Aurora class: key features of world’s largest vehicle carriers

2022/06/30 at 5:26 PM

Höegh Autoliners, a Norwegian major shipping line focused on moving cars, is gradually transforming its fleet. It has been ordering the larger and more innovative vehicle carriers. The newest series of dedicated vessels, the Aurora class, will be put into operation in the second half of 2024. The modern ships will allow the Norwegian shipping specialist to be more competitive, meet the customer requirements as well as make its operations more sustainable.

In November 2016, Höegh Autoliners, the Oslo-based shipping line dedicated to transporting cars and other types of rolling cargo, completed the introduction of its latest and largest, at that moment, series of pure car and truck carriers (PCTCs). It was the New Horizon class with a carrying capacity of 8,500 car equivalent units (CEU). The Norwegian shipping line added six vessels of this class within the two-year period.

Höegh Trader vehicle carrier of the New Horizon class, source: Höegh Autoliners

Besides their capacity, the New Horizon vehicle carriers have another substantial feature. “Energy efficiency principles have been followed throughout the ship design process and the latest technology in the market has been implemented. Attention has also been paid to optimising the hull form in order to combine high cargo capacity and low fuel consumption,” the company described the new class of vessels. Now, Höegh Autoliners is getting ready to introduce another, larger and more modern, class of PCTC. In the second half of 2024, the Aurora series will be added to the company’s fleet.

Increased capacity

Like the New Horizon class, the Aurora carriers will have an increased capacity compared to the previous series of vessels. Each PCTC of the new type can move up to 9,100 cars per shipment. “It will be the largest and most environmentally-friendly car carrier ever built,” said Andreas Enger, CEO of Höegh Autoliners. The Norwegian shipping line has already made a firm order for eight ships of the new series. All of them will be built by China Merchants Heavy Industry (Jiangsu). The vessels will be also supplied within two years, from the second half of 2024 until the second half of 2026: Höegh Autoliners is expected to receive two ships every six months.

Aurora Class vessels will be equipped with solar panels, source: Höegh Autoliners

The Norwegian shipping line has two options for eight additional carriers. Four units could be ordered until the end of July 2023 and four more others in 2026-2027. If Höegh Autoliners uses both options, it will increase its fleet from 34 to 50 carriers, and most of them will have a capacity of more than 6,000 CEU. This will allow the company to increase its offer.

Multi-fuel engines

If the previous series of car carriers of Höegh Autoliners were just more efficient than the older ones. The Aurora class vessels will be vastly different since they were designed by DNV as the multi-fuel PCTCs. MAN upgraded the propulsion system to make it possible to run on various types of fuels, including conventional fuels such as LNG, biofuel, green ammonia and methanol.

Furthermore, each vessel will have solar panels with a total area of 1,500 square metres. The Aurora class was also designed for receiving electric shore power for zero-emission operations when berthing at the ports. All these options will allow Höegh Autoliners to achieve the IMO 2030 target of reducing carbon footprint by 40 per cent. “Between 2008-2021, we achieved an improved carbon intensity of 37 per cent across our fleet and we are already in a good position,” the Norwegian shipping line noted.

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