October 21 - Yesterday, October 20, Atlantic Container Line's (ACL) third newbuild container/ro-ro (con-ro) vessel, Atlantic Sea, was christened by HRH Princess Anne at the UK's Port of Liverpool.

Atlantic Sea is the third of five new fourth generation (G4) vessels that are being built at Shanghai's Hudong‐Zhonghua Shipyard. The ships are capable of carrying 3,800 containers and 1,300 vehicles, with 28,900 sq m of capacity for high and heavy ro-ro cargoes.

ACL noted that the ro-ro ramps on the new ships are wider and shallower, while the ro-ro decks are higher - measuring up to 7.4 m - with fewer columns, enabling easier loading and discharge of oversized cargo. 

Marking the official launch of ACL's new fleet of transatlantic con-ro ships, this was reportedly the first royal christening on the Mersey since 1960.

Ian Higby, UK managing director at ACL - owned by the Italian Grimaldi Group - said that the event marked a "historic new dawn" for the company, which has operated between North America and northern Europe since 1967.

Higby stressed the importance of Liverpool for the shipping company and the poignancy of christening the new vessel at the UK port.

"Our ships have called Liverpool twice a week, every week since 1969 acting as a crucial link for the UK's export and import trades. Our European headquarters is now in Liverpool with our new purpose‐built office on Duke Street, the first built by a shipping line in the city since 1924."

He added that the christening of Atlantic Sea and launch of its new set of ships sends a powerful message to the industry, that ACL intends to continue building its trade and customer base.

"Our new fleet of G4 con-ro vessels will replace the existing fleet of G3 ships and double our transatlantic capacity."

The con-ro ships will call at Liverpool twice a week, with new schedules to be finalised when all five vessels are in service. All five ships will be registered in the UK.

ACL took delivery of its first G4 con-ro vessel, Atlantic Star, in October 2015, while the second - Atlantic Sail - was delivered in April 2016.

The final two vessels - Atlantic Sky and Atlantic Sun - are expected to have entered service by early 2017, said ACL president and ceo Andy Abbott.


Atlantic Sea at the Liverpool Cruise Terminal yesterday.


High and heavy cargo on board the con-ro ship.


A fireworks display concluded the christening ceremony, before Atlantic Sea set sail.