Ferries and tankers look to the future

The March 1968 issue of ‘The Motor Ship’ continued to question whether it was feasible for the new generation of large ships – such as planned tankers of 250,000dwt-plus – to continu to rely on a single-screw propulsion system, whether diesel or turbine.

It was suggested that lower insurance premiums might be a major driving force behind the twin-screw option, as this was perceived as offering a much greater margin of safety. However, despite this, and the size of engine room required to accommodate a single large-bore 12-cylinder diesel, prospective owners and charterers of the proposed super-tankers seemed to be only expressing the most cursory of interest in twin-screw propulsion.

Another controversial subject at the time was the intended changeover by the British engineering industry to the metric system. The fear was that this would involve the industry – and shipbuilding in particular – in higher costs. However, those companies already building European-designed machinery under licence, being used to working with metric measurements, should have a relatively easy time.

The main ship description concerned one of what was seen as a ship type rapidly growing in popularity – the ro-ro freight ferry. The Sealord Challenger, first of a pair for North Sea routes between UK, Norway and the Netherlands, was described as a’fully automated freight ferry’, based on a Norwegian design already employed for Thoresen’s Viking IV, but featuring stern loading via a two-position ramp, giving access to either Deck 3 or Deck 4. Alternatively a lift could be used to access Deck 4 from the shelterdeck, or cargoes could be loaded via side ports and portable hinged ramps. A comprehensive pneumatic control system was employed for the MaK main machinery, which meant that the ship could be manned by just five officers and 10 ratings.

The ferry theme continued with two more vessel descriptions, both built in Britain for Harwich-Hook ro-ro services. The Dutch-owned Koningen Juliana, designed by Knud E Hansen and built at Cammell Laird, was intended to take advantage of the growth in private car ownership, with accommodation in 243 cabins and space for 180 vehicles. The ship was powered by two pairs of MAN’s latest medium speed engines, driving twin CP propellers. The total output of 19,560 bhp was said to be one of the most powerful geared diesel installations of recent years.

Swan Hunter had recently launched the St George, built for British Rail, which could vary up to 220 cars with a ‘drive through’ loading and unloading arrangement. St George also employed a medium-speed geared propulsion system, based on four of the new Ruston AO units, of 4,500bhp each. Each pair of engines, and the associated gearbox, was attached to a resiliently-mounted subframe, with cardan shafts driven via flexible couplings. The two ships would work together on the route, and would replace four older vessels.

The largest Dutch-built tanker to date had recently been delivered to Shell by the NDSM yard. The 109,710dwt Neverita would shortly be eclipsed by four vessels also being built by NDSM, at 210,000dwt nearly twice the size, and these in turn would be overshadowed by three 240,000 dwt tankers at Verolme. Neverita was notable for having an engine room that was said to represent “virtually full automation of the main and auxiliary machinery”, the first to have a Lloyd’s certificate for an unmanned engine room. Th reasoning behind this move, as well as reduced manning, was to prevent the risk of electrical ‘black-outs’ in the event of a failure. A brief description followed of the methods used by NDSM for building the larger tankers, these being fabricated in two parts, to be joined while afloat.

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