China’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding has unveiled a groundbreaking design for the world’s largest LNG carrier, aiming to enhance capacity and operational efficiency. Leading class societies have granted their Approval in Principle (AiP) for this innovative concept, timed perfectly with surging demand for LNG transport.
Expanding LNG Production Drives Demand
Qatar is expanding its North Field to increase LNG production, contributing to a record number of orders for new carriers. In the United States, multiple export terminals are planned for the Gulf Coast, and existing facilities are scaling up to meet rising import demand from China and Europe.
Larger Capacity for Global Shipping
The current largest LNG carriers are Qatar’s Q-Max vessels, with a capacity of 266,000 cubic meters (cbm). Most vessels under construction adhere to the conventional LNG carrier design, boasting a capacity of 174,000 cbm, known for cost-effectiveness and versatility.
The new design will elevate LNG capacity by 57%, reaching 271,000 cbm, matching the size of Qatar’s largest ships. These vessels, measuring 1,128 feet in length, will dock at 70 LNG terminals along major trade routes, praised by class societies.
Developed in collaboration with DNV, this design has secured AiPs from Lloyd’s Register and Bureau Veritas. It showcases Hudong-Zhonghua’s ability to construct innovative LNG vessels, expanding upon their existing order book of 50 vessels. South Korean shipyards have historically dominated LNG carrier construction, with 70% of current orders.
The new vessel will transport LNG in five tanks, featuring advanced cargo containment and real-time sloshing monitoring. Additionally, it incorporates unique features such as a hull stress monitoring system, anti-collision technology (highlighted by ABS), air lubrication for the hull, a shaft generator, and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, ensuring IMO Tier III compliance, even in diesel mode.
To address emissions concerns, the ships will be dual-fuel, offering greater efficiency and a 23% lower carbon intensity index (CII) compared to conventional 174K LNG carriers widely used in the industry today.
The design will undergo further analysis and refinement before being presented to potential shipowners as an innovative LNG transport option.