Largest Car Carrier Undergoes Trials as Hoegh Receives Grant for Ammonia Propulsion

Posted by PartYard Marine

The first vessel of the Aurora class car carriers, being constructed in China for Hoegh Autoliners, has begun sea trials ahead of its scheduled delivery and service entry in August. Boasting a capacity of 9,100 CEU, this vessel will be the largest of its kind and is powered by a multi-fuel engine utilizing LNG and prepared for methanol or ammonia propulsion.

Image by Hoegh Autoliners

The building project commenced in 2021 and was later expanded from an initial four ships to twelve, all to be built by China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu) Co. (CMHI). Hoegh exercised additional options, bringing the order to twelve ships, with an option for four more. The first twelve ships are set for delivery by 2027.

The lead ship, Hoegh Aurora (16,250 dwt), began sea trials last week. The trials will last ten days in the ocean east of Shanghai to ensure all equipment is operational.

Beyond its size, the vessel’s design includes enhancements to improve operations and efficiency. Hoegh reports that the decks have been strengthened and an improved internal ramp system will allow the transport of electric vehicles on all 14 decks, providing flexibility for heavier project cargo. The ships are designed to carry cars, agricultural machinery, and mining equipment.

Hoegh has collaborated with leading suppliers to prepare for ammonia and low-carbon fuels and has secured access to MAN’s groundbreaking 2-stroke ammonia engines, expected to be commercially available in 2026. The final four vessels of the Aurora class will feature these new engines and be capable of operating on ammonia upon delivery. Additionally, all vessels will have 1,500 square meters of solar panels on the top deck and be equipped to use shore power in port.

To offset the cost of building vessels with ammonia engines, the company has been awarded the second tranche of funding from Norway’s Enova fund. This fund will support the development and installation of ammonia propulsion systems. Hoegh initially received $13.8 million in March for the first two vessels and has now been granted an additional $10.4 million to ensure all four ships are ammonia-ready.

The grant is part of the largest series ever awarded by Enova, which was established by the Norwegian government to promote decarbonization technologies and ensure Norway’s leadership in the emerging sector. A total of seven companies received grants to support both ammonia and hydrogen vessels.

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