US to build versatile new training ships

The US has implemented a programme for a new generation of cadet training ships that will serve also as disaster response vessels (image courtesy of Herbert Engineering) The US has implemented a programme for a new generation of cadet training ships that will serve also as disaster response vessels (image courtesy of Herbert Engineering)

US government funding has been authorised to begin the replacement of the country’s ageing fleet of state maritime academy training ships with a versatile new generation of national security multi-mission vessels (NSMV), writes David Tinsley

The initial allocation of US$300m will be used for the construction and equipping of a 160-metre vessel to supersede the Empire State VI, serving the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College. The US Maritime Administration (Marad) sponsored design has been developed by California-headquartered Herbert Engineering Corporation, and features humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities in addition to the task of seafarer training.

Delivered by the Newport News yard in 1962 as the cargo liner Oregon, and converted for her current role in 1989, the steam turbine-powered Empire State VI is the oldest in the fleet of six Marad-owned training ships assigned to the six maritime academies in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Texas. Such is the age profile that the vessels’ outdated technology limits their training value and scope, and compromises the ability to meet the latest environmental requirements.

The nascent generation will provide an enhanced capability as emergency responders, a role played by the existing vessels over the years in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Sandy, Harvey, Irma and Maria. A series of five NSMVs is planned, and construction will be undertaken in the USA. It is understood that delivery of the first vessel is sought in time for SUNY Maritime College’s 2022 summer sea training programme,  although a shipbuilding contract has yet to be awarded.

In training ship mode, the NSMV will accommodate a maximum 600 cadets plus crew, faculty staff and other personnel totalling up to 160, with surge capacity for humanitarian and emergency relief missions, whereby as many as 1,000 people will be accommodated.

Besides eight classrooms, workshops, auditorium, simulator, laboratory and other training spaces, a full-scale training bridge will be located below the main navigating bridge. Abaft the extensive, five-deck superstructure, the design provides garaging for ro-ro cargo and storage for containers, served by a sideport ramp and 35t deck crane.

HIGH ELECTRICAL LOAD

A diesel-electric power and propulsion system has been nominated for the new class, sized to meet a high electrical load and affording flexibility and efficiency in covering the variable and non-continuous operating profile, allowing power production to be precisely matched to actual energy requirements.

With the four main diesel generators distributed between two separate engine rooms, and the two electric propulsion motors acting on a common shaftline but installed in contiguous, watertight motor rooms, a high degree of system redundancy has been incorporated. Having two engine rooms also allows training to take place in one compartment while the ship is using fewer gensets and only one machinery space when sailing at reduced speed on training voyages.

The total power concentration in the four gensets will be 15,800kW, with each of the two propulsion motors rated for 4,500kW and ensuring a maximum speed of 18 knots. In addition to a stern thruster, the specification includes a retractable, combi-type thruster in the foreship section, acting as a tunnel thruster in the up position, and as an azimuthing thruster in drop-down mode. This unit will also confer a 1,450kW ‘take-home’, alternative propulsion capability, powering the ship at about six knots.

Hull lines optimisation using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and model tests was carried out in Sweden by SSPA and was effective in reducing the required propulsion power by approximately 10% in relation to the concept design.

The goal of environmental compatibility has been addressed by such features as full-time operation on low-sulphur fuel, waste heat recovery for accommodation heating, LED lighting and maximised hydrodynamic efficiency. LNG fuel was not seen as a practical option as the vessel’s intermittent operation would make the management of LNG fuel onboard difficult and the lack of regular routes would present difficulties in ensuring a reliable supply of LNG.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS - US national security multi-mission vessels

Length overall

159.74m

Length bp

154.00m

Breadth

27.00m

Depth, to main deck

16.80m

Draught, scantling

7.50m

Draught, design

6.50m

Propulsion system

15,700kW diesel-electric

Accommodation, cadets/non-cadets

600/160

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