When the Panama Canal was widened from 32 to just over 50 meters in 2016, it became possible to build a completely new type of vessel: post-Panamax. The post-Panamax vessels in the HERO (High Efficiency RoRo) class consists of four sister vessels. They are able carry 8,000 cars divided over 13 decks.
Because HERO vessels are wider, they have a reduced need of ballast water, which in turn cuts fuel consumption. Carrying less ballast also reduces the risk of spreading invasive species across the ocean.
But it is not just the reduction in ballast that has helped cut fuel consumption. The HERO vessels also have a new design. This includes a sharper bow with a more vertical profile, quite unlike the traditional clipper bow.
“The wave-piercing bow is designed to give better seagoing. The bow also has an integrated bulb which has been shown to work very well. While a traditional bulb is optimized for a certain draughts, the integrated bulb of the HERO vessels is optimized for varying draughts. You could say that an integrated bulb is broader in profile, rather than point-optimized for a single conditions,” says Carl-Johan Söder, Design Manager at Wallenius Marine.
Just as important in reducing environmental impact are the systems that monitor all the ship’s components to improve overall efficiency. Jesper Lögdström, Head of Performance Management at Wallenius Marine, reports that this combination of big advances in design and technology allow HERO vessels to operate with optimum performance in relation to the environment, costs, safety and quality.
“With each ship generation the onboard systems become increasingly important as they gain more sensors and become more sophisticated. Digitalisation makes it easier to collect data, which provides the basis for better performance. This helps us ensure that fuel consumption drops and in turn reduces environmental impact,” says Jesper Lögdström.