United European Car Carriers (UECC), daughter company of Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK) and Wallenius Lines, signed a contract in 2014 for the construction of two dual fuel LNG Pure Car and Truck Carriers. The first vessel, de ms AUTO ECO, left the shipyard in China in September and arrived in November in Zeebrugge.
On 21 November the ms AUTO ECO was christened at the terminal of International Car Operators (ICO) in the Zeebrugge inner port. The godmother of the ship is Mrs. Claire Tillekaerts, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade.
"It is a beautiful moment to see that the automotive sector and the LNG sector, two strong sectors in Zeebrugge, come together in this special ship. Global trade goes hand in hand with sustainable solutions. This ship illustrates that together we are ready for the future", says Joachim Coens, CEO of Port of Zeebrugge.
Zeebrugge is the first car handling port in the world. In 2015 a total volume of 2.4 million new cars was handled. In 2016 the total volume is estimated at 2.8 million units. In addition Zeebrugge constitutes an authoritative LNG hub because of its know how and 30 years of experience of the LNG terminal of Fluxys Belgium in the outer port.
AUTO ECO is a car carrier that can operate both on heavy fuel and LNG, a trump card in flexibility and efficiency. For the time being the AUTO ECO is being fueled by truck to ship operation.
UECC and the AUTO ECO are the first clients of the world's first seagoing LNG bunkering vessel, which will be operational as from January 2017 and which will have Zeebrugge as its home port. As from January the AUTO ECO will be fueled ship to ship.
The second vessel, the ms AUTO ENERGY, will also be deliverd very soon.
Both vessels have a loading capacity of 3,800 cars, including 600 m2 for high & heavy loads.
Pictures by Mike Louagie