Sunday, May 27, 2018

Autos Carriers from the shoebox

Saturday's arrival of the auto carrier Goodwood was an unremarkable event in many ways - we are so used to seeing these ungainly craft working in and out of Halifax on such a regular basis, they attract very little attention. (Except perhaps a maiden voyage such as Grande Halifax last week).

Built in 2016 by Imabari Zosen, Marugame and operated by Zodiac Maritime, Goodwood is pretty standard as Pure Car and Truck Carriers go - 59,516 grt, 18,770 dwt with a capacity of 6203 autos. It has a single stern ramp, a small side ramp and some hoistable car decks. However it took quite a while to establish this standard with its immense capacity, and my shoebox has a number of examples of that evolution.

Here's a chronological tour
Initially cars were carried as just another item of general cargo and were slung on and off ships with conventional cargo handling gear. This was a less than ideal arrangement since damage was almost guaranteed. The numbers of cars imported to North America were small until Volswagen began an huge influx in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The Norwegian ship owner Anders Jahre built portable car decks in his bulk carriers, filling them with cars westbound on the Atlantic. Although still required to sling them on and off, the cars were at least not mixed in with other cargo and were easier to handle.
Once the cars were off- loaded the car decks were stowed and the ships could carry grain or other bulk cargo eastbound. 

 Jarabella dated from 1963 when it was purpose built as a car/ bulker of 13,173 grt, 19,650 dwt by Kaldnes, Tonsberg. It eventually reverted to a conventional bulker in 1972 and ran as Atlas Counsellor (perhaps prophetically for Hyundai International) until it was broken up in Nantong in 1993.

The Norwegian company Dyvi Shipping AS built the first pure car carrier in 1964. With a capacity of 450 cars it established the basic shape of purpose built car carriers for the years to come. However there were many iterations along the way.

Dyvi Oceanic of 1968, a 5444 grt, 6066 dwt ship built by Tangen Werft, Kragero lasted until 1987 when it was broken up in Kaohsiung. Note some of the accommodation appears to be at deck level aft. It also was working exclusively for Volkswagen, which meant a lot of deadheading or ballast voyages.

One of A/S Uglands earliest ships was Laurita built in 1970 by Blohm + Voss at their Steinwerder (Hamburg) shipyard. It 5353 grt, 5738 dwt was certainly on the small size, so in 1976 they had it lengthened by 13m to 180.7m increasing its tonnages to 6533 grt, 7919 dwt.

It lasted until 1987 when it was sent to Kaohsiung for breaking up.

Another approach was making a radical conversion of an obsolete passenger/cargo ship. Amazon was built in 1959 by Harland + Wolff, Belfast for Royal Mail Lines. After a spell as Shaw Savill + Albion Co Ltd's Akaroa 1968-1971, A/S Uglands Rederi had the ship converted by building out its cargo holds and passenger decks, and perching the wheelhouse atop the deck houses. It also retained some cargo derricks.

As Akarita from 1971-1977 it then joined Hoegh -Uglands as HUAL Akarita from 1977 to 1980 before reverting to Akarita again in 1980. It was scrapped in Kaohsiung in December 1981. [HUAL stood for Hoegh Uglands Autoliners]. Built at 20,348 grt, it measured 10,866 grt as an autocarrier, later revised to 11,081 and 9400 dwt. However at the time the car decks above the main deck were apparently classed as open shelter decks and did not count in gross tonnage, so the numbers can't be compared to what it would measure under today's regulations.

Asian Highway built in 1978 by Imabari Zosen, Marugame, lasted until 2009 when it was broken up at Chittagong after being sold and renamed Pacific Explorer in 1993. By that time it was measured at 38,970 grt, 18,069 dwt with a capacity of 4700 cars. K-Line placed all the accommodation above the car decks, but the bridge is positioned further aft than other ships. Note also it has three cargo cranes, so likely had hatches into the car decks for ports not equipped with RoRo facilities..

After trying out bulk carriers fitted with portable vehicle decks, Wallenius lines decided to convert their bulk carrier Aida to a "pure" car carrier by fitting permanent auto decks and side ramps. The stepped deck garages allowed for visibility forward, but required that the bridge to be raised. That also necessitated raising the funnel, so several new decks were added to the accommodation block.
Built originally by Komuny Paryskiej in Gdynia, Poland in 1973 as a dual purpose bulk carrier of 33,905 grt, 51,644 dwt , when rebuilt in 1980, despite all the increased enclosed volume the gross tonnage somehow came out at 23,768 and deadweight became 28,565 dwt.  It was broken up in 1987 in Kaohsiung.

A comparison with Wallenius' last Aida shows where development was going:

Built in 1991 by Hitachi, Maizuru, the 52,288 grt, 29213 dwt Aida had a capacity of (only) 6118 cars. It was sold in 2005 to US owners and renamed Courage. A fire in the English Channel June 2, 2015 destroyed 100 cars but also so seriously damaged the ship that is was scrapped later that year in Aliaga. A fault in one of the car's ABS system triggered the fire that caused $100 mn damage- and it had only 600 cars on board at the time. No lives were lost and crew managed to extinguish the fire with CO2.

Now back to the 1980s:

Uglands turned to the Tsuneishi shipyard in Numakuma in 1980 for the Rolita The 12,369 grt, 12,169 dwt ship was of modest size, but nevertheless managed to serve Uglands and HUAL and then Hoegh until 2006 when it was broken up in Xinhui, China.

Although the ship was sleeker looking, it was still reminiscent of bulk carrier conversions

Yokohama Maru was an auto manufacturer branded ship owned directly by Nissan Senyosen K.K. It was built in 1981 by Sumitomo Heavy Industries in Oppama and ran to 17,372 grt, 17,938 dwt.  Nissan initially branded its cars as Datsun in North America, but when that was changed to Nissan, the ship was re-branded too.

It was unusual by today's standard by having stern ramps on each quarter - something Japanese RoRo and ConRo ships sported for some time until starboard quarter ramps became the norm. Nissan also got out of the dedicated carrier business and the ship was renamed Yokohama in 1988, HUAL Trinita in 1995, HUAL Trinity in 200 and Hoegh Trinity in 2005 before heading to unknown scrappers (likely in China) in 2009.

Ingolstadt was an example of a branded auto carrier, which despite its German name was built in 1987 by Hashihama Zosen, Tadotsu. German owners Chr. F. Ahrenkiel chartered the ship to V.A.G Transport, which was Volkswagen AG's exclusive transport arm. VW began to downplay their own name and offer space to other automakers and eventually faded from the scene.

 I see in the photo that the small side ramp is also in use. At the time Autoport's "dock" was series of floating scows that had some deck room. Since they were replaced with the current dolphins, side ramps are no longer used. 

Ingolstadt may still be running. It was renamed Foresighter in 2010. It still measure 38,062 grt, 13,898 dwt. The very high bridge must have given excellent visibility.

Kassel was another V.A.G Transport ship, but this one was operated by the Norwegian owners Fearnley + Eger A/S. It was built in 1987 by Uljanik, Pula (now Crotia) and is notable for its hard edge hull chine, a common feature once but seldom seen now. Forward visibility must have been poor but the bridge was well sheltered. It also had ice class for Baltic service.

Measuring 34,8960 grt and 12,077 dwt, it was broken up in Chittagong in 2016 after serving as 96: Freccia and 00: Salzgitter.

In the 1990s further evolutions took place to maximize internal space and improve aerodynamics. Those pictures are in another shoebox.


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