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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ocean Producer - youngest boxship to be demolished

It is a boxship built in 1999 with IMO No.  9162605 – christened ‘Norasia Sultana’ with Bahamas flag.  It had length of 217 M capable of 25 knots, carrying capacity of 1350 TEU with 200 reefer containers.   It was also known by other names such as Perth 08; MSC Kiwi etc., 

Boxships are Container vessels – ships that exclusively carry containers with cargo inside those containers – standardized Twenty feet equivalent (TEU) and Forty foot Equivalent.  For the uninformed there could be some confusion.  Containers are those boxes laden with cargo, that we see on land, in factories and on trucks.  These containers are put on board vessels specially designed to load containers, as there would be optimization of space.  Container vessels owe their existence to an American trucker by the name of Malcom McLean. In 1931, McLean purchased his first truck to send and pick up loads to and from vessels in various ports, and from his experience of waiting endlessly,  he invented the methodology of standardizing the carrying mode, which has saved the World precious time, money and more importantly reduced property being pilfered.   

In a Container ship - all of its  load is standard intermodal containers.  Container vessels eliminate the individual hatches, holds and dividers of the traditional general cargo vessels. The hull of a typical container ship is a huge warehouse divided into cells by vertical guide rails. These cells are designed to hold cargo in pre-packed units – containers.  The same containers could be placed on any conventional break-bulk ships too, but the purpose-built box ship has the economy of scale and efficiency of stowage, able to load more containers and keeping them intact while at sea.  The hatches open from the main deck and are surrounded by steel structure.  There are also the cell guides, strong vertical metal structures.  They guide the containers into well-defined rows during the loading process and provide some support for containers against the ship's rolling at sea.  Numerous systems are used to secure containers aboard ships, depending on factors such as the type of ship, the type of container, and the location of the container. 

There are big Container ships and there are smaller feeder vessels which run the feeder service between major ports to inner smaller ports – from local ports to getaway ports.  There is news that small feeder vessels are fast disappearing from the market.  The recent trend appears to be orders for 8,000-TEU plus.  It is stated that 3,000 to 5,000-TEU ships vessels are being phased out from the Asia Europe trade and are seeking new employment elsewhere. There has been steady increase of the ultra large, containerships  though those ships with larger volume base would focus only on bigger ports.  

And the worst impact of marginalization, is the scrapping of smaller size classed container vessels.  The funeral voyage is certainly a sad one as it marks the retiring or demise of the vessel, which would reach a breaking yard soon to be cut and broken to pieces with some of use and others turning into  just scrap.  There is some alarming report that very high number of smaller container ships are set to scrap sooner.  

The 1999-built, 1,500 TEUs feeder ship Ocean Producer, formerly the Norasia Sultana, has earned the dubious distinction of becoming the youngest box ship to be scrapped, excluding vessels damaged in accidents.  The Ocean Producer is reportedly,  one of 10 sister ships built in Germany and China between 1998 and 2000 that were plagued by technical problems and design flaws that prevented them from performing to specification.  The problems were fixed for most of the ships and they were adapted to run at much lower speeds than originally planned.

Any parting is always sad and this is a demise – never to return again

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd May 2012.


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