Jacob Sterling, head of sustainability for Maersk Line, told a media briefing on Monday that it retrofitted 137 containerships in its fleet last year.
“We have always done retrofits but I think what is new in 2013 is we were beginning to bundle the retrofits. So you take the ship out of service and we do multiple retrofits,” Sterling said.
These could involve changes such as replacing the bulbous bow, elevating the navigation bridge, and making modifications to the engine room. Sterling said that such “extreme makeovers” could result in efficiency gains comparable to buying a new eco-ship, with an efficiency gain of 15 – 20%.
“One of these big retrofits will typically cost between $5m - $10m, the pay back time is usually one to two years,” he said.
The short pay back time means the company has even retrofitted some of its chartered vessels. Of the 137 vessels retrofitted in 2013, 16 where on charter to the Danish company. “If we have three or four years left on a charter hire it makes perfect sense to pay for an upgrade as we will save on fuel costs,” Sterling said.
Of its total owned fleet of roughly 250 ships, Maersk Line has retrofitted about 200, while the company has similar number of chartered-in vessels as well.
Sterling believes retrofitting will be a continuous process with vessels undergoing second retrofits as new technologies are developed.
Retrofits are part of how the company says that, according to its own estimates, it saved its customers 2.6m tonnes of CO2 emissions last year, when compared to the industry average. This comes at a time when the line is seeing an increased demand for sustainability information, particularly from large shippers.
“We have seen in 2013 customer demand for sustainability information really kicking off,” Sterling said. In terms of business volume 19% of customers requested tailored sustainability information. However, while being 19% of shippers by volume for the line, this equated to only around 65 customers, as it is the large, multi-nationals that require such information as they have their own sustainability targets.
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