THE FIRST OF AAL’S SUPER B-CLASS HEAVY LIFT FLEET, THE ‘AAL LIMASSOL’, NAMED AND MADE READY FOR HER MAIDEN VOYAGE

03/05/2024

In a formal naming ceremony at the CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Company in Guangzhou China on Friday 26th April AAL Shipping’s (AAL) new vessel, the ‘AAL LIMASSOL’, was given her name and made ready to join the premium multipurpose cargo carrier’s heavy lift fleet. Due to sail on her maiden voyage from China into Europe, the 32,000 deadweight AAL Limassol is set to carry a full weather deck of project heavy lift cargo including two 135-metre-long barges, weighing 1,650 and 1,425 tonnes respectively, and fifteen 80.5-metre-long wind blades.

Kyriacos Panayides, CEO of AAL said, ‘Through an excellent three-year collaboration between our own engineering team, CSSC, the design team at SDARI, our sister company Columbia Shipmanagement (CSM) and the multiple project customers with whom we closely liaised at every stage of development, we have produced a unique fleet of vessels that marks a new era for AAL and set new standards for the project heavy lift shipping sector.’

‘The AAL Limassol and her sister vessels have been painstakingly designed and equipped to handle not just the most complex and outsized cargoes of today, but those of tomorrow – continuing AAL’s legacy of investment in innovation and customer-driven strategy. Considering the ebbs and flows of the shipping sector and the hard work put-in by the AAL team at every level to expand our global footprint and deliver regular trade lane coverage for the global breakbulk and project community, we could not be more excited for the future and the strengthening of our service offering.’

Proudly bearing the name of Cyprus’ foremost shipping hub and set to sail under the country’s flag, the ceremony took place in the presence of Her Excellency Marina Hadjimanolis, Shipping Deputy Minister for the Cyprus Republic, who travelled to China especially for the event. Her Excellency commented, ‘We are extremely proud to welcome the m/v ‘AAL LIMASSOL’ to the Registry of Cyprus Ships, thereby increasing the fleet of AAL ships which fly the Cyprus flag.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Heinrich Schoeller, Executive Chairman of Schoeller Holdings, Kyriacos Panayides, CEO of AAL and the executives of CSSC Huangpu Wenchong Shipbuilding Company for the honorary invitation to attend the name ceremony in Guangzhou and congratulate them and their teams for the successful delivery of this next generation vessel, which is built in accordance with the highest standards.’

AAL’s new Super B-Class fleet is the carrier’s third generation of newbuildings and will expand its heavy lift fleet to 27 vessels and a total tonnage to 768,000 deadweight tonnes. The six Super B-Class vessels currently ordered are designed to be game-changers in serving the industrial project sector, featuring innovative design and specification for greater intake and safer handling of heavy lift cargo. These include the positioning of the bridge and accommodation block at the fore for better sailing visibility, when carrying very tall cargoes, a 700-tonne maximum lift capacity via three port mounted cranes, dual fuel capability for increased sustainability and the revolutionary retractable ‘AAL ECO-DECK’ that adds 600 square metres to the weather deck – bringing its clear on-deck cargo stowage space to over 5,000 square meters.

Yahaya Sanusi, Deputy Head of AAL’s Transport Engineering Department, explained, ‘With their two huge cargo holds and three 350-tonne cranes, the new vessels are designed to accommodate even larger and taller cargoes than those we can currently handle. The forward positioning of the bridge and superstructure allows us to transport the very tallest of cargoes without compromising visibility. If necessary, we can even stow and transport super tall cargoes in the holds with the hatch covers open.

‘Compared to similar vessels in the water these new vessels have a very high cargo intake volume and are extremely flexible. This fulfils the need of our clients, who can reduce logistic costs by limiting the number of voyages when transporting their large project cargoes. For example, the wind sector is producing far larger turbines than ever before. Such turbines match perfectly well with the Super B-Class’ design concept, as well as those cargoes for other industry sectors such as infrastructure, oil and gas and mining – items like rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs), port cranes, pipe racks / modules and oversized mining components.’

He added, ‘I have been working for over 35 years in shipping and shipbuilding. This design has synthesised the best of what is possible for a multi-purpose project vessel – large box-shaped holds without any centreline bulkhead, a spacious deck that can be further extended using our ‘AAL ECO-DECK’ system, or even the possibility of sailing with hatch covers open. Moreover, the three long-reach high-capacity cranes along the port side allow heavy cargoes to be loaded anywhere across the length of the ship, and long lighter cargoes loaded from the starboard side.

‘The process of ship design and building is a complex one and involves a continuous cycle of analysing customer needs, developing ideas, creating solutions – evaluating and back again. The fact that the maiden voyage of the AAL Limassol from Asia to Europe is already booked to almost 100% capacity is testament to the market anticipation around these vessels, and vindication of our customer strategy and the hard work of our teams and partners.’

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