The operators of one of Bermuda’s lifelines has signed up for a replacement ship.
Shipping firm BCL has ordered a new Oleander to replace the current vessel, which has been in service for more than a quarter of a century.
The 120-metre, 6,500-ton deadweight custom-built ship will be built in China’s Yangzijiang shipyard, one of the largest in the world, and come into service at the start of 2019.
John Wight, chairman of the Board of BCL, said: “In order to continue to meet the demands of today’s market and to maintain the fast, efficient service for which BCL is known, we needed to execute a plan to bring online an updated, upgraded vessel.
“The new ship will be the most technologically-advanced vessel serving Bermuda. It will be outfitted to carry dry and refrigerated containers, trucks, cars and other wheeled equipment, along with oversized project cargo.
“The vessel will be equipped with fuel-efficient main and auxiliary engines as well as leading-edge loading and cargo carrying capability.
“Further, as we think about long-term sustainability and environmental responsibility, we have ensured that the new ship will incorporate the capability to convert to liquid natural gas operation, which many see as a game-changer for shipping in the future.”
Barry Brewer, CEO of BCL, added: “The current Oleanderhas been in service for 27 years and 1901 voyages. She’s done heavy duty and it’s a good time to be building a ship.
“The price of ships has come down — the global economy has slowed down and the yards are hungry for the work, so it’s a good time for us.”
The current ship will have steamed around three million miles by the time it is replaced.
He added: “We are making this investment and designing this vessel with all our Bermudian customers in mind.
“Investing in a world-class, high-performing shipping service is investing in the future of Bermuda.
“Residents and businesses alike will benefit from the cost efficiencies and features designed into this ship.”
The new Oleander, the fourth to carry the name, will be designed for Bermuda’s unique requirements.
Mr Brewer said: “It’s a really big part of Bermuda life and a very important part for the island.
“It’s roughly the same size as the current ship, but what is different is it’s fuel efficient and eco-friendly.”
He added that the new ship will also have more garage space to reflect an increase in trailer and vehicle traffic.
The current Oleander can carry around 40 cars, while the new one will be able to transport around 120.
Mr Brewer said: “That business has grown and we had to plan for that.
“It’s a completely custom vessel for Bermuda to fit the Bermuda trade.”
Mr Brewer declined to say how much the new ship will cost on the grounds of commercial confidentiality.
He said: “That’s something between the yard and ourselves.”
But he added: “Ships typically have a life of about 25 years and it’s time for a new one.
“We’ve been putting money aside to replace the Oleander one day and today is that day.”
BCL provides a weekly ocean freight service from the port of New York to Bermuda and is owned by Neptune Group Ltd, headquartered in Hamilton.
Bermuda Container Line has been in operation, providing weekly container and roll on/roll off service from Port Elizabeth New Jersey, since 1979.