When Dragonera, the first Seahorse 35, hit the seas on 26 August 2011, many representatives from the bulk carrier industry were watching to see if this new, efficient design would live up to expectations. Two years on, owner Falcon Rederi’s Managing Director, Bo Kristensen, can proudly say that the vessel type has offered much more than a reduced fuel bill, Damien Devlin, Blue-C writes:
In 2008, at a time when designers, owners and yards were pushing the limits of speed and power, Managing Director at Falcon, Bo Kristensen, signed a contract for the first Seahorse 35 – a vessel that balanced power with energy efficiency. This was the result of two years of collaboration between Falcon and Michael Schmidt, lead designer for the Seahorse 35, and owner of Schmidt Maritime for which DNV was selected as class.
Fast-forward to 2013, and how things have changed
The combination of high fuel prices, low chartering rates and environmental regulations, such as the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI), means that efficiency, not speed, is now the name of the game. Dragonera hit the water at a time when the dry bulk market was very challenging and competition intense. However, it is thriving in this environment, and according to Kristensen, Dragonera, along with its sister ship, Cabrera, has given Falcon an edge over its competition.
“Dry bulk is a price-driven market, ” he says, “where charterers often enter into contracts with owners that offer the lowest price. We have found that a more efficient ship does not necessarily attract a higher rate, but it does enable us to offer a competitive rate, and still turn a profit, ” he explains.
The ability to compete on price and flexibility has allowed Falcon to stay inde- pendent in a market that is experiencing much consolidation.
Kristensen and Schmidt began refining the basic Seahorse 35 design back in 2006. Their different perspectives were the basis for a successful partnership – Schmidt, on the one hand, with his in-depth technical knowledge and Kristensen’s, on the other, with his focus on building a vessel that fulfilled many commercial requirements. “Falcon’s experience with the Seahorse 35 is very interesting in the on-going debate around fuel efficiency and eco- designs, ” comments Michael Aasland, DNV Business Director for Bulk Carriers.
“DNV is proud to have classed the largest share of the Seahorse 35s.”
The Seahorse 35 has many fuel-efficient features, including a slender aft body and highly efficient Stone Marine NPT propeller, which have been proven to reduce fuel oil consumption. A vertical stem design also improves the fuel efficiency in adverse weather conditions. Due to her ice-class, Dragonera is equipped with a powerful main engine output of 7, 500 kilowatts, but its efficient design means that the Seahorse 35 satis- fies the baseline requirement on the 2013 Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI).
Although both owner and designer are pleased with the Seahorse 35’s performance, they are already working on the next model. The Seahorse 35’s hull performance is near optimal; the biggest improvements can be made through efficiencies in the main engine which, along with new propellers, are expected to deliver a 15 per cent efficiency gain.