February 9 - Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) has welcomed the first of its new generation of post-Panamax HERO (high-efficiency ro-ro) PCTC vessels, Thermopylae, into operation.

Thermopylae, which measures 36.5 m wide and 199.99 m long, features five liftable car decks allowing more configurations for cargo of various sizes and increasing capacity for cars, trucks, equipment and breakbulk.

The ship's design also includes emission-reducing features, such as a streamlined bow, new Promas rudder and an engine configured to allow the vessel to operate more efficiently in a wider range of speed and drafts, said WWL.

In addition, the vessel is fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system that reduces sulphur emissions to below 0.1 percent in compliance with the new ECA regulations.

Built at the Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries shipyard in Mokpo, South Korea, Thermopylae will make its maiden voyage from Hitachinaka in Japan to the German port of Bremerhaven.

Thermopylae is the first in a total of eight HERO post-Panamax vessels that will commence service for WWL in between 2015 and 2017.