Nuclear Power for Tanker Propulsion – A 'Work in Progress'

By George Backwell at November 29, 2010 02:55
Filed Under: General

"We believe that as society recognises the limited choices available in the low carbon, oil scarce economy...  we will see nuclear ships on specific trade routes sooner than many currently anticipate." This prediction came from CEO Richard Sadler of British classification society Lloyd's Register as he announced membership of a new 'think tank' on 15, November 2010.

Lloyd's Strategic Research Group has joined hands with a research consortium that aims to produce a practical concept design tanker fuelled by a 70 MW nuclear reactor, setting itself a two-year time-frame for the project. Other members are US-based Hyperion Power Generation, who are expert in small modular nuclear reactor technology; innovative British ship design group BMT; and Greek shipping conglomerate, Enterprises Shipping and Trading S.A.

The consortium chose a tanker design for its initial project as nuclear power appears suited best for large deadweight vessels that are at sea for much of their time, but whether steam turbine or turbo-electric propulsion will be preferred in the tanker design remains to be seen.

Present-day concerns about nuclear fuel safety may be somewhat exaggerated, resulting in limited port access to nuclear powered ships. A World Nuclear Association article online, 'Nuclear-Powered Ships'‚ (updated 19, November 2010) points out though, that nowadays some 140 ships (warships and ice-breakers) are powered by more than 180 small nuclear reactors, resulting in over 12,000 reactor years of accumulated experience. Thus the nuclear fuelled ship now comes with a fairly long and honorable pedigree guaranteeing low fuel costs, zero emissions, plus a high power-to-weight ratio. Additionally the small nuclear reactor would leave the factory with a 10-year life expectancy.

Critics of nuclear powered merchant ships point back to the world's first, the N.S. Savannah (launched in 1959 and laid up in 1971), as not having proven commercially viable. However, as can be seen from the photograph, she was built as an exhibition ship, with sweeping lines, and quite luxurious passenger amenities not to be found on a conventional dry cargo ship. Cargo stowage was always difficult in hold space defined by lines of such elegance.

President Eisenhower defined N.S. Savannah's  purpose as: "Visiting ports of the world, it [N.S. Savannah] will demonstrate to people everywhere this peacetime use of atomic energy, harnessed for the improvement of human living..." (April 25, 1955)

No doubt the tanker design prototype intended by the new cosortium will have a far more pragmatic and commercial purpose in mind.

First LNG fast ro-pax ferry ordered

By Keith Henderson at November 25, 2010 10:26
Filed Under:

The Australian shipyard and builders of high speed catamaran vessels Incat, has announce they are to build the world’s first high speed passenger Ro-Ro ferry to be powered by gas turbines running on LNG. Details of the owner and the route(s) to be operated have not yet been released.

The wave piercing catamaran hull is designed by Incat and Revolution Design and will have a length of 99 m and carry over 1,000 passengers and 153 automobiles. Completion date of hull number 069 will be 2012 and construction is to be at the Incat Tasmanian yard at Prince of Wales Bay in Hobart.

The vessel is to be propelled by twin GE LM2500 gas turbines with dual fuel capability, driving Wärtsilä LJX 1720 waterjets with one turbine and jet per hull. The main fuel will be Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) with marine distillate as an alternative: changing over from one fuel to the other will be completely automatic. There are  two LNG fuel tanks which will be located above double bottomed diesel fuel tanks.   

The LM2500 design was originally introduced in the 1970's and has subsequently been improved and uprated since. The present LM2500 with a nominal power output of 25MW is widely used to power warships of many nations throughout the world and has also enjoyed a wide variety of commercial applications ranging from cruise ships to fast ferries for turboelectric and mechanical propulsion types.

The present LM2500 has an output of approximately 25MW
Credit: GE/MTU

HamiltonJet HT Series Waterjets off to a Fast Start

By Edward Lundquist at November 24, 2010 20:46
Filed Under: Navy insights, Navy News

HamiltonJet HT Series Waterjets off to a Fast Start

By Edward Lundquist

Waterjet propulsion is well suited for small combatants and large patrol craft, according to Christian Walsh of HamiltonJet.

Walsh says New Zealand-based HamiltonJet has sold 60 units of its new HT series of waterjets since the first introduced less than two years ago.

The HamiltonJet HT range is very well suited to large patrol boats as it provides vessels with high performance, excellent control and high lifecycle durability all of which are highly desirable attributes for patrol boats,” Walsh says.  “For a patrol boat high performance translates as high top speeds for a given power and also rapid acceleration. Excellent control translates to exceptional maneuverability at both high speed for pursuit and also at low speeds for operations such as coming alongside another vessel or installation.  Lifecycle durability translates to the ability for the unit to take all manner of conditions that patrol boats have to experience and keep working to 100% of its capability. 

Walsh says 18 HamiltonJet HT1000 jets have been delivered to South Korea for coast guard patrol boats, with ten more on order; Taiwan has ordered seven HT810 twin shipsets for patrol boats; projects, with the first of these vessels recently exceeding expectations at sea trial; and, he says, a new large RiverHawk Advanced Multi-Mission Platform AMP-137 patrol boats under construction in the U.S. will feature twin HT1000s.  He also says HamiltonJet is providing 16 HT900s for four fast supply vessels for the oil industry.

The Republic of Korea’s KCG 300TCoast Guard Patrol Boat uses a pair of twin HT1000 fully controllable ‘wing jets,” with a pair of HM811 central boost jets.  The patrol boats are powered by four MTU 16V 4000 diesels.  Walsh says the patrol boats can operate at over 20 knots on the wing jets alone.

I asked Walsh about the materials used in the HamiltonJet HT series waterjets.

“The HT range and all HamiltonJet waterjets for that matter are constructed from a range of materials and a great deal of research and development work goes into the material selection. Aluminium is selected for the body of the jet, yes because it is lighter, and also because it is easier to cast more complex fine shapes allowing for further reduction in the size and weight of the jet body and allows us to integrate elements such as oil coolers in to the jet intake,” Walsh says.  “ Stainless steel is selected for the impeller, shaft, wear ring and leading edges of the stator for its durability for these highly stressed parts of the unit, not corrosion resistance.”

Waterjets have some problems with corrosion caused by cavitation, so I asked Walsh for his point of view.

“Whereas propellers experience cavitation at high speeds waterjet cavitation is a low speed phenomenon. The hydrodynamic design of a HamiltonJet ensures the widest cavitation margin in the market today and this has been maintained in the HT range. In a practical sense this means that full power can be applied at lower speeds and so faster acceleration is possible and generally the units can be used more aggressively without experiencing cavitation.,” he says. 

Because of the tunnels and geometry of waterjets, it can be tricky to ensure cathodic protection.  I asked Walsh how HamiltonJet deals with it.

We utilize sacrificial anode protection throughout the unit to control galvanic corrosion along with electrical isolation of some of the stainless steel elements,” Walsh says.  “Years of experience and optimization of the anode placement and anode material itself (HamiltonJet use a specific Aluminium alloy with better properties than traditional zinc anodes) have ensured excellent results from this protection scheme, and this has been well proven in the field.”

According to Walsh, the new anode system that is in place on the HT units is a cartridge system so that some of the internal anodes can be more easily accessed, checked and if necessary removed from outside the unit and this clearly makes for easier maintenance and checking of the anodes.

 (Author Lundquist notes the spelling of “Aluminium,” which is the accepted spelling in New Zealand.  Captain Edward Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.) is a principal science writer for MCR Federal in Arlington, VA.  Views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of his employer.)






Wärtsilä’s 34DF tri-fuel engine.

By Keith Henderson at November 23, 2010 09:56
Filed Under:

Wärtsilä has widened its marine propulsion program of medium speed engines with a 34DF model developed from the tried and tested Wärtsilä 32 HFO engine. The DF suffix indicates dual-fuel but in fact it has tri-fuel capabilities, operating on light fuel oil (MDO), heavy fuel oil (HFO) or natural gas. The 340 mm bore and 400 mm stroke marine engine has and output power of 450 kW per cylinder and is offered in six and nine cylinder in-line and 12 and 16 vee cylinder configurations. Engine speed is 750 rpm although for 60Hz generator applications the speed is 720 rpm.

The Wärtsilä 34DF is equipped with a special twin needle injector allowing a lean burn combustion principle to be used whereby the inlet air and gas mixture has a surfiet of air than is needed for complete combustion. Lean combustion reduces peak temperatures and therefore NOx emissions. Ignition of the lean mixture is achieved by compression ignition of a small quantity of MDO that is injected as a pilot fuel which ignites and subsequently causes ignition of the main (lean) charge, be it gas, HFO or MDO fuelled.

To obtain the highest efficiency together with lowest exhaust emissions, a special electronic control system is used to control the pilot injection and main injection quantities and timing of each cylinder individually. Through careful monitoring and automatic adjustments, optimum combustion in each cylinder is achieved. This has the additional benefit of eliminating mechanical and thermal overloading of the engine thereby reducing maintenance and delivering a lower through life cost in operation.


The Wärtsilä 34DF twin-needle injection valve. The larger nozzle is for MDO or HFO.
Pilot fuel runs through the smaller nozzle regardless of the main fuel to ensure
adequate nozzle cooling. Credit:Wärtsilä Corp.



Carnival Cruise Liner Fire – Towing Winch by Markey Machinery There for the Long Haul

By George Backwell at November 22, 2010 03:22
Filed Under: General

Carnival cruise liner Carnival Splendor was left drifting helplessly about 55 miles off the Baja California coast after being disabled by an engine-room fire on 8, November 2010, with 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew on board. Fortunately powerful sea-going tugs, among them the tugboat SMBC Monterrey, stationed not far away at the Costa Azul, Mexico, LNG terminal, were on hand to help tow the stricken Carnival Cruise liner to San Diego. Indeed the tow made such rapid progress that it was possible to disembark the unhappy passengers on US soil instead of the nearest Mexican port of refuge.

Towing the giant 113,300 gt, 952 ft cruise liner, would pose problems for many tugboats, especially in Pacific Ocean swells, but not for the powerful SMBC Monterrey, built in the UNV shipyard in Valencia, Spain, around Markey Machinery's DESDF-48WF high-speed, 760-hp double drum waterfall-type electric hawser winch.

According to the online Maritime Reporter in August 2009 in an article 'Push and Pull', the massive self-tensioning towing winch dominated every aspect of the SMBC Monterrey's original design, which called for the tug to be  capable of a sustained line pull of 75 tons in a +2m significant swell during its everyday work of bringing ocean-going vessels into Mexico's Costa Azul LNG terminal; a capability that made it ideal for the Carnival Splendor tow.

The Markey Machinery towing winch features automatic 'render-recover' technology, itself pioneered by Markey, which provides safe line control by operating within an upper and lower tension range selected by the tug's master. By this means, under dynamic sea conditions, slack is kept out of the towing line, avoiding ‚'snatching' and consequent danger of parting the tow.

Interestingly, the SMBC Monterrey's towing hawser was not FSWR, but a composite cable-laid 10 inch circumference soft fiber rope, ideally combining flexibility, flotation ability and sufficient strength for the cruise ship's long haul to safety.

Quoting a Carnival Cruise Line spokesperson on 16, November 2010: "Carnival Splendor was towed to San Diego following the fire.  A team from the U.S. Coast Guard, NTSB and flag authorities, along with Carnival's engineers and technicians, is currently on board investigating the cause ..."

Diesel electric hybrid propulsion for wokboats

By Keith Henderson at November 19, 2010 05:53
Filed Under:

Taking a proven technology from one application and transferring it to another can provide substantial savings in development time and costs and open up the technology to new markets. That’s what Siemens Marine Solutions has done with their diesel electric hybrid drive called Siship Ecoprop. The concept is far from new but what is rewarding is that Siemens has taken a proven system from their commercial vehicle hybrid drive to deliver a completely integrated solution for marine applications. No longer has the designer to put the system together using components from several sources, it’s a one stop shop for the Siemens system!

Diesel electric drives have been around for over a century but this drive uses the latest control technology to produce a system targeted at smaller vessels such as workboats, patrol vessels, ferries, superyachts etc., needing propulsion motors in the range 100 to 800 kW.

The propulsion system offers four modes of operation and is controlled and managed automatically by the system.

In diesel mode, a diesel propulsion engine(s) drives the propeller mechanically through a gearbox that has a PTO also driving a generator/motor. Forward propulsion and battery charging takes place simultaneously.

In battery mode, electricity from the batteries power an electric motor/generator turning the propeller via the mechanical gearbox. The batteries are charged from the main propulsion diesels running the motor/generators, or from an onboard genset, or from a shore supply when alongside (cold ironing). Stationary diesel engines are de-clutched.

In electro mode, the onboard genset provides power to the electric motor/generator turning the propeller via the mechanical gearbox.

In hybrid mode both electric motor/generator(s) and the propulsion diesel(s) supply power to the propeller(s) via the mechanical gearbox.

The Siship Ecoprop has already logged two successes: the recreational 44m Green Voyager superyacht design and a new commercial ferry from the DutchBshipyard Grave.



Block diagram of the Siemens Siship Ecoprop system.

[Credit: Siemens AG]




DoD Recognizes PHNSY as Top Maintenance Provider

By Edward Lundquist at November 18, 2010 20:53
Filed Under: Navy News

DoD Recognizes PHNSY as Top Maintenance Provider

From Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla. (NNS) -- The Department of Defense awarded Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard the Robert T. Mason award for excellence in DoD depot level maintenance, at the DoD Maintenance Symposium and Exhibition in Tampa, Fla., Nov. 17.

The award recognized the shipyard's high-level work performed on vessels requiring overhaul. In addition to emergency repairs to vessels of strategic importance to the Navy, the award also recognized other PHNSY accomplishments, including successful Virginia-class submarine support planning, facilities modernization planning, process improvements, and community outreach.

"It is our responsibility to provide high quality maintenance for our Navy's fleet - a responsibility we don't take lightly," said Capt. Brian Osgood, PHNSY commander. "Everything we do is with a sense of honor, courage, commitment, and Aloha."

As a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) field activity, PHNSY was selected among 12 nominations for its emergent repair program and its support of the warfighter.

"Since this award was created by the secretary of defense, I have been waiting for a shipyard to win it," said Rear Adm. Joseph Campbell, NAVSEA deputy commander for Logistics, maintenance and industrial operations. "This is a great win for our naval shipyards, and I am so proud of Pearl Harbor."

PHNSY is a full-service naval shipyard and regional maintenance center for the Navy's surface ships and submarines. The shipyard is the largest industrial employer in the state of Hawaii with a combined civilian and military workforce of about 4,900.

Dry Exhaust Gas Cleaning System

By Keith Henderson at November 18, 2010 08:12
Filed Under:

MAN Diesel & Turbo recently signed a cooperation agreement with the German company Couple Systems to jointly develop customer solutions for dry scrubbing technology. Couple Systems developed and patented DryEGCS®, an exhaust dry scrubbing system suitable for marine applications and following successful completion of wide-ranging field tests, in April of this year DryEGCS® was certified by Germanischer Lloyd.

The solution is aimed at offering integrated systems to enable ships to continue to operate on HFO while complying with the SOx and NOx emission regulations applicable in the different parts of the world.

Couple Systems dry system claims to be a world first as until now only wet scrubbing systems have been available. Building on experience gained in similar dry systems used in power generation applications, the DryEGCS® system comprises distinct two parts.

Exhaust gas directly downstream from the turbocharger is passed through Stage One, comprising an absorber with a bed of Calcium Hydroxide Ca(OH)2 (lime) granulated pellets. The sulfurous SO2 and SO3 gases in the hot (240-350 deg C) exhaust gas reacts with the lime to produce CaSO4, commonly known as gypsum.

If required, the granular pellets of the first stage can be discharged more quickly allowing the absorber to simultaneously take on the function of a diesel particle precipitator.

The relatively high temperature of the decontaminated exhaust gases passing into the SCR Stage Two of the process allows a smaller catalyst to be used. The SCR converts the NOx gases into harmless  nitrogen and water vapour..

The active agents of the system are inexpensive and freely available. The system includes a simple handling system that can be connected up by tube to a truck alongside the quay. Replenishment and removal of the agents is achieved by the same truck discharging and loading the agents.

The system provides a possible solution that will enable ships to operate economically on HFO and simultaneously comply with even the most stringent emission regulations.


Simplified illustration of an MAN Diesel & Turbo engine with a DryEGCS system. Credit: MAN Diesel & Turbo

Industry Experts Recognize Department of Navy as Energy Leader

By Edward Lundquist at November 17, 2010 20:22
Filed Under: Navy News

Industry Experts Recognize Department of Navy as Energy Leader

By Tracey Moriarty, Chief of Naval Operations Energy and Environmental Readiness Division Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Department of Navy has been selected as a finalist in three categories in the international competition for the 2010 Platts Global Energy Awards, which will be announced Dec. 2.

The awards recognize individuals and organizations that have demonstrated excellence in leadership, innovation and performance in the energy field.

Prior winners include Exxon Mobil, Shell, Walmart and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The finalists were selected by a panel of international industry experts from more than 200 nominations submitted from more than 30 countries.

"Selection of the Navy as a finalist in three categories in the same year is unprecedented for a military service," said Rear Adm. Philip Cullom, director of the Energy and Environmental Readiness Division of the Chief of Naval Operations and the architect of Task Force Energy. "I am pleased to see the Navy's energy accomplishments recognized by this prestigious awards program."

The Navy's achievements in each of the three finalist categories are as follows:

- Category: Industry Leadership Award

The Navy's establishment of aggressive energy goals and its implementation of Task Force Energy qualified the service as a finalist for this award. The award is given to an organization that has taken decisive action resulting in a substantial transformation in its energy posture.

The Chief of Naval Operations created Task Force Energy with the mission of enhancing the Navy's strategic, tactical and operational capabilities through greater energy efficiency and development of more secure and sustainable energy supplies. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus issued amplifying and visionary energy goals that will transform Navy energy use during the next 10 years, moving the Navy from a vulnerable and unsustainable petroleum-based energy strategy to the widespread use of alternative/renewable fuels for ships and aircraft.

Key Navy achievements thus far include the Earth Day 2010 flight of an F/A-18 aircraft on a 50/50 blend of camelina-based biofuel and petroleum based fuel and the October 2010 operation of an experimental riverine command vessel on a 50/50 blend of algae-based biofuel and petroleum.

"These achievements demonstrate significant progress in meeting the Secretary of the Navy's goal of supplying half the Navy's energy needs with alternative fuels by 2020," said Cullom.

- Category: Energy Efficiency Program of the Year

The Navy's Incentivized Energy Conservation (i-ENCON) program has qualified the service as a finalist for this award. The award is given to the top energy management program that effectively improves an organization's energy use.

The i-ENCON program encourages and rewards bottom-up management practices and cultural change in fuel usage by Navy ships. Vessels demonstrating a reduction in fuel usage while maintaining all operational commitments are rewarded by additions to their operating budget. This program also disseminates to all ships the fuel-saving lessons learned by each in areas such as managing fuel consumption, adjusting transit speed, selecting fuel efficient routes and eliminating unproductive energy expenditures.

"We are proud of the Navy's i-ENCON program," said Cullom. "During fiscal year 2009, Navy ships achieved savings of more than $99 million in fuel costs, as compared with the projected amounts. These are significant savings."

- Category: Engineering Project of the Year

The commissioning and operation of USS Makin Island (LHD 8), the Navy's first ship incorporating an electric auxiliary propulsion system (APS) - also referred to as a hybrid electric drive - has qualified the service as a finalist for this award, which is presented for engineering excellence.

Although similar technology is widely used in automobiles, it has never been adapted to power a large vessel. The ship employs gas turbines and electric motors and services rather than the typical steam powered turbines, greatly improving overall energy efficiency. Gas turbines are inefficient when operating at low speeds – something large deck amphibious ships spend significant time doing.

By using its APS for speeds of 10 knots or less, fuel costs were reduced by $2 million during the ship's 2009 maiden voyage from Mississippi to San Diego. Total fuel savings during the ship's lifetime will amount to nearly $250 million.

"Where possible, the Navy will be an 'early adopter' of new technologies that enhance national security in an environmentally sustainable way," said Cullom. "The USS Makin Island is a great example how the Navy is leading the way to achieve energy efficiency."

To learn more about the U.S. Navy's Energy, Environment and Climate Change programs, visit

For more news from Ocean Stewardship, visit

SURFMEPP - Something new?

By Edward Lundquist at November 17, 2010 19:54
Filed Under: Navy insights, Navy insights

Is the new SURFMEPP just another name for an old way of doing buisness, or is it really something new and different (see the news release in the prvious post.)?

I asked Chris Johnson at NAVSEA if the new command was a planning activity; or a place that actually conducts or coordinated maintenance; or an organization that works like SUPSHIPS overseeing work.

"SURFMEPP is a planning activity, but does not actively monitor work the way a SUPSHIP would. Instead, they're responsible for clearly defining the maintenance required across a ship's entire lifecycle so that it reaches it's expected service life. On subs and carriers, NAVSEA plans required maintenance periods and actions for a ship's entire service life. But historically, surface ship maintenance was conducted ad hoc, and critical maintenance may be deferred in order to meet deployment or surge requirements. SURFMEPP will ensure surface ships are maintained to the same rigorous standards as the subs and carriers, which is something the Navy has not done as well in the past.

Johnson says that SURFMEPP is not connected to the Class Squadrons, or CLASSRONs, which oversees material issues by ship type.

The work that SURFMEPP will be doiong is mostly long-term, he says.  "We're taking the detailed analysis from the American Bureau of Shipping inspection pilots we conducted last year and turning them into actionable maintenance plans. They determine what maintenance will be needed at various points in a ship's service life. Two years after delivery, 5 years after delivery, 25 years after delivery, etc. Instead of asking a ship's CO what work needs to be done following a deployment, SURFMEPP will already have a baseline maintenance package that addresses what work and inspections will likely need to be done.

They'll be mostly focused on HM&E, Johnson says, to include hull strength, tanks and voids, decking, doors, etc.  Combat System upgrades will still be handled as part of the mod programs.

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