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MBARI flagship will showcase multiple ABB solutions

Written by Nick Blenkey
Blue and white ship

Design rendering of the R/V David Packard. Illustration: Glosten © 2021 MBARI

The R/V David Packard, the new flagship research vessel recently ordered at Freire Shipyard in Spain by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) will feature a wide scope of ABB’s electric, digital and connected solutions, and will be the world’s first research vessel to feature ABB’s award-winning Onboard DC Grid power system platform.

The Onboard DC Grid solution is particularly well suited for research vessels as its quiet operation on board ensures minimal interference with scientific instruments, as well as enabling lower levels of underwater noise to be radiated below the ship’s hull. The system will also help the vessel achieve increased fault tolerance, and with fewer components than a conventional AC solution, it will allow for a flexible placement of electrical equipment on board. In addition to space savings, the solution will save over 2,000 kg, weighing about 30% less than a comparable AC system.

While optimizing vessel efficiency and responsiveness, Onboard DC Grid will enable MBARI to switch to zero-emission energy sources in the future.

The distributed control system ABB Ability System 800xA will integrate ABB’s digital, power, propulsion, low voltage distribution and vessel management systems into one single-view platform, enabling both crew and onshore teams to get a comprehensive overview of all the information needed to operate the vessel in the safest and most efficient manner. The overall power setup will be controlled by ABB’s Power and Energy Management System (PEMS), which will also increase fault tolerance and provide a high degree of reliability.

R/V David Packard will be connected to ABB Ability Collaborative Operations Center infrastructure, which monitors the performance of ABB technology on board and remotely connects operators with ABB experts—no matter where future missions take the research vessel.

On delivery in 2023, the 50 meter long vessel with 18 scientists and a crew of 12 on board will support MBARI’s work to study the depths of Monterey Bay and beyond. The vessel will enable further exploration of the Monterey Canyon – one of the deepest underwater canyons off the west coast of the United States that extends more than 470 kilometers offshore and plunges some 4,000 meters deep.

“We are proud to support this groundbreaking vessel with our solutions that will deliver superior performance through the power of integration,” said Rune Braastad, Head of Marine Systems, ABB Marine & Ports. “As a single source integrator, ABB has access to efficiencies that are not available for separately purchased solutions, and we look forward to supporting Freire Shipyard through the build project and the owner throughout the vessel’s lifetime.”

ship’s design has been developed by the Seattle-based research vessel specialist Glosten, with construction to take place at Spain’s Freire Shipyard. [Image Glosten © 2021 MBARI]
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