Ultra Large Containerships: Will Security Measures Impede Operations?

large containerships

As the U.S. — and the world — tries to thwart terrorist attacks in the planning stage, container shipping has become a focal point. From electronic seals to radiation detection devices mounted on container cranes, the effort to ensure attack from the sea does not come via a 20-ft. equivalent unit is comprehensive and ongoing.

Prior to September 11, 2001, the push to design, outfit and build ever larger containerships -— vessels capable of carrying 8,000 TEU and much more — was a consistent theme on the industry conference rounds. Replaced with that, in large, are discussions on terrorism, specifically targeting container shipping and the threats inherent with this mode of transportation. This is not to say that the larger ships are inherently less secure. The need for larger, more efficient means to move containers is clear.

Predictions show that in the next 20 years, the number of container boxes coming into U.S. ports will quadruple from the current level of six million. When SeaLand's Malcolm McLean essentially invented the container shipping industry in the 1960s, it is safe to say that protecting against the delivery U.S. Port Security Fee Scheme Proposed During a meeting of the Conference Committee that is attempting to draft a unified U.S. port and maritime security bill, it was proposed that a Port Security Fee be assessed to fund various port security initiatives.

Fees on international cargo shipments would, under the scheme floated by Sen. Hollings (DSC), be: • $15 per regular TEU • $20 per TEU containing HazMat • $4 per vehicle • $4 per passenger • $.30 per metric ton of crude oil $.45 per metric ton of petroleum product • $.50 per metric ton of chemical product $.60 per metric ton of liquid gases (LNG/LPG) • $.02 per metric ton of dry bulk cargo • $ 1 per metric ton of other cargo. Based on calendar year 2000 data, this would collect approximately $692 million each year. The monies, to be collected by the Customs Service, would be deposited in a new Port Security Trust Fund. Half the monies would be allocated to ports for security enhancements. Of the remainder, 25 percent would be set aside for discretionary grants for protection of miscellaneous maritime assets and for shipper security programs and the other 25 percent would be available to generic security programs at the Maritime Administration, TSA, Customs, and the Coast Guard. These generic programs would include credentialing, Sea Marshals, AIS implementation, R&D on seaport security technology, and cargo screening equipment.

of "dirty" nuclear weapons did not enter his mind. Fast forward to 2002: container shipping has proven to be an efficient and indispensable means of moving goods from point A to point B. But the future look, outfitting and operation of these vessels will undoubtedly be altered by rules and regulations emanating from safety concerns.

Developments in Ship Shape Prior to heightened security efforts and the downturn in the world containership trade, development of ultra large containership, with future estimates of ships ranging to the 15,000 to 18.000 TEU range, were regular fodder for publication. Germanischer Lloyd's Hans G. Payer, a longtime and persuasive proponent of the design and technical details of these mammoth ships reasoned that economy of scale (which includes much larger ships with much less crew) effects in container shipping have led to a rapid increase in ship size for all types of vessels, from feeders to the large intercontinental carriers, in a paper presented at the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) annual meeting in September 2001.

Mid last year, Knud E. Hansen A/S and Bureau Veritas teamed to develop the design for an Ultra Large Container Vessel — without question, a landmark vessel — capable of carrying 12,500 TEU, and came up with the following technical specs: Machinery Innovations While there are numerous challenges in designing such a large ship that is designed to weather the rigors of sea duty for 25 years or more, perhaps the biggest challenge is the propulsion solution. Last year ABB and Samsung teamed to develop a new propulsion con- cept for Samsung's 12,000 TEU container ships. In comparing the CRP Azipod solution to two other propulsion systems — a single engine and a twin main engine — tests conducted at Samsung's Ship Model Basin found that the CRP Azipod system performed impressively, showing good economic potential.

Instead of having a rudder, the CRP Azipod unit is mounted directly behind the standard propeller. Located on the same axis, but without any physical connection, the pod's pulling propeller will contra-rotate in relation to the shaft-driven main propeller. This arrangement gives an improvement of more than 10 percent in hydrodynamic propulsion efficiency.

According to the model tests at Samsung's facilities, this solution showed a hydrodynamic efficiency of 7.1 percent better than single screw and 11.4 percent better than twin screw/twin skeg solutions. Total propulsion efficiency was determined as all calculated transmission losses added to needed propeller power. The result gave the CRP Azipod an advantage of 4.9 percent compared to single screw, and 9.1 percent compared to twin screw/twin skeg solutions.

Regarding machinery operation costs, including fuel, lubrication oil and maintenance, the Samsung test showed that the cost for the CRP Azipod were eight percent lower than for the twin skeg, and four percent lower than for the single screw solution at service speed.

New Security Measures The uninterrupted flow of ships and cargo through U.S. ports is vital to the world economy. Slowdowns resulting from September 11 and the resulting security tightening lingers today, though the importance of seamless transportation is realized by all.

According to the Maritime Transportation Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002 that was recently approved by the U.S. House, by no later than June 30. 2003, new section 7011 requires the develop- ment and maintenance of an anti-terrorism cargo identification and screening system for containerized cargo shipped to and from the U.S.

The U.S. Customs Service has the primary Federal responsibility to ensure that all imports and exports comply with U.S. laws and regulations. The Custom Service is spearheading two initiatives to improve container security, the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the Container Security Initiative, both of which focus on the goal of checking the security of cargo before it reaches the U.S. While final details are not yet set, and some will never become public knowledge, it is a sure bet that both will rely heavily on technology and be well funded.

The result of tougher security measures while retaining time sensitivity is the creation of a cottage industry of sorts involving innovative applications of new technologies in and around ports. From radiation sensors mounted on container cranes to whole container X-ray capabilities, many companies that previously were outside of have quickly embraced the maritime market.

One such company is General Defense Systems, Inc., which introduced its Shipping Container Inspection System (SCIS). an advanced chemical, biological and radioactive inspection system for shipping containers. "Without impeding the movement of containers. our SCIS system enables inspection of up to 100 percent of the shipping containers moving through U.S. ports, minimizing risk and significantly curtailing vulnerability," states F r a n k Fawcett, president and CEO of General Defense Systems, Inc. (GDS). "With more than six million shipping containers entering U.S. ports annually and only approximately two percent inspected pre-September 11, the threat to national security is viable. SCIS can mitigate the potential for disaster." GDS' SCIS system deploys highly sensitive, accurate detection devices on the cranes and lift trucks that move the shipping containers in and out of U.S. ports. The port cranes control close to 100 percent of the shipping containers that pass through these ports, hoisting the containers on and off shipping vessels. SAIC is another company that has history in port security, serving the maritime market for more than 20 years. To protect port approaches, SAIC harbor systems, used by the U.S. Navy as well as other U.S. and international customers, integrate sensor systems and response assets. The harbor systems are designed to give a clear picture of the port - on land and underwater.

Once in port, SAIC systems, based on the Automated Gate System (AGS), come into play. These systems are used for container identification and processing as cargo containers move through terminal depots, warehouse, and distribution centers. AGS-based systems process cargo, drivers, and vehicles by using high-resolution digital video technology, interactive kiosk, proprietary optical character recognition algorithms and associated knowledge-based software, and radio frequency Automatic Equipment Identification. It is claimed that AGS processes containers at five times the speed of conventional operations. In port intermodal facilities, damaged and high-risk containers, quickly identified by an AGS system, are routed through another proven and highly effective SAIC technology: Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems (VAC1S). A VACIS unit is designed to reliably scan a 40-ft. container in less than six seconds. Gamma ray technology scans the contents of containers, vehicles, and railcars, without harming cargo, and a realtime image shows system operators the contents of containers, verifying that cargo is consistent with a declared manifest and revealing voids, false walls and ceilings, and other secret compartments. For more information on companies in this report, circle the appropriate www.maritimereporterinfo.com

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