Baltic operator to use biofuel in new project cargo carrier

29 Oct 2011
Finnish operator Meriaura has ordered a new multipurpose deck carrier/heavy load vessel, derived from its 2008-built ‘Aura’, but incorporating advanced ecological features.

Finnish operator Meriaura has ordered a new multipurpose deck carrier/heavy load vessel, derived from its 2008-built ‘Aura’, but incorporating advanced ecological features.

Finnish-based industrial products and general cargo transport group Meriaura added a new dimension to its Baltic and North Sea fleet in 2008 when it commissioned the 4,700dwt multipurpose open deck carrier Aura, targeted at regional heavy-load opportunities.

David Tinsley writes: Building on the concept applied in the Aura, the company has now invested in a second newbuild, due for delivery in the spring of 2012. While similar both in size and in her combination of particular scope for heavy-load and project cargoes with bulk materials transportation, the 4,350dwt Aura II has also been designed to serve as an emergency oil response ship, and incorporates a more sophisticated diesel-electric powering and propulsion system allowing operation on biofuel.

Providing baseload business for the initial 1A ice-class ship, Aker Yards (now STX Europe) had entered into a long-term transport contract with Meriaura, for the carriage of hull blocks and deckhouses to the shipbuilding group’s yards in Finland from subcontractors’ sites around the Baltic. The 102m, stern-ramped Aura provided an alternative to barge-borne shipments, reducing scheduling risks due to weather and ice conditions, and increasing shipping capacity and flexibility.

Through prudent design, the Finnish owner ensured that Aura would offer a broad trading potential, encompassing not only elements for ship construction, but different types of industrial steel structures, heavy machinery and outsized freight, wind turbine components, and also timber and logs, finished granite, and containers. The vessel carries her cargo on the 80m unobstructed deck abaft the forward accommodation, and handled by either ro-ro or lo-lo method.

The ship’s multifarious assignments to date have included significant involvement in the offshore wind energy sector, such as deliveries of foundations to the Sheringham Shoal site in the North Sea and transition pieces to the Walney II development in the Irish Sea. Growing demand in the offshore wind farm market has been a spur to Meriaura’s commitment to a second multipurpose deck carrier, and the greater engineering emphasis in this vessel on environmental qualities allies closely with the long term ‘sustainability’ goals of the wind energy industry.

While Aura came from the Remontowa Group in Poland, construction of the 105m, dynamic-positioning Aura II was awarded to STX Finland, which assigned the work to the Turku yard. She will be a showcase for Finnish technology, employing the double-acting mode to enable propulsion astern or ahead in ice, and installed with three Wärtsilä 6L20 main gensets capable of running on various types of liquid bio-fuels (LBF) as well as marine diesel oil.

The nascent vessel will be the first dry cargo ship in the Baltic to be equipped with a double-acting system, and it is also claimed that she will be the first commercial trader in Europe intended for continuous operation on LBF. The fuel is produced at the shipowner’s process refinery in Uusikaupunki, on Finland’s southwest coast. MDO will be the back-up fuel.

The high manoeuvrability conferred by two electric rudder propellers and two bow thrusters will be a major asset in close-quarter berthing situations and when positioning for cargo offloading in offshore waters. The vessel’s ‘crabbing’ capability is also salient to the potential anti-pollution role, enabling more efficient recovery of spilled oil. The 2,700m3 recovered oil capacity is almost double that of Finland’s existing oil spill response fleet, and the ship’s layout is conducive to carrying a range of recovery equipment.

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