Slow steaming is a lot more than simply running slower to save money. In this video we explore how it came about and some of the advantages and disadvantages of slow steaming for a modern merchant vessel.
Slow steaming was adopted in 2007 in the face of rapidly rising fuel oil costs, which was 700 USD per tonne between July 2007 to July 2008. According to Maersk Line, who introduced the practice in 2009 to 2010, slow steaming is conducted at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph). Speeds of 14 to 16 kn (26 to 30 km/h; 16 to 18 mph) were used on Asia-Europe backhaul routes in 2010. Speeds under 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph) are called super slow steaming.
Marine engine manufacturer Wärtsilä calculates that fuel consumption can be reduced by 59% by reducing cargo ship speed from 27 knots to 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph), at the cost of an additional week’s sailing time on Asia-Europe routes. It adds a comparable 4 to 7 days to trans-Pacific voyages.
The container ship Emma Maersk can save 4,000 metric tons of fuel oil on a Europe-Singapore voyage by slow steaming. At a typical 2008 price of USD 600-700 per tonne, this works out to USD 2.4-2.8 million fuel savings on a typical one-way voyage. Maersk’s Triple E class of ships was designed for slow steaming, with hulls optimized for lower speeds. Because of this, it has less powerful engines than its predecessors.
Watch this interesting video to know all about slow steaming: