The construction of COSCO’s electrically powered container ships is underway Ship’s crew

China’s COSCO Shipping reports that it is making progress on its plans to launch its first electric-powered container ships on the Yangtze. Construction of the two ships for the project, first announced in March 2022, is currently underway. The ships are expected to enter service in late 2023.

The two ships are said to weigh 10,000 tons each and be designed to navigate a more than 600-mile stretch between the river and the sea. Each ship will be 393 feet long and approximately 77.5 feet wide. They will have a draft draft of 18 feet to ensure good maneuverability along the Yangtze River with a deadweight capacity of up to 700 TEU. COSCO assumes that the ships are the largest electric container ships in the world.

Each of the ships is powered by two 900 kW main propulsion engines. When the project was unveiled last year, COSCO said the ships will use container batteries the size of a 20-foot container with a capacity of 50,000 kWh. These batteries are charged on land. COSCO is planning a network of charging stations and battery replacement depots along the river. In March 2023, COSCO reported that the commissioning of elements of the power grid had been completed, marking an important step towards commissioning.

The first steel for the ships was cut at the COSCO Shipping Heavy Industries shipyard in December. The assembly of the second ship began on May 8 at the shipyard. COSCO says they will save the equivalent of 32 tons of CO2 emissions every 24 hours when they are deployed.

A total of 51 organizations are involved in the project, including COSCO and Panasia Shipping. Organizations involved in the effort include the Wuhan Institute of Standards, Chengrui Power and Lloyd’s Register.

Last year, China launched the largest electric river cruise ship operating in the Three Gorges Dam area, and the first phase of an electrification project first proposed in 2018. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Transport have jointly funded the project, which is part of a broader effort to electrify the Yangtze River region.

COSCO reports that the ships will be equipped with an intelligent ship platform system and an advanced situational awareness system in addition to the electric propulsion system. Applying the two systems, they report, will greatly improve the ship’s intelligence and safety.

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