The world’s first conversion of a large containership to LNG as fuel has been completed, German liner company Hapag-Lloyd has confirmed to Offshore Energy – Green Marine.

The 15,000 TEU vessel Sajir, now renamed Brussels Express, departed the Chinese shipyard Huarun Dadong Dockyard Co. last Saturday and is now underway in the North China Sea heading toward Busan, Korea.

“We will have some guarantee work to do though which will be completed during the next months,” Hapag-Lloyd said.

The ship is now phasing back into service.

The vessel arrived at the Shanghai yard on August 31, 2020, for the retrofit, which was set to start in May 2020.

The project was delayed due to the COVID-19 impact, marking its official start on September 2.

The ship was fitted with 6,500-cbm LNG Mark III tank was designed by the French LNG containment specialist GTT.

MAN Energy Solutions was tasked with the conversion of the vessel’s HFO-burning MAN B&W 9S90ME-C engine to a dual-fuel MAN B&W ME-GI.

The conversion is expected to cost around $35 million.

The project is the core of Hapag-Lloyd’s sustainability strategy, as using LNG has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 15 to 30 percent and sulphur dioxide and particulate matter emissions by more than 90 percent.

“With this unique pilot project, we hope to learn for the future and to pave the way for large ships to be retrofitted to use this promising alternative fuel. However, our long-term goal continues to be CO2-neutral shipping operations using synthetic natural gas (SNG),” said Richard von Berlepsch, Managing Director Fleet at Hapag-Lloyd AG.

The Sajir is one of the 17 vessels in Hapag-Lloyd’s fleet that were originally designed to be LNG-ready.

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