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A new design for an LNG-powered feeder, developed by Technolog for Seaspan, splits the difference between the Maersk ‘house-forward’ approach, and conventional mid-bridge ship design, by splitting its superstructure into two.

No capacity details have been released for the 198m vessel design, which won Lloyd’s Register (LR) approval in principle (AiP) this week. Inference from its rendering, however, suggests between 1680-2000TEU.

What is clear is that the design appears to maximise that of forward visibility, one of the main benefits of the bow-bridge principle, while maintaining the crew accommodation block aft. ‘House-forward’ designs with bow-mounted superstructures seem here to stay, following Maersk’s adoption of the principle with its methanol-powered ships.

On a vessel with conventional bridge placement, a high bridge height is required to see over the container stacks, ultimately limiting container capacity on routes with restricted air draft. The Egyptian–Japanese Friendship Bridge, which spans the Suez Canal, has a clearance of 70m, which on a conventional vessel limits bridge height, and stack heights to drastically less than that.

The extra capacity afforded by a bow-mounted bridge makes it likely that the status quo will shift to favour this new layout. There are tradeoffs, however: in previous Loadstar interviews, experienced seafarers have pointed out that bridge crews will suffer the worst of bad weather: “using the crew as a breakwater” as industry veteran Michael Grey characterised it.

Another issue is that crew on the bridge will have to run most of the length of the vessel to get to the engine room in an emergency, as well as the need to conduct lifeboat evacuation from two places simultaneously in the event of an abandon-ship.

But the Technolog design appears to split the difference, with off-duty crew sleeping closer to the middle of the vessel for comfort, but relocating to the bridge to start their shifts.

Initially powered by LNG, the design will be ‘ammonia-ready’, Seaspan said.

“Seaspan and LR have partnered to address important topics for many years, and this is an excellent result of one of those partnerships,” said Peter Jackson, SVP of Assets and Technology at Seaspan Corporation. “Technolog’s input has also provided a creative solution and demonstrated their leadership in the ship design and feeder ship segment.”

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