Pioneering New Technologies

Soon, noon-day reporting from fallible human beings will be a thing of the past. From cradle to grave, a whole new approach to ship efficiency has been made possible by recent advances in IT and data processing. Now, a step change in “always-on” ship connectivity will allow maritime assets to be monitored and managed remotely right round the clock.

As we reported in “Shipping’s Space Age Future” (ML April 2016, p. 37), perhaps the most ambitious project on the go in Europe is the Rolls-Royce-led Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWAI) in which other maritime firms including DNV GL, Inmarsat, Deltamarin and NAPA are also involved. Other participants include top academics from various Finnish universities.

At a project update meeting recently in Helsinki, Rolls-Royce President – Marine, Mikael Makinen declared: “Autonomous shipping is the future of the maritime industry. As disruptive as the smart phone, the smart ship will revolutionize the landscape of ship design and operations.”

Delegates heard that the sensor technology is now sufficiently sound and commercially available so that algorithms required for robust decision-making—the vessel’s virtual captain—are not far away. Now the arrays of sensors are to be tested over the coming months on board Finferries’ 65-meter-long double-ended ferry, Stella.

“Some of the distinct goals of this project are to make a difference in marine safety and energy efficiency,” Päivi Haikkola, Manager, R&D, Deltamarin Ltd., told Marine Log. “We want to mitigate human error.”

Finferries and dry bulk shipping company ESL Shipping Oy are the first ship operators to join the project, which aims to explore ways in which to combine existing communication technologies as effectively as possible for autonomous ship control. Inmarsat’s involvement is key.

The London-listed communications company recently began the roll-out of its new Fleet Xpress service, seen by many as truly a light-bulb moment. Preparing the ground for rapid advances in smart ship operation and crew welfare, the new service now provides always-on high-speed broadband communication between maritime and offshore assets at sea, and shore-based managers. It is the first time that such a service has been available from a single operator.

Fleet Xpress will also facilitate cloud-based applications from third parties with smart systems to raise ship operating efficiency and improve the life-quality of seafarers. For the first time, big data can be used to improve asset management and maintenance.

IT advances have also facilitated a new approach to ship design. Model basins and testing tanks still have their place, of course, but thousands of relatively high-speed computational iterations can measure the relative benefits of small design changes in a way that has not been possible before.

Take the Finnish company Foreship, for example. Its capabilities in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and the super-efficient hull forms which it has developed have propelled the company into a position as one of the top ship design consultants to global cruise lines, advising both on newbuilding plans, conversions and retrofits.

In a couple of months, the first of two 4,700 dwt “EcoCoaster” cargo ships is due for delivery to Finland’s Meriaura Group from the Royal Bodewes yard in the Netherlands. Foreship carried out extensive hull optimization work and, as a result, these vessels will burn only about half of the fuel compared to an existing vessel of similar size and class.

Foreship worked with both the owner and Aker Arctic Technology on the ships which will be able to run on biofuel or marine gasoil. Meriaura plans to have at least half of its fleet – currently about 20 ships – based on EcoCoaster designs by 2020. Since ordering the 4,700 dwt units, work has been carried out on larger designs.

Also hailing from Finland is progressive ship design firm Deltamarin. Now a subsidiary of Singapore-listed AVIC International Maritime Holdings Limited and ultimate Chinese ownership, the company’s range of super-efficient bulk carriers spanning a size range from 28,000 dwt to 210,000 dwt has caught the attention of long-established dry bulk owners including heavyweights such as Algoma, Canada Steamship, Cosco, Louis Dreyfus Armateurs and Oldendorff.

Of course the catalyst for taking a fresh look at the hull forms which had not changed for decades was the spike in bunker prices. But although the oil price collapse means today’s fuels cost only a fraction of prices two or three years ago, the search for improved economy has developed a momentum of its own, and nowhere is this more obvious than amongst leading propulsion companies, many of which are to be found in Europe.

While big low-speed diesel manufacturers like MAN Diesel & Turbo and Wärtsilä have made huge strides in raising the fuel efficiency of large engines, it is among some of the smaller niche machinery providers where true design innovation is to be found. Electrical power, energy storage and the growing popularity of azimuth thrusters are fiercely fought-after markets. ABB, Rolls-Royce, Steerprop, and Wärtsilä all feature in a market popular with operators of cruise ships, workboats, offshore support vessels and dynamically positioned offshore units of various types.

ABB, for example, recently won a European Marine Engineering Award for its Azipod D electric propulsion system with a power range from 1.6MW to 7MW. Launched last year, the latest Azipod was designed to allow its use on a wider range of ship types. It incorporates various innovative features including a new hybrid cooling system which contributes to a requirement for 25% less installed power and similar fuel savings.

The first cruise ship with Azipod D will be the 16,800 gt Scenic Eclipse being built by Uljanik shipyard in Croatia. The Scenic Eclipse (pictured above) is being built to Polar Class 6 and will operate in the summer waters of the Polar regions when it is delivered in 2018. The 228-passenger ship will have two 3MW Azipods installed.

Meanwhile, ABB recently announced a deal to supply a new electrical power system based on its Onboard DC Grid system for a hybrid car ferry in Norway. Initially the vessel, for Torghatten Trafikkselskap will operate as a hybrid with two battery packs contributing to peak demand. However, the 60-car, 250-passenger vessel can be easily modified to become fully electric in due course by adding 16 battery packs and a shore connection.

For the cruise ship and offshore vessel markets, Wärtsilä recently unveiled the Wärtsilä WTT-40 transverse thruster, which features a 4,000 kW power level and a 3,400 mm diameter controllable pitch propeller. The thruster complies with the U.S. EPA’s latest VGP2013 regulations. It also features integrated hydraulics to save machinery room space and installation and commissioning time in the shipyard.

Meanwhile, last year Steerprop Ltd. landed orders for a total of ten SP25D units to serve as main propulsion for three inland towboats being built for SCF Marine at C&C Marine & Repair, Belle Chasse, LA. The propulsors will be delivered this summer to the shipyard by Karl Senner, LLC., Kenner, LA, the North American distributor for Steerprop. These will be the largest and highest horsepower inland towboats equipped with Z-drives built in North America to date, according to Chris Senner of Karl Senner, LLC.  He adds, “It is imperative to consider the harsh conditions of the inland waterways and select a unit suited for the environment, which is why we propose the equivalent of an ice-class rated unit.”

A new generation of much more fuel and operationally efficient newbuilds, however, does nothing for the tens of thousands of existing vessels built before the new wave of design innovation began. But there are a range of initiatives in progress focused on enhancing existing ship efficiency.

Becker Mewis DuctGermany’s Becker Marine Systems is a leading light in energy-efficient retrofits and appendages. The company recently signed a deal with Abu Dhabi’s Adnatco to fit some 20 vessels with Becker Mewis Ducts (pictured at right). Rudder modifications and Becker Twisted Fins are also generating a steady pipeline of sales.

Walter Bauer, Sales Director, concedes that sales volume has reduced. But he says that this is partly a result of the dire state of the bulk carrier market. Tanker business, he says, is holding up well.

But what to do with almost-obsolete panamax container ships? Owing to beam constraints, they are generally long and relatively thin, and were mostly built in an era of cheap fuel and fast sailing speeds. They are not particularly efficient from a box-carrying point of view, but are in dire straits today, competing with larger ships and lower slot costs. There are more than 800 such vessels in the world fleet today and well over half are less than 10 years old. They are likely to prove increasingly unpopular with charterers.

Cargo access specialist MacGregor is one of several companies which offers capacity increasing conversions for container ships. By slicing a vessel in half lengthways, a newly constructed midship section can be inserted and stack heights raised by lifting the navigation bridge.

In a similar project, the capacity of the 4,860 TEU MSC Geneva, owned by Reederei NSB, was increased to 6,300 TEU. The five-month widening project, undertaken in close cooperation with Hamburg’s Technology GmbH, was completed at Huaran Dadong Dockyard in China. Through its subsidiary NSB Marine Solutions, Reederei NSB is now offering to assist in similar projects for third parties.


  • News

Bunkering Up

Last year, General Dynamics NASSCO earned the bragging rights for building and delivering the world’s first LNG-fueled containership, the Isla Bella, to Jones Act operator TOTE Maritime. The San Diego shipbuilder capped off that technological achievement last month by delivering the 764 ft Perla del Caribe, sister ship to the Isla Bella, two months early.

The two ships were built under a contract signed by TOTE in December 2012. The investment by TOTE in the two ships was $375 million.
TOTE President and CEO Anthony Chiarello, says that the “Isla Bella is already serving the people and communities of Puerto Rico and we are excited to introduce the Perla Del Caribe into the trade next month.”


GD NASSCO designed the ships in partnership with DSEC, a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), located in Busan, South Korea.

The design is based on proven containership-design standards and includes DSME’s patented LNG fuel-gas system and a MAN ME-GI dual fuel, slow-speed engine. The 8L70ME-GI engine was built by Korea’s Doosan Engine under license from MAN Diesel & Turbo.

Burning LNG will allow the Marlin Class ships to be fully compliant with strict emissions regulations while operating in both the North American Emissions Control Area and the U.S. Caribbean ECA.

The Isla Bella made its first trip from Jacksonville, FL, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 24.

ToteIslaOn January 9, TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico successfully loaded LNG bunkers aboard the world’s first LNG powered containership, MV Isla Bella. Approximately 100,000 LNG gallons transported by 12 TOTE-owned LNG ISO containers were loaded on schedule. The bunkering was conducted under strict U.S. Coast Guard oversight while Isla Bella was also undergoing cargo operations.

The LNG was transferred from the ISO tank containers using a specially developed transfer skid developed by TOTE’s partner Applied Cryogenics Technologies (ACT) of Houston, TX. The transfer skid is designed to allow four ISO tanks to be transferred to Isla Bella at once, dramatically reducing transfer time.

The LNG was sourced by TOTE’s partner, JAX LNG, LLC, from AGL Resources’ LNG production facility in Macon, GA. Genox Transportation, a specialized LNG trucking partner of TOTE, transported the fuel to Jacksonville. Pivotal LNG, a subsidiary of AGL Resources, also provided transfer expertise to TOTE Maritime with its highly trained LNG experts, ensured the operation was conducted safely and in accordance with best industry practices.

Oversight of the operation both at shipside and on shore was provided by TOTE Services, Inc. (TSI), TOTE Maritime’s sister company that manages the vessels.

“We are very pleased with the results of this initial LNG bunker event and know that the use of LNG in our Marlin Class vessels will provide unprecedented environmental benefits both here in Jacksonville and in Puerto Rico,” says Tim Nolan, President of TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico. “We are indebted to USCG Sector Jacksonville for their diligent oversight and assistance that was invaluable and helped make this event a success. Our partners ACT, Pivotal LNG and Genox were also major components of our success. Our sister company, TSI, has developed significant expertise in LNG as a Maritime fuel and ensures that our vessels operate safely and efficiently using this environmentally superior fuel.”

Applied CryoTechnologies, Inc. (ACT) is the premier equipment supplier for cryogenics in North America. ACT is proud to be the first to market with this type of bunkering equipment for the marine industry. Leveraging ACT’s innovative style and unrivaled experience in LNG equipment is sure to bring success to any LNG fueling project.

Pivotal LNG brings liquefied natural gas to companies and industries throughout the United States through reliable, flexible and cost-effective solutions.

TOTE Maritime provides safe, reliable transportation at the fastest speed possible for the Puerto Rican and related Caribbean trades.

Meanwhile, Crowley Puerto Rico Services, Inc., Jacksonville, has selected Eagle LNG Partners as LNG supplier for the company’s new LNG-powered, Commitment Class ships, which will be delivered in 2017 for use in the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico trade. To support Crowley’s LNG needs, Eagle LNG will build an LNG plant offering a capacity of 200,000 gallons per day (87,000 gallons per day initially) in Jacksonville. The state-of-the-art facility is slated to be operational by early 2017.

The decision to partner with Eagle LNG was made by Crowley in part because of the companies’ shared commitment to the environment.

“Crowley is proud to take a leadership position in the industry’s shift to cleaner-burning, natural gas fuel solutions,” said Crowley’s John Hourihan, senior vice president and general manager, Puerto Rico services. “The partnership with Eagle LNG is an important first step in developing sustainable supply infrastructure to ensure these highly technical, environmentally friendly vessels operate to their full capability.”

“The marine sector represents a significant opportunity for LNG fueling in the U.S., and Eagle LNG is well-positioned to build the necessary infrastructure and provide the specialized logistics to facilitate this energy transformation,” said Dick Brown, CEO, Eagle LNG. “It takes companies like Crowley to lead that wave of change. Eagle LNG is proud to work with such a pioneering organization.”

“This project is an important investment in our community from both economic and environmental perspectives,” said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. “It clearly demonstrates the leadership role our region is playing in LNG development and progression, while strengthening our commitment to leaving a smaller footprint through cleaner-burning fuel.”

The supply agreement between Eagle LNG and Crowley will provide LNG fuel for the El Conqui and Taino, which are expected to be in service in the second quarter and fourth quarter of 2017 respectively.  The Jones Act ships will replace Crowley’s towed triple-deck barge fleet, which has served the trade continuously and with distinction since the early 1970s. These new ships, will offer customers fast ocean transit times, while accommodating the company’s diverse equipment selection and cargo handling flexibility – benefits customers have enjoyed for nearly 60 years.  The LNG plant is separate from the previously announced Eagle LNG Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) export terminal located along the St. Johns River, in Jacksonville, which will continue to focus on export markets in the Caribbean and Atlantic Basin.

ESL Shipping’s new dual-fuelled bulk carriers will not only be the first large LNG-fuelled bulkers, but the first vessels constructed to the new DNV GL rule set. Due for delivery in early 2018, the two highly efficient 25,600 dwt vessels are optimized for trading in the Baltic Sea region.

“It is fitting that the first vessels that will be constructed to the most forward looking set of classification rules are themselves at the cutting edge of maritime innovation,” says Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. “We have created these rules to be ready for the future and we have long pioneered the use of LNG as a ship fuel. To see these two come together in a double first for the industry is a remarkable moment. We look forward to working with ESL, Deltamarin, Sinotrans & CSC Qingshan Shipyard and all the project partners to make this project a success.”

“We are proud to be the world’s first shipyard applying the new and innovative DNV GL rules for a newbuilding, just two months after DNV GL has launched its new rules in October this year,” said Liu Guangyao, Deputy General Manager of Sinotrans & CSC at the Marintec China Trade Fair recently. “We appreciate the support that DNV GL has committed to provide on the project during both the design and construction phase, especially in a project with many advanced extra class notations. We are looking forward to a close cooperation and a successful delivery.”

Featuring the Deltamarin B.Delta26LNG design, the two highly efficient ships will feature dual-fuel main and auxiliary machinery, resulting in CO2 emissions per ton of cargo transported half that of present vessels. The bulk carriers will be built to the new DNV GL rules for general dry cargo ships with DNV GL ice class 1A and will have type C LNG tanks of approximately 400 m3 capacity enabling bunkering at several terminals within the Baltic region. The B.Delta26LNG has a shallow draft of maximum 10 m, an overall length of 160 m, and a breadth of 26 m.

“We are very excited to have been selected to take part in this ground breaking project,” says Morten Løvstad, Business Director Bulk Carriers at DNV GL. “Being asked to work with such an innovative team as the classification partner is a testament to the creativity and hard work that so many colleagues at DNV GL have invested in the new rule set. These vessels will set new standards for efficiency and environmental performance. They are an important step forward in showing how shipping can be a force for sustainability today and in the future.”

Germany’s first LNG-fueled ferry, the MS Ostfriesland, has now been  operating for AG Ems between Emden and Borkum Island on the ecologically sensitive Wadden Sea, since June 2015.

Originally built in 1985, the vessel was converted to dual fuel propulsion in a conversion that saw it fitted with a complete new aft end, construction of which got underway at German shipyard  Brenn – und Verformungstechnik Bremen GmbH while the ship remained in service.

The new aft section, which extended the vessel’s length from 78.7 m to 93 m, houses the new machinery space and LNG fuel system/tank with the vessel now being propelled by two electrically powered Schottel STP Twin thrusters, each rated at 1,150 kW at 1,480 rpm.

While the prime movers are two 6-cylinder Wärtsilä 20DF dual-fuel generating sets, for navigating within harbors, the vessel uses two Mitsubishi auxiliary generators.

Switching to LNG fuel means providing against various unlikely malfunctions, such as an ignition failure resulting in an unburned mixture of gas and air in the exhaust. This could cause uncontrolled combustion and an increase in pressure the next time ignition takes place, putting a substantial strain on the pipe components.

To protect against this, the Mitsubishi auxiliary generators are protected by a Q-Rohr flameless venting system by German manufacturer Rembe GmbH that ensures that the reaction is vented directly at the exhaust.

Both the flame and the pressure are absorbed by the stainless steel mesh filter of the Q-Rohr, providing optimum protection for the pipe components and the environment.