Record attendance for presentation on conversion of crude carriers to ore carriers

A record number of attendees (about 50) squeezed-in to the INTERTANKO/INTERCARGO meeting room last week to hear a presentation on Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) to Very Large Ore Carrier (VLOC) conversions by Ulf T. Freudendahl of classification society Det Norske Veritas.


Although majoring on the technical considerations of the conversion process, the presentation began with an estimate of the number of conversions either in hand, or rumoured to be in negotiation – 61. The typical type is an early 1990s-built vessel of around 275,000+ dwt. 


If only 39 of the conversions were to be described as firm, DNV estimates that the current conversion programme would reduce the VLCC capacity by about 8%. From the point of view of the VLOC market, the conversion programme combined with the number of ore carriers currently on order represents about 550% of the existing ore carrier capacity. 


Concluding the non-technical issues, it was reported that the number of yards with free space was extremely limited and that from an operational point of view, there were only a restricted number of ports and dry bulk terminals capable of taking a wide beam vessel.


In technical terms, the presentation discussed how the longitudinal strength, local strength and the Permanent Means of Access requirements of SOLAS and the appropriate International Association of Classification Societies' (IACS') Unified Requirements (URs) impacting on ore carriers would be met.  It was confirmed that conversions such as these would be classed as a "major" conversion under Class, MARPOL and International Load Line Convention (ILLC) rules but there was some degree of flexibility under SOLAS rules where Flag State designations could be invoked.  Nevertheless, SOLAS XII measures such as Water Ingress Alarms would be required.


The presentation went on to explain the actual conversion process from the cutting of the web frames, to adding the reinforced inner bottom and the hatches and hatch coamings, and redelivery as a VLOC.  A typical conversion process would result in a net increase of steel of about 5,000 tons.


Answering a multitude of extremely wide-ranging questions, Freudendahl reiterated that Common Structural Rules (CSRs) did not apply to ore carriers, although hybrid bulk carriers with hopper and topside tanks were covered by the CSRs.  Classification Societies involved in conversion activities would need to work carefully with ship owners and yards – not least to ensure that the welding and bulkhead work meet the appropriate standards for a ship which was an amalgam of both new and old steel.


For a summary of the presentation slides, please contact Minerva Alfonso


Contact: Minerva Alfonso