Building vessels for the future

To meet customer demand, sustain a competitive fleet and retain a strong market position, Maersk Tankers ordered six new LR2 vessels earlier this year. Peter Bertelsen, experienced shipbuilder, is heading the site office at Dalian shipyard, China, where the building of the vessels has just begun. 

Maersk Tankers constantly reviews its portfolio of vessels to ensure it maintains a competitive fleet, this includes adding newbuildings and selling older vessels. The LR2 newbuildings will meet customers’ requirements for vessels that can make longer voyages more efficiently while keeping the cost per trade low.

Peter Bertelsen, a naval architect by education, has – during 13 years with Maersk, in various positions and countries – overseen the building of more than 70 vessels, 13 for Maersk Tankers itself. Since 2014, as site manager, first in Korea, then in China, he has been supervising the building of Maersk Tankers’ current series of MR newbuildings. “After having taken delivery of 13 out of the 19 MR newbuildings, it is time for me to hand over the responsibility and move on to Dalian shipyard to oversee the building of the LR2s,” says Bertelsen.

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From left to right: Lead Machinery Superintendent Gwang Rok Choi, Site Manager Peter Bertelsen and Lead Hull Superintendent Volodymyr Shepel in front of Maersk Tankers' latest newbuilding of the MR series, Maersk Callao.

Building the vessels

The building process for each of the 110,000 DWT LR2s will take approximately 16 months, with each vessel consisting of around 300 blocks, containing 161 km of cables and having 16,700 m2 of paint on the hull.

Bertelsen explains that the process starts with “research on where to buy and what to buy exactly,” long before the production begins. In the process of yard selection, experienced site professionals are sent out to assess the yards, their capabilities and the quality of similar products. After a shipbuilding contract has been signed, the technicians come into the picture and specifications are written. After approval, the yard will make drawings which are, in turn, reviewed by Maersk Tankers’ technical experts.

The production process starts with cutting the steel. Further milestones include: keel laying – traditionally the keel was the beam around which the hull of the vessel was constructed, today it is the joining of the first modular components; launching – a procedure during which the vessel is transferred into water for the first time; and sea trials during which it is tested whether the vessel is ready for operation. After successful sea trials and final tests, the vessel receives its name during a traditional naming ceremony and is finally delivered to the fleet.

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Peter Bertelsen and his colleagues on site.

We build the LR2s based on our predictions for the future. If you build for the past, you’re not going to get very far.

Peter Bertelsen

Vessels for the future

On the new LR2s, Maersk Tankers is installing separate cargo pumps for each tank instead of one set of central pumps. This enables the company to transport six different cargo grades, giving customers more flexibility.

“In addition to that, we do a lot to optimise energy consumption,” adds Bertelsen. He explains that this is done through, for example, frequency-controlled sea water pumps and the installation of low energy consuming equipment.

“With every new generation of vessels, we have a chance to make them more efficient. We build the LR2s based on our predictions for the future. If you build for the past, you’re not going to get very far,” says Bertelsen, who adds that the efficiency of the LR2s will enable Maersk Tankers “to meet its customers’ demands not only today, but also in the future.”

The six LR2 vessels are planned for delivery over a period of two years with the first vessels entering the fleet in 2020.