MAERSK is preparing to launch the first of 18 large methanol-enabled vessels currently on order.

The containership is due to enter service on 9 February 2024 on the AE7 Asia-Europe trade lane.

The new vessel, built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea, has a nominal capacity of 16,000 TEU.

It has a dual-fuel engine to enable operations on methanol as well as biodiesel and conventional bunker fuel.

Maersk said the company has secured sufficient green methanol to cover the vessel’s maiden voyage.

“Deploying the first of our large methanol-enabled vessels on one of the world’s largest trade lanes, Asia – Europe, is a landmark in our journey towards our net-zero target,” Maersk chief commercial officer Karsten Kildahl said.

“With the vessel’s capacity of 16,000 containers, this will make a significant impact in our customers’ efforts to decarbonise their supply chains, and we are looking forward to introducing more methanol-enabled vessels on this and other trades during 2024.”

The new vessel will be named at the HHI shipyard in January 2024 ahead of its deployment.

Maersk plans to deploy the following two sister vessels in the first half of 2024 with naming events in Yokohama and Los Angeles.

The company expects to take delivery of four additional sister vessels in the second half of 2024.

Maersk noted that when the first large vessel is deployed it will be the second container vessel in the world that can sail on green methanol. The first is the feeder vessel Laura Maersk which entered service in September this year.

Maersk has 24 methanol-enabled container vessels on order, 18 of which have a capacity of 16,000 or 17,000 TEU.

The other six vessels have a capacity of 9000 TEU.

The AE7 string calls Ningbo, Shanghai, Nansha, Yantian,Tanjung Pelepas, Colombo, Port Tangiers, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Antwerp, London Gateway, Le Havre, Port Tangiers, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali.