a combination of HFO and LNG.

It seems that the upcoming new tougher sulphur cap and the creeping rise in the price of oil has put alternative fuels back on the radar of container lines.