Ships can deliver desalinated water to parched ports

Maersk has received a lot of attention in the media and this forum lately (not all good)
Here is something that has nothing to do with falling bridges, or working conditions on Maersk ships:

PS> Obviously the 3 Maersk employees did not do this wirthout the approval of Maersk management.


Bruce Coatta says:

April 12, 2024 at 1:43 am

??? 4bn people — almost two-thirds of the world’s population … ???
IN FACT … the world’s population is > 8-billion … so 4bn people is almost ½ not almost 2/3rds …
ALSO … my single-family-home on oceanfront acreage on Vancouver Island relies on truck-delivery H2O for all of our household & gardening potable water needs and each year we take delivery of ~ 130,000 liters of water into our storage reservoir.
SO … this story sure sounds like a marketing-schmarketing campaign … fresh water scarcity has long been a rapidly growing problem throughout a majority of the world … but this initiative is less than a drop in the ocean … just my EHO …
end quote.

Virtue signalling my Dear .

The water quality, tested by the Ceylon Institute of Scientific & Industrial Research, an official Sri Lankan government laboratory, met all World Health Organisation (WHO) standards.
end quote

If this ship generated water is so good then why …???— see below link and You will know what i mean.

46th InterManager 60 minutes meeting on 08.02.2024 recording (

If you live somewhere that cant sustain life, move or be rich.

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The discrepancy between the scope of the problem, and the scope of the proposed “solution” seems staggering, indeed (bear in mind that the chart below displays cubic metres).

Usage of freshwater varies wildly between countries, with some using 75% for industrial purposes (Canada, Belgium, Estonia and others), and others 90% or more for crop irrigation (Somalia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Madagascar and others). Household use makes up for about 10-20% in most countries.

Containerized desalinated water, generated underway, may be helpful in situations of acute infrastructure breakdown or local draught, however this presupposes viable access to a nearby port, distribution logistics and a suitable security environment. Thus, maybe, temporary freshwater shortages on a scarcely populated, tiny island might be somewhat mitigated by the proposed method.

In conclusion, besides greenwashing, marketing seems to have discovered “wetwashing”. I do by no means doubt the good intentions of the engineers devising the scheme.

Slightly off topic, but mind-boggling on its own:


It was a great pleasure to read Your input Sir

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global warming has been caused by trying to sustain life where it shouldn’t be

The OP was a test carried out by one ship with two containers made available to carry it out.
In this case delivery of one container of FW to Salalah doesn’t amount to much, but you have to start somewhere. If every ship that call on the Port of Salalah did the same, it would make a big difference, since water there is made with desalination, using gas as the heat source.

There are thousands of ships sailing the oceans that has small crews but large capacity for desalination of water. If many enough of them were using available waste heat and FW tanks to store the water until it could be pumped ashore for use as drinking, or industrial consumption, it would amount to a substantial additional supply of potable water in the world.

Yes I know, it is not as simple as that. Ship had to be set up for it and may not want to use DW to
store water on loaded voyages. (Replacing used fuel with produced water MAY be an option?)

World ports had to be able to receive the water at berths and feed it to the supply system for the city .
Not ALL places have a need for additional water supply, but it MAY happen anywhere from time to time.

It is an idea, don’t knock it. Even if it doesn’t affect YOU, it may make a big difference to others.


Are you talking about parts of Oz??

I love the idea of using surplus heat, that is available anyway. I also honestly love the idea of making a difference in some impoverished or technically disadvantaged community. Wherever some thirsty soul benefits, I don’t even care, that a company of dubious record may do this only to improve its reputation on the cheap. I really hate to play the spoilsport here, I do not wish to ‘knock’ the idea roundabout, and I do not feel bestowed with any definite authority for judgement.

However, looking at the economical side, I cannot help to note that this does not look viable to me beyond emergencies or acute draught relief:

(a) The forfeited revenue for carrying a 40 ft container of desalinated water instead of paid freight may be estimated by one of the standard indices (Drewry WCI / Freightos FBX) which currently oscillate around 3000 US$.

(b) With one TEU carrying 25000 Litres, as stated in the article, item (a) amounts to 120 US$ /cubic meter of indirect cost (lost revenue) to the ship owner or charterer.

(c) The cost of industrial desalination varies considerably, depending on technology (e.g. multistage flash evaporation, vapor compression, reverse osmosis), scale, energy source and location of the desalination plant, as well as the quality of source water (ocean or brackish etc.), however a credible ballpark figure might be 1 US$ / cubic meter (range 0.45–2.51 US$ / m3).

Beyond empty box runs, this would not seem to add up.

The better longterm solution might be sponsoring local desalination powered by renewables, as sunlight and wind often are available in abundance in draught-ridden geographic areas.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime…

(However, this, of course, is beyond the scope of shipping.)

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Not to mention stowage issues.

I could see this making more sense on bulkers, particularly when there are typically unused container sockets on deck. Most of the evaps I’m familiar with are rated for ~ 20 mtons a day, with typical ship’s usage around 4 to 10 mtons a day, depending on crew size, crew change, toilets. I could realistically fill an 20’ ISO tank container every two days or so once my potable tanks were full. I’ve always tried coming in with pressed potable tanks when working bulkers as you never really know how long the port stay will be, so filling my tanks will always be the priority.


How often do large container vessels actually operate at 100% capacity?

Using a tank container for this first attempt does not mean that is the ONLY way it can be done.

Ships have tanks for fresh water, even if they produce more than enough for daily consumption while underway. (For consumption while in port/idle.)

Arranging pumps and piping to deliver water to port facilities, (or to a barge alongside) is not a major alteration.

PS> Even if the water is not delivered in a to “impoverished or technically disadvantaged community” it may be welcome in a port were it enhance treated water availability without extra cost to the municipality.

Granted. Especially with a view towards the current build overcapacity in the shipyard pipelines.

Depending on the legal framework of the receiving country, however, each and every single batch of incoming water would have to be analyzed according to toxicologic and microbiologic drinking water standards, which would add considerable cost to the municipalities (once beyond the stage of sponsored experiments).

Every donor would rightfully expect a liability waiver.

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I appreciate and believe the genuine motifs of the former seafarers who devised the concept, and I furthermore appreciate your defence of them. I will cease and desist from this discussion out of respect for that. I remain sceptical, but I would be happy for the project to succeed.

WOW. have just witnessed the duel of the TITANS. So i am out of here. And quickly. :joy:

I have considered this to be a cordial, if opinionated discussion. I consider myself a midget in this forum.

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Duel? Titans? You’re a loony.** Everything isn’t drama.

**Monty Python, Fish License sketch

16 tons on you! :wink:

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I am worse then that .

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