Incat to build world’s first gas fast-ferry

Tasmanian shipbuilder, Incat, has secured a contract to build the world’s first high-speed passenger Ro-Ro ship powered by environmentally-friendly Liquified Natural Gas (LNG).

The design teams at Incat and Revolution Design are working towards a goal of making the catamaran the fastest, environmentally cleanest, most efficient, high-speed ferry in the world. The 99m high-speed ferry, with capacity for more than 1000 passengers and 153 cars, is being built as hull 069 at the Incat Tasmania shipyard at Prince of Wales Bay, Hobart for delivery in 2012. The customer has for now requested the commercial arrangements and route remain under wraps.

“This is a significant step forward as the use of natural gas-powered ships must replace ships with less environmentally-friendly engines. This first LNG-powered fast-ship is expected to set the scene for the future,” said Incat chairman, Robert Clifford.

Incat and Revolution Design engineers are working closely with technical personnel from GE in Europe and the USA to progress this exciting project. It’s the first installation of LNG powered dual-fuel engines in an Incat high-speed ferry, and the first high-speed craft built under the HSC code to be powered by gas turbines using LNG as the primary fuel and marine distillate for standby and ancillary use.

In each catamaran hull a GE Energy LM2500 gas turbine will drive a Wartsila LJX 1720 waterjet, a departure from the usual use of two engines and two jets per hull as used in diesel-powered Incat vessels.

The gas turbines are to be modified to meet class requirements so that either LNG or marine distillate can be burned. The LM2500 gas turbine is derived from the CF6 family of wide-body aircraft engines. It powers many industrial and electrical generation applications around the world, using a large variety of gaseous and liquid fuels.

Fleets of destroyer class warships in navies worldwide, as well as commercial ferries and cruise ships have turned to the LM2500 for marine propulsion needs. While these applications have utilised liquid fuel, GE has now modified the fuel-delivery system to accommodate LNG. This will allow lower emissions and operating costs for commercial fast-ferries.

The fuel tanks for the LNG will be installed in a compartment above the double-bottom marine distillate tanks. The changeover between the two fuels will be automatically controlled and seamless.

Tasmania’s Economic Development Minister, Lara Giddings, congratulated Incat for securing the contract.

“This contract is great news for Incat and will instil some confidence back into Tasmania’s ship construction and repair industry after a difficult time due to the Global Financial Crisis,” said Giddings.

“Tasmania has a vibrant ship construction and ship repair industry made up of large and small firms throughout the State. The skills and innovation of the people in this industry are recognised globally, and I congratulate Incat for this latest achievement,” she said.

New contracts for DMS
DMS Maritime has renewed its contract to support the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) with a broad range of harbour and offshore services and has been anointed as the preferred tenderer for the provision of Pacific Patrol Boat (PPB) support and refit services. DMS Maritime is a 50/50 joint venture owned by Serco Group and P&O Maritime Services.

The new 10-year RAN Fleet Marine Services contract is valued at more than $500 million, has a potential one-year extension, and is a renewal of the Port Services and Support Craft contract awarded in 1997.

The operating contract commenced in October and includes supplying and operating a wide range of fleet operations such as berthing and refuelling; conducting maritime training; commissioning and modifying vessels to suit local and international requirements; and, undertaking integrated logistics management. These services cover a wide range of support craft including tugs, fuel and water barges, and rigid hull inflatable (RIB) boats deployed around the world.

Announcing the contract, Serco’s chief executive, Christopher Hyman said: "I am delighted with this news. Over the last decade we have built a leading position in defence support services in Australia serving our customer. In renewing this Fleet Marine Services contract we have demonstrated our capacity to deliver real efficiencies and service improvements and we look forward to continuing our strong longstanding partnership with the Royal Australian Navy.”

“The Royal Australian Navy needs strong and reliable support,” said Commodore Support CDRE, Michael Van Balen. “DMS Maritime is a proven partner to Defence and I have every confidence in the company’s ongoing provision of the right support over the coming decade.”

“Our capabilities position DMS Maritime as a ‘force multiplier’ to the Australian Defence Forces,” said DMS CEO, Greg Hodge. “Our expertise recommends us as a strategic partner, not only to Navy, but to a varied portfolio of commercial and Commonwealth customers in the offshore and onshore maritime industries.”

Mark Todd, DMS Maritime’s project director for Fleet Marine Services said: “The Fleet Marine Services Contract will modernise engineering and ILS systems, while supporting vessel operations and maintenance, training, port services, in-service support, integrated logistics and marine project management and vessel build and modification.”

In further good news for DMS, the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) has selected the company as the preferred tenderer for the provision of the PPB Support and Third Refit services.

DMS Maritime was selected after a thorough tender evaluation process that included the evaluation of a number of responses to the Request for Tender, which closed January 20 last.

The proposed contract, valued at approximately $49.5 million, will be primarily delivered from Cairns, Qld, commencing in early 2011.

The contract will operate for five years and has options to extend for a further 12 years.

It is expected to generate up to 15 jobs directly and up to 20 jobs indirectly while refit activities are completed.

The proposed contract will support 19 Pacific Patrol Boats (PPB) that were built and gifted to 12 Pacific Island countries by Defence from 1987 to 1995, and are sponsored and funded by the Defence Cooperation Program.

These vessels are used by the Pacific Island countries to patrol their Exclusive Economic Zones, and to conduct search-and-rescue operations and disaster relief.

DMS Maritime will provide through-life technical support, advice, assistance, and Third Refit services to countries operating PPBs, as part of the wider Defence Cooperation Program.

“We’re extremely pleased to have the opportunity to support this significant Commonwealth program,” said Hodge.

“Our technical and logistics support will extend the vessels’ operational lives, while ensuring that personnel from participating countries have the opportunity to develop, maintain and enhance their project management and engineering skills. Our work will contribute lasting benefits to neighbouring island nations.

“A team of our dedicated specialists, located in Cairns, will provide the Pacific Patrol Boats’ maintenance, logistics and refits,” he added.

Port Mac gets a new cat
Port Venture Cruises of Port Macquarie has taken delivery of a new aluminium catamaran for whalewatching off the coast, sightseeing cruises on the Hastings River and private function work.

Construction of the 18.2m vessel was undertaken by Marine Engineering Consultants (MEC) on the Gold Coast to a design by Sea Speed Designs.

Designed, built and equipped in accordance with the new National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV), the catamaran in 1C survey for 100 passengers in coastal services and 150 passengers in 1D survey for the inshore work.

Features include ample whale-watching spaces and a wheelchair-friendly lower deck. Passengers have a choice of three decks, with the uppermost sun deck having 12 seats which, being a level above the wheelhouse, have the highest vantage point on the boat.

The wheelhouse sits as an island in the upper deck and is arranged in a walkaround fashion. There are eight seats in the aft section of the wheelhouse, but the majority of the space is either open, or sheltered by the deck above. This includes a broad curved bench seat right aft, transverse bench seating immediately aft of the wheelhouse and longitudinally aligned seats forward. Access to this deck is via stairs both forward and aft. The centreline forward stairs provide access to a series of tiered seats on the forward face of the main cabin that provide a theatre-style arrangement that clearly reflects the importance of passenger vision in the whalewatching role.

The central section of the main deck is taken up by a full-width cabin that seats 40 passengers in five rows of four seats on each side. A small kiosk is located on the centreline forward. Either side of this are doors leading out onto the foredeck, which is reached via downward-sloping ramps that facilitate wheelchair access. Similar ramps link the aft deck with the transom swim decks that are situated just above the waterline. These also provide access to net frame. The aft deck itself has further bench seating, including a curved lounge mirroring that on the deck above.

Sea Speed principal, Paul Birgan says the SeaCat 18 design also provides excellent seakeeping, a stable viewing platform and efficient hull lines that contribute to reduced fuel costs.

A total of 1050hp, courtesy of a pair of Scania D12 60m diesels, gives a loaded speed of 24.5kts. The genset is a 25kVa Cummins.

Birgan is full of praise for the builder. “Murray and his team have done a great job,” he said.

This is not surprising given founding owner and manager Murray Owen’s background and MEC’s recent activity building private catamarans of similar size.

Owen started out as an apprentice fitter at Lloyd Ships before securing the job as Engineering and Slipway manager overseeing the construction of a dozen or so luxury motoryachts from 24m to 35m and carrying out just as many refits. He subsequently moved to Australian Yacht Builders (AYB) to become operations manager in the construction of a 58.5m all-aluminium luxury yacht.

Many MEC staff worked alongside Murray at AYB and Lloyds and have been with the company since it started operations in 1992 and bring the background of building to exacting motoryacht standards to MEC projects. These include numerous repair and refit jobs on various ferries, including those operated by Fantasea and Cruise Whitsundays.

 Upgrade kits for Cat 3500 engines released
Caterpillar has developed engine-retrofit kits for the Cat 3500 series of marine engines, which allow customers to upgrade Mechanical Unit Injector (MUI) engines to reduce emissions to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulated levels.

These retrofit kits are now available in all countries not governed by the EPA and Caterpillar is working closely with the EPA to gain certification for sale in the USA as soon as testing and analysis is completed. The sale of the kits is managed through the global Cat dealer network.

Aside from the clear environmental benefits of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and NOx, the upgrade from a mechanical engine to an electronic engine (through the addition of an electronic control module) will also have numerous performance improvements, including lower fuel consumption.

“Despite the variety of technologies, which could be used to affect the requisite reductions in particulate matter, Caterpillar believes the engine-retrofit option will prove most beneficial to our customers,” notes Terry Sears, Caterpillar Emissions Solutions product manager.

“By upgrading a mechanical engine to an electronic engine, the operator will gain smoother operation, easier diagnostics, and improved fuel economy above and beyond reducing emissions. The ease of installation is also another win because the entire retrofit can be accomplished in-hull without major modification of the design or structure of the vessel,” he said.

There are several kits that will be available for customers to upgrade MUI and Tier 1 3500 Series marine engines to various levels. Cat dealers will be able to explain upgrade options based on individual engines and configurations.

Sydney Ferries tender begins
Minister for Transport, John Robertson, has announced that the NSW Government has started the procurement process to build six new Sydney Ferries vessels.

Robertson said the ferries, which will operate services on Sydney Harbour, will be purchased as part of the Government’s $225 million investment in Sydney Ferries vessels and assets under the $50.2 billion Metropolitan Transport Plan.

“With this $225 million investment, the NSW Government will ensure Sydney Ferries can continue to provide good services on Sydney Harbour and up the Parramatta River, and meet future passenger demand,” said Robertson.

Transport NSW began the Registrations of Interest process to identify parties interested in supplying the six new ferries on November 18. This will allow industry to provide input into the project scope — including the size and specifications of the new vessels.

“Eventually, the new ferries will replace the Lady Class and Supercat vessels,” Robertson said.

“Transport NSW and Sydney Ferries will work closely with the industry to ensure commuters have access to modern and comfortable ferries.

“Engaging at this early stage will help develop a tender process to get the best vessels and the best value for taxpayers out of this investment,” he said.

According to the Minister, the last 12 months has seen Sydney Ferries make “significant improvements to its services including better customer service, improved reliability and good on time running.”

RDM signs third Kilimanjaro
Richardson Devine Marine (RDM) has signed a contract 38m catamaran fast-ferry with Coastal Fast Ferries, which operates in Tanzania.

Kilimanjaro III
is the third vessel commissioned from the Tasmanian shipbuilder by this operator for the 60nm run between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Kilimanjaro I and Kilimanjaro II are 37m vessels designed to carry 400 passengers. They are ostensibly sister ships delivered in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

To coincide with the delivery of Kilimanjaro II, RDM director, Toby Richardson visited Tanzania to consult with the owner and gain firsthand experience with the Coastal Fast Ferries operation and local sea conditions. This experience proved invaluable in the development of the design for the new vessel.

High volumes of luggage-carrying passengers called for an improvement in the luggage room facility and access, while the lazy Indian Ocean equatorial swell prompted Toby to develop a two-deck platform, lowering the vessel’s centre of gravity. This, coupled with the addition of active interceptor ride control, will make for an even smoother ride on the popular voyage to Zanzibar.

Maximising the beam to 10.5m and efficient use of indoor and outdoor areas has allowed seating to be increased to 558 passengers. The main deck passenger deck features 249 economy class seats, with those nearest the aft kiosk equipped with tables. The aft end of the main deck has been reconfigured with a larger luggage room, located directly adjacent to the side crew ramps to speed-up turnaround.

The upper deck has outdoor seats for 107 passengers. Amidships there is a first class cabin with 74 seats. The sundeck has seats for a further 60 passengers.

Richardson’s ideas and sketches were transformed by the Incat Crowther design group to a workable general arrangement that, with some final tweaking, met with the owner’s high approval.

With sleek styling, near upright bows and additional aft buoyancy pods, this vessel has an optimum waterline length and with the installation of two Cummins KTA50M2 engines providing 1800hp each, will offer a loaded cruising speed of up to 30kts.

The design represents a mature development from Incat Crowther’s portfolio of proven hull forms that the designer says offers both increased efficiency and improved seakeeping. Tailored as always to suit the owner’s operational requirements and designed with a proven level of engineering simplicity, it is designed to ensure reliability and profitability for the operator.

Kilimanjaro III will be known at RDM as hull number 054, the 54th vessel that Ron Devine and Toby Richardson have launched together. RDM is also currently working on a 28m catamaran utility workboat for Queensland’s Weipa Hire Pty Ltd (launched in November and due for delivery in December 2010) and a 26m catamaran fast-ferry for one operator from the Seychelles that will be delivered February 2011. Kilimanjaro III will be ready for delivery in June 2011.

As well as supplementing the operational capacity on the Zanzibar—Dar es Salaam run at a higher service speed, Coastal Fast Ferries plan to use the vessel to expand its operation by extending the route to the island of Pemba. Kilimanjaro III is specifically designed for this added offshore work.

Photos: Twin LNG-fuelled LM2500 gas turbines will power an Incat ferry; Palau’s Pacific Patrol Boat, PSS President H. I. Remliik; The DMS Maritime vessel Seahorse Standard; Port Venture Cruises’ new cat has theatre-style seating forward; Ramps facilitate wheelchair access from transoms to stem; High-quality finish is evident in the practical bridge; Caterpillar technician servicing a Cat 3508 marine engine; RDM launched a 28m workboat in November; Incat Crowther developed the GA from Toby Richardson’s sketches.