The Port of Plymouth witnessed the arrival of the world’s first self-unloading hybrid cargo ship on Sunday afternoon. The Norwegian-flagged MV Aasfjell was launched at the Royal Bodewes shipyard in Hoogezand, the Netherlands, for Norwegian shipping company Aasen late last year.
The advanced emission-free ship design and regenerative energy systems give a glimpse of the future of shipping. Sea freight is already by far the most sustainable way of transporting goods, but industry and ship design are driving innovations like the one on Aasfjell to further improve and reduce the carbon footprint.
Captain Richard Allan, Plymouth Harbor Master said: “It is fantastic to welcome the Aasfjell to Plymouth, at almost 120m in length and with a draft of 7.5m she is at the higher end of the range of vessels we ship accommodate here at the moment, but it gives us a real insight into what our future facilities need to offer to remain competitive and bring the port closer to our goal of net zero.
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“It is also exciting that having just set a new record for the largest cargo load to leave Plymouth in early May at 8000 tonnes, less than a month later a new record will be set when the Aasfjell leaves Plymouth at just under 9000 tonnes. Concept plans are underway in collaboration with partners to ensure the UK’s Ocean City is home to best practice and helps drive innovation by ensuring access and infrastructure to accommodate these new types of vessels are available here in Plymouth.
“Every day and in all our decisions, we ask ourselves what we could do better, how we can reduce our impact while playing the important role of keeping the port and the goods moving. From a new pilot boat that emits 60% fewer emissions, to attending workshops around the shipping world and continuing research on next steps, we must put Plymouth at the forefront of this movement and shipping sustainability. Alan said.
The Port of Plymouth ships over two and a half million tonnes annually and carries out more than 1000 pilotage movements. The port is highlighted in the government’s latest Connectivity Report and UKNET design as a key element of the national infrastructure and as one of only 16 seaports across the UK to be given this status.
Liam Lynch, Director of Group Operations at Victoria Wharf Group, said: “These are exciting times for us. Trading with existing customers is brisk and new inquiries show a strong appetite for sea freight to and from Plymouth. From foreign companies considering relocating and investing in Plymouth’s Freeport facilities, to local manufacturers trying to do more by sea, moving raw materials and finished products off the roads onto ships to reduce their CO2 -Reducing footprint, the future is bright.
“With partners we are investigating what additional facilities we need to provide to support ships like the Aasfjell as the world’s shipping fleets strive to maximize efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint. Electrical capacity to the wharf and hydrogen technologies are likely to play a strategic role in meeting Net Zero.”
There is a shift towards larger ships being built, reducing the number of visits but maximizing the cargo shipped. It’s crucial that Plymouth continue to stay ahead of the wave and prepare to lead in cargo handling and drive to grid -zero. Lynch said.
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