An agreement has been signed by shipbuilder Royal Niestern Sander and German ferry operator AG Ems for the conversion of the Münsterland to LNG propulsion. Niestern Sander will receive a contribution from the European Regional Development Fund of the European Union for this innovation process.
In what is a similar operation to that carried out in 2016 on another AG Ems vessel the Ostfriesland, Royal Niestern Sander will design and build a completely new aft ship for the 1986-built Münsterland, including dual fuel engines, LNG storage tanks, propulsion systems, all LNG installations, pipelines and other systems. This completely new stern will replace the existing stern of the Münsterland. Thanks to its expertise and facilities, the yard has a unique conversion method in mind that offers the possibility of reducing the idle time of an existing ship – and therefore the loss of income – to a minimum.
Due to the combination of shipbuilding and ship repair, the majority of the conversion operation takes place physically at the ship construction site while the Münsterland can continue to operate as usual during this work.
Thanks to the LNG conversion, the Münsterland will start using a much less polluting fuel, which will reduce emissions significantly. The new shape of the stern will also reduce the hull resistance. As a result, the ship needs less engine power to sail at the same speed, which means a reduction in fuel consumption and noise.
In addition to emission benefits, the LNG conversion also offers advantages in terms of material use. The existing ship is more than thirty years old and in theory, the ship has therefore reached the end of its life cycle. Due to the conversion operation, many technical systems are being replaced and upgraded to the current state of the art doubling the lifespan of most of the ship in practice and saving a lot of material. AG Ems will put the Münsterland back into service in its new form in the first half of 2020.
The previous conversion of the very similar Ostfriesland to LNG propulsion also included parallel lengthening of around 14m increasing vehicle capacity. On that occasion the vessel was fitted with twin Wärtsilä W20DF engines and LNGPac fuel system as well as new Schottel pods for propulsion. The EU contributed €3.07m to the LNG installation and the creation of a port infrastructure for Ostfriesland with the total cost amounting to around €13m.