Grimaldi Group – World-Class Shipping & Logistics
Grimaldi Group, a strong multi-national shipping company, remains resilient in the wake of the global pandemic, striving to help secure a more environmentally friendly maritime sector.
Naples-headquartered Grimaldi Group is a private group of companies operating worldwide, specialised in the operation of roll-on/roll-off vessels, car carriers and passenger ferries and lines, and in providing integrated logistics services for the world’s major vehicle manufacturers.
The Grimaldi family’s ties with the sea date back to long before the Group was created. The first records of their involvement in maritime shipping are from as early as 1348, when the chronicles of the Kingdom of Naples recount that the brothers Rajinerio, Richerio and Perino de Grimaldis were given a precious relic in solid gold by Queen Giovanna I, as a guarantee to charter three of their ships.
Six centuries later, in 1947, Guido and his brothers Luigi, Mario, Aldo and Ugo Grimaldi set up their own business by purchasing a Liberty vessel, a type of cargo ship used by the U.S. fleet during the Second World War that gave rise to one of the largest privately-owned European fleets.
Today, the Group consists of over 50 companies that employ more than 17,000 shoreside and shipboard people around the world. Every week, the Grimaldi Group’s fleet call at more than 120 ports in the Mediterranean and Baltic regions as well as in Northern Europe, West Africa, and North and South America.
In recent years, the Group has invested heavily in the renewal and strengthening of its fleet, firstly by designing and commissioning the construction of new high-performance units with a reduced environmental impact. At the same time, numerous ships already in operation have undergone important green conversion works. As a result, Grimaldi today operates one of the youngest, most modern, and environmentally friendly fleets in the world.
Safely Through Stormy Waters
Mr Emanuele Grimaldi, the Group’s Managing Director, admits that not all has been plain sailing over the last two years. “As you know, Italy was amongst the first countries after China to be severely hit by Covid-19, and the crisis affected us gravely. This related, first of all, to our staff. Only a minimum number of people stayed in offices, with about 90% of our people working from home, and the situation was the worst for the seafarers who in many cases could not go home and were left stranded on board their vessels.”
“The closure of most car production facilities meant no work for many of our ships, and closed borders and limited international travel had a major impact on the passenger segment. On the other hand, the crisis also brought with it some opportunities. Ultimately, we achieved good results and our companies proved to be extremely resilient.”
The challenging times did not prevent the Group from further expansion. In July 2021, Trasmed GLE, Grimaldi’s new Spanish company, purchased from Armas Trasmediterránea Group five ferries for the transport of passengers and freight and other assets.
The agreement also covered the acquisition of a terminal in Valencia, various warehouses and offices in Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Mahón and Ibiza, as well as the rights to operate on the shipping lines dedicated to the transport of passengers and freight between mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands.
As noted by Mr Grimaldi, the Group is also aiming at acquiring the remaining stake in the Antwerp Euroterminal, spread over 1.5 million sq. m, and further fleet expansion, with 12 ships currently under construction.
Emanuele Grimaldi has long been a prominent figure in the shipping sector, having assumed various roles in international maritime groups including that of President of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations. Last month, he was named Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, after serving as its Vice-President for many years.
“These associations are doing extraordinary work and it is really important for the shipowners to join, particularly in these revolutionary times of transitioning to new fuels. Shipowners and entrepreneurs in general have shown immense responsibility towards the environment, raising the bar to exceed the framework of the Paris Agreement, striving to achieve carbon net-zero by 2050. This is a unique commitment.”
And Grimaldi Group leads the way. Grimaldi was among the first shipping companies to install lithium battery systems onboard its most modern ro-ro and ro-pax vessels; these recharge during navigation and are capable of powering onboard systems with the stored energy during port stopovers, thus achieving the goal of “zero emissions in port”.
On a different front, to tackle the growing amount of microplastics in the world’s seas, Grimaldi, together with Finnish technology group Wärtsilä, has developed and patented a system that filters out microplastics from the open-loop scrubber wash water.
“Reducing microplastic pollution in our world’s oceans is an important challenge, and we are pleased to provide a solution for the shipping industry. The idea for this innovative technology originated from recognising that open-loop exhaust gas cleaning systems can draw seawater for exhaust scrubbing and simultaneously collect microplastics present in the oceans as part of their normal operation”, Emanuele Grimaldi points out, adding that the company has completed a pilot testing of this system onboard one of its vessels deployed between Civitavecchia and Barcelona, with promising results.
Other eco-friendly initiatives include the testing of hydrogen-powered handling equipment ashore, as well as the construction of a new series of cutting-edge ro-ro hybrid vessels, characterised by record-low CO2 emissions.
In recent weeks, the Grimaldi Group took delivery of Eco Malta, the sixth of twelve state-of-the-art units ordered from the Chinese Jinling shipyard located in Nanjing. Thanks to their unique design, GG5G ships are not only the largest ro-ro units in the world for short sea shipping but also the most eco-friendly.
For example, Eco Malta consumes less fuel and is, therefore, able to halve CO2 emissions per unit transported. In addition, during port stays, GG5G vessels are capable of cutting emissions to zero by using the electricity stored in mega lithium batteries.
“The green transition requires great commitment and continuous investments, and in the shipping industry our Group has been moving decisively and quickly in this direction for years,” says Emanuele Grimaldi. “True sustainability requires us to effectively meet the needs of the market by minimizing the environmental impact: this is the result we are aiming for by adding ships to our fleet that are both more capacious and more eco-friendly, just like Eco Malta.”