With the recent acquisition of five Solar Sailor vessels, China has led the way as the first country to commercialise the Australian technology.

The Solar Sailor vessel, SunTech Guosheng

, had its maiden voyage during the Shanghai World Expo. It is a VIP passenger vessel using the solar and wind hybrid technology designed by Australian Dr Robert Dane.

“The idea comes from nature,” Dr Dane said. “Insects evolved wings as solar collectors and now boats can evolve wings as solar collectors and use them to sail —creating a solar and sailing boat — a Solar Sailor.”

Suntech Guosheng is the largest Solar Sailor vessel built to date. It carried up to 180 passengers in VIP luxury around the Huangpu River for World Expo.

The 31.5m catamaran has been commissioned by Suntech Power Holdings, the world’s largest producer of crystalline silicon solar panels. In addition to solar-sail technology, the vessel incorporates National Semiconductor’s analogue-based SolarMagic technology to maximise the power output of the hybrid marine power (HMP) system.

“This is an exciting development and I wish to congratulate Suntech for championing this groundbreaking technology,” commented former Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, chairman of Solar Sailor.

“We are just beginning to scratch the surface of what’s possible with solar. It seems clear that Suntech will continue to push the envelope, creating advanced solar technology to power a better future.

“China has the will, the means and the vision — this is consistent with China’s demonstrated commitment to increased investment in clean energy projects,” he said.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has purchased four Solar Sailor boats and will be the first commercial hybrid solar passenger ferry service in the world. The HK ferries use a setup similar to hybrid cars and can travel at 17kts on diesel and 6kts on electric power.

The Sydney-based Solar Sailor says its Hybrid Marine Power (HMP) and solar-sail technology is suitable for a wide range of applications from small, unmanned vessels to large tankers, including ferries, tourist cruisers and private yachts. It says the advantages include:
* Fuel savings;
* Zero-emission capability;
* Redundancy of power, i.e. there are two completely separate systems driving the propellers giving it safety if one system failed, for example, due to fuel contamination the electric motors could still operate and if the electric failed, the vessel can operate as a normal diesel;
* Lower greenhouse gas, noxious gas and particulate emissions; and,
* Potential access to environmentally sensitive routes.

The company has contracts for design and supply to ferry operators in the USA and Asia, and is working on applications of the technology in UAE, Japan, UK and HK. The company’s USA minority-owned subsidiary UOV LLC in Virginia has a contract with the US Navy for the development of unmanned ocean vehicles.

Manly Fast Ferry, aka Bass & Flinders Cruises, has purchased the 30m ferry Suncat.

Launched in January 2007, the aluminum catamaran is one of three sister vessels built for Townsville-based Sunferries between 2006 and 2008. It had been chartered for the Manly Fast Ferry operation for the 12 months prior to the acquisition. Ironically, Sunferries is the operator of Sydney Fast Ferries, which operates in competition to Manly Fast Ferry.

The ferry can carry 300 passengers and achieved a speed of 28kts in trials with its twin Cat 3412 diesels at 85 per cent of their 895kW maximum continuous rating.

Fantasea Adventure Cruising is moving its ferry terminal to Meridien’s Port of Airlie development at Airlie Beach, Qld.
Relocating from Shute Harbour, the new terminal will service the Airlie Beach community as the closest stepping off point for island hoppers.

The new integrated ferry and bus terminal is due to become operational early next year. This will make guest access easier for approximately 450,000 people that Fantasea transports annually.

“We decided to make the move to Port of Airlie due to the overall success of the planned precinct. We believe Port of Airlie is a great step forward for the Airlie Beach region,” said Fantasea’s general manager, Michelle Rynne.

“The new Fantasea ferry terminal will attract a great number of tourists to the Airlie Beach region as it will be the direct access point from Hamilton Island Airport and the Whitsunday Coast Airport,” she said.

Fantasea expects to see their business grow after the move to Port of Airlie.

“The new terminal’s ideal location within the Port of Airlie precinct, close proximity to the Airlie Beach town and the adjoining bus transit centre, will contribute to the growth of Fantasea over the coming years,” Rynne said.

A new study released by classification society Det Norske Veritas (DNV) suggests the shipping industry can reduce its CO2 emissions by 30 per cent over the next 20 years through measures that are profitable for shipping companies.

According to DNV executive vice president, Remi Eriksen, the single most effective move is to introduce LNG as fuel.

DNV carried out a study of 59 ship segments representing the major ship types and sizes of international shipping, identifying 25 different measures that can contribute to reduced emissions. Each of these segments has been modelled separately with regard to operational assumptions, the reduction potential of each measure, the cost of each measure and the year when available measures are phased in.

For 17 of the 59 vessel types and sizes it is cost-effective to install gas-fuelled engines assuming a gas price equal to the price of marine diesel oil. The study, called Pathway to Low Carbon Shipping demonstrates that CO2 emissions by 2030 can be reduced by 30 per cent below baseline through measures that save cost for the operators, and by almost 60 per cent if all the identified measures are included.

“Many believe that gas is tomorrow’s fuel. We at DNV think it is already here. LNG as a fuel offers obvious environmental benefits,” said Eriksen. “These benefits include nearly 100 per cent reduction in SOX and particle emissions, 85 to 90 per cent reduction in NOX emissions and 15 to 20 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.”

Eriksen said the main challenge to be overcome to enable the widespread adoption of LNG as a fuel was bunkering infrastructure. “As an example, distribution of LNG as fuel for ships in Norway is done through dedicated terminals for ships in point-to-point traffic (ferries) or for ships always returning to the same port (supply vessels). Larger scale development should be based on making LNG available at existing bunkering stations,” he said.

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s four 41m Austal-designed and built high-speed passenger ferries achieved outstanding performance in sea trials prior to being shipped out from Fremantle and Hobart for the Caribbean.

Designed to carry 405 passengers at speeds of more than 37kts, the aluminium vessels are intended to help reduce road congestion in Trinidad and Tobago by bolstering a fledgling water-taxi service between San Fernando and Port of Spain in southwest Trinidad.

All four ferries achieved a trial speed above the contract requirement during recent sea trials.

Austal COO, Andrew Bellamy said the achievement was testament to the company’s proven design and construction techniques.

“Austal continually seeks improvements in hull efficiency to achieve an optimum balance between passenger comfort, speed and efficiency over the required loading conditions and manoeuvrability,” said Bellamy.

“These vessels demonstrate our commitment to this, and to ensuring our customers are delivered a product that either meets or exceeds their expectations,” he said.

Austal’s design is based on its 41m catamaran platform, two of which have been successfully operating in Norway since 2003. The catamarans have a waterline length of 38.2m, beam of 10.9m and maximum draft of 2.0m.

Each provides capacity to carry 405 passengers, with seating split over two levels. The main deck features four passenger entry points, a central kiosk and dedicated baggage compartment and bike racks.

The vessels are powered by four 1440kW MTU 16V2000 M72 engines driving Kamewa 56A3 waterjets via Reintjes VLJ730 gearboxes. The vessels have a limited motion control system to enhance seakeeping and thus passenger comfort.

When fully operational, the water-taxi service is expected to facilitate the transport of more than 7500 passengers in a normal working day and will be integrated with other transport systems.

The vessels are classed by Det Norske Veritas with notation +1A1 HSLC Passenger R2 EO Passenger A.

Construction of the four vessels was split between Austal’s shipyards in Western Australia and Tasmania. The Tasmanian shipyard was closed upon completion of the contract and put on the market.

Following the successful implementation of DP Operator training courses at AMC’s Launceston campus last year, a second AMC DP unit is being established in Perth, WA.

The Kongsberg KPOS equipment will replicate the Launceston unit, and the course materials, simulation exercises and assessment processes will be of the same high standard as for the Launceston-based courses.

The practising DP Operators, who deliver the instruction for the Nautical Institute (UK) approved courses at AMC in Launceston, will provide course instruction at the Perth facility, when it commences operation in November this year (subject to Nautical Institute approval).

The DP equipment order has been placed with Kongsberg, and installation and site acceptance tests at the AMC DP Unit premises in Northbridge commenced in October.

It’s now two years since Shane Kearns fitted a pair of Yamaha V8 350hp outboards to his vessel’s transom. With 2600 hours logged, the Sydney water-taxi operator still has a big smile on his face.

The boat was originally powered by a pair of Yamaha F225 four-stroke outboards. When Yamaha launched the ground breaking F350, Kearns became the first commercial operator in Australia to put them into a work environment.

“The Yamaha V8 engines have exceeded my wildest expectations,” said Kearns.

“The reliability and operation cost factors alone have more than justified the re-power. But what I didn’t anticipate is the incremental business that has come my way because of the Yamaha V8 engines. Business is booming,” he said.

Operating seven days a week during the summer peak, with 12 and 14-hour days, it’s common to log 80 engines hours in a week.

The reliability of the Yamaha V8 F350 engines has been the key factor in Kearns winning new contracts on Sydney Harbour.

“I know with absolute certainty that those engines will not let me down. Every time I hit the start key, every time I open the throttle, I know that the Yamaha V8s will perform. Every time,” said Kearns.

“As a direct result of the Yamaha reliability I now have contracts with a raft of NSW and Federal Government agencies, not to mention additional new commercial contracts that include Channel 9,” he said.

The maintenance schedule followed by Kearns is also a factor behind the success of the engines. The oil is changed every 100 hours, filters are changed every 200 hours and the leg is serviced at 300 hours.

“The maximum revs for these engines is 6000, but we never have the need to operate the engines that hard,” said Kearns.

“I believe that with our service schedule and operating conditions, these engines will easily get to 8000 hours, trouble free.

“I reckon that the gearboxes on these engines are the hardest working parts and they are operating perfectly. We are in and out of gears all day long, coming and going from harbourside wharves, and the engines are also swinging big stainless steel props. But again, there are zero problems,” he said.

Government-owned submarine and shipbuilding company ASC has appointed Paul Gay as General Manager - Air Warfare Destroyer Project.

Gay will be responsible for constructing the Hobart Class air warfare destroyers (AWDs) at ASC’s shipyard in Osborne, South Australia (known as ASC South).

He brings significant experience to the role including senior positions with both the ANZAC Frigate and Offshore Patrol Vessel programs. Most recently, he held the position of Platform Engineering Manager - LHD with BAE Systems’ Marine Division in Williamstown, Victoria.

ASC managing director and CEO, Steve Ludlam said Gay was “a great addition to the ASC team”.

“The AWD Project is forging ahead with shipyards in SA, Victoria and NSW, simultaneously building blocks for the largest defence project in Australia’s history,” Ludlam said. “Paul’s experience across major naval engineering and manufacturing projects will be of enormous value to ASC as the shipbuilder of the AWDs and we are delighted to welcome him to the role.”

Gay is a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) with the Institute of Engineers Australia and a Registered Project Manager (RegPM) with the Australian Institute of Project Managers.

The organisers of Ausmarine, Australia’s only specialised commercial maritime trade exhibition, say its return this year reflects major changes to the nation’s shipbuilding industry.

“When last presented in Perth in 2003, the Ausmarine exhibition was dominated by the local shipbuilding industry, particularly builders of fast ferries, fishing and patrol boats,” said Kishore Navani.

“There were no foreign domiciled shipbuilders at all. This time, however, more than half the shipbuilder exhibitors are foreign domiciled. In addition, three of the leading Australian-based shipbuilder exhibitors — Austal, Harwood Marine and Strategic Marine — have extensive operations overseas. The industry has changed drastically in seven years.

“This can be explained partially by Australia’s governments’ dramatic near-obliteration of the local fishing industry; by the near saturation of the global fast-ferry market; and finally, by the rapid growth in the offshore service sector. The latter requiring steel vessels that are scarcely built in Australia now,” Navani concluded.

Overseas shipbuilders and designers exhibiting include ASL Shipyard (Singapore), BAE Systems (UK), Damen Shipyards (Netherlands), Naiad Designs (NZ), Nam Cheong Dockyard (Malaysia), Papua New Guinea Dockyard (PNG) and Uzmar Gemi Insa San (Turkey). Local representation includes the Australian Shipbuilders Association, the Australian Shiprepairers Group, Global Marine Design, Kirby Marine, Sea Transport Solutions, and Southerly Designs.

Neil Baird, chairman of the company organising Ausmarine said securing the support of Austal as an exhibitor was a major boost for the show.

“Baird has had a strong association with Austal for many years and has watched with interest the growth and success of the company over the past two decades and is, in fact, a shareholder in Austal.

“We are very pleased that an industry leader such as Austal has again chosen Ausmarine to showcase its platforms.

For its part, Austal says it will use the exhibition to meet with vessel owners and operators from the region as well as a forum to meet with local and international suppliers.

“We welcome the return of the exhibition to our home turf,” commented Austal’s COO, Andrew Bellamy. “We hope it will provide additional impetus for many of our past, present and future customers and suppliers to visit Western Australia and gain a firsthand appreciation of our capabilities and product offerings. These range from relatively small passenger vessels and patrol boats right through to large car ferries and naval platforms.”

The company will also be pushing its vessel maintenance and support capabilities, which includes facilities in Fremantle and Darwin.

The shipbuilders and designers are supported by a number of the best-known engine and propulsion system manufacturers. These include ABB, Caterpillar, Geislinger, Hamilton Jet, M&J Engineering and Marine Sales, MAN B&W, Mikado Propellers, MJP, MTU Detroit Diesel, Power Equipment, Seapower, Steyr Motors, Stone Marine, Twin Disc, Volvo Penta, Vulkan, WestJet Propulsion, and Yanmar.

Also represented are many other leading suppliers and service providers including Australian Workboat Brokers, Ayres Composite Panels, Coursemaster, Furuno, Hydrive, International Maritime Services, Jotun, and Taylor Marine.

Ausmarine also includes two conferences and a series of detailed Product Presentation Seminars. Access to all of these is free of charge. The event is being held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 23 to 25.

Kongsberg Maritime has unveiled three new monitoring and efficiency applications for its K-Chief automation system. Through the provision of detailed data and advice based on multiple factors including current engine use the Fuel Saver applications can be used to enhance vessel performance and reduce emissions.

The K-Chief marine automation system is a distributed monitoring and control system that provides high-end functionality for power management, auxiliary machinery control, ballast/bunker monitoring and control, and cargo monitoring and control.

The new Fuel Saver applications can expand a K-Chief system on three levels.

The first application is Fuel Saver Monitoring for improved information and understanding of total fuel consumption. It monitors functions such as torque, fuel index, ship speed and hull efficacy and provides information in a format that enables corrective actions.

The second application is Fuel Saver Advisory, which in addition to the Fuel Saver Monitoring functionality provides trim and draft optimisation.

The third application is the Fuel Saver Optimal Advisory, providing optimal speed, optimal heading and optimal RPM in addition to hull fouling, propeller fouling, voyage planning, bunker cost calculation and reports.

The new Fuel Saver applications are part of Kongsberg Maritime's Green Ship portfolio, which also consists the MetaPower torque and power monitoring system, that facilitates cost-effective operation by providing vital data to enable a vessel to maintain or increase speed while saving significant amounts of fuel, and reducing CO2 and NOx emissions.

Photos: The Australian-designed Solar Sailor captures wind and solar energy in its mainsail;
The Paria Bullet (foreground) and Trini Flash, are two of four Austal designed and built high-speed passenger ferries that will help reduce road congestion in Trinidad and Tobago; Inside the bridge of one of Trinidad and Tobago’s new ferries; The ferries are powered by four 1440kW MTU 16V2000 M72 engines each; Shane Kearns reckons his engines are responsible for him winning new contracts; Vessel-performance screen sample from Kongsberberg’s K-Chief 600.