Efficiency the watchword for short-sea trader

Scot Navigator discharging timber at the Irish port of Wicklow (credit: Roy Conway/Conway Ports)
Scot Navigator discharging timber at the Irish port of Wicklow (credit: Roy Conway/Conway Ports)
Scotline’s new 3,700dwt shortsea trader 'Scot Navigator' arriving at Rochester for christening (credit: Jon Millatt/Scotline)
Scotline’s new 3,700dwt shortsea trader 'Scot Navigator' arriving at Rochester for christening (credit: Jon Millatt/Scotline)

A UK practitioner in the general cargo short-sea trades has looked to the Dutch industrial maritime cluster for its latest stage of fleet development. David Tinsley reports.

An especially economic class of single-deck cargo vessel crafted in the north Netherlands has boosted the fleet controlled by UK short-sea specialist Scotline. The combination of a payload capacity of 3,700t in a single, box-shaped hold and a fuel consumption of just 3,500 litres per day gives the foundation for long-term competitiveness in one of the toughest sectors of the shipping industry.

Scot Navigator has been assigned to her owner’s liner service network linking Baltic and north European ports with the British Isles, and is well suited to the company’s trade with timber, woodpulp and other forestry products in addition to bulk commodities and project cargoes.

The vessel has a length overall of 88m, moulded breadth of 13.35m and maximum draught of 4.9m, and embodies the Eco Freighter 3700 type from shipbuilding contractor GS Yard (formerly Groningen Shipyard), located on the Winschoterdiep canal at Waterhuizen.

The Eco Freighter is a derivation of the Sea-River Liner 3700 developed by Groot Ship Design in cooperation with GS Yard and Dutch short-sea fleet owner and manager Wijnne Barends.  Conoship International of Groningen had generated the concept design of the Sea-River Liner, focusing on the hydrodynamic aspects and optimisation of the hull form, including an innovative aft body, characteristics which have been carried through to the Scot Navigator. These features enable the vessel to attain a service speed of 10 knots using a propulsion engine turning out only 749kW.

Delfzijl-based Wijnne Barends operates 11 vessels of the Sea-River Liner 3700 design, constructed at GS Yard between 2011 and 2016 and known as the Lady A-series.

PROVEN TEMPLATE

Although Scotline’s modern fleet includes acquisitions from German and other owners, the UK firm opted for new construction in the latest project due to the proven efficiency and performance of the template design, and the non-availability of secondhand tonnage of the same calibre. Scotline’s decision was informed by first-hand operating experience with the Sea-River Liner type, as a consequence of having had one of the Wijnne Barends Lady A-class ships, the Lady Ariane, on charter for a year.

Since the intended trading pattern for the new ship entailed ports and terminals unfettered by air-draught considerations, Scot Navigator has a fixed wheelhouse rather than the original design’s height-adjustable, hydraulic column-mounted structure, which permits navigation under low bridges on inland waterways. The wheelhouse sits higher than that of the elevating version at its maximum height, such that the Scotline ship has an improved line-of-sight from the bridge, enabling higher deck stows of timber, and also allowing for more accommodation above deck.

The specification was drawn up mindful of increasing environmental requirements, so that it ensures compliance with all the latest legislation, including provision for fitting a ballast water treatment system. The Dutch company JR Ship Brokers & Consultants, a division of the JR Shipping Group, assisted Scotline with the development of the newbuild project in the northern Netherlands.

The hold has main dimensions of 62.3m x 10.8m, equivalent to about three quarters of the hull’s length and just over 80% of its breadth, and its box-like construction affords an intake volume of 182,000ft or 5,154m3 by both bale and bulk categorisation.

The hold space can be compartmentalised through the use of two movable bulkheads, for grain separation or for distinct cargo types or grades. The measurements of the hatchway directly correspond to those of the hold, promoting cargo handling efficiency and absence of overhang. The pontoon hatch panels are handled and stowed fore and aft in the time-honoured Dutch short-sea manner through the use of a travelling deck gantry, with the whole system supplied by specialist manufacturer Coops & Nieborg.

Hatch cover strengthening allows for deck cargo. The ship’s overall, timber-fitted capacity of about 5,500m3 is a very important element of the design for Scotline, given the company’s trade out of western Sweden and Baltic ports and standing as a leading carrier of UK softwood imports.

LOW POWER DEMAND

The remarkably low primary power requirement, thanks to the hydrodynamically refined underwater form and aft-end design, is met by a Caterpillar 3508C high-speed diesel delivering 749kW. Power is transmitted through a Reintjes reduction gearbox to a nozzled Promarin propeller with high-skew blades. The arrangements result in a fuel consumption of around three tonnes per day at a laden speed of 10 knots, and express the Dutch capacity to marry frugality and pragmatic design with a solid technical approach.

To ensure the manoeuvring qualities essential to a coaster working into restricted, tidal berths and fairways, the vessel is equipped with a 265kW Veth Jet bow thruster and a Barke high-lift flap rudder. The onboard electrical load plus the intermittent power needs from the bow thruster are met by a 265kW Scania diesel genset with a Stamford alternator, augmented when necessary by a Caterpillar 125kW set.

Efficiency achieved through heat recovery is expressed in the adoption of a system whereby cooling water exiting the diesel machinery is passed through heat exchangers to provide heating for the accommodation spaces.

As the fleet is complemented by two exclusive terminals at Rochester, on the River Medway, and further sites at Inverness in the north east of Scotland and Gunness, on the River Trent, Scotline offers ‘all-in-one’ services covering shipping, stockholding and distribution, in addition to fixing cargoes on the spot market.

Scot Navigator is currently maintaining fortnightly sailings from the Swedish west coast port of Varberg to Gunness. Varberg, Sweden’s premier outlet for timber and other forestry goods, is pivotal to the UK operator’s service framework. The port is generally ice-free in winter, has a short, deep approach channel  and has been used by Scotline since 1979. It maintains five distinct lines out of Varberg, including weekly sailings to Inverness and Rochester, respectively, plus routes to King’s Lynn and Ireland (Belfast, Warrenpoint and Wicklow), as well as the run to the busy upriver port of Gunness in north Lincolnshire.

In addition, Scotline’s ships trade into the eastern Baltic, to provide a liner schedule from the Latvian port of Riga to Gunness, Rochester, and Inverness, the Scottish Highlands’ economic and administrative capital.

FLEET INVESTMENTS

The company is headquartered at Romford, in the Greater London area, and entrusts technical, commercial and administrative husbandry of its owned and managed vessels, including crewing, to Intrada Ships Management. Rochester-based Intrada also looks after tonnage for other owners. Results with the Eco Freighter 3700 type can be expected to bear on Scotline’s deliberations as to the next stage of fleet investment.

While many of the Dutch shipbuilders contributing to the Netherlands’ prominent market standing  in small vessel construction regularly subcontract hull fabrication to yards in lower-cost countries, GS Yard delivered Scot Navigator on a turnkey basis, undertaking both hull production and outfitting at its Waterhuizen premises in the Groningen area.

GS Yard started life in 2007 on the former van Diepen shipyard site at Waterhuizen, where inland vessels and coasters are side-launched from a longitudinal slipway into the Winschoterdiep. The yard’s portfolio has been augmented by a new generation of 110m inland tankers, known as the Sunrise class. The Winschoterdiep waterway serves both as a conduit for inland shipping and as a haven for a number of shipbuilders and other maritime-related industrial concerns.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - SCOT NAVIGATOR

Length overall

88.00m

Length b.p.

84.98m

Breadth, moulded

13.35m

Breadth, maximum

13.39m

Depth, to main deck

7.05m

Draught, maximum/summer

4.90m

Deadweight @4.9m

3,700t

Draught, design

4.30m

Deadweight @4.3m

3,000t

Hold capacity(bale/grain)

182,000ft3/5,154m3

Timber-fitted capacity

5,500m3

Gross tonnage

2,571t

Main engine power

749kW

Speed

10kts

Flag/registry

UK/Rochester

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