CMA CGM and Dutch-based Damen Shipyards Group have embarked on a project to modify up to ten of the containerline’s ships in a quest for fuel savings of around 10%.

Up until now, CMA CGM has been using shipyards in China and occasionally in the Middle East, but this agreement marks their first use of European yards for the complex modifications, Damen says. The upgrades will take place at Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque (DSDu) and Damen Shiprepair Amsterdam (DSAm), which between them have some of Europe’s largest dry docks and many years’ experience in complex refits and retrofits.

In an interesting contrast to recent design trends that have seen their virtual elimination in newbuilding deliveries, the key feature of the cooperation will be the installation of bulbs on the bows of the vessels.

Nine jobs on CMA CGM vessels are scheduled for this year, five at DSDu and four at DSAm. Three of these will be for the installation of bow bulbs, with the first being on the innovative, LNG-fuelled, container feeder ship Polar. The 120-tonne bulb has been fabricated at DSAm and will be fitted there shortly. The remaining two vessels will be the 170-metre Arctic and the 170-metre Aurora.

While the bulb retrofits will yield savings in fuel consumption of between 5 to 10%, Damen expects, CMA CGM is looking at other upgrades that can further contribute to the efficiency of their vessels.

“To assist the shipping group in meeting its goals, Damen is also offering packages that not only include the bow bulb, but also a propeller upgrade, modifications to the propeller nozzle, and silicone paint. Each of these upgrades will deliver additional fuel economies of between 2 and 5%, yielding a return on investment in less than three years as well as yielding significant reductions in carbon and other pollutants,” the company says.

Three of the vessels will also be equipped to access shore power, thereby reducing their emissions when alongside in ports that offer the service, and in line with CMA CGM’s commitment to cleaner operations.