HAPAG-Lloyd officially welcomed the Berlin Express to its fleet. It is the first ship in its new Hamburg Express class.

At an event attended by some 300 guests from business and politics, naming patron Elke Büdenbender performed the ceremonial christening of the ship at the Container Terminal Burchardkai (Athabaskakai) in the Port of Hamburg.

According to the company, the Hamburg Express class will mark the beginning of a new era for its fleet.

It plans to put into service a dozen large container ships by 2025.

The company said the vessels would make an important contribution to its efforts to operate its entire fleet in a climate-neutral manner by 2045.

The ships will also be able to operate using non-fossil fuels, such as bio-methane and e-methane, and thereby generate hardly any carbon dioxide emissions.

For the time being, liquefied natural gas will be used. Hapag-Lloyd said this would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25% and soot emissions by 95%. In addition, advanced components – such as an optimised hull and a highly efficient propeller – will help the vessels to reduce fuel consumption and thereby greenhouse gas emissions.

Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jensen said: “With the new Hamburg Express class, Hapag-Lloyd is at a turning point”.

“The highly efficient ships will allow us to reduce our emissions immediately and to a very significant degree. At the same time, they are an important building block in our strategy to gradually push ahead with decarbonisation. All the vessels in this class will sail under German flag and thereby make an important contribution to strengthening Germany as a shipping hub,” Mr Habben Jensen said.

The Berlin Express was built at the Hanwha Ocean shipyard in South Korea.

With a length of almost 400 metres and a capacity of 23,600 TEU, it is the largest cargo ship ever to sail under German flag, according to Hapag-Lloyd.

The container ships in the Hamburg Express class will exclusively operate on the Far East route between Asia and Europe.

The Berlin Express will operate regularly on the FE3 service, which sails between Ningbo and Hamburg, via Xiamen, Kaohsiung, Yantian, Hong Kong, Singapore and Rotterdam.