Wärtsilä powers UK research vessel

Wärtsilä will supply the propulsion solution for the UK's new research vessel to be operated by the NERC Wärtsilä will supply the propulsion solution for the UK's new research vessel to be operated by the NERC
Industry Database

Wärtsilä has been awarded the contract to supply the propulsion equipment for a new research vessel under construction at the C.N.P. Freire shipyard in Spain for the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).

The NERC is the UK’s main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences and will be operating the newbuilding.

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.

The new vessel will take over the name Discovery and will be operated by NERC's National Marine Facilities Division, based at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton. The design of the new research ship has been developed by Skipsteknisk in Ålesund, Norway who also designed the 2006-built Wärtsilä powered research vessel RRS James Cook for the NERC.

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 co-operate 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.”

The NERC co-ordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around 475 million EUR a year from the UK government’s science budget, which is used to fund independent research and training.

Special attention is to be paid to noise related issues on the main steerable thrusters in order to comply with low underwater radiated noise 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.

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