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CMB and Boeckmans build hydrogen-capable general cargo ships

The technology arm of the Belgian shipping group CMB, which focuses on hydrogen and ammonia, is building four 5,000 dwt general cargo ships with a partner. These will also be able to run on hydrogen.

The first ship is due to be delivered in the second half of 2025. The ships will be built at the Vietnamese shipyard Dung Quat and will be deployed on the most important trade routes, including Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, North Africa and West Africa. [ds_preview]

According to CMB.Tech, the general cargo ship designed in collaboration with shipbuilding specialist Handelskade will feature a diesel-electric propulsion system, with the engines housed in the front part of the ship under the superstructure. This configuration makes the stern “available for future-oriented propulsion systems such as hydrogen”, it says, but other alternative low-carbon engines could also be installed. There should also be sufficient space for storing alternative fuels.

40% fewer emissions in diesel mode

“The primary design philosophy of the ship is to achieve lower emissions through the shape of the hull, an innovative design and the use of the latest technologies. We have succeeded in reducing emissions by 40% compared to conventional general cargo ships in diesel mode. By using new sustainable propulsion systems and creating storage space for fuels such as hydrogen, this figure can be reduced even further. The ship’s diesel-electric configuration simplifies the integration of new systems into the power grid,” says Pierre Durot, Director of Boeckmans.

“Through our partnership with Boeckmans, we are once again breaking new ground in the field of maritime sustainability. Our commitment to reducing emissions through the design of these cargo ships is a major step forward. By focusing on innovative propulsion systems such as hydrogen, we are not only building ships, but working towards a greener future for global trade routes,” says Alexander Saverys, CEO of CMB.Tech.

CMB.Tech is building hydrogen propulsion systems together with the Dutch company DBR, and the Belgians are working with engine developer WinGD on a large hydrogen engine.

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