The marine industry is gearing up to meet the new ice class age. Aker Arctic Technology Inc. (AARC), a subsidiary of Aker Finnyards, is investing in a new ice model test facility.
ABB, Wartsila Corporation and Aker Kvaerner Engineering and Technology AS have taken a 12.5 per cent stake each in Aker Arctic Technology. Aker Arctic's knowledge in ice technology is vast. More than 60% of the world's icebreakers have been built at yards that are now part of Aker Finnyards.
Aker Finnyard's first Arctic Research Center was originally established in 1969 and the company has been operating its own ice model basin for 35 years. The current laboratory was the biggest in the world when completed in 1983. Now an ice laboratory of the third generation will be introduced.
One of Aker Arctic's innovations is the DA (double acting) ship concept--where the ship operates with the stern first when operating in ice. This saves on installed power, and fuel, and makes it possible to optimize the bow of the ship for open water performance. The DAS was made possible through the development of azimuthing electric propulsion--another system which was developed by AARC, together with ABB (Azipod).
A very new develpoment is the Oblique Icebreaker. By using azimuthing electric propulsion, it breaks ice by moving sideways, utilizing its entire length for breaking a wide channel. This makes it possible to use a relatively small and narrow icebreaker to assist large and wide cargo ships. AARC's current development work includes ice capable LNG carriers--an area of considerable potential.
One project is a 200,000 cu.m. Arctic LNG tanker for trade from Russia's Yamal peninsula to the U.S. East Coast, giving a new dimension to the gas imports.
According to the Lloyd's Register publication Horizons, this year, the first orders for first-year ice class LNG vessels for Russian service have been placed in yards in Korea and Japan, mainly to Lloyd's Register class and for service to the gas export terminal at Prigorodnoye on Sakhalin Island.
According to Horizons, three of these ships are being built to Lloyd's Register class in Japan to the Russian Maritime Register (RMR) LU2 ice class, with Moss containment system. A fourth RMR LU2 ice-class LNG tanker is being built in Korea using the Technigaz Mk III membrane containment system.
The first-year ice-class LNG ships currently being built and ordered are based on existing designs with slight modifications. It is expected, however, that the operational requirements for Arctic LNG carriers, i.e. gas carriers operating in multi-year ice, will demand a fresh design approach, says Horizons.
At Det Norske Veritas, Wilhelm Magelssen, head of DNV Maritime's business and marketing department, believes a typical cold-climate Liquefied Natural Gas Carrier (LNGC) will be strengthened for operation in ice and be equipped to handle icing conditions. The steel quality of the hull structure will also have to match the low ambient temperatures.
DNV has adapted its Comfort Class, originally developed for cruise and passenger vessels, to cover LNG ships. There's a relationship between crew comfort and crew efficiency and crews subjected to heavy and freezing weather, 24-hour darkness and noise from ship operations in ice during winter time, additional comfort features may be necessary to live up to the exceptionally good safety records for LNG carriers, says Magelssen.
DNV has over the years developed additional class notations of very relevant to harsh environments. "As many of the new trade routes are in environmentally sensitive areas, LNG carriers operating in cold climates are also most likely to be specified with DEICE and other additional class notations to minimize risks and the environmental impact of shipping operations," predicts Magelssen. And with as offshore cargo terminals a likely part of the future LNG picture, liquid motions (sloshing forces in partially filled tanks) must be considered for ships during loading/ unloading and also for floating terminals.