European short-sea carrier, UECC, has held an event at Southampton port in the UK for clients and authorities to get a closer look at its new Auto Eco vessel capable of running on Liquid Natural Gas (LNG).

Last November, the vessel, which was the first pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) in the world to be fitted with a dual-fuel LNG propulsion system, had her formal naming ceremony at the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium.

Auto Eco, capable of carrying 4,000 cars, was then put into service on a weekly trading route between Southampton and St Petersburg in Russia, with stops in Zeebrugge, Bremerhaven (Germany), Malmö (Sweden) and Hanko (Finland), as well as Gdynia (Poland).

The Auto Eco is capable of completing a 14-day round-trip voyage solely on LNG without refuelling, while she also meets the highest ice class standard: Super 1A Finish /Swedish Ice Class.

The vessels would be capable of sailing the Northeast or Northwest Passage.

UECC has set up a weekly ship-to-ship bunkering service for the Auto Eco and its sister vessel, Auto Energy at Zeebrugge.

The bunkering vessel Engie Zeebrugge, the world’s first purpose-built LNG bunkering vessel, arrived at the port of Zeebrugge at the beginning of April this year after delivery from Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction in South Korea.

Over 60 guests attended the event at Southampton port, including representatives from OEMs that use the port and UECC's vessels for finished vehicle exports and imports. Also in attendance was Southampton City Councillor Dave Shields, Hampshire County Councillor Rob Humby, and UECC’s CEO, Glenn Edvardsen.

Speaking at the event, Edvardsen said the ship served “as a bold statement of UECC’s commitment to environmental sustainability.”

Carmakers including Honda and Ford use the port to ship vehicles into and out of the UK.

Japanese shipping company, NYK and Sweden’s Wallenius Lines, jointly own UECC, which operates a number of ro-ro services in Europe.