Wärtsilä is to supply the propulsion equipment for the state-of-the-art research vessel. ordered from the C.N.P. Freire S.A. shipyard in Vigo, Spain, by the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
The contract calls for Wärtsilä to supply four of its 8-cylinder in-line Wärtsilä 20 main diesel electric generating sets, two main propulsion steerable thrusters, one bow retractable thrusters, and a complete Low Loss Concept diesel electric system. The majority of the Wärtsilä equipment will be delivered by the end of 2011, and the ship is scheduled to be launched before the end of 2012.
Wärtsilä has considerable experience in meeting the needs of specialty vessels, and claims market leadership in supplying propulsion systems for research and naval ships with low underwater radiated noise (URN) requirements.
Edward Cooper, the NERC's Project Officer, commented: "It is vital that the ship's systems are designed in such a way that the research activities, for which this ship is intended, can be carried out in the most effective way possible. For this reason, we are delighted to cooperate with Wärtsilä, whose technology in this field is clearly very advanced. In particular, Wärtsilä's underwater noise abatement measures are critical to the research work."
Special attention is to be paid to noise related issues on the main steerable thrusters in order to comply with low URN requirements. These include the modification of the shank and pod to give a more hydrodynamic shape, and a special fixed pitch propeller design adapted to the specific wake field of the vessel. In addition, the generator sets will be double elastically mounted to ensure the lowest possible vibration is transmitted to the ships structure. The Wärtsilä Low Loss Concept diesel electric system will reduce electrical losses, which in turn reduces the power requirement, and hence CO2 emissions. The main steerable thrusters are to be Ice Class 1D compliant.
The NERC vessel, RRS James Cook, delivered in 2006, is also fitted with Wärtsilä propulsion equipment, and the ship's silent propellers were supplied by Wärtsilä in France. The successful performance of this equipment was considered a key factor in the award of the latest contract.
"Our proven experience in meeting the specific needs of research ships has been an essential element of our negotiations with the NERC," noted Paul Bennett Sales Manager Wärtsilä UK Ltd. "Not only is there commonality of parts with the existing main engines on the RRS James Cook, but we also have a strong reference installation of steerable thrusters on the American T-AGS 60 oceanographic survey ships."
To be named Discovery, the new ship will replace the present RRS Discovery, which was built in 1962. It will be operated by NERC's National Marine Facilities Division, based at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton.
The ship's design has been developed by Norway's Skipsteknisk AS,which also designed the RRS James Cook.
December 12, 2010