VESSEL REVIEW | Auto Aspire – Norwegian-owned car carrier fitted with LNG battery hybrid propulsion

Photo: Luis Prieto Garcia
Photo: Luis Prieto Garcia

Norwegian shipowner United European Car Carriers (UECC) has taken delivery of a new pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) from Jiangnan Shipyard, a company under the China Shipbuilding Group.

Auto Aspire is the final ship in a series of three LNG battery hybrid PCTCs ordered by UECC from the same shipyard. It will operate on European shortsea routes alongside sister vessels Auto Advance and Auto Achieve, which were delivered in 2021 and 2022, respectively. LNG was selected as a fuel option for the three ships after UECC recognised its ability to yield reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Future plans include configuring the ships to run on bioLNG and synthetic LNG once these fuel variants become available.

Like its sisters, Auto Aspire has a length of 169 metres, a beam of 32 metres, a draught of 7.5 metres, a deadweight of 12,452, and capacity for 3,600 vehicles on 10 cargo decks.

<em>Photo: Pitcher</em>
Photo: Pitcher

The propulsion arrangement includes an IMO Tier III LNG dual-fuel main engine, two dual-fuel generators, two controllable-pitch propellers, an energy storage and power distribution system from WE Tech, and a Corvus Orca Energy permanent magnet-charged battery pack with a total rated output of 508 kWh. The entire arrangement is capable of propelling the ship to speeds of just under 11 knots in addition to reducing the emissions of sulphur, NOx, and carbon by as much as 99 per cent, 85 per cent, and 25 per cent, respectively.

The PCTC also has an intelligent energy management system supplied by Kongsberg Maritime. This system helps manage the charging of the batteries while the vessel is underway. The fully charged batteries may then supply the necessary propulsive power that will allow entering and navigating in port waters, hence ensuring compliance with port emissions regulations.

The batteries may also provide some of the electrical load while the ship is at berth. The remaining load will be shouldered via shore charging equipment designed to supply green power whenever available.

Auto Aspire was designed by China's Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute (SDARI) to DNV class requirements and sails under the Portuguese flag. The hybrid propulsion arrangement is also DNV-compliant, having been granted the class society's Battery Safety notation.

<em>Photo: Gibby</em>
Photo: Gibby
Auto Aspire
Type of vessel:Pure car and truck carrier
Owner:United European Car Carriers, Norway
Designer:Shanghai Merchant Ship Design and Research Institute, China
Builder:Jiangnan Shipyard, China
Length overall:169 metres
Beam:32 metres
Draught:7.5 metres
Deadweight tonnage:12,452
Capacity:3,600 vehicles
Generator:WE Tech
Maximum speed:10.9 knots
Batteries:Corvus Orca Energy, 508 kWh
Other electronics:Kongsberg Maritime energy management system
Type of fuel:LNG

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