AP Moller-Maersk has provided a first glimpse of its revolutionary carbon-neutral methanol container ships.

The ground-breaking eight firm and four optional 16,000-teu vessels are due from Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea from 2024.

The Danish group said the design was five years in the making.

Palle Laursen, chief technical officer, said: "When designing these, our ambition was to make sure the new vessels could service our customers in a smarter way while contributing to their carbon-neutral transportation goals."

The "unique" design allows a 20% improved energy efficiency per transported container compared with the industry average, he added.

The first eight vessels are expected to save around 1m tonnes of annual CO2 emissions.

The ships are 350 metres long, 53.5 metres wide and will look significantly different from anything seen before in the large boxship sector.

Focus on hull strength

In the aft of the new design the funnel is placed to one side to maximise cargo space. Photo: AP Moller-Maersk

The crew accommodation and bridge will be at the bow to enable increased container capacity.

The funnel will be in the aft, and only on one side, providing further space for cargo.

This separation between accommodation and funnel will also improve efficiency when in port, the company said.

Adequate hull strength was also a key factor, with the accommodation block normally working as a hull "stiffener" when placed further backwards.

New arrangements for lifeboats and navigational lights had to be developed, plus new cameras to support the captain's view when navigating.

Maersk said the newbuildings will replace more than 150,000 teu of capacity reaching end-of-life and leaving its managed fleet up to the first quarter of 2024.

Ole Graa Jakobsen, head of fleet technology at Maersk, has said the ships were priced at $175m each.