Shipping companies are always on the lookout for ways to save on running costs. The new bulbous bow could allow fuel savings bows (bulb), for the older vessels in a fleet, offering a fuel saving estimated at 5%. The bulb is at the front of all vessels and is just below the waterline. The idea of a bulb is to re-direct the water flow around the hull of the ship. Depending on the design of the bulb this can reduce drag and in turn increase fuel efficiency, speed, stability and range.
Older vessels were originally designed by shipping companies to make transit times as fast as possible, maximising the top speed of a vessel. The focus has now changed, due to the current economic climate, to make sailings as economical as possible even if this does effect transit time. Companies are willing to wait for their goods in the interest of saving on the freight – something that shipping companies are starting to take notice of.
Through extensive research shipping companies have perfected the new bulb, which has a more spherical and higher placement within the water. The change of bulb on vessels is becoming increasingly more viable, although the initial outlay may well be high, the savings in fuel will soon outweigh the upfront costs.
One of the largest shipping companies Maersk has already implemented this new idea to five of its older vessels that were built between 2006 and 2008, and it has plans to make the bulb changes to a further five vessels within it’s fleet.
It is inevitable that all shipping companies will start to make the changes to their own fleets over time, as there is a burgeoning demand for more cost effective freight.
However, the initial costs will need to be recouped before any saving is passed onto the customer.