Sea change

July 7, 2011

The proliferation of modern specialist vessels serving just about every sector of the offshore oil & gas business has not gone unnoticed by traditional shipping industry equipment and service providers, as was plain to see at the 2011 Nor-Shipping event in Oslo late May. Meg Chesshyre opens OE's review of recent crossover technologies with a look at an innovative radar system targeting a ship's blind zones – and unwelcome guests. Anti-piracy radar in the zone
Marine electronics specialist Navico recently launched its Simrad Argus radar system, a new IMO radar able to integrate standard pulse radar technology with solid state (frequency modulated continuous wave) FMCW Broadband radars for use on commercial vessels. The broadband radar is tried and tested, and over 1000 units having been installed on light marine vessels since its commercially introduction in 2009.

Dubbed the ‘anti-piracy radar', the Simrad Argus system is compact and robust and easy to install at strategic locations on a vessel. It displays information from the patented FMCW Broadband radar which can be mounted in strategic locations around the vessel in addition to the Argus IMO pulse radar that is typically located about 60ft above the deck. The information is integrated into the same display as the navigational radar, with which the operator is already familiar, thereby significantly reducing any risk of misinterpretation of information, says Navico.

‘By tightening the blind zones around the ship, it significantly increases the short vicinity awareness of the vessel in enclosed water navigation,' the company adds. ‘Using the displayed information, the operator is able to map out all sources of potential collisions in the water, be it a small rock, the side of a channel or even a small [pirate] skiff.'

Navico chief executive Leif Ottosson says: ‘With Simrad Argus Radar, shipowners finally have the ability to monitor the entire surroundings of a vessel, significantly reducing blind zones. The new radar system can detect targets as close as 6ft from the antenna on the shortest scale and can separate targets that are 30ft apart in range on the scales used for navigation. This also makes the system perfect to use for anti-collision and precision docking.

‘It can monitor long and short range simultaneously with the ability to find small suspicious targets in between waves, zoom in on them and track their progress while eliminating a lot of noise and clutter,' he notes.

‘No longer will pirates be able to operate "under the radar",' adds Tim Ryder, professional market director. ‘It gives operators advance warning so that they can employ defensive manoeuvres and radio for assistance.'

According to Navico, potential offshore applications include monitoring vessel traffic around platform complexes, and oil spill and ice detection software can potentially be added. The use of another Simrad product, an ultrasound echosounder called Structure-Scan, is being looked at by a leading marine seismic company to enable its work boats to ‘see' the streamers.

Rudder force detection for DP ops
An 18-month joint development project between Kongsberg Maritime and Becker Marine Systems bore fruit at Nor-Shipping 2011 with the launch of KBIMS, an innovative support tool designed to enable more efficient use of propellers and rudders during dynamic positioning operations. A new Volstad offshore construction vessel under construction at Fosen has been earmarked for the first pilot installation.

The KBIMS co-developers stress that there are several advantages to using main propeller and rudder instead of azimuth thrusters during DP operations. For instance, there is no limitation of installed power and response times may be improved, therefore improving station keeping performance overall. However, with conventional rudder-propeller arrangements these benefits, which also include the possibility to reduce vessel emissions, are not always available, hence the decision to develop KBIMS.

According to Nils Albert Jennssen, VP business development at Kongsberg Maritime, ‘The challenge was to find a more direct indicator of manoeuvring performance than the vessel's motion reaction detected by GPS or gyros. It clearly turned out that the closest value to describe performance was the rudder force itself, so this is what KBIMS measures.'

When integrated with a Kongsberg Maritime K-Pos DP system, KBIMS can learn the characteristics of the rudder so the correct combination of rudder angle and propeller pitch/rpm is used, Jennssen explains. ‘Exact measurements of the actual rudder force secures improved station-keeping performance and more precise rudder control will reduce wear and tear of steering gear, rudder stock and bearings, so less downtime and maintenance costs are possible. Using KBIMS also fulfills regulatory requirements on DP and propulsion systems for long haul offshore operations.'

Space-saving screw compressor
Marine and offshore compressed air systems specialist Tamrotor Marine Compressors says its newly launched TMC 7-27 marine screw compressor offers the market's best footprint relative to capacity and is both operator- and maintenance friendly.

‘With a footprint of just 0.7m2, the TMC 7-27 is the smallest in its range in the market and gives as much compressed air as models that have a significantly larger footprint,' explains TMC marketing manager Marit Holen. With its sleek design and tilted control panel, the new compressor is easy to install with a lifting lug and boasts TMC Smart Air energy-saving technology and improved service accessibility. Designed for 55°C ambient temperature, its patented temperature control system ensures safe operation in variable machine room conditions and under variable compressor loads.

Gyro compass in demand
Delivery of German navigation system supplier Raytheon Anschütz's 10,000th Standard 22 gyro compass coincided with the Nor-Shipping show. Hailed by Raytheon Anschütz as ‘the world's most popular gyro compass of all times', it was installed on the newbuild Ulstein X-Bow hull type platform supply vessel Rem Mist, which entered the Remøy Shipping fleet in May and has been chartered by Statoil. The jubilee compass formed part of a navigation package consisting of a triple Standard 22 gyro compass, magnetic compass, various repeater compasses and adaptive autopilot. The heading information provided by the gyro system is compliant with the most demanding classification rules for navigation and DP, says Jörn Fischbach, Raytheon Anschütz sales manager for Norway. ‘By combining highest levels of reliability and accuracy with long gyrosphere lifetime, the Standard 22 gyro compass has become a standard solution for the demanding Norwegian offshore industry.'

Standard 22 features include patented non-contact transmission of the gyro supply voltage and optical signal transmission of the sensor data. Advanced functions include heading monitoring, automatic switchover, an independent transmitting magnetic compass (TMC) path as well as an individual speed error correction mode in addition to manual/automatic correction modes.

The first gyro compass of Standard 22 type was installed onboard Bourbon PSV Bourbon Jade. Five years later, the 5000th compass was delivered to Maersk Supply Service for its AHTS newbuild Maersk Topper.

DC revival boosts energy efficiency
Swiss-based power and automation technology group ABB introduced a new DC (direct current) electrical system for marine applications.

Part of a revival of power solutions using DC electricity, the new system is expected to provide highly efficient power distribution and electric propulsion for offshore support vessels and other ships with low-voltage onboard power systems, reducing fuel consumption and emissions by up to 20%, says Veli-Matti Reinikkala, head of ABB's process automation division.

In traditional electrical propulsion vessels, multiple DC connections are made from the AC circuit to thrusters and propulsion drives, which account for more than 80% of electrical power consumption. ABB sees its onboard DC system as a step forward in optimized propulsion by connecting all DC links and distributing the power through one main DC circuit.

‘We are seeing a revival that is making DC the technology of choice for many power transmission solutions, battery storage and other energy supply applications,' notes Reinikkala. ‘With an onboard DC solution, we can vary generator speed to optimize fuel consumption and improve a ship's operational efficiency by up to 20% compared with traditional AC powered systems.

ABB's onboard DC system incorporates proven products already operating on today's ships, such as AC generators, inverter modules and AC motors, but eliminates the main AC switchgear and transformers.

‘The advantage of a DC power system is the ship's engines no longer have to run at a fixed speed,' explains Reinikkala. ‘That means the engine's speed can be adjusted to optimize fuel consumption.' It also reduces the footprint of the electrical equipment used by up to 30% by eliminating the need for bulky transformers and main switchboards, he adds, creating more space on the vessels and providing greater flexibility in the positioning of system components. OE



Bound for Brazil: In preparation for its new role offshore Brazil under charter to Petrobras, the 84m-long, 4500dwt platform support vessel Normand Vester recently returned to Gibraltar for conversion and drydocking. This follows on from the Gibdock yard's conversion of two other Solstad Offshore vessels, Normand Trym and Normand Vibran, completed for the Norwegian owner last year. While the Normand Vester project is similar in scope to the earlier conversions, there are some differences. In this case the fresh water capacity is being increased by converting two of the stability tanks from water ballast to fresh water, while eight mud tanks are being converted for increased fuel oil capacity. Furthermore two wing tanks are being converted to void spaces due to the conversion of the stability tanks. A requirement of the vessel's four-year charter with Petrobras is that it be able to supply Brazilian offshore units with 1600m3 of potable water and 1600m3 of fuel oil. A ccording to Malcolm Rosie, technical director of Solstad Offshore (UK), Gibdock was chosen for this work because ‘they offered a very positive attitude to the project, were in a good location en route to Brazil and offered competitive rates. Gibdock also delivered excellent results with the Vibran and Trym conversions in 2010.' A nother Solstad ship, the 127m-long, 9500dwt Normand Cutter, also docked at Gibdock for its second class renewal in April after a spell in West Africa. The offshore construction vessel needed thruster and crane repairs in addition to general survey requirements.

 



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