March 4 - For the first time in many years, HLPFI has heard about the conversion of an aframax tanker into a semi-submersible heavy lift vessel (SSHLV).

HLPFI understands that the newly converted ship, Zhen Hua 7, has now entered into service with the shipping arm of China's ZPMC, Zhenhua Shipping, having completed various sea trials and is now on route to Africa to load cargoes.

The Chinese subsidiary of Sweden's FKAB, an independent marine engineering company, was originally contracted in January 2014 to undertake the design work for the conversion, which was managed at a shipyard in Shanghai.

FKAB China said that during the conversion design stage, it worked closely with the owner to achieve maximum possible cargo loading flexibility through optimisation of structure and ballast system configurations.

The converted SSHLV will be able to transport container cranes, offshore rigs and other heavy cargoes, with cargoes able to be loaded and unloaded by ro-ro or flo-flo methods.

The total area of the cargo deck is 170 m x 42 m and the full length of the cargo deck can be submerged 9 m below the waterline.