Danish liner company Maersk Line and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said today they will partner in a three-year program to measure the environmental benefits of a $125 million upgrade to 12 Maersk vessels that regularly call on the nation's busiest seaport complex.
The program involves the installation of high-tech equipment to track vessel emissions and energy efficiency, the carrier and ports said in a joint statement. The two ports will split the combined $1 million cost of installing the tracking systems to provide real-time information on vessel emissions while ships are at sea and at berth.
The systems will continuously record how much fuel is used by each engine in conjunction with its speed, engine power, weather, and other operational variables, according to the statement. Information will be uploaded to Maersk servers via satellite, and each ship can communicate in real time with a Maersk performance center to increase operational efficiency.
"This is the equivalent of strapping a Fitbit onto a large container ship," said Dr. Lee Kindberg, Maersk's director of environment and sustainability, in the statement. "We'll be tracking vessel performance and emissions 24/7. This advances our ability to reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants on a global scale."
"We're pleased to be a part of this project, and we hope it will serve as a model to encourage even more progress and creativity in emissions reductions from ocean-going vessels," said Duane Kenagy, the port of Long Beach's interim CEO. "Maersk Line's extraordinary commitment to cleaner, more efficient vessel operations represents a quantum leap in the environmental progress of our entire industry," added Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.
Under Maersk's $125 million "radical retrofit" program, the liner upgraded vessels that already plug into shore power at the San Pedro Bay ports. Other improvements include redesigning the bulbous bow of each vessel, replacing existing propellers with more efficient models, and modifying the main engines to make them more efficient at lower speeds.
The reconfigurations are expected to decrease each ship's fuel consumption by more than 10 percent, saving an estimated 10,000 metric tons of fuel on an annual basis, according to Maersk. This would reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by an estimated 31,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, and lead to similar reductions of diesel particulate matter (DPM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur oxides (SOx)
The Maersk program also involved raising each ship's bridge to increase capacity to about 11,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU) from about 9,500 TEUs. This allows Maersk to carry more containers per vessel while decreasing their environmental impact per container moved.