Houma, La.-based shipbuilder Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors LLC has awarded Siemens Energy a contract to supply power, propulsion, and control systems, along with battery storage technology, for the two research vessels on order at the yard for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The new ships, named the Oceanographer and Discoverer, are being acquired to support various missions, including general oceanographic research and exploration, climate and ocean ecosystem studies, and worldwide ocean survey and data collection.
Siemens Energy will equip both ships with SiSHIP Blue Drive PlusC advanced diesel-electric propulsion systems and BlueVault Battery Storage Solutions. The combination of technologies will enable additional fuel savings and emissions reductions by allowing NOAA to optimize loading on variable speed diesel engines. It will also reduce maintenance associated with the engines.
The ships are being built to a NOAA AGOR Variant (NAV) design that Walter Thomassie, managing director, Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors, says is the “result of an intense, collaborative effort by the Thoma-Sea Marine team, analyzing and implementing the best solutions brought by the shipyard, our design agent (TAI Engineers), Siemens Energy, and others. As the first shipyard to install and commission the Siemens Energy Blue Drive PlusC advanced diesel-electric propulsion systems in the United States, Thoma-Sea immediately recognized Siemens Energy was able to optimize the system according to our specifications to further enhance the vessel’s capabilities and efficiencies.”
Anil Raj PE, president and chief engineer of TAI Engineers, said, “TAI Engineers worked closely with Thoma-Sea Marine and Siemens Energy to develop, for the government, an optimal vessel design with superior performance. The Siemens Energy installation helped in providing an ideal solution to maximize the vessel’s endurance, reduce fuel consumption and minimize its carbon footprint.”
Compared to vessels with traditional fixed-speed diesel engines of similar size and operating profile, it’s estimated that the technology provided by Siemens Energy will lead to fuel savings of 15,000 gallons per year for each vessel—resulting in a reduction of approximately 5,700 tons of CO2. To offset this amount would require planting more than 370,000 trees.
“We are proud to work alongside our project partners Thoma-Sea and TAI Engineers, and the operators NOAA, and Naval Sea Systems Command, to build these two state-of-the-art research vessels. The contract award is a testament to the performance and reliability of our advanced emissions reducing technologies families, which have developed an extensive track record across a broad range of marine applications in recent years,” said Luke Briant, Head of Marine Solutions Americas at Siemens Energy.
The SiSHIP Blue Drive PlusC diesel propulsion technology has been installed on more than 80 marine vessels worldwide, including the world’s first all-electric car ferry, and the world’s largest cruise ferry.
The two NOAA vessels are scheduled to enter operation in 2024 and 2025 respectively. Each will have a crew of 20 and accommodate up to 28 scientists.