Tuesday, April 12, 2011

World's Largest Ro/Ro on West Coast Maiden Voyage

The world's newest and largest roll-on/roll-off vessel is making its way along the US West Coast-portion of its round-the-world maiden voyage, with calls at the Tacoma and Long Beach ports.

The Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics Mark V-class vessel, launched just three weeks ago and labeled by the carrier as the "most sophisticated vessel ever built in the roll-on/roll-off segment," is set to arrive Tuesday morning at the Port of Long Beach after a call Monday at the Port of Tacoma.

The 870-foot-long, 105-foot-wide Tonsberg, launched as part of Wilhelmsen's 150-year anniversary, features nine cargo decks offering nearly 5 million cubic feet of storage. The vessel is specially designed to accommodate high and heavy cargo such as excavators, bulldozers, wheel loaders and harvesters in addition to conventional ro/ro cargos. The vessel's main deck, accessed by five additional storage decks and three hoistable decks through a flexible system of internal ramps, leads to a stern deck door with a clearance height of just over 21 feet. The main deck feeds a specially designed stern ramp that is nearly 40 feet wide and can handle loads just more than 500 tons. Cargo can even be loaded on the ramp-accessed weather deck.

The Tonsberg is the first of four Mark V vessels expected to be delivered to the Wilh. Wilhelmsen group by 2012 under contract with Mistubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki, Japan.

The Mark V class vessels are designed to use 15 to 20 percent less fuel per transported unit than previous ro/ros, which according to Wilhelmsen is due to a optimized hull form and a number of energy saving features such as a streamlined rudder design and duck tail.

The Mark V vessels also feature an exhaust heat recovery system in the engine room that utilizes waste heat to power an advanced turbo generator to produce electricity while simultaneously helping to cut fuel consumption and reduce total emissions output.

Additional features include a Unitor ballast water treatment system to avoid the transfer of harmful microorganisms into the sea. The vessels also feature newly designed protections for all fuel tanks to minimize the potential of a leak in the event of a grounding or collision.

The Tonsberg, which began its maiden voyage in Korea with a swing through Japan, will continue on its trip through the Panama Canal, before making calls up the U.S. East Coast and heading to Europe.