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A gentle giant with a small footprint

Published:04.12.2020 The ship is longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. At over 400 m long and with capacity to hold over 23,000 standard containers, the CMA CGM Jacques Saadé is among the giants of the seas. With twelve layers of containers stacked on top of each other, she is taller than a 26-storey building. And best of all: she is powered by environmentally friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG), the best technical solution currently available in terms of energy transition. She is the first ship of this size in the world to have an LNG engine.

In late September 2020, shortly after completion and her christening in Shanghai, she set off on her maiden voyage to Europe, where excitement about her arrival was already high. For the staff of the CMA CGM Group, a world leader in shipping and logistics, the flagship, named after its founder, is a source of great pride. In early November, the CMA CGM Jacques Saadé reached Hamburg, and in mid-November it arrived in Rotterdam, where it was filled up with LNG for the first time. Its primary use on the emblematic route between Asia and Europe is due to continue going forward.

The CMA CGM Jacques Saadé is the first in a series of nine identically constructed sister ships. She has been followed by the CMA CGM Champs Elysées and the CMA CGM Palais Royal which recently entered into service, and the remaining six will follow by mid-2021. Three of them were financed in part through loans from KfW IPEX-Bank.

Seven years of research and development and over two years of construction have gone into the new ship with its futuristic look. As well as the profile of the hull, the low-resistance paintwork and the optimised design of the propeller, there are several other environmentally friendly, emission-reducing features that make the ship a milestone in the transformation of the shipping industry. However, the centrepiece remains the twelve-storey LNG power unit, whose output is equivalent to that of the turbines on ten A380 wide-body jets. Despite this increase in power, LNG propulsion makes it possible to cut emissions by 99% for SOx, 91% for particulate matter and 92% for NOx, compared to the standard engines that are currently in use.

If it becomes possible to use even more environmentally friendly fuels in the near future, the drive engine can also be converted accordingly. As members of the GeMaX marketing platform, numerous exporters and also KfW IPEX-Bank are working to make export projects for technologies of the future bankable.