Inland navigation shipyard Concordia Damen will build a “Type CDS443” container ship for ID Shipping and Merlin Group. The vessel measures 135 x 14.20 m and is the first vessel of this type, which is an improved version of an existing hull shape.

This design has been further developed over the past two years: the updated hull shape leads to twenty per cent fuel savings. Efficiency and sustainability considerations and cargo capacity were the deciding factors for Merlin Group to contract Concordia Damen. Besides the Dutch and Belgian markets, the vessel will be deployed on the Rhine River.

Merlin Group, a company of Dutch inland shipping entrepreneur Jan Kleine, is not a traditional shipping company. Instead it is set up as a “participation company”, i.e. every vessel in the fleet is a joint endeavour of Merlin and a partner. With a fleet of currently nine vessels, Merlin Group mainly operates in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland and is now expanding its fleet to put its sustainability aspirations into practice.

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Doing business with captain-owners

Since 1995, Merlin Group has been primarily engaged in the operation of inland shipping barges, participating and investing in shipping projects, and providing management and administrative support to its participants. Each vessel in the fleet is an equal participation between Merlin Group and a captain-owner. Kleine: ‘The captains sail the vessel; they handle operations and staffing. We handle the commercial support for the ship. Nevertheless, I still sail regularly myself. I wouldn’t want to miss that for the world.’

The concept is very suitable for both young skippers and inland navigation entrepreneurs who want to grow. Kleine: ‘A captain just leaving school is a professional, but not yet an entrepreneur. Both financially and organisationally, it can be difficult to just buy a ship and start. We offer the network, the market knowledge and the financial stability. By entering into a partnership you can start or grow with confidence. Together we run the business, the ship.’

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Ten per cent more 40-foot capacity

Merlin Group and co-owners Danny and Ilse van Deurzen of ID Shipping are clear about the reasons for choosing this Concordia Damen newbuild. Danny van Deurzen says: ‘The energy transition is in full swing and we think we should actively be involved. This “next generation” ship fits well with that ambition. Thanks to the efficiently designed hull shape, we will soon consume up to twenty per cent less fuel and thus also emit less CO2 and other substances.’

Cargo capacity has also been expanded in the CDS443. Kleine: ‘There is room for eighteen container lengths to be placed in the hold instead of the usual seventeen. So the 40-foot capacity is ten per cent larger! We chose to sail with diesel-electric propulsion, but Concordia Damen is building the vessel in such a way that it is already prepared for full-electric propulsion.’

Chris Kornet, Managing Director Concordia Damen: ‘It is interesting to see that more and more shipping companies not only have to think about the energy transition, but also want to do so. With this contract, too, we see that we have taken the right path with the designs we currently offer, which we have developed in-house. The models that are currently doing well have a favourable speed-power curve and more cargo capacity than comparable vessels due to their efficient hull shape, saving fuel and reducing emissions. Also, those designs leave ample room for customisation based on customer requirements, both in terms of accommodation and propulsion types, which we can adjust quite easily if and when customers, market developments or regulations demand it.’

The vessel is expected to enter service at the end of this year.

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