First ship to ship LNG in Italy for Costa Smeralda, now back at sea
12 Oct 2020 - ConferenzaGNL
At 11.20pm on Saturday 10 October, the Costa Smeralda, flagship of the Costa Cruises fleet, the largest and most modern LNG-powered ship in the world, resumed navigation. It is also the first liquid methane cruise ship to resume navigation after forced “disarmament” due to the coronavirus, which has blocked all cruises since last February.
Costa Smeralda was stopped while it was in the port of Marseille, where in the following months it was supplied with LNG with the first ship to ship operation of the French port. Returning to Savona, Costa Cruises’ reference port on 16 September, she began a program of five weekly cruises, again departing on Saturday from the Ligurian port. In order, the ports of Cagliari (for the first time), Messina, Naples, Civitavecchia and La Spezia will be climbed. Last departure of this autumn program on November 7th.
For anti Covid 19 security needs, the ship can only go to national ports. The “Costa Safety Protocol”, approved by the competent authorities, is already in use without particular problems on two other cruise ships of the Costa group not fueled with LNG, which have resumed operations a few weeks ago. The departure of Costa Smeralda, scheduled for 7.00 pm, was delayed by a few hours due to thorough checks carried out on a group of French cruise passengers who arrived at the last moment, all of whom tested negative for the virus.
The restart of the Costa Smeralda acquires fundamental importance for the future development of the use of LNG in maritime transport in Italy and in the Mediterranean. In fact, in the port of La Spezia, on 18 October, at the end of the first cruise, or at the end of the second, on 25 October, the first ship-to-ship LNG refueling ever carried out in Italy will take place.
The autonomy of the ship in navigation with LNG is about 15 days (3,600 cubic meters, sufficient for two weekly cruises) and even if it can also be fueled with marine diesel, more polluting, it is the owner’s pride to have up to now almost 100% LNG is used in all its ships.
The initiative is due to the initiative of the Port Authority of La Spezia, led by the Captain Giovanni Stella, in agreement with the Maritime Directorate of Liguria of Admiral Nicola Carlone, as well as Captain of the Port of Genoa, who oversees the activities of all the regional authorities.
Wanting to offer La Spezia the possibility of fueling LNG ships, a working group with representatives of all interested parties and experts was set up two years ago, which developed an ad hoc draft regulation both for truck to ship fueling , both ship to ship. The activity was coordinated by the Head of the Security Section, Captain Massimiliano Mezzani, who since last September took over the command of the Port of Milazzo (Sicily Region).
The regulation will become official and will be published as an Ordinance, consisting of 22 articles and four annexes, once the experience of the first bunkering has been acquired. This regulatory process was illustrated by Commander Stella last October 2 during the Green Shipping Week in Naples organized by ClickUtility, in which ConferenzaGNL participated with one of its representatives.
Refueling will take place at the Garibaldi wharf in the port of La Spezia, where the Costa Smeralda will be moored, while on the other side of the boat the tanker Coral Methane, operated by Shell, will operate. Coral Methane, from Rotterdam, regularly supplies Costa Cruises’ LNG ships in the ports of Tenerife and Barcelona, as well as supplying the new gas-fired power station in Gibraltar. During the first intervention in La Spezia, the no-navigation area will have a radius of 100 meters on the sea side from the position of the tanker. The choice of refueling from ship to snow was necessary because from the dock it would have required the use of 35 tankers for half the tank, about 1800 cubic meters, and 70 for a complete refueling.